Daughter of B17 Bombardier - Blonde Bomber - 91st
Posted 24 February 2013 - 05:27 PM
I am the daughter of Lt. Leonard Salleng who flew on the B-17 the Blonde Bomber as their bombardier. I am trying to record for family history not only my dad's military service but the history of the plane itself and what I can discover about the crew who are remaining. I would appreciate any help and tips anyone can give me.
Posted 24 February 2013 - 06:24 PM
Posted 25 February 2013 - 09:36 AM
Good luck and welcome to the Forum !
Edited by Johnny Signor, 25 February 2013 - 09:37 AM.
Posted 25 February 2013 - 04:51 PM
Posted 25 February 2013 - 04:59 PM
Welcome to the Forum. A quick search for "Blonde Bomber" shows a B-17 with that name as part of the 91st Bomb Group, 322nd Squadron.
Here is a link to the 91st website:
The page has a search feature which will give you several entries for the "Blonde Bomber" including a crew photo which appears to have been posted by a relative.
There is also a aircraft history in the link for "Chapter4" and look for the entry under the 322nd Squadron, No. 057.
Hope this is your aircraft, best of luck with your research.
Edited by US82Bravo, 25 February 2013 - 05:02 PM.
Posted 25 February 2013 - 05:49 PM
I went on a newspaper database that I belong to, and found a number of articles about your father:
Posted 25 February 2013 - 08:09 PM
US82Bravo, I also have been a member of the 91st Group for a while and with the help of one of the moderators, I found one of Dad's crew members and reunited them about a year prior to Dad's passing. I cried like a baby when I first spoke to Frenchy Corbiere and set up the surprise phone visit for Dad. My postings lead to the nephew of Joseph Kerr, another crew member, to contract me, which in turn lead to a lengthy phone conversation with him and back and forth correspondence. When I read the information on the Blonde Bomber under Chapter 4, it mentions that the Picadilly Commando was renamed the Blonde Bomber and I believe that to be incorrect. In looking further I see that the plane's ID numbers on the rear near the tail do not match. Could there have been a second Blonde Bomber and this was the plane that crashed resulting in the death of Wayne Murdock and the rest of the crew becoming POW's?
Here is my current issue that I am trying to solve. Dad told us as kids that he designed and painted the nose art on the plane in Maine and how the plane was named after him by the crew. I remember the story from Charles Steele as a child, in my conversation with Frenchy in 2005 and now in a letter written by Joe. Any suggestions how I go about that? Oddly I have learned that Kit World does sell a replica of the nose art on the Blonde Bomber and there is another gentleman on EBay who has the negative of the plain and the nose art taken by Joe Harlick, USAAF photgrapher for the 324th Bomb Squadron at Bassingbourn. I am awaiting a return call from the EBay "guy" to see if he has any more photographs of the 322nd as I would love to gift Joe Kerr with copies. He, Charles Steele and Frenchy were on the Phoney Express when it went down in Germany and where held in Stalad Luft IV and were part of the Death March prisoners faced with a 500 mile march across Germany during the winter.
I have babbled much too long. God bless you for your help to me and to those of you who have service our country, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Posted 25 February 2013 - 10:16 PM
It is very possible that there were other aircraft named "Blonde Bomber". There are several photo references to aircraft tail number 42-3057 as the Picadilly Commando/Blonde Bomber with the 91st group.
322nd Squadron dailies indicate that 42-3057 was lost on 11 Jan 1944 with 2Lt Wayne Murdoch as pilot.
What is the tail number of the aircraft you indicate that does not match 'Picadilly Commando/Blonde Bomber'?
Posted 26 February 2013 - 09:38 PM
You are correct and I am off on this one. They do match up which is confusing for me since I know the plane arrived in Bassingbourn already named and painted. I did find in my notes from a few years back the serial number of 43-37869 which is said to be assigned to a B17 named the same. I guess after 70 years, it doesn't matter. I am just happy that so many people still care about "The Greatest Generation" and the contribution they made to our country.
Posted 27 February 2013 - 01:26 PM
There are photos and histories of each aircraft on the 447th Bomb Group Association web site here:
Posted 02 March 2013 - 09:37 PM
Using data and quotes from Ray Bowden’s book, "Plane Names and Fancy Noses", he was able to clarify things for me. This is what he shared:
BLONDE BOMBER 42-3057 B-17F-20-DL 91/322-N LG-N
One of the first Fortresses to fly to the UK by the southern ferry route via Marrakesh, this plane arrived on 20th March 1943. Six days later it was assigned to the 9lst Bomb Group and flew the first eight missions, at least, carrying the name of Piccadilly Commando on its olive drab camouflaged nose. This name was later changed to Blonde Bomber and the artist added a nude wearing an Army cap and a pair of airman's wings around her neck.
Joseph Kerr was the ball gunner on Robert Wine's crew and he clearly remembered "Our crew was formed in late November 1942 at Pocatello as part of the Hunter Harris Provisional Group. We transferred to Casper for phase training but due to pilot illness did not go to England with the rest of the group but were kept back as a model crew until 18th April 1943."
Joe continued, "We went to Salinas to pick up our new B 17F and on the way to England stopped over at Bangor, Maine. It was there that we decided on the name Blonde Bomber as our bombardier, Leonard Salleng, was blonde - he also did the drawing for the nose art. We flew to Goose Bay, then Iceland and on to Scotland. We were assigned to the 91st from 20th June 1943 and flew eight missions with the group until transferred to the 482nd as a pathfinder crew (17 missions) and finally to the 398th Bomb Group."
(Now Mike’s words) Almost certainly, the new B 17F that Kerr's crew originally named Blonde Bomber was taken from them on arrival in Scotland to be modified for ETO combat. On arrival at Bassingbourn, the crew presumably re-named the ship they were given to fly, 42-3057, which had preceded their arrival at Bassingbourn by exactly three months and carried the title Piccadilly Commando.
It’s nice to have the facts straight and have something in writing I can share down the road with a grandchild/grandchildren about my hero. Thank you all.
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