B-17E Flying Fortress 41-9051 ‘Flaming Mayme’

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B-17E Flying Fortress 41-9051 “Flaming Mayme” on Skiddaw

14 September 1943.

Less than one month after taking command of the newly re-designated 813th Bomb Squadron (formerly 325th BS) Captain William C Anderson, his crew and passengers were killed when their B17 crashed on the upper slopes of Skiddaw in the Lake District, close to the path which slants up from Carl Side to the summit.

The 813 BS was a ‘Pathfinder’ squadron, equipped with the H2X radar, which had been developed from the British H2S system, the world’s first airborne ground scanning radar. (Please see the update note below about this detail)

They were undertaking a navigation exercise flying from RAF Alconbury in Cambridgeshire to RAF Turnhouse near Edinburgh when the aircraft crashed in low cloud. They may have been preparing to land, possibly the navigator – unused to the nature of flying in British weather – was unaware the aircraft was a long way off course.

Captain William C Anderson
First Lieutenant Robert J Sudbury
Captain Raymond R Oeftiger
Second Lieutenant Raymond E Diltz
Staff Sergeant Bryson R Hills
Staff Sergeant Robert L Jacobsen
Major Tom C Henderson
Major Henry B Williams
First Lieutenant Clarence H Ballagh
First Lieutenant Theodore R Doe

*UPDATE 05 January 2024 please note the comment below by Steve Andrews who questions whether Flying Mayme had H2X fitted: “The first B-17 Forts used by 482nd BG/813th BS were fitted with the RAF H2S in the summer/autumn 1943 with the first H2X ones flying in from the states in September 1943 and were assigned to the 812th BS. Unfortunately, does not show in any of the RAF Defford/TRU records I have seen. So really difficult to tell what she had onboard. She could have just been OBOE?”
From what I have read since originally posting this, I agree but will keep the original text above as a record.

A B-17 Flying Fortress.


41 comments on “B-17E Flying Fortress 41-9051 ‘Flaming Mayme’
    • Mayme says:

      I have been looking for a picture of this aircraft for many years. Thank you so much for this info. There is supposed to be more info on this aircraft in one of the Libraries at the University of Tennessee. I have yet to go have them pull said folder for me. My name is Mayme and I love history. There were two other Flamin Mamies but the spelling was wrong. What I have read is that this aircraft was remodeled after a minor accident on a runway. After the remodel it was named the Flamin Mayme. I have also read an account that the aircraft was carrying dignitaries when it crashed.

      • Ian D B says:

        Hi Mayme, I am afraid the photo is not of this particular aircraft, it is just a B17 photo to illustrate the account. Sorry to disappoint you. I don’t believe I have a photo of Flaming Mayme.

      • Robert says:

        Hi Mayme
        Iโ€™m intrigued about your interests concerning this particular aircraft. I would like to know more about it too. I just learned 2 years ago that 2nd Lieutenant Raymond E. Diltz is my grand uncle. Iโ€™ve had a very fascinating and mystifying experiences about him, in a very nice way. If you donโ€™t mind sharing the history, Iโ€™m your best audience. Thanks

      • Carol Nielsen Lisbona and Bob Nielsen says:

        Hi Mayme, My brother and I are going through old photo albums and journals of our dad’s. We found this photo he took of Flaming Mayme on the ground in Presque Isle, Maine when the B-17s and P-38s were being ferried to England in July 1942 (day unknown). Our dad was a B-17 pilot. He was in the 340th Bombardment Squadron of the 8th Air Force His plane was Superman for part of his mission. He was on the first daylight bombing raid over France on Aug 17, 1942. Later, either Dec 1942 or early in 1943 he was transferred to North Africa where he flew missions over Algeria and Tunisia. We are currently attempting to put together a timeline of his service. We have some information and photos but lots more questions.

      • Carol Nielsen Lisbona says:

        I am attempting to send you a photo that my dad took of Flaming Mayme on Presque Isle Maine in July 1942 when he was one of the pilots ferrying planes to England. He was on the first bombing raids from England over France in Aug 1942. I have not been able to upload a photo to this site. Perhaps we can figure out a way for me to share the photo with you if I can’t figure out how to share it here.

    • Steve Andrews says:

      Hi Ian, great work with the website. Just interested in your comment, that it was fitted with H2X? Is it known for sure it had that fitted and not H2S? The first B-17 Forts used by 482nd BG/813th BS were fitted with the RAF H2S in the summer/autumn 1943 with the first H2X ones flying in from the states in September 1943 and were assigned to the 812th BS. Unfortunately, does not show in any of the RAF Defford/TRU records I have seen. So really difficult to tell what she had onboard. She could have just been OBOE? Such a dark day for the 482nd!
      All the best

      • Ian D B says:

        Thanks Steve,

        You are probably right, thank you for pointing out the error. I can’t recall where I got that detail from (it was over 10 years ago). The navigation aid is not mentioned at all in any the books I have. One of them refers to 41-9051 being an older aircraft used only for training and transport etc.

        Just looking again, one account online says the first H2X equipped B-17s arrived October 1943, which of course is after the events described here. And this page says the “813th flew B-17F H2S, Oboe and B-17G H2X equipped B-17s.” 41-9051 was a B-17E so again this points to an error on my part.

        I will add your comment to the main narrative as an update Steve, hope this is ok and thanks again.


  1. salfordlad1 says:

    Fabulous knowledge, wonderful photography…

  2. pasujoba says:

    terrific work Ian . That lead shot really captures the enormity of that scree slope . The scant remains are lost amongst the scree . It really does display how hard finding these places can be .
    It felt even steeper than it looks on the shot !
    No research have I yet done on this crash so now i will try and find a different angle ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. nondesigner59 says:

    Super crisp image in such an isolated spot.. Great info..

  4. bill_fawcett says:

    Again, some excellent research and a nice photo!

  5. crusader752 says:

    As [http://www.flickr.com/photos/pasujoba44] Paul rightly says you have certainly conveyed the enormity of the landscape here Ian. Flying in cloud (even as a passenger) is always something that makes me think back to early days when dead-reckoning and basic nav was all these poor lads had. Makes you shudder to think how it all ended here but full marks as always for the effort involved in bringing them back to us.

  6. rob the tog says:

    Nice shot, with the amount of bases round north Cumbria in such close proximity to the mountains, I’m amazed there were not more crashes.
    Each time I drive past Skiddaw I look up and wonder where the crash was, I keep meaning to get up there but I don’t have as much time back home in West Cumbria (Whitehaven) as I would like.

  7. stopherjones says:

    Agree, the sheerness, both of the slope angle and the ground cover here are visually alarming. You can only imagine the horror at realising the situation, although I expect that was mercifully brief

  8. S Cansfield says:

    Very thought provoking, I agree with all of the comments above.

  9. gastephen says:

    nice diagonal composition

  10. Highy says:

    Nicely done mate, looks like you had a great day up there, love the contrast you caught between the slates and the valley. Reckon I’ve been pretty close to that without seeing it, for some reason I thought it was around the northern slopes.

  11. Richard Tierney says:

    Nice work as always… See your getting "known" quite well now Ian. seen in Explore long with few others of late.

    See you and Paul made the effort and got to the Derwent Valley last Thursday…loved to have been there but I was in transit to Warwickshire. Some great photographs of the Lanc.. ah well there is always 2018 to look forward to.. thats 2 flypast I have missed.. hope I last long enough to see the next one !

  12. **PhillR** says:

    Great shot Ian

  13. chrisw09 says:

    Thanks for posting.

  14. pasujoba says:

    See , I said you would get a crash site in Explore . If I shit a golden egg and took a selfie of me doing it I wouldnt get an explore ……am not bitter or owt ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. mick cooke says:

    bet i walked past there a couple of yrs ago Ian and never noticed it , great work and a great photo

  16. janano2010 says:

    Fabulous shot and magnificent scenery too

  17. rob the tog says:

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/32431958@N07] lol, brilliant comment, although I’ve got a disturbing mental image now ๐Ÿ˜‰

  18. jr55 (John Richardson) says:

    Nice work as usual Ian.

  19. Tech Owl says:

    Great combination shot Ian – almost like you are on top of the world. Great detail too as always

  20. And who am i says:

    Congratulations on Explore, really is an exceptional shot.
    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/pasujoba44] That image will haunt me for a long time.

  21. And who am i says:

    Congratulations on Explore, really is an exceptional shot.
    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/pasujoba44] That image will haunt me for a long time.

  22. amyrey says:

    its a long way down…..

    great research as always.

  23. Keartona says:

    Paul says above it felt steeper in reality….. well it looks steep enough to me.

  24. Misses Davies says:

    interesting piece Ian

  25. cgullz says:

    i really like the strong diagonal through the shot, made by a completely different ‘land’ than that beyond. looks a world apart, and it is in altitude and geology i guess. great light, beaut colour and a very nice memorial shot. great info, nicely done Ian, nice to see you out in the hills again.

  26. SolarScot. says:

    very poignant

  27. bazylek100 says:

    Very good photo, Ian, I like the diagonal composition too. The background shrouded in shadows add to the mood. It does look a really steep slope, by the way!
    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/pasujoba44] Sorry to dash your hopes mate, but such image you’d have to mark as "moderate" at least, if not "restricted", so it would never get to Explore when only "safe" pictures are allowed ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh, those damn Puritans with no sense of humour! Pity about that, as it would certainly be a fresh and unorthodox addition to your current Explore set :)) bighugelabs.com/scout.php?username=32431958@N07&combi…

  28. cgullz says:

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/pasujoba44] LMGEAO [laughing my golden egg arse off].

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/bazylek] that is a bummer [pun intended] ..

  29. Reflective Kiwi %-) says:

    Fantastic shot Ian. Beautiful composition…
    and I love the cross and poppy… very poignant! %-)
    Sorry I havent been in touch in AGES and haven’t responded to your comments/email… I’ve had a bit of a stressfull time over the past few months… been meaning to write you and promise I will do soon. I’ve popped back online tonight for the first time and was initially a bit thrown out by this new Flickr layout… have been wroking my way through a few contacts and just saw you comment on Marty’s latest photo… both his and your comments made me feel sad.. I know I haven’t been around for a while… but I have missed my dear Flickr friends and was looking forward to reconnecting… I totally understand your frustration and the impact it has on your work and how disheartened your are. I hope whatever happens… you will stay in touch… I’ll be back later for a proper catchup! %-)

  30. Peter stockton says:

    Apparently the whole mountain was secured after the crash in order to prevent the radar falling into the wrong hands. May explain why so little of this aircraft is left, particularly given its isolated location.

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