USAAF B-17G Flying Fortress 43-37667 “Barbara Jane”

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USAAF B-17G Flying Fortress 43-37667 “Barbara Jane”

April 6th 1945

All crew members survived this crash though two were severely injured.

“Barbara Jane” had had two new engines fitted which needed a bit of running-in. The crew soon bored of flying around their base in Suffolk, and headed north towards Manchester.

Encountering low cloud, pilot First Lieutenant Winston Johnson tried to keep sight of the ground, but soon became lost. Flying in a South-Westerly direction over Huddersfield, the B-17 hit the moor. The co-pilot Second Lieutenant Raymond W Parks was at the helm; he had seen the hills rising around him and powered up, thus softening the blow when it hit the ground.

The pilot and navigator Second Lieutenant Walter Vukelic, both in the nose of the bomber at the time, were thrown through the Plexiglass on impact. They both suffered severe spinal injuries, and were unable to walk again. Also on board were Sergeant Robert J Schnug, flight engineer and Sergeant Robert J Woodbeck, wireless operator.

From Don Cohen;
This was my father’s plane that he named after my cousin Barbara and the co-pilot’s wife Jane. It is believed he was the youngest pilot in the 8th AirForce. Flew 35 missions.

Visiting the site
The air crash site is at grid reference SE 07089 09529. If accessing via West Nab – an easy climb from the road – the route down to Scope Moss can be difficult with lots of boulders (Wicken Stones) and thick heather hiding potentially bone-breaking unseen hollows underfoot. Other routes to and from the crash site can be equally difficult over tussocks of grass and hidden boggy bits. To add to your discomfort, the crash site is on the edge of a firing range. There are comments on line about these signs (see below) being placed hundreds of metres from the actual exclusion zone. There are lots of them on the moor. The crash site is actually just outside of the exclusion zone, though if the red flags are flying I’d give it a miss all the same.

Photo taken February 2023 on Horseley Head Moss

On this government provided information map I’ve circled the crash site
source: DEFRA

These three photos were taken January 2016




These three photos were taken February 2023.



12 comments on “USAAF B-17G Flying Fortress 43-37667 “Barbara Jane”
  1. andyholmfirth says:

    You got some cotton grass in – nice ! Were you up there today Ian?

  2. Ian D B says:

    Hi Andy, yeah, it was a bit damp at times.

  3. GaryJS â„¢ says:

    I’ve often wanted to try and find one of these crashed planes. I think there are a few in the Meltham area. A friend has told me about finding un used amo up there as a child (he’s in his 60s now).

    Found in a search. ( ?² )

  4. GaryJS â„¢ says:

    Hi, I’m an admin for a group called Meltham West Yorkshire, and we’d love to have this added to the group!

  5. GaryJS â„¢ says:

    OK.. So I guess I’ve been here before! Just searched it out after seeing your comment on my photo on West nab to see if you had already visited the spot!

  6. Jogon says:

    Here’s a coincidence – I visited the site some years back.
    But my elderly Aunt lived by the base at the time down in East Anglia.

  7. Don Cohen says:

    This was my father’s plane that he named after my cousin Barbara and the co-pilot’s wife Jane. It is believed he was the youngest pilot in the 8th AirForce. Flew 35 missions.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Don, thanks for your comment, great additional detail. He flew 35 missions? He certainly had some luck. I have added your comment to the main body of the text.

      I just read your comment here. Very interesting to read Lt. Cohen’s story.

      Ian D B

  8. Don Cohen says:

    Sure – no problem. My brother still has his original flight log book, plus leather pilot’s jacket, flying fortress “Lucky Bastard’s” book plus other memorabilia. Never spoke about it when I was growing up but he was honored at Dover Air Force Base while naming a cargo plane after another B-17 that he first flew (Blue Hen Chick; after the University of Delaware Blue Hens) but did not name.

  9. Don Cohen says:

    Interesting. Have seen many photos of the plane but I’m not certain that I have seen the photo that you sent along, thanks so much. Also thanks for the photos of the Blue Hen Chick. Yes you are right, they were all heroes. Nice to hear about your Dad too.

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