‘The Hardest Mile’
The last mile is the hardest mile – suffering from significant combat damage a B17 struggles to make the final miles to RAF Manston. Manston was specially constructed to afford a safe haven to damaged aircraft and boasted a 3,000 yd runway by 250yds wide!
Leaving the loom of the Dutch coast behind the B17 limps across the Channel with significant AA damage to the port side and No2 engine ‘frozen’ and intermittently on fire. Subsequent fighter attacks have silenced the rear gunner and taken out the No4 engine. With injured crew aboard the final miles are overseen by a section of Mustangs with safety in sight.
The battle damage on the image is recorded in WW2 photographs from a B17 that did make it home with the huge hole in the fuselage – a tough old bird indeed.