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B-17 Flying Fortress

Delivered Long Beach 1/11/43; Denver 27/11/43; Presque Is 11/12/43;
Assigned 524BS/379BG [WA-H] Kimbolton 21/1/44; transferred 490BG Eye; with 157 missions was top aircraft in 8AF, and only one abort; returned to US 121 BU Bradley 28/6/45; 4168 Base Unit, South Plains, Texas 12/9/45; Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap metal in USA) Kingman 10/11/45. TOPPER aka OL’ GAPPY.

Her Nickname was first "Ol' Gappy" but her Nose Art had the ghostly figure of a dapper gentleman much like in the movie "Topper". So it was known by either/or. Her claim to fame is her 157 Combat Missions which is considered the most of any other Heavy Bomber in the ETO. Her Ground Crew Chief was M/Sgt Joe Sligoski.



  • 379th Bomb Group

    379th Bomb Group

    The 379th Bomb Group (H) (heavy), based at Kimbolton, flew more sorties than any other Bomb Group in the Eighth Air Force and dropped a greater bomb tonnage than any other Group. The B-17 Flying Fortress Group was awarded two Distinguished Unit...

  • 490th Bomb Group

    490th Bomb Group

    The 490th Bomb Group, like the 486th and 487th Bomb Groups transitioned from flying B-24 Liberators to B-17 Flying Fortresses, which were used in combat missions from late August 1944. Based at Eye, Suffolk, the Group were focused in the early months...

  • 524th Bomb Squadron


  • Peter Beloberk

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 379th Bomb Group

  • Eldon Boothe

    Military | Sergeant | Radio operator | 379th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 524BS, 379BG, 8AF USAAF. 16 x combat missions. ETD Awards: WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Lloyd Carville

    Military | 379th Bomb Group

  • Kenneth DeWire

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 379th Bomb Group
    Kenneth DeWire served as a waist gunner with the 379th Bomb Group. He flew 30 combat missions.

  • Albert Downs

    Military | First Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 379th Bomb Group
    Albert H. Downs served as a co-pilot with the 524th Bomb Squadron of the 379th Bomb Group, flying missions out of Kimbolton, England. ...

  • Gerald Dubois

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 379th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 526BS, 379BG, 8AF USAAF. 15 x combat missions. ETD Awards: AM (OLC), WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Robert Edwards

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Engineer | 379th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 524BS, 379BG, 8AF USAAF. Lt Hawthorne crew. 30 x combat missions. ETD Awards: WWII Victory, EAME.

  • James Fallon

    Military | Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner | 379th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 524BS, 379BG, 8AF USAAF. 14 x combat missions. Failed to Return (FTR) mission to Wernigeerode in B-17 42-31028; Hit by flak, exploded in mid-air and crashed near Munster, Germany on 22-Feb-44. Killed in Action (KIA). MACR 2872. ...

  • Paul Glass

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Top Turret gunner | 379th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 526BS, 379BG, 8AF USAAF. 17 x combat missions. ETD Awards: AM, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Baine Hawthorne

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 379th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 524BS, 379BG, 8AF USAAF. 35 x combat missions. ETD Awards: AM, WWII Victory, EAME.

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  • Eye

    Military site : airfield
    Eye air base was not a Class A base but was constructed to a less demanding standard by the 827th and 859th Battalions of U.S. Army Engineers in 1943 and was finished in early 1944. Unusually, a group of its hardstandings were on the other side of the...

  • Kimbolton

    Military site : airfield
    Planned for RAF use, Kimbolton airfield was built by W and C French Ltd. in 1941. The airfield was increased in size to accommodate a full US heavy Bomb Group, and the first such unit to us it was the 91st Bomb Group, who arrived in September 1942....

  • Presque Isle Army Airfield

    Military site : airfield


Not yet known


Date Contributor Update
04 February 2020 21:46:34 phil marchese Changes to production block number and manufacturer

Freeman; ...Story..., block ranges and changes.

Date Contributor Update
09 January 2020 15:22:49 phil marchese Changes to nicknames and markings

Famous Fortresses

Date Contributor Update
18 September 2019 17:38:24 lateralus2 Changes to description

Corrected "Ole" to "Ol;" in second paragraph.

Date Contributor Update
18 September 2019 17:37:01 lateralus2 Changes to nicknames

Corrected name from "Ole" to "Ol'". This is the name notation noted in all documents I have reviewed (you can also review as one citation). I also flipped the names from "Topper / Ol Gappy" to "Ol' Gappy / Topper." This is also in line with typical naming on other websites and documentation.

On 17 September 1944, Missy Rung-Blue received an email from Mike Lilley, son of Thomas Lilley, who was also assigned to the 379th BG, 524th Squadron out of Kimbolton. His father flew many missions on Ol'Gappy/Topper. This is what he had to say (assuming this came from his father):
"If you see references to an 8th Air Force plane named "Ol' Gappy", which flew the most missions of any bomber in the 8th, that was his plane. The real name was "Topper", with the image of a top hat and gloves on the nose. It also had "Ol' Gappy painted on the nose turret, but that was a reference to the crew chief, who had a wide gap in his teeth. The "Topper" name wasn't painted by the nose art, so people began calling it by the other name."

Date Contributor Update
16 September 2019 19:03:07 lateralus2 Changes to person associations

Associations - People. Added James E. Rung, my father. He was the navigator on Ole Gappy/Topper on the ONLY aborted mission that plane had. Source:

Date Contributor Update
16 September 2019 18:22:32 lateralus2 Changes to nicknames, markings and events

Name and fuselage code: also

Date Contributor Update
26 November 2015 10:33:34 Lucy May Changes to description and person associations

Added information from user 'cody1947', Richard Lewis.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:40:51 AAM AAM ingest

Dave Osborne, B-17 Fortress Master Log