|Rolf Zaugg and B-17G 42-102446|
|Swiss researcher and historian Rolf Zaugg with some of the items he recovered from the wreckage of B-17 42-102446 "Little Chub," in September 2000.|
|On April 24, 1944, the 384th BG attacked the Dornier aircraft works at Oberphaffenhofen, Germany. On this disasterous mission. the 384th lost 7 aircraft. One of the B-17's lost by the group was the 545th BS ship "Little Chub," serial # 42-102446, code JD*M, piloted by 1st LT Everett L. Bailey.
The plane was attacked by fighters over Stuttgart, and the bombardier, LT Jesse Greenebaum, was hit by 2 20mm shells. The crew was preparing for a crash landing near Lake Greifensee in Switzerland, at an altitude of 1000', when the plane was attacked by 3 Swiss fighters. In a second attack, Fritz Kolb, a Swiss pilot flying a French-built Morane fighter, fired 2 rockets as a warning, which went unnoticed. He then attacked the plane, which immediately caught fire and plummeted into the lake. Five of the crewmembers drowned. Two of the wounded crewmen were killed by the Swiss attack. Only 4 crewmembers survived to become Internees. LT Bailey, who bailed out, was killed when his chute failed to deploy due to insufficient altitude.
Kolb did not know that "Little Chub," one of 14 handicapped B-17's that the Swiss had ordered to land on the airfield in Dubendorf that day, pulled away to allow the crew to jettison the ball turret. The pilot decided to circle waiting for the crew to bailout, hoping to belly-land in one of the nearby fields.
Embarrassed Swiss authorities has to explain to the public why the Swiss airforce had shot down a crippled handicapped American bomber trying to land in neutral Switzerland. The official justification was based on the recent accidental bombing by the Americans on the Swiss town of Schaffhausen. The Swiss Army, as well as hundreds of sympathetic civilians, honored the Americans killed in the downing of "Little Chub."
In 1953, most of the wreckage was recovered from the Lake, along with the body of the Co-Pilot, 2LT James E. Burry, by a Swiss researcher. The aircraft was displayed for a short period of time before it was ultimately scrapped. However, much of the wreckage, including the #2 engine and 2 of the propeller assemblies, remained on the bottom of the lake.
On September 29, 2000, 32-year old Rolf Zaugg brought in experienced divers and recovery equipment in the hopes of bringing up more of "Little Chub." At a personal investment of thousands of dollars, Rolf was able to recover the frequency meter box complete with batteries (one one which still produced 1.6V), the frequency calibration book, a parachute, rounds of live ammunition, several large sections of the wing and fuselage, 2 complete propeller assemblies, and the #2 Wright R-1820-65 engine.
Also on hand was 83 year old Fritz Kolb, one of the Swiss pilots involved in the downing.
To house the collection of parts, Rolf is now building a museum in an ancient Bernese farm. Rolf is hoping to obtain support from local authorities, who are favorable of his project. Rolf has dismantled the engine and, unbelievably, has restored it to flying status. "All it needs are the wire harnesses and fuel to get it running."
Rolf is looking for any information on the crew of Everett Bailey, including crew photos, list of missions flown, pictures or info on the plane "Little Chub," or any relevant information. Please help Rolf with this very worthy labor of love, as it stands as a proud tribute to a 384th crew. Rolf can be e-mailed at: email@example.com
|LEFT: The recovered #2 engine from the wreckage of "Little Chub," September 2000.
RIGHT: The same engine, after a full restoration, with its proud restorer, Rolf Zaugg.