24 April 1944 Oberpfaffenhofen (aircraft plant)
42-37789 SU*H 544th BS; Scrubbed for the mission; the plane was test flown later that day by Nuttall; Lt. Col. Nuttall, 2nd Lt. Alfred E. Cole (CP), 2nd Lt. Harold F. Gantert (N), & Charles Anderson (RO) were flying when the plane shed part of a wing as they were approaching the runway to land. No one was injured in the accident, but the possibilities were enormous. A siphoning [leaking] wing tank and a flare back as Col. Nuttall cut the throttles which set fire to the escaping gas causing a terrific explosion were the contributing causes to the crash. The portion of the wing dropped off when the plane was still about 15 feet off the ground as the explosion occurred, the ship dropped solidly to the runway and careened off to the left onto the grass where it tipped to the side minus the wing portion and caught fire. The crew abandoned ship in a hurry and in spite of the efforts of fire fighters, the plane was almost entirely consumed. From the 544BS History; salvaged on 4/25/44.
Photo courtesy of Marge Cook, 2011.