A few time before arriving on target, the 97th Bomber-Group is attacked by german fighters.
A B-17, serial 42-31044, is badly hit by enemy shots. We have foud the pilot of this plane, second leutenant Frank G. Chaplick, who told us with details his last and terrific mission :
F. Chaplik report : while approaching our target, the group had to make a marked left turn to correct our attack angle envisaged on the flight road. Our plane being on the right wing of the formation, I was shifted and almost isolated to prevent a risk of collision. That was fatal for us, because our B-17 was took under enemy shootings.
With 2 engines in fire, and a third with cough, ther was othing left to do, even holding the commands
Unfortunately, our radio-operator and the side machine gunner had been killed during the attack. Quite as terrible, our tail machine gunner have just the force to inform us by the intercom that he was dying.
Suddenly, a Me-109 had the bad idea to fly side by side with us on our left a few moment!
Immediately, the navigator directed the two .50 machine guns of the chin turret on him and sifted it literally of impacts.
The German plane dive of the nose by releasing a long black plume of smoke, while P-47 arrived extremely fortunately at the rescue stopping immediatly the fight.
One of them escorted us and we took a direct course to Corsica.
Then, a call with the Calvi's control tower let us know that the landing track was to short to receive a damaged plane of our size.
I decided then, in spite of our 2 now cut engines (fire having been extinct thanks to the wings extinguishers), to make a first passage to evaluate the ground. Again on the sea, I was on our final approach when the third damaged engine stopped. Now, having enough power at this time and losing immediatly altitude, I had nothing any more but one choice: to make a water landing.
That's the way I landed the B-17 on the water, very close in front of the Calvi's citadel.The plane didn't break during the operation, and floated a few minutes, which enabled us to evacuate it, except the 3 machine gunners killed during the attack and whose bodies sunk with the wrecks.
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After this difficult mission, the second lieutenant Chaplick went back definitively to the USA, the war for him, was ended.
Today, the wrecks of second lieutenant Franck Chaplick's B-17, is one of the most beautiful to visit. It lay by only 90 feet depth.
At one time, some people had the idea to pick up the wreck to sell aluminium of it. It was during such an operation, that the wreck was broken. Later, a diver discovered a wallet which had belonged to one of the killed machine gunners.
Since ten years now, divers also cut blades of the propellers... while the cockpit was lately destroy by an anchor. Too bad!