IRL E. BALDWIN CREW - 358th BS
B-17F Hell's Angels #41-24577 (VK-D)
Crew in front of the 359th BS 8-Ball #41-24581
(original crew assigned 358BS: 15 Sep 1942 - photo: 13 Oct 1942)
Capt Irl E. Baldwin (P)(1),
1Lt Ripley W. Joy (CP)(2),
Capt Harold Fulghum (N)(POW)(3),
1Lt Donald R. Bone (B)(4)
T/Sgt James E. Rodriguez, Jr. (E)(5),
T/Sgt Russell M. "Birddog" Warren (R)(6),
S/Sgt Harry J. "Jim" Brody (BTG)(7),
S/Sgt Harold E. Godwin (TG)(9),
S/Sgt Allerton F. "Fred" Meddaugh, Jr.(LWG)(8)
Crewmen not in Photo:
S/Sgt Dennis Weiskopf (RWG)(10), 1Lt Parley W. Madsen (N)(POW)(11).
Baldwin Crew's Crew's B-17:
B-17F 41-24577 Hell's Angels 358th BS (VK-D). Was assigned to the Baldwin
Crew on 16 October 1942 at Kellogg Field, Battle Creek, MI and was flown to
Molesworth, England arriving on 24 October 1942. On the 4th or 5th combat
mission Captain Baldwin remarked on the interphone that he was thinking about a
name for the crew's B-17. He asked, "How about 'Hell's Angels' from the movie
of that name?" One of the crewmen, commenting on the combat mission being
flown stated, "This is the closest to hell that angels will ever get!" The crew
then agreed that "Hell's Angels" would be a good name for their B-17. The
"Hell's Angels" nose art was painted on the right side of the fuselage in late
November or early December 1942 by PFC Bernard K. Kastenbaum. Eighth Air Force
Headquarters later issued a directive that squadron and aircraft letters be
painted on the fuselage sides of all B-17s. PFC Kastenbaum's original nose
was removed and was repainted on the nose by the crew's Tail Gunner S/Sgt
Harold E. Godwin. "Hell's Angels" completed 25 combat missions on 13 May 1943
becoming the first 8th Air Force B-17 to fly 25 missions.
On 07 January 1944 the 303rd BG(H) adopted the name "Hell's Angels" as the
Groups official name. On 26 November 1943 "Hell's Angels completed 48 combat
On 20 January 1944 "Hell's Angels" departed Molesworth with hundreds of names
scrawled in white paint over the fuselage. Twelve crewman made the flight to
the USA with Capt John M. Johnson as the Pilot. Six members of the ground
crew, including the Crew Chief M/Sgt Fabian Folmer, were aboard. M/Sgt Folmer
had been awarded the Legion of Merit Medal for his achievements as Crew Chief.
After arriving at Tinker Field, Oklahoma City, OK on 29 January 1944 where
Capt Baldwin met his old B-17, "Hell's Angels" embarked on an industrial
morale tour of the USA visiting 18 cities. The tour ended on 19 May 1944 at March
Field, Riverside, CA. Following the tour "Hell's Angels" was transferred to
the USAAF Training Command and was used to proudly train many crews until the
end of the war. On 7 August Hell's Angels was transferred to Searcy Field, OK
and was finally scrapped.
Capt Irl Baldwin's combat missions:
Additional information and photos:
1 (17 Nov 1942), 3, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27,
28, 29, 31, 33, 34, 35 (14 May 1943). All missions were flown in "Hell's Angels" except mission 31 on 17 April 1943, which was flow in B-17F 42-29644 "Jersey Bounce, Jr." 358th BS (VK-C).
Inspiring a Nation: The Story of the Hellís Angels
- Capt Irl Baldwin (P) - On 14 May 1943 became the first 303rd BG(H)
Officer to complete his 25 mission combat tour.
- 1Lt Ripley W. Joy (CP) - Mission #1 flew as Left Waist Gunner.
Missions 34, 35 (Aborted) 37, 38, 39, 40, 41 flew as CoPilot with other Pilots.
Mission #41 flown as Tail Gunner. Was upgraded from CoPilot to Pilot on 04
June 1943. Flew as Pilot on five missions (48, 49, 50, 51 (Aborted), 53)
with 1Lt William J. Monahan as his CoPilot.
- Capt Harold Fulghum (N)(POW) - Only flew one mission (#1) with the
Baldwin Crew. Missions 3 & 4 flown as a Lead Crew Navigator with other Pilots. On
mission #4, 23 November 1942 to St. Nazaire France in B-17F #41-24609 Holy
Mackerel, Major George L. Robinson Pilot, Captain Fulgham was wounded, bailed out
over the target and became a POW. Holy Mackerel had been hit by flak, causing
considerable damage and making the interphone inoperative. Hydraulic fluid
flowing into the Navigator's compartment led Capt Fulghum to believe that the fluid
was blood and that the Pilot had been killed. He bailed out in a panic situation.
The crew had substitute Navigators on missions 3, 5, 9, 10 &14 after
which Capt Fulghum was replaced as the crew's Navigator by 1Lt Parley W.
- 1Lt Donald R. Bone (B) - Completed his combat tour on 15 May 1943.
Did not fly on mission 10. Flew on mission 36 with another Pilot.
- T/Sgt James E. Rodriguez (E) - Completed combat tour on 17 May 1943.
Did not fly on mission 10. Flew on mission 37 as Right Waist Gunner
with another Pilot.
- T/Sgt Russell M. Warren (R) - Completed his combat tour on 25 May 1943.
Did not fly on mission 10. Flew on mission 38, as a nose gunner,
and missions 39 & 40 with other pilots
- S/Sgt Harry J. Brody (BTG) - Completed his combat tour on 14 May 1943.
Flew all of his missions with Capt Baldwin.
- S/Sgt Allerton F. "Fred" Meddaugh (RWG) - Completed his combat tour on
21 May 1943. Did not fly on missions 10 & 14. Flew on missions 38 & 39 with
- S/Sgt Harold E. Godwin (TG). Completed his combat tour on 21 May 1943.
Did not fly on mission 10 & 27. Flew on missions 38 & 39 with
another Pilot as a Nose Gunner.
- S/Sgt Dennis Weiskopf (LWG) - Did not fly overseas from the USA to
England with the Capt Baldwin Crew and was assigned to the crew at Molesworth.
Completed his combat tour on 21 May 1943. Did not fly on missions 13 & 10. Flew
on missions 17 & 18 as Right Waist Gunner with another Pilot. Flew on
missions 30, 38 & 39 with other Pilots as a Photographer.
- 1Lt Parley W. Madsen, Jr. (N)(POW) - Replaced Capt Harold Fulghum as
the crew Navigator. on mission #9. Did not fly on mission 10 & 14.
Flew on missions 39 & 40 with 360th BS Lt Joseph E. Trojan as Pilot. Mission #40, 23
November 1942, was flown in B-17F 41-24602 Yardbird 360BS (PU-A) on a mission to St. Nazaire
France. It was disabled by flak over the target and was subsequently
hit by attacking FW-190s and ME-109s which caused the B-17 to crash near
Pleubian, France. The CoPilot was killed, Engineer died of wounds as a POW and other crewmen, including Lt Madsen, became POWs.
by Brian Rukes
written in Fall 1998 for a Historical Research and Writing Class
as a student at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Oklahoma
(based on interviews with Capt Irl E. Baldwin and M/Sgt Fabian S. Folmer)
The Boeing B-17F-25-BO which became known as the Hellís Angels was one of the most notable aircraft that participated in World War II. This aircraft started out as just an ordinary bomber, and it was no more special than other such B-17s at the time. However, the actions of the persons associated with Hellís Angels made the aircraft unique and its presence significant. Hellís Angels came to serve as a symbol of those persons, and that symbol inspired others to work harder and strive for the best. It inspired a nation to win a war. . . .
continued . . .
[photo from the 303rdBGA Archives]
[Researched by Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]