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359th Bales Crew
Ross C. Bales, Pilot
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ROSS C. BALES CREW - 359th BS
Idaho Potato Peeler Kids 41-24565 (BN-P)
(original crew assigned 359BS: 28 Feb 1942 - photo: 10 Oct 1942)

Original Crew Overseas flight - Ross C. Bales Crew
(Back Row) 1Lt Ross C. Bales (P)(KIA)[far left] 1Lt Wilson N. McGough (CP),
2lt Richard C. Browning (N)(KIA), 2Lt William D. Cargill (B) [far right]

(Front Row) S/Sgt Raymond K. Winter (E)(KIA), Pvt Homer T. Perkins (AE/WG)(KIA),
S/Sgt Raymond H. Kilgore (R)(KIA), Sgt John P. Klee (A/RO/BTG),
Sgt Jack D. Snell (TG)(KIA), S/Sgt Allen R. Robinson (Armorer - Passenger)

Ranks and grades at time of overseas flight.
Photo location of crewmen not known, except as indicated.



BALES CREW - 359th BS
FDR Potato Peeler Kids 42-5243 (BN-P)

(Back L-R) Capt Ross C. Bales (P)*, 2Lt Walter E. Dooley (CP)*,
2Lt Paul W. Thomas (B), 2Lt Richard C. Browning (N)**

(Front L-R) Sgt Homer W. Perkins (WG), S/Sgt Raymond K. Winter (E)*,
Sgt Jack D. Snell (TG)*, S/Sgt Raymond H. Kilgore (R)*, S/Sgt Joseph G. Zsampar (BT)*

(*) KIA 14 May 1943 with Capt Ross Bales on mission to Kiel, Germany.
Crashed at sea in #42-5243

(**) KIA 31 March 1943 flying with the Keith Bartlett Crew in #41-24559 Ooold Soljer midair collision with #41-29573 Two Beauts

[photos from the 303rdBGA Archives]


BALES CREW - 359th BS
Idaho Potato Peeler 41-24565 (BN-P)

Twenty-one credited Combat Missions flown by Capt Ross C. Bales: 1 (AS)(17 Nov 42), 2, 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15(AS), 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 26, 30, 31, 32, 33(AS), 34, 35 (14 May 43)
For Mission dates, targets and Mission Reports, see Combat Missions - (AS) Credited Abortive Sortie - No bombs dropped

Crew Notes:

  • Capt Ross C. Bales (P)(KIA) - Mission 26 was flown as CoPilot with the 2Lt James S. Nix crew

  • 2Lt Wilson N. McGough (CP) - Flew on 4 missions - 1, 2, 7, 9 Replaced by 1Lt Walter E. Dooley (CP)(KIA) who flew on 14 missions with the Capt Bales Crew - 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 19, 22, 24, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35. Substitute CoPilots used on 3 missions - 18, 21, 26

  • 1Lt Richard C. Browning (N)(KIA) - Flew on the 1st fifteen Capt Bales Crew missions - 1 through 26. Flew with another crew on mission #8. KIA on mission #27, 31 March 1943, to Rotterdam, Netherlands, with the 1Lt Keith O. Bartlett Crew in 359BS B-17F 41-24559 Ooold Soljer that was involved in a mid-air collision shortly after take-off. Substitute Navigators used on last six Capt Bales Crew missions: Capt Norman N. Jacobsen - Mission 30 & 31; 1Lt Daniel A, McColl (KIA) - Missions 32, 33, 34, 35.

  • 1Lt William C. Cargill (B) - Flew on two missions with the Capt Bales Crew - 32 & 33. and on twelve missions with other Pilots: 1Lt Ercil F. Eyster - 3, 6, 9, 11, 13, 20, 22, 23, 25, 26; Capt William R. Calhoun - 5 & 21. Was replaced as the regular crew Bombardier by 1Lt Paul W. Thomas who flew on fourteen missions with the Capt Bales Crew - 1, 2, 7, 10, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 30, 31. Substitute Bombardiers used on seven missions - 9, 11, 26, 32, 33, 34, 35. Bombardier on the last two Capt Bales missions (34 & 35) was 1Lt Rhude M. Mathis (KIA), Brother of MOH Awardee 1Lt Jack Mathis.

  • T/Sgt Raymond K. Winter (E)(KIA) - Flew on all of the Capt Bales missions except for missions 26 & 32 where substitute Engineers were used. Flew on two missions with other pilots - 8 & 12.

  • T/Sgt Raymond H. Kilgore (R)(KIA) - Flew on all of the Capt Bales missions except for missions 15 & 26 where substitute Radio Operators were used.
S/Sgt Zip Zsampar      
  • S/Sgt John P. Klee (BTG) - Flew on three missions with Capt Bales - 1, 2 & 7 and one mission with another Pilot - #3. Was replaced by S/Sgt Joseph G. "Zip" Zsampar (BTG)(KIA) who flew with the Capt Bales crew on twelve missions - 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 18, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35. Substitute Ball Turret Gunners used on five missions - 9, 19, 21, 22, 24.

  • S/Sgt Homer T. Perkins (WG) - Flew on the first ten Capt Bales Crew missions - 1 thru 18. Flew on four missions with other Pilots - 3, 4, 8, 12. Substitute Waist Gunners used on four missions - 19, 21, 22, 24. The Capt Bales Crew missions used S/Sgt Francis W. O'Reiley (WG)(KIA) on seven missions - 22, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35


  • S/Sgt Edward A. Van Ravenstein (WG)(KIA) - Became the regular Left Waist Gunner when the crew arrived overseas at Molesworth. Flew on all of the Capt Bales missions except for mission 1 & 2 where substitute Waist Gunners were used.

  • S/Sgt Jack D. Snell (TG)(KIA) - Flew on all of the Capt Bales Crew missions. Also flew on three missions with other Pilots - 5, 8 & 12.
Favorite B-17s used by the Capt Bales - A native of Idaho
  • B-17F 41-24565 Idaho Potato Peeler 359BS (BN-P) - missions 1, 2, 7, 10, 11. Original crew B-17 named by 1Lt Ross Bales. The Bales crew made a wheels-up crash landing, in a badly damaged condition, with no injuries, at Chipping Warden, England returning on mission #11, 23 January 1943. Underwent extensive repairs and returned to combat on mission 42, 23 June 1943. Completed 22 additional combat missions. Was lost on 5 November 1943, 2Lt Ambrose G. Grant, Pilot, on mission #81 to Gelsenkirchen, Germany - 1 KIA & 9 POW (MACR 1157).

  • B-17F 42-5243 FDR Potato Peeler Kids 359BS (BN-P) - 29 January 1943 replacement for Idaho Potato Peeler with Squadron and Group pressure to name a 303rd BG(H) B-17 after President Roosevelt (FDR) - Flown by the Capt Bales Crew on 13 combat missions: 14, 15, 17, 18, 21, 22, 26, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35
Last mission of the Capt Bales Crew:

Mission 35, 14 May 1943, to Keil, Germany in B-17F FDR Potato Peeler Kids. (MACR 15593). The B-17 was last seen going down in a spin and crashing into the North Sea. All crewmen were KIA.

[top photo courtesy of Col. Walter K. Shayler - second photo courtesy of Louise Hampson]
[Researched by Harry D. Gobrecht, 303rdBGA Historian Emeritus]