B-17 42-5233 Flying Fortress

15th Air Force

15th Air Force Patch World War II

The Rigor Mortis flew 2 missions with the 301st when they were first assigned to the newly formed 15th Air Force. These missions were in November of 1943 and were to targets in Turin and Bolzano, Italy.

15th AF, 301st BG, 32nd BS patches and insignia

Six days after being transferred to the 96th Bomb Squadron, 2nd Bombardment Group, the Rigor Mortis was in the air on a mission to France on 16 November 1943. These would be followed by missions to Italy including targets in Bolzano and Padua before the conclusion of 1943.

In early 1944, the 15th Air Force continued their strategic bombing campaign to Aviano, Udine, Anzio and Rome Italy. Then they began turning their attention north and east crossing the Adriatic for targets in Zagreb, Yugoslavia and Steyr, Austria. The Rigor Mortis would remain with the 2nd Bombardment Group until late March of 1944.

15th AF, 2nd BG, 96th BS patches and insignia

At the end of March the Rigor Mortis would be transferred to the 817th Bomb Squadron, 483rd Bombardment Group a new B-17 group just assigned to the 15th Air Force. 42-5233 would fly a handful of missions with 483rd before the toll of 16 months of battle brought retirement. It would be another year before Germany would surrender and V-E Day would end the war for all of the groups of the 15th Air Force.

15th AF, 483rd BG, 817th BS patches and insignia

The 15th Air Force task was the Strategic Bombardment of Italy, France, Germany, Romania, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Yugoslavia and Greece.

Constituted as Fifteenth Air Force on 30 October 1943. Activated in the Mediterranean theater on 1 November 1943. It began operations on 2 November and was inactivated in Italy on 15 September 1945.


  • 5th Bombardment: 1943-1945
  • 42nd Bombardment: 1943
  • 47th Bombardment: 1944-1945
  • 49th Bombardment: 1944-1945
  • 55th Bombardment: 1944- 1945
  • 304th Bombardment: 1943-1945
  • 305th Bombardment : 1943-1945
  • 306th Fighter: 1944-1945
  • 307th Bombardment: 1944


  • Tunis, Tunisia, 1 November 1943
  • Bari, Italy, 1 December 1943-15 September 1945


  • Maj. Gen. James H. Doolittle, 1 November 1943
  • Maj. Gen. Nathan F. Twining, 3 January 1944
  • Brig. Gen. James A. Mollison, 26 May 1945
  • Brig. Gen. William L. Lee, 3 August 1945
  • Col. Elmer J. Rogers Jr, 31 August - 15 September 1945


  • Air Combat, EAME Theater
  • Air Offensive, Europe
  • Naples-Foggia
  • Anzio
  • Rome-Arno
  • Normandy
  • Northern France
  • Southern France
  • North Apennines
  • Rhineland
  • Central Europe
  • Po Valley

Copyright, Robert Coalter
All Rights Reserved

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Softcover, 2020. ISBN: 9781714727803 8x10 in. 382 pages. 291 Black & White pictures of documents, photos and artifacts.

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Hardcover, 2020. ISBN: 9781714711666 8x10 in. 382 pages. 125 Color and 166 Black & White pictures of documents, photos and artifacts.