Many of the aircraft in the 511th were named "Ball" after the squadron commander, LTC Clinton F. Ball, who commanded between Nov. 24, 1942 and Sep. 23, 1943. My Grandfather flew at least eight different aircraft on combat missions, including the "Snoozin Susan" #42-29860, "Cannon Ball" #42-39834, "Devil's Ball" #42-31238, "Liberty Ball" #42-31875, and "Super Ball" #42-37825. Most of LT Mears' earlier missions were flown on the Cannon Ball, until he crash-landed this aircraft at Polebrook on Jan. 30, 1944. This was a training accident, as he was performing a check-ride on a junior pilot, and the junior pilot retracted the landing gear instead of employing the flaps, causing them to land without landing gear. After this incident LT Mears flew several different aircraft, settling with #42-31882 until he abandoned the aircraft over the English Channel due to heavy damage from antiaircraft fire (flak) over the Ruhr Valley in Germany. Nearly all manual controls were completely severed, and it was all that LT Mears could do to keep the aircraft at a steady altitude, much less land. He flew the aircraft back to England, ordered the crew to bail out, and then sent the B-17 back in the direction of the Channel. According to Mr. Hobt, the radio operator, the crew intended to make this aircraft "Cannon Ball 2", but it was ditched in the Channel before they could paint the new name on the nose. Finally, the Super Ball was crash-landed in Switzerland after taking several direct hits by 20mm shells from German Fw 190 fighters. Mr. Hobt tells me that of the 8 aircraft that they flew, only Snoozin Susan survived and was returned to the United States.  All the rest were lost in combat or destroyed upon return to England.         

cannonball2 p002 p020 p058 superball2 tail2 tail2


Mission Record:

Nov. 26, 1943 Target: Bremen (H2X)
42-39834 Lt. G. W. Mears

Dec. 1, 1943 Target: Solingen (H2X)
42-39834 Lt. G. W. Mears

Dec. 5, 1943 Target: Paris
Cloud covered target, returned without bombing.
42-39834 Lt. G. W. Mears

Dec. 11, 1943 Target: Emden
42-39834 Lt. G. W. Mears

Dec. 22, 1943 Target: Osnabruck
Weather recall, mission credited.
42-39834 Lt. G. W. Mears

Dec. 24, 1943 Target: V-bomb site, France
42-39834 Lt. G. W. Mears

Dec. 31, 1943 Target: Cognac (Secondary)
42-29860 Lt. G. W. Mears


Jan. 11, 1944 Target: Center of Industrial Area, Oschersleben/Konigslutter, Germany
42-39834 Lt. G. W. Mears
Landed at Wendling. Pilot George W. Mears.

Jan. 21, 1944 Target: Military Installations in NW France (V-bomb site)
42-97492 Lt. G. W. Mears

Jan. 24, 1944 Target: Frankfurt, Germany (Recalled while over Belgium, mission not credited)
42-39834 Lt. G. W. Mears

Jan. 29, 1944 Target: Center of Industrial Area, Frankfurt, Germany (H2X)
42-39834 Lt. G. W. Mears

Jan. 30, 1944 Target: Industrial Area, Brunswick, Germany (H2X)
42-39834 Lt. G. W. Mears
Crash-landed at Polebrook. Salvaged. Pilot Lt. George W. Mears.

Feb. 3, 1944 Target: Industrial Area, Wihelmshaven, Germany
42-31238 Lt. G. W. Mears

Feb. 4, 1944 Target: Industrial Area, Frankfurt, Germany (H2X)
42-31694 Lt. G. W. Mears

Feb. 6, 1944 Target: Aerodrome, Caen, France (Secondary)
42-37825 Lt. G. W. Mears

Feb. 11, 1944 Target: Industrial Area, Frankfurt, Germany
A/C H-857 Lt. G. W. Mears

Feb. 20, 1944 Target: Leipzig
42-31882 Lt. G. W. Mears

Feb. 21, 1944 Target: Achmer (Secondary)
42-31882 Lt. G. W. Mears

Feb. 22, 1944 Target: Aerodrome and Assembly Plant, Bernberg/Magdeberg, Germany
42-31882 Lt. G. W. Mears
Abandoned over England, crew safe.

Mar. 6, 1944 Target: Industrial Area, Templin, Germany (Berlin)
42-31238 Lt. G. W. Mears

Mar. 9, 1944 Target: Industrial Area, Berlin, Germany
42-31875 Lt. G. W. Mears

Mar. 13, 1944 Target: Aerodrome, Poix, France
42-37825 Lt. G. W. Mears

Mar. 18, 1944 Target: Aerodrome and Assembly Plant, Landsberg, Germany
42-37825 Lt. G. W. Mears
Landed in Switzerland. Lt. George W. Mears, Lt. Russell E. Ward, Lt. James D. Mahaffey, Lt. Richard L. Davis, T/Sgt. Samuel R. Simms, T/Sgt. Richard D. Hobt, S/Sgt. Earl R. Echstenkamper, S/Sgt. John B. Lucas Jnr., S/Sgt. Caleb B. Hurst, Sgt. Frank L. Selover, (all interned).


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