REPORT : 100th ARW & 100th Bomber Group

100th Air Refuelling Wing Nose Art to Honour 100th Bomber Group

For the past few years the 100th Air Refuelling Wing, based at RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk. UK has been sporting names and nose art on its fleet of fifteen Boeing KC-135’s. However, having nose art on aircraft is not new and dates back to the Great War of 1914 to 1918, but more so in World War II where crews of both bombers and fighters used to have all sorts of art and names painted onto their aircraft, some as dedications to their loved ones, some to appear menacing to the enemy and others just to have some fun in the dangerous lives they led, fighting in the skies above the world.
As time went by, so the nose art changed to illustrate cartoon characters and Comic strip heroes of that era to name a few. However, after the end of World War II, the artistic drawings on aircraft disappeared somewhat until Operation Desert Storm in 1991 when aircraft where again seen with nose art. Who can forget the RAF Tornado’s painted with Shark Teeth and rather risky images of scantily dressed women. 

The 100th Air Refuelling Wing, over the past few years has re-introduced nose art and names to their fleet of fifteen Boeing KC-135 tankers not for any reason other than to honour their heritage and those men who flew with the 100th Bomber Group during World War II.

100th Bomber Group “The Bloody One Hundreth”

During June 1943 the 100 Bomber group started to arrive in East Anglia, Thorpe Abbots airfield which was to be their home for the remainder of the war. They started off flying their Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses over the country, getting used to landmarks, locations and practising for the formation flying that became so iconic during the latter part of World War II.

On 25th June 1943, their first mission was a bombing raid on the submarine pens at Bremen, Germany. That mission alone they lost three aircraft and thirty crewmen. This was the start of the nickname given to the 100th Bomber Group, “The Bloody One Hundredth” because loses from this particular group mounted on every mission flown and it soon acquired a reputation as “as a hard-luck unit” very early on.
On 17th August 1943, the 100th flew to Regensburg, Germany targeting a factory where Messerschmitt Me-109s were built. However, Regensburg was heavily defended by German fighters which played havoc with mass formation, destroying 24 B-17’s of which nine were from 100th (90 crew members died).
In October 1943 other missions over Bremen and Munster losses mounted, seven on the Bremen raid and twelve on the Muster raid, 190 crew members lost. 14th October 1943, the Bloody 100th were only able to send only eight B-17’s on a raid over Schweinfurt, where Ball-bearings were made. Sixty aircraft were lost on this raid in total, but all eight from Thorpe Abbotts returned. The first time that 100th had no losses.

The one hundredth Bomber group grew to be infamous amongst the other bomber groups and sight of the B-17’s big “D” on the tail sometimes caused upset amongst other Bomber Groups, especially if they were in the next formation on bombing missions.

The introduction of the famous P-51 Mustang which could escort the bombers to and from their targets eased the losses for a while, but on 6th March 1945, the 100th suffered its worst losses of the war—15 aircraft and 150 crewmen—on a second mission to Berlin.

It is reported by the 100th Bomb Group Foundation that the group lost 184 aircrews flying 306 missions during their time in the European Theatre of War. However, the unit itself, earned two Distinguished Unit Citations for their missions over Regensburg, 17 August 1943 and Berlin, 4th, 6th and 8th March 1944.

Today, the 100 Air Refuelling Wing, a direct descendant of the 100 Bomber Group, is the only modern USAF operational wing allowed to display on its assigned aircraft the tail code (Square-D) of its World War II predecessor. Since 1st February 1992, the “Square D” has again been seen over the skies of Europe as the Boeing KC-135’s based at RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk now all have the Black square with a white “D” on their tails.

100th Air Refuelling Wing

As of November 2020, the 100th Air Refuelling Wing has fifteen Boeing KC-135’s based at RAF Mildenhall. All bar one (at the time of writing this report) has a dedicated nose art and name visible. 63-7999 arrived on 15th November 2020 and is yet to be painted in the unit livery, but is expected to take on the name of “Wolff Pack” soon.

Each name and nose art is dedicated to a particular B-17 and crew of 100th Bomber Group

Boeing KC-135R : 57-1440 “High Life”

It arrived into the fleet on 17th August 2018 having not served before with 100th ARW as far as I am aware. It was first noted, 4th April 2019 with nose art and name of “High Life”.

Boeing B-17 : 42-30082 served at Thorpe Abbotts from 9th June 1943 but went missing in action on 17th August 1943 having crash landed Dubendorf, near Zurich, Switzerland, where it was dismantled and taken to Kloten for storage, which eventually scrapped.

Crew : Pilot Don Oakes, co-pilot: Joe Harper, navigator: Hiram Harris, bombardier: Lloyd Hammarlund, flight engineer / top turret gunner: George Elder, radio operator: Jim Scott, ball turret gunner: Les Nadeau, Waist gunner: Vince McGrath, Waist gunner: Nolan Stevens, Tail gunner: Leon Goyer

Image by Philip Dilley

Boeing KC-135R 57-2605 “Big Gas Bird” NKAWTG

Arrived into the 100th ARW  fleet on 20th October 2016 on its second known tour. Its previous tour was from 10th May 2001 until (unknown).It was noted on 22nd April 2019 with the name MKAWTG / “BiggAsBird”

The 100th ARW had to place an extra “G” in the name to make more likeable for today’s social standards. The “NKAWTG” stands for “Never Kick-Ass, Without Taking Gas”.

Boeing B-17 : 42-30799 that served at Thorpe Abbotts from 20th August 1943 but went missing in action on 6th March 1944, having been shot down during an attack by fighters near Haselünne, Germany. The aircraft crashed Hollwedel, SE of Harpstedt, 25 miles SE of Oldenburg, Germany. It was named “Big Ass Bird II”.

Crew :  Pilot : Bill Murray, Radio Operator: Fred Schillinger,Tail gunner: Mahlon Hall (3 Killed in Action); Co-pilot: Dick Landiotte, Navigator: Orrin Heinrich, Bombardier: Bill Carr, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Emory Brandt, Ball turret gunner: Jim Pease, Waist gunner: Nick Hamelak, Waist gunner: Palmer Hanson (7 Prisoner of War).

Boeing KC-135R 58-0036 “Homesick Angel”

It arrived on 30th September 2019 as having served with the 100th Air Refuelling Wing from 29th October 2006 to 3rd September 2010 and was noted painted in 100th ARW livery on 10th October and with its new name on 19th October 2019.

This is one of two names and nose art that are not related to the 100th Bomber Group.

Boeing B-17 : 42-3147. This was part of 97th Bomber Group and went “missing in action on 14th November 1943 over Istres, France.

Crew : 1 : Pilot Lt Richard A Packard Jr, 2Lt William D Waters, 2Lt Daniel E Dustin, 2Lt Leon E Case Jr, T/Sgt Melvin E Hertel, T/Sgt Leo F Garrity, S/Sgt Earl W Large, S/Sgt Charles D Atkins Jr, S/Sgt James W Elliot (9 Killed in Action); S/Sgt Kenneth O Eslick (Prisoner of War)

Boeing KC-135R 58-0100  “One Hundred Proof”

This is also known as the “Boss Bird” due its serial having “100” in it. Under the fuselage, it bears the name of RAF Mildenhall current base commander, Colonel Troy Pananon who became such on 14th  May 2019.

It arrived into the fleet on 17th November 2011 having already had two know previous tours :- 19th May 1992 to 19th August 1993 and 27th November 2005 to 8th June 2010. It was noted with the name “Hundred Proof” on 15th July 2018.

 It was also painted in D-Day Anniversary markings in May 2019, but returned to its usual livery and was noted as such on 12th March 2020.


Boeing B-17 : 42-90185 served at Thorpe Abbotts from 8th April 1944 to 20th May 1945. In May 1945 it transferred to 482nd Bomber Group at RAF Alconbury.

Boeing KC-135R 58-0113 “All American Girl”

It arrived into the fleet on 28th August 2018, having not previously served with the 100th ARW. No date has been recorded for when 58-0113 was first noted wearing “All American Girl”.

Boeing B-17 : 42-37936 was based at Thorpe Abbotts in November 1943 but was shot down by flak on a bombing mission over Cologne.

Crew : Pilot  John Dodrill, Co-pilot: Dave Williams, Navigator: Ralph Bayer, Bombardier: Dave Pitman, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Harry Mitchell, Radio Operator: George Bennett, Ball turret gunner: Myron Warner, Waist gunner: Garland Joseph,Tail gunner: Roy Toll (9 Killed in Action).

Boeing KC-135T 59-1513 “Reluctant Dragon”

It arrived into the fleet on 16th January 2018 and had not previously served with the 100th ARW and was first noted with nose art on 25th July 2018.

Boeing B-17 : 43-38011 was based at Thorpe Abbotts in July 1944 but transferred to the 350th Bomber Squadron later the same year.

Boeing KC-135R 60-0324 “Sly Fox”

It arrived into the fleet on 26th July 2016 had not previously served with the 100th ARW. No date has been recorded for when 60-0324 was first noted wearing “Sly Fox”.

Boeing B-17 : 42-30278 arrived at 100th Bomber Group, Thorpe Abbotts in September 1943 but was shot down in March 1944, crashing near Gross-Mimmelage, Germany.

Crew : Zeb Kendall, Co-pilot: Edwin Loughran, Navigator: Bill Thorpe, Bombardier: Cliff Gowen, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Melvin Hickman, Radio Operator: Leman Tutor, Ball turret gunner: Reginaldo Aguila, Waist gunner: Ray Bridges, Waist gunner: Matt Avaon, Tail gunner: Vic Stoffregen
(10 Prisoner of War).

Boeing KC-135R 60-0355 “The Jester”

This is one of two names and nose art that are not related to the 100th Bomber Group.

It arrived into the fleet on 22nd June 2018, having previously served with the 100th ARW from 19th March 2007 to 22nd September 2010 and was first noted wearing its nose art on 27th June 2018.

Image by Philip Dilley

Boeing KC-135R 61-0292 “The Savage”

61-0292 arrived into the fleet on 2nd February 2019, replacing 58-0094. This is the second time it has served from 1st September 2004 to 13th September 2005 with 100th ARW and was first noted in February 2019 wearing “The Savage”.

Boeing B-17 :  42-31710 served at Thorpe Abbotts from 05/05/1944 but the aircraft dropped behind the formation and disappeared to crashed Handrup, near Lengerich, 31 miles S of Bremen, Germany with two killed in action.

 Crew : Pilot : Don Riggle, Co-pilot: Joe King, Navigator: Wayne Pankhurst, Bombardier: Ken Hurst, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Edwin Scott, Radio Operator: Carl Glade, Ball turret gunner: Bob Marcell, Tail gunner: Glyn Matthews ; Waist gunner: Bob Marbach, Waist gunner: Gil Sandoval.

Boeing KC-135R 61-0315 “Our Gal Sal”

It arrived on 9th April 2020 having never served with the 100th Air Refuelling Wing before and was noted on 8th June 2020 as “Our Gal Sal” 

Boeing B-17 : 42-31767 Was posted to 100th Bomber Group at Thorpe Abbotts in January 1944 but transferred to 482nd at RAF Alconbury in May 1945.

Boeing KC-135R 62-3540 “Holy Terror”

62-3540 arrived on 27th October 2019, having served with the 100th Air Refuelling Wing from 16th June 2011 to 22nd October 2013. It was first noted 20th December with the name “Holy Terror” and painted in full 100th ARW Livery.

Boeing B-17 : 42-31062 was assigned to 100th Bomber Group at Thorpe Abbotts in September 1943 but crash-landed at RAF Honington whilst on a training mission in December 1943.

Image by Philip Dilley

Boeing KC-135R 62-3551 “Black Jack”

This aircraft arrived into the fleet on 2nd July 2018, having previously served with the 100th ARW on three previous occasions :-

30th May 2001 to 25th April 2006
28th September 2010 to 5th October 2011
24th February 2013 to 31st August 2015

It was first noted on 31st December 2018 with the name “Black Jack”.

Painted in D-Day Anniversary Markings from May 2019 to the present day

Boeing B-17 : 42-30086 that served at Thorpe Abbotts from 9th June 1943 but was taken out of service 17th August 1943 after reeving battle damage over Regensburg, Germany.

Boeing KC-135R 63-7999

63-7999 arrived back at Mildenhall for 100th ARW on 15th November 2020 for its second posting. It previous served with 100th ARW from 17th April 2015 to 6th November 2019.

It is expected to take up the name of “Wolff Pack” in the not too distant future.

“Wolff Pack relates to a Boeing B-17, 42-30061 that was stationed at Thorpe Abbotts from June 1943 until it returned to the USA in July 1944.

Image by Philip Dilley

Image by Philip Dilley

Boeing KC-135R 63-8878 “Boss Lady”

63-8878 arrived on 14th November 2019 and was noted on 27th December 2019 in full 100th ARW livery and on 30th December, noted with the name “Boss Lady”.

Boeing B-17 : 42-102657 was based at Thorpe Abbotts from May 1944 but crashed on a school in Schmiederberg, Germany in September 1944 having been shot down by enemy fighters.

Crew : Pilot  Albert Trommer, Navigator: Jim Wright, Bombardier: Levi Groce, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Alvin Severson, Radio Operator: Bill Stone ; Co-pilot: Tim Bradshaw, Ball turret gunner: J.C. Kluttz, Waist gunner: Tom Kentes, Tail gunner: Chas Wilson (Wounded in Action)
(5 Killed in Action) (4 Prisoner of War)

Boeing KC-135R 63-8887 “Miss Irish”

63-8887 arrived into the fleet 9th October 2020 in its second tour with the 100th ARW. Its last posting was from 21st November 2000 to 11th March 2002. It was noted in 100th ARW Markings on 1st November 2020, named “Miss Irish”

Boeing B-17 : 42-31968 arrived at Thorpe Abbotts in February 1944 but was badly damaged on a mission on 19 March 1944 and finally crash landed at Raydon airfield, Suffolk

Crew : Pilot John P. Gibbons, Co-pilot: Robert Dykeman, Navigator: Everett M. Johnson, Bombardier: Sterling B. Blakeman, Flight engineer/Top Turret gunner: Ira L. Arnold, Ball Turret gunner: Bernard L. Spragg, Right Waist gunner Myron J. Ettus, Left Waist gunner: Frank W. Buschmeier (9 Returned to Duty). Radio Operator: Ed Walker (Killed in Action, hit by 88mm shell in radio room).



Type Name B-17 Serial Remarks
57-1440 Boeing KC-135R “High Life” 42-30082
57-2605 Boeing KC-135R “Big Gas Bird” 42-30799
58-0036 Boeing KC-135R “Homesick Angel” 42-3147 Not 100th BG
58-0100 Boeing KC-135R “Hundred Proof” 42-90185
58-0113 Boeing KC-135R “All American Gal” 42-37936
59-1513 Boeing KC-135T “Reluctant Dragon” 43-38011
60-0324 Boeing KC-135R “Sly Fox” 42-30278
60-0355 Boeing KC-135R “The Jester” No B-17 in 100th BG
61-0292 Boeing KC-135R “The Savage” 42-31710
61-0315 Boeing KC-135R “Our Gal Sal” 42-31767
62-3540 Boeing KC-135R “Holy Terror” 42-31062
62-3551 Boeing KC-135R “Black Jack” 42-30086
63-7999 Boeing KC-135R (“Wolff Pack”) (42-30061)
63-8878 Boeing KC-135R “Boss Lady” 42-102657
63-8887 Boeing KC-135R “Miss Irish” 42-31968

Previous Boeing KC-135’s that served with 100th Air refuelling Wing, that had nose art and names included …

58-0001 “Our Gal Sal” – Left The Fleet On 26/03/20
58-0094 “The Savage” – Left the Fleet on 29/01/19
60-0344 “Homesick Angel”- Left the Fleet on 24/09/19
61-0288 “Holy Terror” – Left the Fleet on 22/10/19
61-0299 “All American Girl” – Left the Fleet on 23/08/18
61-0321 “Miss Irish” – Left the Fleet on 27/09/18
63-7999 “Boss Lady” – Left the Fleet on 06/11/19
57-1474 “Miss Irish” – Left the Fleet on 10/10/20
57-1493 “Wolff Pack” – Left the Fleet on 01/11/20

Report and Photos by Doug MacDonald
Photos of 57-1440, 60-0355, 62-3540, 63-8878 by Philip Dilley
Reference : and 100th BG Museum, Thorpe Abbotts,

A B-17 Flying Fortress sits alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, on Sept. 24, 2015, at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in New Orleans.

Photo Courtesy of : U.S. Air Force photo  / Senior Airman Victoria H. Taylor

Ode to the Bloody 100th

High above her coasts and shores,
The mighty thunder of a thousand engines’ roar.
Towards the sky and over the sea,
With guns bristling fore to aft they fly onward, the steel beasts.

Those poor young bastards, so brave were they all,
And when the Hun fighters came, many of them, too many, did fall.
They were her soldiers, loyal until the end, 
They were the Bloody Hundredth, the noblest and finest of all men.

Pressing onward into the lion’s den did they ride, 
Breaking the Hun’s mighty back, but so many did die.
The cost was mighty, the price was high,
But this was the cost, to preserve our way of life.

Some of her kin are now old and gray,
Telling the tales to their earnest grandchildren here today,
But others were not so lucky, and the price they did pay,
But they are not dead and buried, they aren’t lying in graves.

Look up child and you shall see with your own eyes, 
A thousand white streamers rising over England’s blue skies.
And listen to the thunder of a thousand engines’ roar,
Ghosts of the Hundredth still guarding her shores.

by Benjamin Rosser

A slightly different variation of the above report was published in Spotter Magazine in Issue 28, March 2021