Sterling B-24

Name Sterling RB-24
CAP data None.
GPS coords Private land
GPS decimal Private land
UTM Private land
Datum used NAD 27
County Logan County Colorado

Crashed July 1, 1944

Serial # 41-28483

An RB-24 somewhat similar to the lost aircraft. Note that it has B-29 type power turrets visible above and below the star plus a power

turret on the bottom of the nose forward of the nosewheel. Also note that the waist windows are of a bubble type and

visible within the window is the sighting/director mechanism to feed info to the gun computer. The aircraft also has a

prominent tail wheel. Actually, the crashed RB-24 was just an engine practice platform. But this is too cool a picture to not post.

Photo courtesy of Pete Johnston of the B-24/PB4Y Research Team.

The wreck cause:  Runaway prop leading to engine fire in flight. Immediate action for fire in flight is to get on the ground or bail out. They were too low to bail. The aircraft descended and attempted a landing in the prairie near Flat Top Butte near Sterling Colorado. One engine departed the plane as it was nearly touching down. Molten metal was dribbling off the wing as the plane rolled down a hill and out into the flat. Tragically, the nosewheel caught in something and flipped the plane onto its back and it burned in place. :Note that there is a power turret just forward of the nosewheel. Likely this made the nose extra heavy contributing to the disaster. Also note that the B-24 design didn't do well in rough ground. The B-24 standing on its nose on the front page of this website is just one testimony of the problems.

Casualties: KIA

                       1st Lt. Edward A Richcreek, 40, pilot, San Jose, California

                       2nd Lt. Daniel J Jackson, 21, co-pilot, Pingree, Idaho

                      Flight Officer Carl D Welday, 25, navigator ?, Stubenville, Ohio

                      Corporal Russel E Moyer, 26, crew chief, West Carrolton, Ohio

                      Private Nelson H Gray, 29, radio operator, Phoenix, Arizona


                 Corporal, John W Schimel, 22, student flight engineer, Chicago, IL

                 Staff Sgt. Glover D Crawford, 25, student flight engineer, Washington, PA

                 Staff Sgt. William E Dunn, 22, student flight engineer, Butte, MT


Site Description:. In 2006 the site is a flat in open prairie on private land. Since the RB-24 was a secret project being used as a training/test-bed for the B-29 gunnery system, the Army made an intensive effort to clean up the crash site. They went to the surrounding farms asking for any parts or souveniers which had been scrounged as well as picking up just about anything that could be seen with the naked eye.  In 2006 when the CAHS, led mostly by Len Wallace and Duke Sumonia(who did excellent research to locate witnesses) attempted to find the site it took 2 trips and many hours for Brian Richardson to finally spot a piece of aircraft aluminum. This in spite of the fact that two different witnesses who saw the plane wreckage in 1944 took the group to the site and pointed to the area. It took metal detectors to find enough chips to plot the aircraft's final rollout and resting spot. The detectors found bits of frozen molten aluminum on the hillside in a pattern pointing to the final stopping spot where many, many more very small metal chips were located. A typical piece of evidence would be the head of a machine screw head or a torn rivet head!  The grass has regrown, a cowboy pickup truck road passes by the site and there are no surface signs of the history of the spot. Only the ranchers notice that the distribution pattern (lack of) of the cacti in that area suggests something different.  

The first party to attempt to find this site was: Larry Liebrecht, Brian Richardson, Duke Sumonia, and Len Wallace of CAHS. Also along was Mr. John Mangalonzo, a staff writer for the local newspaper. Joining this group later were Mr. Vern "Slim" Koester, actual witness to the 1944 event; Ms. Janet R. Mathewson, current owner of the property searched; and Mr. Robert Sanchez, staff writer for the Denver Post newspaper. (Ron did not make this trip.)

The second party was: Brian Richardson, Larry Liebrecht, Alan Sparks, Len Wallace and me. All of Colorado Aviation Historical Society. Joining us were locals :Don Carey, Carol and Myron Graybill and we are especially grateful to the landowners Janet Mathewson and Werdna Nelson. Werdna was a young girl when the crash occurred and took us to the spot. It still took us 2.5 hrs to find the first hint of the wreck site. There was astonishingly little indication.

Len Wallace and Ron look for chips

to map out the area

unnamed butte
Myron & Carol Graybill, Don Carey, Alan Sparks

Ron Miller, Len Wallace, Brian Richardson

Werdna Nelson, Janet Mathewson. Picture

taken by Larry Liebrecht.

Complex hinge or pivot. Largest piece found. Janet and Werdna Tape measured line of debris.

A second recognizable part. Most parts were like this panhead machine screw.

This was the head only. (Ron holding it)

Pictures were taken by Larry Liebrecht (Thanks Larry!)

Best route : Since the site is on private land I am not posting the coordinates of the site.

Home Moggie!  


Last Modified: 1/1/2008