Lucky #13 and the “Miracle Survivor”

Heheard and felt the two B-17s collide in mid-air and Sgt. Robbie Gill knew his crew was in trouble. His plane, the Black Cat #13, had pulled up and collided with another B-17 directly above them in low clouds. The collision sheared the Black Cat #13 in two at the waist of the aircraft. Robbie, being the tail gunner, was now “all alone in the rear of the aircraft.” He had struck his head on a crossbar and when he quickly came to, he recalled that there was “absolutely no noise, it was deadly quiet.” Now is when all his training had to pay off as he was rapidly descending into the North Sea.


Like many young men his age, Robbie wanted to “do his part in the war”. He didn’t want to be in the Army, so he joined the Army Air Corps in late November 1945. He was 19 years old. He completed his basic training in Logan UT, then cadet training in Sa