When newer aircraft took over the lead roles in mid October, "A Bit o' Lace" settled in to regular missions and was assigned to a number of pilots. Lt Warren Bates' crew completed 15 of their combat missions in the plane between late February 45 and the end of March. Shortly after this run of missions, Tom Mustaleski took the plane to Kiel on 4th April and suffered serious flak damage in the tail but managed to bring the ship home. It was back in combat four days later. In those final two months of war, the veteran B17 rarely missed a mission and finished out hostilities with a total of 83 mission markers painted on the nose above the artwork. In all of these not a single one was aborted due to any mechanical failure -- a remarkable achievement for its hard worked ground crew. When the Fort was finally flown to the breakers yard at Kingman, Arizona, Cpl Fingelly was amongst the skeleton crew on board. It must have been a particularly sad day for him.
The plane was named by Milt Caniff who responded to a request by Lt John Bauman for permission to use his popular comic strip personality "Miss Lace". Caniff sent a sketch entitled "A Bit o Lace" and Nick Fingelly used his considerable skill to apply it to the nose of the Fortress.
Photo by Dale Kathrein