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  B-17E Flying Fortress Serial Number 41-2433  
USAAF
5th BG
23rd BS

Former Assignments
7th BG
88th RS

11th BG
26th BS

5th BG
31st BS

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Assigned to the 7th Bombardment Group, 88th Reconnaissance Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.

Wartime History
On December 6, 1941 took off from Hamilton Field piloted by Lt. Harry Brandon with co-pilot Lt. Robert Ramsey on an unarmed ferry flight bound for Hickam Field. On the morning of December 7, 1941 incoming Japanese aircraft detected on radar were dismissed as the expected flight of B-17s. The formation of B-17s arrived during the Japanese surprise attack against Pearl Harbor and Oahu. During the attack, this B-17 managed to safely land at Hickam Field, although shot at by both Japanese aircraft and American anti-aircraft fire.

On January 4, 1942 took off on an anti-submarine patrol piloted by Lt. Ralph Wanderer and reported an enemy submarine 600 miles off Oahu that submerged and escaped. Next, assigned to the 5th Bombardment Group, 23rd Bombardment Squadron.

On January 16, 1942 took off piloted by Wanderer on a reconnaissance mission to support the USS Enterprise (CV-6) to protect a convoy reinforcing Samoa. This B-17 developed problems with the no. 3 engine grounding it at Fiji until the end of the month, and parts were removed to repair other bombers. Finally, this B-17 was repaired and returned to Hickam Field arriving on March 21, 1943. During the remainder of March and April, this B-17 continued to fly patrol missions out of Oahu.

On April 30, 1942 took off piloted by Captain Richard Stepp on a patrol mission. Returning, this B-17 landed short at Bellows Field tearing off the tail section, and dubbed "Miss Fit" for all the problems it had experienced. It is unclear if this nickname was painted on the plane or not.

On October 18, 1942 assigned to the 11th Bombardment Group, 26th Bombardment Squadron as a replacement aircraft. Operated from Espiritu Santo.

On October 23, 1942 took off from Espiritu Santo piloted by Lt. Edwin Loberg, co-pilot Lt. Bernays Thurston, navigator Lt. Robert Spitzer and bombardier Lt. Robert Mitchell on an anti-submarine patrol mission over the Solomon Sea. Alsp aboard was war correspondent Ira Wolfert. During the flight, this bomber encountered H6K4 Mavis piloted by Shimoyamada and engaged in an air-to-air battle with the enemy flying boat. After a battle that lasted forty-four minutes, Spitzer and Mitchell were wounded and the Mavis was shot down and crashed into the sea. Afterwards, this B-17 landed at Espiritu Santo safely. Mitchell was evacuated aboard the USS Solace to New Zealand for further medical treatment.

On October 24, 1942 took off piloted by Lt. William Kyes on another patrol mission. On October 25, 1942 took off piloted by Lt. Loberg on a mission against Japanese warships and was damaged by a 5" shell that passed through an elevator without exploding and landed safely. The next day, flown to Efate for repairs including new horizontal stabilizer and elevator and returned to Espiritu Santo a day later and flew another patrol mission on October 28, 1942.

On December 10, 1942 borrowed by the 31st Bombardment Squadron and flown on a photo reconnaissance mission over Kahili Airfield on Bougainville. Over the target, co-pilot Captain Carlyle Coleman was killed instantly by a bullet in his eye, while the gunners claimed one Zero as shot down.

Afterwards, transfered to the 5th Bombardment Group, 31st Bombardment Squadron.

On March 20, 1943 one of nine B-17s that took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal piloted by Captain William Kyes on a bombing mission against Kahili Airfield on Bougainville as a diversionary raid to support Avengers mining Shortland Harbor.

On March 27, 1943 took off piloted by Brady to Espiritu Santo for bomb bay rack repairs, at the time this bomber had 1,400 combat hours logged. Returning from the repair, the no. 3 engine failed.

On June 15, 1943 this B-17 was transfered to the 23rd Bombardment Squadron and by the end of August was transfered out.

On September 1, 1944 this B-17 departed for the United States and used as a trainer in Florida and flexible gunnery school at Yuma, Arizona. During 1945, scrapped at Albuquerque, NM.

References
Battle for the Solomons by Ira Wolfert describes the October 23, 1942 mission
Aviation History Magazine "Pacific Tramps" (May 2016) by Steve Birdsall pages 21-27 cover art by Jack Fellows
Thanks to Henry Sakaida and Steve Birdsall for additional information

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Last Updated
January 31, 2018

 

Tech Info
B-17

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