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  B-17E Flying Fortress Serial Number 41-2452  
USAAF
5th AF
19th BG
93rd BS

Former Assignments:
7th BG
9th BS

Click For Enlargement
Justin Taylan 2006

Pilot  Captain Harry J. Hawthorne, O-385412 (rescued)
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. Paul J. Scarboro, O-416355 (rescued)
Navigator  2nd Lt. Warren E. Bryant, O-659869 (rescued)
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Robert J. Haase, O-434591 (rescued)
Engineer  S/Sgt Milton P. Kelm, 6569806 (rescued)
Radio  Pfc Arnold G. Osborne, 37009844 (rescued)
Gunner  Cpl Walter T. Buchanan, 33075730 (rescued) Bradford, PA
Gunner  Michael R. Andrade, 12029739 (rescued)
Gunner  SSgt Selm
(rescued)
Gunner  Cpl Paul K. Harmon (rescued)
Ditched  August 9, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 7th Bombardment Group. No known nickname or nose art. This B-17 participated in the Java campaign.

On February 16, 1942 took off from Madioen Airfield piloted by Lindsey on a bombing mission against a Japanese convoy landing troops on the southern coast of Bali. Inbound to the target, B-17 aborted the mission due to engine failure. In the face of light anti-aircraft fire, the B-17s bombed from 21,000' but missed.

On February 19, 1942 took off piloted by Lt. Lindsay with co-pilot Lt. Knudson at roughly 6:00am on a bombing mission against Japanese forces landed on Bali. One of three B-17s led by B-17E "Yankee Diddl'er" 41-2458 piloted by Captain Schwanbeck. Over the target, intercepted by enemy fighters that made firing passes for a half hour including head on attacks.

On February 23, 1942 took off piloted by Lt. Habberstad leading the formation of five other B-17s on a bombing mission against enemy ships off Makassar. The formation encountered intense anti-aircraft fire and bombed from 20,000'. Habberstad claimed one large transport sunk and another burning.

On February 26, 1942 took off from Madioen Airfield piloted by Captain Hardison with B-17E "Monkey Bizz-Ness" 41-2417 piloted by 2nd Lt. Bernice S. Barr on a bombing mission against a Japanese convoy off the southern end of Makassar Strait. In the face of light anti-aircraft fire, the B-17s bombed from 21,000' but missed. Hours later, one of two B-17s that took off again from Madioen Airfield and encountered heavy anti-aircraft fire before bombing an unidentified convoy from 26,500', each dropping 300 lbs bombs that all missed. In fact, the ships were Allied.

At the end of the Java campaign, one of sixteen B-17s evacuated to Darwin. On March 12, 1942 this B-17 piloted by Lt. Casper was scheduled to fly a resupply mission to Del Monte Airfield but developed engine trouble and did not take off.

Afterwards, assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group, 28th Bombardment Squadron.

On August 6, 1942 one of sixteen B-17s that took off piloted by Lt. Claude N. Burcky from Horn Island Airfield to 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby in preparation for a bombing mission the next day.

On August 7, 1942 one of thirteen B-17s took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Lt. Claude N. Burcky on a bombing mission against Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul. Over the target, this B-17 claimed two enemy fighters shot down.

Mission History
On August 9, 1942 one of four B-17s led by Major "Pinky" Hoevet that took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Captain Hawthorne on a bombing mission against Lakunai Airfield near Rabaul. Inbound to the target, the formation encountered bad weather. One bomber aborted the mission and bombed Gasmata Airfield instead.

Over the target, intercepted by 15-20 A6M3 Zeros from the 2nd Kokutai and the B-17s claimed five enemy fighters shot down. Returning, this B-17 had difficulty locating Port Moresby due to a radio compass failure. Lost for 3.5 hours, the bomber made a force landing on the reef or beach at Malapla Island off the China Strait and the southern tip of the mainland of New Guinea.

Rescue
The entire crew survived the ditching and were rescued by an Australian small ship and five days later returned to Port Moresby.

Wreckage
Remains on the beach at Malapla Island in the China Strait and the southern tip of New Guinea on the reef.

Display
The top turret frame from this aircraft was recovered by Brian Bennett and is on display at the Kokopo Museum.

References
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2452
General Orders #6: "The serious damage done to this plane [over Lakunai] made it impossible for it to keep up with the rest of the formation, and it was necessary for it to make a crash landing on a coral reef." Janice Olsen adds "I have found incidents where statements were made that may have been 90 degrees away from the actual event."
Letter from Walter Buchanan via Janice Olsen:
"We were attacked with Zeros pretty heavy... we got off course on the way back to Port Moresby and wound up running out of gas. [we were] picked up by an Aussie P.T. boat and five days later was [sic] back at home base."
Fortress Against The Sun page 126, 128, 131-132, 137, 139-140, 143, 154, 227, 235, 385, 412 footnote 17, 414 footnote 38, 428 footnote 62.
Thanks to Janice Olsen for additional information

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

Tech Info
B-17
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