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  B-17F-20-BO "Talisman / USA-SOS War Horse" Serial Number 41-24537  
5th AF
43rd BG
63rd BS

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AP November 1, 1942

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Ernie Vandal c1943

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USAAF Sept 5, 1943

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the US Army on July 30, 1942. Assigned to pilot Lt. William O'Brien, who ferried it overseas Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 43rd Bombardment Group, 63rd Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Talisman" with a three leafed clover above the name, painted by Sgt Ernest "Ernie" J. Vandal. Regular crew included co-pilot 2nd Lt. James H. Powell of Springfield, IL and gunner SSgt Clifford Cassellbury of Binghamton, NY. This bomber flew combat missions from Mareeba Airfield in Queensland Australia and 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby.

On March 26, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by O’Brien on a night bombing mission against enemy shipping in Wewak Harbor. Over the target, nothing was sighted and harbor installations were bombed instead.

On April 19 1943 one of six B-17s that took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Lt William O'Brien on a bombing mission against Wewak. Over the target this B-17 made a skip bombing run over a ship and claimed two "very near misses".

On September 5, 1943, this B-17, piloted by Col. Harry Hawthorne took off from 7-Mile Drome with U. S. Army General MacArthur aboard to observe the US Army's 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment paratrooper drop on Nadzab. The flight was dubbed by General Kenney as the "Brass Hat's Flight". Also in the flight was B-17F "The Mustang" 41-24554 carrying General Richard Sutherland, plus B-17F "Cap'n & The Kids" 41-24353 with General Kenney aboard.

Later, this B-17 was renamed "USA-SOS War Horse" and used as the personal transport of Major General James L. Frink, U. S. Army services and supply commander in the South-West Pacific Area (SWPA).

On September 9, 1945 scrapped at Tacloban Airfield.

Diary of the 63rd Bomb Squadron, 43rd Bomb Group
"26 March 1943 –  Departed Jackson at 0130. Target: shipping Wewak Harbor. Bomb load; 4 ships with 8 X 500# inst demo, 3 with 4X 100# inst demo.
554 Murphy didn't take off on account of engine trouble. Nothing was sighted by the remaining crews.
358, Denault, 537 O'Brien, 574 Derr dropped their bombs on harbor installations.
455 Diffenderfer, 543 Staley, 417 Trigg dropped theirs on the town and runway.
543 Staley landed at Dobodura on the way back because of lack of gas. Search party consisting of Lt Murphy and Capt Thompson's crew were organized and were about to take off when 543 landed. Squadron on readiness at 1500."
Pride of Seattle page 13
Fortress Against The Sun pages 364, 392
Thanks to Steve Birdsall and Edward Rogers for additional information

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Last Updated
January 31, 2018


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