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  B-17F-25-BO "Harry the Horse" Serial Number 41-24548 Field No 167
USAAF
5th AF
54th TCW
375th TCG
57th TCS

Former Assignments
43rd BG
403rd BS
63rd BS
64th BS

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43rd BG c1943

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5th AF May 4, 1944

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Neville Mines 1973

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Richard Leahy 1998

Click For Enlargement
Justin Taylan 2003

Pilot  Lt. Robert Kennedy
Force Landed  May 4, 1944 at 12:00K
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing. Delivered to the U. S. Army on August 1, 1942. Ferried overseas via Hickham Field to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 403rd Bombardment Squadron. During 1943, this B-17 operated from northern Australia and 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby.

Later, assigned to the 63rd Bombardment Squadron and later the 64th Bombardment Squadron. This B-17 had tiger stripes painted on the tail and girl's names on the outer engine cowling including "Mary" on the number 4 engine.

During 43rd Bombardment Group service, the nose section of a B-17E added, with reinforced mount for a .50 caliber machine gun in the center of the nose.

The last mission this B-17 flew with the 43rd Bombardment Group was on October 10, 1943, piloted by Captain Jack L. Campbell on an early morning weather reconnaissance over Rabaul.

During early November 1943, converted to an armed transport at the 4th Air Depot at Garbutt Field. Afterwards, assigned to the 54th Troop Carrier Wing, 375th Troop Carrier Group, 57th Troop Carrier Squadron as an armed transport and operated from Port Moresby and Nadzab Airfield.

In Troop Carrier service, the B-17 was completely repainted with a new coat of olive drab paint and nicknamed "Harry the Horse". Assigned field number "167" painted in yellow on both sides of the cockpit, behind the co-pilot's window. On the outer side of the No. 4 engine cowl was painted "Betty Jo" with a heart. Another name was painted on the No. 3 engine cowl.

On March 1, 1944, one of four B-17 armed transports that took off from Finschafen Airfield including B-17E 41-2662, B-17F 41-24420 and another B-17 made supply runs dropping weapons, ammunition, barbed wire and blood plasma to the U. S. Army 1st Calvary Division that landed on Los Negros Island at Momote Airfield, and strafed enemy positions in the area.

Mission History
On May 4, 1944, this B-17 took off from Nadzab Airfield piloted by Lt. Robert Kennedy on a mission to drop supplies over Hollandia. Returning, the bomber ran short of fuel and attempted to land at Tadji Airfield. During the landing at 12:00K, the right wheel collapsed, causing the B-17 to skid off the runway in a "wild run" that ended "within the limits of a bomb dump". The B-17 sustained damage to the outer wing. Beyond repair, the wreckage was stripped for parts and partially disassembled from the wings and abandoned in a bone yard area.

Wreckage
The wing center section remains at Tadji in the former American bone yard. Reportedly (part?) of the fuselage section is in a swamp nearby.

References
This B-17's nickname sometimes incorrectly listed as "War Horse" an some sources incorrectly state the force landing happened on May 2, 1944 or May 5, 1944.
Pride of Seattle page 14, 17
Flying Buccaneers page 170
Thanks to Steve Birdsall for additional information

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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B-17

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