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  B-17F-25-BO "The Stingaree No. 2" Serial Number 41-24550  
USAAF
5th AF
43rd BG
403rd BS

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43rd BG c1942

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Uhling July 13, 1944

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Olson October 7, 1995

Pilot  1st Lt. Ealon S. Hocutt (survived)
Co-Pilot
 2nd Lt. Henry W. Evans (survived)
Crew  2nd Lt. Oscar D. Olson (survived)
Crew  2nd Lt. Gordon F. Wilcox (survived)
Engineer  SSgt William H. Schiffer (survived)
Radio  SSgt Donald Pinenger (survived)
Ball Turret  SSgt George L. White (WIA, survived)
Gunner  Raymond Quillen (survived)
Ditched  December 14, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 3235. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17F-25-BO Flying Fortress serial number 41-24550. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field across the Pacific to Australia.

Wartime History
During October 1942, assigned to the 5th Air Force, 43rd Bombardment Group, 403rd Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "The Stingaree No. 2" (with quotes) named after the Hollywood movie Stingaree (1934). Assigned to pilot William R. Gowdy.

On the right side of the nose below the co-pilot's window was a scoreboard with bomb markings indicating missions flown with stars above the first four bombs. This B-17 flew at least six combat missions before ditching.

Mission History
On December 14, 1942 took off from 7-Mile Drome at Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt. Ealon S. Hocutt on a flight to ferry Lt. Downer's crew back to Milne Bay. After take off, this B-17 climbed to 300' and the no. 4 engine cut out and the pilot increased power to the other three engines but soon afterwards the no. 2 and no. 1 engines also died. With only the no. 3 engine working, this B-17 ditched into Bootless Bay onto a coral reef near shore into shallow water and was partially sank with the upper wing above water.

Fates of the Crew
During the ditching, ball turret gunner SSgt White was injured when the aircraft hit the water and was thrown into the bomb bay and caused his foot to become nearly severed at the ankle. Another crew member suffered a head injury. The rest of the crew survived unhurt.

After the crash, half the crew deployed the life rafts to paddle the two wounded crew ashore while the rest of the crew waited on the wings that was only partially submerged to await rescue. Spotted by an Australian Army anti-aircraft unit came to their aid and rescued the crew.

The crew used the B-17's two life rafts to reach the shore. Immediately, SSgt White was taken by ambulance to the 10th Evacuation Hospital at Port Moresby and then aboard a hospital ship and transported to Brisbane where he spent six months at the 105th Hospital. He was discharged in September 1945 and worked in life insurance in New York after the war.

Later, the crash was blamed on clogged intakes into the engine which were stuffed with rags and attributed   to sabotage. Reportedly, one African American soldier was hanged in conjunction with this incident.

Wreckage
During the ditching, the tail section broke off at the rear fuselage and the no. 4 engine broke off from the engine mount and fell forward submerged underwater. Sometime after the crash, this B-17 was salvaged by the U. S. Army for usable parts with the top turret removed.

By the 1970s, only the wing section and center fuselage remained in Bootless Bay. Likely, the tail section was scrapped or otherwise disappeared and most aluminum removed. By the middle 1990s, only the wing spar structure and engines remained. On October 7, 1995 the wing center section with no. 2 and no. 3 engines was photographed by Janice Olson. If any wreckage remains in situ today is unknown.

Reference
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17F-25-BO Fortress 41-24550
"24550 (63rd BS) ditched into Bootless Bay, PNG Dec 14, 1942 after engine failure."
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17F Flying Fortress 41-24550
Wrecks & Reefs pages 134-135
Pride of Seattle page 14, 17
Fortress Against The Sun pages (photo insert, lower photo ditched into Bootless Bay), 392
Ken's Men Against The Empire Volume 1 pages 94 (photo 1944/1995, lists White as tail gunner), 331, 343 (photo)

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Last Updated
December 8, 2018

 

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