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  B-17F-25-BO "The Mustang" Serial Number 41-24554  
5th AF
43rd BG
63th BS

Previous Assignments:
403rd BS

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Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the US Army on August 5, 1942. Assigned to the 403rd BS. Later, it was transferred to the 63th BS. Ground crew included: Crew Chief Ernest "Ernie" J. Vandal, Assistant Crew Chief John Duck and ground crew: William McMurray, Michael Espinosa.

Nicknamed "The Mustang" The artwork was painted by Sgt Ernie Vandal. On the right side, the Mustang was over painted with a cowgirl. A secondary piece of artwork was added behind the right waist window with a female figure with "Lady Luck".

Steve Birdsall adds:
"As far as I know, the horse on the right side of The Mustang was not over painted with the girl, she's part of the original design - horse and cowgirl. "Lady Luck" was just a secondary piece of art painted on the fuselage. This is Ernie Vandal's most spectacular art and, while 41-24554 didn't fly anything like the number of missions (and Purple Hearts) painted on her nose in New Caledonia, she was around for a long time."

On March 26, 1943 attempted to take off at 1:30am from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Murphy on a night bombing mission against enemy shipping in Wewak Harbor, but did not take off due to engine trouble.

On April 9, 1943 took off piloted by 1st Lt. William B. Trigg on a reconnaissance mission over New Britain. Over Open Bay, he observed enemy fighters following him and dove into a rain storm to evade them. Aboard, photographer Sgt Ridenour was injured during the dive cutting his right hand and fracturing his right arm.

On August 17, 1943 this B-17 piloted by Lt. Glyer took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby on a mission to bomb Boram Airfield near Wewak individually at night at 6,500' altitude with 6/10 cloud cover with cumulus. Over the target, the formation met intense anti-aircraft fire and searchlights. At the end of its bomb run, this B-17 was held in searchlights and Intercepted by a Japanese twin engine nightfighter (Ki-45 Nick of 13th Sentai, 3 Chutai), but the attacker missed.

On September 5, 1943, this B-17, took off from 7-Mile Drome with General Richard Sutherland aboard to observe the US Army's 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment paratrooper drop on Nadzab. The flight was dubbed dubbed by General Kenney the "Brass Hat's Flight". Also in the flight was B-17F "Talisman" 41-24537 carrying General MacArthur, plus B-17F "Cap'n & The Kids" 41-24353 with General Kenney aboard.

During the Allied paratrooper drop on Nadzab, on September 5, 1943, this bomber was one of the B-17s used to fly U.S. Army Generals over the area to observe the landing, the 'Brass Hat's flight". Aboard this B-17 flew General Richard Sutherland.

Returned to the United States on December 2, 1943 and served as a training aircraft at Walker Field, Kansas.

In June 1945, it was sent to Albuquerque, New Mexico for salvage and was scrapped.

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, 14
MacArthur's Eagles page 39–40
Fortress Against The Sun (2001) page XXX
Ken's Men Against The Empire Volume 1 pages 164 (April 9, 1943 mission)
43rd BG Kensmen Website
Thanks to Steve Birdsall for additional information

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Last Updated
December 20, 2018


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