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  B-17E Flying Fortress Serial Number 41-2460  
5th AF
19th BG
30th BS

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July 30, 1942

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. No known nose art or nickname.

Wartime History
Ferried overseas via the African route by pilot C. H. Millhouse. On January 15, 1942 arrived in Australia. Assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group, 30th Bombardment Squadron and flown to Bandjermasin, Java. On the ground, this B-17 was badly damaged and stafed then repaired and flown back to Australia and began operating from Mareeba Airfield.

Mission History
On July 30, 1942 this was one of six B-17s on Horn Island Airfield for a pre-dawn take for a bombing mission against Lae. This B-17 collided with this B-17E "Tojo's Physic" 41-2640, tearing off the nose section, which was unoccupied for take off and there were only minor injuries to the crews of each bomber.

This bomber suffered damaged to the nose and left wing. Temporary emergency repairs were made and it was flown back to Mareeba Airfield but later salvaged and parts used for other B-17s.

Steve Birdsall adds:
"Harlan O. Bjerke from Azusa, California told me: 'I remember seeing a B-17E which had collided with another aircraft on the ground, pushing its left wing back, breaking the front spar outboard of the Number One engine. This was on Horn, I believe. A cleatrack was used to pull the wing back into line, then the spar was spliced with a large piece of wood. The leading edge was rebuilt with wood formers and wire stringers. Mattress covers were used for covering the wing and for patches on the damaged nose. Then two pilots from Headquarters Squadron of the 19th Group flew it back to Mareeba, Australia.' "

On Wings We Conquer author John Mitchell identifies the pilot at the time of the July 30, 1942 accident on Horn Island as Lt Edward J. Bechtold. His research also found that the 93rd Squadron's Lt William A. Lorence and "a mechanics crew" flew in from Mareeba, originally planning only to salvage parts of 41-2460, but "after inspecting the damage" Lorence decided "he could repair the plane and fly to Mareeba". Mitchell continues, "One of the mechanics agreed to fly as co-pilot and the flight to Mareeba was successful". According to legend the flight earned the pilot the nickname "Crazy Lorence".
The B-17 Flying Fortress "Famous Aircraft Series"
Thanks to Steve Birdsall for additional information

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Last Updated
October 23, 2019


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