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  B-17E "Tex / Red Moose Express" Serial Number 41-2634  
USAAF
5th AF
43rd BG
65th BS

Former Assignments
19th BG
435th BS

Click For Enlargement
Ed Widdis 1943
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Click For Enlargement
5th AF c1943

Pilot  1st Lt Walter K. Brenneman, O-726738 (KIA) Warkarusa, IN
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt James G. Purdy, O-738461 (KIA) Portland, OR
Navigator  2nd Lt Philip M. Smith, O-804890(KIA) Brockton, MA
Bombardier  2nd Lt Charles F. Lanning, Jr., O-669329 (KIA) Gewell, NJ
Engineer  Sgt Harry C. Billings, 11033067 (KIA) New Britain, CT
Asst Engineer  S/Sgt Andrew W. Scribner, 36075217 (KIA) Jerseyville, IL
Radio  Cpl Guy P. Signorino, 14079822 (KIA) New Orleans, LA
Asst. Radio  Cpl Stuart A. Lambe, 16048269 (KIA) Austin, TX
Gunner  Sgt Francis E. Caldwell, 36172510 (MIA / KIA) Detroit, MI
Gunner  SSgt Roy M. Erskine, 19171574 (MIA / KIA) Salt Lake City, UT

Crashed  August 3, 1943 at 11:27
MACR  15687

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 19th Bombardment Group, 435th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Tex".

Later, transferred to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 65th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Red Moose Express" with nose art depicting a moose head and bombs falling in a black circle. When lost, weapon and engine serial numbers were not noted on MACR.

On July 30, 1942 this B-17 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby on a reconnaissance mission over Buna, Lae and Gasmata.

Mission History
On August 3, 1943 one of seven B-17s that off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby on a bombing mission 214-C against a Japanese construction camp on the Kofebi River south of Bogadjim at the southern end of the Bogadjim-Ramu Road.

This B-17 was part of the second element of three bombers, flying in a vee formation, along with B-17 piloted by 1st Lt. Henseler. Due to clouds and mountainous terrain, they dropped their bombs on Bogadjim village, the secondary target.

After bombing the target, at 11:27 over Astrolabe Bay at 5,000' the bombers were intercepted by Ki-43 Oscars of the 24th Sentai led by W.O. Katsuaki Kira (misidentified as A6M3 Hamps). The Oscars diving at both B-17 and making simultaneous high frontal attacks. The third Oscar attacked this B-17 from 3 o'clock position hitting this bomber.

This B-17 went into a 45 degree dive with inboard engines smoking and hit the sea in a glide and broke up on impact, but did not explode or burn. The crash site was estimated as 100 yards offshore from the mouth of Mindjim River near Bogadjim. No trace of the crew was seen by the three other B-17s that observed the crash.

Search
No search was conducted for survivors afterwards.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

References
Missing Air Crew Report 15687 (MACR 15687)
Air Forces General Information Bulletin no. 13, August 1943 "Oscar vs. B-17"
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2634
Walter: An Airman's Life Marcia A. Brenneman Goshen, IN: Marcia Brenneman Nov. 1989
Thanks to Steve Birdsall, Edward Rogers and Osamu Tagaya for additional information

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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B-17

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Aug 3, 1943

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