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  B-17E Flying Fortress Serial Number 41-9196  
5th AF
19th BG
30th BS

Pilot  1st Lt Earl L. Hageman, Jr., O-417618 (MIA / KIA ) WA
Crew  1st Lt Dale E. Hanson, O-425083 (MIA / KIA ) IA
Crew  2nd Lt Angelo P. Bianco, O-434589 (MIA / KIA ) PA
Crew  2nd Lt Wade H. Lowry, O-431682 (MIA / KIA ) NC
Crew  S/Sgt Michael G. Adamow, 6946756 (MIA / KIA ) PA
Crew  Sgt Thomas H. Jack, 6149279 (MIA / KIA ) ME
Crew  Cpl Frank J. Mehock, 7021597 (MIA / KIA ) PA
Crew  Pfc Thomas W. Wilzbacher, 17026627 (MIA / KIA ) MN
Tail Gunner  Sgt Frank W. Plunkett, 6578296 (MIA / KIA ) WV

MIA  October 5, 1942
MACR  15207

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. One of thirty-two brand-new Flying Fortresses delivered to Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA, between May-June 1942, for the RAF as part of the lend-lease agreement. Royal Air Force (RAF) roundels and numbers were applied at the factory over top the U. S. Army markings. The U. S. Army serial number would be over painted after the bombers arrived in England.

During the first week of August 1942, four of this batch of Fortresses: B-17E 41-9235, B-17E 41-9234, B-17E 41-9244 and this bomber were instead assigned to the U. S. Army Air Force and each was over painted with U.S. markings over top the RAF markings.

Wartime History
This B-17 was ferried from Hamilton Field via Hickam Field and across the Pacific before arriving in Australia. Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 19th Bombardment Group, 30th Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On October 5, 1942 one of six B-17s led by B-17F "Biltz Buggy" 41-24403 piloted by Major Rouse took off from Mareeba Airfield and refueled at 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby then took off again on a bombing mission against Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul.

Over the target at 24,000' at dawn, the weather was clear but a cloud was over the target, requiring the formation to go around for another bomb run. Because of the delay, the formation was attacked by approximately 25 Zeros making head on attacks directed against the lead aircraft and this B-17. After about the third attack, this bomber was seen to have an engine feathered and shortly thereafter smoke was seen coming from another engine. The aircraft left the formation and was last seen entering a small cloud with eleven Zeros in pursuit. When this B-17 failed to return, the entire crew was declared Missing In Action (MIA).

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

Maury Hurt (nephew of Frank Plunkett)
"Sgt Frank Plunkett, served as a B-17 tail gunner, and flew in the Battle of Midway (with pilot Lt. Jack Whidden on B-17E 41-2428) prior to being transferred in August 1942 to the 5th AF, 19th BG, 30th. One of the rewards of my research was that I was able to find Lt. Jack Whidden, who retired as a colonel and is alive and well at 87. He remembers Sgt Plunkett well, as Plunkett was one of the members of his first crew in 1941-42. Col Whidden is the only person I've ever been able to talk with who knew him in the service. His memory is no less than incredible, and he loves to talk about 'the old days'."

Missing Air Crew Report 15207 (MACR 15207)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-9196
B-17 At Black Cat Pass by Steve Birdsall, Flightpath
Flightpath August-October 2012 "Rabaul October" by Steve Birdsall page 55
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Earl L. Hageman Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


Tech Info

9 Missing

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