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  B-17F-25-BO Flying Fortress Serial Number 41-24550  
USAAF
5th AF
43rd BG
403rd BS

Click For Enlargement
Uhling July 13, 1944

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. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 43rd Bombardment Group, 403rd Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
On December 14, 1942 took off from 7-Mile Drome at Port Moresby piloted by Hocutt on a reconnaissance mission over Milne Bay. After take off, two engines cut out and this B-17 ditched into Bootless Bay.

During the ditching, ball turret SSgt White was wounded when the aircraft hit the water and was thrown into the bomb bay, and his foot was almost severed at the ankle. The rest of the crew survived unhurt.

Fates of 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 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. The B-17 remained above the waterline until at least the late 1940s. Today, only the wing and center section remains in Bootless Bay.

Reference
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17F Flying Fortress 41-24550
Wrecks & Reefs pages 134-135
Pride of Seattle page 14, 17

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Last Updated
August 27, 2014

 

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B-17

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