|Pilot Woodruff (survived)
Passenger Brig. General Nathan F. Twining C.O. 13th AF (survived)
Ditched January 27, 1943
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2403. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field across the Pacific to the South Pacific.
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 11th Bombardment Group, 26th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.
On December 16, 1942 took off from Bomber 1 Airfield on Espiritu Santo (Buttons) piloted by Captain Edward Steedman at 6:45am as one of six B-17s on a bombing mission led by Captain Hall against Munda Airfield on New Georgia. Each bomber was armed with twenty 100 lb fragmentation bombs. Arriving over the target at 11:58 and spotted by enemy fighters that did not attack. After bombing the target, the formation was intercepted by twelve Japanese Zeros.
On January 27, 1943 took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal piloted by Woodruff on a flight bound for Espirito Santo. Aboard were fourteen crew and passengers. This B-17 ditched south of Guadalcanal.
Fates of the Crew
The fourteen crew and passengers successfully deployed both life rafts and spent five days and six nights at sea before being spotted and rescued.
Both U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) and U. S. Navy (USN) aircraft searched for the missing plane and crew including B-26 Marauders, B-25 Mitchells and PBY Catalinas.
On February 2, 1943 the two life rafts were spotted and rescued by PBY Catalina. The four U. S. Navy officers: Commander Charles P. Coe, Commander John F. Greenslade, Commander J. R. Paschal and Lt. Commander John B. Bowen who were responsible were commended for the rescue.
rafts had no radio, an item which Lieutenant General Millard F Harmon, Commanding
General of U. S. Army Forces in the South Pacific, had been requesting for some
time. This incident results in the rapid appearance of dinghy radio sets in
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2403
"2403 ditched off Guadalcanal Jan 26, 1943, crew picked up by PBY 5 days later. Plane officially condemned Jul 15, 1944"
No Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) was created for this loss.
Diary of James B. Story (B-26 Marauder pilot):
"We had a big search mission day before yesterday, A General and a Colonel went down in a B-17 and we were out with with a drag net trying to locate anything that looked like life boat, etc. We flew about 4 hours and were ending our mission when our bombardier sighted what he thought was a life raft so we circled around for another- look and saw several more little orange spots in the ocean and we jumped up and down as we Figured it was them. We circled around and around our speed of 200 mph and at low altitude of 300 feet made vision very difficult and we strained our eyes to see each little piece that we saw. Some times swore I saw men on them other times I wasn't sure. Some looked like boxes but at that speed and altitude they whizzed by so fast that its' almost impossible to tell what it was. After we saw about 7 of them we started a large circle with all the little dots on the middle, it was almost like a merry go-around and after so long you felt like you're spinning in so we went around in another direction. We decided to radio in about it and we got the answer keep circling and relive would be sent to take our place. About 30 minutes later another B-25 came and relieved us and we went home as our gas was very low. The navy PBY went out there later and looked around but didn't land and reported nothing out there. Maybe I'm wrong but I still believe there were something more than boxes out there and I don't believe the PBY ever saw the place where we circles."
YouTube "U. S. Army Fliers Rescued In The South Pacific 1943"
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February 14, 2020