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Air Service Command
5th Bomber Command
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 2228. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-2417. Assigned to the 7th Bombardment Group (7th BG), 9th Bombardment (9th BS). No known nickname or nose art.
On December 12, 1941 took off from Hamilton Field on a ferry flight bound for Hickam Field but aborted for unknown reasons and returned to Hamilton Field.
On December 18, 1941 took off from Hamilton Field piloted by Lt. Clarence "Sandy" McPherson as one of six B-17E Flying Fortresses from the 7th Bombardment Group (7th BG) led by Major Kenneth B. Hobson on a ferry flight to Hickam Field.
During late December 1941, from Hickam Field flew reconnaissance missions over the Pacific Ocean area around Hawaii. At Hickam Field, painted in Hawaiian Air Depot (HAD) camouflage scheme with three colors on the upper surfaces: dark green, olive drab and tan upper with gray lower surfaces.
On January 6, 1942 departed Hickam Field piloted by Lt. McPherson on a ferry flight accompanied by B-17 piloted by Major Hobson and B-17 piloted by Lt. Hughes across the Pacific flying via Tontouta Airfield and Garbutt Field before reaching Darwin. At Darwin, this bomber experienced engine trouble and needed a the tail wheel assembly to be replaced. By early February 1942, repaired and ready for missions.
On February 19, 1942 took off piloted by McPherson leading a formation of P-40 Warhawks bound for Java in the face of a typhoon. Bad weather forced the P-40s to abort the flight but this B-17 proceeded alone and landed at Denpasar Airfield on Bali, unaware it has just been captured by the Japanese. When this B-17 touched down, it was hit by machine gun fire that hit the fuselage and wounded the tail gunner in the foot. On the ground, the landing was witnessed by Saburo Sakai. Realizing he was under attack, McPherson immediately took off again, narrowly avoiding capture and made a successful landed at Singosari Airfield on eastern Java. While taxing, all four engines quit as the bomber ran out of fuel. The wounded tail gunner was rushed to the hospital.
Operating from Java, this B-17 participated in the Java campaign. On February 26, 1942 took off from Madioen Airfield piloted by 2nd Lt. Bernice S. Barr with B-17E 41-2452 piloted by Captain Hardison on a bombing mission against a Japanese convoy off the southern end of Makassar Strait. In the face of light anti-aircraft fire, the B-17s bombed from 21,000' but missed.
During the night of February 28, 1942 took off from Madioen Airfield piloted by Lt. Skiles with B-17E 41-2464 piloted by Evans and B-17E 41-2449 piloted by Captain Preston. Inbound to the target, Preston aborted due to faulty machine guns. The remaining two B-17s proceeded alone at 28,000' and claimed direct hits on two parallel strings of ships and claimed one sunk and one damaged.
On March 1, 1942 this B-17 flew two missions. At 3:00am took off from Madioen Airfield piloted by Lt. Beck on a mission against a Japanese eastern invasion force convoy off the north coast of Java. Over the convoy, this bomber experienced heavy anti-aircraft fire and made three runs at varying altitudes and reported uncertain results. After landing, the crew discovered the tail wheel was damaged. At 9:00am took off again from Madioen Airfield piloted by McPherson with B-17 piloted by Lt. Casper on a bombing mission against a Japanese convoy. Inbound, Casper developed engine problems and aborted the mission. Alone, this B-17 proceeded to the convoy at 30,000' and dropped eight 300 pound bombs, claiming one hit and one near miss.
At the end of the Java campaign one of sixteen B-17 evacuated to Darwin. Assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group (19th BG), 28th Bombardment Squadron (28th BS).
On May 29, 1942 piloted by Lt. Hugney with co-pilot 1st Lt. Gilbert Erb, flown from Longreach Airfield to Garbutt Field. The next day took off piloted by Lt. Hugney with co-pilot Sargent and passenger 1st Lt. Gilbert E. Erb on a flight to Horn Island Airfield. On May 31, 1942 piloted by Hugney with co-pilot 1st Lt. Gilbert E. Erb on aa bombing mission against Lae.
On June 1, 1942 flown from Horn Island Airfield to Coen Airfield during an air raid alarm, two days later flown returned from Coen Airfield to Longreach Airfield. During the remainder of the month, flown on several local transition flights including June 26 to Charleville Airfield and Long Airfield.
On July 5, 1942 force landed roughly 15 miles northeast of the Mitchell River Mission on Cape York. Afterwards, photographed parking in the grass and later flown back to base.
In August 1942 assigned to the 8th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron (8th PRS) until September 1942 and returned to the 19th Bombardment Group until February 1943 although the unit had returned to the United States.
In early February 1943, assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group (43rd BG), 403rd Bombardment Squadron (403rd BS). Nicknamed nicknamed "Monkey Bizz-Ness" in red with white outline on the right side of the nose with the nose art of a monkey holding a bottle in one hand and an ax in the other hand and a bomb between the legs painted by Sgt Ernie Vandal.
This B-17 operated from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby flying combat missions over New Guinea. In late February 1943 assigned to the 65th Bombardment Squadron (65th). Between March 2, 1943 to March 4, 1943 participated in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea. In late March 1943 assigned to the 63rd Bombardment Squadron (63rd BS).
On March 22, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome at 11:45pm from 7-Mile Drome piloted by Major Carl A. Hustad armed with two 2,000 pound bombs on a bombing mission against Rabaul. Over the target on March 23, 1943 in the early morning while other B-17s bombed various targets, this B-17 made a solo bomb run against the crater of Tavurvur (Matupi Volcano) and dropped both bombs into the crater but failed to trigger anything. This was a special mission conceived by 43rd Bombardment Group headquarters in hopes of triggering an explosion that would impact the Japanese.
On March 26, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome piloted by 1st Lt. William B. Trigg on a night bombing mission against enemy shipping in Wewak Harbor. Over the target, nothing was sighted and harbor installations were bombed instead. On July 11, 1943 this B-17 flew its last bombing mission.
On June 18, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome piloted 1st Lt. William B. Trigg flying to Doboudra to stage for a bombing mission against Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul as one of seventeen B-17s plus three B-24s. This B-17 experienced electrical problems and did not participate in the mission.
During the middle of July 1943, briefly assigned to 5th Bomber Command (V BC).
In 1944, this B-17 was stripped to a bare metal finish with "417" (last three digits of the serial number) painted on the tail with the top turret and lower turret removed. This B-17 became the personal transport of U.S. Army General Clements McMullen, 5th Air Force Service Command / Far East Command Air Service (FEAS). Nicknamed "Nancy" after his wife painted in cursive on the right side of the nose.
Steve Birdsall adds:
"I've come to the conclusion that the numbers on the tail are 417 and this is 41-2417, previously Monkey Bizz-Ness in the 43rd Group. I believe that General Clements McMullen of Fifth Air Force Service Command used it as a personal transport and that it was named Nancy after his wife."
This B-17 survived the Pacific War. On June 9, 1946 scrapped at Manila.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2417
"2417 assigned to 19th BG, 28th BS, then to Project X Feb 19, 1942. Crashed Queensland, Australia Jul 6, 1942, scrapped 1944"
Gilbert E. Erb Flight Log - May 1942
Note, other sources list this B-17 as scrapped in 1944, unclear which is accurate
Diary of the 63rd Bomb Squadron, 43rd Bomb Group
"26 March 1943 – Departed Jackson at 0130. Target: shipping Wewak Harbor. Bomb load; 4 ships with 8 X 500# inst demo, 3 with 4X 100# inst demo.
554 Murphy didn't take off on account of engine trouble. Nothing was sighted by the remaining crews.
358, Denault, 537 O'Brien, 574 Derr dropped their bombs on harbor installations.
455 Diffenderfer, 543 Staley, 417 Trigg dropped theirs on the town and runway.
543 Staley landed at Dobodura on the way back because of lack of gas. Search party consisting of Lt Murphy and Capt Thompson's crew were organized and were about to take off when 543 landed. Squadron on readiness at 1500."
Mark Styling - Aviation Illustration - B-17 Flying Fortresses In the Pacific page 1
The Eight Ballers - Eyes of the Fifth Air Force (1999) by Stanaway and Rocker page 9 (lower left photo), 17 (upper right photo)
Fortress Against The Sun (2001) by Gene Salecker pages 16 (lower left photo)
Ken's Men Against The Empire Volume 1 (2015) pages 84 (photo), 157 (March 22-23, 1943 mission, photo), 230, 308,
325, 398 (index Monkey Bizz-Ness), 399 (index Nancy)
Thanks to Steve Birdsall, Michael Claringbould and Robert Rocker for additional information
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