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  B-17E "Miss Fit" Serial Number 41-2433  
USAAF
5th BG
23rd BS

Former Assignments
7th BG
88th RS

11th BG
26th BS

5th BG
31st BS

Click For Enlargement
Jack Fellows 2016

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 2244. On November 30, 1941 delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-2433 and flown to Salt Lake City. Assigned to the 7th Bombardment Group (7th BG), 88th Reconnaissance Squadron (88th RS). No known nickname or nose art.

Wartime History
On December 6, 1941 took off from Hamilton Field piloted by Lt. Harry Brandon with co-pilot Lt. Robert Ramsey with crew no. 7 on an unarmed ferry flight bound for Hickam Field. On December 7, 1941 the morning incoming Japanese aircraft detected on radar were dismissed as the expected flight of B-17s. The formation of B-17s arrived during the Japanese surprise attack against Pearl Harbor and Oahu. During the attack, this B-17 managed to safely land at Hickam Field, although shot at by both Japanese aircraft and American anti-aircraft fire.

Sometime after December 7, 1941, painted in the Hawaiian Air Depot (HAD) three color camouflage scheme consisting of dark green, olive drab and tan upper surfaces with standard gray lower surfaces.

On January 4, 1942 took off piloted by Lt. Ralph Wanderer on an anti-submarine patrol and reported an enemy submarine 600 miles off Oahu that submerged and escaped. Next, assigned to the 5th Bombardment Group (5th BG), 23rd Bombardment Squadron (23rd BS).

On January 16, 1942 took off piloted by Wanderer on a reconnaissance mission to support USS Enterprise (CV-6) to protect a convoy reinforcing Samoa. This B-17 developed problems with the no. 3 engine grounding it at Fiji until the end of the month, and parts were removed to repair other bombers. Finally, repaired and returned to Hickam Field arriving March 21, 1943. During the remainder of March and April, flew patrol missions over the Pacific Ocean around Hawaii.

On April 30, 1942 took off piloted by Captain Richard Stepp on a patrol mission. Returning, landed short at Bellows Field tearing off the tail section, and dubbed "Miss Fit" for all the problems it experienced. It is unclear if this nickname was applied to the plane or just a reference.

On October 18, 1942 assigned to the 11th Bombardment Group (11th BG), 26th Bombardment Squadron (26th BS) as a replacement aircraft operating from Bomber 1 Airfield on Espiritu Santo. Equipped with search radar with a yagi antenna under each wing.

On October 23, 1942 took off from Bomber 1 Airfield on Espiritu Santo piloted by Lt. Edwin Loberg, co-pilot Lt. Bernays Thurston, navigator Lt. Robert Spitzer and bombardier Lt. Robert Mitchell on an anti-submarine patrol mission over the Solomon Sea. Also aboard was war correspondent Ira Wolfert. During the flight, this bomber encountered H6K4 Mavis observer Shimoyamada and engaged in an air-to-air combat with the enemy flying boat. After a battle that lasted forty-four minutes, Spitzer and Mitchell were wounded and the Mavis was shot down and crashed into the sea. Afterwards, this B-17 returned to Espiritu Santo with wounded Mitchell evacuated aboard USS Solace (AH-5) to New Zealand for further medical treatment.

On October 24, 1942 took off piloted by Lt. William Kyes on another patrol mission over the Solomon Sea.

On October 25, 1942 took off piloted by Lt. Loberg on a mission against Japanese warships and was damaged by a 5" shell that passed through an elevator without exploding and landed safely. The next day, flown to Efaté for repairs including new horizontal stabilizer and elevator and returned a day later to Espiritu Santo a day later and flew another patrol mission on October 28, 1942.

On November 21, 1942 took off piloted by Lt. Robert Smith on a patrol over the Solomon Sea south of Guadalcanal in murky weather, spotted a H6K Mavis commander Hitsuji and engaged in a air-to-air gun fight. and made at least seven passes before the flying boat escaped into clouds. During the combat, the B-17's gunners fired 450 rounds of .50 caliber bullets and scored hits on the hull. Damaged in the no. 2 engine, this B-17 made an emergency landing at Henderson Field.

On December 10, 1942 borrowed by the 5th Bombardment Group (5th BG) "Bomber Barons", 31st Bombardment Squadron (31st BS). and flown on a photo reconnaissance mission over Kahili Airfield on southern Bougainville. Over the target, co-pilot Captain Carlyle Coleman, O-417195 was hit in the eye and killed instantly and earned the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) posthumously for courageous actions and extraordinary heroism on the mission. Aboard, the gunners claimed a Zero shot down.

Afterwards, this bomber was transfered to the 31st Bombardment Squadron (31st BS).

On March 20, 1943 one of nine B-17s that took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal piloted by Captain William Kyes on a bombing mission against Kahili Airfield on Bougainville as a diversionary raid to support Avengers mining Shortland Harbor.

On March 27, 1943 took off piloted by Brady to Espiritu Santo for bomb bay rack repairs, at the time this bomber had 1,400 combat hours logged. Returning from the repair, the no. 3 engine failed and was replaced.

On June 15, 1943 transfered to the 23rd Bombardment Squadron (23rd BS) and by the end of August 1943 was transfered out. Afterwards, likely assigned to a service squadron in the South Pacific and flew non-combat flights for next 13 months.

On September 1, 1944 departs the South Pacific and flown across the Pacific back to the United States. Afterwards, this B-17 was used for training in Florida and Yuma, Arizona at the USAAF flexible gunnery school. On June 25, 1945 scrapped at Albuquerque, NM.

Memorials
Coleman Killed In Action (KIA) December 10, 1942 was buried at the American Cemetery Guadalcanal. His original grave was a standard wooden cross with his name and unit. Later, a more elaborate grave was added with a memorial marker with a plaque and white cross with a belt of .50 caliber ammunition attached. Behind a propeller blade with a bullet hole and the skull and cross bones inside a triangle, the motif of the 31st Bombardment Squadron. Postwar, his remains were exhumed and shipped to Hawaii for permanent burial. On March 1, 1949 he was permanently buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at section E, site 180.

References
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2433
7 December 1941 - The Air Force Story - Appendix D - B-17s Arriving During the Attack page 157-158
"B-17E 41-2433 / Crew No. 7: 1st Lt Harry N. Brandon, 2d Lt Robert L. Ramsey, Avn Cdt Harold E. Snider, TSgt James G. Helton, SSgt David P. Barnard, SSgt Ralph E. Mouser, Sgt Wayne E. Johnson, Pvt Billy B Sutton."
Battle for the Solomons by Ira Wolfert describes the October 23, 1942 mission
Clash of Titans by Jack Fellows (B-17 vs H6K combat October 23, 1942)
Aviation History Magazine "Pacific Tramps" (May 2016) cover art Clash of Titans by Jack Fellows article by Steve Birdsall pages 21-27 (Four-Engine Bombers Dogfight)
HistoryNet "Pacific Tramps" artwork Clash of Titans by Jack Fellows article by Steve Birdsall (reprint of Aviation History Magazine)
Saigo No Hikotei (The Last Flying Boat) (1983) by Tsuneo Hitsuji
Shootout Between H6K5 Mavis and B-17 by Tsuneo Hitsuji (November 21, 1942 air combat)
Cemetery Burial Card - National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific - Carlyle Coleman
FindAGrave - Capt Carlyle Coleman (grave photos, DSC citation, burial card)
Thanks to Steve Birdsall and to Henry Sakaida for additional information

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Last Updated
November 20, 2021

 

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