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  B-17F-1-BO "Lulu Belle" Serial Number 41-24358  
5th AF

Former Assignments
54th TCW

43rd BG
63rd BS

PacificWrecks.comUSAAF c1943

PacificWrecks.comUSAAF Feb 28, 1943

PacificWrecks.comUSAAF October 1943

PacificWrecks.comUSAAF c1944

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 3043. On June 11, 1942 delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17F-1-BO Flying Fortress serial number 41-24358. On June 28, 1942 flown to Cheyenne, WY. Ferried overseas by Captain Franklyn Green via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.

Wartime History
On August 14, 1942 assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 43rd Bombardment Group (43rd BG), 63rd Bombardment Squadron (63rd BS). Nicknamed "Lulu Belle" in yellow with the nose art of a figure smoking a cigar, giving a thumbs up and wearing a white sweater.

Below the pilot's window on the left side of the nose was a scoreboard with yellow bomb markings indicating combat missions flown, white aircraft silhouettes for enemy aircraft claimed and ship icons for ships claimed and white twin engines aircraft claimed. Painted overall olive drab.

During 1943, this bomber flew extensive combat missions over New Guinea, operating from Mareeba Airfield in northern Queensland and 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby.

On March 3, 1943 during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea took off from Mareeba Airfield with B-17F "Ka Puhio Wela / Double Trouble" 41-24356 and another bomber on a bombing mission to attack a Japanese convoy of transports and destroyers bound for Lae.

On March 26, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Denault on a night bombing mission against enemy shipping in Wewak Harbor. Over the target, nothing was sighted and harbor installations were bombed instead.

On June 9, 1943 around 11:30pm took off from 7 Mile Drome piloted by Lt. Stanford A. Ensberg as one of seven B-17s from the 63rd BS on a night mission to bomb Lakunai Airfield near Rabaul. The formation also included four B-17s from the 64th Bombardment Squadron (64th BS) plus a single B-17 and four B-24 Liberators from the 403rd Bombardment Squadron (403rd BS). On June 10, 1943 around 3:30am the bombers reached the target area and saw search lights on the ground and anti-aircraft fire. At 3:42am while flying around 7,000', fired on from below by a Japanese Navy J1N1 Irving night fighter piloted by W/O Satoru Ono that scored hits on the left wing and fuselage while other tracers were observed just missing the nose. Aboard, TSgt Clair L. Wrights, 13031761 wounded by 20mm cannon shell fragments of in his leg and groin. Afterwards, he was hospitalized for four months.

On October 17, 1943 this B-17 flew its last combat mission in New Guinea and was retired from combat.

Afterwards, transferred to the 54th Troop Carrier Wing (54th TCW). During November 1943, converted to a staff transport at the 4th Air Depot at Garbutt Field near Townsville. During the modification, the bomber was stripped to bare metal finish and the gun turrets and armament was removed.

During 1944-1945, used as staff transport aircraft for 5th Air Force (5th AF) headquarters in New Guinea, operating from Nadzab Airfield and Hollandia Airfield. During 1945, this bomber operated from the Philippines. On September 13, 1945 scrapped in the Philippines.

USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17F-1-BO Flying Fortress 41-24358

"24358 ("Lulu Belle") delivered to Cheyenne June 28, 1942; assigned to the 43rd BG, 63rd BS at Hickham, Hawaii July 31, 1942; became a hack at Nadzab, New Guinea, when war weary. Salvaged September 13, 1945."
NARA U.S. Hospital Admission Card Files, Clair L. Wrights (June 1943 [sic July 1943?] released August 1943)
NARA U.S. Hospital Admission Card Files, Clair L. Wrights (June 1943 [sic July 1943?] released August 1943)
Pride of Seattle (1998) page 7-8
Mark Styling - Aircraft Illustration B-17 Flying Fortresses of the Pacific, page 3 by Mark Styling
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."
Ken's Men Against The Empire Volume I (2016) pages 201-203 (July 9-10, 1943) 202 (photos wing damage), 324 (Appendix III: 41-24358, 63rd BS)

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Last Updated
February 18, 2024


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