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Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 3066. On June 19, 1942 delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17F-1-BO Flying Fortress serial number 41-24381. Flown overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
On July 28, 1942 took off from Hamilton Field piloted by 1st Lt. Folmer J. Sogaard for Hickam Field then across the Pacific via Christmas Island Airfield, Canton Airfield, Fiji and New Caledonia before arriving at Brisbane on August 6, 1942. The flight included four new B-17Fs including B-17F 41-24355, B-17F 41-24357, this bomber and B-17F 41-24384.
In Australia, briefly assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group at Charleville Airfield for training purposes for the crew to gain experience.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 43rd Bombardment Group, 63rd Bombardment Squadron on August 12, 1942 as one of the first Flying Fortresses assigned. Nicknamed "Panama Hattie" with the nose art of a woman in a cocktail dress painted by Sgt Ernie Vandal. This B-17 operated from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby.
On January 1, 1943 one of six B-17s that took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Lt. Rucks on a early morning attack against Lakunai Airfield near Rabaul at 4:20am. Inbound to the target, one B-17 aborted the mission. Over the target, this bomber had an unsuccessful bombing run and the bombs were salvoed over Simpson Harbor instead.
On January 8, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Captain William M. Thompson, Jr. as one of seven B-17s on a bombing mission against a Japanese convoy in the Huon Gulf off Lae. Over the target, anti-aircraft guns opened fire and fighters intercepted.
On January 9, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Captain William M. Thompson, Jr. on a bombing mission against a Japanese convoy in the Huon Gulf departing Lae. Over the target at 10:05, the B-17s bombed the convoy but failed to score any hits. Japanese fighters made a frontal attack against this B-17 and dropped aerial bombs from above.
On March 3, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby at 8:00am piloted by Captain William M. Thompson, Jr. on a bombing mission against a Japanese convoy during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea.
On March 19, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Lt James Murphy with navigator Lt Nathan J. Hirsh and crew on an armed reconnaissance mission.
On May 10, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Lt. James C. Dieffenderfer on a patrol over New Britain and to report Japanese aircraft strength at Cape Gloucester Airfield. Observing no aircraft, this B-17 instead bombed camouflaged launches near Talasea and were trailed by a single Zero that never attacked.
On October 18, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby at 8:30am on a routine reconnaissance mission. This was likely the last combat mission flown by this bomber.
During November 1943, transfered to the 54th Troop Carrier Wing (54th TCW). This B-17 was modified to remove the top turret and used as a transport. Nicknamed "Well Goddam" with the nose art of a baby's face inside a circle.
Afterwards, stripped to a bare metal finish and converted into a VIP transport with blue leather added to the radio compartment at the 4th Air Depot at Garbutt Field near Townsville.
On December 8, 1943 transfered to the 5th Air Force Bomber Command replacement pool for use as a a personal transport by General Paul Wurtsmith C.O. 5th Fighter Command). Assigned to pilot Rocky and radio operator Ken Abell plus crew chiefs Slim Durham and Griffin.
While flying as a transport, this B-17 suffered no major accidents or mishaps aside from one mission (date unknown) when it lost a left wing tip which was replaced with a salvaged one. Another time, after landing at Garbutt Field, the B-17 lost the left wheel and tire, but suffered no major damage or injuries to the crew.
During 1944-1945, this B-17 flew as a transport in Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines. At the end of the war, the regular flight crew left the transport on Okinawa.
Ken Abell (former radio operator) adds:
"I would really like to know the history of this great bird, especially after truce was signed and the crew left her on Okinawa. We heard a rumor when we were in the port of embarkation at Manila that some horrific weather had damaged her on Okinawa."
During July 1948, this B-17 was at Clark Field. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared afterwards.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17F-1-BO Flying Fortress 41-24381
"24381 to 63rd BS, 43rd BG, transferred to 54th TCW. Scrapped at Clark AFB 1948"
Pride of Seattle (1998) page 7, 9
Ken’s Men Against The Empire Vol 1 (2016) pages 55, 68, 100-101, 110, 112, 185, 305, 314, 324, 337-338, 324, 400 (index), 406 (index)
Thanks to Steve Birdsall and Ken Abell for additional information
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