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  B-17F-5-BO "Caroline / Super Snooper / 'G. I.' Jr" Serial Number 41-24420  
USAAF
5th AF
54th TCW
375th TCG
58th TCS

Former Assignments
19th BG
28th BS

43rd BG
65th BS
64th BS
403rd BS

Click For Enlargemen
USAAF c1944

Click For Enlargemen
USAAF c1944-1945

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 3105. On June 29, 1942 Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17F-5-BO Flying Fortress serial number 41-24420. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia arriving during late September 1942.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group (19th BG), 28th Bombardment Squadron (28th BS) and began flying combat mission. On November 16, 1942 assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group (43rd BG) "Ken's Men", 65th Bombardment Squadron (65th BS). Nicknamed "Caroline" and began flying combat missions in New Guinea until July 6, 1943.

On November 22, 1942 or November 23, 1942 this B-17 was one of six or seven that participated in a bombing mission against Japanese ships in Huon Gulf off Lae.

On November 22, 1942 took off from Torrens Creek Airfield as one of six or seven B-17s on a bombing mission against a convoy of four Japanese destroyers reported off the southern coast of New Britain or in the Huon Gulf off Lae. . Four of the B-17s failed to locate the convoy.

Steve Birdsall adds:
"I think this mission happened on November 22, 1942 in the afternoon or evening, but I am surprised there's so many differing reports. November 23... Combined Headquarters at Townsville has an entry for November 23 noting that six B-17s "attack ships Lae". . . identifies 65th Squadron, and #536 [this B-17 was] "shot down" and #552 "turned back". Other numbers mentioned are 537, 657, 420, 015 and 638. So, maybe seven planes took off to attack Japanese shipping near Lae. B-17F "Listen Here, Tojo!" 41-24552 turned back, B-17E 41-2638, 41-2657, 41-9015, B-17F "Talisman" 41-24537 and B-17F 41-24420 [this aircraft] attacked, and B-17E 41-2536 was shot down. Also, it is possible this mission was on November 21 or 22."

During January 1943 transferred to the 64th Bombardment Squadron (64th BS). Nicknamed "Super Snooper".

On January 9, 1943 took off from 7 Mile Drome (Jackson) near Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt. Arthur T. Curren on a reconnaissance mission against Lae. During the flight, this bomber entered a thunderstorm forcing the radio operator to quickly close the radio hatch causing the .50 caliber machine gun to accidentally discharge killing the tail gunner SSgt Jerry M. Walker and wounding two others.

On February 20, 1943 took off from 7 Mile Drome piloted by Captain Stanley G. Salisbury on a photo reconnaissance mission over New Britain. Returning, this B-17 overshot the runway and became suck in mud and took hours to extract. Afterwards, transfered to the the 5th Bomber Command replacement pool for repairs and then assigned to the 403rd Bombardment Squadron (403rd BS).

On March 5, 1943 during take off from 7 Mile Drome piloted by Major Arthur T. Curren the tail wheel was damaged forcing the B-17 to circle and crash land. Afterwards, this B-17 was to be salvaged but was instead repaired and transfered back to the 65th Bombardment Squadron (65th BS) and continued to fly combat missions until late April 1943.

During early November 1943, converted to an armed transport at the 4th Air Depot (4th AD) at Garbutt Field. On December 8, 1943 assigned to the 54th Troop Carrier Wing (54th TCW), 375th Troop Carrier Group (375th TCG), 58th Troop Carrier Squadron (58th TCS). Nicknamed "G.I. Jr." (with double quotations around "G.I." in a candy striped style and Jr. in a cursive style) with the nose art of a baby wearing a WWI style helmet with the 5th Air Force logo and diapers with stars and shoes, holding a large wrench and waving with the left hand.

On March 1, 1944, took off from Finschafen Airfield as one of four B-17 armed transports including this aircraft plus B-17E 41-2662, B-17F "Harry the Horse" 41-24548 and another B-17 on a mission to make supply runs to drop weapons, ammunition, barbed wire and blood plasma to the U. S. Army 1st Calvary Division soldiers that landed on Los Negros Islandand to strafe enemy positions at Momote Airfield.

Sometime later in 1944 or early 1945, this B-17 was flown back across the Pacific to the United States. During May 1946 written off (other sources state July 23, 1946). Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped sometime afterwards.

References
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17F-5-BO Flying Fortress 41-24420
"24420 to 28th BS, 194th BG. Transferred to 64th BS, then 65th BS of 43rd BG, Transferred to 54th TCW Nov 1943, later 58th TCS, 375th TCW. Salvaged in 1946."
FindAGrave - Jerry Mills Walker (news, obituary, grave photo)
Pride of Seattle (1998) page 8
Fortress Against The Sun (2001) pages 368-369, 391
Possibly, this B-17 was nicknamed "Caroline" in service with the 54th Troop Carrier Wing.
Ken's Men Against The Empire Volume 1 (2015) pages 82, 112, 130, 313-314, 327, 329, 331, 342
Thanks to Steve Birdsall for additional information

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Last Updated
July 24, 2020

 

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