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  B-17E Flying Fortress Serial Number 41-2452  
USAAF
5th AF
19th BG
93rd BS

Former Assignments:
7th BG
9th BS

Click For Enlargement
Justin Taylan 2006
Pilot  Captain Harry J. Hawthorne, O-385412 (survived) Hempstead County, AR
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. Paul J. Scarboro, O-416355 (survived) Franklin County, GA
Navigator  2nd Lt. Warren E. Bryant, O-659869 (survived) Middlesex County, MA
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Robert J. Haase, O-434591 (survived) Wausau County, WI
Engineer  S/Sgt Milton P. Kelm, 6569806 (survived)
Radio  Pfc Arnold G. Osborne, 37009844 (survived)
Gunner  Cpl Walter T. Buchanan, 33075730 (survived) Bradford, PA
Gunner  Michael R. Andrade, 12029739 (survived)
Erie County, NY
Gunner  Cpl Paul K. Harmon, 13023426 (survived) Washington, DC
Gunner  SSgt Selm (rescued)
Ditched  August 9, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 2263. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-2452. Ferried overseas to Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 7th Bombardment Group. No known nickname or nose art. This B-17 participated in the Java campaign.

On February 16, 1942 took off from Madioen Airfield piloted by Lindsey on a bombing mission against a Japanese convoy landing troops on the southern coast of Bali. Inbound to the target, B-17 aborted the mission due to engine failure. In the face of light anti-aircraft fire, the B-17s bombed from 21,000' but missed.

On February 19, 1942 took off piloted by Lt. Lindsay with co-pilot Lt. Knudson at roughly 6:00am on a bombing mission against Japanese forces landed on Bali. One of three B-17s led by B-17E "Yankee Diddl'er" 41-2458 piloted by Captain Schwanbeck. Over the target, intercepted by enemy fighters that made firing passes for a half hour including head on attacks.

On February 23, 1942 took off piloted by Lt. Habberstad leading the formation of five other B-17s on a bombing mission against enemy ships off Makassar. The formation encountered intense anti-aircraft fire and bombed from 20,000'. Habberstad claimed one large transport sunk and another burning.

On February 26, 1942 took off from Madioen Airfield piloted by Captain Hardison with B-17E "Monkey Bizz-Ness" 41-2417 piloted by 2nd Lt. Bernice S. Barr 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. Hours later, one of two B-17s that took off again from Madioen Airfield and encountered heavy anti-aircraft fire before bombing an unidentified convoy from 26,500', each dropping 300 lbs bombs that all missed. In fact, the ships were Allied.

At the end of the Java campaign, one of sixteen B-17s evacuated to Darwin. On March 12, 1942 this B-17 piloted by Lt. Casper was scheduled to fly a resupply mission to Del Monte Airfield but developed engine trouble and did not take off.

Afterwards, assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group, 28th Bombardment Squadron.

On August 6, 1942 one of sixteen B-17s that took off piloted by Lt. Claude N. Burcky from Horn Island Airfield to 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby in preparation for a bombing mission the next day.

On August 7, 1942 one of thirteen B-17s took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Lt. Claude N. Burcky on a bombing mission against Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul. Over the target, this B-17 claimed two enemy fighters shot down.

Mission History
On August 9, 1942 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Captain Harry J. Hawthorne as one of four B-17s led by Major Dean C. "Pinky" Hoevet on a bombing mission against Lakunai Airfield near Rabaul. Inbound to the target, the formation encountered bad weather. One B-17 aborted the mission and instead bombed Gasmata Airfield before returning safely.

Over Rabaul, the three remaining B-17s were intercepted 15-20 A6M3 Zeros from the 2nd Kokutai. During the air combat, the bombers claimed a total of five Zeros shot down by their gunners. Lost was B-17E 41-2643 (MIA).

Returning, this B-17 experienced a radio compass failure and had difficulty locating Port Moresby and was lost for 3.5 hours before making a force landing or ditching onto a coral reef or beach at Malapla Island off the China Strait off the southern tip of the mainland of New Guinea.

Rescue
The entire crew survived the ditching. Later, all were rescued by an Australian small ship and five days later returned to Port Moresby.

Wreckage
The wreckage of this remained on the beach and coral reef at Malapla Island in the China Strait.

Display
The top turret frame from this aircraft was recovered by Brian Bennett and is displayed at the Kokopo War Museum.

References
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Harry J. Hawthorne
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Paul J. Scarboro
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Warren E. Bryant
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Robert J. Haase
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Walter T. Buchanan
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Michael R. Andrade
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Paul K. Harmon
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2452
"2452 with 7th BG used in first MacArthur rescue attempt. Survived Java Campaign, was in RAAF Pearce Mar 2, 1942, ex Broom Mar 2, 1942 Crash landed Aug 9, 1942 on beach Malapla Island, New Guinea."
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2452
General Orders #6: "The serious damage done to this plane [over Lakunai] made it impossible for it to keep up with the rest of the formation, and it was necessary for it to make a crash landing on a coral reef." Janice Olsen adds "I have found incidents where statements were made that may have been 90 degrees away from the actual event."
Letter from Walter Buchanan via Janice Olsen:
"We were attacked with Zeros pretty heavy... we got off course on the way back to Port Moresby and wound up running out of gas. [we were] picked up by an Aussie P.T. boat and five days later was [sic] back at home base."
Fortress Against The Sun pages 126, 128, 131-132, 137, 139-140, 143, 154, 227, 235, 385, 412 footnote 17, 414 footnote 38, 428 footnote 62.
Thanks to Janice Olson and Brian Bennett for additional information

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Last Updated
February 14, 2020

 

Tech Info
B-17
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