AP November 1, 1942
Ernie Vandal c1943
USAAF Sept 5, 1943
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 3222. On July 30, 1942 Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17F-20-BO Flying Fortress serial number 41-24537. Ferried overseas by Lt. William O'Brien to Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
On September 7, 1942 assigned to the 5th Air Force, 43rd Bombardment Group, 63rd Bombardment Squadron.
On September 16, 1942 transfered to the 403rd Bombardment Group, then back to the 63rd Bombardment Squadron four days later. Assigned to pilot Lt. William O'Brien with crew chief Farrell.
Nicknamed "Talisman" with the nose art of a green three leafed clover to pay tribute to pilot O'Brien's Irish ancestry on the right side of the nose painted by painted by Sgt Ernest "Ernie" J. Vandal. On the right side of the nose was a scoreboard below the pilot's window with two rows of bomb markings painted in white with four ship silhouettes.
The regular crew included pilot Lt. William O'Brien, co-pilot 2nd Lt. James H. Powell of Springfield, IL and gunner SSgt Clifford Cassellbury of Binghamton, NY. During late 1942, this B-17 flew combat missions from Mareeba Airfield and during 1943 operated from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby.
On March 26, 1943 took off from 7 Mile Drome near piloted by O’Brien on a night bombing mission against enemy shipping in Wewak Harbor. Over the target, nothing was sighted and harbor installations were bombed instead.
On April 1, 1943 during the afternoon took off piloted by Lt. William E. O'Brien with B-17F
41-24543 on a bombing mission against shipping in Kavieng Harbor. Despite bad weather, this B-17 skip bombed a cargo ship that was seen listing and earned the Air Medal for pressing their attack.
On April 19, 1943 took off from 7 Mile Drome piloted by Lt. William O'Brien one of six B-17s on a bombing mission against Wewak. Over the target this B-17 made a skip bombing run over a ship and claimed two "very near misses" then bombed Wewak Airfield. Also on the mission was B-17F "Fightin Swede" 41-24520 that successfully skip bombed a tanker that was hit and left "burning fiercely" and "definitely sunk".
On April 23, 1943 took off from 7 Mile Drome piloted by Lt. William O'Brien transporting General Walter Kruger, C. O. 6th Army dropping him off at Milne Bay then flew to Dobodura Airfield. On April 24, 1943 took off from Dobodura Airfield on a flight back to 7 Mile Drome and while landing, the right landing gear failed causing damage to the bomber but no one aboard was injured.
This B-17 was repaired by a Service Squadron for two months then returned to the 63rd Bombardment Squadron by late June 1943.
On September 5, 1943, this B-17, piloted by Lt. Col. Harry J. Hawthorne took off from 7-Mile Drome with General Douglas MacArthur aboard to observe the U. S. Army 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment (503rd PIR) paratrooper drop on Nadzab. The flight was dubbed by General Kenney as the "Brass Hat's Flight". Also in the flight was B-17F "The Mustang" 41-24554 carrying General Richard Sutherland, plus B-17F "Cap'n & The Kids" 41-24353 with General Kenney aboard.
On September 18, 1943 retired from combat service and assigned to the V Bomber Command replacement aircraft pool. Later, this B-17 was stripped to a bare aluminum finish.
This B-17 was assigned to Major General James L. Frink, U. S. Army services and supply commander as his personal transport in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA). Renamed "USASOS" painted in black with every other letter in subscript (USASOS). Later, "War Horse" was added in black forming the nickname "USASOS War Horse" (USASOS War Horse).
On September 9, 1945 scrapped at Tacloban Airfield on Leyte.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17F-20-BO Flying Fortress 41-24537
"24537 delivered to Cheyenne Aug 2, 1942; assigned to 43rd BG, 63rd BS at Hickam Sep 10, 1942, named ("Talisman"); carried GEN thur to observe a parachute invasion of Nadzab Sep 5, 1943; RETUS and crash landed at Jackson Field, FL Apr 24, 1943; repaired; after the war it was used as a hack by MAJ GEN Frink, Supply CO of SW Pacific and re-named ("USASOS War-Horse"). Salvaged Sep 9, 1945"
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."
Pride of Seattle page 13
Fortress Against The Sun pages 60, 90, 95, 124-125, 134, 160, 175 (April 19, 1943 mission), 176 (April 23-24, 1943 mission, photos), 217 (profile #9, 222 (profile #9a #9b nose detail), 272-273, 305 (photo USASOS) 306 (photo USASOS), 325, 330, 337, 339 (photo), 341, 358 (photo), 404 (index Talisman)
Thanks to Steve Birdsall and Edward Rogers for additional information
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September 9, 2020