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  B-17E "Tojo's Nightmare" Serial Number 41-2497  
5th AF
317th TCG
46th TCS

Former Assignments
19th BG
30th BS

7th BG

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Ewing March 24, 1944

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via Horn Island 1944

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Kershaw 2000
Pilot  Captain William Compton (WIA, survived)
Co-Pilot  1st Lt. Donovan (survived)
Crew  1st Lt. Paul Maaske (survived)
Crew  T/Sgt Paul Paddilla (survived)
Crew  S/Sgt J. C. Matthowa (WIA, died of wounds)
Crew  Cpl Julian Simmons (WIA, died of wounds) GA
Crew  2nd Lt. Edward Scudero (survived)
Crew  T/Sgt Delbert Steinka (survived)
Crew  T/Sgt C. M. Porter (survived)
Crew  S/Sgt Charles Kreig (survived)
Passenger  T/Sgt Cecil Clarke (survived)
Passenger  Pfc Swain (survived)
Passenger  SSgt John Masiars (survived)
Passenger  TSgt T. Underwood (survived)
Passenger  Pfc James Colorusso (survived)
Passenger  Pte Daniel Pechman (survived)
Passenger  Pte Paul Graf (survived)
Crashed  March 24, 1944
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 2308. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-2497. On January 26, 1942 took off from MacDill Field and ferried overseas via the "African Route" to Java in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI).

Wartime History
On February 17, 1942 assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group (19th BG), 30th Bombardment Squadron (30th BS) in Java. Next, transfered to the 7th Bombardment Group (7th BG) then back to the 30th Bombardment Squadron and evacuated from in Java to Australia.

During late 1942, assigned to the 317th Troop Carrier Group (317th TCG), 46th Troop Carrier Squadron (46th TCS). Nicknamed "Tojo's Nightmare".

During November 1942, this B-17 was used to transport U.S. Army cargo including a 105mm howitzer disassembled into pieces, tractor, ammunition and eight man crew from Australia to 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby. After delivery, the cargo was divided between several C-47 Dakotas and flown to the north coast of New Guinea to support the offensive against Buna.

Mission History
On March 24, 1944 took off piloted by Captain William Compton from New Guinea with American and Australian personnel aboard for furlough in Australia. During the approach to land at Horn Island Airfield, the nose began to rise unexpectedly that caused a stall and a quarter turn flat spin from 250' before impacting a mangrove swamp into roughly 4' of sea water near the edge of Horn Island.

Immediately, Allied personnel on Horn Island rushed to the crash site. One of the first at the scene was U.S. Army Captain John D. Ewing with Australian Army personnel from 34 Heavy Anti Aircraft Battery (34 HAA) and the 157th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery (157th LAA) that rescue the crew. The rescuers cut a hole into the top of the bomber to allow the crew and passengers to escape. All but one person aboard sustained injuries and spent the night in the hospital.

Fates of the Crew
Two of the crew that were injured later died. Another aircraft transported the survivors to Garbutt Field near Townsville.

Susan Ewing-Wolfe (daughter of John Donald Ewing) adds:
"Aussies, my father and a few Americans, helped pull the survivors to safety. It was a transportation mission."

Simmons was declared dead March 24, 1944 and was buried at Concord Cemetery in Long County, GA.

Matthowa has an unknown burial in the United States, likely in his hometown in a private cemetery.

Maaske passed away on February 1, 1986. He is buried at Mount Vernon Cemetery in Linn County, IA.

Colorusso passed away in 1988. He is buried at Oak Grove Cemetery in Pawtucket, RI at section 1.

Remains of this bomber still remains on the island in the mangroves. In 1997, Australian members of the anti-aircraft units involved in the rescue revisited the island and crash site to pay tribute to those killed.

Other sources state this B-17 was nicknamed "MacMac" and assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group, likely confusion with B-17F "Tojo's Nite Mare / The Super Chief" 41-24357 assigned to the 54th Troop Carrier Wing (54th TCW).
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17E 41-2497
Newspaper "Captain died in an Australian plane crash" c1944
Newspaper "Australians rescue crew of crashed Fortress" c1944
Newspaper "Capt. John Ewing Tells Some War Experiences" c1944
FindAGrave - Paul M Maaske (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Julian T. Simmons (grave photo)
FindAGrave - James Jerome Colorusso, Jr (grave photo)
Flightpath Vol 10 No 4, pages 62-63
Fortress Against The Sun (2001) pages 134, 144, 386, 414 (footnote 12)
Horn Island (2002) pages 199-200
Thanks to Richard Rudd and Susan Ewing-Wolfe for additional information

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Last Updated
February 21, 2022


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