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  B-17E Flying Fortress Serial Number 41-2639  
5th AF
43rd BG
403rd BS

Former Assignments
19th BS

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried from Hamilton Field via Hickam Field and across the Pacific before arriving in Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 19th Bombardment Group, 435th Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.

On July 17, 1942 took off took off from Bomber 1 on Espiritu Santo on piloted by Lt. Ramsey with two U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) officers aboard on a reconnaissance flight over Tulagi and Guadalcanal. The Marine observers were looking for the best locations for the upcoming amphibious landings. Over the target, attacked by two A6M2-N Rufe seaplane, the B-17's top turret gunner claimed one and the waist gunner claimed the other.

During November 1942, assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 403rd Bombardment Squadron.

On January 5, 1943 took off from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Capt. Ealon Hocutt on a bombing mission against Lakunai Airfield near Rabaul. Aboard was gunnder Quinllen. This B-17 was one of three B-17s from the 403rd Bombardment Squadron along with B-17F "The Reckless Mountain Boys" 41-24518 and B-17F 41-24538 each armed with 100 pound general purpose bombs.

On the way to the target, B-17F "The Reckless Mountain Boys" 41-24518 aborted the mission due to engine problems. The approach to be made by coming over Raratuna Crater on heading at 1,700' making diving 90 degree turn crossing 2,000' and make 30 second run then make 100 degree turn away from the target area and return base. Over the target, this B-17 was damaged and returning from the mission landed at Pongani Airfield. Afterwards, flown back back to base and repaired.

On January 17, 1943 after landing at Turnbull Airfield (No. 3 Strip) near Milne Bay, this B-17 was caught on the ground during a Japanese air raid by G4M1 Betty bombers escorted by A6M Zeros. After being hit, this bomber burst into flames and was destroyed on the ground.

Officially written off on January 21, 1943. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared. On March 2, 1943, fabric from the rudder of this bomber, B-17E 41-2639 or B-17F "Fire Ball Mail" 41-24551 was souvenir by Private Clarence C. Evief of the 58th Signal Battalion.

Individual Aircraft Record Card (IARC) B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2639
5th Air Force Advon message A5AFJ352D (time of origin 091641L). "weather caused to land Pongani."
Diary of Raymond Quinllen - January 5, 1943 "landed at an emergency strip at Buna" [Pongani]
Fortress Against the Sun pages 222, 330, 388
Thanks to Richard Dunn and Steve Birdsall for additional information

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Last Updated
October 23, 2019


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