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  B-17E Flying Fortress Serial Number 41-2641  
USAAF
5th AF
19th BG

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USAAF April 24, 1942

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USAAF c1942

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 2452. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-2641. On March 5, 1942 flown to Lowry Field. Afterwards flown to Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia arriving April 14, 1942.

Wartime History
On April 1, 1942 assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 19th Bombardment Group (19th BG). No known nickname or nose art. This bomber flew one bombing mission before it was destroyed on the ground.

Mission History
On April 24, 1942 one of four B-17 flown to 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby. Around 3:00am, pilot Major Montgomery started the engines and taxied onto the runway, with the three others behind. While taxing, this bomber became stuck in a hastily filled bomb crater wet from rain and sank to the axle of the main landing gear axle and was unable to participate in the morning mission.

Around 8:00am fifteen A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai (Tainan Air Group) arrived over Port Moresby and four dove to strafed 7-Mile Drome. Their attack set on fire a B-26 Marauder and seriously damaging another B-26 Marauder. Roughly ten minutes after the attack, this B-17 unexpectedly burst into flames that destroyed the fuselage section.

Wreckage
Afterwards, the tail section and left and right wings survived and were moved to a bone yard area where they were stripped for usable parts including the tail rudder.

References
Note, On Wings We Conquer by John Mitchell, Fortress Against The Sun by Gene Eric Salecker and USAF Serial Number incorrectly lists B-17E "El Toro" 41-2461 as destroyed on April 25, 1942 [sic] and was in fact this bomber.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17E Fortress 41-2641
"2641 delivered to Lowry Mar 5, 1942; assigned to 19BG at Hickam, Hawaii Apr 1, 1942. WO Aug 1, 1942"
Paradise Magazine "Fortress on Mt. Obree" by Bruce Hoy via Wayback Machine June 21, 2006
“At about 3.00 am the first of the four B-17s, 41-2641 piloted by Major Montgomery started its engines and commenced taxiing out from its revetment onto the runway, with the other four following. The aircraft had not traveled very far when it lurched into a hastily filled bomb crater which rain the previous evening had turned into a quagmire. The aircraft sank to its axle, and was not going anywhere that day.
Lt Sargeant in B-17E 41-2464 then took the lead and, without trouble, took off over what is now known as Moitaka, with the other two aircraft departing five minutes apart.  Lt Sargeant circled 7-Mile Drome once to allow the other two aircraft to catch up and then proceeded to gain altitude in the direction of Rabaul. Lt Evans soon joined Lt Sargeant.  On glancing back about 12 kilometres south-east of Port Moresby, Lt Evans noticed Lt Hagen in 41-2505 about half a kilometre behind and still climbing towards them.  Both pilots (Evans and Sargeant) were busy checking their instruments and it wasn't until a short time later that, on glancing back, they realized that Lt Hagen's B-17 was nowhere to be seen.
Back at 7-Mile, the crew of 41-2641 were feverishly trying to extricate their aircraft from the mud, as they knew that if they were unable to free it and depart either on the mission, or back to Australia, the aircraft was in danger of being destroyed by the Japanese as soon as daylight arrived. In the course of this activity, the crew heard overhead in the darkness the familiar sound of four Wright Cyclone engines belonging to a Flying Fortress.  One of the B-17s from the formation that had departed an hour earlier had returned and on seeing the airfield still in darkness, flew on towards the south-east, over the Coral Sea, perhaps to await the arrival of dawn to land and to have rectified whatever problem that was being experienced.
Just after 8.00 am, with 41-2641 still stuck, fifteen Japanese Zero fighter aircrafts arrived over Port Moresby and four descended on 7-Mile Drome, quickly setting a Martin B-26 Marauder on fire and seriously damaging another Marauder.  41-2641 appeared to have survived the attack until 10 minutes later, the aircraft suddenly burst into flames and was destroyed.  The RAAF's No. 75 Squadron had a flight of four PAOs in the air on combat patrol and they immediately attacked the formation of Zeros, causing damage to three aircraft, and one of the PAOs receiving superficial damage in return. Major Montgomery and his crew were devastated on seeing the destruction of their aircraft. It had only arrived in Australia from the United States on April 14, and had flown its first mission on 20 April. This was to have been its second mission.”
Fortress Against The Sun (2001) pages 170, 388 (41-2641 incorrectly listed as lost July 31, 1942)
Thanks to Bruce Hoy and Edward Rogers for additional information

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Last Updated
April 23, 2021

 

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