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Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 2248. On March 5, 1942 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2652 and flown to Lowry Field.
On April 13, 1942 assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group, 40th Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. Ferried across the Pacific arriving in Australia on April 22, 1942 with B-17E 41-2630, B-17E 41-2437 and this aircraft.
On May 7, 1942 during the Battle of the Coral Sea took off piloted by Major Habberstad, O-380242 (Executive Officer, 19th BG) on a bombing mission against Japanese warships in the Coral Sea. Possibly, one of three B-17s that accidentally might have accidentially bombed the "ANZAC squadron" including HMAS Australia, USS Farragut DD-348 and USS Perkins DD-377.
Returning alone in the the afternoon, this B-17 was tracked by U. S. radar station manned by the 565th Signal Battalion at Paluma coming from the sea, crossing the coast roughly 30 miles north and was presumed to be this bomber. Likely, lost in bad weather or low on fuel, the crew bailed out and parachuted safely to the ground. The bomber flew another forty miles before crashing near Ewan (west of Palumba) roughly 55 km southwest of Mount Fox in northern Queensland. Administratively, this B-17 was written off on October 31, 1944.
Fates of the Crew
The crew landed unhurt and were rescued. One of the crew was located by cattleman George Town observed what he thought was a white cloud and rode his horse towards it and discovered the airmen. The crew were transported by truck to Paluma arriving that evening. The next day, they left for Townsville and returned to duty.
During 1944, the crash site of a B-17 was reported at roughly three miles southeast of Blue Range Cattle Station at roughly Lat 19° 9' 42" South, Long 145° 25' 6" East. Another position was listed as six miles southeast of Christmas Creek and and five miles north of Clarke River Telegraph Station at roughly Lat 19° 5' 53" South, Long 145° 21' 5" East.
Sometime in the middle of 1944, a salvage team visited the crash site and recovered the engines but abandoned the other wreckage. One wing was described as intact as was part of the fuselage. Reportedly, wreckage from this B-17 remained until at least the 1960s. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2652
"2652 crashed Mt. Fox W of Palumba, North Queensland May 7, 1942."
No. 4 Volunteer Air Observation Corps (4 VAOC) Townsville Operations Record Book - May 8, 1942
"Clarke River reported plane crashed 3 miles north and search party going out at once to the spot and will report back."
No. 4 Volunteer Air Observation Corps (4 VAOC) Townsville Operations Record Book - May 9, 1942
"Mt. Surprise relayed a message from Clarke River to effect that search had been unsuccessful. The party reported that at 2236 they heard the crash. At 2245 they heard small explosions like rifle fire taking place and continued off and on until 2345. At 0015 they saw a flare which went about 200 feet in the air. Garbutt intend sending out 2 search planes to work in conjunction with search party. Clarke River cannot recommend landing a plane, but there is a clearing 6 miles west of the Office 40' wide and 1/2 mile long. Clarke River reported through Mt. Surprise that wreckage was found 1 1/2 miles north east of Clarke River. Plane-U.S.A. 12652. Cockpit burnt out, 2 outside engines 100 yds. away from wreckage. No bodies yet found. Garbutt informed. Two Sergeants who parachuted out landed and reported to Ewan. Search party instructed to keep look-out for other members of crew. 0955-Mt. Surprise rang to say a man from Clarke River had inspected the wreckage of plane. He made a search of wreck and ashes of cock-pit and found no trace of any bodies. The rear door of plane was open and the Airmen's kit, tins of bully-beef etc, were stacked outside. One parachute was found nearby unopened and one opened. Garbutt notified 0958 also Air Intelligence."
7 Stores Depot (RAAF) C.O. Memo to HQ No. 5 (Maintenance) Group March 27, 1944 reporting B-17 crash site
Fortress Against The Sun pages 170 (April 22, 1942 arrival in Australia), 181 (May 7, 1942 mission), 183, 388, 418 (footnote 34)
Oz @ War "Crash of A B-17 Flying Fortress at Ewan, Near Mt. Fox, North QLD on 7 May 1942"
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