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  B-17E "Spawn of Hell" Serial Number 41-2662  
5th AF
54th TCW
375th TCG

Former Assignments
43rd BG
64th BS

19th BG

30th BS

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Cordle c1942

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USAAF c1942

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Stevens Nov 15, 1942

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-2662. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia. On May 21, 1942 arrives Charleville Airfield.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 19th Bombardment Group (19th BG), 30th Bombardment Squadron (30th BS) to pilot Lt. Donald Graham. Later based at Mareeba Airfield. On July 19, 1942 to Garbutt Field and assigned to pilot Lt. James Cables. Next, assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group (43rd BG), 64th Bombardment Squadron (64th BS). Nicknamed "Spawn of Hell" or "The Spawn of Hell" with nose art of a baby on the left side of the nose.

On August 7, 1942 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Lt. Curtis Holdridge as one of thirteen B-17s on a bombing mission against Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul. The crew included: Lt. Hiram Messmore, Lincoln, NB, Lt. John Crockett, Stephens, AR, S/Sgt. Stanley Jackola, Minneapolis, MN, Sgt. Victor Lorber, Syracuse, NY, Sgt. Henry Buller, Billings, MT, J. W. Hanns South Bend, IN and tail gunnerĀ  Sgt. Vernon O. Elder, La Junta, CO.

Afterwards, continued to fly combat missions, many with 1st Raymond E. "Ray" Holsey as pilot. During September 1942, this B-17 was flown on a few missions by pilot Cecil Knudson with RAAF Pilot Officer Alan Esler as navigator.

During November 1942 transferred to the 43rd Bombardment Group (43rd BG), 64th Bombardment Squadron (64th BS). Often flown by pilot Roger Kettleson and ball turret gunner E. P. "Lucky" Stevens.

On November 15, 1942 took off on a bombing mission against Rabaul. Returning, force landed at Batumata Point (roughly halfway between Port Moresby and Milne Bay). Afterwards, repaired and continued flying combat missions.

On May 31, 1943 took off from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby on a combat mission. Intercepted by Japanese fighters, the crew claimed five shot down (in fact, none were lost). Aboard, five of the crew sustained minor wounds. Damaged, this B-17 landed at Dobodura Airfield. Afterwards, repaired and continued flying combat missions.

This B-17 flew combat missions until at least May 1943, often piloted by Lt. Henry Evans.

During early November 1943, one of twelve B-17s converted into an armed transport at the 4th Air Depot at Garbutt Field. During the overhaul repainted with olive drab paint. In early December 1943 assigned to the 54th Troop Carrier Wing (54th TCW), 375th Troop Carrier Group (375th TCG) and operated from Port Moresby and Nadzab Airfield. Possibly, nicknamed "Caroline".

On March 1, 1944 took off from Finschafen Airfield as one of four B-17 armed transports including this aircraft plus B-17F "'G.I. Jr." 41-24420, B-17F "Harry the Horse" 41-24548 and another B-17 on a mission to make supply runs to drop weapons, ammunition, barbed wire and blood plasma to the U.S. Army 1st Calvary Division soldiers that landed on Los Negros Island and to strafe enemy positions at Momote Airfield.

Afterwards, flown back across the Pacific to the United States. During June 1945 at Ontario Airfield in California. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.

Possibly, this B-17 was nicknamed "Caroline" in service with the 54th Troop Carrier Wing.
On Wings We Conquer (1990) page 183
Echoes From an Eagle page 53-54
Oz @ War - Cap' & The Kids
Beau's, Butchers & Boomerangs Mareeba - Mareeba includes a photo of this B-17
Echoes From an Eagle page 53
Thanks Steve Birdsall, Edward Rogers, Ken Bledsoe (son of Vernon O. Elder) and Janice Olson for additional information

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Last Updated
July 16, 2021


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