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  B-17E Flying Fortress Serial Number 41-9196  
5th AF
19th BG
30th BS

Pilot  1st Lt Earl L. Hageman, Jr., O-417618 (MIA / KIA ) WA
Crew  1st Lt Dale E. Hanson, O-425083 (MIA / KIA ) IA
Crew  2nd Lt Angelo P. Bianco, O-434589 (MIA / KIA ) PA
Crew  2nd Lt Wade H. Lowry, O-431682 (MIA / KIA ) NC
Crew  S/Sgt Michael G. Adamow, 6946756 (MIA / KIA ) PA
Crew  Sgt Thomas H. Jack, 6149279 (MIA / KIA ) ME
Crew  Cpl Frank J. Mehock, 7021597 (MIA / KIA ) PA
Crew  Pfc Thomas W. Wilzbacher, 17026627 (MIA / KIA ) MN
Tail Gunner  Sgt Frank W. Plunkett, 6578296 (MIA / KIA ) WV
MIA  October 5, 1942
MACR  15207

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 2670. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-9196. This bomber was one of thirty-two delivered for the Royal Air Force (RAF) as part of lend-lease. At the factory, RAF roundels and serial number were painted over top the U. S. markings. After the bomber was ferried to the United Kingdom, the USAAF serial number would be over painted.

Between May 1942 to June 1942 one of thirty-two B-17s delivered to Cheyenne, Wyoming for the RAF. During the first week of August 1942, four from this batch: B-17E 41-9235, B-17E 41-9234, B-17E 41-9244 and this bomber were retained by the USAAF. Afterwards, repainted with U. S. markings over top the RAF markings applied at the factory. Flown from Hamilton Field via Hickam Field then across the Pacific before arriving in Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 19th Bombardment Group, 30th Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On October 5, 1942 took off from Mareeba Airfield piloted by 1st Lt Earl L. Hageman, Jr. as one of six led by B-17F "Biltz Buggy" 41-24403 on a flight to refuel at at 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby then took off again on a bombing mission against Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul.

Over the target at 24,000' at dawn, the weather was clear but a cloud was over the target, requiring the formation to go around for another bomb run. Because of the delay, the formation was attacked by approximately 25 Zeros making head on attacks directed against the lead aircraft and this B-17. After about the third attack, this bomber was seen to have an engine feathered and shortly thereafter smoke was seen coming from another engine. The aircraft left the formation and was last seen entering a small cloud with eleven Zeros in pursuit. When this B-17 failed to return it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).

The entire crew was declared dead the day of the mission. All are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

Maury Hurt (nephew of Frank Plunkett)
"Sgt Frank Plunkett, served as a B-17 tail gunner, and flew in the Battle of Midway (with pilot Lt. Jack Whidden on B-17E 41-2428) prior to being transferred in August 1942 to the 5th AF, 19th BG, 30th. One of the rewards of my research was that I was able to find Lt. Jack Whidden, who retired as a colonel and is alive and well at 87. He remembers Sgt Plunkett well, as Plunkett was one of the members of his first crew in 1941-42. Col Whidden is the only person I've ever been able to talk with who knew him in the service. His memory is no less than incredible, and he loves to talk about 'the old days'."

USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-9196
"9196 (19th BG) shot down over Rabaul Oct 5, 1942."
Missing Air Crew Report 15207 (MACR 15207) created retroactively circa 1945-1946
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Earl L. Hageman Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
FindAGrave -
FindAGrave -
FindAGrave -
FindAGrave -
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-9196
B-17 At Black Cat Pass by Steve Birdsall, Flightpath
Flightpath August-October 2012 "Rabaul October" by Steve Birdsall page 55
Thanks to Steve Birdsall for additional information

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Last Updated
February 14, 2020


Tech Info

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