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  B-17E "Fiji Foo" Serial Number 41-9217  
13th AF
11th BG
26th BS

Former Assignments
431st BS

Click For Enlargement
13th AF October 29, 1943

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Construction Number 9217. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Fortress Fortress serial number 41-9217. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field across the Pacific to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 11th Bombardment Group, 431st Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Fiji Foo". This B-17 was operating from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal.

On August 17, 1942 took off from Bomber 1 on Espiritu Santo piloted by Major Edmundson (C. O. 431st BS) on a solo flight to the recently captured Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. This B-17 was the first U. S. Army bomber to land at the newly captured airfield to provide support.

On October 13, 1942 took off Henderson Field on Guadalcanal piloted by Major Edmundson armed with two 1,000 pound bombs on a bombing mission against Buka Airfield on Buka Island. The formation of six bombers from the 431st BS and 26th BS was flying in three plane elements led by B-17E 41-2611 piloted by Major Sewart with this B-17 leading the second element. The weather was poor with a storm as they started the bomb run. Over the target, the first element bombed parked planes with the second element bombing the runway and observed fighters taking off and soon afterwards began attacks as the formation. Low on fuel, B-17F 41-24528 in the second element returned to base, while the rest of the formation made a run on a secondary target Erventa Harbor (Buin Harbor) on southern Bougainville. With only two bombers, the second element was targeted by the fighters and tail gunner Sgt Handrow aboard this B-17 claimed one shot down in flames and another was claimed by the other B-17. Over Erventa Harbor (Buin Harbor), they spotted 34 ships and attempted a bomb run from 11,000' in the face of anti-aircraft fire and claimed hits on a cruiser and transport while being attacked by ten Zeros. Each B-17 in the formation sustained some damage and returned to Henderson Field to find it under attack by a Japanese air raid and had to circle as the attackers were intercepted and damage to the runway was repaired. After landing safely, each bomber was dispersed when a second air raid commenced but none were damaged.

During the night of October 13-14, 1942, while parked at Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, this B-17 was parked at the airfield during the Imperial Japanese Naval (IJN) bombardment of the airfield and parked aircraft and survived undamaged. On October 14, 1942 at 7:00am took off piloted by Major Edmundson as one of four B-17s flying away to evacuated the area flying southward to Bomber 1 on Espiritu Santo.

On October 15, 1942 took off from Bomber 1 on Espiritu Santo piloted by Major Edmundson armed with four 500 pound bombs as one of nine B-17s flying in three plane elements on a bombing mission against five Japanese transports off Guadalcanal. Over the target, the first element bombed the ships and missed. This B-17 was leading the second element and claimed a direct hit on a ship. Aboard, tail gunner Sgt Handrow claimed their bombs "blew [the transport] all to heck". Afterwards, the third element attacked and also claimed at hit. Following the bomb run, the formation was intercepted by roughly twenty Zeros that made aggressive attacks. A single Zero made an attack from astern this B-17 until Sgt Handrow believed it was trying to ram until he managed to shoot it down after firing 200 rounds before it went down 25 yards away. Although each B-17 in the formation sustained some damage, all returned safely.

Afterwards, assigned to the 26th Bombardment Squadron. On the left side of the nose was "The Globe Trotter".

Mission History
On October 27, 1943 this B-17 crash landed at Tontouta Airfield on New Caledonia. During the crash, the nose was damaged and the propellers bent on the no. 1 and no. 2 engines. The crew survived unhurt. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.

USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17E Fortress Fortress 41-9217
"9217 crash landed at Noumea-Tontouta, French New Caledonia Oct 27, 1943."
Another reference list this B-17 as lost on February 19, 1943 piloted by Smith
Fortress Against The Sun pages 241 (August 17, 1942), 274-275 (October 13, 1942), 276-277 (October 15, 1942), 390

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Last Updated
April 5, 2020


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