Pilot Captain Boyd Hubbard, Jr. Adair, Iowa
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Francis R. Thompson
Engineer SSgt Joseph S. Paulhamus
Radio Pvt William Cohn
Passenger Pvt Fred C. Seeger
Passenger Pvt Robert R. Stevens (WIA)
Crashed February 25, 1941
Built by Douglas, constructors number 1747, the last B-18 built in the "36-" series. Accepted by the US Army on April 15, 1938. Assigned to the 50th Reconaissance Squadron (RS) and assigned aircraft number 81. Engines R-1820-45 serial numbers 36-394 and 36-567. At the time of its loss, this aircraft had a total of 1,023 hours 15 minutes of flight time.
Took off at 7:00pm from Hickam Field. One of four B-18s, including this aircraft took off for a training flight for inter-island night navigation on instruments. Over Hawaii, while flying on instruments at 10,000', it suffered a main bearing failure in the left engine and crashed into the Kohala summit swamps west of Waimanu at 3,500'. The crew only suffered minor injuries and waited at the crash site to be rescued.
The next morning, 24 bombers from Hickam Field searched for the missing B-18 and located it at 9:00am, and later in the afternoon they dropped supplies to the crew including blankets and hot coffee.
At dawn on Thursday, February 27, a rescue team departed from Upolu (Suiter Field). On horseback, they followed the Kohala Ditch Trail from Kaukini Camp for 2 ½ hours, then had to cut a new trail on foot for eight miles through marshland and heavy brush for another four hours before nearing the crash site. The rescuers fired revolvers into the air and then listened for a reply. They were about to give up, when they finally heard a burst of machine gun fire and flares which guided them to the crash site, and they reached the crash scene at noon.
When the crew was rescued, only the bombsight and instruments were salvaged. Further salvage was impossible due to the remote location.
Gary Larkins visited this site (during 1980s?) and photographed it with top turret intact. Internal fittings and the top turret were removed, including the retractable top turret and nose cone. These parts are to the USAF Museum for use in their restoration of B-18A Bolo 37-469, but the turret did not fit their aircraft.
Today, the wreck remains 'in situ' on the Laupahoehoe Nui LLC property, Hamakua, Hawaii on Kohala, north of Mauna Kea.
Chris Rathbun adds:
"I am part owner of Laupahoehoe Nui LLC, the owner of the property where this B-18 crash landed. The plane is still sitting in a gulch on our property. Recently, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum contacted us about possibly recovering the plane. The plane came to rest hanging over Waikaloa stream. Later it slid into the gulch, where it remains today. It appears to be surprisingly undamaged. Unfortunately people coming in by helicopter in recent years have taken everything that isn't nailed down, and the Air Force apparently made a salvage raid to restore the B-18A in their museum. This appears to be one of only two B-18's still in existence. Clearly it has historical importance and so we have some questions before we give it away."
Are you a relative of any of the crew members of this B-18?
Contact Us to share more details about them
USAF Biography - Boyd Hubbard - Unusual Experiences
Star Bulliten "First pictures of Army bomber wrecked on the big island" February 1941
Air Pirates / Gary Larkins B-18 Bolo (page down since 2006)
Accident Report - B-18 36-446 via Aviation Archaeological Investigation & Research
Chris Rathbun for additional information
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August 10, 2019