Swamp Ghost Returns to Pearl Harbor

Discussion about the history of B-17E 'Swamp Ghost' and its recovery.

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Daniel Leahy
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Swamp Ghost Returns to Pearl Harbor

Post by Daniel Leahy »

Hi All,

The following appeared on the Star Advertiser News website on April 10.
WWII bomber returns to Hawaii

By Star-Advertiser & news reports

POSTED: 09:17 a.m. HST, Apr 10, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 01:29 a.m. HST, Apr 11, 2013

A famous World War II B-17 bomber arrived Wednesday at the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor.

It didn't fly in, however. Instead, it arrived by the truckload — in seven Matson containers with Honolulu police escort, to be exact.

Once at the museum, the history of the "Swamp Ghost" will be retold the way the Flying Fortress was lost in 1942 and rediscovered three decades later in a swamp in Papua New Guinea.

B-17E 41-2446 was one of the bombers in the Kangaroo Squadron stationed in Townsville, Australia, the Pacific Aviation Museum said. It was to have been one of the B-17s in the flight that made it to Hickam Army Air Field during the December 7, 1941 attack.

It was delayed due to engine problems but flew to Hickam on December 17 and then leapfrogged its way to Townsville, Australia. On the night of February 22, 1942, five B-17s took off from Townsville with the mission of attacking ships at Rabaul, a harbor of Japanese-held New Britain. The mission was the first American heavy bomber offensive raid of World War II.

The B-17 never made it back. Having sustained damage from enemy fire that caused the aircraft to run out of fuel, it crash-landed in the remote primitive Agaiambo swamp on the north coast of Papua New Guinea, according to the museum. Over the next several days, the nine-member crew battled malaria, fatigue and heat exhaustion, while they hacked their way through razor-sharp swamp grass to safety. Amazingly, all nine men made it back to the base alive.

Having crash-landed in one of the most remote locations on Earth, the aircraft virtually "disappeared" and slipped into an oblivion that lasted three decades, until Australian soldiers on routine maneuvers spotted the aircraft in 1972, still partially submerged in the swamp and nicknamed it Swamp Ghost.

To the soldiers' amazement, it was found to be in remarkable condition and fully intact; the machine guns were in place, fully loaded and, in the cabin, there was a thermos with what used to be coffee. It soon became obvious that this plane would become the best-preserved example of a combat B-17 in existence, the Pacific Aviation Museum said.

Over the next 30 years, David C. Tallichet and the Swamp Ghost Salvage Team attempted to recover the bomber. The government of Papua New Guinea became involved. Finally, after years of negotiations, it was cleared to return to the United States in 2010. In 2011, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor began negotiations to receive the aircraft.

"We are absolutely thrilled that this national treasure will call Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor home," said Kenneth DeHoff, the museum's executive director. "The B-17E 'Swamp Ghost' will be one of the crown jewels in our aircraft collection. While we restore these aircraft to static display standards of aviation museums globally, this one will take us several years to raise the funds to do so. We expect it to cost $5 million dollars."

The museum said when funds are received and restoration is complete, the B-17E Flying Fortress will be on display in a specially constructed outdoor exhibit, resembling the Papua New Guinea swamp in which it was found.
Daniel J. Leahy


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Joined: Tue Jun 25, 2013 2:23 pm

Re: Swamp Ghost Returns to Pearl Harbor

Post by Meetoo »

Aloha everyone
This is so exciting that the Swamp Ghost is now in Hawaii. I have seen her on flat beds waiting to be unloaded. What an awesome sight! If anyone wants updates or pictures I can send you them. I am a firm believer in educating the public about WWII. It is amazing how many people do not know what happened during the war both in the Pacific and in Europe. Back in March I was in New Guinea and Australia to follow my dads footsteps. He was stationed there and participated in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea. This was the 70th anniv of the battle.

I am retired from the Navy and I live in Hawaii and am a member of the Pacific Aviation Musuem. I can give you updates on the Swamp Ghost.

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Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:26 pm

Re: Swamp Ghost Returns to Pearl Harbor

Post by mustang »

Hello to you all! I'm JD, I am a 'Nam vet, flew radio in the Neptune SP2H, VP-1 '67- Ops Market Garden, CR bay. I stumbled across Pacific Wrecks many years ago when my first contact with the internet was through webtv. Hence my Email address p51d@webtv.net. Sadly webtv has died on the vine by attrition and finishes this month on the last day and then another icon will be gone. But we die-hards, having stayed the course have been given our Email addresses in perpetuity through MSN Outlook. This pleases me no end because I know I could never get another "p51d" clean like it is for an address again noway nohow these days! The Mustang being my favorite allied fighter of WW2 and arguably the best! I bought the DVD on the Ghost when first offered and it remains one of my favorites. When one imagines treasure ships of the 1715 fleet or others one gets fanciful and imagines them on the sea floor in ghostly appearance with ragged sails and rigged masts and a carpet of gold and silver trailing away. When dreaming of recovery of lost War birds, one tends to do the same.
The reality of course in both cases ... mostly pieces some identifiable. Rarely do we find the pristine 64 corvette in the barn in perfect condition. But the Ghost, and the most recent find of the desert P40 war-hawk are the rarities we all live for. I am pleased beyond belief that the Ghost is in Hawaii with such a wonderful future restoration project in the offing. I saw her in pieces being held and worried that she would never make it home after such a wonderful recovery from that swamp! I'm still stumbling around with this posting stuff, being my first computer ever and it's a difficult transition for an old dog so still learning even after near two years learning by trial and error.

So thank you all so much for the shared interest in WW2 history and all of the different avenues that encompasses!

jd mustang Oregon, USA.

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