Just to throw another question into the mix - in the 1984 book "Strange Facts & True About New Zealand" by Patricia Chapman, there is a very brief entry entitled:
"Secret Plane Crashes
There were two fatal aircraft accidents during World War II which were kept completely secret for security reasons. The first occurred on 9 June 1942 when a US bomber crashed after failing to gain height on takeoff from Auckland's Whenuapai airbase, killing 11 people. The second was also at Whenuapai, when another US bomber crashed on 2 July 1943, killing 14. Even though reports were widespread in Auckland, no newspaper carried any information whatsoever on the crashes."
It's been established that the first one was the Texas Tornado and I may have missed something in a previous thread, but what was the second crash?
Flying has a perfect record, we haven't left one up there yet!
Yes excellent reading which prompted memory of the official RNZAF crash report. The president of the court was Gp Capt Buckley and they placed the blame on Col Cobb for failing to gain suffient altitude and carrying out the Paciic island practice of low level departures with slow climb with possible tempory lack of vision of instruments when the wng lights were switched off. Other reports sugested a diagreement betwn the captain and co pilot over a midnght depature after such a merry time at the Grand Hotel in princess street. also i rcall reading reports in wellington that there was mystery over the presence of the Free French Navy Capt and two civilians. I to gathered shells casings and metalparts from the farmer at Sintons farm in the 1980s. He showed me relics including small bone fragment in jars in his barn!
Defence & NZ History researcher, Flight Simulators, Foreign Affairs and model making interests
Post by angelsonefive on Jul 14, 2008 20:44:35 GMT 12
Odd that the aircraft should be carrying a bomb load on what was essentially a passenger flight. The B-17G carried a crew of 10. I imagine it was the same for the E model. Four of these were dedicated gunners in that they had no other duties but manning their guns. These were the 2 waist gunners, the ball turret gunner and the tail gunner. The other gun positions in the Fort. were operated by crew members as a secondary duty. For example the upper turret was manned by the flight engineer. So for the Texas Tornado to be carrying 10 pers in total including two passengers, two of the regular crew must have been left behind. It would hardly have been say, the navigator or the flight engineer, so I guess it was two gunners. Unlikely in my opinion that the the aircraft would be " going in harms way " without its full complement of defensive gunners. And yet it was carrying bombs. All very strange.
From what I have read The B17E could have a crew of 9 or 10.
I don't believe weight was a major contributing factor to the crash that fateful evening, and I don't think the full crew compliment of 10 was on board. Going by Dave's article (page 1) there were 11 coffins.
If full compliment was carried plus 2x passengers that's 12 persons. (probability that someone was not recoverable exists I suppose -gory thought)
The full bomb load for a B17E was 4800 lbs (up to x8 500lb bombs) according to what I read in the article posted by Dave on page 1, Texas Tornado was only carrying x4 500lbers so only half the bomb load.
With an extra couple of passenger would not have put, a big strain on the engines. The max take off weight was 53008.2 lbs/24040.0 kg.
I think (personally) the problem engine combined with the pilots error (as per other comments/article) contributed predominately to the catastrophe.
Still putting aside those mitigating factors I agree with angelsonefive something of an enigma though
Post by Dave Homewood on Jul 14, 2008 22:34:05 GMT 12
Steve mentioned above that there were a Free French Navy Captain and two civilians aboard. You have to wonder if they met them at the hotel and were taking them for a jolly. Perhaps the civvies were the birds seen in the taxi? They would not have been the first and only unauthorised flight with females aboard. Just a slim possibility.
Post by Dave Homewood on Jul 20, 2008 17:12:12 GMT 12
As well as The Swoose and Texas Tornado I have found a third B-17 that visited NZ in WWII. It arrived from Melbourne to Woodbourne on the 1st of April 1942, carrying General Hurley as a VIP. It was a B-17E and it's bureau number on the tail cane only be partially seen but ends in 58, and could be 458 as the last three digits. It wears the old USAAC roundel with the red dot inside the white star on blue, and no nose art can be seen on the port side. Any ideas of the identity?
AMERICAN ENVOY (1 min.) Arrival of Brigadier General Patrick J. Hurley, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary from the U.S.A. in AMERICAN ENVOY, etc. (1942) (released 5.6.42) Produced by New Zealand National Film Unit. Viewing copies: 35mm film- 200,204 VHS Video- R.V. 423 VHS Video (Preview Tape)- BITC 174
Post by Dave Homewood on Jul 20, 2008 19:26:29 GMT 12
Interesting. The term there for his title of "Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary" I had to look up. Apparently a "Plenipotentiary" is an evoy with full powers to take action. Interesting, he must have been a very powerful and interesting man.
Post by angelsonefive on Jul 20, 2008 22:21:37 GMT 12
I agree with alanw that the weight of the two passengers was not an issue. The B-17E could easily carry the weight of two extra persons, i.e., twelve. The issue was one of accomodation. Where would they sit ? Two of the regular crew had to be "bumped" in order for two passengers to be carried. There was , in my opinion, ten persons on board, including two passengers. I take this from the article by Ewing Stephens, which gives the impression of being well researched. Mr Stephens states 8 aircrew and two " service passengers including Free French Navy Captain J. Gilbert. " By "service" I take it to mean that the second pax was, like Capt. Gilbert, a uniformed member of an armed service. Therefore, no civvies on the flight.
Post by Dave Homewood on Jul 20, 2008 22:37:49 GMT 12
But not to take anything away from Mr Stephens' article a lot of his research is from talkback callers who were remembering back 50 years. There are some glaring contradictions in his article and with other evidence, and Steve has looked into the official file at Wellington and states there were 11 people killed, which tallies with the account of coffins in the enterage.
Surely all details attached to the file must be open by now, has anyone in Wellington got time to pop into the National Archive for a browse for facts?
Here's another one for you, sorry no i.d but note the droppable lifeboat that it is carrying. It is a Whites photo and only has Whenuapai written on the back and no date, but I would definately say that it is post-war.
Also note American Legation Beech behind it.
..................................................Horses racing a Hudson along the runway at Norfolk Island, April 1943...................................................