This might help to narrow the field a little . . . 41-24430 was delivered on June 29, 1942 and was at the Sacramento Air Depot on August 18 before departing for the South Pacific a few days later. So there's absolutely no connection with 41-2667 and the tragedy at Whenuapai.
The two photos of 41-24430 outdoors seem to have been taken at about the same time and place. The "now you see it, now you don't" second B-17 is the mystery. Did she arrive with 41-24430, or did she arrive later, perhaps to take the place of 41-24430 while she was in the hangar undergoing repair or maintenance?
If it's Ohakea, are tower logs available?
Getting back to Dave's original question, at least six B-17s visited New Zealand - 40-3097, 41-2434, 41-2458, 41-2667, 41-24430 and . . .
The only aircraft to land at Te Pirita was the PWD Gull. Te Pirita was never completed, it got no further than having the runway formation compacted. It wasn't being built as an emergency strip but as an operational base should the Japanese continued their southward advance.
If there is a highway to hell and a stairway to heaven is that an indication as to the expected traffic flows?
Post by Dave Homewood on Jun 12, 2009 16:15:39 GMT 12
This is not in NZ but comes from the collection of Alex Brisbane who was a member of No. 10 Servicing Unit, RNZAF, at Guadalcanal in 1943. I believe it was taken by the No. 10 SU official photographer so is possibly and Air Force Museum photo.
As noted on WIX, very nice find Dave, many thanks for sharing this!
I don't know much about this aircraft - assigned to 42nd Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group as a replacement on October 25, 1942 and transferred to 72nd Bomb Squadron of 5th Bomb Group on November 28, 1942. (However, Captain Earl Hall of the 42nd Squadron flew 41-2487 in the middle of December, 1942, so maybe the transfer came later . . . )
I can't find much on her operational record, but 5th Bomb Group pilot Leon Rockwell noted in his diary for May 1, 1943: "slow time 41-2487 out of Fiji”, so she was still with the 5th then.
Apparently returned to Hawaii in 1944, but obviously there are some gaps to fill here. Star-and-bar insignia says late 1943, after the B-17s were "retired", stripped of turrets . . . a fat cat?
Post by Dave Homewood on Jun 12, 2009 20:54:09 GMT 12
Thanks Steve. I noticed it seemed to be without turrets. Did they use older B-17's as transports? I know a few were used to transport VIP's, like The Swoose which visted NZ as a VIP aircraft carrying a General. But were they also used as normal troop transports?
I have blown up the photo and note that it seems it may have had some sort of nose art, not sure what though.
Also in the background you can see an Avenger, two Dauntless and a GMC truck.
It seems to me that quite a few fighter units acquired old B-17s for various purposes . . . transporting groups of people back and forth, picking up supplies and so on. Or it could be a VIP aircraft as you suggest. Idle speculation on my behalf.
Post by Dave Homewood on Jun 13, 2009 11:05:18 GMT 12
By the way, No. 1 (BR) Squadron and No. 10 Servicing Unit RNZAF arrived at Guadalcanal in October 1943, so if that photo was taken by the unit photographer as suspected, then it would be most likely at or after that time.
Just a follow-up about 41-2487 that may be relevant.
Leon Rockwell was a 31st Bomb Squadron, 5th Bomb Group pilot who was transferred to the 23rd Bomb Squadron on July 20, 1943, when the 31st converted to B-24s. On August 27, 1943 Leon recorded in his diary that, "We sent three B-17s to Tontouta, New Caledonia to be converted into Cargo Ships - We are the last of the B-17s in the area only 18 remain".
Post by Dave Homewood on Nov 5, 2009 20:48:16 GMT 12
Having talked with a veteran who was on the airfield when it arrived there, he said that everyone was in total awe of it as it was the biggest aeroplane they'd ever seen. So I'd sy the guards are more likely not able to take their eyes off it, rather than a staged photo. It must have been something to Woodbourne folk who were used to Vincents and Gordons to see this thing arrive.