14 August 1942

Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2656, “Chief Seattle from the Pacific Northwest,” during a test flight near Seattle, Washington, March 1942. (U.S. Air Force)

14 August 1942: Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2656, Chief Seattle from the Pacific Northwest, took off from 7 Mile Drome, an airfield near Port Moresby, Territory of Papua,  New Guinea, on its first combat mission. This was a reconnaissance of Rabaul and Kavieng. Mission elapsed time, 8 hours, 40 minutes.

Crew of Chief Seattle at 7 Mile Drome, 11 August 1942. Front row, left to right, Sgt Dennis Craig, Sgt. Tomas Wood. Standing, Sgt Quentin Lakely, Pvt Philip Zumwalt, Sgt. Leslie Stewart, Lt. John Pickering, Lt. Morris Friedman, Lt. Haskell Wexler, Sgt Meyer Levin. (United Press)

Sponsored by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper, citizens of Seattle contributed $230,535 in War Bonds to purchase the airplane. it was delivered to the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) by the Mayor of Seattle, Earl Milliken P.G. Johnson, in a ceremony held 5 March 1942. The bomber was assigned to the 435th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy), Fifth Air Force, in the Southwest Pacific.

Aerial photograph of 7 Mile Drome (Jackson Airfield), 1943. (U.S. Air Force)
B-17s parked in revetments at 7 Mile Drome, 1943. (U.S. Air Force)

Flown by another crew, 41-2656 was attacked by three Mitsubishi A6M3 Navy Type 0 Model 32 (Allied reporting name, “Hamp”) fighters of the Imperial Japanese Navy. It was shot down at 7:40 a.m., 14 August 1942, over the Solomon Sea. Defensive fire from the bomber damaged at least one Zero, but it was able to return to its base.

The B-17E went down in the sea. Its crew were listed as missing, presumed killed in action (KIA). They were 1st Lt. Wilson O. Cook, pilot; F/Sgt. George S. Andrews, co-pilot; 2nd Lt. Hubert S. Mobley, navigator; 2nd Lt. Joseph R. Cunningham, bombardier; SSGT Elwyn O Rahier, Engineer; SSGT John J. Dunbar, assistant engineer; T/Sgt. Irving W. Michael, radio operator; Cpl. Charles M. Hartman, asst. radio; Pvt. David B. Beattie, gunner; and Cpl. Richard K. Pastor, gunner.

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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About Bryan Swopes

Bryan R. Swopes grew up in Southern California in the 1950s–60s, near the center of America's aerospace industry. He has had a life-long interest in aviation and space flight. Bryan is a retired commercial helicopter pilot and flight instructor.

6 thoughts on “14 August 1942

  1. Seems like some text is missing Bryan – there’s a sentence fragment above the first image. Just thought you would want to know.

  2. Something isn’t making sense… If I read the article correctly, Chief Seattle was shot down on August 9, 1942. The crew picture, taken in front of Chief Seattle, is dated August 11, 1942.

    Any idea when the picture was really taken?

    1. Thanks for checking. Several sources give the date of the photograph as 11 August 1942. HOWEVER, I got the date of the shoot-down wrong. Several sources states it was 14 August. I have made the necessary changes. Thanks, Andrew. —Bryan

  3. e Navy. It shot down at 7:40 a.m., 14 August 1942, over the Solomon Se
    It was shot down?

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