CRASH OF A B-17E FLYING FORTRESS
AT HORN ISLAND, QLD
ON 4 JULY 1942
B-17E #41-2633 in an undercarriage mishap at Horn Island
USAAF B-17E #41-2633 of the 93rd Squadron of 19th Bombardment Group, at Longreach, was damaged when its undercarriage collapsed after a tire blow-out led to a ground loop at Horn Island in north Queensland after a six plane bombing raid on Lae in July 1942. The initial cause of the crash was pilot error. The B-17 ploughed into some drums along the side of the airfield.
Ralph Dietz, the bottom turret gunner on the B-17 indicated that the undercarriage rammed up into the No. 2 engine fouling the propeller. The repairs to #41-2633 could not be fixed by the ground personnel on Horn Island, so a salvage crew were flown in on another B-17E #41-2421. Unfortunately this aircraft crashed while landing at Horn Island on 16 July 1942 killing all 16 service personnel on board.
Photo:- Gordon Birkett Collection
B-17E 41-2633 after the ground loop on Horn Island
Horn Island was being used as a staging point for the B-17's on their way home to their base at Longreach.
M/Sgt. George R. "Dick" Graf, (7031051) who flew with the 435th Bomb Squadron from February 1942 till September 1942, was at Horn Island and saw the crash. He had just returned from a mission himself. The B-17E was patched up and flown to Townsville with its landing gear down. It was repaired at the Townsville Air Depot.
After this accident this, the aircraft became known as "Sally", the "Flying Office" for General George C. Kenney, the Commander-in-Chief of the 5th Air Force, USAAF. "Dick" Graf went on to become the regular radio operator for "Sally". "Dick" had earlier been the radio operator in one of the two B-17's that rescued General Douglas MacArthur and his party from Del Monte in the Philippines.
I'd like to thank Gordon Birkett for his assistance with this web page.
Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 28 February 1999
This page last updated 28 February 1999