"BATAAN", GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR'S
PERSONAL AIRCRAFT IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2

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Photo supplied by Ross Jones

The nose of "Bataan", Macarthur's personal B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2593

 

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Photo supplied by Ross Jones

Colour photograph of "Bataan"
possibly at Nadzab in New  
 Guinea. Thomas L. Jones in 
on the left with Paul Solomon
 on the right.                          

 


Photo supplied by Ross Jones

The nose of "Bataan", Macarthur's personal B-17E Flying Fortress

 

In November 1943 General Douglas MacArthur obtained his own personal B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2593 which he named "Bataan". Prior to this MacArthur would travel within Australia in a C-47A and a DC3 and if travelling over water he would fly in General George C. Kenney's personal B-17E Flying Fortress "Sally".

B-17E Flying Fortress "Bataan" was one of four B-17E/Fs specially converted into transport aircraft under the designation XC-108 in 1943. Whilst "Bataan" was a B-17E model it had an "F" model  "blown" Plexiglas nose with a single 0.50-cal machine gun with a chrome barrel. This was the only armament fitted to "Bataan". It was also fitted with a navigator's astrodome.

Weldon E. "Dusty" Rhoades, was Macarthur's personal pilot. Rhoades was an ex United Airlines pilot.

 

"Bataan" later known as "Bataan I" when MacArthur obtained "Bataan II" a new C-54.

 

"Dusty" Rhoades travelled to Amberley airfield on 1 August 1944 to try to determine how they could convert one of their new C-54B's into General MacArthur's new personal aircraft.

On 19 April 1945, General Douglas Macarthur and his wife Jean inspected "Bataan II" at Santa Monica. "Bataan II" was his new C-54, his new personal aircraft.

Pilots Major Karl Oviatt and Major Skov flew General Sutherland back to the the States in "Bataan I". They left Manila, Philippines on the evening of 4 August 1945 at 2000 hours. On 11 August 1945, MacArthur ordered General Sutherland to return from the States immediately as the atomic bombs had just been dropped on Japan and the Japanese surrender appeared imminent.

The pilots and crew of Bataan I had been given leave of absence on their arrival in the States, so they had to be located at short notice. By then "Bataan I" was already undergoing major repairs at Wright Field.

After only 5 days in the USA General Sutherland left in a different B-17 Flying Fortress leaving the tired old "Bataan I" in the USA. Sutherland arrived back in Manila at 6:15am on 18 August 1945.

The May 1944 edition of the Brisbane US Military Telephone Directory shows a Captain Karl E. Oviatt in Planning Division, G-3 GHQ  in room 715 in GHQ, SWPA (AMP building, Queens Street, Brisbane). I found a Grey Eagles Web site which showed a Karl E. Oviatt, an ex American Airlines pilot, dying on 21 February 2007. This is probably the same Karl Oviatt.

It is believed that "Bataan I" may have been the B-17 Flying Fortress that made a forced landing in the sea 65 miles west of Oahau, Hawaii with five passengers and eight crew members on board on the evening of Saturday 16 August 1947. There were only three survivors, Colonel Hervey Huglin, who suffered cuts to his face and back; the pilot Captain Thomas Rider who had a fractured arm and other injuries; and Sergeant T. Holland who was seriously injured.

The five passengers, who were all part of the Joint Strategic Plan and Operations Group of General Douglas MacArthur's staff, were as follows:-

George Atcheson, Chairman of the Allied Control Commission to Japan
Colonel Carl Russell, Assistant Chief-of-Staff Allied Headquarters
Colonel David Larr
Colonel Hervey Huglin (one of the three survivors)
Captain Randolph Boyer, USN

The B-17 had left Guam after 26 hour delay headed for Kwajalein. Officers were puzzled as to why the pilot did not stop at Johnston Island, a fuelling stop 700 miles from Pearl Harbor, for the Kwajalein to Honolulu leg of the journey. Bad weather apparently caused the missing B-17 to run out of fuel before reaching Honolulu.

 

Does anyone know what became of "Bataan I"
after its overhaul at Wright Field?

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Ross Jones for his assistance with this home page.

 

REFERENCES

"Flying MacArthur to Victory"
By Weldon E. "Dusty" Rhoades

"B-17 Flying Fortress Units of the Pacific War"
by MartinW. Bowman

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 7 September 2003

This page last updated 26 September 2018