Hawaiian Air Depot Boeing B-17E Flying Fortresses, Part IV

Pictures showing details of the Hawaiian Air Depot scheme on the wings are rare, making this view of 41-2434 particularly interesting.
Starboard side view of 41-2434. The Sperry remote turret installation and sighting bubble are obvious.  On 16AUG42 she was lost with her crew while testing flares off Australia.


Several nice screen captures of 41-2437 from Ford’s Battle of Midway documentary which show the colors of the HAD scheme on this Fortress to advantage. Note the light green on the port wing visible in the second picture, possibly Willow Green or perhaps even Interior Green?  The black rudder is unusual.


Airborne shots of 41-2437 over the South Pacific, while operating from Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides. Ralph Morse photographs.  She survived her combat tours and was written off on 15JUN44.
A screen capture of 41-2444 on Henderson Field, Guadalcanal.
Comparing camouflage details, the aircraft in these two pictures is also 41-2444. These were taken in December 1942 on Espiritu Santo by Ralph Morse.  Under the waist gunner’s position there is a row of five supports for an antenna which I have been unable to identify.


8 thoughts on “Hawaiian Air Depot Boeing B-17E Flying Fortresses, Part IV

  1. Great site and info. Thank you for all your work. After looking around for info. on the SCR-521 radar set I have found info. that suggest the antenna under the waist gunners window is the search portion of the radar set with the antenna mounted under the wings being the homing portion. At some point a polyplexer (acts as a duplexer and lobe switcher, whatever that might be) made the nose mounted antenna unnecessary. Not sure on the time frame for the polyplexer.

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  2. Kevin -Interesting comments and your photographs. I started working with Larry Hickey on the 43rd Bomb Group history until Larry together with Steve Birdsall on this project in the early 1990s had a serious disagreement with me as to the authenticity of the so-called “Hawaiian Air Department Colour Scheme” in view of there not being one official evidence that such was authorised. Several years previously, I had been in contact with a veteran, and he had sent me a copy of his diary (now with the museum in Port Moresby). His diary mentioned arriving at Boeing Field to collect a new B-17E, and was directed to a “multi-coloured” aircraft. Unfortunately he did not quote the serial number, but he and his crew took that aircraft to Sacramento, then to Hamilton AAF then onto Australia, passing through Hawaii in the days following Pearl Harbour. An aircraft engineer friend who was assisting me with one of the aircraft in our collection in Moresby, on being asked about the scheme, replied “wait” – so I waited, until eventually I realised that he was referring to “weight”. Adding paint to an existing aircraft adds a considerable amount to the all up weight of the airplane, not a good thing in combat. To have done the job correctly if the scheme was applied in Hawaii would involve the aircraft being taken off-line for at least three days, stripping the existing paint, applying an etched primer, then the main coat, something Hawaii could ill-afford to do so at the time. I also have a copy of the engineering work carried out by the HAD following Pearl Harbour, and this included salvaging parts, bringing damaged aircraft back on-line, storing components, before condemning the remainder, and a complete list of the work carried out for the 26 days after the attack, and not once is there any mention of re-painting existing painted aircraft. The only aircraft that were subjected to this were those that survived Clark Field in the Philippines on December 8, as these were in natural metal finish and required immediate attention to rectify this. One of these aircraft ended up in Australia, was condemned, and one of its wings was removed, flown to Archerfield, Brisbane and affixed to a B-17E (the multi-coloured paint scheme aircraft mentioned earlier) that had its original wing damaged by a civilian aircraft. The D model wing was fitted, and remained with the aircraft for the rest of its service career until being shot down south of Rabaul, New Britain island. I have been to the crash site of that aircraft multiple times and the colour of this D model wing is a constant dark green, and one can see the paint brush marks around the National Insignia to save it being masked or re-painted as well.
    Still, there will most likely be many who still consider this paint scheme had its origins in Hawaii as despite the controversy associated with this, Larry still included this “scheme” in the 43rd Bomb Group history he published, “Ken’s Men Against The Empire” so it has been unofficially endorsed. I will however apologise unreservedly if documentary evidence is produced that officially sanctioned this action in Hawaii that refutes the current evidence!


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