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

Here are a few more Ralph Morse photographs from Espiritu Santo in December of 1942 of unidentified HAD ships. The first is undergoing an engine replacement, and sharp-eyed observers will note the propeller on the barrel in the foreground is the same as in the pictures of 41-2444 from the previous post. Two HAD ships in a row!
This aircraft carries aerials for the SCR-521/ASV Air to Surface Vessel search radar, visible under the port wing. The antennas are often referred to as “towel racks” and here they are living up to their nickname – a web belt is hanging from the port antenna and a shirt is hanging to starboard.

The standard search radar installation was for three antennas, one in the nose and one under each wing, but this aircraft is missing her nose antenna. The data block is visible on its factory Olive Drab background, a common detail of the HAD scheme. Lots of general clutter as the aircraft is being serviced. In the background is a row of bombs which appear with surprising frequency in the Espiritu Santo pictures.
Here another HAD ship has suffered damage to her tail and rear gunner’s station. This disbursal area is surfaced with Marston mat. No chance of reading the serial numbers on this aircraft, and not a lot to go on with matching the color separation “fingerprint” of her camouflage either.
The same aircraft from the opposite perspective. The vertical tail structure was a separate subassembly, and can often be seen to have weathered differently on Fortresses wearing the standard Olive Drab factory camouflage. A stencilling block is visible just aft of the crew access door. The elements have not been kind to the paint on the fillet, perhaps as a result of removing the de-icer boot.

I have tried to present information which will be useful to modelers in reproducing these very interesting aircraft. I recommend the book “Ken’s Men” by Lawrence J. Hickey for anyone wanting to read more about Pacific War B-17 operations or the Hawaiian Air Depot camouflage schemes.  I would also recommend the work of historians Dana Bell and Steve Birdsall, both of whom have an interest in these aircraft and have published some truly inspiring work.

Known B-17E Flying Fortresses in the Hawaiian Air Depot Scheme:


41-2404 The Spider


41-2409 Old Maid

41-2416 San Antonio Rose




41-2428 OLE SHASTA

41-2429 Why Don’t We Do This More Often?

41-2430 Naughty But Nice

41-2432 The LAST STRAW

41-2433 Miss Fit



41-2442 Yokohama Express


41-2445 So Solly Please


41-2413 Lucky 13 – no known photos. She was one of the eight Fortresses which arrived over Pearl Harbor  on 07DEC41 during the Japanese attack.  The other seven received the HAD camouflage so it is likely that 41-2413 did as well.


Tail Stripes added but not camouflaged:





B-17C/D Flying Fortresses in the Hawaiian Air Depot Scheme:

There are photographs showing at least four B-17C/Ds in different HAD schemes, but only one has been identified by serial number, 40-3060. The color separations, and perhaps even the colors themselves show much more variation than the schemes applied to the E-model Fortresses.  The C-model Fortresses sent to the Pacific were all brought up to D standard, so the presence of cowl flaps cannot be used to differentiate between the two types.  I believe it is likely that these B-17C/Ds were camouflaged at HAD:









Douglas B-18 Bolos in the Hawaiian Air Depot Scheme:

These are much more elusive. While the B-18 was photographed extensively before the war, the type proved not as interesting to photographers once hostilities commenced.  Approximately twenty survived the Pearl Harbor attack.  One can speculate that these were camouflaged as ordered but only two photographs of B-18s in HAD schemes have surfaced, both of which I have posted in previous blogs.  One is 37-002, the other is seen in the color film but with no serials applied.


I would welcome any additional information on any of these aircraft.

HAD scheme B-17C/D’s here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2018/11/14/hawaiian-air-depot-scheme-b-17c-ds/