Airfix Boeing B-17E Conversion “Honi Kuu Okole” in 1/72 Scale

This is a conversion of the Airfix B-17G Flying Fortress kit to represent B-17E 41-9244 “Honi Kuu Okole”, which served with the 19th and 43rd Bomb Groups in the Pacific.  She was one of a group of four B-17Es requisitioned from a Royal Air Force order by the USAAF, the others being serial numbers 41-9196, 41-9234, and 41-9235.  The aircraft were finished in the RAF Temperate Sea Scheme and British markings, the insignia were replaced with U.S. markings but the camouflage was retained.

There was a fad among U.S. aircrews in the Pacific to give their aircraft Hawaiian names.  According to Lawrence J. Hickey’s “Kens Men Against the Empire”:

“Sometime during its combat service with the 19th and 43rd Bomb Groups the aircraft acquired the nickname HONI KUU OKOLE.  Whoever named it thought the name meant “up your ass” or perhaps “kiss my ass” in Hawaiian; a more literal translation of the phrase would be “massage my buttock.”

The aircraft was in the thick of the action, racking up a total of 87 combat missions and an impressive scoreboard.  Her luck ran out on the night of 21MAR43 over Rabaul when she was shot down by a J1N1 Gekko (Irving) nightfighter piloted by SFPO Shigetoshi Kudo of the 251st NAG.  Only two of the crew survived the crash.  Bombardier MSGT Gordon Manual evaded the Japanese until he was rescued by the USS Gato (SS-212) on 05FEB44, waist gunner SGT Robert Curry was captured and executed by the Japanese at Rabaul.  SFPO Kudo would go on to become the first nightfighter ace of the Pacific War.

Photographs of HONI KUU OKOLE focus on her scoreboard.  I have depicted her with replacement parts in U.S. colors and touch-ups in Olive Drab along the locations where the de-icer boots would have been removed, all probable but the specifics are speculative.  Her U.S. insignia are in the sizes and locations of the RAF insignia they replaced.  Decals are from Starfighter Decals #72-162 “Fortress of the Skies Part 3: E Models”.

DSC_7205DSC_7204DSC_7209DSC_7212DSC_7243DSC_7244DSC_7245DSC_7246DSC_724741-9224HoniKuuOkole

14 thoughts on “Airfix Boeing B-17E Conversion “Honi Kuu Okole” in 1/72 Scale

  1. I love this plane! And I really like the way you improvised wear and gave it a used and lived in look in spite of the lack of documentation. You brought to life something none of could have seen!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Dave! The patchwork nature of these aircraft into 1943 is well documented even if the specifics are speculative. I definitely don’t want to give anybody the impression that I have some photographic evidence of the details.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It looks like we’ll get a B-17E in 1/48 sometime in the next few months, and I’ve been considering either British or Hawaiian Air Depot colors. So this was fun to look at.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. The HAD scheme is probably my favorite for the B-17E. I posted a lot of research on them, you should be able to find it using the search bar on the blog. Also pick up a copy of Ken’s Men v1 by Hickey, you’ll be glad you did!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Jeff, what a fantastic build/conversion. I’d love to know more about how you accomplished this, especially since the Airfix kit has a different tail, the waist windows are staggered (unlike earlier marks), how you redid the nose, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

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