'Alone: The Last Flight of Madame X' B-17 E Flying Fortress in the Pacific


On June 9th 1943, 'Madame X' took off from Carney Field on Guadalcanal to attack the Japanese airfield at Buin, Bougainville. The squadron of Flying Fortresses flew in a very loose formation, largely out of sight of each other. Halfway to the target, her pilot, 1st Lt. Richard Snoddy, was heard to radio the flight leader, requesting to return to base due to the failure of his navigational equipment, but the request was denied. 'Madame X' flew on. The mission called for arriving over Buin at dusk, but planners didn't take into consideration that dusk on the ground meant that at 20,000 feet the B-17s were flying in bright sunlight. 'Madame X' did not return to Guadalcanal with the rest of the flight. No one ever saw 'Madame X', or her crew of nine, again:

Pilot  1st Lt. Richard A. Snoddy, Straford, OK
Co-Pilot  1st Lt. Frank D. Sprague, De Moines, IA
Bombardier  TSgt Lawrence O. Habermehl, Salt Lake City, UT
Navigator  SSgt Ernest N. Bowser, Washington County, MD
Engineer  SSgt J. H. Swanner, Knoxville, TN
Asst Engineer  SSgt Lawrence E. Hill, Shreveport, LA
Radio  MSgt Carl M. Mosher, Traverse City, MI
Asst Radio  Sgt Clifford M. Wolff, West Englewood, NJ
Gunner  SSgt Frederick H. Swonsey, South Gate, CA

This painting is a tribute to 'Madame X', her crew of nine Americans, and all of the other aircrews who disappeared in the vast expanses of the South Pacific during World War II.    

Signed and numbered. 

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