Boeing B-17E 'Naughty But Nice' Battle of the Bismarck Sea by Ron Cole

Boeing B-17E ‘Naughty But Nice’ 

On December 6th, 1941, this Boeing B-17E (s/n 41-2430) Flying Fortress left San Francisco, California, bound for the Philippines. On the morning of Dec. 7th, she arrived over Pearl Harbor to find the facilities under attack by the Japanese. Over the days that followed, and expecting Oahu to be invaded, orders were given to press ‘430’ into the Hawaiian Air Force. This aircraft was hurriedly painted in a wild camouflage scheme designed to hide it from another air attack, and the B-17 was used in the vein attempt to find and destroy the enemy Navy’s strike force. After invasion fears abated, 430 was sent to the South Pacific.

On March 3rd, 1943, 430, now nicknamed ‘Naughty But Nice’, took part in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea (depicted here). The B-17 was attacked from the front by two Japanese Army Air Force Ki-43 ‘Oscars’ of the 11th Sentai. The fighters ‘raked the bomber from nose to tail’. Five crew aboard 430 were wounded, the pilot, 1st Lt. James Easter, severely. ‘Naughty But Nice’ made an emergency landing, but was repaired and returned to action.

This aircraft’s last mission was flown on the night of June 26th, 1943, against the Japanese bastion of Rabaul. After making a successful bomb run, 430 was approached from beneath by a Japanese Navy J1N ‘Irving’ night fighter flown by Shigetoshi Kudo. Three passes were made by Kudo, who utilized his aircraft’s oblique-firing 20mm cannon to set the B-17 on fire. No one aboard ‘Naughty But Nice’ ever saw Kudo’s aircraft, and thought that they’d been hit by anti-aircraft ground fire. Only the B-17’s navigator, Jose Holguin, escaped by parachute. He was captured by the Japanese.

In 1981, Holguin returned to the crash site with members of an Australian research and excavation team, and several parts of 430 were recovered.


Signed and numbered. 

Read all about this history of this aircraft, and the recovery & preservation of its remains:



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