In February of 1942, a B17E Flying Fortress, with its crew of 9 men, crash landed in a swamp in Papua New Guinea, after it ran out of fuel. The crew survived, and over the next 6 weeks, made it to safety. Eventually, they were reassigned and flew additional bomber missions in other planes for the duration of the war.
This Flying Fortress was rediscovered in 1972 by a group of Australian soldiers. They found is partially submerged in a swamp, but “eerily untouched”. According to the soldiers, the machine guns were still in place and loaded, and a thermos of (rather strong) coffee was still in the cockpit. At this time, the old bomber was christened “Swamp Ghost” by the locals.
After years of negotiations between a salvage team and the government of Papua New Guinea, the “Swamp Ghost” has finally returned home to Hawaii.
The Flying Fortress, which is riddled with 121 bullet holes, can now be toured at the Pacific Aviation Museum at Ford Island, Hawaii. The museum describes the “Swamp Ghost” as “the world’s only intact and unretired World War II B-17E bomber”, complete with its battle scars.
That is a tour I would go on.
Photos courtesy of the Pacific Aviation Museum