After an air battle with Zeros over the Bismarck Sea on March 2nd, B-17F #41-24455, OLD BALDY, was safely landed at Seven Mile by 1/Lt. James C. Dieffenderfer despite having only minimal control of the plane’s vertical movement in what was thought to be an impossible feat. Note that the fabric on the stabilizers has been completely shredded, leaving only the small trim tabs on the inside of the stabilizers to control them. Dieffenderfer coaxed the B-17 over the Owen Stanley Mountains and down to Seven Mile Drome using only the trim tabs. Here, ground crew members remove the damaged stabilizers so they can be replaced.
This photo will be found in our upcoming book, Ken’s Men Against the Empire, Volume I. Pre-order your copy now!