Home needed for B-17 ‘Swamp Ghost’ artefacts

Following a recent estate settlement, several artefacts from Boeing B-17E 41-2446, the aircraft nicknamed ‘Swamp Ghost’, need a new home

The recovered B-17 itself is currently receiving restoration work at the Pacific Aviation Museum in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. It came to rest in its ‘swamp’ home on February 23, 1942 when fuel shortage led it to force-land in a remote area near the north coast of Papua New Guinea (PNG). All the crew survived.

Ken McGowan, who has now passed away, spent many years in PNG and while there located the B-17E wreck. Using a helicopter, he managed to extract the tail gun machine guns and several interior items including panels, radios, gauges and instruments, along with numerous smaller items.

A panel from ‘Swamp Ghost’
A panel from ‘Swamp Ghost’ Courtesy Rod Mountford

Rod Mountford reports: “Sufficient evidence has been gathered to confirm the provenance of these items. This evidence includes photographs and diary entries, and it is believed that a film may also survive documenting the retrieval. Included is a photograph dated 1971 with the co-pilot’s panel in situ, and photographs of some of the other items. The well-intentioned recovery of the items in 1971 pre-dates the first record of the ‘Swamp Ghost’ being located and visited by the RAAF in 1972.

“This is a highly significant collection and it is hoped that most items can be put on display, potentially on loan to a local aviation museum as the ‘Swamp Ghost’ made its final flight from Townsville in February 1942.”

Anyone wishing to enquire about the items should contact Rod Mountford

A photograph dated 1971 showing the co-pilots panel in situ before being removed
A photograph dated 1971 showing the co-pilots panel in situ before being removed Courtesy Rod Mountford
A panel from ‘Swamp Ghost’
A panel from ‘Swamp Ghost’ Courtesy Rod Mountford
An item recovered from ‘Swamp Ghost’
An item recovered from ‘Swamp Ghost’ Courtesy Rod Mountford