The Boeing 247-Y

 

A one of a kind aircraft if there ever was one. When this Boeing 247 began life with United Airlines, I doubt many believed it would end up being converted into a warplane but that is exactly what Boeing itself did. NC 13366 earned money for United until they retired the 247. Boeing then reacquired the aircraft in order to fulfill a rather unusual request to turn it into a militarized airliner for China. This Boeing obviously did.

Remembering Pearl Harbor

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It is late November, 1941, and the men of Hickam Field’s 50th Reconnaissance Squadron pose for a photo to send home for Christmas.

These men could not possibly imagine that even as they smiled at the camera, plans were already underway for their demise. Nor could they imagine that some of them have less than two weeks to live. For those who do survive, it will be an event that will mark them for the rest of their lives.

One man who lived through the attack was PFC William P. Stroud Jr. (4th row, 4th from right in the group photo). A flight engineer in the 50th Recon Sq., Stroud was in the barracks when the attack began. (That barracks, just across the street from the flightline and hangars, bears to this day the scars of the attack.) Despite the madness of that morning, William Stroud kept his cool. Knowing where he was needed most, he raced across the street to the flaming flightline to lend assistance. The squadron’s aircraft were already destroyed, so he grabbed a rifle to get in the fight. And a fighter he was. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Stroud won his pilot’s wings, flew B-24s, and in his numerous combat missions earned the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross. 

Stroud, soon to be tested in battle, was identified in the group photo by his granddaughter, and it is a pleasure to single out and salute such a courageous young man.


It is well that we remember both those who lived and those who lost their lives that fateful morning. As the original owner of this photograph indicates with his annotations, some would not survive December 7th, but they were never forgotten by those who did. 

~”They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.” ~

Willis B. Haviland – Pioneer American combat pilot.


Willis Bradley Haviland (1895-1944) was the 16th aviator to join the famed Lafayette Escadrille, the result of which is that he is one of the first Americans to engage in aerial combat. Joining the navy after America’s entry into World War I, he is seen here during World War II when he served as the first Executive Officer of NAS Whidbey Island, and then its second Commanding Officer. 

In these photos, Haviland is seen standing on the left in front of a SB2C Helldiver, and center, before a J4F-2 Widgeon during a visit to NAS Seattle. In honor of the former skipper, a hangar is named for him at NAS Whidbey. 

 

1942: The first PBY arrives at NAS Whidbey

ps2pdf.com (4)The date is December, 1942, and this is the first PBY to arrive at the brand new NAS Whidbey Island seaplane base. (Note the construction material littering the ramp in the background.) The installation was intended to be a support facility for PBYs from NAS Seattle, but even before work began the plan was altered to where Whidbey would be its own base.

This PBY’s arrival was not without some apprehension. The pilot, Lt. Morrison, stated that he circled the area for quite some time before spotting the “red girders of the seaplane hangar under construction.” Even then he had to land four or five miles out due to an abundance of logs floating in the harbor. After carefully picking his way through the debris he was met by a boat that succeeded in clearing a path for the incoming aircraft. 

This hangar (minus the ordnance carts parked alongside) still stands today, but with a different mission: It is now the Navy Exchange (NEX) department store.

From this angle, the former hangar looks pretty much the same now as it did then. Even though it looks nothing like a department store on the outside and, due to extensive renovation, nothing like a hangar on the inside, its parking lot is the original 1942 concrete with aircraft mooring points still intact.