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NickV

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 #1 
I've got the itch to go see the B-18 Bolo bomber on the big island of Hawaii. Gary Larkins was to the site years ago and has posted his photos on his website (http://www.airpirates.com/gallery/Hawaii_1?page=2). Check it out on Gary's awesome site. I understand this site is in the northern part of the island and might be on Parker Ranch property. I had also heard that the aircraft was recovered, but I've heard that about a number of wrecks -- only to find they're still there and that the rumor mill had gotten it wrong. Anyone been to the site? Got any fotos to share? If it has been recovered, where is it? Thanks, Nick
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AAIR

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 #2 

Nick,

You might want to check with the Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society, I do think Colin or Don are on the forum here. While they are on Oahu, they probably know about this wreck being that it is a somewhat famous one. 

http://hiavps.com/

 

Craig

 


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NickV

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 #3 
Thanks, Craig. I've sent Don a note. Hopefully one of us will post the status of this wreck. If possible, I'd like to visit it, or if it's still there maybe take a helicopter ride over it... More soon, and many thanks.

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Dennis

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 #4 

Gary Larkins' shots of the Bolo are awesome. It's on the scale of the Swamp Ghost if you ask me. (poor B-18 couldn't hold a candle to the Hollywood Bomber for publicity's sake though.) Does anyone know It's story? And how it managed to be in such a place in such intact condition?  Dennis

ChrisBrame

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 #5 

I've been trying to find the serial of this plane for a while; the AAIR site's crash records list B-18 36-446 of the 11th Bombardment Group as having crashed due to engine failure at Waimanu on February 25, 1941 - is this the one?

AnthonyMireles

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 #6 

B-18 # 36-446 suffered a failure of the port engine while flying in instrument conditions and crashed into a creek bed at Waimanu.  Pvt. Robert R. Stevens sustained minor injuries.  The airplane was part of a four ship flight that took off from Hickam Field on a night navigation flight to Hawaii and Maui.  The crew was rescued on 2-28-41.  Tony Mireles


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NickV

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 #7 
Thanks, Tony. We knew you'd know...
Nick

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NickV

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 #8 
Apparently this site is on private property. I've phoned a couple of local guides, but they're saying you can only get there by helicopter. Stay tuned. AAIR (www.aviationarchaeology.com) is sending a copy of the report. Thanks, Craig!

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DaveTrojan

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 #9 

I've written a summary account of the crash that includes pictures. The full story is on file at Hickam. It is my understanding that the only way to get to the site is by helicopter. The latest is that there was a proposed recovery mission planned by the Army using CH-47 helicopters, however the Iraq War interrupted the plans.  This aircraft looks like a great candidate for recovery and restoration but the costs will be high.   


DaveTrojan

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 #10 
Update: I found more areal pictures of the crash site taken June 2004.  There is a noticeable difference from 2000. the jungle is closing in fast. I also located an eye witness and documented his story of the crash.
 

The crew was shook up, but mmiraculously only one crew member suffered a minor injury. During the night the crew endured cold and rain in total darkness.  Following the crash the crew made sure that all power to the aircraft was turned off and then tried to get some rest. One airman who was riding in the bombardier compartment located in the aircraft nose section opened the lower hatch and tried to lower himself out to find his feet did not touch anything solid, so he pulled back inside and warned the rest of the crew to not attempt dropping out of that hatch until daylight. The next morning they discovered the plane's nose section jutted out over a 75-foot deep ravine. The crew later described the crash as a “miracle escape.”

On one of the other B-18s in the group was Lee Webster, a Flight Engineer, on his first night navigation mission. Lee Webster gave this account of the accident, “I was just becoming accustomed to the eerie feeling of night flying by the time we started our second leg of the triangle toward a point somewhere off the northern tip of the island and to this point radio contact led us to believe we were in good shape. Suddenly that was shattered by a report from one of the other planes having engine problems and then soon after a report of engine failure and that they were losing altitude. We immediately broke off our mission to accompany the disabled aircraft into Hilo airport, but to make matters worse we flew into some very bad weather. After what seemed a short period of time we lost radio contact with them and when attempts to locate the lost plane became futile we returned to Hickam Field.”

The next morning at dawn a massive search and rescue operation was launched from Hickam Field using 24 bombers.  The aircraft wreck was soon spotted at nine in the morning.  Later in the day the downed aircrew received an airdrop from Army planes of blankets, food and hot coffee.  Wednesday night was much more comfortable for the crew who spend another night in the tropical forest. 

A ground rescue operation was organized from Upolu Point, Suiter Field and started out Thursday morning at dawn.  The rescuers followed the Kohala Ditch Trail from Kaukini Camp for 2 ½ hours on horseback, but then had to cut a new trail on foot for eight miles through marshland and heavy brush for another four hours before nearing the crash site.  The rescuers fired revolvers into the air and then listened for a reply. They were about to give up, when they finally heard a reply by the crew who used a burst of machine gun fire and colored flares which guided the rescuers to the crash site. The rescue party reached the crash scene at noon.  Airmen from Hickam later described the site as the “Worst possible place for a forced landing in the Islands.”

At the time only the bombsight and instruments were salvaged from the wreck.  Due to its location, it was decided that any further salvage of the aircraft was impossible. 

 

The story continues...  I sure would like to visit the site but it would require GPS and an overnight stay.

 


AnthonyMireles

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 #11 
Sounds like my kind of sleep-over
Tony Mireles & GPS

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Mtflyer

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 #12 

This would be a great site to visit. Sounds like most of the aircraft is there, but making your way through that jungle might be a nightmare. You know anyone with a helicopter?


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DaveTrojan

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 #13 
There are a number of helicopter companies on the Big Island that could be hired.  I'm waiting for the Superferry service to begin in July between Oahu and Hawaii so that I can transport my 4WD SUV and all my camping and hiking equipment to the other Island.
DaveT
Dennis

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 #14 

It doesn't look too much worse than a Florida swamp. And as I remember, no alligators. I've got the sleeping bag, now all I need is the airfare.  Dennis

ypochris

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 #15 
This plane is on our property in the Kohala mountains just west of Waimanu Valley on the Island of Hawai'i. It is about to be investigated by the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, which wants to air lift it out and move it to the museum as an exhibit if it is in good enough condition and it is possible. The Discovery Channel wants to make a documentary of this. Their interest aroused mine, and this site is where I wound up.

Personally I have never been to the site of the crash, nor have any of the owners of the property, and I have spent many weeks walking around up there. Our property is very large- 2600+ acres of the most remote, rugged, and inaccessible area in Hawai'i. The terrain is extremely rugged- unbelievably so to someone used to backcountry in the mainland U.S.- and every year hikers are lost attempting to cross the Kohala Mountains. It can take you days to go what looks like a mile on the map, if you manage to do it at all. The USGS maps are totally inaccurate, and unmapped gulches 30 feet wide and a hundred feet deep, hidden by vegetation, are a common hazard. Bottomless volcanic holes, 5-50 feet across and often hidden, are not uncommon. This is one of the wettest places in the world, and flash flooding can isolate you very quickly. There is a reason it took days to get a rescue crew to the site, and that the crew did not try to walk out themselves! And back then there was a trail system the Ditch companies maintained...

The only practical way to access the site is by helicopter, and we absolutely forbid any attempt to walk in. Personally I would have no problem with someone flying into the site, but it is owned by a business and my partners in the past have insisted on a $300 landing fee and proof of insurance from people who have wanted to land on our property. This is actually a small cost compared to chartering a helicopter to take you there at $750 an hour. Your best bet might be to wait until it makes it to the museum- if it does...

The property owner is Laupahoehoe Nui LLC. Contact at ypochris@yahoo.com.

On a historical note, I was told that the plane was fitted out as a spy plane rather than a bomber. Apparently all equipment and armament was removed shortly after the crash by the military. Anything else not nailed down has been removed as keepsakes. The plane originally came to rest hanging over the gulch, then later slid into it.

There was also a tank on the property, but it apparently has degenerated into a pile of rust and is lost. For some reason the army was convinced that the Japanese were somehow going to scale the 1400 foot sheer oceanfront cliffs and attack through the Kohala swamps. They drove a number of tanks into the mountains to guard the clifftops, but they mired in the swamps. There they waited, to surprise the enemy troops that never came. If the commanders had attempted to make their way from the ocean to Waimea over the Kohalas themselves, they would have realized how absurd a proposition this was.

I thank you all for the information posted here- we knew almost nothing about this plane besides what I have posted above. Stay tuned for the Discovery Channel movie!

Chris


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