The Swamp Ghost

Customs officers in Lae are keeping a close eye
Post Courier [ May 27, 2006 ]
By Jessie Lapou

CUSTOMS officers in Lae are keeping a close eye on the American warplane bomber B-17 dubbed Swamp Ghost over the weekend. Internal Revenue Commission commissioner general David Sode had given instruction not to give any export permit pending the outcome of a Public Accounts Committee inquiry on the plane on July 1.

The plane was to be shipped to the United States of America but government had intervened and is sitting at the Lae Bismark Maritime Wharf. The plane was allowed to leave the country under an agreement signed in 1999 between the Military Aircraft Restoration Corporation in the United States of America and the custodian of the aircraft, the National Museum and Art Gallery.

This has permitted American Alfred Hagen and Robert Greinert to remove the plane early this month from the Agiambo Swamps in Oro Province where it had crash-landed 64 years ago.
But the plane had survived the crash and is fully intact. Former curator of the war museum brand of the national museum and current director of the Kokoda-Buna Historical Foundation Maclaren Jude Hiari said the plane was the world war two’s rarest bomber.

“The Swamp Ghost is highly-regarded as mostly priced war relic in the aircraft archaeology world particularly in Australia, New Zealand and USA…as according to my close consultation with former crew members of the aircraft, leading international aircraft archaeologists, aviation historians and aviation museums and organizations,” he said. However, that was contradicting to current acting direction of the museum Simon Poraituk saying the plane was worth only “K12,000”.

Mr Hiari said the swamp ghost was the oldest, intact, Boeing-built B-17 in existence and the only remaining example of a B-17E  model flying fortresses remaining in the world- one is near Black Cat Gap on the Kuber Ranger new Wau in Morobe Province while the third is in Greenland covered with ice. He said the board of trustees of the museum to approve the salvaging and restoration of swamp ghost did not help the government to restore the existing war collections in the country.

          B-17E 41-2446 art by Jack Fellows via IHRP

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