The interesting tale of a resurrected and very much up-armed (19 .50 cals!) B-17E, #41-2666, that took on a whole airfield of Japanese fighters over the Solomon Islands for the sake of a good photo.
“Army Air Forces pilot Capt. Jay Zeamer and his crew piloted their B-17 Flying Fortress — nicknamed “Old 666” — on one of the most daring aerial missions of World War II. Sent on a photo reconnaissance mission on June 16, 1943, he and his men fended off 17 enemy fighters while accomplishing their mission. From this near-suicide mission, the crew would be awarded two Medals of Honor and seven Distinguished Service Crosses.”
Zeamer’s MOH citation:
On 16 June 1943, Major Zeamer (then Captain) volunteered as pilot of a bomber on an important photographic mapping mission covering the formidably defended area in the vicinity of Buka, Solomon Islands. While photographing the Buka airdrome. his crew observed about 20 enemy fighters on the field, many of them taking off. Despite the certainty of a dangerous attack by this strong force, Major Zeamer proceeded with his mapping run, even after the enemy attack began. In the ensuing engagement, Major Zeamer sustained gunshot wounds in both arms and legs, one leg being broken. Despite his injuries, he maneuvered the damaged plane so skillfully that his gunners were able to fight off the enemy during a running fight which lasted 40 minutes. The crew destroyed at least 5 hostile planes, of which Major Zeamer himself shot down one. Although weak from loss of blood, he refused medical aid until the enemy had broken combat. He then turned over the controls, but continued to exercise command despite lapses into unconsciousness, and directed the flight to a base 580 miles away. In this voluntary action, Major Zeamer, with superb skill, resolution, and courage, accomplished a mission of great value.
As for the bird, Old 666 was returned to CONUS in February 1944 and was scrapped at Albuquerque in August 1945.