Here’s a ghost story that’s more than 70 years in the making: Visitors to Oahu’s Pearl Harbor can now visit a rare World War II bomber called the Swamp Ghost that was lost for decades but is now being restored.
The Swamp Ghost, a B-17E bomber, is among the newest acquisitions of the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island just west of the final resting place of the USS Arizona, sunk in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The B17E was returning from a bombing raid in February 1942 and went after an enemy freighter. It was hit in an ensuing dogfight and although it was leaking fuel, it managed to land in a remote swamp on New Guinea.
None of the crew members was hurt and after walking for six weeks, they were reunited with friendly forces. But with pitched battles raging, the plane was written off and forgotten.
In 1972, a Royal Australian Air Force helicopter spotted the intact bomber. Although its location was noted, efforts to retrieve the plane didn’t begin until more than 60 years after it crashed.
Having made its way back across the Pacific, the B-17E, one of the rarest World War II bombers in existence, was moved to the museum last year. Restoration is underway in Hangar 79, which guests can visit on a special Swamp Ghost tour.
There’s a $5 extra charge on top of the museum’s $25 admission.
Ford Island, an air base on Dec. 7, 1941, suffered heavy losses during the Japanese attack. Bullet holes and strafe marks can be seen on the museum’s hangars and bomb craters still scar the tarmac.
The Pacific Aviation Museum has more than 50 aircraft in its collection. The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk sits near its wartime nemesis, the Mitsubishi Zero. The Stearman Biplane in which George H.W. Bush, who would become the nation’s 41st president, soloed as a trainee pilot in 1942 is also on display.
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