B-17E Flying Fortresses on Eastern Island

US Army Air Force B-17E Flying Fortress bombers of the 7th Air Force take off from the airfield on Eastern Island, Midway Atoll, on June 3-4, 1942. Plane in the center is an early-model B-17E, with a Bendix remotely controlled belly turret. Somewhat after 0800 Hours on June 4, 1942, fifteen B-17s of the 5th and 11th Bomb Groups struck, raining down sticks of bombs from high altitude. Much was expected of this kind of attack, but no hits were scored, a result that further war experience would demonstrate as typical. On the other hand, the Flying Fortresses were little damaged by Japanese anti-aircraft fire and fighters. They made several fine photographs of the Japanese carriers maneuvering far below, an indication of the true role of these heavy bombers in contemporary maritime warfare: long-distance reconnaissance by aircraft capable of defending themselves. The 349th, 42nd, and 431st squadrons of the 11th Bomb Group and the 31st and 72nd squadrons of the 5th Bomb Group participated in the attack.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
United States Naval Historical C
Date Photographed: 
Thursday, June 4, 1942
Eastern Island