1130 local time
18 May 1942
Greetings all, having just wrapped up the Coral Sea battles, I figured it’s time to head back to my U.S. Army Air Corps fighter squadron, the 565th Tactical Fighter Squadron, better known as the “Chickenhawks.” The last we saw of the Chickenhawks was back in February of 1942; they’d started out fighting the Japanese over the Dutch East Indies before falling back to Australia and becoming embroiled in the fighting over Darwin. After things quieted down there, they ended up moving over to Brisbane, where they had a quiet period of daily patrolling to bring in replacements and get them trained up. But they got word at the end of April that they’d be moving soon, and immediately after the Battle of Coral Sea they packed up and shipped out, heading up to Port Moresby on New Guinea, making Kila Kila Airfield, AKA “3 Mile Drome,” their new home on 11 May 1942. They only had a couple days before they were called to action.
On 13 May, Captain Cotton led six P-40s against four Zeros and six Bettys. One Zero and one Betty were downed at the cost of three P-40s and 25/30 damage points on the New Guinea Harbor Facilities.
On 14 May, Captain Goode led a depleted flight of only four P-40s up against four Zeros and six Bettys, and it was an unmitigated disaster. All four US fighters were shot down, with Captain Goode and Lt O’Brien killed in action, while the enemy didn’t lose a single aircraft! The Japanese bombers quickly finished off the Harbor Facilities, and pounded the Marshalling Area (22/30 damage points).
On 16 May, Major Jordan led the squadron aloft to intercept six Bettys escorted by four Zeros, but Lt Daniel was the star of the show. The Americans lost a single P-40, but they knocked down two Zeros and four Bettys, with Lt Daniel knocking down four of those aircraft and winning the Distinguished Flying Cross. The remaining two Japanese bombers jettisoned their bombs and returned to base, so no bombs fell on the Allied Marshalling Area (still 22/30).
Now it’s 18 May, with bad weather yesterday putting a stop to flight operations, but today is sunny and so the Americans are not only flying, but they’re playing offense! 1st Lt Pace is leading a flight of four P-40s, which are escorting six B-25 Mitchells. They’re plan is to cross the spine of the island and strike enemy installations on the northern coast of New Guinea. First up are the Japanese POL storage areas, then the Warehouse Yard, and finally the airfield at Wewak.
How ’bout them Mitchells? First time I’ve had them on the table. Let’s hope they’re a good omen.
“Heads up, Chickenhawks, five Zekes inbound. Tally Ho!”
A P-40 goes down (bottom left), and the Japanese fighters are swarming into the bomber formation.
And the foxes are definitely in amongst the hens…
But the Yank escorts aren’t completely worthless.
To see how the fight went, please check the blog at:
Next up, a couple two-ship patrols run into each other over No Man’s Land, coming right up.