1130 local time
22 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).
On 18 May, 1st Lt Pace led a flight of four P-40s on escort duty for six B-25 Mitchells detailed to pound Wewak’s POL storage tanks. They met five Zeros over the target, with all five being shot down, though two of those were actually by the bomber crews, who took heavy losses. While the Chickenhawks only lost one P-40, four of the six bombers were shot down, and they barely scratched the POL target (6/30 damage points).
On 19 May, two patrols ran into each other over No Man’s Land, ending with each side losing a single fighter.
On 21 May, two young Lieutenants found themselves escorting a flight of five B-25 Mitchells over to Wewak again, where a pair of Zeros rise up to meet them. Both Zeros were downed, for the loss of a single P-40s, and all five bombers made it, though they didn’t score very well (only 12 more damage points, so 18/30 on the POL target).
Now it’s 22 May, and five Bettys are inbound, escorted by a single Zero! 1st Lt Daniel, now an Ace, leads aloft a pack of four P-40s, and their pilots are hungry!
Some lucky dice-rollin’ sees five Bettys inbound, escorted by a single Zeke. Meat!
The lone Japanese fighter pilot makes a run on Lt Daniel.
But there are just too many P-40s for the Zero to fend off.
It’s another aerial scrum!
But the Americans are relentless, like a pack o’piranhas.
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The Americans are going back on the offensive, B-25s are loading up, hoping to not only get to the target area, but maybe actually hit something, too! Coming your way, either Sunday or Monday.