Post by aircraftclocks on Jun 12, 2021 13:24:32 GMT 12
In a day of almost continuous Pistol Pete missions, Strike Command planes flew 140 sorties and dropped 78 tons of bombs. Gun positions on Hills 1111, 500, 600, and 501 were attacked throughout the day. Ten missions in all were sent out ranging from 2 to 27 planes. Two of these missions were artillery spotters and were the only planes to carry no bombs. Several positions were thought to have been knocked out as fire was not observed on subsequent flights.
Post by aircraftclocks on Jun 12, 2021 13:25:04 GMT 12
Against enemy gun positions pin-pointed more accurately than on preceding days, 114 SBD and 45 TBF sorties were flown and over 80 tons of bombs dropped. Principal targets were located on Hills 1111, 1000 and 250. The usual artillery spotting and pistol pete missions wore carried out. Enemy shelling was more intense than on preceding days. A cub was destroyed by a direct hit and several shells hit the airstrips. The damage was repaired quickly and did not interfere with normal operations.
Post by aircraftclocks on Jun 12, 2021 13:26:02 GMT 12
SBDs and TBFs flew 206 sorties and dropped 99 tons of bombs in a day of activity directed entirely against enemy positions outside our perimeter. SBDs flew 12 artillery spotting sorties and dropped 2x1000 bombs on enemy gun positions. Pistol Pete missions composed of SBDs and TBFs were in the air continuously. They flew 44 sorties and dropped 12x500, 2x1000 and 14 rockets. The perimeter area was divided into three sectors, Saua River, Laruma River and over Hills 1000 - 1111. In the major Strikes against Jap gun positions, supply dumps and bivouac areas 150 sorties were flown and the following bombs dropped; 260x100, 140x500, 73x1000 and 16 rockets. Enemy artillery fire into our beach head was noticeably less than on preceding days. All aircraft except those required for night operations were evacuated to the Munda-Treasury area.
Post by aircraftclocks on Jun 12, 2021 13:43:48 GMT 12
Colonel F.H. Schwable, USMC, relieved Colonel D.F. O'Neill, USMC, as Commander Strike Command, which was based at Piva, Bougainville, on 15 March 1944. Strike Command, along with the parallel commands—Bomber and Fighter—was an integral part of Commander Aircraft Solomon Islands, which was the advance land-based air task group of the Commander South Pacific Force and South Pacific Area, Admiral William F. Halsey. Commander Aircraft Solomon Islands was Major General Hubert Harmon, USA, 15 March-20 April; Brig. Gen. Field Harris, USMC, 20 April-31 May. Major General James T. Moore, USMC, relieved Brig. Gen. Harris on 31 May.
Strike Command, ComAir Sols in addition to the operations bases at Piva, also directed the tactical operations of Strike Command, Commander Aircraft Green, Lt. Col. R.J. Johnson, USMC, commanding. These two commands flew missions, both jointly and independently, with the following objectives: neutralization and destruction of Japanese airfields and bases; destruction of enemy aircraft, shipping, anti-aircraft artillery, coastal guns, personnel, supplies and other military installations in the Solomon Islands and the Bismarck Archipelago. Strike Command, ComAirSols, also supported the defense of the Torokina perimeter by providing aircraft for ground support, Pistol Pete (both day and night) and artillery spotting missions—when requested by the XIV Corps. Strike Command, Piva, exercised limited tactical control over Strike Command, Emirau, which made its first strike on 15 May. When Colonel Schwable assumed command, Strike headquarters and the two adjoining airstrips, Piva Uncle and Piva Yoke, were being subjected to intermittent shelling from Japanese mortars and field artillery. The shelling began 7 March and was intensive until 23 March.
The enemy fire then ceased virtually—after efforts to break through our perimeter defenses were repulsed—until 10 April when the Piva Yoke revetment area again was shelled. Strike Command operations during the period of the intensive shelling decidedly were hampered, but did not slow up appreciably. Commander Aircraft South Pacific Force Plan Able was executed to remove planes from the danger of being destroyed or damaged by night shelling. This plan called for the dispersal of SBD's and TBF's to other air bases during the night and for their return the next morning. These flights were utilized for further attacks on the Japanses on Bougainville. The planes would attack a Bougainville target enroute to their dispersal base, be rearmed there and strike again coming back to Piva the next morning. The shelling forced TBF Operations and Intelligence to abandon headquarters in the revetment area for two weeks. Several planes were destroyed and others damaged. Shells also landed in the areas of the pilots' quarters and Strike Command headquarters. Pilots were wounded in their quarters. Strike Command officer and enlisted personnel spent their nights in fox holes and a good part of the day jumping into them. One briefing was interrupted three times when artillery barrages forced pilots into fox holes, as the result of fragments hitting the briefing room. The shellings, day and night, deprived the pilots and ground personnel of rest; and placed them under continual combat strain, both in the air and on the ground. One VMSB ground echelon suffered approximately 10% casualties. Despite this, there was no evident slump in morale. Adding to the operational difficulties, the Japs had a habit of opening up with artillery on the Piva Uncle and Piva Yoke—which was evacuated by fighter planes—strips when Strike planes would takeoff or land. This scheme to stop flights was thwarted by using whichever of the strips was not under fire at the time, but occasionally planes would be caught using a strip while shells were actually bursting on it. Availability of planes was reduced, both because of damage from shell fire and difficulty of maintenance due to the greatly increased flying time per plane, as well as the fact that the planes were flown off late in the afternoon and did not return until nearly mid-morning. Despite these difficulties, Strike Command speeded the pace of its operations to increase the number and size of local attacks, and with few exceptions, strike daily in the Rabaul area. Strike Command was concerned chiefly with the tactical operation of SBD's and TBF's. During the peak of the Command's operations— roughly from 20 March to 10 April—four to five SBD and three to four TBF squadrons were based at Piva, and two SBD and one TBF squadrons at Green. Average aircraft available were around 125 SBD's and 75 TBF's. Strike Command, Green, operated 19 March-20 May. Strike Command Piva, was dissolved as a command controlling operations of planes on 1 June, and Fighter-Strike Command, Colonel Schwable commanding, was formed. The operation of Strike planes based at Piva was placed under Air operations, Piva, Commander Aircraft Solomons. The basic tactical plan of Strike Command was to send the Dauntless after anti-aircraft artillery to protect Avengers hitting airstrips or supply areas. At times, however, SBD's—especially when more were available than the number necessary to silence the AA guns that hit runways or supply areas. Also, TBF's sometimes were sent after AA artillery installations. With few exceptions, the areas of operations were: Strike Command, Piva - Rabaul area and Bougainville, Strike Command, Green - Rabaul area and New Ireland. Strike Command, Piva, supervised and aided in the establishment of the Operations and Intelligence sections of Strike Command, Green; sent a liaison officer to Green to conduct the initial briefings of the new command, and then kept Strike Command, Green, provided with target data and other information necessary for the efficient operation of that command. Strike Command, both Piva and Green, sent out a total of 942 missions and 8656 sorties—of which 866 missions and 6555 sorties were from Piva. A total of more than 17,660 bombs, weighing nearly 4,160 tons, were dropped by Strike planes. Strike Command, Piva, dropped nearly 14,200 bombs, weighing nearly 3,140 tons. These operations were carried out with combat losses of less than .38 percent of sorties flown. Strike Command, Piva, was weathered out of Rabaul on 12 days during the tour of command. Piva strikes against the Rabaul area were called off only on two days for maintenance. Otherwise, a daily strike was sent from Piva to the Rabaul area, with the exception of a few days when available planes were concentrated on Bougainville targets. Strike Command was an outstanding example of team work among the different branches of the United States military services and with our Allies. The Strike Command staff comprised Army, Navy and Marine officers and enlisted personnel. Navy, Marine and New Zealand SBD and TBF squadrons worked together as one flight on strikes, and occasionally the light bombers coordinated their efforts with those of New Zealand Venturas in attacks. Bougainville attacks of Strike Command, Piva, were varied, comprising ground support, Pistol Petes, artillery spotters, Potato Runs and miscellaneous local missions. Tables of statistics attached to this War Diary show the number of missions and sorties flown on each. Ground support missions included attacks to clear the way for advance of ground troops; strikes on field artillery, bivouac and supply areas close enough to our troops to be considered tactical targets. This support was most intensive during March when the Japs unsuccessfully attacked the Torokina perimeter defenses. The attacks were made at the request of and in close cooperation with the XIV Corps. The heavy jungle growth in the area made it virtually impossible to pinpoint targets for pilots or to assess damage inflicted by the air attacks. After ground reconnaissance following withdrawal of the enemy. G-2 XIV Corps, stated that in one area outside the perimeter 5 x 150mm and 2 x 77 mm Jap field pieces had been found destroyed—by Strike Command bombs, judging by the type of crater. A captured enemy document of a field artillery unit repeatedly recorded damage to supplies and personnel casualties inflicted by aerial attacks. Pistol Petes were flown both by TBF's and SBD's. The term was applied loosely to reconnaissance flights, but most particularly to flights of two that flew over regular areas with the objective of keeping Jap field artillery silent or of silencing it with bombing if it was spotted firing. TBF's, some loaded with rockets, maintained all-night patrols around the perimeter during the March push by the Nips. SBD's for the most part, but some TBF's, were used to fly Army spotters for our artillery. They flew in pairs, and sometimes combined reconnaissance and bombing with artillery spotting. The Potato Runs comprised an experiment to kill Jap gardens by spraying them with diesel oil. Success of the experiment was dubious. Other combat flights over Bougainville have been grouped under the heading local missions. The principal ones were strategic bombing i.e, supply and bivouac areas in Buin, Buka and the east coast of Bougainville, destruction of coastal guns that were harassing PT operations, and the Able and Charlie searches. The Able search was around the northern half of Bougainville and Buka and the Charlie, around the southern half of Bougainville. Strike Command was directed to destroy two batteries of coastal guns—one on the southwestern coast of Bougainville and one on the southeastern coast of Buka. These guns were hidden too well to be located on vertical photographs, and it was necessary to obtain low oblique photographs of the areas from Strike SBD's in order to pin point the guns. The directive to destroy was carried out. Strike SBD's also photgraphed other areas in which coastal guns were reported, but the positions were never found. PV's, both United States and New Zealand, also operated under Strike Command. For the first month of the Command's tour, PV's from Stirling—VB 138, Lt. Cmdr. Hansen, USN, and VB-140, Lt. Cmdr. V. Williams, USN—intermittently reported to Strike Command for briefing on search and reconnaissance missions, barge and shipping sweeps, and other special sorties. From 25 April, A New Zealand PV squadron was based at Piva under Strike Command. The PV's conducted the Able and Charlie searches, searches around New Ireland, anti-submarine searches, the Torokina-Rabaul rescue patrol which was on the alert for downed pilots, prowls for targets of opportunity in the Bismarck Archipelago, and strikes on specific targets on Bougainville, New Britain and New Ireland. This Strike Command executed one of the most successful aerial mining operations conducted in the Solomons. Avengers, with Mitchells doing diversionary bombing, laid special type mines in Buka Passage and its western approaches, off Chabai and across Baniu Harbor at 2130 on the full moon night of 9-10 May. In a forwarding endorsement to the report on the operation, Commander Aircraft, South Pacific Area stated that success of the operation could be attributed, along with other factors, to the "careful preliminary study and planning by the Strike Command, thorough briefing of the flight crews, and (to the fact that) reference points were readily recognizable and easily picked up by the pilots." No planes were lost on this mission. Strike Command was in on the kill of Rabaul and Kavieng as air shipping and supply centers. The airfields were kept untenable for Japanese aerial operations, enemy shipping was reduced to a trickle of barge traffic and a vast amount of supplies—the major portion in the areas—was destroyed. Strike Command shared with Fighter and Bomber Commands, ComAirSols, in achieving those solid blows which shattered a powerful Japanese force strongly entrenched in the upper Solomons and left only inefffective groups of personnel who were forced to turn from soldiering to gardening to survive. It was impossible to determine either the full extent of the damage or, in many instances, to credit any one of the three commands with the damage that could be assessed. Often all three commands would hit a target several times before an after-strike photograph could be taken. Photographs most of the time were taken from high altitude, and some times were of poor quality because of haze, clouds, unfavorable light; and were incomplete in coverage—all of which resulted in incomplete damage assessment from photographic interpretation. Attached to this War Diary is a table of confirmed damage inflicted by Strike planes. It lists only that damage which undisputably was caused by Strike Command attacks, and necessarily is by no means complete. A more nearly accurate analysis of the effectiveness of SBD's against anti-aircraft artillery is brought out in a report by the ComAirSols AA Officer, dated 19 April:
"DESTRUCTION OF JAPANESE ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS IN THE RABAUL AREA BY STRIKE COMMAND DURING THE PRESENT COMAIRSOLS TOUR" "1. An overall assessment of the damage and destruction of Japanese anti-aircraft guns and material at Rabaul gives a more accurate picture than the daily post-strike evaluation. "2. Guns that appeared to be intact were in many instances damaged as proven by the depletion of the defenses from day to day. "3. The following shows the number of guns destroyed in the Rabaul area during the period from March 15 and April 15:
5" Dual Navy 105 mm 77 mm Auto Light March 15 8 4 80 155 140 April 15 4 0 64 130 98 Destroyed 4 4 16 25 42
"4. In four instances heavy gun batteries have been brought closer together so as to utilize one set of fire control equipment for two batteries of guns. This indicates that there has been great destruction to fire control equipment such as Height Finders, long range telescopes, and speed and angles of course indicators. In addition, the entire fire control system of two batteries of five-inch guns has been destroyed." As for the damage resulting in the Rabaul area from strikes by planes of Strike Command and other ComAirSols sub-commands, the Central Interpretation Unit of the Photographic Wing, South Pacific Area, made a comprehensive report 11 April based on all photographic intelligence through that date. The report, in part, stated: "The main Japanese base in the South Pacific area has been virtually destroyed by bombings. "Of the five airfields in the Rabaul-Gazelle Peninsula area, only narrow strips of the Lakunai, Tobera, Vunakanau, and possibly Rapopo, runways have been kept serviceable in spite of heavy bombings. "In recent weeks only five aircraft, all VF, have been classed as operative. One is at Lakunai, and four are at Tobera. "Walaur is the only seaplane anchorage, of the four in the area, that appears active, with one floatplane sighted on 30 March. "No naval or merchant shipping has been sighted in Rabaul Harbor recently. Even barge activity has been negligible. "The main supply and personnel areas at Rataval, Rabaul Town, Talili Bay and Vunapope have been greatly reduced due to heavy and regular bombings." Following this introductory section of the War Diary, there are sections covering a day by day record of Strike Command activities; the Command's roster of officers; a list of the squadrons serving under the command; statistics showing number of times principal targets hit; missions and sorties flown, bombs dropped and combat losses; and "Facts of a Strike Command Strike." The latter outlines the procedure by which Strike Command strikes were planned, prepared for and executed.
Post by aircraftclocks on Jun 13, 2021 14:14:12 GMT 12
Thirty-six SBD's and 24 TBF's dropped 126x500# bombs on Tobera runway and gun positions at 1124. The anti-aircraft fire, from one heavy and several automatic positions, was meager to moderate in intensity and generally inaccurate. Five TBF's suffered minor damage. Photographic reports showed the runway knocked out with 22 hits, and two automatic gun positions destroyed. The target area was closed in partially, some pilots dropping through the clouds. Nine SBD's, flying Pistol Pete Missions, dropped no bombs, while 13 TBF's dropped 16x500# bombs and 59 rockets on enemy positions on Bougainville. The rockets were used for the dual purpose of destroying enemy field guns and shattering the morale of troops servicing the Jap artillery pieces. Artillery spotting missions were flown by 14 SBD's, two dropping a 1000# bomb each. On ground support missions— eight SBD's released 8x1000# bombs on a Japanese bivouac along the Laruma River, 21 SBD's and six TBF's hit gun positions on the Saua River. In accordance with Plan Able and in preparation for the strike at Kavieng on the 16th, 42 SBDs and 20 TBFs went to Green Island for the night.
Post by aircraftclocks on Jun 13, 2021 14:14:59 GMT 12
Thirty-six SBD's and 24 TBF's, carrying 1000# and 2000# bombs, respectively, and staging through Green Island, struck coastal guns on North Cape and anti-aircraft guns north of the Kavieng airfield at 1036. This was the first time that SBD's and TBF's had attacked in the Kavieng area. The anti-aircraft fire generally was intense and accurate, resulting in two SBDs and three TBFs being holed with .50 caliber slugs. The only interception was by one Zeke, which made a single half-hearted run at our planes before disappearing in clouds. Destruction of the four coastal guns was confirmed by photographs; pilots also claimed to have exploded an ammunition dump and to have scored bomb hits on several machine guns. Local ground support missions comprised 12 SBD's, dropping 11x500# bombs on gun positions on Hill 65; 12 SBD's, releasing 12x500#, and six TBF's, dropping 24x500# in the vicinity of an ammunition depot at Hill 1111. Fourteen sorties were flown by SBDs carrying out artillery and destroyer spotting. Pistol Pete missions were executed by three TBFs and 42 SBDs, the latter dropping 13x500# bombs on targets of opportunity. Executing Plan Able, 42 SBD's stayed at Green after the Kavieng strike. The TBF's did not disperse.
Post by aircraftclocks on Jun 13, 2021 14:16:18 GMT 12
This was designated a day of plane maintenance, and no major strike in the Rabaul area was planned. Nevertheless, 72 sorties were flown and 85x500# bombs were dropped. Fourteen SBD's flew artillery spotting missions; ten TBF's flew Pistol Petes, releasing 5x500# bombs. Ground support directed at a supply area at Hill 1111 comprised 18 SBDs which dropped 18x500# bombs, and six TBF's, releasing 23x500#. Gun positions on the Saua River were hit by 18 SBDs and six TBFs, which dropped 17 and 22x500# bombs, respectively. VMSB 243, Major T.J. Ahern, USMC, commanding, reported aboard with 40 pilots. Following the fly-away doctrine in practice, 49 SBD's and 28 TBF's dispersed to fields south of Torokina.
Post by aircraftclocks on Jun 13, 2021 14:17:50 GMT 12
An eastern section of Rabaul town and AA gun positions on Hospital Ridge were hit by 32 SBDs and 24 TBFs, which dropped 32x1000# and 177x 100# bombs and eight rockets, respectively. This was one of the first of many Strike Command attacks in the ComAirSols aerial campaign against Rabaul town itself—a campaign that succeeded in razing the majority of the town's buildings and erased Rabaul as a key supply base for the Japanese. Three SBD's and three TBF's were hit with AA shell fragments from AA, which was moderate to intense and fairly accurate, both automatic and heavy. Damage to enemy installations totaled 13 buildings destroyed, 15 buildings damaged and one heavy AA gun destroyed. Ground support missions against pill boxes at the mouth of the Torokina River were flown by three TBFs and 12 SBDs, the latter attacking targets of opportunity with 7x500# and 1x1000# bombs, respectively. VMSB 241, Major J.A. Feely, USMC, commanding, with 43 pilots, was detached. Following Plan Able, 23 SBD's dispersed to Munda, 13 to Stirling and 22 TBF's to Ondonga.
Post by aircraftclocks on Jun 13, 2021 14:20:06 GMT 12
Vunapope and AA guns in the area were targets of 30 SBD's and 18 TBF's. The TBFs racked off 17x2000# bombs; and the SBDs, 24x1000#. Because of complete cloud coverage of the target area, results were unobserved. AA fire was reported from a new position on Lambon Island when six SBD's dropped 6x1000# on the radar station on Cape St. George. Our planes suffered no damage. Fourteen sorties were flown by SBD's doing artillery and DD spotting, and 2x500# bombs were dropped. Three Pistol Petes were flown by TBF's, which released 12x500# bombs on targets of opportunity. Ground support was directed at Hill 150 which was blasted with 1x1000# and 22x500# bombs by nine SBD's and six TBF's. VMSB 243. Major T.J. Ahern. USMC, commanding, with 40 pilots; VB 98 (Detachment B) Lt. E.T. LaRoe, USNR, commanding, 26 pilots,and VMTB 134. Major A.C. Robertson, USMC, commanding, 40 pilots, were detached to report to Strike Command, ComAirGreen, for operations based at Green Island.
Post by aircraftclocks on Jun 13, 2021 14:26:06 GMT 12
Vunakanau was attacked at 1115 by 24 SBDs and 17 TBFs, which dropped 24x1000# and 16x2000# bombs, respectively. Only three TBFs were damaged, although AA fire from known positions was intense and accurate. Photographs showed one 105MM destroyed and the runway rendered unserviceable by five hits. Six TBF's and six SBD's, the former releasing 7x500# bombs, carried out Pistol Pete patrols. Twenty sorties were flown by SBD's doing artillery and DD spotting, and 3x1000# bombs were dropped on targets of opportunity. Two fires emitting black smoke resulted in the Saua River area across from Hill 501 after nine SBD's dropped 9x1000# bombs and six TBF's released 23x500#. Six TBF's, in accordance with Plan Able, flew to Treasury and four to Ondonga. The SBD's were dispersed: six to Green, 18 to Munda, and 12 to Stirling.
Post by aircraftclocks on Jun 13, 2021 14:28:15 GMT 12
Thirty-seven SBD's and 18 TBF's hit AA gun positions and the runway at Vunakanau at 1205 with 36x1000# and 65x500# bombs, respectively. Auto and heavy AA was moderate, inaccurate to accurate, causing minor damage to three SBD's and four TBF's. One of the TBF turret gunners suffered slight cuts. A number of bomb hits were reported on the runway. One PV ran a negative search for a life raft. Six SBD's and three TBF's flew Pistol Petes. The TBF's released 4x500# bombs. Sixteen artillery spotting missions were flown by SBD's, and 1x1000# bombs was dropped. Ground support missions were flown by 12 TBF's, which hit a field gun position on Hill 150 with 40x500# bombs. The gun was reported as probably being destroyed. Following Plan Able, two TBF's went to Green and 23 SBD's to Stirling.
Post by aircraftclocks on Jun 13, 2021 14:31:34 GMT 12
Forty-six SBD's and 24 TBF's dropped 44x1000# and 83x500# bombs, respectively, on the Vunakanau runway and AA guns. This was the first major strike in which Strike Command, Green Island participated. Twenty-five SBD's and 13 TBF's were from Piva; 21 SBD's and 11 TBF's came from Green. Planes from the two bases rendezvoused and then hit the target together. Photographic interpretation listed two heavy AA guns destroyed. Four SBD's and three TBF's were damaged by AA, which was reported to be moderate, intense and accurate. Pilots stated the runway appeared unserviceable before the attack and definitely was unserviceable afterward. Ground support was directed at the Laruma River area where 22 TBF's dropped 79x500# bombs. On another mission, 12 TBF's released 42x500# in the vicinity of an ammunition dump. Four Pistol Petes were flown by SBD's, which dropped 4x1000# bombs on targets of opportunity. SBD's also executed 16 artillery spotting sorties, on which 4x1000# bombs were dropped. Air activity in the afternoon was hampered by poor visibility in the Torokina area. VMSB 235, Major G.L. Todd, USMC, commanding, 41 pilots, reported aboard at Piva. Sixteen SBD's flew to Vella LaVella and 20 to Stirling, according to Plan Able.
Post by aircraftclocks on Jun 13, 2021 14:34:00 GMT 12
Thirty-four SBD's and 22 TBF's were scheduled to strike Rabaul AA guns. Sixteen SBD's and 15 TBF's took off from Torokina at 0915, returning at 1045 after running into a solid weather front stretching NE-SW off the northern tip of Buka Island. Eighteen SBD's and seven TBF's were airborne at 0930 at Green and landed at 1140; they returned to base after failing to find the Piva flight at the rendezvous point, Cape St. George. Local Piva activity included 12 sorties by TBF's, which dropped 24x500# bombs in the Mariropa River area. Pistol Petes were flown by two TBF's and eight SBD's, the latter releasing 2x1000# bombs. SBD's flew 22 artillery and DD spotting sorties. An SBD piloted by Lieut. Geffery Smith, with ARM3c Van Sychel, of VB 305, which took off on a Pistol Pete at 0555, failed to return. VMSB 244, Major H.W. Reed, USMCR, commanding, 43 pilots, was detached. Because the volume of enemy artillery fire directed at the Piva runways had dwindled sharply, Plan Able for dispersal was secured.
Post by aircraftclocks on Jun 13, 2021 14:37:56 GMT 12
Twenty-four SBD's and 15 TBF's from Piva, and 25 SBD's and 10 TBF's from Green coordinated an attack on AA guns and the Vunakanau runway at 1205. Three SBD's and two TBF's suffered minor damage from anti-aircraft fire, which was reported moderate to intense and generally inaccurate. Photographs showed one five-inch gun destroyed and the runway rendered unserviceable. Local ground support was flown against supply dumps in the Mt. Shira area by 34 SBD's and three TBF's, which released 30x1000# and 34x100# bombs, respectively. Gun positions at Tavera were bombed with 31x500# from TBF's and 16x1000# from SBD's. Perimeter artillery positions were attacked by two SBD's and six TBF's, which dropped 1x1000# and 20x500# bombs, respectively. Eight SBD's and seven TBF's flew Pistol Petes, the latter releasing 12x500#. Fourteen sorties were flown by SBD's doing artillery spotting. One of the spotter planes released 1x1000# bomb. While returning from a ground support mission, an SBD, piloted by Lieut. Peterson, with ARM3c Childress, of VB 305, crashed while approaching the Piva strip. The cause probably was a gas leak. Both the pilot and gunner were killed. RNZAF TBF Squadron 30, Squadron Leader Hartehorn commanding, with 18 pilots, reported at Piva. This was the first New Zealand TBF squadron to operate in the South Pacific combat theatre.
Post by aircraftclocks on Jun 13, 2021 14:39:59 GMT 12
Thirty SBD's and 24 TBF's struck the western waterfront of Rabaul town and AA guns on the West Ridge at 1055. All the SBDs and 18 TBFs came from Piva, while six TBF's were from Green. AA was moderate to intense, accurate to inaccurate, from heavies and automatics. One SBD and one TBF from Piva suffered minor damage. One Green TBF crashed in Keravia Bay, with the crew being rescued by a PBY Dumbo. The SBDs dropped 30x1000# bombs and the TBFs, 94x500# incendiary clusters, this being the first time that Strike Command TBFs had carried incendiaries against a Rabaul town target. Photographs showed 51 buildings and three automatic guns destroyed, and seven fires burning in the Rabaul target area one hour and 20 minutes after the attack. Ground support missions were directed at field gun positions, with 22 SBDs releasing 21x1000# and 12 TBFs, 44x500# bombs. Sixteen sorties were flown by SBDs on artillery spotting missions. Pistol Pete hops comprised 10 SBDs dropping 4x1000# and one TBF, 2x500# bombs. The first New Zealand SBD squadron to be based in the South Pacific-RNZAF SBD 25, Squadron Leader T.J. Mel DeLong commanding, with 18 pilots - reported.
Post by aircraftclocks on Jun 13, 2021 14:41:45 GMT 12
Fifteen SBD's and 13 TBF's from Piva, and 22 SBDs and nine TBFs from Green attacked Kavieng runway and AA gun positions at 1200. Twenty SBDs from Piva, also scheduled to participate failed to rendezvous and returned to base. The anti-aircraft fire was moderate at first, changing to meager during the SBD attack, and generally inaccurate. Two SBDs and two TBFs suffered minor damage. One SBD hit a truck, without injury to the pilot or gunner, on the takeoff at Green. Photographs showed one automatic AA gun destroyed and 30 craters in the runway, making it unserviceable, after 37x1000# bombs had been released by the SBDs, and 50x500#, plus 6x2000#, by the TBF's. Ground support missions at the Tavera and Maririci Rivers resulted in the destruction of one barge; 33 SBD's dropped 31x1000# and 18 TBF's, 66x500# bombs. Twenty SBD's, releasing 4x1000# bombs, spotted fire for friendly artillery: the bombs caused a fire in a supply area. Pistol Pete sorties were flown by 12 SBD's and eight TBF's. Five of the SBD's dropped 1x1000# bomb each, starting a fire in an ammunition dump and destroying four or five huts. Eleven SBD's from Green released 11x1000# on Rabaul town.
Post by aircraftclocks on Jun 13, 2021 14:44:44 GMT 12
Twenty-six SBD's and 21 TBF's from Piva struck an ammunition dump southeast of Kabagada Point at 1055, dropping 26x1000# bombs and 84x500# incendiary clusters, respectively. Sixteen buildings were destroyed, and three fires still were burning six hours after the attack. Three SBD's suffered minor damage from anti-aircraft fire. Green Strike Command sent out 17 SBD's and 10 TBF's which released 17x1000# and 10x2000# bombs on Tawui Point. Fourteen sorties were flown by Piva SBD's on artillery spotting missions, 3x1000# bombs being released. Pistol Pete was handled by six TBF's on night flights and 12 SBDs, during the day, the latter dropping 7x1000# on targets of opportunity. On ground support,18 SBDs and 18 TBFs dropped 18x1000# and 212x100# bombs, respectively, at the Reini River. The Maririci River area was hit by 12 SBDs with 12x1000# bombs and by eight TBFs with 90x100#. Results of these local strikes against Japanese supply dumps and bivouacs mainly were unobserved, but the target areas were reported to have been well covered. Pistol Pete missions reported destruction of one-fourth of a bridge over the Puriata River.
Post by aircraftclocks on Jun 13, 2021 14:45:52 GMT 12
Lakunai was hit with 33x1000# bombs from 36 SBDs and 12x2000#, plus 43x500# from 24 TBFs—all from Piva—at 1010. Moderate to intense antiaircraft fire, fairly accurate, was received from known positions on Hospital Ridge, Malaguna, around the airfield and north of Rabaul, with several planes being holed. Photographs showed at least 13 craters in the runway, rendering it unserviceable. Three TBF's from Green dropped 8x500# bombs in the Talili Bay supply area. One PV search for a downed B-24 was negative. Pistol Petes were flown by six TBFs and eight SBDs, the latter dropping 4x100# and 5x1000# bombs; damaged one bridge. Fourteen sorties, with 1x1000# bomb released, were flown by SBDs in artillery spotting missions. Ground support was carried out by nine TBF's, dropping 103x100# bombs, and 24 SBDs, dropping 23x1000#, on Jap positions on the Maririci River.
Post by aircraftclocks on Jun 13, 2021 14:47:52 GMT 12
From Piva, 26 SBDs dropped 25x1000# and 19 TBFs released 75x500# incendiary clusters on gun positions and the supply area at Vunapope at 1135. AA fire mainly was from automatics. It ranged from moderate to intense and accurate to inaccurate. One SBD and four TBFs were damaged by shell fragments; one SBD gunner suffered a slight bullet wound in the head. The strike was highly successful—40 buildings destroyed and 30 damaged, five heavy AA guns destroyed. Ten SBDs from Green dropped 7x1000# bombs in the vicinity of the Warangoi River. One PV search for shipping in the Rabaul-Cape Gazelle area was negative. SBD's did 14 artillery spotting sorties, dropping 2x1000# bombs. Two SBD's flew Pistol Petes. Carrying out ground support, six TBFs dropped 5x500# and 43x100# bombs to damage a bridge with a direct hit. Other missions were cancelled in the early afternoon because of bad weather.