Post by aircraftclocks on May 22, 2021 13:04:15 GMT 12
19 October 1943:
At 050?L, four F4Us took off, two to strafe Kahili and two to strafe Kara. Instrument flying became necessary over Vella Lavella, and first one, and then a second plane became seperated from the flight. The two remaining planes, one of each of the original flights, continued through the clouds at altitudes from 800 feet to 2,000 feet. When they located Kara, they went down to 40 feet for their strafing run. They held their fire until they could see five planes at the east end of the strip. They sprayed the five enemy VF throughly, and looking back they saw the planes burning.
The first plane to become seperated broke through the clouds over Fauro Island, and made a strafing run at 40 feet the length of Ballale strip at 0600L. While he sprayed the revetment area south of the strip thoroughly, there was not enough light to observe results.
The second plane to become seperated, Major Boyington, made one pass over Kahili strip, but could see nothing. He circled, and made a strafing run the length of the strip, bearing on three bombers on inland end of strip. Next, he made a strafing run on a destroyer in Tonolei Harbor; then, on the way home, he found a barge at the mouth of the Mulamabuli River on north Choiseul, which he strafed. He pancaked at Vella, and this was the extent of his strafe.
At 1010L, twelve F4Us took off to cover thirty SBDs, part of a strike which included twelve TBFs and twenty-four B-24s, covered by twenty-four P-39s, sixteen P-40s and sixteen P-38s. All the bombers hit Kahili, the SBDs dropping at 1135L, five minutes after the B-24s. Planes were seen taking off from Kahili for twenty minutes, but no contact was made in the air. We lost no planes.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 22, 2021 13:06:17 GMT 12
20 October 1943:
At 1142L, twenty-four RNZAF P-40s (Squadrons 15 and 18), accompanied by twenty-four F6Fs (Squadron VF 38) from Segi made a fighter sweep over Kahili. Our P-40s circled the area for twenty minutes without making contact. They went down to 3,000 feet looking for for barges in the Shortlands area, and three ZEKES came down out of the cloud and made one pass, and returned to the clouds. None of our planes were lost. The F6Fs made contact, (but this was not seen by the P-40s) with twenty ZEKES; shot down three ZEKES and lost one F6F.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 22, 2021 13:20:37 GMT 12
22 October 1943 to 26 November 1943.
Colonel W.O. Brice, Commanding Officer, with Staff, including Operations, Intelligence and Communications moved to Ondongo. Colonel Brice assumed command of all Fighter Operation beginning on the 23rd, October.
During this period the following squadrons have been under this command: Navy Fighting Squadron 17; USAAF Fighting Squadron 70, which included the 44th, 12th, 18th, and 68th; and RNZAF Fighting Squadrons 14, 15, 16, and 18.
On November 14, Colonel Brice was relieved of Ondongo Fighter Command and sent to Munda to assume the Fighter Command there.
The Ondongo Command was taken over by W/C T.O. Freeman, D.F.C., D.S.C. and BAR.
During this period the following score was made by Fighter Squadrons based here:
Navy Fighting 17 has downed forty-nine enemy aircraft. USAAF Fighting Squadrons have downed one aircraft. RNZAF Squadrons have downed twenty-three enemy aircraft.
The average landings and take-offs a day during this period amounted to 245 planes a day. The weekly aircraft losses were as follows:
Combat Losses Operational Losses Com-Oper. Loss October 23 to 30 1 1 November 1 to 6 1 November 7 to 26 2 3
Post by aircraftclocks on May 23, 2021 12:39:07 GMT 12
24 October 1943:
At 1330L, twenty-four P-39s arrived at Ondongo, bringing the total number of U.S. Army pilots stationed here to twelve in the 70th Fighter Squadron, five in the 44th., Fighter Squadron, and four in the 12th., Fighter Squadron, and eight in the 68th., Fighter Squadron. Twenty-nine all told. Also twenty-six P-40s arrived at Ondongo, bringing the total of New Zealand Fighter pilots to twenty in Number 15 Squadron, and twenty-two in Number 18 Fighter Squadron, or forty-two all told. Thus there were seventy-one pilots of operating squadrons based here on this date.
Sixteen P-39s took off at 0935L from Munda to escort SBDs to Kahili. There was no air interception, and the planes landed at Ondongo on returning, being part of the twenty-four to arrive on this day. Twenty-two RNZAF P-40s took off Munda at 0945L to cover thirty-three B-24s attacking Kahili after the TBF-SBD strike. No air interception. These planes, with four others direct from Munda, landed at Ondongo on return. The Dusk Patrol of four RNZAF P-40s was negative. At 1600L, Pilot Officer Harold de la Perrelle, RNZAF, reported for duty at Air Intelligence.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 23, 2021 12:40:08 GMT 12
25 October 1943:
At 0930L, the Fighter strength at Ondongo consisted of thirty-seven RNZAF P-40s (Squadrons 15 and 18) and twenty-two USAAF P-39s (70th., Squadron). At 0900L, twelve P-40s, Squadron 15, took off to give close cover to an SBD strike on Ballale. There was no air interception, and they returned at 1050L. Four P-40s took off at 1350L on a SCAT escort, and returned at 1531L. Seven P-39s took off on Dusk Patrol at 1710L, and landed at 1845L. No contact. There was a Condition Red at 2035L, Green at 2055L.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 23, 2021 12:41:16 GMT 12
26 October 1943:
Twenty-four P-40s and twelve P-39s took off at 0735L to provide close cover for SBDs in a strike of SBDs and TBFs on Kahili and gun positions along the shore. One P-40 nosed over on the take off, when his motor cut out, but the pilot was unhurt and took off in another plane.
No contacts were made in the air. One TBF was seen to go down and crashed in the water one mile from the strip. All our planes returned.
Fifteen P-40s and fifteen P-39s took off at 1437L to provide close cover for SBDs striking Kara Airfield. No enemy planes were seen in the air, and all our planes returned, one landed at Barakoma for gas. Condition Red at 2045L, Green at 2111L.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 23, 2021 12:42:26 GMT 12
27 October 1943:
Twenty-seven F4Us of VF 17 arrived at Ondongo during the morning. Eight additional P-39s arrived from Guadalcanal for duty there at 1422L. A familiarization hop for eight F4Us was made at 1314L. A total of thirteen fighters were sent out during the day to cover a Task Force of 2 CLs and 4 DDs, and two Task Groups of LSTs making a landing on Treasury Island. Thirty-three P-39s and fifty-one P-40s were sent up, four of which returned early. One flight of seven P-39s were vectored to a bogey, but the bogey slipped through and dived bombed the Task Force. Two P-39s pilots shot down one VAL together. The P-39s received fire from P-38s making passes on them. The following flights of four P-40s saw several units of five or six Jap VF moving in towards the Shortlands from all directions; then the Japs turned and rendezvoused over over Kahili. The P-40s followed and engaged nine ZEKES over Managata (10 miles above Moila Point. They saw over seventy ZEKES in the area. The fight was at 16,000 feet and they shot down three ZEKES. The last P-40 flight of four planes saw two NELLS at 26,000 feet, but failed to make contact. Then they saw and contacted five ZEKES, one of which was seen to fall in the water. All planes had to land at Barakoma to gas up, and one plane was shot up in the wing and tail, and had a punctured tire. The last flight of eight P-39s was negative, as were all the other flights not mentioned in detail.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 23, 2021 12:43:52 GMT 12
28 October 1943:
The dawn Patrol of eight F4Us was negative. Fourteen P-39s took off at 0620L to cover an SBD strike on Kara. One returned early. No air interception. Four P-39s went down and strafed two A/A positions which were firing. All our planes returned at 0847L. Four F4Us took off at 0807L to escort a PBY5A with Adimiral Halsey aboard almost to the Russels. A constant patrol was maintained over the Treasury Islands, but no contacts were made. Sgt. Pilot Donald F. Hill, RNZAF, returning from this patrol at 0840L/28 hit the water from just off Ondongo strip. Cause of crash is believed to be due to fuel pump failure. Pilot was killed.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 23, 2021 12:45:43 GMT 12
29 October 1943:
Twenty-four F4Us took off at 0800L to furnish medium cover for twelve PV-1s and twelve B-25s in a strike on Bonis and Buka Airfields, respectively. There was no air interception on the entire flight, no planes took off from either of the target fields. Twelve F4Us took off at 1520L to furnish cover for a Photo Mission, but failed to find the Photo plane at the rendezvous point. The planes then went on a barge hunt. They contacted the Bougainville coast at Arawa Bay, and followed the coast down past Kieta to Tonolei Harbor. In Tonolei Harbor the F4Us attacked an 80 ton steamer that exploded, and left three others burning. They next attacked four barges at the same place, setting three on fire. Then they left the Harbor, going South, and near Maifu Island, they saw a barge loaded with troops, headed toward Ballale. They strafed this barge and set it afire. All planes returned at 1739L. All Local, Dawn and Dusk Patrols were negative. At 1100L, a P-40s from Munda cracked up while landing. The right wing hit a tractor. The Pilot was unijured. For the third consecutive day a continuous patrol was maintained over Treasury Island. No enemy contacts were made. There was a condition Red at 0030L, Green at 0036L.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 23, 2021 12:47:44 GMT 12
30 October 1943:
At 0655L, eight F4Us and eight P-40s took off at 0540L to cover a TBF strike on Sangigai, on Choiseul. Our planes failed to make rendezvous over Munda as scheduled, but found the TBFs at Sangigai. Two F4Us made three strafing runs on a plane three miles N of Sangigai, lying on it's belly on a reef. After the TBFs had dropped their bombs, the P-40s strafed the buildings and surrounding jungle. Sixteen P-40s, twenty-two F4Us and sixteen P-39s covered SBDs on a Kara strike at 1000L. The P-39s went down with the SBDs and strafed into the dust raised by the bombing. Eleven P-40s went down and strafed many small craft in the lower half of Tonolei Harbor. One small cargo got a burst and boats around a pier were also strafed. No results were observed. The P-39s strafed the same area and another barge and launch were set on fire. Intense light A/A was received from the woods around the Harbor, and 1st. Lt. Decker of the 70th. Fighter Squadron (P-39s) strafed and silenced one battery on the E side. However, he was hit in the process, causing an oil leak. He landed in the water off the south-west side of Fauro Island, and got out just before his plane burst into flames and sank. Four P-40s, eight P-39s and seven F4Us escorted a PBY-5 to pick up Lt. Decker. He was quickly rescued at 1800L, just off a reef off Fauro Island; and, in spite of A/A and probable coastal battery fired concentrated on DUMBO, while it was in the water. The mission was sucessful and made without loss. (One burst exploded in the air just above DUMBO, while it was in the water, and another five hundred yards away at water level. Four of the F4Us strafed the A/A all along the south and east side of Ballale, hit the tail of a two-engine bomber, and killed three men standing on the runway. F/O Scannel, returning from the strafing flight, crash-landed on the strip. His plane is a total loss. Both Decker and Scannel are unhurt. There was a Condition Red at 2135L, Green at 2206L; then Red again at 0031, Green at 0036L. The Local Patrols were all negative.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 23, 2021 12:49:15 GMT 12
31 October 1943:
Sixteen P-39s of the 70th. Fighter Squadron took off from Ondongo as cover for SBD strike on Kara Airfield between 0900L and 0910L. B-25s bombed Kara just prior to the arrival of the SBDs. The SBD bombing was very destructive. The P-39 pilots reported seeing no enemy planes in the air or on the ground. Heavy A/A was received at 8000 feet to 9000 feet. One P-39 started down to strafe A/A from Malabita Hill, but it ceased fire as he approached, so that he couldn't see it.
Sixteen RNZAF P-40s escorted TBFs, which struck Kara at 0900L. The TBFs made the best hits yet on the strip and surroundings. The strip is absolutely unserviceable. A/A was mostly light calibre, ten bursts of heavy were counted. No enemy air opposition was encountered. All planes returned safe to base.
F4Us of VF 17 patrolled Ondongo throughout the day. All were negative except that the second patrol reported seeing an explosion in the water astern of one small ship, a possible DMS, which was one-half mile off the shore east of Kolombangara.
There was a Condition Red at 2310L to 2335L during which Ondongo fired A/A. Shortly afterward another Condition went at 2345L, Condition Green at 0005L.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 23, 2021 12:51:09 GMT 12
1 November 1943:
This base maintained a constant patrol of eight planes over Task Group 31.5 at Empress Augusta Bay from 0600L to 1800L, with the eight plane patrols overlapping nearly two hours at times. Thus most of the time during the day sixteen planes were covering the Task Group. Contact was made with thirty to forty-five ZEKES and VALS from 0800L to 0830L. The P-40s shot down seven ZEKES and one probable, and the F4Us got five ZEKES and two probables, plus damage to one VAL. Twelve APs and AKs were in the bay, but no damage known for sure. One P-40 pilot, F/O Lumsden, made a water-landing, and was picked up safe off Mundi Mundi, Vella Lavella, at 0900L. An escorted DUMBO search for a missing B-25 crew from 0800 to 1025L in the Vella-Ganongga area proved negative. The crew had apparently been picked up by someone else. An escorted DUMBO took hand grenades to Zimoa Island between 1555L and 1816L, returning with nine wounded men. Eight F4Us made a Fighter sweep to Kara from 1601L to 1730L. No contact. The pilots believed Kara had a serviceable center, making it operative. Returning from the Task Group cover of four CLs and four DDs, four F4Us strafed and set fire to a forty foot boat and a fifteen boat (the latter full of ammunition apparently, as it flamed and smoked heavily) at 1700L. Four other F4Us strafed the N tip of Poporang Island, receiving intense A/A. Lt.(jg) Kieth was seen swimming in his Mae West, but he failed to float his raft. No Dumbo was sent after him, and he is believed lost. One F4Us landed and stayed at Barakoma. A Local Patrol of four P-40s was made from 1230L to 1430L. Other Patrols were negative. There were three conditions during the night, one at 2045L, another at 2117L, and one at 0417L. About six bombs were dropped off Cutter Point in the water, and other bombs were dropped on Arundel. No damage was caused.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 23, 2021 12:53:09 GMT 12
2 November 1943:
Cherry Blossom cover was provided by the three Fighter Squadrons based at Ondongo from 0640L to 1704L. Enemy planes were contacted. Much shipping was observed by our cover, twenty miles from Motupena Point.
Four F4Us of VF 17 strafed the Shortland, Faisi, Poporang triangle at about 1000L. Barracks on south Faisi began smoking. Lt. Killefer was injured by a 20 mm. shell which exploded in his cockpit. Eight P-39s took off at 1630L to cover three boats taking Marine Paratroopers off Zimoa. P-39s and P-40s covered twenty B-24s snooping for enemy ships from 0730L to about 1000L with negative results. P-40s also escorted SBDs searching for straggling warships, farthest point of search being between Cape Mimias and Cape Narum, New Ireland. Results negative.
Four F4Us, escorting TBFs from Baga Island lost the TBFs at 0910L. A search failed to find the TBFs. On the return, the F4Us severly strafed Kara and three houses north of the strip. They believed that they knocked out an automatic A/A firing intensely one mile south of the north end of the east shore of Tomolei. A Local Patrol of four P-40s from 0700L to 0905L proved negative.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 23, 2021 12:54:34 GMT 12
3 November 1943:
For the third straight day Ondongo based Fighters provided cover for the Cherry Blossom mission. Eight P-40s patrolled Empress Augusta Bay and Buka from 0745 to 0945L at 18,000 feet. Results negative. Eight F4Us patrolled Torokina to Buka from 1345L to 1500L, and eight P-40s patrolled DANE BASE from 1425L to 1455L. Negative. Likewise the eight P-40s that patrolled Augusta Bay from 1145L to 1335L. Rain squalls forced the eight P-40s taking off at 1433L for Augusta Bay to turn back. Of the eighteen P-39s stationed at Barakoma all day, sixteen pancaked here about 1720L. Two remained at Barakoma. Their scheduled patrol was cancelled because of bad weather. Three Local Patrols from 0635L to 1330L were made. All reported negative. Eight P-39s did not find the TBFs they were to escort, went to Vella and returned. Sixteen F4Us rendezvoused over Baga Island at 1330L with sixty SBDs on a strike mission to Kahili. Bad weather forced them to turn back.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 23, 2021 12:56:11 GMT 12
4 November 1943:
Extended forty-four sorties to cover Empress Augusta Bay area. No enemy contacts were made in the air. The eight P-40s, when returning from patrol, crossed to the eastern coast of Bougainville, and found and strafed targets, as follows: Four Aks (set on fire), one coastal steamer (set on fire), six schooners (two burning fiercely, three probably sunk), seven barges (set on fire, four sank, three probably sank), and three other barges (also strafed); in addition, a number of canoes, a large lifeboat, more barges, some villages, installations and equipment. Four A/A positions were silenced; and one channel buoy was strafed.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 23, 2021 12:57:07 GMT 12
5 November 1943:
Cover was furnished a task force by Ondongo based VF. A total of fifty-six Fighters participated, however bad weather was endured by most flights and made it impossible for three flights of eight planes each to contact ships. No enemy contact was made, our only damage was two F4Us slightly damaged landing in the dark. Eight P-40s coming off station at 1530 flew over Kahili, the Shortlands and Fauro looking for barges. Negative results. A continous Local Patrol was maintained from 0548L to 1813L. All negative. There was one Condition Red at 2325L. An enemy bomber was heard overhead. A/A fired. Otherwise negative.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 24, 2021 11:07:10 GMT 12
6 November 1943:
Six Patrols were maintained over Empress Augusta Bay throughout the day by Ondongo based Fighters, from 0640L to 1815L An P-40 returning from patrol at 1025L, strafed and set smoking a beached sixty foot wooden bulk in Arawa Bay. Fourteen F4Us escorted six B-25s, which attacked three ships at 0730L, one mile SE of Matzungan Island. One AK of about 150 tons broke amidships, burned and sank. An AK of about 80 tons exploded and sank. The B-25s made four strafing raids and skip-bombed very low, and the other F4Us made two to four strafing runs. Four of the returning F4Us shot down a BETTY, ten to fifteen miles WSW from Cape Moltke. All four F4Us drove it down, making several runs. Sixteen P-40s were low area cover for an SBD strike on Kara at 1150L, going down with the bombers to 3000 feet. The runways, revetments, taxiways, and general vicinity were well hit. One P-40 strafed the two towers in an oval clearing fifty yards below Kara. Results unobserved. Six P-40s strafed a forty foot barge at Jakohina beach. It exploded and burned fiercely. The Kangu Hill area was left smoking. Three camouflaged barges were also strafed. The other eight P-40s thoroughly strafed the whole area from two miles NE of Kahili to Moila Point, receiving intense MG automatic, and heavy flak from Kangu Hill and the S end of Kahili strip. They silenced one A/A position at the base of Kangu Hill. The P-40s strafed a concentration of four or five barges around the wrecked ship, one mile S of Kahili. Two barges were left burning. Some of the planes returned with holes in their wings. Eight F4Us escorted B-25s to Queen Carola Harbor at 1400L No targets were seen in the area. The B-25s strafed a native village on Yame Island, and bombed two derelict ships beached near Chabai Plantation. Eight F4Us escorted a DUMBO PBY to Torokina to deliver passengers over Torokina from 1400L to 1500L. Local Patrols were maintained from 0625L to 1642L. Negative. Condition Red was set at 2230L to 2300L, and again at 0120L to 0152L. No damage done.