Post by aircraftclocks on May 24, 2021 11:08:23 GMT 12
7 November 1943:
F4Us covered two Task Units, one from 0945L to 1200L, the other from 1555L to 1805L, with seven P-39s assisting from 1700L to 1800L. Sixteen F4Us and eight P-39s covered B-25s and PV-1s striking at Atsinima Bay at 1410L. the P-39s also strafed. Twenty-four P-40s spent the day at Barakoma. Six P-39s covered a DUMBO delivery of an officer to Capt. Worley in a P-39 made a water-landing, was picked up by a PT before the Jap barge could reach him, and later picked up by a DUMBO. Local Patrols throughout the day were negative. Condition Red at 0425L.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 24, 2021 11:13:07 GMT 12
8 November 1943:
Seven of twelve F4Us that took off at 0526L to escort B-25s on shipping strike at Matchin Bay were turned back by weather. The remaining five F4Us flew fifty miles beyond Treasury then went NE, reaching Matchin Bay at 0710L, reporting no activity in the Bay, they proceeded three to Buka, two to Bonis. The first three strafed Buka from SW end shooting up one ZEKE at the SW end of the strip and about twenty-five men standing along the field . Lt. Comr. Blackburn made a level run astern (at ten feet altitude) on a two-engined, double-tailed plane, which was about to land. The plane, evidently a RUTH crashed and burst into flames. On the return trip down the NE coast of Bougainville, the flight strafed a small AK at Zeune Island, and left it smoking. Eight F4Us patrolled E. Augusta Bay from 0830L to 1030L. They strafed four barges on the N side of Motupena Point. High speed prevented assesment of damage, but all pilots reported hits. Ensign Rankin of VF 33 landed here wounded, in badly shot F6F. In the 1145-1230L combat he shot down one Vat and killed the gunner in a second. Eight F4Us as high cover for E. Augusta Bay contacted at least thirty ZEKES, twenty HAMPS, and fifteen VALS at. In a forty minute fight from the Bay to Buka Passage at between 22,000 feet and 12,000 feet, they shot down five planes. Two of our planes were hit, but not seriously damaged. Eight F4Us were on station at Cherry Blossom from 1430L to 1630L. Negative. The Patrol from 1600 to 1715L was also negative Twelve RNZAF P-40s, which spent the day at Barakoma, were on station at Cherry Blossom from 1350 to 1540L. Air Local Patrols proved negative.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 24, 2021 11:14:21 GMT 12
9 November 1943:
Ondongo based Fighters provided cover for Cherry Blossom and a Task Unit from 0605L to 1700L. Seven F4Us of the 0900L Patrol strafed two small craft, the size of whale boats, and left them smoking. No other action reported. Sixteen P-39s escorted SBDs and TBFs on an attack on the Kara strip. The various flights broke up on the return and carried out various strafing attacks. Results unobserved. Eight P-39s failed to rendezvous after the take-off at 1448L Local Patrols throughout the day were negative. Condition Red at 2115L. Green at 2127L.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 24, 2021 11:15:37 GMT 12
10 November 1943:
Twenty four RNZAF P-40s as close cover, and twenty-three Navy F4Us as high cover, took off at 0630L to escort some ninety-six SBDs and TBFs bombing Buka and Bonis. Hits were made on the SW and N ends of the Buka strip, and on the revetment area. Numerous hits were made on the S end of Bonis strip. The NW corner of Sohara was also bombed. Twelve P-40s strafed A/A positions from Maika Village to Moisuru, N of Macuai Bay. Results unobserved. The Ballale beach at the NE end of the strip was also strafed. Eight P-39s strafed the Jaba trail and Jaba area near Torokina. A Sub search at 1259L proved negative, as did Local Patrols throughout the day.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 24, 2021 11:16:30 GMT 12
11 November 1943:
Twenty-three F4Us took off from Ondongo at 0402L to protect TF, while it's planes were striking Rabaul and refueling. TF consisted of three carriers and six DDs. At 1425L, the Jap attack started. The attack in three waves consisted of fifty or sixty fighters. VF 17 was in the thick of the fray which lasted about forty minutes. The final score: Eighteen and one-half Jap planes. Our losses: Two planes, both pilots safe. Cover for our forces on and near Torokina was provided from 0610L to 0800L. On the return the second P-40 patrol shot up one or two barges hurrying from Faisi to Shortland.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 24, 2021 11:17:35 GMT 12
12 November 1943:
T.U. cover was provided from Ondongo by P-40s and P-39s from 0600L to 1450L. All reports were negative. Local Patrols throughout the day were negative. Sixteen F4Us took off at 1252L, to escort a strike; six returned early. Kara was well hit from the SW by SBDs and TBFs. No air interception.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 24, 2021 11:18:23 GMT 12
13 November 1943:
Empress Augusta Bay cover was provided by Ondongo Fighters from 0600L to 1730L. The CL Denver of TG was reported at 0800L to have been hit by a torpedo, thus part of the cover was extended to cover the Denver as well. No contact was made. The P-40s off station at 1630L were low on gas, and F/O Weber landed in the water between Wana Wana and Arundel Islands. He was later picked up. Four P-39s strafed Tarlena at 1015L, starting fires among the buildings near the Mission. Four P-39s at 1015L strafed Chabai Plantation. The houses there were thoroughly strafed.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 24, 2021 11:19:04 GMT 12
14 November 1943:
Ondongo Fighters provided cover for retiring T.U. 31.5.5. from 0605L to 1800L. All Patrols negative. Eight F4Us escorted SBDs and TBFs attacking Ballale at 1215L. A/A positions were attacked. Intense fire was received.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 24, 2021 11:20:08 GMT 12
15 November 1943:
Ondongo Fighters maintained a constant patrol over Torokina from 0600L to 1800L. The CL Denver of TG was reported hit, thus parts of the cover was extended to cover the Denver as well. No contact. The RNZAF P-40s, in groups of eight searched the Numa Numa Trail, were over the Matchin Bay area at 1110L , searched W Choiseul with negative results, and escorted a DUMBO from Ondongo to Cape Torokina. Much damage to A/A positions, buildings and boats was done during these strafing missions. All planes returned safely, but one P-40 had it's electrical system damaged, and another was hit in the cooling system. The 70th. Fighter P-39s made no contact on their patrol from 0600L to 0700L, they landed at Barakoma. VF 17 F4Us strafed Chabai at 1220L with good results. Several buildings and flak position were strafed. Charlie Search was covered, negative. Group Eight, F4Us, flew to Chabai, but it was closed in. Flying Charlie Search, possible A/A was strafed at SE end of Arawa Bay. A building was set on fire at Kieta, and a sixty-foot boat was set ablaze off Moto Reef. Group 12 flew to Chabai, but saw no target there. Eight RNZAF P-40s strafed Tonolei Harbor at 1445L, Eight to ten barges were well hit. Two burned fiercely. Two fuel dumps several hundred yards inshore from the barges were well strafed. Many A/A positons were also hit. Local Patrols throughout the day proved negative, but one of the P-39s on the last patrol crashed landed on the field. The pilot was not hurt.
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.
Some information regarding the loss of Lt(jg) John H. Keith (correct spelling) on 1/11/1943, from the book The Jolly Rogers by Tom Blackburn, CO of VF-17. My summary:
A division ( four aircraft ) of VF-17 USN took off from their base at Ondongo, New Georgia at 1545 L/T, their task being to patrol Empress Augusta Bay for two hours at 28,000 feet. The four Corsairs were led by Lt(jg) James A. Halford and the patrol, the second of the day, was uneventful. In accordance with their briefing the division descended to strafe the Japanese bastion of Ballale on their way home to Ondongo. Ballale was known for the intensity and accuracy of its anti-aircraft defences. On the course of the strafing runs the Corsair flown by John Keith was hit and began to stream smoke. A successful ditching was accomplished and Lt(jg) Keith was seen swimming with his life jacket deployed. He did not inflate his dinghy possibly because he was only about five miles from the shore of Ballale. The division leader James Halford and his wingman headed for Barakoma on Vella Lavella to raise the alarm and have a Catalina sent out. Keith's wingman Ensign Landreth remained at the location of the ditching as long as he could. A PT boat and a Catalina arrived after dark, but their searching did not find the ditched pilot. A further search was carried out in daylight but also found no trace. Lt(jg) J. Keith was declared Missing in Action.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 25, 2021 10:55:52 GMT 12
16 November 1943:
Ondongo Fighters covered a Task Unit and Destroyer Squadron from 0600 to 1800L. All these missions were executed without incident. Eight F4Us escorted sixteen SBDs on a strike in the Jaba area, in which the bombers made six runs between 0910L and 1010L. Results unobserved. A search for a missing TBF crew over SE coast of Bougainville proved negative. Six F4Us of VMF-211, based here today, were on patrol over Empress Augusta Bay, from 1300L to 1500L. Negative. A search for a missing pilot in the Ballale-Fauro area by F4Us proved negative. Twelve RNZAF P-40s took off at 1445L on a special strafing mission in the Kieta Harbor area. Huts, stores, buildings and A/A positions were well hit. At Tonolei, the flight thoroughly raked each side of the Harbor. The E coast of Ballale was also strafed. At least two A/A positions were silenced.
F/O L.D. Hutton's plane was hit by flak, and his plane streamed oil, and dived into the sea. Pilot still missing. Local Patrols throughout the day proved negative.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 25, 2021 10:57:56 GMT 12
17 November 1943:
Cover for Augusta Bay was provided by Ondongo based Fighters from 0605L to 1200L and 1555L to 1755L. Groups 3 and 4 intercepted enemy planes between 0800L and 0820L. A bogey vector by DANE BASE proved negative. On return flight, the F4Us were directed by COCKER BASE to intercept an attack about to be launched on shipping. They contacted four ZEKES, five TONYS, eight KATES, 10 miles W of Torokina. Score: Three ZEKES, one KATE, and one TONY. Our losses; Two F4U pilots. Flying NW, climbing to 10,000 feet at about 0825L, they overtook twelve ZEKES and two TONYS, flying west. They shot down three ZEKES and one TONY to bring the total for the day for VF 17 to six ZEKES, two TONYS and one KATE. F/O Rayner of RNZAF shot down one VAL, which came up from the haze from the direction of shipping in Empress Augusta Bay. The action occurred about 0820L. All other patrols were negative. Eight F4Us escorted B-25s to attack Bonis airfield at 0805L. Bonis field and flak positions were well hit. Eight P-40s escorted TBFs and SBDs on the same strike as low area cover. The strip was left unserviceable. Local Patrols were negative.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 25, 2021 11:00:05 GMT 12
18 November 1943:
Eight F4Us took off at 0325L on early dawn Augusta Bay cover. Search proved negative. A pilot sighted by the F4U was picked up by a PT 32 miles from Cape Torokina and taken to Torokina. Eight P-39s took off on a special strafing mission at 0746L. Four of these searched the Kulitanai Bay area, SE Shortlands with negative results. There was a front just below Aliang, probably killing four of them, and blew the tops off two new-looking houses at Sirukiaii. Cover was provided for a Task Group and a Task Unit by Onongo fighters from 0550/L to 1700/L. No contact made. A Local Patrol was flown from 1275/L to 1510/L. Negative. Condition Red from 0355/L to 0409/L was negative.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 25, 2021 11:00:57 GMT 12
19 November 1943:
From 0540L to 1800L Ondongo based Fighters covered Angusta Bay and the unloasing operations there of a Task Group. Four P-40s of Group Nine strafed one large and two small buildings. Group Ten silenced an A/A position near Porton and two barges tied to a jetty at Chabai. The remainder of the patrols were negative. Condition Red was set at 0320L, Green at 0345L. Planes were heard, but A/A did not fire. Local Patrols throughout the day were negative.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 25, 2021 11:01:48 GMT 12
20 November 1943:
Cover was provided Augusta Bay by Ondongo Fighters from 0530L to 1730L. All groups reported negative. A few bridges and houses were strafed during these patrols. Results unobserved. The Fighter cover for a Task Unit from 0530L to 1135L was negative. Group Three had an operational loss. P/O Nairn, RNZAF, squadron fourteen, had engine trouble and bailed out. The leading DD picked him up. Eight F4Us of VF 17 took off to cover strike on Mosigetta at 1455L. One flight found only seven SBDs, the other flight pancaked at 1625L. Two F4Us escorted the SBDs, while Cooke and Popp returned via Kara Airfield at tree-top level, strafing one BETTY on the edge of the clearing. The BETTY was set afire. Local Patrols throughout the day were negative.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 25, 2021 11:04:14 GMT 12
21 November 1943:
Our Fighters provided cover for our ground forces on Bougainville from 0520L to 1830L. The first flight of F4Us made the only know contact. The F4Us of Group Two, having been vectored by DANE BASE, made contact with six ZEKES at 3,000 feet, five to seven miles from Torokina. During a fifteen minute engagement, 0535L 0550L, the F4Us split into divisions and sections, and shot down all ZEKES. They were shot down in stern attacks, caught at top of loops, and generally destroyed in a manner more scientific than spectacular. Group Three of eight P-40s of RNZAF, squadron eighteen, took off at 0530L. One P-40, F/O J.D. Bew, had an engine failure, and crashed at the E end of the strip. The plane burned when the belly tank exploded. The pilot did not get out. All other patrols were negative. Group Seven strafed the area of Monitu Mission, hitting bridges and huts. Local Patrols were negative.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 25, 2021 11:05:11 GMT 12
22 November 1943:
Ondongo planes patrolled the Cape Torokina area from 0715L to 1650L. Four P-40s of RNZAF, squadron 18, contacted forty ZEKES and HAMPS at 0815L, ten miles NE of Motupena Point. Four ZEKES and one HAMP were destroyed, six others seriously damaged. All P-40s returned to base, one considerably shot up. The other four P-40s of squadron 18 did not make contact. At 0645L, P/O Rishworth bailed out between 1500 and 1000 feet because his oil temperature was dropping and plane was emitting oil. He landed in the water ten miles from Treasury and disappeared. He was not recovered. All other patrols were negative. Our Fighters covered a Task Group enroute to Torokina from 0530L to 1540L. All Patrols were negative. Eight F4Us of VMF-211 based here today, escorted B-25s and PVs, which bombed Buka and the N tip of Bougainville at 1155L. The bombing was reported excellent. Local Patrols were negative.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 25, 2021 11:06:27 GMT 12
23 November 1943:
A continuous patrol by our Fighters over Empress Augusta Bay was maintained from 0540L to 1823L. Eight P-40s of Group 4 strafed three camouflaged barges in a large bay on Fauro opposite Asie Island. In Sinasora Bay an anchored, empty, flat-bottomed boat was strafed, and several yards in land, a medium-sized fire with black smoke was started, probably in oil dump. Other patrols were negative. Eight P-40s covered a Task Group from 1200L to 1400L with negative results. Sixteen F4Us escorted B-25s and PVs in an attack on Chabai at 0910L. The W end of the Chabai strip was well hit. A Local Patrol from 0512L to 0726L was negative.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 25, 2021 11:07:37 GMT 12
24 November 1943:
Eleven Groups of Ondongo Fighters patrolled a Task Group during the day from 0550L to 1800L. All Patrols were negative. Eight P-40s patrolled Augusta Bay between 0815L and 1015L. At about 0950L, DANE BASE ordered them to strafe two barges in Gazelle Harbor, E of Cape Motupena. Seven barges drawn up close inshore were raked with good results.
Twenty-three F4Us escorted TBFs and SBDs, and B-25s on a strike from 1000L to 1010L on Chabai. The Chabai area was well hit, with a concentration of bombs on the seaward side of the strip.
A DUMBO PBY piloted by Lt. M Cheverton of VF 23 rescued a crew of six of a B-25, which had water-landed at 1035L, two miles W of Maifu Island, in Shortland Harbor. The rescue feat was described by the escorting P-40 leader as "a wonderfully good show by the PBY, earning the admiration of the escort." "The facile way in which the rescue was affected in such an area has given the pilots even more confidence still should they ever find themselves in a similiar predicament." The Dusk Patrol was negative.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 25, 2021 11:08:19 GMT 12
25 November 1943:
Bad weather between Vella Lavella and Buka restricted Fighter operations. Only one patrol assigned to cover a destroyer squadron was on station. Bad weather forced the others to return. Six F4Us of VMF-216, Group 5, patrolled Augusta Bay from 1030L to 1230L. After leaving station, they set two or more huts on fire between Numa Numa and Cape Mabiri. The Bonis strike escort returned to base because of bad weather, as did the sixteen P-39s (Ondongo) based at Barakoma for destroyer squadron cover. The Dusk Patrol was negative