Post by aircraftclocks on May 27, 2021 10:32:37 GMT 12
15 December 1945:
Eight P-40s of RNZAF Squadron 16 escorted SBDs and TBFs on strike to Bonsi at 1115. No contacts were made. The P-40s reported the bombing excellent. Eight F6Fs took off at 0915 to escort TBFs and SBDs bombing Bonis at 1100. The TBFs and SBDs bombed Bonis, Buka and Sohana. The seven F6Fs then carried out special search. Four F4Us of VMF-216 took off from Ondongo at 0900 to cover SBDs hitting Bonsi at 1100. No contact was made. Hits were scored on Sohana Island. Sixteen P-40s of RNZAF Squadron 14 escorted TBFs and SBDs hitting Buka between 1050 and 1105. Most of the bombs hit on the strip. The P-40s on the return flight carried out various strafing missions. Four P-40s of RNZAF Squadron 16 took off at 1405 on a bridge bombing mission. One traffic bridge just E of Kirinam was bombed. Three P-39s escorted a DUMBO to Treasury and Torokina without incident. Sixteen P-39s took off at 0512 for Torokina. All Local Patrols over Torokina were negative. The pilots of the 12th, 16th, 18th, 68th, and 70th. Squadrons, who were attached to the 70th. Fighter Squadron for operational duty at Ondongo, departed today. They were relieved by pilots belonging to the 70th. Fighter Squadron.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 28, 2021 10:28:33 GMT 12
16 December 1943:
Ondongo based Fighters covered a destroyer squadron and Task Group throughout the day with negative results. Eight P-40s of RNZAF Squadron 14, were high cover, and four P-40s of Squadron 16 were medium cover for two squadrons of B-25s bombing the Bonis area at 1100. All bombs were dropped in the area. After the bombing, the P-40s strafed adjacent areas. Sixteen F6Fs of VF-33 and four F4Us of VMF-216 escorted TBFs and SBDs hitting the Bonsi area and Sohana at 1210. The bombing was reported very good. Sixteen P-39s of the 70th. Fighter Squadron took off at 0445 to go to Torokina. The Local Patrols carried out were negative. Various strafing missions were performed with unobserved results. One P-39 crashed on the Torokina strip but the pilot is safe.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 28, 2021 10:29:58 GMT 12
17 December 1943:
Twenty-four RNZAF P-40s, twelve from each of 14 and 16 squadrons, together with sixteen F6Fs of VF-33 took off from Ondongo at 0500 on a Fighter sweep over Rabaul. Ondongo P-40s shot down four ZEKES and one unidentified plane and an F6F shot down one ZEKE. Missing from the action are Wing Commander T.O. Freeman and F/O J.O. McFarlane. Ondongo plane losses for the day, combat and operations are two P-40s lost in combat, two damaged in combat, and one P-40 operational loss at Torokina; plus one F6F shot up, damage not assessed. Four P-40s of RNZAF Squadron 16 took off at 0921 to escort two B-24s to Torokina. Negative Sixteen P-39s of the 70th Fighter squadron were stationed at Torokina all day. Local Patrols over that area were negative. The Dusk and Dawn Patrols over Ondongo were negative.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 28, 2021 10:31:02 GMT 12
18 December 1943:
Eight F6Fs of VF-33, thirteen RNZAF P-40s Squadron 16, and thirteen P-40s of Squadron 14 were at Torokina for the day. Four P-39s, who remained overnight at Barakoma, took off for Torokina at 0545 and spent the day there. Four P-39s escorted a DUMBO to Torokina and carried out Local Patrol from 0740 to 0845. Negative. Eight P-39s took off from Torokina at 1645 on a strafing mission to Tepero, just down the coast from Numa Numa. Good results were seen. All other P-39s patrolled Torokina with negative results. The Local Patrols over Ondongo were negative.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 28, 2021 10:32:23 GMT 12
19 December 1943:
Eight F6Fs of VF-33 took off from Ondongo at 0600 for Torokina where they spent the day. Twelve Ondongo based RNZAF P-40s, Squadron 17, took off from Torokina at 1050 as close top cover for B-24s hitting Rabaul at 1255. Eight ZEKES were contacted and one was shot down. The majority of the bombs fell in the sea. Thirteen RNZAF P-40s, Squadron 16, took off for Torokina at 0615, and twelve of these planes acted as close top cover for a group of B-24s on strike to Rabaul. No direct contact was made. The bombing was reported excellent. Eight of the P-40s pancaked at Ondongo between 1505 and 1815, two landed at Torokina; two collided, and one was ditched four miles off Torokina strip. The missing pilots are F/O J.N. Williams, F/Sgt. D.K. Mulligan and Warrant Officer G.A. McDonald. Twenty P-39s of the 70th. Fighter Squadron took off for Torokina, joined four P-39s who had remained there overnight, and carried out operations from there. Three P-39s at 1530 dive-bombed a warehouse on the E bank of the Reini River. Bombing was good. Seven P-39s carried out Local Patrol over Torokina with negative results. Four F6Fs of VF 33 were on scramble alert all dry at Barakoma. Negative. The Local Patrols over Ondongo were negative.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 28, 2021 10:33:25 GMT 12
20 December 1943:
Ondongo Fighters covered a Task Group throughout the day with negative results. Eight F6Fs of VF 33 were medium cover, and eight F6Fs high cover for SBDs and TBFs bombing Bonis between 1110-1140. The SBDs and TBFs bombed the Bonis strip and revetment areas with good results. Four of the F6Fs strafed Tenekow Airfield and Plantation on the return flight. Sixteen P-39s of USAAF 70th. Fighter Squadron spent the day at Torokina. The Local Patrols over Torokina were negative. Three P-39s took off at 1700 to strafe Takiparo, ten miles S of Numa Numa with good results. One plane water-landed one mile offshore between Warambari Bay and Doveli Cove, NW Vella Lavella. The pilot is safe. Four P-39s at 1715 strafed the same area. A row of houses was left burning at Cape Mabiri. The Dawn and Dusk Patrols over Ondongo were negative. F/Sgt. D.K. Mulligan of RNZAF Squadron 16, who collided with another P-40 over Torokina on 19 December, was picked up by a crash boat.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 28, 2021 10:36:03 GMT 12
22 December 1943:
Two Patrols of Ondongo Fighters covered a destroyer squadron of four DDs. Negative. Eight RNZAF P-40s of Squadron 16 and sixteen P-40s of Squadron 17 escorted SBDs and TBFs bombing Sohana Island at 1100. No contacts were made. The SBDs had excellent concentrations on the N tip of Sohana Island, and the NW corner of Bougainville opposite Sohana. After the bombing, one division of P-40s of squadron 17 carried out special search. Huts, buildings and barges were strafed. The remaining four P-40s performed another search. Four P-39s of USAAF 70th. Fighter Squadron escorted a DUMBO to Treasury without incident. Both the Dawn and Dusk Patrols over Ondongo were negative. Eight F6Fs of VF 33 were on scramble alert all day at Barakoma. Four P-39s of USAAF 70th. Fighter Squadron joined sixteen P-39s, who had remained overnight, and spent the day at Torokina. Four local patrols were negative. Four P-39s, using the same type of bombs, dive-bombed a fuel dump at Raua Bay. The dump was blown to pieces. Four P-39s using four 500 pound G.P. bombs, dive-bombed Anewa Bay. Results unobserved. Twelve P-39s took off from Torokina at 1715 to bomb Numa Numa. Three bombs hit right in the village, two bombs fell in the water. The second flight of P-39s dropped their belly tanks on the village and strafed as they did this. The third flight of four P-39s strafed the village and the belly tanks. Large fires were started.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 28, 2021 10:37:54 GMT 12
23 December 1943:
Eight P-40s covered a Task Group from 1200 to 1400 with negative results, and eight P-40s were on station from 1359 to 1602. Sixteen F6Fs of VF 33 were medium cover for B-24s striking Rabaul between 1300 and 1310. The VF and Bombers were attacked by thirty to forty ZEKES and HAMPS as they approached the target area. One division of F6Fs made contact with five to six HAMPS at 1205 over Simpson Harbor. In the ensuing fight the F6Fs shot down three HAMPS. Another three plane division made contact with an undetermined number of ZEKES over Simpson Harbor, and one ZEKE was fired on and set smoking. Ensign J.A. Warren is missing from this flight, having been separated over the Harbor. Bombs were dropped on Simpson Harbor and Lakunai Airfield with good results. Four RNZAF P-40s of squadron 17 escorted three C-47s to Torokina without incident. Dawn and Dusk Patrols were carried out over Ondongo with negative results. Sixteen P-39s of USAAF 70th. Fighter Squadron spent the day at Torokina. Four Patrols of four P-39s each covered Torokina. Negative. Fifteen P-39s returned to Ondongo; one remained at Torokina.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 28, 2021 10:39:05 GMT 12
24 December 1943:
Twelve P-40s of RNZAF Squadron 16, twelve P-40s of Squadron 17, and sixteen F6Fs of VF 33 took part in a Fighter Sweep over Rabaul. They were in the Rabaul area from 1115 to 1205. Fifty to sixty, ZEKES, HAMPS AND TONYS, some of them with exceptionally competent pilots, were engaged three miles E of Raluana working out to Cape Gazelle. RNZAF Squadron 17 shot down nine ZEKES, two probables. RNZAF Squadron 16 shot down three ZEKES and one TONY, a ZEKE probable and two ZEKE smokers. Our losses were six pilots missing, seven planes combat, and one plane combat operational. Four P-39s of USAAF Fighter Squadron 70th covered a Task Group from 1630 to 1815. Negative. Four P-39s took off at 0830 to escort four C-47s to Treasury. Negative. The Dusk and Dawn Patrols over Ondongo were negative. Four P-39s took off at 0540, spent the day at Barakoma on scramble alert, and returned to base at 1825. Negative. Sixteen P-39s of the 70th. Fighter Squadron were at Torokina all day. Five Local Patrols over Torokina were carried out with negative results.
The details for operations on date 12 December 1943 requires a slight correction, 3rd paragraph. The eight P-40s (from 16 Sqdn RNZAF) escorting B-25s were on a mission to Bonis (Nth B/Ville), misspelled as Bonsi. Source, 16 Sqdn ORB.
Similar spelling error on date 15th December, 1st para., and a few more in some of the following days.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 28, 2021 10:40:19 GMT 12
25 December 1943:
Sixteen F6Fs of VF 33 and sixteen RNZAF P-40s took off from Ondongo between 0545 and 0615 to escort B-24s hitting Rabaul at 1200. Two of the P-40s returned to base early, one with engine trouble. Eight P-40s of RNZAF Squadron 16 were close cover for the bombers. No contact. The B-24s dropped their bombs over the target, but were unable to to observe results. Eight P-40s of RNZAF Squadron 17 as low cover for the striking force made no contact. Sixteen F6Fs of VF 33 as low cover for the mission, contacted seven to eight ZEKES at 22,000 feet at 1200, fifteen miles N of Simpson Harbor. Two ZEKES were shot down. Ensign T.B. Logan and Lt. Comdr. Russell got one ZEKE each. Russell received a 20mm. shell in the starboard wing, damaging the landing gear and hydraulic system. It exploded with fragments entering the cockpit wounding Russell in the leg. The F6F made a good belly landing on return to Ondongo. The Dawn and Dusk Patrols over Ondongo were negative. Twelve P-39s of the 70th. Fighter Squadron took off at 0610 to go to Torokina, where they joined up with four P-39s who had remained overnight. Two Local Patrols over Torokina were negative. All the P-39s returned to Ondongo.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 28, 2021 10:41:05 GMT 12
26 December 1943:
Ondongo VF covered a Task Group with two patrols, both negative. Ten F6Fs of VF 33 were low cover for B-25s bombing and strafing AA positions and other targets at Cape St. George. The bombing was reported good after the bombing, the F6Fs searched for missing pilots up the E side of St. George's center of the Channel. Negative. Four P-39s escorted a Skytrain to Torokina and return. Four P-39s were on scramble alert all day at Barakoma. No missions Twenty-one P-39s were at Torokina all day, carrying out five local patrols. All patrols were negative. The Dawn and Dusk Patrols over Ondongo were Negative.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 28, 2021 10:42:19 GMT 12
27 December 1943:
Two Patrols of Ondongo VF covered a Task group in the Afternoon. Negative. Four P-40s of RNZAF Squadron 17 were cover for seventeen B-25s bombing Buka-Bonis area at 1045. The B-25s had an excellent concentration on the NW tip of Bougainville opposite Sohana Island. Twelve Ondongo based F6Fs of VF 33 took off from Torokina at 1000 on a Fighter Sweep to Rabaul. At least twenty-five ZEKES and HAMPS were encountered over Matananara Plantation, Ropopo area. The F6Fs shot down one ZEKE and one probable. Eight P-40s of RNZAF Squadron 16 and fifteen P-39s of USAAF 70th. Fighter Squadron took off between 0531 and 0550 to go to Cherry Blossom. Four P-40s at 1120 escorted a DUMBO from Torokina forty to fifty miles W to pick up pilot (Lt. Strohl of VMF-214) in his raft. Pilot rescued, uninjured. The Local Patrols over Torokina were negative. F/Sgt. D.A. Williams RNZAF Squadron 17, who was missing from the Rabaul strike on 24 December, was picked up by DUMBO in St. George's Channel. His condition is satisfactory.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 28, 2021 10:43:17 GMT 12
28 December, 1943:
Twenty-four RNZAF P-40s and twelve P-39s of USAAF 70th. Fighter Squadron took off between 0530 and 0600 to go to Torokina for the day. Four P-40s of RNZAF Squadron 17 carried out T.G. Patrol between Torokina and Motupena Point from 1350 to 1540. Negative. The same group of P-40s took off again at 1645 searching for barges at Tinputz and Teop Harbors and S down the east coast of Bougainville. The P-40s then searched Cape Mabiri and strafed a small store on the end of the Cape. Results unobserved. Light automatic AA, innacurate and light intensity was received from the tip of Cape. Six P-40s of Squadron 16 took off at 1630 on a strafing mission in the vicinity of Ruri Bay. Four of the P-39s taking off from Ondongo, escorted a DUMBO to Torokina. Negative. Eight P-39s strafed huts at Numa Numa Plantation at 1700. They dropped their belly tanks on the Numa Numa village, and made three separate runs on them. One large fire was started. Eight F6Fs of VF 33 covered T.G. 38 from 1600 to 1800. Negative. Four F6Fs were called back to station to intercept bogey. Negative.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 28, 2021 10:44:23 GMT 12
29 December 1943:
Four P-39s of the 70th. Fighter Squadron took off at 0945 to search for a B-24 reported down near Hathorn Sound. Negative. B-24 was later reported safe at base. Sixteen P-39s took off between 1241 and 1335 for Torokina. Seven P-39s took off from Cherry Blossom at 1715 to strafe Piano Mission. The P-39s did not strafe as they could not definitely locate target. Four P-40s or RNZAF Squadron 16 carried out Local Patrol over Ondongo, from 1705 to 1820. Negative.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 28, 2021 10:45:33 GMT 12
30 December 1943:
Three patrols of RNZAF were cover for T.G. 37.2. All patrols were negative. Twelve F6Fs of VF 33 were escort for B-24s bombing Rabaul between 1115 and 1145. Only ten of the F6Fs got through to Rabaul with the bombers. Results of the bombing were not observed, but smoke was seen rising from the Lakunai strip. Heavy AA, medium and accurate was received from unidentified positions. Fifty ZEKES, HAMPS and TONYS were sighted over Simpson Harbor and St. Georges Channel. Three ZEKES and one probable ZEKE were shot down by the F6Fs. Three B-24s were hit by the enemy planes, but none were seen to go down. Four P-40s of RNZAF Squadron 16 took off to escort a Skytrain to Torokina. Unable to make contact with the C-47, because of bad weather, and returned to base. The Dawn and Dusk Patrols over Ondongo, were negative.
Post by aircraftclocks on May 28, 2021 10:47:21 GMT 12
31 December 1943:
Ondongo VF covered T.G. 31.6. All patrols were negative. Group 1 patrol was cancelled due to bad weather. Ondongo Fighters also covered T.F. 372. Group 7 and 10 were cancelled. The other two patrols of three P-39s each were negative. Four P-39s of the 70th. Fighter Squadron took off at 1245 to escort a Skytrain to Torokina. Were unable to locate C-47, because of bad weather. Eight F6Fs of VF-33 escorted two DUMBO'S to Torokina. On route up at 0830, the F6Fs sighted a pilot down in water on his raft. DUMBO landed, and picked up the pilot, and continued to Cherry Blossom. Sixteen P-39s of 70th. Fighter Squadron took off at 0725 for Torokina. Four P-39s joined DUMBO to pick up pilot of P-38 of SE coast of Bougainville. Pilot was picked up and taken back to Torokina. Four P-40s of RNZAF Squadron 17 took off at 1305 to escort C-47s to Torokina. None were seen at rendezvous point, so the P-40s returned. The Dawn and Dusk patrols were cancelled.
A fascinating period for the RNZAF's fighter pilots (not to forget the much more numerous Americans who were in the same boat!) What impresses here is the strictly factual nature of these summaries, and the amount of good information they include, in a reasonably readable style that is, on the whole rather understated to my eye. Also noticeable that, despite the number of air battles (and, also the number of operations which made no contact with the enemy, because he wasn't there), that combat claims are very modest in number, as are Allied losses. One report even makes mention of some higher quality Japanese pilots than the usual after one particular battle, we can only presume (as they did at the time) that these probably indicated some of the more experienced Naval pilots rushed into Rabaul from Truk, deserting their vulnerable carriers for the unsinkable terrestrial runways in vicinity of the Gazelle Peninsula. The period from October 1943 to end of February 1944 was probably the most strenuous that the RNZAF fighter squadrons (and their attendant SU's) ever participated in, with one squadron (No. 17) having to be pulled "out of the line" prematurely in December 1943 due to heavy losses of aircraft and pilots, and worries that the latter were showing serious signs of fatigue, etc.
Also interesting to read of two American fighter squadrons in particular which were the only ones in the theatre to fly the aircraft types they were equipped with, the Navy's VF-33 (F6F) and the USAAF's 70 FS (P-39s). There also seem to be some P-38s in the theatre, or were these from an adjacent command?
Once again we have aircraftclocks to thank for posting these rather extensive (and priceless) summaries for all the rest of us to read.
Post by angelsonefive on May 28, 2021 19:15:43 GMT 12
"Also interesting to read of two American fighter squadrons in particular which were the only ones in the theatre to fly the aircraft types they were equipped with, the Navy's VF-33 (F6F) and the USAAF's 70 FS (P-39s). There also seem to be some P-38s in the theatre, or were these from an adjacent command ?"
In his book Tommy Blackburn CO of VF-17, The Jolly Rogers, makes reference to a conversation held with Maj.General Nathan Twining, the overall commander of the air forces in the Solomons on the eve of the carrier raids on Rabaul. VF-17 had been assigned the task of flying aboard two of the carriers to defend them whilst their own fighters were away on the raid. Twelve Corsairs to the USS Bunker Hill and twelve to the USS Essex. Gen.Twining remarked to Lt Cmdr Blackburn that his pilots had not landed on a carrier for some time, and he went on to make a reference to the controversy over the suitability of the aircraft for carrier operations. Twining offered to have VF-17 replaced by " the other two F6F squadrons at Segi." Tommy Blackburn assured the general that he and all his pilots were up to the task and that the questioning of the F4U-1 Corsair regarding aircraft carrier ops was " a load of hogwash."
It would appear from this that there were at least two other F6F Hellcat units in the Solomons at that time.