JANUARY 2 In Washington, D. C., Army Air Forces Chief Major General Henry H. Arnold orders the creation of a new numbered air force, soon to be christened the Eighth Air Force. By 1945 it becomes renowned as the “Mighty Eighth.”
In the Alaskan Defense Command, aerial defenses now consist of two pursuit squadrons and three bombardment squadrons.
JANUARY 3 In Washington, D. C., the War Department orders that all Army and Navy planes will now receive a designated name in addition to a numerical and type designation. The practice is adopted from the British and includes such famous names as Mustang, Corsair, and Flying Fortress.
JANUARY 4 In the Philippines, a handful ofP-40s launched from makeshift airstrips at Bataan try unsuccessfully to stem a large Japanese bomber raid against Corregidor. Many fighters are relocated from Mindanao after the mission.
JANUARY 5 A handful of B-17s staging from Malang and Samarinda, Netherlands East Indies, strike Japanese shipping at Davao Bay.
JANUARY 6 In Washington, D. C., President Franklin D. Roosevelt challenges the American aviation industry to manufacture 100,000 aircraft this year.
January 9 A small group of B-17s stage out of Kendari, the Philippines, and again attack Japanese shipping in Davao Bay.
JANUARY 10 At Wright Field, Ohio, the Army Air Forces Materiel Command begins researching ways to employ aerial refueling to fight the war in the Pacific.
On the Philippines, the handful of P40 fighters still operational are completely relocated to the Bataan Peninsula from bases scattered about Luzon.
JANUARY 11 From Malang, Netherlands East Indies, a handful of B-17s drop bombs on Japanese landing forces coming ashore on the island of Tarakan.
JANUARY 13 On Long Island, New York, Igor Sikorsy’s XR-4 helicopter flies for the first time; suitably impressed, the Army Air Forces issues a contract to obtain their first functional helicopters.
JANUARY 14 At Darwin, Australia, orders go out to relocate Far East Air
Force (FEAF) headquarters to the island of Java, to better coordinate Allied defenses there.
JANUARY 15 At Elmendorf Field, Alaska, the Alaskan Air Forces are activated under Lieutenant Colonel Everett S. Davis; a month later they are redesignated the Eleventh Air Force.
January 16 A force of six B-17s under Lieutenant Colonel Walter C. Sweeney fly to Palmyra Island en route to Canton Island. This is also the first significant wartime deployment of aircraft from Hawaii.
January 17 Small groups ofB-17s staging from Malang, Netherlands East Indies, raid Japanese positions around Langoan Airfield and Menado Bay.
JANUARY 18 On Canton Island, the Pacific, newly arrived B-17s commence flying antisubmarine aerial patrols. Back in Hawaii, several aircraft launch an unsuccessful attack on what they believe was an enemy submarine.
JANUARY 20 In India, Major General George H. Brett halts the transshipment of aircraft to the Netherlands East Indies owing to heavy losses from Japanese aircraft while flying en route to Java.
JANUARY 22 From Malang, Netherlands East Indies, B-17s bomb Japanese ships moving through the Makassar Strait; over the next week they sink four transport vessels while losing several aircraft to wide-ranging Japanese fighters.
JANUARY 25 On Java, local defense are
bolstered by the arrival of 13 P-40s under Major Charles A. Sprague, 17th Pursuit Squadron; they are arriving from bases in Australia.
JANUARY 26 In Washington, D. C., Gen
eral Henry H. Arnold suggests to the Army chief of staff that the Army Air Forces in Britain (AAFIB) consist of a headquarters, and a bomber, interceptor, and base command.
In the Philippines, P-40s scrambled from airfields on Bataan bomb and strafe
Japanese targets on Nichols and Nielson Fields, damaging several aircraft and blowing up fuel depots.
JANUARY 28 In Savannah, Georgia,
Brigadier General Asa N. Duncan assumes control of the newly formed Eighth Air Force headquarters. By war’s end this will be the largest aerial strike force in history and senior partner in the Combined Bomber Offensive (CBO) with the Royal Air Force.
In the Pacific, a small force of B-17s lifts off from Malang, Netherlands East Indies, and attacks Japanese airfields at Kendari and Kuala Lumpur.
JANUARY 29 At Suva, Fiji, men and aircraft of the 70th Pursuit Squadron secure an aerial link between New Caledonia and Samoa; this unit subsequently operates from Guadalcanal.
On Palembang, B-17s sortie against Japanese airfields at Kuantan, destroying several aircraft hangars.
January 30 A force of B-17s departs Canton Islands and returns to Hawaii, having served there since January 16, 1942. This expedition provided valuable experience of the problems associated with long-distance flying over the Pacific region, along with navigation and aircraft maintenance.
JANUARY 31 Major General Ira C. Eaker is appointed the commanding general of Bomber Command, Army Air Forces in Britain (AAFIB), and ordered to depart for there immediately.
FEBRUARY In Washington, D. C., Congress passes legislation which posthumously promotes the late William “Billy” Mitchell to major general.
FEBRUARY 1 In the Philippines, a handful of surviving P-40s from Bataan strafe and bomb Japanese landing barges coming ashore at Quinauan Point; heavy casualties are inflicted, but enemy forces are not deterred.
FEBRUARY 3—18 On Java, bad weather
halts most B-17 offensive activity in the Netherlands East Indies. Two air strikes that manage to launch on February 8 and 9 against Singosari and Balikpapan are rebuffed by intense enemy fighter activity.
FEBRUARY 5 At Hickam Field, Hawaii, the Hawaiian Air Force is superseded by the new Seventh Air Force under Major General Clarence L. Tinker. The Far East and Caribbean Air Forces are likewise designated Fifth and Sixth Air Forces, respectively.
February 9-18 B-17s of the Fifth Air
Force fly several air raids in the Southwestern Pacific, but they only claim three hits on Japanese vessels.
FEBRUARY 12 At Patterson Field, Dayton, Ohio, the new Tenth Air Force is established for service in the China – Burma-India (CBI) Theater.
In Washington, D. C., General Henry H. Arnold declares that no less than sixteen heavy bomber groups, three pursuit groups, and eight photoreconnaissance squadrons will arrive in Great Britain by the end of the year. The “Mighty Eighth” Air Force is beginning to assume a more permanent shape.
FEBRUARY 14 Over Wake Island, a B-17 of the Fifth Air Force runs one of the first photoreconnaissance missions to ascertain Japanese installations.
FEBRUARY 15 Over England, Lieutenant Colonel Townsend Griffiss is the first Army Air Forces airman killed in Europe when his transport is mistakenly attacked by Polish Spitfire pilots of the Royal Air Force.
February 19—20 In Java, a patched up group of Fifth Air Force A-24 dive bombers, B-17 heavy bombers, and P-40 fighters stage from Malang, Madioen, and Jogjakarta, Netherlands East Indies, to attack Japanese landing forces on the island of Bali; heavy damage is claimed. Other P-40s repel an attack by Japanese aircraft against the western portions of Java itself.
Over Port Darwin, Australia, a large Japanese air raid inflicts heavy damage on air and naval facilities. The Army Air Forces can only mount 10 P-40 fighters in its defense, and most of these are shot down.
FEBRUARY 20 In Washington, D. C., the War Production Board prioritizes aircraft construction to that of tanks and ships, and the allocation of resources are shifted accordingly.
In England, Major General Ira C. Eaker and six officers arrive to assess the condition of future air bases to be acquired there.
FEBRUARY 21 In Java, Major General George H. Brett informs the War Department that deteriorating defenses ofJava compel him to evacuate Fifth Air Force aircraft and personnel back to Australia. This does not prevent his bombers from launching 20 air raids, usually in three-ship formations, against Japanese shipping in the Java Sea and on Bali. Some damage is inflicted, but the invasion force is undeterred.
FEBRUARY 23 In England, Major General Ira C. Eaker assumes command of VIII Bomber Command, Eighth Air Force, and his staff begins establishing a headquarters.
At Townsville, Australia, six B-17s that survived fighting in the Philippines launch the first Fifth Air Force strike against Japanese targets at Rabaul, New Britain. However, mechanical difficulties force five ofthe aircraft to abort, and only one drops its bombs on target.
The Army Air Forces Materiel Division suggests employment of the British lopped-hose refueling system for refueling American warplanes. This method entails using a 300-foot hose line dangled from the receiver aircraft, with an attached three-pronged grapple, which would then attach itself to a 100-foot weighted line towed behind the tanker aircraft.
FEBRUARY 24 At Bandoeng, Java, Major General Lewis H. Brereton and his staff is ordered to India to command the stillforming Tenth Air Force there. His primary task is organizing an aerial ferry over the towering Himalaya Mountains to support Major General Claire L. Chen – nault’s new China Air Task Force (CATF) at Kunming.
Over Los Angeles, rumors of approaching Japanese aircraft result in a spate of wild firing against enemy “targets,” although the Army subsequently deduces the mishap was caused by the misidentification of five local airplanes.
FEBRUARY 27—28 As an 80-shipJapanese convoy approaches Java, the Fifth Air Force launches every available A-24, B – 17, P-40, and LB-30 against it, but only minor damage is inflicted. Immediately afterwards, most air and ground personnel are hastily evacuated by ship to Australia.
South of Tjilatjap, Java, Japanese land – based bombers strike an American convoy, damaging the seaplane tender Langley so heavily that it has to be scuttled. Its cargo of 32 Curtiss P-40 fighters intended for the 17th Pursuit Squadron is consequently lost.
MARCH 2 In Washington, D. C., the U. S. Army promulgates a new wartime structure: Army Air Forces (AAF) under Major General Henry H. Arnold, Army Service Forces (ASF) under Lieutenant General Brehon B. Somervell, and Army Ground Forces under Lieutenant General Lesley J. McNair. All report directly to Army Chief of Staff Major General George C. Marshall.
In the Philippines, a handful ofBataan – based P-40 fighters sortie to strike Japanese shipping in Subic Bay; some hits are claimed but four P-40s are shot down.
On Java, the few remaining Fifth Air Force aircraft at Jogjakarta airfield depart as Japanese land forces approach to within 20 miles.
MARCH 3 Disaster strikes at Broome, northern Australia, as Japanese aircraft strike American airfields and harbor installations without warning. No less than 2 B-17s, 2 B-24s, 12 seaplanes, and 2 Hudson bombers are destroyed on the ground while 20 U. S. servicemen are killed, along with 45 Dutch civilians.
MARCH 5 In India, General Lewis H. Brereton arrives from the Netherlands East Indies to take charge of the Tenth Air Force forming there. Presently, this consists of only eight B-17 bombers.
MARCH 7 In Alabama, Captain Benjamin O. Davis, son of the Army’s first African American general, is among the first aviation school class to graduate from the Tuskegee Institute. Most fly Curtiss
P-40s, although several months pass before they are committed to combat.
MARCH 8 In India, 8 B-17s of the Tenth Air Force fly in 474 troops to Magwe, along with 29 tons of supplies, while also evacuating 423 civilians. The headquarters unit for the Tenth Air Force also departs the Zone of the Interior (ZI) and makes its way towards India.
MARCH 15 On New Caledonia, Southwestern Pacific, the 67th Fighter Squadron becomes the first Army Air Forces tactical unit to deploy for active duty.
MARCH 16 At Del Monte, the Philippines, three B-17s of the 435th Reconnaissance Squadron safely evacuate General Douglas MacArthur and his family and staff to Australia, where he is installed as supreme commander of the Southwest Pacific Area.
MARCH 19 In California, a group of scientists and engineers from the California Institute of Technology form the new Aerojet Engineering Company with Dr. Theodore von Karman as president. This soon becomes one of the largest rocket companies in the world and it manufactures liquid – and solid-fuel devices for both the Army and Navy.
MARCH 20 The Army Air Forces promulgates the “Plan for Initiation of US Army Bombardment Operations in the British Isles,” which delineates broad outlines for attacking and reducing German national, economic, and industrial structure.
In Great Britain, Major General Ira C. Eaker finalizes a report detailing his analysis of Royal Air Force Bomber Command operations. In it he finds that British nighttime tactics dovetail nicely with American plans for precision daylight bombing, and that the two approaches complement each other.
MARCH 25 Over Europe, Major Cecil P. Lessig becomes the first American pilot from the Eighth Air Force to complete a combat mission when he flies one of 36 RAF Spitfires on a fighter sweep across the English Channel. However, the force withdraws after being approached by a larger German force.
MARCH 26 At Santa Monica, California, the Douglas C-54 Skymaster (DC-4) flies for the first time; it serves as a transportation workhorse for the Army Air Forces.
In the Philippines, a B-17 from the 435th Reconnaissance Squadron, 19th Bomb Group, safely evacuates President Quezon and his family to Australia.
MARCH 27 In Washington, D. C., the War Department and the Navy Department reach an agreement whereby the latter assumes responsibility for all antisubmarine operations along both coasts ofthe United States. Moreover, all Army units assigned to assist these missions will remain under Navy control.
MARCH 31 Major General Carl A. Spaatz suggests that the unassigned Eighth Air Force forming in Georgia become the nucleus of Army Air Forces in Britain (AAFIB).
April 1 At Eglin Field, Florida, the Air Corps Proving Ground is redesignated the Proving Ground Command.
April 2 From India, Major General Lewis H. Brereton leads three B-24 Liberators on the Tenth Air Force’s first air strike; the targets are Japanese positions on Port Blair, Andaman Islands, in the
Indian Ocean. Earlier, a two-aircraft raid against Rangoon is scrubbed after one B-24 crashes and the other experiences mechanical difficulties.
April 3 At Anasol, India, six B-17s from the Tenth Air Force attack warehouse and docking facilities in Rangoon, starting several fires; one bomber is lost to enemy action.
April 8 At Calcutta, India, the first supply mission over the “Hump” (Himalayas) transpires as 10 DC-3s acquired from Pan American Airlines hoist 30,000 gallons of fuel to Yunnan-yi, southern China. The transfer occurs in anticipation of the arrival of 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers launched from the carrier Hornet against Tokyo.
April 6—7 On Bataan, Philippines, Japanese troops break through American defenses, necessitating all remaining P-40 fighters on the peninsula to be evacuated to dispersed airfields on Mindanao. All are flown to Australia as of May 1.
April 7—24 In California, an A-20 Havoc aircraft begins testing the safety and utility of liquid-propelled rockets (incorrectly designated as JATO, orjet – assisted takeoffs). The organization conducting such flights jocularly becomes known as the “Suicide Club.”
APRIL 1 In Buffalo, New York, the Curtiss-Wright Company unveils the first production C-46 Commando air transport, which becomes the largest and heaviest twin-engine aircraft employed by the Army Air Forces. Enjoying distinct advantages in load capacity and high – altitude performance over the older Douglas C-47, it serves with distinction in Asia by flying over the Himalaya Mountains, or “Hump.”
April 12 In Washington, D. C., General Henry H. Arnold forwards plans for Operation bolero to General George C. Marshall in London, England. This directive calls for establishing the Eighth Air Force on British soil.
Captain Edward “Eddie” Ricken – backer requests of Lieutenant General Henry H. Arnold that his World War I “Hat in the Ring” squadron insignia be bestowed upon the new 94th Pursuit Squadron. In 1924 that unit had adopted the “Indian Head” emblem of the 103rd Aero Squadron.
At Mindanao, Philippines, three B-17s and ten B-25s under Brigadier General Ralph Royce, Fifth Air Force, stage through Mindanao and attack Japanese shipping and installations, before returning 4,000 miles to their main base at Darwin, Australia.
April 13 Fifth Air Force B-25s stage through Valencia, the Philippines, to
strike Japanese installations and shipping near Cebu and Davao.
April 15 In England, General Ira C. Eaker establishes the VIII Bomber Command at Wycombe Abbey, High Wycombe.
April 16 In India, six Tenth Air Force B-17s take off from Dum Dum near Calcutta and strike Japanese targets at Rangoon at night; bomb damage assessment is not possible in light of enemy searchlights.
APRIL 18 Sixteen North American B-25 Mitchell medium bombers under Lieutenant Colonel James “Jimmy” Doolittle fly from the deck of the carrier Hornet and strike targets 800 miles distant in Tokyo, Yokosuka, Yokohama, Kobe, and Nagoya, Japan, before crash-landing in China (one is forced down in Siberia). Damage proves slight but the attack is a
stunning psychological coup to the United States by finally staging a successful assault on an erstwhile invincible enemy.
April 22 Transport and bomber aircraft from the Tenth Air Force begin an immediate evacuation of Allied personnel and supplies from Burma to India in the face of a surging Japanese offensive there. By mid-June, 4,499 passengers and 1.7 million pounds of freight have been removed.
April 29 Rangoon is struck by another wave of Tenth Air Force B-17s, which bomb dock areas and facilities.
APRIL 30 On New Guinea, Fifth Air Force P-39s fly from Port Moresby and strafe Japanese airfields and fuel dumps at Lae and Salamaua. At the time, Australian forces are attempting to contain an enemy offensive across the Owen Stanley Mountains.
May 2 At Bolling Field, Washington, D. C., Major General Carl A. “Tooey” Spaatz gains appointment as commander of the Eighth Air Force currently assembling in England.
May 5 A night raid by four Tenth Air Force B-17 bombers hits the Japanese airfield at Mingaladon, Burma, wrecking a hangar and a row of parked aircraft. The Americans claimed 40 enemy aircraft destroyed, but the damage assessment is impossible to verify at night.
May 6 Japanese fuel dumps at Mingala – don, Burma, are struck for a second consecutive time by three Tenth Air Force B-17s; several fires are reputed burning.
May 8 In the Coral Sea, American and Japanese navies clash in the first naval encounter where the main battle fleets never sight each other. Both sides lose a carrier in a costly exchange. Army Air Forces aircraft perform useful reconnaissance work, but the experience highlights deficiencies in Army-Navy communications and coordination.
May 9 Fifth Air Force B-26 Marauders, led by a single B-17, bomb Japanese seaplanes and shipping at Deboyne Island.
May 10 Off the Gold Coast of Africa, the carrier Ranger launches 68 Army Curtiss P-40s, which then safely land at Accra.
May 11 At High Wycombe, England, the advanced echelon of the Eighth Air Force, numbering 39 officers and 348 enlisted men, deploys and prepares to receive forthcoming arrivals.
May 12 In India, four Tenth Air Force B-17s bomb Japanese airfields at Myit – kyina, Burma, which fell to enemy forces on May 8. Enemy aircraft here pose a direct threat to the Allied base at Dinjan as well as to transport aircraft flying the “Hump” into southern China.
May 13 At High Wycombe, England, the 15th Bombardment Squadron (Light), flying Douglas A-20 Havocs, becomes one of the first American combat units to deploy. However, they arrive without aircraft of their own and utilize British versions of the bomber for the time being.
In New Britain, Fifth Air Force B-17s and B-26s strike major Japanese airfields and nearby shipping on Rabaul.
May 14 Over Burma, Tenth Air Force heavy bombers hit Japanese airfields at Myitkyina a second time, claiming several hits on the runway and adjoining buildings.
May 15 In Washington, D. C., the War Department directs that interceptor and pursuit organizations within the U. S. Army Air Forces receive the new designation of “fighter.”
May 16 In India, Tenth Air Force headquarters completes its transfer to New Delhi as B-17s attack Japanese airfields at Myitkyina a third time, completely neutralizing the airfield and, with it, the threat to Allied communications.
Fifth Air Force B-25s, B-26s, and B – 17s launch another round of air raids against storehouses on Lae, New Guinea, and seaplane bases on Deboyne Island.
May 17—30 At Wright Field, Ohio, Igor Sikorsky delivers the prototype XR-4 helicopter to Army authorities for testing. It is accepted into service as the R-4
Hoverfly, the only American helicopter deployed during World War II.
May 18 In the mid-Pacific, the Seventh Air Force begins receiving shipments of new B-17Es in anticipation of a Japanese attack against Midway Island. These begin replacing the older and less capable Douglas B-18 Bolos still in inventory, although these are also pressed into reconnaissance duties.
In Panama, the government signs an agreement with the United States allowing Army Air Forces aircraft to defend the Canal region from a number ofbases.
May 19 In England, General Ira C. Eaker, head of Headquarters, Eighth Air Force, assumes control of all Army Air Forces units in the British Isles.
May 22 Continuing their air offensive, Fifth Air Force B-17s strike Japanese installations on Rabaul, New Britain, while B-26s attack enemy airfields and shipping at Lae, New Guinea.
May 24 In the Zone of the Interior (ZI), the 12th Bomb Group is shifted from Louisiana to California in the face of a perceived threat to the West Coast.
Over Rabaul, New Britain, Japanese A6M Zero fighters intercept and maul Fifth Air Force B-26s, shooting down and heavily damaging several.
May 26 Over Hawthorne, California, the prototype Northrop XP-61 performs its maiden flight; this is the first American aircraft designed from the ground up as a night fighter and enters service as the P61 Black Widow.
In England, General Henry H. Arnold arrives at 10 Downing Street, London, to attend the first of several Anglo – American air conferences with Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
May 28 In the Aleutian Islands, an Eleventh Air Force B-17 performs the first armed reconnaissance mission from the secretly constructed airfield at Umnak, but no signs of enemy activity are uncovered.
May 30 In Seattle, Washington, the first B-17F Flying Fortress is rolled out. This features an enlarged bombardier’s nose canopy, a revised tail section, and a tail turret. It is the first major production variant.
In London, England, General Henry H. Arnold presents his British counterparts with the “Program of Arrival of US Army Air Forces in the United Kingdom,” which stipulates deploying 66 combat groups, exclusive of reconnaissance squadrons, no later than March 1943.
At Oahu, Hawaii, the Seventh Air Force begins shuttling B-17 heavy bombers to Midway Island in anticipation of a Japanese attack there.
Over Burma, Tenth Air Force B-17s raid Japanese airfields at Myitkyina a fifth time; no enemy activity can be discerned below, so further attacks here are suspended.
JUNE 1 In the Zone of the Interior (ZI) fear of an impending Japanese attack results in the cancellation of all transfers of men and equipment to Great Britain for the time being.
Over Rangoon, Burma, Tenth Air Force B-17s strike the dock areas again, and claim sinking one Japanese tanker.
JUNE 2 At Boston, Massachusetts, the 97th Bomb Group, slated for immediate transfer to the United Kingdom, is instead ordered to the West Coast to thwart a possible Japanese attack there.
June 3 At Dinjan, India, six B-25s of the 11th Bomb Squadron fly a mission over the Himalayan Mountains en route to joining the China Air Task Force (CATF) at Kunming. They unload their bombs on Japanese positions at Lashio, Burma, but three aircraft are lost when they crash into mountainsides and another is lost when it runs out offuel. Only two B-25s complete the journey intact.
At Midway Island, nine Seventh Air Force B-17s launch a bombing raid against five large Japanese vessels 570 miles distant; they claim five hits and several near misses.
Over Dutch Harbor, Alaska, Japanese carrier aircraft make a sudden attack on American facilities, killing 52 service members. Several P-40s at Umnak sortie to intercept the attackers but arrive 10 minutes too late and only end up shooting down two enemy craft.
June 4 Over Alaska, Japanese carrier aircraft raid American facilities and airfield at Dutch Harbor a second day. P-40 fighters intercept the raiders, downing three bombers and one fighter at a cost of one of their own. That afternoon two Eleventh Air Force B-17s and five B-26s attack the Japanese fleet, although no hits are scored; two aircraft are shot down.
Nine Boeing B-17Es from the Seventh Air Force participate in aerial bombardment of the Japanese fleet at Midway, although with indifferent results. A force of four Martin B-26 Marauders, rigged as torpedo planes, also fares poorly, with only two survivors. Two B-17s are also shot down but two Zero fighters are claimed.
Over Rangoon, Burma, Tenth Air Force B-17s make a final raid on docks and facilities, losing one aircraft. Two months of harassing raids is concluded following the onset of monsoon weather.
June 5 Off the Alaska coast, a force of 18 B-26s, 10 B-17s, and 2 LB-30s are dispatched by the Eleventh Air Force against Japanese carrier forces, but no contact is made. They bomb a target that radar paints as ships, which turn out to be the Pribilof Islands.
Near Midway Island, a force of six Seventh Air Force B-17s make several high altitude raids against the retreating Japanese fleet, claiming several hits on a heavy cruiser; one B-17 is shot down and another crashes due to lack of fuel. Total Army Air Forces losses in this, one ofhis – tory’s most decisive encounters, are two B-17s and two B-26s.
June 6 The Army begins procuring light civilian aircraft to serve as reconnaissance and artillery spotters (Grasshoppers); most are based on the popular Piper Cub design.
In the Aleutians, bad weather grounds most Eleventh Air Force operations, but a flight of P-38s en route to Umnak manages to mistakenly strafe a Soviet freighter. Meanwhile, Japanese forces come ashore on Kiska.
Near Midway Island, trigger-happy B-17s of the Seventh Air Force mistakenly attack a U. S. submarine, but fortunately miss their intended victim.
June 7 Major General Clarence L. Tinker, commanding officer of the eventh Air Force, becomes the first Army Air Forces general killed in combat when his LB-30 fails to return from a bombing mission over Wake Island. He is succeeded by General Howard C. Davidson.
June 8 In Washington, D. C., President Franklin D. Roosevelt appoints Major General James E. Chaney to serve as commander of the European Theater of Operations (ETO).
June 9 In Washington, D. C., President Franklin D. Roosevelt awards the Congressional Medal of Honor to newly promoted Brigadier General James H. Doolittle for his role in the recent raid on Tokyo, Japan.
Over Lae, New Guinea, a B-26 Marauder carrying Lieutenant Colonel Lyndon B. Johnson—the future 36th president of the United States— experiences engine trouble and is forced to turn back. Johnson nonetheless wins a Silver Star for his participation.
June 11 Over Alaska, a mixed force of
five B-24 Liberators and five B-17 Flying Fortresses belonging to the Eleventh Air Force strike the Japanese-held island of Kiska, Aleutian Islands, for the first time; one B-24 is shot down by antiaircraft fire.
JUNE 12 At Fayid, Egypt, Lieutenant Colonel Harry A. Halveson leads 12 Army Air Forces B-24 Liberators on a secret air raid (HALPRO) against Axis oil installations at Ploesti, Romania. The raid inflicts little damage, but anticipates greater efforts to come.
Over the Aleutian Islands, six B-17s and one B-24 of the Eleventh Air Force make bomb runs over Japanese shipping off Kiska, claiming hits on a cruiser and a destroyer.
June 13 Japanese shipping at Kiska, Aleutian Islands, is struck for the third consecutive day by five B-17s and three B-24s of the Eleventh Air Force. Due to cloudy conditions, damage assessment cannot be accurately gauged.
June 14 Over the Aleutians, B-17s and B-24s from the Eleventh Air Force bomb Japanese shipping in Kiska harbor a fourth time. The raid is made from only 700 feet and damages two cruisers. A Japanese seaplane is also claimed but two B-17s suffer heavily from antiaircraft fire.
June 15 In the Mediterranean, seven B-
24s accompany RAF Bristol Beauforts in an attack on the Italian battle fleet; the Liberators claim to damage a battleship and a cruiser while the RAF crews sink a cruiser.
JUNE 17 In the Zone of the Interior (ZI), Army Air Forces C-47s begin practicing with Waco troop gliders for the first time.
Off the coast of Midway Island, P-40s of the 73rd Fighter Squadron are launched off the carrier Saratoga to replace the Navy fighters lost in the battle a week earlier. They conduct aerial patrols of the region until being relieved on June 23.
JUNE 18 In London, England, Major General Carl A. Spaatz assumes command of the embryonic Eighth Air Force; presently no less than 85 airfields are being enlarged to handle B-17 and B-24 bombers.
Over the Aleutian Islands, Eleventh Air Force B-17s and B-24s make a precision daylight raid at high altitude against Kiska Harbor; a transport is sunk and
another set afire. One B-24 crashes due to battle damage and its crew is partially rescued.
June 19 In Cairo, Egypt, Brigadier General Russell L. Maxwell is appointed commander of United States Army Air Forces in the Middle East (USAFIME).
June 20 On Midway Island, Major General Willis H. Hales arrives to take command of the Seventh Air Force after the late Major General Clarence L. Tinker.
June 21 In London, England, American and British representatives conclude the Arnold-Portal-Towers agreement; this act commits the United States to a gradual building up of air power in Europe under the codename of Operation bolero.
Over Libya, nine B-24s of USAFIME stage a nighttime raid on Bengasi harbor after a RAF Wellington bomber marks the target area with flares.
June 23 At Presque Isle, Maine, two B – 17s and seven P-38s begin staging out for England even before Operation bolero is officially enacted.
June 25 Major General Lewis H. Brere – ton, facing a new crisis in the Middle East, departs India with all available heavy bombers of the 9th Bomber Squadron. Meanwhile, command of the Tenth Air Force reverts to Brigadier General Earl L. Naiden, who commands few aviation assets for the time being.
June 26 A force of three Seventh Air Force LB-30s stage at Midway, then proceed to drop bombs on Japanese-held Wake Island.
June 28 In Cairo, Egypt, Major General Lewis H. Brereton arrives to serve as commander of United States Army Middle East Air Forces (USAMEAF).
He has at present B-24s of the 9th Bombardment Squadron.
June 29 In Europe, Captain Charles G. Kegelman, commander of the 15th Bomb Squadron, becomes the first member of the Eighth Air Force to drop bombs on German targets when he accompanies 12 RAF Bostons (A-20s) on a raid against the Hazebrouck marshalling yards. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Alfred W. Giacomini ditches his Spitfire in the English Channel and drowns, becoming the first casualty of the Eighth Air Force.
June 30 Over North Africa, USAMEAF B-24s drop bombs on German and Italian positions at Bengasi, losing the first aircraft lost in the Middle East. General Lewis H. Brereton is also forced to relocate his detachment from Cairo, Egypt, to Palestine, as the Afrika Korps under General Erwin Rommel advances.
July 1 In Washington, D. C., the War Department revised Operation bolero downward from 66 combat groups down to 54 owing to commitments in other theaters.
At Polebrook, England, B-17s from the 97th Bombardment Group land after an uneventful Atlantic crossing; it takes a month before the entire group assembles there.
Over China, four B-25s and an escort of P-40s of the embryonic China Air Task Force (CATF) launch from Hen – gyang and attack the docks at Hankow; in light of poor weather conditions, the damage inflicted is not substantial.
July 2 Over China, CATF B-25s and P – 40s strike the docks at Hankow a second time, inflicting considerable damage. The Japanese retaliate by launching a night raid against their base in Hengyang, but fail to destroy any aircraft.
July 3 Over North Africa, B-17s and B – 24s of USAMEAF bomb Tobruk city and harbor.
B-25s and P-40s of the China Air Task Force (CATF) attack the Japanese airfield at Nanchang, damaging and destroying several parked aircraft. That evening, the Japanese launch another retaliatory raid against Hengyang, but fail to hit the airfield.
July 4 Over Holland, Army Air Forces pilots of the 15th Bombardment Squadron accompany Royal Air Force Boston bombers on their first raid over occupied Europe. Their six A-20 Havocs attack German airfields; one American airman is lost and another becomes the first American taken prisoner in Europe. Captain Charles C. Kegelman, squadron commander, nurses his crippled Havoc back to England and receives the Distinguished Service Cross.
In China, the American Volunteer Group (AVG), famously known as the “Flying Tigers,” is disbanded once the China Air Task Force (CATF) activates under Major General Claire L. Chennault; it is eventually designated the 23rd Pursuit Group under Colonel Robert L. Scott.
Over Kweilin, China, P-40s of CATF intercept a formation of Japanese light bombers, and claim to shoot down 13.
July 6 In the Zone of the Interior (ZI), M-8 4.5-inch air-to-ground rockets are test fired by a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk for the first time.
Off the coast of Panama, aircraft of the 59th Bomb Squadron, Sixth Air Force, attack and damage the German submarine U-153; this vessel is subsequently sunk by U. S. Navy destroyers a week later.
In England, the Royal Air Force allows Eighth Air Force personnel to join various operational committees handling targeting, operational research, fighter interception, and bombing operations.
In China, B-25s of the China Air Task Force (CATF) strike the docks ofCanton for the first time. This marks the first raid against coastal facilities along the China coast.
July 7 Off Cherry Point, North Carolina, a Lockheed A-29 Vega of the 369th Bombardment Squadron attacks and sinks the German submarine U-701; this is the first such victory by an AAF aircraft.
Over the Aleutian Islands, Eleventh Air Force B-24s fly to bomb Japanese targets in Kiska, Attu, and Agattu, but are turned back by bad weather.
Major General Millard F. Harmon gains appointment as commanding general of the South Pacific (COMGENSO – PAC).
July 8 In Alaska, the Eleventh Air Force gains additional offensive muscle in the form of B-24s of the 404th Bomb Squadron; this unit was originally destined for North Africa before the Japanese invaded the Aleutians.
Over China, a single China Air Task Force (CATF) B-25 piloted by Colonel Caleb V. Haynes attacks Japanese headquarters at Tengchung, China, near the Burma border.
July 9 In England, seven P-38 Lightnings of the Eighth Air Force arrive, becoming the first single-seat Army Air Forces aircraft to successfully cross the Atlantic in stages.
July 10 In Washington, D. C., Operation bolero is revised upwards to include 137 Army Air Forces groups deploying in the British Isles by December 1943.
Over El Segundo, California, the prototype Douglas XA-26 light bomber debuts; it enters service as the A-26 Invader, the most capable aircraft in its class.
July 12 Over France, six RAF Boston (A-20) light bombers with Eighth Air Force aircrews attack German airfields at Abbeville and Drucat.
July 13 Over Bengasi, Libya, USA – MEAF B-17s and B-24s attack the harbor and enemy shipping; one B-24 is lost to antiaircraft fire.
July 16 At Kweilin, China, four B-25s of the China Air Task Force (CATF), with a P-40 escort, attack a storage area at Hankow, starting several fires. The aircraft recover at Hengyang but are attacked by Japanese bombers and have to take off quickly. In the confusion, a P-40 mistakenly attacks a B-25 and shoots it down; this is the CATF’s first bomber loss.
July 17 In the Aleutians, three B-17s and seven B-24s of the Eleventh Air Force attack Japanese shipping in Kiska Harbor; one B-17 is shot down by enemy fighters.
July 19 Over China, the China Air Task Force (CATF) dispatches two B-25s in support of Chinese forces besieging the Japanese-held town of Linchuan; immediately after the attack, Chinese forces are enabled to enter the city.
July 20 Over China, three B-25s and four P-40s of the China Air Task Force (CATF) bomb and strafe targets at Chin – kiang on the Yangtze River. Several junks are reported sunk.
July 21 In England, General Dwight D.
Eisenhower tasks the Eighth Air Force, assisted by the Royal Air Force, with achieving air superiority over Western Europe by April 1, 1943. This is an essential move to facilitate a cross-channel invasion.
Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force B – 26s attack a Japanese invasion convoy off
Salamaua to forestall enemy reinforcements from reaching Buna.
July 22 At New Caledonia, four B-17 squadrons belonging to the 11th Bombardment Group deploy from Hawaii; this is also the first heavy bomber group in the region.
Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force P – 40s and P-39s attack Japanese landing craft as they come ashore at Gona; the aim ofthe attack is to halt a Japanese drive across the Stanley Owen Mountains to capture Port Moresby.
July 23 On New Guinea, the Fifth Air Force unleashes B-17s, A-24s, B-26s, and fighter aircraft against Japanese shipping, landing barges, and storage dumps at Buna and Gona as Japanese forces begin pushing down the Kokoda Trail.
In the South Pacific, seven B-17s of the Seventh Air Force make a photoreconnaissance mission over Makin Island, soon to be the object of an overpowering attack by marine raiders.
July 24 In Washington, D. C., the Joint Chiefs of Staff announces that forces allocated to Operation BOLERO in England will be further depleted once several heavy and medium bomber groups are to be shifted to North Africa in support of Operation TORCH. They also determine to dispatch 15 combat groups to the Pacific theater.
Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force B – 26s and A-24s continue striking Japanese positions in and around Gona as enemy forces continue pouring down the Kokoda Trail.
July 25 The Fifth Air Force unleashes B – 25s and P-39s against landing barges and troop concentrations at Gona as Japanese troops advance to within six miles of the Kokoda Trail at Oivi.
July 26 Over France, Lieutenant Colonel Albert P. Clark, executive officer of the 31st Fighter Group, is shot down on a fighter sweep, becoming the first officer of the Eighth Air Force taken prisoner.
Over New Guinea, Japanese air defenses repel a raid by Fifth Air Force B – 25s at Gasmata; B-26s also attack shipping off Gona, but fail to score any hits. Meanwhile, Australian troops at Kokoda are evacuated in the face of a Japanese jungle onslaught.
July 27 As the Eighth Air Force begins gathering its offensive strength, Major General Ira C. Eaker agrees with RAF officers to employ Spitfire IXs as high – altitude escorts for B-17 bombers until VIII Fighter Command is fully operational. This will also pit Spitfire IXs against superlative Fw-190s for the first time.
At Auckland, New Zealand, Major General Millard F. Harmon arrives to take charge of the newly created U. S. Army Forces in the South Pacific (USA- FIPA); he moves quickly to transfer his headquarters to Noumea, New Guinea, as preparations for a Solomon Islands offensive develops.
July 28 Over North Africa, B-17s and
B-24s of USAMEAF strike docks and shipping at Bengasi, scoring probable hits on two merchant vessels.
In Australia, General George F. Kenney arrives to take charge of Allied Air Forces as B-26s of the Fifth Air Force bomb Japanese troops at Gona.
July 29 In the Aleutians, Eleventh Air
Force B-24s and B-17s strike Japanese installations at Kiska, although bomb damage assessment is unobtainable due to cloud coverage.
On New Guinea, Japanese forces capture Kokoda as Fifth Air Force A-24s and P-39s continue working over shipping and supply depots in their rear areas. These constant attacks slow, but do not halt, the enemy’s advance upon Port Moresby.
July 30 Over China, a major air battle unfolds as the Japanese dispatch 120 aircraft to strike the main China Air Task Force (CATF) base at Hengyang. P-40s of the 23rd Fighter Group maul the attackers over the next 36 hours, downing 17 aircraft and preventing them from reaching the base; three P-40s are also lost.
In the South Pacific, B-17s of the 11th Bomb Group deploy on Espiritu Santo as a reconnaissance and strike force in anticipation for the Marine Corps offensive at Guadalcanal, slated for August 7.
July 31 In Palestine, the USAMEAF is strengthened by the arrival of P-40s belonging to the 57th Fighter Group, and B-25s of the 12th Bomb Group. These add greater tactical flexibility to the B-17s and B-24s already in theater.
Over Guadalcanal, Fifth Air Force B- 17s bomb Japanese positions on Kukum Beach and Lunga as marine amphibious forces depart New Zealand for the invasion. Other B-17s from the 11th Bomb Group on Efate under Colonel LaVerne G. Saunders attack the landing strip on Lunga Point. Saunders will execute another 56 sorties against the island up through the invasion of August 7.
Over Wake Island, a B-17 reconnaissance aircraft is pounced by six Japanese Zeroes, and its gunners claim four kills.
AUGUST 1 In the Mediterranean, B-24s of USAMEAF attack an Axis convoy headed for North Africa, sinking a large transport vessel. One B-24 crash-lands back at base and is written off.
AUGUST 2 Over New Guinea, a Fifth Air Force B-17 bombs Japanese shipping and targets south of Salamaua while another unloads ordnance on Gona; neither attack is particularly successful.
AUGUST 3 In Brisbane, Australia, Lieutenant General George H. Brett, commanding the Fifth Air Force, is recalled to the United States for reassignment.
AUGUST 4 Over China, China Air Task Force (CATF) P-40s attack Japanese headquarters at Linchuan, and also strafe barracks and transports in the river.
AUGUST 5 Over France, 11 aircraft of the
31st Fighter Group, VIII Fighter Command, make the unit’s first practice sweep from across the English Channel.
In Egypt, General Lewis H. Brereton issues his first strategic estimate of Middle Eastern objectives, committing the USA – MEAF to the destruction of the Afrika Korps by supporting the British Eighth Army on the ground, securing control of air over the Mediterranean, and the gradual reduction of oil facilities at Ploesti, Romania, and the Caucasus, should they fall to the Germans.
Over China, Japanese aircraft make another attempted surprise attack at Kweilin airfields, but the Americans are tipped off by the Chinese warning net established by General Claire L. Chen – nault. P-40s engage bombers over the target, shooting down two and driving the rest off.
AUGUST 6 In a sharp counterstrike, B-25s
of the China Air Task Force bomb the Tien Ho airfield, damaging the runway and several parked aircraft.
AUGUST 6—7 Captain Harl Pease, Jr., leads B-17s of the 93rd Squadron, 19th Bomb Group, on a strike against Rabaul,
New Britain, from which he does not return. Pease, who had earlier evacuated General Douglas MacArthur from Mindanao, Philippines, to Australia, posthumously receives a Congressional Medal of Honor.
AUGUST 7 Over Vunakanau. New Guinea, 13 B-17s of the Fifth Air Force attack Japanese airfields to neutralize them in anticipation of the forthcoming Guadalcanal invasion. B-26s also strike enemy positions at Lae.
AUGUST 8 Over Canton, China, B-25s of the China Air Task Force (CATF) bomb Tien Ho airfield, claiming two Japanese fighters shot down.
In the Lower Solomons, B-17s stationed in the South Pacific begin flying lengthy reconnaissance missions in order to detect any Japanese reinforcements steaming towards Guadalcanal.
AUGUST 9 Over China, P-40s of the 23rd Fighter Group attack Japanese ground forces at Linchuan in support of the Chinese army. Meanwhile, four B-25s and a fighter escort stage through Nanning, to bomb and strafe docks at Haiphong, French Indochina (Vietnam) for the first time.
AUGUST 10 In China, the 23rd Fighter Group under Colonel Robert L. Scott strafes and bombs Japanese warehouses and ammo dumps at Sienning, destroying a mountain of supplies intended for use against American air bases at Hengyang.
AUGUST 11 In England, General Carl A. Spaatz, speaking in reference to operations in North Africa, makes it his opinion that only the United Kingdom is well positioned as the only base from which air superiority over Germany can be achieved.
In China, China Air Task Force P-40s strike Japanese airfields at Yoyang and Nanchang, from which bombers have been attacking American bases at Hengyang.
AUGUST 12 At Westhampnett, England, the 31st Fighter Group is declared operational. It is the first fighter unit of the Eighth Air Force to reach that status, but it remains under operational control of the Royal Air Force until it acquires meaningful combat experience.
August 13 Off the coast of northern New Guinea, a Japanese convoy carrying 3,000 construction troops is attacked by Fifth Air Force B-17s, then a wave of B – 26s closer to the shore.
AUGUST 14 Off the coast of Iceland, a pair of P-40s flown by Lieutenants Joseph D. Shaffer and Elza E. Shahan share credit for downing a four-engined Fw-200 Kondor patrol bomber; this is the first victory scored by the Army Air Forces in the European Theater of Operations (ETO). At the time, Shaffer and Shahan were ferrying their aircraft to England.
AUGUST 17 Over France, 12 B-17s under Colonel Frank A. Armstrong, 97th Bomb Group, stage the first large air raid in Europe by hitting the marshalling yards at Rouen-Sotteville. The attack proves a deceptively easy, for German resistance proves negligible and all aircraft return without damage. Sergeant Kent R. West also downs an Fw-190 German fighter, becoming the first Eighth Air Force gunner to score a kill.
AUGUST 18 In India, General Clayton R. Bissell is appointed the new commander of the Tenth Air Force; General Earl L. Naiden is bumped over to take charge of the India-China Ferry Command.
AUGUST 19 As Allied forces storm ashore at Dieppe, France, 22 B-17s from the Eighth Air Force drop 30 tons of bombs on German airfields at Abbeville and Drucat as a diversion. Lieutenant Sam F. Dunkin, 31st Fighter Group, also becomes the first active-duty American pilot to down a German fighter while flying from England.
AUGUST 20 At Bolling Field, Washington, D. C., the new Twelfth Air Force is activated for service in North Africa and the Mediterranean. There they will specialize in ground support missions with light and medium attack bombers.
In England, the Eighth Air Force formalizes its principles of coordinating day and night bombing with the Royal Air Force by issuing its “Joint British/Ameri – can Directive on Day Bomber Operations involving Fighter Cooperation.”
AUGUST 21 In England, General Carl A. Spaatz becomes Air Officer ETOUSA (European Theater of Operations) to insure that theater air forces are adequately represented at all levels of operational planning.
The Eighth Air Force dispatches 12 B-17s to strike shipyards at Rotterdam, the Netherlands, but they abort after being attacked by 25 German fighters. Promised Spitfire escorts failed to materialize, highlighting the problems of proper coordination between the two forces.
AUGUST 22 Off the Panama Canal Zone, aircraft of the 45th Bomb Squadron, Sixth Air Force bomb and sink German submarine U-654, the AAF’s second confirmed kill of the year.
Bell P-400s (export version of the P-39 Airacobra) belonging to the 67th Fighter Squadron are the first Army Air Forces aircraft deployed at Henderson Field,
Guadalcanal. They join Navy and Marine Corps fighters and dive bombers of the so-called “Cactus Air Force,” already present.
AUGUST 24 The Eighth Air Force dispatches 12 heavy bombers to hit the shipyard at Ateliers et Chantiers de la Seine Maritime at Le Trait, France. Meanwhile, General Carl A. Spaatz is pleased to report that the attitude of RAF officials toward daytime precision bombings is now one of grudging approval.
Over Rabaul, New Britain, Fifth Air Force B-17s strike at Japanese positions and airfields at Gasmata.
In the Solomon Islands, seven B-17s join Navy aircraft from the carriers Enterprise and Saratoga in attacking a Japanese reinforcement convoy steaming for Guadalcanal; the carrier Ryujo is sunk.
AUGUST 25 On Goodenough Island, New Guinea, P-40s from Milne Bay strafe and sink a number ofJapanese troop barges. An enemy convoy bound for Milne Bay from New Ireland is also struck, but the attack is spoiled by poor weather. Meanwhile, P-400s attack airfield and antiaircraft positions at Buna.
In the Solomon Islands, B-17s flying from Espiritu Santo attack a Japanese troop convoy, sinking the destroyer Mut – suki; after a mauling from Navy aircraft, the convoy retreats.
AUGUST 26 At Yunnani, southern China, CATF P-40s attack the rail center at Lashio, Burma, shooting down at least two intercepting fighters.
At Milne Bay, New Guinea, Fifth Air Force B-17s, B-25s, B-26s, and P-40s work over Japanese troop concentrations, sinking a large transport and destroying several supply dumps. They are joined by several Lockheed Hudsons flown by the Royal Australian Air Force.
August 27 Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force P-40s continue pounding Japanese forces at Milne Bay while B-26s and P – 400s attack enemy positions at Buna.
AUGUST 28 In Washington, D. C., the War Department orders the Air Training Command to allocate aircraft and personnel to evacuate sick and wounded American servicemen throughout the world.
Over France, a force of 15 Eighth Air Force B-17s bomb the Avions-Potez aircraft factory, which is serving as a Luftwaffe repair base.
Over China, eight B-25s of the China Air Task Force (CATF) bomb ammunition dumps at Hoang Su Phi and Phu Lo, Indochina (Vietnam). This is both the largest bomb raid staged by CATF and the first staged without a fighter escort.
AUGUST 29 Over Burma, China Air Task Force B-25s attack Lashio, starting several warehouse fires.
Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force B – 26s and P-400s continue raiding Japanese airfields at Buna, while P-40s work over enemy positions at Milne Bay. However, enemy ground forces continue driving on Port Moresby despite this hard pounding.
AUGUST 30 Over Burma, P-40s from the China Air Task Force (CATF) strike Japanese airfields at Myitkyina for the first time. Fighters from this base could threaten Dinjan, an important stop on the Assam-Burma air ferry.
AUGUST 31 In North Africa, USAMEAF B-25s begin around-the-clock attacks on targets in Tobruk while P-40s of the 57th Fighter Group escort RAF bombers on a raid against Maryut. Other aircraft hit German and Italian positions along the El Alamein line as the Battle of Alam el Halfa unfolds.
At Milne Bay, New Guinea, Australian troops take to the offensive, assisted by close support missions by Fifth Air Force P-40s, while B-17s attack supply dumps at Buna, and B-26s and A-20s strike airfields at Lae.
September 1 In North Africa, P-40s of the 57th Fighter Group assist the British Eighth Army during the Battle of Alam el Halfa with fighter sweeps while B-25s of the USAMEAF strike enemy tanks and trucks.
On Milne Bay, New Guinea, Fifth Air Force P-40s attack Japanese headquarters at Wagga Wagga while P-400s strafe enemy columns in the Kokoda Pass in the Owen Stanley Range.
September 2 In North Africa, P-40s and B-25s of USAMEAF continue working closely with the RAF and Eighth Army, delivering hammer blows against the Afrika Korps along Alam el Halfa ridge. Trucks and tanks remain priority targets.
Over China, wide-ranging CATF P – 40s strike rice-laden barges in the Poyang region, airfields at Nanchang, railroad stations at Hua Yang, and manage to destroy a train in the Wuchang Peninsula.
Over New Guinea, P-400s resume strafing and bombing attacks against Japanese forces pressing through the Kokoda Pass but fail to stop their offensive toward Port Moresby.
On Guadalcanal, low-altitude P-400s shift from air defense missions, where they are at a disadvantage, to ground support missions for marines on the ground. They prove much better suited for these sorties and attacks against enemy shipping.
September 3 Over the Aleutian Islands,
six bombers and five P-38s of the Eleventh Air Force strike Japanese targets in Kiska Harbor, destroying several seaplanes. This is also the longest overwater flight—1,260 miles—of the war to date.
In North Africa, USAMEAF B-25s and P-40s continue providing close support missions for the British Eighth Army as the Battle of Alam el Halfa rages; one enemy fighter is claimed in combat.
At Brisbane, Australia, Major General George C. Kenney arrives to take command of the Fifth Air Force, also receiving promotion to lieutenant general. He replaces Lieutenant General George H. Brett, who has been ordered back to the United States.
Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force P – 400s continue bombing and strafing Japanese columns advancing upon Port Moresby from Kokoda, while B-25s and A – 20s strike the Mubo-Busama-Salamaua region.
A North American B-25 bomber swoops in low over Hanoi, dropping bombs on a Japanese aerodrome and inflicting considerable damage. This is the first American air raid over that city.
September 4 Over North Africa, USAMEAF B-24s attack an Axis convoy approaching at sea, sinking at least two transports. Meanwhile, B-25s and P-40s continue assisting their RAF counterparts in hammering German positions and vehicles near Alam el Halfa.
At Milne Bay, Australian forces begin mop up operations near Goroni, assisted by Fifth Air Force P-40s. The Japanese, thoroughly bested, begin evacuating the region.
September 5 In London, Major General Carl A. Spaatz convinces Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower that Eighth Air Force operations in Europe should be temporarily scaled back to support Operation TORCH in North Africa.
Over France, the Eighth Air Force commits 31 B-17s—its largest raid to date—against the marshalling yards at Rouen-Sotteville.
Over North Africa, USAMEAF P-40s and B-25s continue their relentless ground support attacks as the Afrika Korps falters and begins retreating from the Alma el Halfa ridge.
On New Guinea, with Japanese forces in retreat from Milne Bay, Fifth Air Force P-400s redouble their attacks on enemy troops along the Kokoda Trail. P-40s and A-20s also attack enemy airfields in the vicinity of Buna.
SEPTEMBER 6 Over Meaulte, France, VIII Bomber Command suffers its first combat losses when two Boeing B-17s are shot down as they bombed the Avions-Potez aircraft factory. Meanwhile, 12 DB-7s (A-20s) attack German airfields at Abbeville-Drucat.
Over North Africa, USAMEAF P-40s shoot down three Ju-87 Stukas near the Dayr Ar Depression; other fighters continue escorting RAF bomber missions.
On New Guinea, Australian forces continue falling back closer to Port Moresby while, overhead, Fifth Air Force P – 400s, A-20s, and B-17s attack enemy positions at Myola, Mubo, Kokoda, Eora Creek, and Milne Bay.
SEPTEMBER 7 The Eighth Air Force dispatches 29 B-17s to bomb the Wilton shipyards in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, but bad weather forces back all but 7. These make an ineffectual bomb run over the target area, but also claim to have shot down 12 German fighters trying to intercept them.
Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force P-400s and A-20s continue pounding away at Japanese forces in the Owen Stanley Mountains, especially at Myola Lake and Efogi. Meanwhile, P-40s escort Australian Hudsons, Beauforts, and Beau – fighters against enemy warships 17 miles off the coast. By this time all organized resistance at Cape Milne has ceased, an impressive, if improvised, Allied victory in which air power played a significant role.
SEPTEMBER 8 In England, Major General Carl A. Spaatz suspends all tactical operations in Europe and redirects units involved to support upcoming Operation torch in North Africa. For this reason the new Twelfth Air Force has priority over units slated to arrive in the United Kingdom.
Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force P-400s continue bombing and strafing runs against Japanese forces still forcing the Australians back towards Port Moresby. Meanwhile, B-17s and RAAF Hudsons attack enemy warships off the coastline.
September 9 In Washington, D. C., General Henry H. Arnold reveals AWPD-42, the blueprint for aerial warfare against the Axis, to General George
C. Marshall. It is subsequently approved by President Franklin D. Roosevelt within two months and is scheduled to be launched in 1943. This document is basically a continuation of the Combined Bomber Offensive previously agreed upon.
Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force P – 40s attack parts of Goodenough Island as final mop up operations continue near Milne Bay. A-20s also bomb enemy forces surrounding Australian troops in the Efogi Spur region.
September 10 In Washington, D. C., the secretary of war orders the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron formed to transport aircraft from factories directly to U. S. Army airfields across the nation.
SEPTEMBER 11 Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force A-20s and B-26s continue hammering Japanese forces at Efogi and Menari in the Owen Stanley Range and airfields near Buna. Meanwhile, B-17s assist RAAF Hudsons in attacking enemy destroyers 20 miles off the coast; a B-17 scores a direct hit on the Yayori, sinking it.
September 12 At Bushey Hall, England, the 4th Fighter Group, VIII Fighter Command, becomes operational to provide long-range escorts for bombers of the Eighth Air Force. They are composed mainly of fighter pilots who previously saw service in the Royal Air Force’s Eagle Squadrons.
Over New Guinea, the Fifth Air Force dispatches P-400s, B-26s, A-20s, and B – 17s against Japanese airfields and transport barges at Buna while mop up operations and air attacks continue on Goodenough Island. Over Buna, New Guinea, aircraft from the 89th Attack Squadron, 3rd Bomb Group, also drop the first parachute-retarded bombs of the war on parked Japanese aircraft.
SEPTEMBER 13 In the Aleutians, an Eleventh Air Force LB-30, escorted by 2 P – 38s, conducts an reconnaissance run over Kiska harbor; enemy fighter damage the bomber, losing 1 floatplane aircraft to the escorts.
September 14 Over the Aleutian Islands, a force of Eleventh Air Force B – 24 Liberators, escorted by 14 P-38s and 14 P-39s, launches from Adak to bomb Japanese positions on Kiska, 250 miles distant. The attackers claim five floatplane fighters downed and one flying boat destroyed in the water, while two P-38s are lost in a collision.
September 15 In Cairo, Egypt, the 57th Fighter Group becomes the first
USAMEAF unit to transfer there from Palestine.
September 15-29 At Brisbane, Australia, the 126th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division, is airlifted to Port Moresby, New Guinea. Both military and civilian transport are utilized to assist hard-pressed Australian land forces being pushed back towards Port Moresby by a Japanese offensive. It is a stunning display of modern air power’s tactical flexibility by Lieutenant General George C. Kenney.
SEPTEMBER 17 In Birmingham, Alabama, the headquarters, Twelfth Air Force is activated and proceeds directly to North Africa as part of upcoming Operation torch.
Throughout the Mediterranean, USA- MEAF B-24s are actively bombing targets at Bengasi, Libya, and Khalones and Pylos, Greece.
Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force B-17s attack Japanese positions on Rabaul, New Britain, while P-400s, P-40s, and P-39s continue strafing runs against enemy troops at Buna. The Japanese offensive to Port Moresby also halts, having run into impenetrable Australian defenses along the Imita Range.
SEPTEMBER 19 Over Lungling, Burma, a raid by China Air Task Force B-25s proves ineffective owing to bad weather, but post-strike reconnaissance missions reveal a high degree ofJapanese troop activity along the Burma Road toward Salween.
SEPTEMBER 20 Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force A-20s bomb and strafe Japanese troops and installations at Sangara, Arehe, and Popondetta-Andemba in the Owen Stanley Range.
SEPTEMBER 21 Over Renton, Washington, Boeing’s giant XB-29 prototype flies for the first time, and immediately goes into production as the famous B-29 Superfortress. This is the most technologically advanced bomber in the world and displays such novel features as powered gun turrets and a pressurized fuselage for operations at high altitude. By war’s end 2,132 B-29s will be delivered and equip 21 bomb groups.
SEPTEMBER 22 Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force A-20s and P-40s continue working over withdrawing Japanese columns at Kokoda and Buna, bombing and strafing all targets of opportunity including huts and barges. Meanwhile, B-17s are dispatched to hit enemy airfields on Rabaul, New Britain.
SEPTEMBER 23 In England, Brigadier GeneralJames H. Doolittle arrives to take command of the Twelfth Air Force, which is also known as the “Eighth Air Force, Junior.”
Over the Aleutians, a Navy PBY patrol plane makes a reconnaissance run over
View through the nose of B-29 bomber showing target of bombing run during World Warll. (Library of Congress)
Kiska, escorted by two Eleventh Air Force P-38s; the fighters surprise and sink a Japanese submarine at Amchitka.
September 25 In the Aleutians, the Eleventh Air Force commits nine B-24s, one B-17, eleven P-39s, and seventeen P-40s on a large air raid against Kiska. They are accompanied by a detachment of P-40s flown by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Heavy damage, fires, and explosions are noted and at least five floatplane fighters are claimed destroyed.
Over Indochina (Vietnam), four B-25s and ten P-40s of the China Air Task Force attack the Gia Lam airfield, shooting down nine enemy fighters attempting to intercept them.
SEPTEMBER 26 Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force A-20s support an Australian counteroffensive along the Kokoda trail by bombing and strafing Japanese forces. B-17s are also dispatched to Rabaul, New Britain, to hit enemy airfields.
September 27 In the Aleutians, Eleventh Air Force B-24s, P-39s, and P-40s attack the shore and harbor areas ofKiska, although bad weather forces 13 fighters to turn back.
Over southwestern China, B-25s of the China Air Task Force (CATF) bomb Mengshih, and claim to have destroyed 30 trucks and 400 troops. Concurrently, three flights of P-40s bomb and strafe troop columns along the Burma Road, claiming 15 trucks destroyed.
In New Guinea, Japanese forces are in full retreat as Fifth Air Force A-20s attack them at Ioribaiwa, Myola, and Menari.
September 28 In the Aleutians, seven B-24s, one B-17, and seventeen P-39s are dispatched by the Eleventh Air Force to hit Japanese positions on Attu and Kiska. Five enemy floatplane fighters are shot down in exchange for one P-39.
Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force P – 40s and P-400s continue to bomb and strafe Japanese forces retreating along the Kokoda Trail.
September 29 In England, volunteers
from the three American Eagle Squadrons transfer to the new 4th Fighter Group, VIII Fighter Command, and stiffen its cadre with experienced leadership.
Over North Africa, P-40s ofUSAMEAF fly interception missions against Ju-87 Stukas near the El Alamein battlefront.
September 30 In the Aleutians, nine B – 24s of the Eleventh Air Force drop bombs on Kiska and Attu, scoring a direct hit on at least one vessel in the harbor.
OCTOBER 1—2 At Muroc Army Base, California, the Bell XP-59, America’s first jet fighter, performs its maiden flight. The craft is powered by two General Electric I-16 engines, which are patterned after the British Whittle design. The following day Colonel Lawrence C. Craigie takes it aloft, becoming the first military officer to pilot a jet aircraft.
OCTOBER 2 At the Aeromedical Laboratory, Wright Field, Ohio, Major J. G. Kearby enters an altitude chamber simulating 60,200 feet to test a full-body pressure suit.
In the Aleutians, Kiska Harbor is again raided by Eleventh Air Force B-24s, which bomb several vessels in the harbor and claim four floatplane fighters shot down.
Offthe coast ofFrench Guiana, an aircraft of the 99th Bomb Squadron attacks and sinks the German submarine U-512.
Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force A- 20s and P-400s continue bombing and strafing runs against retreating Japanese forces at Myola and Siorata.
Over France, 30 B-17s are dispatched by the Eighth Air Force to hit the Avions-Potez aircraft factory at Meaulte and some nearby airfields. They are escorted by 400 fighter escorts, and no bombers are lost.
OCTOBER 3 At Peenemunde, Germany, an ominous development occurs as the German A-4 (or V-2 Vengeance weapon) becomes the world’s first military ballistic missile. This five-and-a-half ton rocket has a range of120 miles while carrying a large conventional warhead; the Allied powers can develop no effective counter other than bombing its launching sites.
Over the Aleutians, the Eleventh Air Force launches six B-24s, four P-38s, and eight P-39s against Kiska Harbor, striking a beached freighter and downing six float fighters.
In India, the India Air Task Force (IATF) is organized under Colonel Caleb V. Haynes to support Chinese forces along the Salween River by hitting Japanese supply lines in south and central Burma. At present Haynes can call upon the 51st Fighter and 7th and 341st Bomb Groups.
OCTOBER 6 Over Bengasi, Libya, B-24s ofUSAMEAF drop bombs in and around the harbor; two aircraft are lost to fighters and heavy flak.
In the Aleutians, the Eleventh Air Force unleashes eight B-24s, ten P-39s, and eight P-38s against Japanese shipping in Kiska Harbor; several vessels are struck and at least six float fighters are strafed on the water.
OCTOBER 8 In England, Major General Ira C. Eaker reveals plans to develop highly skilled pathfinder units capable of navigating in bad weather. Eaker intends to use bad weather to cloak small blindbombing missions against selected targets.
Such attacks will keep German defenses on their toes during bouts of weather when regular air strikes cannot be mounted.
OCTOBER 9 In England, the Eighth Air Force launches its first 100-bomber raid, in which B-17s are accompanied by B – 24s for the first time. They attack various steel, engineering, and locomotive works in Lille, France.
October 10 Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force B-17s raid Japanese installations at Rabaul, New Guinea, while A-20s and P-400s bomb and strafe Japanese forces retreating along the Kokoda Trail.
OCTOBER 11 Over the Solomon Islands, a SOPAC B-17 observes aJapanese task force of cruisers and destroyers sailing toward Guadalcanal, which are driven away on the morrow during the Battle of Cape Esperance.
OCTOBER 13 Over North Africa, USA – MEAF P-40s sweep the region around El Alamein, claiming two Me-109s shot down.
Off the coast of Guadalcanal, Japanese battleships Haruna and Kongo shell Henderson Field at night, inflicting heavy damage. This attack prompts all SOPAC B-17s operating there to withdraw the following day.
OCTOBER 14 On New Guinea, as Australian forces encounter stiff Japanese resistance near Templeton’s Crossing, Fifth Air Force B-25s are called in to strike bridges in the vicinity of Lae.
OCTOBER 16 Over the Aleutians, the Eleventh Air Force launches six B-26s and four P-38s against Japanese shipping in Kiska Harbor, sinking two destroyers; one fighter is shot down.
OCTOBER 19 In North Africa, just as the British Eighth Army is preparing to attack German positions along El Alamein, B – 25s of the USAMEAF are called in to bomb ground targets, while B-24s continue to attack shipping and supplies at Tobruk.
OCTOBER 20 Over North Africa, air activity over the El Alamein battlefield intensifies as USAMEAF B-25s assist the RAF in reducing German positions and equipment.
OCTOBER 21 Over France, the VIII Bomber Command dispatches 15 B-17s to strike U-boat pens at Lorient – Keroman for the first time. The Germans sortie several Fw-190 fighters in their defense and shoot down three bombers.
B-24 Liberators of the Indian Air Task Force (IATF) strike north of the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers for the first time by dropping ordnance on the Lin-hsi coal mine facilities near Kuyeh, China.
OCTOBER 22 The Westinghouse Electric Company begins construction of the first American-designed jet engine, the X – 19A, which incorporates axial-flow technology. A working example emerges in five months.
The Twelfth Air Force relocates its headquarters from London, England, to North Africa to participate in Operation torch. Meanwhile, USAMEAF P-40s escort B-25s attacking dispersed aircraft, then bomb and strafe several German positions along the coastal road near El Hammam; two German fighters are claimed shot down.
OCTOBER 24—25 Over North Africa, B – 25s of the USAMEAF provide close support to Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s Eighth Army during his famous El Alamein offensive, which drives Germans under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel from Egypt. The bombers strike a variety of troop concentrations, tent areas, gun emplacements, and vehicles in concert with the RAF.
OCTOBER 25 In China, 12 B-25s and 7 P-40s of the China Air Task Force (CATF) bomb Hong Kong and the Kowloon Docks for the first time since the Japanese occupation. Several intercepting fighters are shot down for a loss of one B-25 and one P-40. That same evening, another six B-25s make CATF’s first night raid by hitting other targets in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Japanese aircraft bomb airfields at Dinjan and Cha – bua, India, to hobble the India-China air transport route; 10 aircraft are destroyed and 17 are damaged.
Over the Solomon Islands, a SOPAC B-17 observes another strong Japanese naval convoy off Santa Cruz Island and headed for Guadalcanal.
OCTOBER 26 In North Africa, the British Eighth Army halts its offensive to regroup while USAMEAF B-25s and P-40s continue attacking German positions, trucks, and tanks; four enemy planes are claimed shot down. Concurrently, 30 B-17s and B-24s are dispatched against enemy supply convoys off the Libyan coast.
In India, Japanese aircraft again raid airfields connected to the India-China transportation route, inflicting damage on ground facilities but striking no aircraft. Meanwhile, P-40s attack the Hong Kong-Canton area again, using dive-bomber tactics for the first time.
In the Solomon Islands, the Battle of Santa Cruz unfolds as B-17s attack the main Japanese convoy but score no hits. The U. S. Navy loses the carrier Hornet, but Japanese forces withdraw toward Truk.
October 27 Over China, B-25s of the China Air Task Force attack Japanese airfields near Lashio, Burma, which have been hitting American facilities in India.
OCTOBER 28 Over North Africa, B-25s of USAMEAF continue pounding German supply and communications routes at El Alamein while P-40s provide escort, claiming three enemy fighters downed.
October 29 In Washington, D. C., President Franklin D. Roosevelt assigns the production of 107,000 warplanes in 1943 the highest possible priority.
OCTOBER 30 In North Africa, the 9th Australian Division manages to trap a large portion of the Afrika Korps along the coast, supported by P-40s of USAMEAF, but German tanks manage to break through their lines and escape.
OCTOBER 31 In England, Major General Carl A. Spaatz informs General Ira C. Eaker that losses over heavily defended German submarine pens are too costly for the results they are achieving. He therefore intends to send the bomber in lower and accept the higher loss rate for better bombing results.
NOVEMBER 2 In North Africa, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery launches Operation supercharge against the Afrika Korps and USAMEAF B-25s continue bombing in support of the 9th Armoured Division as P-40s also strafe throughout the battle area.
Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force B – 26s strike Dili, B-17s attack Japanese shipping off the coast, and B-25s hit another convoy south of New Britain. All these efforts assist Australian forces as they capture Kokoda and surge across the Owen Stanley Mountains towards Buna.
NOVEMBER 3 Over North Africa, USA – MEAF B-25s and P-40s continue bombing and strafing retreating German columns as the Eighth Army continues its advance. They fly 400 sorties this day alone.
NOVEMBER 4 In North Africa, nine USAMEAF B-24s attack enemy shipping in Bengasi harbor while B-25s and P-40s continue attacking motor transports and retreating columns along the coastal zones. General Frank M. Andrews also replaces General Russell L. Maxwell as head of United States Army Air Forces in the Middle East (USAFIME).
In New Guinea, Fifth Air Force B-17s and B-25s strike Japanese positions and shipping at Salamaua while A-20s support Australian troops in their drive against Oivi. The remainders of the 126th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Division, are also flown by C-47s to Wangigela.
NOVEMBER 5 In North Africa, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery declares victory at El Alamein as the Afrika Korps under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel retreats westward from Egypt. USA – MEAF B-25s and P-40s join their RAF counterparts in mercilessly harrying the defeated Axis forces.
NOVEMBER 7 In England the mass transfer to North Africa of units belonging to the Twelfth Air Force begins; several elements are on board convoys rapidly approaching the Algerian and Moroccan coasts.
NOVEMBER 8 Over Oran, Algeria, Supermarine Spitfires operated by the Army Air Forces’ 31st Fighter Group are launched from Navy carriers in support of landing operations there; they engage and down three Vichy French fighters which had attacked transport planes.
Colonel Demas T. Craw, XII Tactical Command, Army Air Forces, volunteers to land behind enemy lines at Port Lyau- tey, French Morocco, as an intelligence officer to secretly secure an armistice with the local French commander. However, he is killed shortly after landing, winning a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor. His companion, Major Pierpont M. Hamilton, AAF, survives and reaches Casablanca about the truce in time to prevent an American attack by General George C. Patton; he also receives a Medal of Honor.
As Operation torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa, commences, C-47s from the 60th Troop-Carrier Group, Twelfth Air Force carry reinforcements to Senia. However, they are fired upon by Vichy French forces and several transports are shot down.
NOVEMBER 9 Over France, the Eighth Air Force dispatches 12 B-24s to bomb the U-boat pens at Saint-Nazaire from 18,000 feet, with average results. However, a flight of 31 B-17s that went in at 7,500 feet loses 3 aircraft to flak, along with 22 damaged. These losses spell the end of experimenting with low-altitude attacks.
Off the North African coast, several Army Air Forces Piper L-4 “Grasshoppers” (observation planes) are launched from LST decks to assist ground operations during Operation TORCH.
NOVEMBER 10 Off the North African coast, 100 Curtiss P-40 fighters belonging to the 33rd Fighter Group are launched from the escort carriers Chenango and Archer, and proceed to land at Port Lyau – tey, Morocco.
NOVEMBER 11 Over North Africa, USAMEAF B-24s again bomb shipping and dock facilities at Bengasi, Libya, as the Eighth Army drives German forces out of Egypt. P-40s sweeping through the Gambut area also shoot down three Ju-87 Stukas.
NOVEMBER 12 In Egypt, the Ninth Air Force under Major General Lewis H. Brereton arises to replace the U. S. Army Middle East Air Force (USAMEAF). Their initial task is providing close air support to British troops advancing west out of Egypt.
November 12-15 On Guadalcanal, Lockheed P-38s of the 339th Fighter Squadron arrive at Henderson Field to support local defenses; one Lightning is destroyed during a Japanese naval bombardment. Men and aircraft of the 11th Bomb Group, 69th, 70th, and 72nd Bomb Squadrons, and the 39th Fighter Squadron are on hand to assist the 339th over this three-day period.
November 13 In the Pacific, a raft containing World War I ace Edward V. Rickenbacker, Colonel Hans C. Adamson, and Private John F. Bartek is rescued by a Navy OS2U Kingfisher 600 miles north of Samoa. The trio survives a plane-ditching 21 days earlier.
NOVEMBER 14 In North Africa, the 79th Fighter Group and the headquarters, 19th Bomb Wing arrive from the United States as part of the Ninth Air Force.
November 15 Republic P-47s flown by Lieutenants Harold Comstock and Roger Dyer reach 725 miles per hour—exceeding the sound barrier—during experimental dives from 35,000 feet.
At Houston Municipal Airport, the first women’s Flying Training
detachment is redesignated as the 319th Army Air Forces Flying Training detachment.
NOVEMBER 16 Over North Africa, B-17 bombers of the 97th Bomb Group, having launched the first combat strike of the Army Air Forces in Europe, repeat that distinction by launching the first AAF bombing raid against German airfields at Bizerte, Tunisia. Meanwhile, Twelfth Air Force C-47 transports drop British paratroopers near Souk el Arba, Tunisia.
NOVEMBER 17 Over France, the Eighth Air Force unleashes 35 heavy bombers against the submarine pens at Saint – Nazaire, unloading 102 tons of bombs.
Over New Guinea, as Australian and U. S. troops gradually advance upon Japanese defenders at Buna-Gona, they are supported by Fifth Air Force B-26s. B – 25s also hit airfields at Lae and Gasmata.
NOVEMBER 18 At Maison Blanche airfield, Algiers, several newly arrived P – 38s of the 14th Fighter Squadron, Twelfth Air Force, are damaged in a German air raid.
NOVEMBER 20 In North Africa, German aircraft again bomb Maison Blanche airfield, Algiers, destroying several P-38 fighters on the ground.
Over Mandalay, Burma, eight B-24s from the India Air Task Force (IATF) strike marshalling yards as the Allied air effort intensifies.
NOVEMBER 21 Over New Guinea, Fifth
Air Force A-20s and B-25s attack dug-in Japanese defenders at Buna and Sanananda in support of a joint Australian-American drive there. The Allies are stymied by a strong series of bunker positions.
NOVEMBER 22 Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force A-20s provide close support to Allied troops advancing up trails near Sanananda as B-26s bomb Japanese positions at Buna.
NOVEMBER 23 Over Saint-Nazaire, France, Eighth Air Force heavy bombers continue attacking U-boat pens, although these heavily reinforced structures evince little damage for the effort. Air crews also report a change in enemy tactics as German fighters, aware of the relatively weak firepower at the front of their aircraft, are now resorting to frontal attacks.
Over Indochina (Vietnam), nine B-25s and seven P-40s of the China Air Task Force (CATF) sink a freighter and damage other vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin. Another force of six B-25s and seventeen P-40s strike Japanese air installations at Tien Ho, China, and claim to have destroyed 40 aircraft on the ground.
NOVEMBER 24 Over New Guinea, the Fifth Air Force launches A-20s, B-25s, B-26s, B-17s, P-40s, P-39s, and P-400s in a large series of raids against Japanese positions at Buna and Sanananda Point as Allied ground troops attack the region known as the Triangle.
NOVEMBER 26 Over the Aleutians, Eleventh Air Force B-26s and P-38s attack Japanese shipping in Holtz Harbor, and one large vessel is set afire.
November 27 Over Hong Kong, China, the China Air Task Force (CATF) mounts one of its largest bombing raids yet, with 10 B-25s and 20 P-40s. Several large warehouses are left in flames and some barges are claimed as sunk.
NOVEMBER 28 A force of nine B-24 Liberators of the 7th Bomb Group, Tenth
Air Force, lift off from Gaya, India, fly 2,760 miles, and drop bombs on Japanese-occupied Bangkok, Thailand for the first time.
NOVEMBER 29 Over Tunis, North Africa, 55 C-47s from the 62nd and 64th Troop Carrier Groups, Twelfth Air Force, drop 530 British paratroopers in a failed attempt to seize Oudna Air Base; 300 casualties are incurred.
NOVEMBER 30 In London, the British Air Ministry reaches a joint decision to have British fighters provide aerial defense for American bases while Army Air Forces fighters will operate mainly as bomber escorts over the Continent.
December 1 In London, England, Major General Ira C. Eaker gains appointment as head of the Eighth Air Force to replace outgoing Major General Carl A. Spaatz, recently transferred to North Africa as air aide to General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
In India, the India-China Division of the Air Transport Command is initiated to provide a constant airlift of supplies over the Himalayan Mountains to American air forces serving in China. This gradually becomes the greatest sustained aerial supply effort in wartime to this date.
The first issue of Air Force Magazine is issued to replace the Army Air Forces Newsletter.
December 2 Over North Africa, Twelfth Air Force B-26s attack the airfield at Al Aouina while B-17s bomb Sidi Ahmed and Bizerte harbor. B-25s and P – 38s also sweep in low over Gabes, destroying several vehicles.
December 3 Over North Africa, Twelfth Air Force B-17s attack dockyards and enemy shipping in Bizerte harbor while German fighters mange to down two P-38 escorts. Other fighters, accompanying RAF Spitfires, make low-level sweeps and photo missions across Northwest Africa.
December 4 From Egypt, a force of 24 Ninth Air Force B-24 Liberators strike at military and transportation targets at Naples, Italy, for the first time. Several hits on enemy vessels, including an Italian battleship, are claimed.
December 5 In the Mediterranean, Major General Carl A. Spaatz becomes acting deputy commander in chief for Air, Allied Forces in Northwest Africa. Meanwhile, Twelfth Air Force B-17s hit docks and enemy shipping throughout Tunis; all raids are accompanied by P-38 escorts.
DECEMBER 6 Over Lille, France, the Eighth Air Force commits 36 heavy bombers against the Atelier d’Hellemmes locomotive works with diversionary raids on airfields at Abbeville-Drucat.
DECEMBER 7 Over North Africa, the Twelfth Air Force commits B-17s and P-38s to attack dockyards and enemy shipping at Bizerte while DB-7s (A-20s) strike enemy tanks at Tebourba. P-38s and P-40s also fly patrols and photo missions over the Gabes area.
December 8 In England, a study released by VIII Bomber Command concludes that no current weapon in the American arsenal is capable of destroying heavily reinforced German U-boat pens along the French coast. However, several projects, such as APHRODITE, are underway to produce glide bombs capable of destroying such targets.
DECEMBER 9 In England, the Eighth Air Force releases a report on the first 1,100 bombers sent over France between August 17 to November 23, and it justifies the results of high-level, daylight precision bombing.
Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force B – 26s continue pounding the Buna region as Allied forces prepare for a final assault there. The village of Gona also falls to the Australians after hand-to-hand combat and intense aerial bombardment.
DECEMBER 11 Over Naples, Italy, Ninth Air Force B-24s raid the harbor area again with adequate results. In Tunis, P-40s also fly close support for the Eighth Army as it prepares to attack El Agheila.
DECEMBER 12 Over France, 17 heavy bombers from the Eighth Air Force strike marshalling yards at Rouen-Sotteville, although poor weather cancels an impending raid on air installations at Romilly-sur-Seine.
December 13 Over North Africa, 15 B – 17s of the 97th Bomb Group, Twelfth Air Force, attack the docks and enemy shipping at Tunis while 10 B-17s of the 301st Bomb Group also attack Bizerte. The latter is followed up by 19 B-24s of the 93rd Bomb Group, Eighth Air Force.
December 14 Along the Mambare River, New Guinea, Fifth Air Force aircraft attack Japanese troops and troopcarrying destroyers as they attempt to land reinforcements.
DECEMBER 15 Over North Africa, nine B-24s from the 376th Bomb Group, Ninth Air Force, attack German and Italian positions at Sfax in a preliminary air campaign against enemy-held ports.
DECEMBER 16 Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force A-20s and B-26s continue to savage enemy positions at Buna, and also strafe enemy troop barges coming up the Kumusi River.
December 17 The Western Defense Command orders troops in Alaska to construct airfields on Amchitka Island, the Aleutians, once it has been secured by ground forces.
On Guadalcanal, the army’s 132nd Infantry Regiment begins its final offensive in the Mount Austen region, receiving close aerial support from Marine Corp aircraft and SOPAC P-39s.
December 18 Over North Africa, Twelfth Air Force B-17s and P-38s attack enemy shipping in Bizerte harbor, hitting at least one large vessel. German fighters manage to down one bomber and three escorts at a loss of three of their own.
December 19 On New Guinea, Australian troops launch another determined attack against Japanese-held Buna, receiving close support from Fifth Air Force A – 20s and B-25s. Meanwhile, B-17s and B – 24s attack enemy transports off the coast of Mandang in Astrolabe Bay.
December 20 Over the Aleutians, the Eleventh Air Force sorties four B-26s, five B-24s, four B-25s, and nine P-38s against Kiska Harbor, hitting an ammo dump and strafing several vessels offshore.
DECEMBER 22 Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force B-25s continue bombing fanatical Japanese defenders at Buna, who have repelled yet another Australian attack.
December 22—23 Launching from Midway, 26 B-24 Liberators of the 307th Bomb Group, Seventh Air Force, stage their first air raid by attacking Japanese installations on Wake Island.
DECEMBER 23 Over New Guinea, Fifth Air Force A-20s bomb and strafe Japanese positions near Gona while B-25s attack Cape Gloucester Airfield, New Georgia.
December 24 SOPAC P-39s assist Navy and Marine Corps dive bombers to attack Japanese installations on Munda, New Georgia, destroying 24 aircraft without loss.
DECEMBER 26 Over Tunis, Twelfth Air Force bombers and escorts attack enemy installations at Bizerte again, losing two bombers and two P-38s to flak and enemy fighters; the P-38s claim to have shot down two Fw-190s.
December 27 Over New Guinea, Lieutenant Richard I. Bong flames two Japanese aircraft in his twin-engine P-38 Lightning; 38 more follow for a total of 40, making him America’s top-scoring ace of World War II.
December 29 The Collier Trophy is jointly awarded to the Army Air Forces and private airlines companies of the United States for their sterling war efforts.
Over North Africa, Twelfth Air Force B-17s and P-38s strike against Sousse harbor while DB-7s and A-20s strike at La Hencha.
DECEMBER 30 Over the Aleutians, Eleventh Air Force B-25s, covered by 14 P – 38s, make a low-level attack upon Kiska Harbor, and are intercepted by four Zero floatplane fighters. The Japanese down one B-25 and two P-38s for a probable loss of four of their own.
December 31 Over North Africa, Twelfth Air Force B-17s bomb enemy positions at Sfax while B-26s attack an airfield near Gabes. P-38s and P-40s, flying escort, also bomb and strafe several enemy vehicles in the Bizerte – Tunis area.