NOVEMBER 1943
by Eric Hammel

Copyright © 1998 by Eric Hammel



November 1, 1943

ALASKA: The Alaska Theater of Operations is established and the Alaska Defense Command is separated from the Western Defense Command, renamed the Alaskan Department, and placed under the direct control of the U.S. War Department.

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: Two 347th Fighter Group P-38 pi lots down a G4M near Cape St. George at 0950 hours. This is the first victory by Solomons-based fighters in the Bismarck Archipelago.

IJN carrier aircraft—40 B5Ns, 45 D3As, 82 A6Ms, and six reconnaissance aircraft—arriving at Rabaul from Japan by way of Truk Atoll bolster the approximately 200 aircraft already based there.

During the night of November 1–2, two 394th Heavy Bombardment Squadron SB-24s attack a convoy west of Cape St. George.

CHINA: Six 11th Medium Bombardment Squadron B-25s and nine P-40s attack the rail yards at Yoyang.

NEW GUINEA: V Fighter Command fighters begin making use of the dirt airstrip at Gusap, which is slated to be expanded into a major airdrome. Concurrent with the build-up on new and improved airfields is a major road-building effort aimed at keeping the remote inland airfields stocked with fuel, parts, and other necessities. Indeed, one aviation engineer battalion is used to help build a road from Lae to Nadzab.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Covered by three AirSols F4U squadrons and assisted by naval gunfire, 31 USMC TBFs and eight VC-38 SBDs attack the Cape Torokina invasion beaches in Bougainville’s Empress Augusta Bay ahead of the lead waves of the U.S. 3d Marine Division.

Commencing Operation RO, a plan for the defense of the northern Solomon Islands—IJN air attacks against the invasion fleet delay unloading operations, but the invasion is considered successful despite the fierce opposition of a small defense force that restricts the Marines to a shallow beachhead.

AirSols fighters based in the central Solomons provide extensive cover for the invasion force, and AirSols land-based and USN carrier-based fighters and light bombers from Task Force 38*, as well as USN surface warships completely neutralize the now-bypassed IJN airbases in southern Bougainville and the Shortland Islands. Nevertheless, at 0735 hours, nine Rabaul-based D3As, escorted by 44 A6Ms, attack the invasion flotilla through an AirSols covering force of eight VF-17 F4Us and eight RNZAF Kittyhawks. One USN destroyer is lightly damaged by a near miss. A second Rabaul-based air attack in the early afternoon results in no damage, but one USN transport runs aground while maneuvering to avoid the bombers.

RNZAF Kittyhawk pilots down seven A6Ms and VF-17 F4U pilots down five A6Ms over Empress Augusta Bay between 0745 and 0800 hours; 347th Fighter Group P-38 pilots down seven A6Ms over Empress Augusta Bay between 0810 and 0820; VF-17 F4U pilots down an A6M over Empress Augusta Bay at 1330 hours; and VMF-215 F4U pilots down four A6Ms and a B5N over Empress Augusta Bay between 1345 and 1347 hours. Four Allied fighters are lost during the day.

1stLt Robert M. Hanson, a VMF-215 F4U pilot, achieves ace status when he downs a B5N and two A6Ms over Empress Augusta Bay at about 1345 hours.

Twenty-one XIII Bomber Command B-24s attack Bougainville/Kahili Airdrome; AirSols B-24s, SBDs, and fighters attack Bougainville/Kara Airdrome; and 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s attack barges and docks at Faisi.

On this first day of the Bouginville offensive, AirSols has at its immediate disposal the following units and aircraft: At Guadalcanal—VB-102 in 15 PB4Ys, VB-104 in 12 PB4Ys, the 5th and 307th Heavy Bombardment groups in 48 B-24s and four SB-24s, VS-54 in 14 SBDs, the 18th Fighter Group’s 44th Fighter Squadron in 25 P-38s, 3 RNZAF Squadron in 15 PVs, VP-23 in 12 PBYs, VP-54 in six PBYs, VP-71 in 15 PBYs, VS-64 in eight OS2Us, VS-68 in eight OS2Us, SCAT in 21 C-47s and R4Ds, VD-1 in seven photo-reconnaissance PB4Ys, three 17th Photographic-Reconnaissance Squadron F-5s, 10 reserve P-39s, and 10 reserve P-40s; at Munda—VF(N)-75 in six F4U night fighters, the 18th Fighter Group’s 12th Figher Squadron in 25 P-39s, VC-24 in 24 SBDs, VC-38 in nine SBDs and nine TBFs, VC-40 in nine SBDs and nine TBFs, VMSB-144 in 24 SBDs, VMSB-234 in 10 SBDs, VMSB-244 in 24 SBDs, VMTB-143 in 10 TBFs, VMTB-232 in 20 TBFs, and three 17th Photographic-Reconnaissance Squadron F-5s; in the Russell Islands—three squadons of the 42d Medium Bombardment Group in 48 B-25s, VB-138 in 12 PVs, VB-140 in 15 PVs, VMF-211 in 20 F4Us, and VMF(N)-531 in five PV night fighters; at Segi—VF-33 in 26 F6Fs, VF-38 in 12 F6Fs, and VF-40 in 12 F6Fs; at Ondonga—VF-17 in 36 F4Us, the 347th Fighter Group’s 70th Fighter Squadron in 25 P-39s, 15 RNZAF Squadron in 21 Kittyhawks, and 17 RNZAF Squadron in 21 Kittyhawks; and at Barakoma—VMF-212 in 20 F4Us, VMF-215 in 20 F4Us, and VMF-221 in 20 F4Us.

During the night of November 1–2, two 394th Heavy Bombardment Squadron SB-24s locate an IJN surface task force speeding toward the Empress Augusta Bay invasion fleet. They sound the alarm and attack the IJN flagship, a heavy cruiser. This action precipitates the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay, a decisive night naval surface engagement that forces the IJN force to retire following the loss of a light cruiser and destroyer to gunfire from USN surface warships.
* Task Force 38 [RAdm Frederick C. Sherman, Commander, Carrier Division 1]: USS Saratoga   (Fleet Carrier Air Group 12) and USS Princeton (Light Carrier Air Group 23).
November 2, 1943

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: In support of the landings at Bougainville and the Treasury Islands, 78 V Bomber Command B-25s, escorted by 70 V Fighter Command P-38s and P-47s (including two squadrons assigned to strafe in advance of the bombers), attack antiaircraft emplacements and shipping in Simpson Harbor. The masthead-high bombing is highly accurate, and three IJN destroyers and eight freighters are claimed as sunk or sinking. Nevertheless, in the strongest opposition encountered by the Fifth Air Force in World War II, IJN fighters and antiaircraft down eight B-25s and nine P-38s.

V Fighter Command P-38 and P-47 pilots down 31 Japanese fighters in the Rabaul area between 1315 and 1400 hours.

Maj Raymond H. Wilkins, the commanding officer of the 3d Light Bombardment Group’s 8th Light Bombardment Squadron, sinks two Japanese ships and then deliberately draws enemy antiaircraft fire toward his B-25 in order to allow other airplanes in his unit to withdraw safely. Maj Wilkins’ airplane is shot down and all aboard are lost. Maj Wilkins is awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor.

1stLt Grover D. Gholson, a P-38 pilot with the 475th Fighter Group’s 432d Fighter Squadron, achieves ace status when he downs an A6M and a Ki-43 over Rabaul at 1330 hours; 1stLt Marion F. Kirby, a P-38 pilot with the 475th Fighter Group’s 431st Fighter Squadron, achieves ace status when he downs two A6Ms over Rabaul at 1340 hours; 1stLt Lowell C. Lutton, a P-38 pilot with the 475th Fighter Group’s 431st Fighter Squadron, achieves ace status when he downs an A6M near Rabaul at 1340 hours, but he is himself shot down and killed in this engagement; 1stLt Arthur E. Wenige, a P-38 pilot with the 475th Fighter Group’s 431st Fighter Squadron, achieves ace status when he downs two A6Ms near Rabaul at 1340 hours; and Capt William F. Haney, a P-38 pilot with the 49th Fighter Group’s 9th Fighter Squadron, achieves ace status when he downs two A6Ms over Rabaul at 1345 hours.

During the night of November 2–3, RAAF Beauforts attack Rabaul/Tobera Airdrome.

CHINA: Five 11th Medium Bombardment Squadron B-25s and 12 Fourteenth Air Force P-40s attack warehouses and port facilities at Shasi.

NEW GUINEA: V Bomber Command B-25s attack lines of communication around Fortification Point; and V Fighter Command P-39 fighter-bombers attack targets in the Bogadjim area.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: In a continuation of the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay, more than 100 IJN carrier bombers and fighters based at Rabaul attack the USN surface force at 0800 hours. Antiaircraft fire deflects most of the attackers, and only very light damage is sustained by a light cruiser from two direct hits.

Twenty XIII Bomber Command B-24s attack Bougainville/Kahili Airdrome; and USN aircraft from Task Force 38 mount two punishing strikes against Buka and Bougainville/Bonis airdromes. Task Force 38 then departs the area to refuel.

VF-33 F6F pilots down a G4M, three D3As, and two A6Ms over the USN surface battle force in Empress Augusta Bay at 0815 hours; a VF-12 F6F pilot downs a Ki-21 at sea at 0838 hours; and a VMF-221 F4U pilot downs two D3As over a U.S. Navy task force at 1830 hours. One USMC F4U is lost.

Marine BriGen Field Harris establishes a new Aircraft, Northern Solomons (AirNorSols) headquarters ashore at Cape Torokina to coordinate air activities over and around the Bougainville beachhead.

November 3, 1943

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: V Bomber Command B-24s mount light antishipping strikes at Cape Gloucester and Talasea, but planned attacks against Rabaul are canceled in the face of bad weather over the target area.

BURMA: Eight Fourteenth Air Force P-40 fighter-bombers attack Lashio Airdrome.

CHINA: Twenty-one 308th Heavy Bombardment Group B-24s attack the port at Kowloon; and nine 11th Medium Bombardment Group B-25s and nine P-40s attack targets around Hwajung, Owchihkow, and Shihshow.

74th Fighter Squadron P-40 pilots down three A6Ms near Canton during the early afternoon.

NEW GUINEA: V Bomber Command B-25s attack targets around Madang; and V Fighter Command P-39s strafe Bogadjim.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Nineteen XIII Bomber Command B-24s that attack a convoy near Mussau Island claim hits on three ships.

November 4, 1943

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: V Bomber Command B-24s on armed-reconnaissance strikes sink a ship north of New Britain, but planned attacks against IJN warships in Rabaul harbor are canceled in the face of bad weather over the target area.

AirSols PB4Ys on patrol over the Bismarck Sea locate and attack a Japanese convoy carrying reinforcements from Rabaul to Bougainville and an IJN surface battle force. Two two transports are damaged. These finds precipitate a sally by a USN surface battle force and an antishipping attack on Rabaul by USN carrier aircraft that will take place the next day.

BURMA: Chinese Army infantry forces pinned down at Ngajatzup in northern Burma must be resupplied by Tenth Air Force cargo aircraft.

CHINA: The CACW makes its combat debut when 1st CACW Medium Bombardment Group B-25s attack military targets at Amoy and Swatow.

NEW GUINEA: V Fighter Command P-40 fighter-bombers attack IJA ground troops in the battle area.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Twenty-three XIII Bomber Command B-24s attack Buka Airdrome.

Having failed in large measure to draw much attention from Japanese forces, the U.S. 2d Marine Parachute Battalion on Choiseul is withdrawn under cover of AirSols light bombers and fighters.

UNITED STATES: The U.S. War Department’s Operations Division recommends that, among other matters relating to the U.S. involvement in China, the Fourteenth Air Force inaugurate a limited but ongoing bombing offensive against Japanese bases and lines of supply and communications.

November 5, 1943

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: Commencing at 1010 hours, while USN F6Fs based at Vella Lavella/Barakoma Field cover the carriers, 22 SBDs, 23 TBFs, and 52 F6Fs from Task Force 38 attack ships and facilities in Rabaul harbor. At a cost of one SBD, four TBFs, and five F6Fs lost (mostly to antiaircraft fire), four IJN heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and two destroyers are severely damaged (mainly by the SBDs), and USN F6F pilots (and several SBD and TBF crews) down one Ki-21 and 27 A6Ms and Ki-61s. Five F6Fs and five USN carriers bombers are lost with seven pilots and eight aircrewmen. As a result of this attack, all IJN surface warships at Rabaul are ordered to Truk Atoll, thus ending the threat of a surface attack against the Bougainville invasion fleet. Upon completion of the day’s strike against Rabaul, Task Force 38 withdraws from range of Japanese land-based aircraft.

As Japanese aircraft based at Rabaul search in vain for the USN carriers, 90 V Bomber Command B-17s and B-24s escorted by 67 V Fighter Command P-38s pass up the deserted Rabaul-area airdromes and attack the Rabaul wharf area instead. (This is the final appearance of B-17s in the SWPA.)

A 49th Fighter Group P-38 pilot downs two A6Ms over Rabaul at 1215 hours.

The USN and USAAF combined bomber assault on Rabaul neutralizes the threat IJN surface forces pose to the Bougainville invasion fleet.

CENTRAL PACIFIC: VD-3 PB4Ys mount their first mission to the Marshall Islands, where they photograph defenses and facilities in Mille Atoll.

NEW GUINEA: 22d Medium Bmbardment Group B-25s and B-26s attack IJA infantry positions near Bogadjim with 23 tons of bombs dropped from very low altitude; V Bomber Command B-25s attack ground positions near Dumpu; and V Fighter Command P-39 fighter-bombers attack Madang.

The V Bomber Command’s 22d Medium Bombardment Group, in B-25s and B-26s, is awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for precision bombing of IJA infantry trenches in very close proximity to Australian Army ground forces.

348th Fighter Group P-47 pilots down five Ki-61s and an A6M near Wewak at 1105 hours.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Six 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s on a sweep around Bougainville attack a bivouac at Kieta and sundry barges.

Following the supposed sighting of Task Force 38 at 1445 hours by Rabaul-based search aircraft, 18 Rabaul-based B5Ns attack a tiny convoy composed of one USN landing-craft gunboat, one PT-boat, and one landing craft. The PT-boat is damaged when a B5N crashes into it, and the gunboat is damaged by a torpedo that does not explode. Despite this, the returning IJN pilots report the sinking of two carriers, three cruisers, and a destroyer. One B5N crashes into the PT-boat and another is downed by ships’ fire.

November 6, 1943

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: V Fighter Command P-40s attack Gasmata, but a planned heavy-bomber attack against Rabaul is recalled due to bad weather.

CENTRAL PACIFIC: In support of the upcomng invasion of the Gilbert Islands, the Seventh Air Force, VII Bomber Command, VII Fighter Command, and VII Air Force Services Command all establish advance headquarters at Funafuti Airdrome.

NEW GUINEA: Japanese bombers mount uncontested attacks against Dumpu, Finschhafen, and Nadzab.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Nine 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s attack Buka harbor and airdrome; one B-25 attacks Kieta; AirSols SBDs and fighters attack Bougainville/Kara Airdrome, and then 24 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s attack Bougainville/Kara Airdrome again; and 17 XIII Bomber Command B-24s attack Bougainville/Bonis Airdrome.

Four VF-17 F4U pilots down a G4M over Bougainville at 1040 hours; and a 6th Night Fighter Squadron P-38 pilot downs an A6M near Santa Isabel at 1300 hours.

SOUTH PACIFIC AREA: VMF-216, in F4Us, arrives at Espiritu Santo from Hawaii.

November 7, 1943

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: Twenty-five V Bomber Command B-24s and 64 V Fighter Command P-38s attack Rabaul/Rapopo Airdrome

8th and 475th Fighter Group P-38 pilots down six Japanese fighters over the Rabaul area between 1220 and 1230 hours. Five P-38s are lost.

1stLt Allen E. Hill, a P-38 pilot with the 8th Fighter Group’s 80th Fighter Squadron, achieves ace status when he downs an A6M over Rabaul at 1220 hours; and 1stLt Jack C. Mankin, a P-38 pilot with the 475th Fighter Group’s 431st Fighter Squadron, achieves ace status when he downs a Ki-61 and a Ki-43 over Rabaul at 1230 hours.

CENTRAL PACIFIC: VB-108 displaces to the newly operational Nukufetau Airdrome.

CHINA: Two 11th Medium Bombardment Squadron B-25s attack the harbor at Amoy; and six Fourteenth Air Force P-40s attack a bridge at Hsiangyangchiao.

NEW GUINEA: Nine V Bomber Command B-25s attack Wewak, but more than 40 others abort when their escorts are intercepted over Nadzab by a large number of Japanese fighters.

Japanese bombers mount uncontested attacks against Nadzab Airdrome and Bena Bena. Sixteen USAAF aircraft are destroyed on the ground.

49th Fighter Group P-38 pilots down three A6Ms near Alexishafen at 0720 hours; 8th Fighter Group P-47 pilots and 35th Fighter Group P-39 pilots down five Ki-21s and two Ki-43s near Nadzab between 0810 and 0815 hours; 348th Fighter Group P-47 pilots down four A6Ms between Saidor and Lae at 0855 hours; and 49th Fighter Group P-38 pilots down three A6Ms over Bogadjim at 1400 hours.

LtCol Robert R. Rowland, the 348th Fighter Group executive officer, in a P-47, achieves ace status when he downs two A6Ms over Saidor.

The 71st Reconnaissance Group arrives at Port Moresby from the United States for service with the Fifth Air Force.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Twenty-one AirSols B-24s attack Buka Airdrome; and eight 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s attack barges and shore targets at Atsinima Bay.

November 8, 1943

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: The scheduled Fifth Air Force mission to Rabaul is canceled because of bad weather over the target.

BURMA: During the night of November 8–9, five 7th Heavy Bombardment Group B-24s sow mines in the Rangoon River.

CHINA: Two 11th Medium Bombardment Squadron B-25s attack Kiungshan Airdrome; and six Fourteenth Air Force P-40s attack a bridge at Hsiangyangchiao.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Twenty-two AirSols B-24s attack Bougainville/Bonis Airdrome; six 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s attack Kieta; and six B-25s attack targets of opportunity on Bougainville.

Twenty-six IJN D3As and 71 A6Ms attack USN transports and warships in Empress Augusta Bay at noon, but they are intercepted by 28 AirSols fighters before they can do much damage. One USN transport is lightly damaged by two direct hits. Eight AirSols fighters are lost.

A VF-17 F4U pilot downs a transport over Buka Airdrome at 0710 hours; VF-17 F4U pilots down three A6Ms west of Bougainville at 1100 hours; VMF-212 F4U pilots down three D3As and VF-33 F6F pilots down four D3As and four Ki-61s over Empress Augusta Bay at noon; and XIII Fighter Command P-38 and P-40 pilots down eight D3As and seven A6Ms over Cape Torokina between noon and 1230 hours.

Lt(jg) James J. Kinsella, a VF-33 F6F pilot, achieves ace status when he downs three Ki-61s over Empress Augusta Bay at noon.

Between 1911 hours, November 8, and 0100 hours, November 9, 21 Rabaul-based B5Ns, D3As, and G4Ms make unopposed attacks against a USN surface force off Bougainville. Ten bombers are downed by antiaircraft fire, but one light cruiser is damaged by two bombs and a torpedo.

November 9, 1943

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: V Fighter Command P-40s attack dumps at Gasmata, and patrolling V Bomber Command B-24s sink an IJN destroyer near Kavieng, but the scheduled Fifth Air Force mission to Rabaul is canceled because of bad weather over the target.

NEW GUINEA: More than 40 V Bomber Command B-25s and A-20s attack Alexishafen Airdrome.

V Fighter Command P-38, P-39, and P-40 pilots down 15 Japanese fighters in a series of engagements over Alexishafen, Lae, and Nadzab between 1015 and 1120 hours.

1stLt James C. Ince, a P-38 pilot with the 475th Fighter Group’s 432d Fighter Squadron, achieves ace status when he downs an A6M near Alexishafen at 1015 hours; Maj Charles H. MacDonald, a 475th Fighter Group staff officer whose first combat mission was over Pearl Harbor, achieves ace status when he downs two A6Ms near Aliexishafen at 1020 hours; and Capt Daniel T. Roberts, Jr., a P-38 ace with the 475th Fighter Group’s 433d Fighter Squadron, brings his final personal tally to 14 victories when he downs an A6M over Alexishafen at 1030 hours. Roberts, however, is killed in a crash after his P-38’s tail is clipped by another P-38 in his flight.

2dLt John C. Smith, a six-victory 475th Fighter Group P-38 ace, is killed in aerial combat over Alexishafen.

PACIFIC OCEAN AREA: Task Force 57 is activated at Pearl Harbor under the command of RAdm John H. Hoover (Commander, Aircraft, Central Pacific) to oversee all land-based aircraft in the Central Pacific Area. Initially, the new command will incorporate the Seventh Air Force (Task Group 57.2, or Striking Group), the 4th Marine Base Defense Aircraft Wing (Task Group 57.4, or Ellice Defense and Utility Group), and six USN patrol squadrons (Task Group 57.3, or Search and Reconnaissance Group).

SOLOMON ISLANDS: More than 20 AirSols B-24s attack Bougainville/Kahili and Bougainville/Kara airdromes; 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s attack Buka Airdrome and Kieta; and AirSols light bombers and fighters attack Ballale and Bougainville/Kara airdromes.

November 10, 1943

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: V Bomber Command B-24s attack Rabaul/Lakunai Airdrome and an airfield under construction on Duke of York Island; and B-25s and V Fighter Command P-38s attack shipping.

During the night of November 10–11, RAAF Beauforts attack targets around Rabaul.

CENTRAL PACIFIC: During the night of November 10–11, three IJN bombers evade VMF-441 F4Fs (operating without radar guidance) and bomb Nanomea Airdrome. One U.S. serviceman is killed, a B-24 is destroyed, and several other aircraft are damaged.

CHINA: Fourteenth Air Force fighters attack river traffic.

EAST INDIES: 380th Heavy Bombardment Group B-24s attack Soerabaja, Java.

NEW GUINEA: V Bomber Command B-25s attack Alexishafen Airdrome.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: More than 20 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s attack Ballale and Bougainville/Kara airdromes, and shipping targets of opportunity.

Responding to the first air-support request of the Bougainville operation (lodged the afternoon before), 18 VMTB-143 and VMTB-233 TBFs arrive on station at 0915 hours over the Piva River area of the Bougainville beachhead. At 1015, each of 12 TBFs drops 12 100-pound bombs on ground targets marked by colored smoke. Many of the bombs strike targets within 120 yards of USMC ground troops and kill an estimated 40 IJA soldiers. The attack—the first of its kind in the Pacific—is deemed a success and a template for future operations.

November 11, 1943

BISMARCK ARCHIPEALGO: Before dawn, 23 V Bomber Command B-24s breast bad weather to attack Rabaul/Lakunai Airdrome, but follow-on strikes are recalled in the face of continuing heavy weather. This concludes the Fifth Air Force offensive against Rabaul.

During the morning, while VMF-212 and VMF-221 F4Us bolster the combat air patrol over the carriers, 239 USN carrier* bombers and fighters attacking in two waves mount extremely strong attacks against Rabaul. In the air battle over Rabaul, USN F6F pilots (and several SBD crews) down 38 A6Ms between 0900 and 0930 hours. This mission marks the combat debut of the brand-new SB2C dive-bomber (from Fleet Carrier Air Group 17).

Forty-two XIII Bomber Command B-24s attack Rabaul from high level just as the last of the carrier aircraft depart the area. Cloud cover obscures the results as two B-24 squadrons drop their bombs from 16,000 to 20,000 feet. The 5th Heavy Bombardment Group’s 23d Heavy Bombardment Squadron attacks a light cruiser from 8,500 feet.

Several Rabaul-based G4Ms, 14 B5Ns, 27 D3As, and 67 fighters open a counterattack against the USN carrier force at 1315 hours, but USN fighters—including a land-based F4U squadron (VF-17) and a land-based F6F squadron (VF-33) operating from the carrier decks—beat off the Japanese attack and exact a very high toll of Japanese aircraft downed at sea and over the carriers between 1315 and 1415 hours. (The USN pilots claim 111 victories, but it is estimated that two G4Ms, 14 B5Ns, 17 D3As, and eight fighters are actually downed.) Three A6Ms are also downed at sea during the evening by VF-18 F6F patrol pilots. Eleven USN fighters are lost and the USS Essex is slightly damaged by a near miss.

In the evening, Task Force 38 and Task Group 50.3 are dissolved and all five USN aircraft carriers are ordered from the area to take part with the U.S. Fifth Fleet in the upcoming Operation GALVANIC, the Gilbert Islands invasion.
* Task Force 38 [RAdm Frederick C. Sherman, Commander, Carrier Division 1]—USS Saratoga (Fleet Carrier Air Group 12) and USS Princeton (Light Carrier Air Group 23)
Task Group 50.3 [RAdm Alfred E. Montgomery, Commander, Carrier Division 12]—USS Essex (Fleet Carrier Air Group 9), USS Bunker Hill (Fleet Carrier Air Group 17), and USS Independence (Light Carrier Air Group 22).

CHINA: Six 308th Heavy Bombardment Group B-24s attack Burma Road targets; eight Fourteenth Air Force P-40s attack river targets; and six P-40s attack a gun emplacement, barracks, and a radio station near Yoyang.

NEW GUINEA: V Bomber Command B-25s attack targets around Madang, and V Fighter Command P-39s strafe Bogadjim.

A 35th Fighter Group P-39 pilot downs a D3A near Alexishafen at 0737 hours.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Several 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s and AirSols F4Us strafe shore targets and barges in Matchin Bay.

November 12, 1943

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: The IJN terminates Operation RO and withdraws all of its 52 surviving carrier aircraft (of 173 committed) from Rabaul to Japan via Truk Atoll. Although still heavily defended by an infusion of land-based aircraft forwarded via the base at Truk (Caroline Islands), Rabaul’s aviation force moves predominantly to the defensive and so no longer poses a serious threat to Allied forces in the Solomon Islands or New Guinea.

BURMA: During the night of November 12–13, two 7th Heavy Bombardment Group B-24s sow mines in the Rangoon River.

CENTRAL PACIFIC: Two squadrons of the VII Bomber Command’s 30th Heavy Bombardment Group, in B-24s, displace to Nanomea Airdrome from Hawaii; and one squadron displaces to Nukufetau Airdrome.

CHINA: Ten 11th Medium Bombardment Squadron B-25s and 24 Fourteenth Air Force P-40s attack rail yards, antiaircraft emplacements, and warehouses in Yoyang; five B-25s attack port areas at Puchi and Yangchi Kang; and one B-25 and 15 P-40s attack targets of opportunity while on armed reconnaissance missions.

EAST INDIES: 380th Heavy Bombardment Group B-24s attack various targets on Amboina and Java.

NEW GUINEA: V Bomber Command B-25s and B-26s attack Japanese-held villages between Finschhafen and Saidor.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: At 0420 hours, four G4Ms attempt a torpedo attack against USN warships in Empress Augusta Bay. Next, at 0455 hours, four G4Ms attack a USN light cruiser with torpedoes and score one hit that severely damages the ship, kills twenty crewmen, and wounds eleven.

Eighteen 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s attack Tarlena; six B-25s attack Matchin Bay; and eight XIII Fighter Command P-38s attack Bougainville/Bonis Airdrome.

Eighteen USN land-based TBFs from VC-38 and VC-40, responding to an air- support mission request lodged the previous afternoon, drop 100-pound bombs on IJA defensive positions within only 100 yards of friendly troops. As a result of the attack, the IJA force abandons its positions.

New Zealand Army forces defeat the last vestiges of the IJA garrison on Mono Island in the Treasury group.

November 13, 1943

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: Fifth Air Force bombers and fighters open a pre- invasion bombardment campaign against IJA defenses and facilities in western New Britain.

Nine V Bomber Command B-25s and 18 RAAF Kittyhawks attack Gasmata and photograph a wide area around Gasmata.

BURMA: During the night of November 13–14, one 7th Heavy Bombardment Group B-24 sows mines in the Rangoon River.

CENTRAL PACIFIC: IJN bombers attack Funafuti Airdrome, where two aircraft are destroyed on the ground.

GILBERT ISLANDS: Eighteen 11th Heavy Bombardment Group B-24s based at or staging through Funafuti and Nanomea airdromes attack Betio Island with 27.5 tons of general-purpose bombs and 126 20-pound fragmentation bombs. There is no opposition from IJN fighters, but antiaircraft coverage is intense and one B-24 is downed.

During the night of November 13–14, USN Task Force 57* land-based bombers attack targets at Tarawa and Makin atolls and Nauru Island.

* For the upcoming Gilbert Islands invasion, Task Force 57 is organized as follows: Task Force 57 [RAdm John H. Hoover, USN]: Task Group 57.2 (Striking Group) [MajGen Willis H. Hale, USAAF, Commanding General, Seventh Air Force]—11th and 30th Heavy Bombardment groups (90 B-24s); Task Group 57.3 (Search and Reconnaissance Group) [RAdm John H. Hoover]—VD-3 (6 PB4Ys), VP-53 (12 PBYs), VP-72 (12 PBYs), VB-108 (12 PB4Ys), VB-137 (12 PVs), VB-142 (12 PVs), and tenders USS Curtiss, USS Mackinac, and USS Swan, based at Nanomea, Nukufetau, and Funafuiti; Task Group 57.4 (Ellice Islands Defense and Utility Group) [BriGen Lewie G. Merritt, USMC, Commanding General, 4th Marine Base Defense Aircraft Wing]—Marine Air Group 13 and Marine Air Group 31 (90 F4Us and 72 SBDs), VS-51 (8 SBDs and OS2Us), VS-65 (8 SBDs and OS2Us), VS-66 (8 SBDs and OS2Us)

MARSHALL ISLANDS: 11th Heavy Bombardment Group B-24s based in the Ellice Islands attack Mille Airdrome; and VD-3 PB4Ys based at Canton Island Airdrome and staging through the Ellice Islands mount their first photo-reconnaissance missions to Wotje and Maloelap atolls.

NEW GUINEA: Nearly 120 V Bomber Command B-24s and B-25s attack Alexishafen; B-24s attack Kaukenau and Timoeka; and V Fighter Command P-40s strafe targets in and around Alexishafen.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Seventeen XIII Bomber Command B-24s attack Bougain-ville/Bonis Airdrome; and six 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s attack Buka Airdrome at low level.

During the night of November 13–14, 6th Night Fighter Squadron P-70s mount night heckling missions against Bougainville/Bonis and Bougainville/Kahili airdromes and targets in the Shortland Islands.

VMF(N)-531 PV night-fighter crew downs a G4M 50 miles southwest of Cape Torokina at 0420 hours. This is the USMC’s first night victory, and the first by a PV.

November 14, 1943

CBI: Task orders are issued to U.S. Army engineer battalions and other units that will be involved in constructing airfields capable of supporting the commitment of B-29 very-heavy bomber units in 1944 (Operation TWILIGHT).

GILBERT ISLANDS: Nine 11th Heavy Bombardment Group B-24s based at or staging through Funafuti and Nonomea airdromes attack targets in Tarawa Atoll.

NEW GUINEA: V Bomber Command B-25s attack a convoy and bivouac near Sio.

MARSHALL ISLANDS: Nine 11th Heavy Bombardment Group B-24s based at Funafuti Airdrome attack Mille Atoll.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: During the night of November 14–15, 6th Night Fighter Squadron P-70s mount night heckling missions against Faisi and targets in the Shortland Islands.

November 15, 1943

CENTRAL PACIFIC: More than 20 VII Bomber Command B-24s based at Canton Island and Nonomea airdromes attack Jaluit and Mille atolls in the Marshall Islands and Makin Atoll in the Gilbert Islands.

VMSB-331, in SBDs, arrives at Nukufetau Airdrome from the United States.

CHINA: Fifteen of 20 308th Heavy Bombardment Group B-24s dispatched against Hong Kong and Kowloon abort in the face of bad weather, but five B-24s are able to attack the Kowloon port area.

NEW GUINEA: More than 30 V Bomber Command B-24s attack Alexishafen; 88 B-25s abort a scheduled mission against Wewak and Boram when they and their 16 P-40 escorts are engaged by many Japanese fighters.

49th Fighter Group P-40 pilots down a Ki-48 and six fighters over Dumpu and Gusap at 1010 hours; 8th Fighter Group P-40 pilots down three G3Ms and eight fighters over the Ramu Valley at 1010 hours; and 348th Fighter Group P-38 pilots down five fighters over the Wewak area between 1115 and 1130 hours. Two 49th Fighter Group P-40s are lost.

1stLt Richard L. West, a P-40 pilot with the 8th Fighter Group’s 35th Fighter Squadron, achieves ace status when he downs two G3Ms and two A6Ms (and probably downs one more of each) over the Ramu Valley at about 1010 hours.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Twenty XIII Bomber Command B-24s attack Buka Airdrome; and eighteen B-24s attack Kahili.

The 419th Night Fighter Squadron, in P-38s and several P-70s, arrives from the United States for service with the Thirteenth Air Force. The new unit will replace Detachment B, 6th Night Fighter Squadron.

The 100th Medium Bombardment Squadron, in B-25s, arrives in the Solomons for service with the Thirteenth Air Force. The unit will be attached as a fifth squadron to the 42d Medium Bombardment Group in January 1944.

During the night of November 15–16, 6th Night Fighter Squadron P-70s attack Bougainville/Kahili Airdrome.

November 16, 1943

BURMA: P-38 pilots with the Tenth Air Force’s 459th Fighter Squadron down three Ki-43s at 1100 hours while escorting bombers against Meiktila.

CENTRAL PACIFIC: The USMC’s Central Pacific Combat Air Transport Service (CenCATS) is established at American Samoa/Tutuila Airdrome to oversee Marine air transports in the Central Pacific area.

VII Bomber Command B-24s based at Nanomea and Funafuti airdromes begin daily intensive antishipping searches to help cover the approach of the Gilberts invasion fleet. (Other long-range aircraft based in the South Pacific Area and Midway cover overlapping search sectors.)

CHINA: Eleven 308th Heavy Bombardment Group B-24s, two 11th Medium Bombardment Squadron B-25s, and four Fourteenth Air Force P-40s attack the Kowloon port area; 11th Medium Bombardment Squadron B-25s mount antishipping attacks off the China coast; and one B-25 and 12 P-40s attack an IJA cavalry column and other targets around Shihmen.

A 74th Fighter Squadron P-40 pilot downs a Ki-43 near Wuchow at 0945 hours.

FRENCH INDOCHINA: Six Fourteenth Air Force P-40s strafe rail targets and barracks while on an armed-reconnaissance mission.

GILBERT ISLANDS: VII Bomber Command B-24s based at Nanomea and Nukufetau airdromes mount individual attacks against Makin and Tarawa atolls.

VD-3 PB4Ys reconnoiter and photograph Tarawa Atoll.

INDIA:Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten formally activates the new Southeast Asia Command (SEAC) headquarters in New Delhi to oversee all Allied operations in the CBI Theater.

MARSHALL ISLANDS: VII Bomber Command B-24s based at Canton Island, Nanomea, and Nukufetau airdromes attack Jaluit, Maloelap, and Wotje atolls; and B-24s mount individual attacks against Kwajalein Atoll. Several B-24s are damaged in attacks by A6Ms.

VD-3 PB4Ys and VII Bomber Command B-24s reconnoiter and photograph defenses and facilities in Jaluit Atoll.

NEW GUINEA:V Bomber Command B-25s attack Finschhafen and nearby targets; and V Fighter Command P-39 fighter-bombers attack barges between Madang and Saidor.

475th Fighter Group P-38 pilots down three A6Ms over Wewak at 0950 hours, an A6M over Wewak at 1040 hours, and a Ki-61 over Finschhafen at 1040 hours. Two P-38s are lost.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Four XIII Bomber Command B-24s and 20 B-25s attack Buka Airdrome; and more than 20 B-25s and more than 30 XIII Fighter Command P-39s and P-40s attack targets of opportunity along the Bougainville coast.

During the night of November 16–17, more than 30 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s attack Buka Airdrome; and eight XIII Bomber Command B-24s attack Bougainville/Bonis and Buka airdromes at various times.

November 17, 1943

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO:RAAF Kittyhawk fighter-bombers attack Gasmata.

BURMA: Eight Fourteenth Air Force P-40s attack Pingkai and nearby targets of opportunity.

CENTRAL PACIFIC: IJN bombers attack Funafuti Airdrome, where two Seabees are killed and a B-24 and C-47 are destroyed.

CHINA: Eight Fourteenth Air Force P-40s attack Kengtung Airdrome and nearby IJA barracks.

EAST INDIES: V Bomber Command B-25s attack a freighter near Tanimbar Island in the Molucca Islands.

During the night of November 17–18, V Bomber Command B-24s attack den Pasar, Soerabaja, and Tjepoe.

FRENCH INDOCHINA: Four Fourteenth Air Force P-40s attack Dong Cuong Airdrome.

GILBERT ISLANDS: VII Bomber Command B-24s based at Canton Island and Funafuti airdromes attack Tarawa Atoll.

MARSHALL ISLANDS: VII Bomber Command B-24s based at Canton Island and Funafuti airdromes attack Maloelap/Taroa and Mille airdromes.

VD-3 PB4Ys reconnoiter and photograph Wotje Atoll.

NEW GUINEA: Fifty-eight V Bomber Command B-24s are dispatched against Sattelberg in support of Australian Army ground forces, but only three B-24s and 12 RAAF bombers reach the target through bad weather.

348th Fighter Group P-47s strafe shipping between Finschhafen and Saidor.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: At 0350 hours, IJN D4Y dive-bombers mount an unopposed attack against a USN reinforcement convoy near Bougainville. (These D4Ys, a brand-new type, have just been diverted from land-based duty in the Marshall Islands.) One troop-laden destroyer-transport is sunk, the only ship sunk by Japanese aircraft during the Bougainville operation. Sixty-four crewmen and fifty-two Marines are lost. Five D4Ys are downed by antiaircraft fire.

At 0800, AirSols fighters intercept 10 D4Ys and 55 Japanese fighters on an antishipping strike in Empress Augusta Bay. VF-17 F4U pilots down a B5N, two Ki-61s, and six A6Ms over Empress Augusta Bay between 0800 and 0815; and two VMF-221 F4U pilots down three D4Ys over Cape Torokina at 0800 hours. Two VF-17 F4Us are lost.

XIII Bomber Command B-24s attack Buka Airdrome; and three 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s attack Kieta.

The Marine Air Group 21 headquarters departs Banika Airdrome for the rear area.

When a planned reinforcement of the Japanese air units in Rabaul is withheld by higher headquarters in view of the tremendous losses since November 1, Operation RO—the aerial defense of the northern Solomon Islands—is effectively (but not formally) terminated.

November 18, 1943

BURMA: Four Fourteenth Air Force P-40s attack the ferry at Tahsai in support of Chinese Army ground forces.

CHINA: Twelve Fourteenth Air Force P-40s attack IJA ground troops and a troop-filled barge at Shihmen.

GILBERT ISLANDS: Due to bad weather over assigned targets in the Marshall Islands, nine VII Bomber Command B-24s based at Nanomea Airdrome attack Tarawa and Makin atolls, and Nauru Island; USN carrier aircraft from Task Group 50.4* attack Nauru; and USN carrier aircraft from Task Group 50.3 attack Tarawa Atoll with 115 tons of bombs. (USN carrier aircraft from Task Group 50.1 screen the northern approaches to the Gilbert Islands and Task Group 50.2 continues to move into position to attack Makin Atoll and other northern targets.)

A VF-9 F6F pilot downs an F1M over Tarawa Atoll at 1130 hours, and a VF-18 F6F pilot downs an E8N at sea at 1606 hours.

* For the initial phases of Operation GALVANIC, the Gilberts invasion, the aircraft carriers are organized as:

Task Force 50 [RAdm Charles A. Pownall]: Task Group 50.1 (Carrier Interceptor Force) [RAdm Charles A. Pownall, Commander, Carrier Division 3]: USS Lexington (Fleet Carrier Air Group 16), USS Yorktown (Fleet Carrier Air Group 5), and USS Cowpens (Light Carrier Air Group 25); Task Group 50.2 (Northern Carrier Group) [RAdm Arthur W. Radford, Commander, Carrier Division 11]—USS Enterprise (Fleet Carrier Air Group 6), USS Belleau Wood (Light Carrier Air Group 24), and USS Monterey (Light Carrier Air Group 30); Task Group 50.3 (Southern Carrier Group) [RAdm Alfred E. Montgomery, Commander, Carrier Division 12]—USS Bunker Hill (Fleet Carrier Air Group 17), USS Essex (Fleet Carrier Air Group 9), and USS Independence (Light Carrier Air Group 22); and Task Group 50.4 (Relief Carrier Group) [RAdm Frederick C. Sherman, Commander, Carrier Division 1]—USS Saratoga (Fleet Carrier Air Group 12) and USS Princeton (Light Carrier Air Group 23).

Task Force 52 (Northern Attack Force): Task Group 52.3 [RAdm Henry M. Mullinnix, Commander, Carrier Division 24]—USS Coral Sea (VC-33), USS Corregidor (VC-41), USS Liscome Bay (VC-39), USS Nassau (transporting a portion of VF-1), and USS Barnes (transporting a portion of VF-1). [The fighter components of VC-39 and VC-41 are equipped with FM fighters, a four-gun Wildcat variant built by the General Motors Eastern Aircraft Division, but generally the same as the F4F. In future, all new Wildcats will be FMs, and all escort-carrier composite squadrons will be equipped with them. Also, the VC-39 torpedo-bomber contingent consists of the first 12 TBMs to be deployed. The TBM is a TBF twin built by the General Motors Eastern Air Division rather than by Grumman.]

Task Force 53 (Southern Attack Force): Task Group 53.6 [RAdm Van H. Ragdale, Commander, Carrier Division 22]—USS Chenango (Escort Carrier Air Group 35), USS Sangamon (Escort Carrier Air Group 37), and USS Suwanee (Escort Carrier Air Group 60).

MARSHALL ISLANDS: Due to bad weather over Wotje Atoll, VII Bomber Command B-24s based at Nanomea Airdrome attack Mille Atoll.

NEW GUINEA: V Bomber Command B-24s attack Fak Fak; more than 30 V Bomber Command B-25s and B-26s attack IJA ground positions around Sattelberg; and V Fighter Command P-40 fighter-bombers attack Iworep.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: VMF-212 F4U pilots down two A6Ms over the Zoller Islands at 0825 hours.

The Marine Air Group 24 headquarters arrives in the Russell Islands.

During the night of November 18–19, five Marines are killed in the Bougainville beachhead when a night heckler penetrates the night-fighter umbrella.

November 19, 1943

AUSTRALIA: The 58th Fighter Group, in P-47s, arrives in Sydney for service with the V Fighter Command.

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: V Bomber Command B-25s attack Kentengi Anchorage.

CHINA: 11th Medium Bombardment Squadron B-25s attack port facilities and warehouses and Swatow, and mount antishipping strikes in the South China Sea.

GILBERT ISLANDS: Thirty VII Bomber Command B-24s join USN warships in the bombardment of Japanese positions in Tarawa and Makin atolls, and on Nauru Island; Task Group 50.4 carrier aircraft attack Nauru; and Task Group 50.3 carrier aircraft attack Tarawa Atoll with 69 tons of bombs; and Task Group 50.2 carrier aircraft attack Makin Atoll.

Lt(jg) Hamilton McWhorter, III, a VF-9 F6F pilot, becomes the first F6F Hellcat ace when he downs a G4M near Tarawa Atoll at 0550 hours; four VF-2 F6F pilots down an E8N near Makin Atoll at 0830 hours; four VF-22 F6F down a G4M at sea at 0830 hours; a VF-60 F6F pilot downs an H8K at sea at 0945 hours; a VF-18 F6F pilot downs a G4M near Tarawa Atoll at 1040 hours; two VF-9 F6F pilots down a G4M at sea at 1455 hours; and VF-23 F6F pilots down two A6Ms over Nauru at 1555 hours.

INDIA: The 5309th Provisional Air Service Area Command is activated at Chabua Airdrome to oversee supply and maintenance of USAAF aircraft in the region.

MARSHALL ISLANDS: Task Group 50.1 carrier aircraft attack the Mille Airdrome and flying boats and floatplane fighters moored in Jaluit Atoll.

NEW GUINEA: Approximately 30 V Bomber Command B-25s and B-26s attack IJA ground positions around Sattelberg; and 3d Light Bombardment Group A-20s attack Finschhafen.

SOLOMON ISLANDS:Ten 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s attack Ballale Airdrome and Matchin Bay.

VMF-221, in F4Us, displaces to New Georgia/Munda Field from Guadalcanal.

November 20, 1943

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: Fifty V Bomber Command B-24s attack Gasmata.

During the night of November 20–21, VP-101 Black Cat PBYs sink a cargo ship in Rabaul harbor.

CHINA: Despite bad weather that grounds other missions, two 11th Medium Bombardment Squadron B-25s are able to attack barracks and warehouses on Nampang Island.

GILBERT ISLANDS: U.S. forces launch Operation GALVANIC, the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. Following intense air and naval-surface bombardments, the U.S. 2d Marine Division lands at Betio Island in Tarawa Atoll, and elements of the U.S. 27th Infantry Division land at Butaritari Island in Makin Atoll.

At 0611 hours, USN carrier aircraft from Task Group 50.2 (Northern Carrier Force) mount a 20-minute attack against beach defenses at Butaritari and thereafter stand by to cover the USN surface bombardment force and provide ground support as needed. As U.S. Army ground troops begin landing at 0832 hours, carrier aircraft bomb preselected inland targets.

At 0615 hours, USN carrier aircraft from Task Group 50.3 (Southern Carrier Group) mount a firece seven-minute attack against shore defenses on Betio and thereafter stand by to cover the USN surface bombardment force and provide ground support as needed. Owing to delays in landing the first waves, the carrier aircraft attack shore defenses again at 0855 hours. Thereafter, F6Fs provide continuous on-call support for the USMC ground forces.

A VF-16 F6F pilot downs an G4M at sea at 0930 hours.

Beginning at about 1755 hours, 16 Marshalls-based G4M night torpedo bombers attack Task Group 50.3 while USN aircraft are landing. VF-18 F6F pilots down five G4Ms and ships’ gunners down four, but one G4M scores a single torpedo hit on the USS Independence (Light Carrier Air Group 22), which is forced to retire to Funafuti, the nearest friendly base.

During the night of November 20–21, a USMC reconnaissance company lands at Abemama Atoll from a USN submarine and swiftly occupies the atoll against negligible opposition. Abemama is to be the site of a new airfield.

INDIA: The Fourteenth Air Force’s 308th Heavy Bombardment Group begins a temporary displacement to the Bengal region of India to join the 7th Heavy Bombardment Group and RAF heavy bombers in a joint campaign against strategic targets in Burma. Two squadrons are based at Pandaveswar Airdrome with two squadrons of the 7th Group, and two squadrons are based at Pangarh Airdrome, also with two 7th Group squadrons.

MARSHALL ISLANDS: Task Group 50.1 carrier aircraft attack Mille Atoll.

NEW GUINEA: Fifty V Bomber Command B-25s and B-26s attack IJA ground positions around Sattelberg and luggers in Hansa Bay; and 3d Light Bombardment Group A-20s attack targets around Lae.

The V Fighter Command’s 49th Fighter Group displaces to Gusap Airdrome from Dobodura Airdrome.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Thirteenth Air Force B-25s, and P-38s, and USN PVs attack Bougainville/Bonis Airdrome, and several B-25s attack coastal targets around Empress Augusta Bay.

A VMF-222 F4U pilot downs a Ki-49 bomber near Bougainville at 0830 hours.

MajGen Ralph J. Mitchell assumes the post of ComAirSols from MajGen Nathan F. Twining, who has been posted to a high command position in Italy. Mitchell will continue to command the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing and MASP.

VMSB-243, in SBDs, displaces to New Georgia/Munda Field following garrison duty on Johnston and Palmyra islands.

SOUTH PACIFIC AREA: VMF-321, in F4Us, arrives at Efate/Vila Field from the United States.

UNITED STATES: The XX Bomber Command is formally activated under the command of BriGen Kenneth B. Wolfe and initially assigned to the Second Air Force pending the creation of an air force to oversee B-29 very-heavy-bomber operations. Also activated is the 73d Very Heavy Bombard Wing. And the 58th Heavy Bombardment Wing, which is already training in B-29s at Smoky Hill, Kansas, is redesignated as the 58th Very Heavy Bombardment Wing.

November 21, 1943

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: V Bomber Command B-24s attack Gasmata.

CHINA: Four 11th Medium Bombardment Squadron B-25s attack Taiping-hu Airdrome and mount antishipping strikes in the South China Sea; four B-25s and 12 Fourteenth Air Force P-40s attack Tzeli; 29 P-40s attack small craft on Tungting Lake; 12 P-40s attack five vessels and other targets in the Shihmen area; and eight P-40s attack river boats and IJA ground troops near Tsowshih.

GILBERT ISLANDS: 11th Heavy Bombardment Group B-24s based at Funafuti and Nonomea airdromes attack Nauru Island; and VD-3 PB4Ys escorted by 30th Heavy Bombardment Group B-24s, photograph the island.

Fighting continues at Tarawa and Makin atolls. USN carrier aircraft continue to provide continuous on-call support of the landing forces.

VF-2 and VF-6 F6F pilots down two G4Ms at sea at about 0610 hours.

MARSHALL ISLANDS: Task Group 50.1 carrier aircraft attack Mille Atoll.

NEW GUINEA: V Bomber Command B-24s and B-25s attack shipping targets; and 3d Light Bombardment Group A-20s attack targets in the Finschhafen area.

SOLOMON ISLANDS:A small number of 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s strafe Kieta while conducting antishipping patrols.

VF-17 F4U pilots down six A6M strafers over Empress Augusta Bay at 0535 hours; and a 67th Fighter Squadron P-39 pilot downs a Ki-61 over Cape Torokina at 0630 hours.

November 22, 1943

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: More than 100 V Bomber Command B-24s and B-25s attack Cape Gloucester and Gasmata; and B-24s attack ships off Kavieng.

CHINA: Sixteen Fourteenth Air Force P-40s attack troop-laden boats on Tungting Lake, and P-40s attack Yangtze River traffic.

EGYPT: Allied leaders attend the SEXTANT Conference in Cairo to consider the changing war situation.

GILBERT ISLANDS: Fighting continues at Tarawa and Makin atolls.

MARSHALL ISLANDS: Eleven VII Bomber Command B-24s based at Canton Island Airdrome attack Mille Atoll; and Task Group 50.1 carrier aircraft attack Mille Atoll.

NEW GUINEA: Twenty-two V Bomber Command B-25s and A-20s attack IJA ground troops around Sattelberg.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Five USN PB4Ys, eight AirSols P-38s, and eight AirSols F4Us attack Buka Airdrome; and XIII Fighter Command P-38s attack barges and shore targets at Chabai.

November 23, 1943

CHINA: Thirteen 11th Medium Bombardment Squadron B-25s escorted by 24 Fourteenth Air Force P-40s and seven A-36s, attack rail yards and warehouses and Yoyang; and eight P-40s attack IJA cavalry and river traffic near Hanshow.

GILBERT ISLANDS: VF-16 F6F pilots down 17 A6Ms near Makin Atoll at appromimately 1005 hours.

Lt(jg) Eugene R. Hanks, a VF-16 F6F pilot, becomes the first F6F ace in a day when he downs five A6Ms (and probably downs a sixth) near Tarawa Atoll at 1006 hours.

U.S. Army troops overcome resistance on Butaritari Island in Makin Atoll, and U.S. Marines secure Betio Island in Tarawa Atoll after a particularly bloody fight that points up the low state-of-the-art effectiveness of air and naval bombardment. Moves are made to completely secure both atolls and some outlying island groups still occupied by Japanese forces.

MARSHALL ISLANDS: Six VII Bomber Command B-24s based at Nukufetau Airdrome attack Jaluit Atoll; and Task Group 50.1 carrier aircraft attack Mille Atoll.

NEW GUINEA:V Bomber Command B-25s and A-20s attack occupied villages around Finschhafen.

P-40 pilots with the 35th Fighter Group’s 40th Fighter Squadron down an A6M and a Ki-43 near Saidor at 0955 hours.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Nineteen XIII Bomber Command B-24s attack Bougain-ville/Bonis and Buka airdromes; 23 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s, six USN PVs, and 24 AirSols F4Us, attack Chabai; and four B-25s attack coastal villages on Bougainville while conducting antishipping patrols.

VMF-216, in F4Us, displaces to the Banika Airdrome from the New Hebrides to relieve VMF-211 of patrol duties.

SOUTH PACIFIC AREA: MajGen Hubert R. Harmon is named South Pacific Area Deputy Commander for Air, and Col Earl W. Barnes becomes commanding officer of the XIII Fighter Command.

November 24, 1943

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: More than 20 V Bomber Command B-24s attack Gasmata. This concludes a five-day bombing offensive amounting to 133 B-24 sorties and 63 B-25 sorties.

CHINA: Five 11th Medium Bombardment Squadron B-25s and 16 Fourteenth Air Force P-40s attack Hanshow; and two B-25s attack Amoy.

EAST INDIES: Eighteen V Bomber Command B-25s attack shipping at Halmahera.

GILBERT ISLANDS: An IJN submarine sinks the escort carrier USS Liscome Bay off Makin Atoll at 0513 hours. Six hundred forty-four men are killed, including many airmen from VC-39 and RAdm Henry M. Mullinnix, the Carrier Division 24 commander.

VF-16 F6F pilots down two G4Ms and 10 A6Ms near Makin Atoll at 1230 hours. One of them, Lt(jg) Alfred L. Frendberg, achieves ace status when he downs three A6Ms.

Work is begun to rehabilitate and improve the former-IJN airfields on Betio and Butaritari islands, both of which will be needed to support the projected advance to the Marshall Islands.

INDIA: Airfield-construction units begin reaching Indian bases from the United States.

MARSHALL ISLANDS: Twenty VII Bomber Command B-24s based at Nanomea Airdrome attack land targets and shipping in Maloelap Atoll; and Task Group 50.1 carrier aircraft attack Mille Atoll.

NEW GUINEA: More than 30 V Bomber Command B-25s, B-26s, and A-20s attack Kalasa; and 15 B-25s and A-20s attack Finschhafen.

Col Neel E. Kearby replaces BriGen Paul B. Wurtsmith as head of the V Fighter Command.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Twenty-five XIII Bomber Command B-24s attack Buka and Chabai; 20 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s attack Bougainville/Kahili Airdrome; and six B-25s attack a possible radio station at Mutupina Point.

The six-man crew of a B-25 by a USN PBY within antiaircraf-gun range of Bougainville/Kahili Airdrome.

A USMC SBD makes a successful emergency landing at Bougainville’s nearly completed Bougainville/Torokina fighter strip.

November 25, 1943

BURMA: A joint coordinated USAAF–RAF bomber offensive begins against Rangoon-area strategic targets.

Despite bad weather throughout the region, 11 490th Medium Bombardment Squadron B-25s and an unknown number of RAF bombers attack Japanese installations in the Rangoon area, including Rangoon/Mingaladon Airdrome. Escort for the B-25s is provided by the 530th Fighter Squadron.

Sixty 308th Heavy Bombardment Group B-24s on loan to the Tenth Air Force fail to locate Zyatkwin Airdrome or locomotive repair shops at Insein due to heavy clouds over both targets, but several B-24s attack Akyab Airdrome on the return flight to India. Two B-24s crash on takeoff, killing all aboard, and one B-24 that is fatally damaged by ground fire over the target crashes with all aboard.

P-51 pilots of the 311th Fighter Group’s 530th Fighter Squadron down four Ki-45s over Rangoon and Mingaladon at 1300 hours. However, two P-51s are lost. This is the 311th Fighter Group’s combat debut, and the first appearance of P-51 fighters in combat anywhere in the world.

Col Harry R. Melton, Jr., the 311th Fighter Group commanding officer, is taken prisoner after his P-51 is fatally damaged by a Ki-45 over Rangoon/Mingaladon Airdrome.

FORMOSA: On the basis of recent aerial intelligence reports, the Fourteenth Air Force mounts its first attack against Formosa/Shinchiku Airdrome. Led by the 23d Fighter Group commanding officer, Col David L. Hill, 14 11th Medium Bombardment Squadron B-25s, eight 449th Fighter Squadron P-38s, and eight newly committed 311th Fighter Group P-51A fighter-bombers (flown by Hill, several other 23d Fighter Group pilots, and several 311th Group pilots) fly from their temporary base at Suichwan Airdrome across the Formosa Strait at low altitude to attack the crowded Formosa/Shinchiku Airdrome. The P-51A and P-38 pilots down 14 fighters, bombers, and transports over the base at 1700 hours, and then the B-25s and P-51As destroy 42 Japanese aircraft on the ground. There are no USAAF losses.

Sixteen Fourteenth Air Force P-40s attack boats in the Changte–Hanshow area.

GILBERT ISLANDS: VF-1, in F6Fs, arrives at Tarawa Atoll aboard two escort carriers. As soon as Betio’s airfield (renamed Hawkins Field) is rehabilitated, VF-1 will begin a land-based combat tour.

Just after sunset, 13 Marshalls-based G4Ms, aided by parachute flares, attack the U.S. invasion fleet off Makin Atoll with torpedoes. No hits are scored. In a second attack against the northern USN carriers, USN F6F pilots guided by a VT-6 radar-equipped TBF down three G4Ms at sea between 1725 and 1928 hours. Lost in this action, however, is LCdr Edward H. ("Butch") O’Hare—the VF-6 commanding officer, the U.S. Navy’s first World War II fighter ace, and a Medal of Honor recipient. It is possible that O’Hare’s F6F is the victim of the TBF, which also claims an aerial victory this night.

MARSHALL ISLANDS: Task Group 50.1 carrier aircraft attack Mille Atoll.

NEW GUINEA: V Fighter Command fighter-bombers attack targets on the Bogadjim road.

A 348th Fighter Group P-47 pilot downs a Ki-46 near Wewak at 1010 hours.

Australian Army ground forces capture Sattelberg.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: VMSB-236, in SBDs, displaces to New Georgia/Munda Field from Guadalcanal. Also, VMTB-134, in TBFs, arrives at New Georgia/Munda Field from the United States by way of the New Hebrides. The new unit will undertake level-bombing missions against targets on Bougainville.

November 26, 1943

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: V Bomber Command B-24s attack Gasmata and an IJN cruiser at Ubili.

BURMA: Although the day’s heavy-bomber mission against Rangoon is scrubbed because of heavy weather, 13 RAF Wellingtons attack marshalling yards in the city during the night of November 26–27.

CHINA: Five 11th Mediums Bombardment Squadron B-25s and 16 Fourteenth Air Force P-51s and P-40s attack Kiangling Airdrome; two B-25s attack a freighter on Honghai Bay; and 12 P-40s attack boats in the Changte-Tehshan area.

EGYPT: Before concluding the SEXTANT Conference, Allied leaders agree to mount an amphibious invasion in Burma (Operation CHAMPION) and to clear a land route from India to China through Burma. The leaders also approve plans for Operation TWILIGHT, the basing of USAAF B-29 very-heavy bombers in China.

FRENCH INDOCHINA: Eight Fourteenth Air Force P-40s attack rail facilities at Cam Duong.

GILBERT ISLANDS: Following up on a de facto occupation by USMC scouts, a large occupation force is landed at Abemama Atoll, where a new airfield is to be constructed. A new airfield is also to be constructed in Makin Atoll.

The first American airplane to land at Betio/Hawkins Field is a VMJ-353 R4D.

NEW GUINEA: Nearly 40 V Bomber Command B-25 and B-26s attack barges near Sio; and V Fighter Command P-40s and P-47s attack occupied villages and targets of opportunity around Alexishafen, Madang, and Nubia.

8th Fighter Group P-40 pilots and 35th Fighter Group P-39 pilots turn back a Japanese bomber force on its way to Finschhafen and down seven Ki-43s and two A6Ms between Finschhafen and Saidor between 1100 and 1130 hours.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: More than 40 XIII Bomber Command B-24s, more than 30 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s, and more than 30 AirSols fighters attack Bougainville/Bonis and Buka airdromes; one B-25 attacks Ballale Airdrome; and several USN PVs attack Nissan Island in the Green Islands.

November 27, 1943

AUSTRALIA: The Fifth Air Force’s 6th Photographic Reconnaissance Group displaces to Brisbane from Sydney.

BURMA: Despite interception over the target by as many as 40 Japanese fighters, all available 7th and 308th Heavy Bombardment group B-24s and 490th Medium Bombardment Squadron B-25s, escorted by P-38s and P-51s, destroy 70 percent of the locomotive repair shops at Insein. Three B-24s, four P-51s, and two P-38s are downed by Japanese fighters, but P-51s pilots from the 311th Fighter Group’s 530th Fighter Squadron down four Japanese fighters over Rangoon at 1300 hours.

During the night of November 27–28, seven RAF Liberators attack the Rangoon dock area.

CHINA: Four 11th Medium Bombardment Squadron B-25s attack a convoy near Amoy and port facilities at Swatow.

MARSHALL ISLANDS: Eight VII Bomber Command B-24s based at Canton Island and Nukufetau airdromes attack Mille Airdrome.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: More than 20 XIII Bomber Command B-24s attack Buka Airdrome; 19 B-24s attack Bougainville/Bonis Airdrome; five 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s attack Queen Carola Harbor; and a small number of USAAF B-25s and USN PVs attack targets near Mutupina Point.

November 28, 1943

BURMA: 7th Heavy Bombardment Group B-24s attack port facilities at Rangoon; and 490th Bombardment Squadron B-25s attack Sagaing.

P-51s pilots from the 311th Fighter Group’s 530th Fighter Squadron down four Japanese fighters over Rangoon at 1155 hours.

During the night of November 28–29, RAF Wellingtons attack targets in Rangoon.

CHINA: Eight Fourteenth Air Force P-40s attack barracks and other targets at Litsaoho; and eight P-40 air-drop ammunition to Chinese Army forces encircled at Changte.

FRENCH INDOCHINA: Six Fourteenth Air Force P-40s strafe Luang Prabang Airdrome and Tran Ninh.

GILBERT ISLANDS: Eleven VII Bomber Command B-24s based at Nanomea Airdrome attack Nauru Island.

Tarawa Atoll is declared secure. USMC scouts begin inspecting other atolls in the Gilberts.

During the evening, a small number of Marshalls-based G4Ms attack several USN surface warships of the northern task force, but no damage results. The ships claim the downing of several of the G4Ms.

NEW GUINEA: Approximately 50 V Bomber Command B-24s attack Boram and Wewak airdromes; and more than 40 B-25s, B-26s, and A-20s attack trails near Finschhafen and occupied villages on the Huon Peninsula.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Six 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s attack targets around Mutupina Point; and AirSols fighters attack numerous targets on Bougainville and in the Shortland Islands.

VMF-214 displaces to Vella Lavella/Barakoma Field from New Georgia/Munda Field.

VMF-123 is withdrawn to the United States for retraining and reorganization.

November 29, 1943

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: Thirty-five V Bomber Command B-25s and B-26s attack Cape Gloucester.

CHINA: Six 11th Medium Bombardment Squadron B-25s attack targets at Amoy and Swatow, and along the nearby coast; 24 Fourteenth Air Force P-40s air-drop ammunition and food to Chinese Army troops encircled at Changte and attack ground targets on the return flight.

GILBERT ISLANDS: A VF-18 F6F pilot downs a G4M at sea at 1245 hours.

NEW GUINEA: Six V Bomber Command B-24s attack a barracks at Manokwari.

Australian Army ground forces advancing up the coast from Sattelburg seize several towns, including a Japanese supply base, without a fight.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Twenty-one XIII Bomber Command B-24s attack Kieta; 18 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s and AirSols P-39s and SBDs attack targets on the Bougainville coast.

Construction work is begun on Bougainville/Piva Uncle Airdrome.

November 30, 1943

BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO: V Bomber Command B-24s attack New Britain/Cape Gloucester Airdrome; and B-25s attack targets on the New Britain coast.

BURMA: During the night of November 30–December 1, RAF Wellingtons attack targets in Rangoon.

CENTRAL PACIFIC: After being relieved by a VII Fighter Command P-39 squadron, VMF-441 is withdrawn from Nanomea Airdrome to Samoa to transition from F4Fs to F4Us.

CHINA: Eight Fourteenth Air Force P-40s strafe boats near Ansiang; six P-40 fighter-bombers attack fuel and ammunition dumps at Luchiangpa; and P-40s air-drop supplies to Chinese Army forces encircled at Changte.

GILBERT ISLANDS: Six VMSB-331 SBDs and maintenance personnel displace to Betio/Hawkins Field from Nukufetau Airdrome.

MARSHALL ISLANDS: Eighteen VII Bomber Command B-24s dispatched from Nanomea Airdrome to attack Maloelap Atoll abort in the face of bad weather, but two from that flight and ten others based at Canton Island Airdrome are able to complete the mission.

NEW GUINEA: V Bomber Command B-24s attack Alexishafen; and B-25s attack Kalasa and motor vehicles near Waroe.

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Seventeen 42d Medium Bombardment Group B-25s attack Malai in the Shortland Islands; several USN PVs attack Mawareka; and AirSols fighters attack numerous targets on Bougainville, Choiseul, and in the Shortlands

VF-33, in F6Fs, displaces from New Georgia/Segi Field to New Georgia/Ondonga Field.

By about this date, VMF-222, in F4Us, displaces to Vella Lavella/Barakoma Field from New Georgia/Munda Field; VMF-223, also in F4Us, displaces to Vella Lavella/Barakoma Field from Midway; and VMSB-234 is withdrawn to the United States for reorganization and retraining as a carrier-based TBF squadron.