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May 1942
Today in World War II Pacific History
Day by day chronology

FRIDAY, 1 MAY 1942

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA (10th Air Force): X Air Service Command is activated under command of Brigadier General Elmer E Adler.

AUSTRALIA - P-39 Airacobras on a ferry flight from Townsville via Cooktown to Port Moresby. They ran into a heavy storm near Horn Island and force landed. Lost are P-39D 41-6951, P-39F 41-7215, P-39F 41-7216 and P-39 piloted by Love.

SATURDAY, 2 MAY 1942

Australia (5th Air Force): 8th Photographic Squadron, 5th Air Force transfers from Brisbane to Garbutt Field with F-4's. Lost is B-26 40-1426.

RAAF: Lost over Port Moresby is P-40E A29-48.

IJN: Japanese forces land on Florida Island. Over Port Moresby, lost is A6M2 Zero piloted by Kawanishi.

SATURDAY, 3 MAY 1942

Guadalcanal - Japanese occupy Tulagi.

5th AF - P-39s intercept Japanese aicraft over Port Moresby. Lost is P-39D 41-6909.
MONDAY, 4 MAY 1942

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA (10th Air Force): HQ 35th Pursuit Group (Interc.eptor) is transferred without personnel and equipment from New Delhi to Sydney.

Guadalcanal - Battle of the Coral Sea begins with a US carrier-based air attack on Tulagi. Lost is PBY A24-18 off southern Bougainville.

CORAL SEA - Battle of the Coral Sea- May 4 - 8 In the first naval engagement of history fought without opposing ships making contact, United States carrier forces stopped a Japanese attempt to land at Port Moresby by turning back the covering carrier force. Task Force 17 (Rear Admiral F. J. Fletcher) with the carrier Yorktown, bombed Japanese transports engaged in landing troops in Tulagi Harbor, damaging several and sinking one destroyer (4 May); joined other Allied naval units including Task Force 11 (Rear Admiral A. W. Fitch) with the carrier Lexington south of the Louisiades (5 May); and after stationing an attack group in the probable track of the enemy transports, moved northward in search of the enemy covering force. Carrier aircraft located and sank the light carrier Shoho covering a convoy (7 May), while Japanese aircraft hit the separately operating attack group and sank one destroyer and one fleet tanker. The next day the Japanese covering force was located and taken under air attack, which damaged the carrier Shokaku. Almost simultaneously enemy carrier aircraft attacked Task Force 17, scoring hits which damaged Yorktown and set off uncontrollable fires on Lexington, as a result of which she was abandoned and was sunk (8 May). Although the score favored the Japanese, they retired from action and their occupation of Port Moresby by sea was deferred and finally abandoned.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): B-26's bomb Vunakanau. P-39's and B-17's hit the airfield at Lae. HQ 27th Bombardment Group and 16th, 17th and 91st Bombardment Squadrons transfer without personnel and equipment from Batchelor Field and Charters Towers, Australia to Hunter Field, Savannah, Georgia. The units will be remanned and equipped and fight in the Mediterranean. Lost on a mission against Lae are P-39D 41-6825 (MIA) and P-39D 41-6971 (MIA), P-39F 41-7145 (MIA) and F-4 Lightning 41-2126 (MIA). Lost over the Brown River area is P-39F 41-7207 (MIA).

TUESDAY, 5 MAY 1942

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA (CBI) (10th Air Force): On a raid against Mingaladon Airfield during the night of 4/5 May, four B-17's bomb a hangar and parked aircraft; the crews claim 40 aircraft destroyed but searchlights make accurate observation impossible.

(5th Air Force): 28th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy), transfers from Cloncurry to Longreach with B-17's; a detachment is operating from Perth.

WEDNESDAY, 6 MAY 1942

Philippines - US forces on Corregidor surrenders. All US organized resistance to the Japanese in the Philippines ends. This brings the total area of lands occupied by the Japanese Empire to 20 million square miles of land and ocean.

CBI (10th Air Force): Mingaladon Airfield is hit for the second consecutive night; 3 B-17's score direct hits on fuel dumps at the field.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): B-17's unsuccessfully attack shipping in Bougainville / Solomon area. The air and ground echelons of the following AAF units are killed or captured; the units are carried as active units without personnel until 2 Apr 46: 24th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) 2d Observation Squadron (Medium) 3d, 17th, 20th, 21st and 34th Pursuit Squadrons (Interceptor) 14th Bombardment Squadron Most of the ground echelon of the following units were killed or captured: V Bomber Command 5th Interceptor Command (Provisional) 19th Bombardment Group 27th Bombardment Group 16th, 17th and 91st Bombardment Squadrons 28th, 30th and 93d Bombardment Squadrons. Lost is RAAF PBY A24-20.


THURSDAY, 7 MAY 1942
SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): The Battle of the Coral Sea approaches its climax as Allied naval forces intercept Japanese naval forces near Misima. US Navy dive bombers sink the aircraft carrier Shoho. Allied forces lose the destroyer USS Simms (DD-409) and damaged is USS Neosho (AO-23). Allied Air Force bombers join the battle but their effect is limited; several bombers attack Allied vessels by mistake. Japanese bombers attack Admiral Crace's task force. Lost is G4M1 Betty 2271 that ditches at Deboyne. Also lost is B-17E 41-2631.

USN: Ditched after attacking Shoho is SBD Dauntless piloted by Quigley (crew rescued May 26)

IJN: A6M2 Zero ditched off Nivani. Also, B5N2 Kate EI-306 and B5N2 Kate EI-302 ditch at Indispensible Reef.

FRIDAY, 8 MAY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): The main action of the Battle of the Coral Sea occurs as Allied and Japanese carrier forces clash. This is the first Japanese offensive of the war to be completely repulsed. Lost are B-25C 41-12486 and P-39F Airacobra 41-7188.

Allied bombers join USN aircraft in attacking the enemy's main support force which around the south of San Cristobal. The aircraft carrier Shōkaku is severely damaged by aircraft from the carriers USS Lexington CV-2 and USS Yorktown CV-5. Afterwards, USS Lexington CV-2 is damaged so severely that it later is sunk by USN fire. USS YORKTOWN also suffers damage from aircraft. Both sides lose heavily in aircraft, US losses totalling 66 and the Japanese considerably more. The Allies turn back the sea assault against Port Moresby, a key base in New Guinea and of great importance to the security of Australia. The battle is the first major naval engagement in history in which the opposing warships do not exchange a shot. The Coral Sea battle marks the end of the period in which the Allied forces in the are only on the defensive and paves the way for offensive operations. The reconnaissance work of the AAF proves of greater importance than its bombardment operations, which have no real effects on the battle. Lack of USN-AAF coordination is apparent from the Coral Sea action, and this eventually leads to better interservice communication.

USN: Lost is SBD "CLAG" 4679.

IJN: Lost is D3A1 Val 3381.

SATURDAY, 9 MAY 1942

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA (10th Air Force): During the night of 8/9 May, six B-17's bomb Mingaladon and attack the docks at Rangoon.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): 8 B-26's and a single B-17 attack shipping and seaplanes at Deboyne. 8th Bombardment Squadron, 3d Bombardment Group, transfers from Port Moresby to Charters Towers with A-20's; combat operations continue.

IJN: Tainan Kokutai Zeros strafe 7 Mile Drome. Damaged by friendly anti-aircraft fire is P-39D 41-161?? pilot McGee force landed on Fishermans Island.


SUNDAY, 10 MAY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): B-17's attack Kessa in the North Solomon while 3rd BG B-25s from the 3rd BG and B-26's from the 22nd BG hit the seaplane base at Deboyne. Lost are B-26 40-1402 (MIA) and B-25C "El Diablo" 41-12511 (crew survived).

U. S. Army - The last U.S. Army forces in the Philippines officially surrender.

(USN) USS Ranger on a transatlantic ferry trip, reached a position off the African Gold Coast and launched 60 P-40 Warhawks of the Army Air Force to Accra, from which point they were flown in a series of hops to Karachi, India, for operations with the 10th AAF. This was the first of four ferry trips made by the Ranger to deliver AAF fighters across the Atlantic, the subsequent launches being accomplished on 19 July 1942, 19 January 1943, and 24 February 1943.

USN: Inshore Patrol Squadron VS-4-D14 arrived in the Tonga with the base construction and garrison convoy and set up facilities to conduct antisubmarine patrols from Nukualofa Harbor on Tongatabu.

MONDAY, 11 MAY 1942

11--The President ordered that an Air Medal be established for award to any person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard after 8 September 1939, distinguishes or has distinguished himself by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight.

USN - Scuttled is USS Neosho (AO-23) after the Battle of the Coral Sea.



TUESDAY, 12 MAY 1942

Philippines - Last U.S. troops in Philippines surrender on Mindanao

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA (10th Air Force): B-17's fly their first mission in direct defense of the air cargo line to China when 4 B-17's from Dum Dum Airfield heavily damage the runways and set fire to several parked aircraft at Myitkyina Airfield, which fell to the Japanese on 8 May, poses a serious fighter threat Dinjan.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): B-17's and B-26's hit shipping in Simpson Harbor and the Lakunai Airfield. 30th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy), transfers from Cloncurry to Longreach with B-17's.

WEDNESDAY, 13 MAY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): B-17's and B-26's hit shipping Simpson Harbor and the Lakunai Airfield. 30th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy), transfers from Cloncurry to Longreach with B-17's.

IJN: A6M2 piloted by Honda shot down over Port Moresby.

THURSDAY, 14 MAY 1942

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA (10th Air Force): B-17's pound Myitkyina Airfield for the second time, scoring direct hits on runways and several buildings.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): B-17's, B-26's and B-25's attack Rabaul and Lae. Force landed returning from the mission is B-25C Mitchell Serial Number 41-12497. Over Port Moresby, P-39 Airacobra piloted by Brown collided with A6M2 piloted by Oshima causing it to crash.

IJN: A6M2 piloted by Oshima (KIA) crashed near Port Moresby.



FRIDAY, 15 MAY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (, 5th Air Force): B-25's, B-26's and and B-17's hit the airfield and storehouses at Lae and Deboyne Seaplane Base. 64th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 43d Bombardment Group (Heavy), transfers from Sidney to Daly Waters, Australia with B-17's. Lost on a passenger flight is B-26 "Lil Deicer " 40-1390.

USN - The design of the National Star Insignia was revised by eliminating the red disc in the center of the star, and use of horizontal red and white rudder striping was discontinued.

SATURDAY, 16 MAY 1942

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA (10th Air Force): HQ 10th Air Force completes its move from the US to New Delhi. B-17's again strike at Myitkyina Airfield, pounding runways and buildings. Subsequent reconnaissance indicates that the runways are unusable.

SOUTH PACIFIC OCEAN AREA (SOPAC, 7th Air Force): 68th Fighter Squadron, 58th Fighter Group, transfers from Amberly Field to Tongatabu with P-40's.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): B-26's and and B-17's hit the airfield and storehouses at Lae. 3rd BG B-25s fly two sorties against Lae. The morning strike took off at 6:00am armed with twleve 100 lbs bombs. Led by led by Cpt. H. F. Lowery. Over Salamaua bad weather was encountered and the first flight split off in search of enemy shipping. Lt. Feltham assumed the lead and by following the coastline from Salamaua to Lae succeeded in wading the worst of bad tropical thunderstorms. Breaking out of a storm the flight spotted Lae ­ five miles ahead, just as Zeros took off to intercept them head on. The bombing run was made at 800' against anti-aircraft positions and supply dumps. After the attack the formation was scattered and returned individually. In an afternoon sortie, the B-25s return to bomb Lae Airfield again from 2,400', lost on the return flight is B-25C 41-12478 force landing at Aiyary Airstrip. Also bombers hit Deboyne Seaplane Base. 64th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 43d Bombardment Group (Heavy), transfers from Sidney to Daly Waters, Australia with B-17's.


SUNDAY, 17 MAY 1942

PACIFIC OCEAN AREA (POA, 7th Air Force): The 7th Air Force is placed on alert in anticipation of a possible attack on Midway. For the next 10 days the old B-18's on hand are used on sea searches to supplement the B-17's. VII Bomber Command receives an influx of B-17's during this period, and the 72d Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 5th Bombardment Group (Heavy), is converted from B-18's to B-17's.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): B-17's bomb shipping in Koepang Bay, HQ 19th Bombardment Group and 93d Bombardment Squadron transfers from Garbutt Field to Longreach with B-17's. Detachment of 28th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy), ceases operating from Perth and returns to Longreach with B-17's.

MONDAY, 18 MAY 1942

CARIBBEAN: The US and Panama sign an agreement concerning the use of Panama defense areas by US forces.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): HQ 19th Bombardment Group and 93d Bombardment Squadron transfers from Garbutt Field to Longreach with B-17's. Detachment of 28th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy), ceases operating from Perth and returns to Longreach with B-17's. B-17's bomb shipping in Koepang Bay. Lost at Townsville is P-39 piloted by Plain (KIA, BR). Port Moresby Air Raid - May 18, 1942. Lost are G4M1 Betty piloted by Oyama (KIA), G4M1 Betty piloted by Inoue (force landed) and P-39F 41-7191 (pilot MIA).

TUESDAY, 19 MAY 1942

CARIBBEAN (6th Air Force): 31st Fighter Squadron, 37th Fighter Group, transfers from Chorrera to Albrook Field with P-39's and P-40's.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): B-17's attack Koepang Airfield and AA guns at the airfield.

President Roosevelt presents the medal of honor to General James H. Doolittle for his role leading the April 18, 1942 bombing mission against Japan. Doolittle viewed the raid as a failure because all the B-25s were lost and the raid failed to cause any serious damage.

WEDNESDAY, 20 MAY 1942

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA (10th Air Force): 11th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy), arrives at Karachi from the US with B-17's; first mission is 3 Jun.

SOUTH PACIFIC OCEAN AREA (SOPAC, 7th Air Force): Admiral John S McCain, in Seaplane Tender USS TANGIER (AV-8) at Noumea, New Caledonia , assumes command as Commander Aircraft South Pacific Forces (COMAIRSOPAC). Ground echelon of 69th Bombardment Squadron (Medium), 38th Bombardment Group (Medium), transfers from Amberley Field, Australia to New Caledonia ; air echelon is at Hickam Field, with B-26's.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): B-17's attack Koepang Airfield and AA guns at the airfield.

USN - Rear Admiral J. S. McCain reported for duty as Commander Aircraft, South Pacific, a new command established to direct the operations of tender and shore-based aviation in the South Pacific area.

THURSDAY, 21 MAY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): B-26's bomb aircraft at Lae.

FRIDAY, 22 MAY 1942

(11th Air Force) Crashed is LB-30 Liberator AL-602

PACIFIC OCEAN AREA (POA, 7th Air Force): 19th Fighter Squadron, 18th Fighter Group, transfers from Bellows Field to Kualoa Field with P-40's; air echelon of 69th Bombardment Squadron (Medium), 38th Bombardment Group (Medium), arrives at Hickam Field with B-26's; ground echelon is on New Caledonia ; and 73d Fighter Squadron, 18th Fighter Group, transfers from Wheeler Field to Bellows Field with P-40's.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (, 5th Air Force): B-17's pound Lakunai Airfield while 22nd BG B-26's and 3rd BG B-25s of the hit the airfield at Lae and attack shipping in the harbor. Lost are B-25C 41-12981, B-25D 41-29692.

SATURDAY, 23 MAY 1942

PACIFIC OCEAN AREA (POA, 7th Air Force): 31st Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 5th Bombardment Group (Heavy), transfers from Hickam Field to Kipapa Field with B-17's and B-18's.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): Five B-25's of the 3rd BG strike the airfield and buildings at Lae. Lost are B-25C 41-12491 and B-25C 41-12462

SUNDAY, 24 MAY 1942

USN - Carriers Hornet and Enterprise move towards Pearl Harbor, where they will quickly be refitted and sent to Midway. The Japanese prepairing to attack Midway mistakenly believe these carriers are in the Solomons.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): Lost on a rescue mission to Aiyary Airstrip are: and A-24 41-15820. Three B-26 Marauders attack Vunakanau Airfield. Ditched is B-26 "Imogene VII" 40-1474.

RAAF: On a submarined search, two collided mid-air Hudson A16-191 and Hudson A16-194 over Giru, Queensland.

MONDAY, 25 MAY 1942

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS ALASKA (11th Air Force): 11th Fighter Squadron, 28th Composite Group, based at Elmendorf Field with P-40's sends a detachment to Cold Bay.

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA (10th Air Force): Four B-17's bomb Rangoon during the night of 24/25 May.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): B-17's bomb Vunakanau Airfield. Eight B-25s of the 3rd BG attack Lae. Lost are B-25C 41-12441, B-25C 41-12448, B-25C 41-12450, B-25C 41-12466 and B-25C 41-12498. Force landed near Port Moresby is B-25C "Irene" 41-12442. At Aiyary Airfield the surviving A-24 41-15822 crashed on take off. Also C-39 38-505 crashed on take off.


TUESDAY, 26 MAY 1942

JAPAN - Citing Japanese victories in the Coral Sea and other battles, Radio Tokyo announces that "America and Britain... have now been exterminated.. the British and American fleets cannot appear on the oceans."

ALASKA (11th Air Force): 11th Fighter Squadron, 28th Composite Group, based at Elmendorf Field sends a detachment to Umnak with P-40's.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): Lost is P-39F 41-7221.


WEDNESDAY, 27 MAY 1942

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA (10th Air Force): 11th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy), transfers from Karachi to Lahabad with B-17's.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): B-17's bomb Rabaul. 8th FG P-39s intercept Japanese fighters attacking Port Moresby. Lost is P-39F 41-7153 (MIA) and P-39F 41-7162 (pilot returned to duty).

USN - The transfer of Patrol Wing 4 from Seattle to the North Pacific began with the arrival of the Commander at Kodiak.

JAPAN - Japanese Midway invasion force depart Saipan & Guam



THURSDAY, 28 MAY 1942

ALASKA (11th Air Force): A B-17 flies the first armed reconnaissance from the secretly constructed airfield at Unmak, but finds no sign of the enemy. XI Fighter Command elements are not deployed at Unmak (P-40's and P-38's), Cold Bay (P-40's), Kodiak (P-39's), and Elmendorf Field [P-38's and Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Kittyhawks].

USA - Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson warns Americans along the west coast to expect a Japanese attack as retaliation for the April 18, 1942 "Dollittle Raid" against Japan.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): B-26's attack Lae Airfield. Shot down by A6M2 Zeros is B-26 40-1467. Airacobras from the 36th FS and fourteen Airacobras of the 35th FS took off from 7-Mile Drome at 0750 to intercept 20 A6M Zeros over Port Moresby. Three aircraft were lost, but all pilots returned to duty: P-39D 41-6970, P-39F 41-7190, P-39F piloted by Andres. The 36th FS claims 3 Zeros (Connell, Egan, Erickson), in fact the Japanese lost none.

New Hebridies - U.S. forces arrive at Espiritu Santo

FRIDAY, 29 MAY 1942

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA (10th Air Force): Four B-17's bomb Myitkyina Airfield from high-altitude. No activity is seen.

PACIFIC OCEAN AREA (POA, 7th Air Force): 19th Transport Squadron, 7th Air Force, transfers from Hickam Field to John Rodgers Airport with C-33's and C-53's.

(5th AF) Tainan Kokutai Zeros are intercepted SE of Port Moresby in the vicinity of Hood Bay at 0950 hours. Eighteen Zeros encountered 17 Airacobras. The US claimed three at the time but were later credited with four. Lost is A6M2 Zero piloted by Komori, that crashed near Iwaia (Oro Province). Came down at 1000 Hrs. The pilot was trailed and fired three shots but was killed resisting arrest. Pilot was carrying a map showing operations of planes from an island [Truk]. Thanks to Edward Rogers and Richard Dunn for this information. Lost is P-39F 41-7116 (pilot survived).

SATURDAY, 30 MAY 1942

ALASKA (11th Air Force): 77th Bombardment Squadron (Medium), 28th Composite Group, based at Elmendorf Field, begins operating from Umnak with B-26's.

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA (10th Air Force): B-17s bomb Myitkyina Airfield. Again no activity is observed and the attacks are discontinued. HQ 7th Bombardment Group transfers from Karachi to Dum Dum.

PACIFIC OCEAN AREA (POA, 7th Air Force): 7th Air Force begins flying B-17's from the Territory of Hawaii to Midway in the face of an expected attack on that . 394th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 5th Bombardment Group (Heavy), transfers from Hickam Field to Bellows Field with B-17's.

SUNDAY, 31 MAY 1942

ALASKA (11th Air Force): 54th Fighter Squadron, 55th Fighter Group (attached to XI Fighter Command) arrives at Elmendorf Field with P-40's.

PACIFIC OCEAN AREA (7th Air Force): B-17's on detached service at Midway begin search operations.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): B-17's attack Lae and Salamaua.

IJN - Three Japanese Type A Midget Submarines are launched against Sydney Harbor: M22, M24, M27. At 10:35pm HA-14 (M27) was scuttled after tangled in a anti-torpedo boom net. On June 1, 1942 in the early morning the other two are lost.

 

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