Lt Moore was flying when he was attacked by what he at first thought was a Zero. However, it soon became obvious to him that it was in fact a F4U Corsair. The pilot of this plane was , one of the Major Gregory "Pappy" Boyington highest scoring aces of World War II. Boyington was a member of the famous "Flying Tigers" who flew in the China area of the War (remember the John Wayne movie?). He later commanded a group in the Pacific which gained the name "Black Sheep", later made famous in the TV show "Baa Baa Black Sheep".
Anyway, Boyington attacked at a distance of 100 yards and hit the Hellcat at least twice, one behind the cockpit and once high on the port side of the engine (there appears to be two obvious hits on the plane, one at the front bottom of the tail and once behind the cockpit). The Hellcat sprung an oil leak (not from the oil tank as the armoured tank is intact). Moore fired a warning shot back at Boyington and this appears to have stopped the attack. Since the plane was definitely hit in the engine, it seems it was hit by at least three of Boyington's bullets.
The Hellcat was leaking oil and this caused smoke to come from the engine. The loss of oil was obviously going to eventually cause the engine to seize so Moore nursed his plane all the way from Bellale Island back to the area to the north-west of Gizo. When three kilometres south of Kolombangara Island in Blackett Strait, Moore landed his plane in the ocean, presumably after the engine seized or started to seize. Flaps fully down and in a full stall, this was a perfect landing. The time was 1530. Moore climbed onto the wing, inflated his life jacket and raft. The plane was reported as being about 100 feet from a reef. It was located between Blackett Strait and Vonavona Lagoon, between three small islets and near Queue Island. Perhaps this is how Boyington became an Ace - shooting down US planes!
Before Moore could get into his raft, a canoe with 15 natives arrived and they attempted to get him to get into their canoe. Another canoe arrived with 6 natives and a Private Nash from the US Army. Moore got into one of the canoes and was taken to an island where Lt Evans of the Australian Army was based (Evans also rescued President John F. Kennedy and his crew when his patrol boat was sunk).
Evans gave Moore dry clothes, a cup of tea and lime-ade. He sent Moore in a canoe to another island (time was now 1630) and at 0800 on the next morning, 17 September 1943, Moore arrived at Munda, about 20 kilometres away. By 1030 he was back at Fighter One on Guadalcanal
Information relating to Pacific Wrecks website
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http://www.michaelmcfadyenscuba.info/vi ... age_id=392
That is indeed how the story goes. It's been a while since I was there, but Danny Kennedy at Dive Gizo has done research and I read a file that described the incident pretty much like the above. The F6F in question is nearly intact and an easy dive.
If it wasn't true why would it be mentioned in Boyington's book? I'm going from memory, but I think his book mentions that he shot a plane that he thought was Japanese, and then he recoginized it as American and stopped firing.