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Japanese missions against Gusap Airfield
November 10 - January 15, 1944

November 10, 1943
Three Ki-43 Oscars strafe Gusap. A C-47 was burned and two others damaged. The strafing Japanese fighters completed their attacks and got away several minutes before U.S. fighters arrived on the scene. Landing accidents caused when several 248th fighters landed on Alexishafen's inadequately repaired runway marred this successful attack. The commander of the 248th Sentai's 3rd chutai, 1st Lt. Hideo Ota, was killed and 2 nd Lt. Yoshihari Mayekawa was injured.

November 15, 1943
Ki-43 Oscars escort a dozen Ki-48 Lilys on a bombing mission against Gusap Airfield. Participating is the 248th Sentai that sent out eighteen Ki-43s, and lost four pilots KIA and one WIA. In total, one Ki-48 Lily and a total of six Ki-43s were lost and others damaged. Intercepted by defending P-40s of the 8th FG, 35th FS over the target, two P-40's are lost including P-40N 42-105509. One of the P-40s accidentally attacked one of the B-25 that was lost. On the ground, a fuel dump was hit and burned, also an aircraft emplacement was hit and 3-4 aircraft hit by shrapnel.

December 12, 1943
Ki-43s of the 59th Sentai flew as part of attack force with Ki-43s of the 248th. The Hayabusas provided close escort for nine Ki-49 Helen bombers in an attack on Gusap. Type 3 fighters were to provide top cover. Apparently the planned escort was twenty-four Type 1 fighters and twenty Type 3 fighters. Things did not go according to plan and the top cover became separated and some of the Type 1 fighters also failed to complete the mission.

The bombers effectively hit Gusap from 4,000 meters altitude and then eight P-40Ns of the 7th Fighter Squadron followed by four P-47Ds from the 9 th Squadron intercepted. Eight P-39s of the 40 th Fighter Squadron saw the action but failed to get close enough to engage. The Warhawks and Thunderbolts reported encountering 15 OSCARS and nine bombers. The P-40s claimed two BETTY bombers and one OSCAR definitely destroyed. One bomber (Type 100 heavy bomber no. 3295 of 7 th FR) went down and others returned shot up with dead and wounded crewmen on board. The P-39s saw an unidentified aircraft falling in flames. This was No. 3295. It was the only aircraft they observed falling. In all five P-40s were damaged by the fighters or bombers' gunners and two crash-landed. One Warhawk shot up by fighters and another hit by a bomber, limped back to base but were write-offs. The P-47s got in at the end of the action and claimed an OSCAR. No Japanese fighters were lost. The reports of some of American fighter pilots state: “The enemy pilots appeared experienced and willing to fight.”

January 15, 1944
In the early morning, four Ki-43 Oscars of the 59th Sentai strafe the airfield.

248th Sentai "Hard Luck" Fighter Unit by Richard Dunn

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