Japanese missions against Henderson Field
August 25, 1942
IJN: During the Battle of the Eastern Solomons (Second Battle of the Solomon Sea), five Japanese destroyers: Yayoi, Mutsuki, Isokaze, Kawakaze and Kagero shelled Henderson Field at night causing only minor damage.
September 14, 1942
Raid on Henderson Field by float planes, mostly F1M2s based at Rekata)
which came in low at dusk from the south. From all accounts, quite a show.
They were spread out in a loose gaggle and flew across dropping small bombs
and shootin the place up. They in turn suffered heavy losses.
The R-Area Air Force was called upon to provide air support,
and Admiral Jojima gathered what he had from the tenders Chitose, Kamikawa
Maru, Sanyo Maru and Sanuki Maru: 19 F1M2s, each armed with 60-kilogram bombs,
to be escorted by two of Kamikawa Maru's A6M2-Ns. At 5:30 p.m., however, the
A6M2-Ns were intercepted near Lunga by F4F-4 Wildcats and one, flown by Petty
Officer 3rd Class Matsutaro Omura, was shot down in flames by Lt. j.g. Elisha
T. Stover of VF-5. The other Japanese pilot, Lieutenant Jiro Ono, escaped and
claimed two of the F4Fs, although none in fact were lost.
Forty minutes later, the F1M2s appeared over Lunga and were attacked by more
Wildcats. An F1M2 from Chitose, with Petty Officer 2nd Class Fujiro Yamanaka
as its commanding observer, was shot down by Major John F. Dobbin of Marine
fighter squadron VMF-224, while 2nd Lt. George L. Hollowell broke up a formation
and damaged two F1M2 Petes from Sanuki Maru.
Between 6:25 and 6:30, more F1M2s descended over Henderson in shallow glides,
scattering bombs all over the area. Only four or five bombs actually hit the
airstrip, causing small fires and destroying a Bell P-400 Airacobra
that had already been consigned to the scrapyard. As the Petes retired into
the gathering dusk -- hurried along by 5-inch gunfire from the destroyers Sterrett
and Hull -- Dobbin engaged one of Sanyo Maru planes in a head-on duel and
sent it down in flames, killing Lieutenant Tadashi Yoneda and his observer,
WO Yoshiharu Sato. "Smoky" Stover also got into what he called a "real
dogfight" with an F1M2, trying to keep up with his surprisingly agile
prey through five or six tight scissors maneuvers before the floatplane finally
made a bouncing forced landing five miles east of Savo Island.
The Wildcat pilots claimed a total of nine F1M2s and one float-Zero, and the
3rd Defense Battalion's Special Weapons Group claimed two more Petes, but only
Omura's A6M2-N and two F1M2s were actually shot down. Several of the returning
biplanes had stood up to considerable punishment. One of Hollowell's opponents
brought his damaged plane back with his observer, Petty Officer 2nd Class Ichisaku
Yamada, wounded. Lieutenant Takeshi Horihashi's F1M2 also returned, although
it was so riddled that it capsized and then caught fire shortly after landing.
Expending the last of his ammunition on the Pete he had forced down, Stover
departed content that it would never fly again, but in spite of the damage
the F1M2 had taken, its crew, Seaman 1st Class Hiroshi Takayasu and Lt. j.g.
Kaneshige Watanabe, managed to take off and return to Rekata Bay. The floatplane
crews claimed five Wildcats shot down -- although the Americans lost none --
along with numerous other aircraft destroyed on the ground, but the Japanese
ground offensive against Henderson Field was a failure, and the R-Area Air
Force never staged a comparable raid against the air base.
October 1, 1942
(IJN) 4:30 a.m. on October 1, two Rekata Bay based F1M2s
bombed Lunga Point, inaugurating a series of intermittent nocturnal strikes
that the biplanes, operating singly or doubly, would make on Guadalcanal. Their
few bombs caused little damage, but the nuisance raids kept the Marines awake
at night, and the distinctive sound of the biplanes' engines earned them nicknames
Charlie" and "Washing Machine Charlie.". The sound
of "Louie the Louse," as the Americans called the slow-flying planes
when serving in an observation role, usually served notice that an offshore
bombardment was imminent.
October 13-14, 1942
(IJN) During the night of October 13/14, Japanese Tanaka Force bombards Henderson Field, including: Haruna (fires 483 shells) and Kongo fires (fires 435 shells) 14" shells including thousand pound Type 3 HE shells originally designed as anti-aircraft rounds. Each Type 3 round contains 470 individual incendiary submunitions. After the HE shells are expended, the bombardment continues with less effective AP shells. Kurita's battleships destroy more than 40 U.S. aircraft on the ground.
October 25, 1942
(JAAF) Ki-46 Dinah piloted by Captain Kirita Hideo of the 76th Independent Air Squadron flew low over Henderson
Field and was shot down.
It crashed near the strip, and Army helmets were
recovered from the wreck. It was soon discovered the dead aircrew wore IJA rather than IJN uniforms. (Ref: First Team and the Guadalcanal Campaign page 343)
L/3/5 On The Canal by Tom Cuddihy (narrative
of Ore Marion) 181 - 182
"One of our guys let
out a yell. I
looked his way and saw him pointing toward an approaching, low-flyin airplane
of a type [Army Ki-46] we hadn't seen before. It was coming towards us
from over the Matanikau-Point Cruz area, which meant that it had to be a Jap,
probably from Rabaul. As it got closer, I made out its details: a slow fling,
twin engine, non-combat plane with big shiny red meatball on each wing - and
its winner of a pilot was now bringing it in at treetop level with its wheels
down, showing every sign that he was coming in for a landing. Landing on
'Whatis that crazy bastard doing?' one of our guys yelled. Holy
shit! He's coming in for a landing! By now we were all heads-up, wide-eyed
and watching... Soon the mysterious plane was broadside to us, and we could
see four windows on the side of its fuselage, with faces looking out through
those windows - at us. Those faces beloned to Japanese officers wearing
white uniforms, and the fact that we could make out that much detail tells
you how close the plane was to our ridge. It couldnt have been much more
than 75 feet from our position, floating in at about the same elevation as
our ridgetop. No one gave the signal or said a word, but no one had to. Everyone
started firing, using every weapon we had. From positions below the ridge and
several different directions other Marines were also firing on that misguided
champion of a pilot. The plane was flying so low and so slow that we couldn't
have missed it with a rock. At least a hundered tracers along with rounds from
all kinds of weapons went through that fuselage. The plane took a sudden,
sharp dip below the ridge level and sank into the treetops, out of sight. The
next thing we saw was the explosion and some of the thousand flying pieces
that recently had been the mystery plane. My guess is that someone back at
their headquarters had given these Japanese a bum scoop, leading them to believe
that the airfield was captured and they land safely. It had to be something
like that because this clearly wasn't a combat plane."
The Leatherneck Boys, page 113
25, 1942. One 2 motored reconnaisance plane came over airfield
taking pictures. It was beautiful with a big red circle on it and black numbers.
This field [Fighter II ?] shot it down! You could
see the 20's bursting on the wing. It winged over, 1/2 left wing came off,
and it crashed and burned on the beach near us."
November 8, 1942
Comsopac warned Cincpac of the first known presence of IJAAF planes over Guadalcanal.
November 14, 1942
The cruiser force, under its commander, Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa, included the heavy cruisers Chōkai, Kinugasa, Maya, and Suzuya, light cruisers Isuzu and Tenry?, and six destroyers. Mikawa's force was able to slip into the Guadalcanal area uncontested due to the withdrawal of the battered U.S. naval forces. Suzuya and Maya bombarded Henderson Field. The 35-minute bombardment caused some damage to various aircraft and facilities at the airfield, but didn't put it out of operation. The cruiser force ended the bombardment around 02:30 nd cleared the area to head towards Rabaul via the Shortlands.
January 27, 1943
(JAAF) A total of 74 Japanese aircraft attack Guadalcanal, the only mission flown by the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) against Guadalcanal. The Japanese formation includes nine Ki-48 Lilys from the 45th Sentai that took off from Munda Airfield escorted by Ki-43-I Oscars from the 1st Sentai and 11th Sentai. Over Guadalcanal, the Japanese formation is intercepted by P-40 Warhawks from the 44th Fighter Squadron and 68th Fighter Squadron. During the air combat, seven Oscars are shot down over Kokumbona to Cape Esperence. Returning, five damaged Ki-43-I Oscars land at Ballale Airfield. The Americans loose seven aircraft including: two P-38s,
two P-40s plus two P-40s damaged beyond repair and one F4F likely from VMF-112 ditched due
to lack of fuel returning from the misson.
June 16, 1943
Search aircraft report nearly 250 Japanese airplanes at Rabaul and other airfields jammed with aircraft. In air action in the Solomons, about 120 Japanese aircraft converging on Allied vessels off Tulagi and Guadalcanal are met by more than 100 Allied fighters (USAAF, Royal New Zealand Air Force, US Navy and US Marine Corps). The skies over Savo and Tulagi, and Cape Esperance and Koli Point are filled with dogfights and flak from ship and ground guns. The battle results in the largest single-day Allied aerial victory of the Solomon Islands campaign; 79 airplanes are claimed shot down by Allied fighters, and AA claims 17 more; 6 Allied fighters are lost. The Japanese succeed in damaging 3 ships (2 of which have to be beached) and cause considerable destruction on Guadalcanal.
March 23, 1943
(IJN) During the night, three G4M1 Bettys from the 705 Kokutai armed with 60kg and 250kg bombs bombed Henderson Field northwest dispersal area, The attack destroys six bombers including: B-17E "Zero Six Zero" 41-9060, B-17E "Buzz King" 41-9124, B-24D "Flying Gator" 41-23898, B-24D "Shamrock", B-24D "Lone Wolf" and a Hudson from 3 Squadron, RNZAF.