Tuesday, December 9, 1941
FEAF: In the first American bombing mission of World War II, B-17s attack
Japanese ships off the coast of Luzon. Shortly after 03:00 hours, Japanese aircraft attack Nichols Field. This attack, added to the previous day's raids on Clark Field and Iba Field, leaves the Far East Air Force (FEAF) strength reduced by half. Only 17 of 35 B-17's remain in commission. In total about 55 P-40's, 3 P-35's, and close to 30 other aircraft (B-10's, B-18's, and observation airplanes) have been lost in aerial combat or destroyed on the ground.
During the morning and afternoon, B-17's from Mindanao fly reconnaissance missions and land at Clark and San Marcelino. Several more B-17's are flown from Mindanao to these Luzon bases for resistance against a possible invasion attempt. The 3d Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), 24th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), transfers from Iba Field to Nichols Field with P-40's. The 17th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), 24th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), based at Nichols Field begins operating from Clark Field with P-40's.
Japanese forces land in the Gilbert Islands including Tarawa (Betio). Nine G3Ms of the Genzan Ku attacked Kuantan from 5,000 ft. They were attacked by RAAF Hudson A16-17 piloted by F/O Widmer of 8 Squadron who was returning from a mission, and the pilot was credited with a G3M2 Nell probable over Kuantan (an observer on the ground reported seeing a plane on fire and two parachutes deployed). On 31 December he is shown as flying as navigator aboard a PBY Catalina of 205 Squadron.
Caribbean Air Force: HQ 6th Bombardment Group (Heavy) transfers from France Field to Rio Hato. HQ 32d Pursuit Group (Interceptor) transfers from Rio Hato to France Field. The 28th and 31st Pursuit Squadrons (Interceptor), 37th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), transfer with P-26's P-40's from Albrook Field to Patilla Point and Chorrera respectively.
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