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July 15, 1943
Today in World War II Pacific History
Day by day chronology

THURSDAY, 15 JULY 1943
ALASKA (Eleventh Air Force) One B-24 and two P-39's fly reconnaissance over Kiska and Segula. Nine B-24's and fourteen B-25's bomb Kiska targets including AA batteries at North Head, Jeff Cove and Gertrude Cove. Fires are started. One bomber turns back with three engines and jettisons bombs, another crashes on return. AA fire damages a B-25.

BURMA-INDIA (Tenth Air Force) The 71st Liaison Squadron is activated at Ondal, India, assigned to the Tenth Air Force. The squadron will be equipped with L-4's and L-5's and enter combat in Oct 43.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Fifth Air Force) A-20's hit positions along the Orodubi-Komiatum Track.

Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) Nine G4M1 Bettys from the 751 Kokutai detachment took off on a bombing mission against the Rendova area. Escorting the bombers were forty-four Zeros including: 12 x A6M Zeros from 204 Kokutai, 16 x A6M Zeros from 251 Kokutai, 4 x A6M Zeros from 253 Kokutai plus 12 x A6M Zeros from Ryuhō detachment. The U. S. the force was 27 bombers escorted by 40-50 Zeros. Intercepted by American fighters, the Japanese suffered heavy losses including six bombers and five Zeros shot down. The Japanese claimed 19 Allied aircraft including 12 probables.

Japanese losses included: G4M1 Betty piloted by Lt. Motozu, 751 Ku detachement leader, plus five other G4M1 Bettys. Also lost were four Zeros including three from 253 Ku: A6M Zero piloted by Lt(jg) Saburo Saito, A6M Zero piloted by PO2c Shichiro Nagai, A6M Zero piloted by PO2c Fukumitsu Shimada. Also Ryuhō A6M2 Zero piloted by PO2c Taiji Suzuki.

SOUTH PACIFIC THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Thirteenth Air Force) A large enemy force, estimated at 27 bombers and 40-50 Zekes, is intercepted over Vella Lavella by American fighters, which claim 15 bombers and 30 Zekes shot down. Lost were three including P-40 piloted by Murray (MIA), F4F Wildcat 12049 (MIA) and F4U Corsair 02599 (MIA). B-25's, P-40's, and P-38's strafe two barges northeast of Ganongga leaving them sinking.

References

IJN 25th Air Flotilla War Diary - July 15, 1943
NARA CINCPAC War Diary July 1 - July 31, 1943 page 294
"15 July 1943. 1. Contacts and actions with the enemy in the Pacific Ocean Areas. 0330Z/15 - 27 Jap VB(M)s and 50 zeros were intercepted over Rendova by 44 Blue VF's. 15 VB(M)s and 30 zeros were shot down. We lost 3 pilots."
NARA Second Marine Aircraft Wing War Diary for July 1943
"July 15, 1943 - 1425 - Condition red declared when a large bogey was reported closing. Fighter cover was vectored to intercept them and contact was made at 26,000 feet. Twenty-nine enemy fighters and 15 medium bombers were destroyed as compared with our loss of three fighters. No planes reached Rendova."
Air to Air page 124
Vampire Squadron pages 48-50
Japanese Naval Air Force Fighter Units and Their Aces 1932-1945
page 59, 393
(Page 59) "...on 15 July [1943], but on that date 12 A6Ms of 204 Ku, flown in the main by pilots transferred from 582 Ku (including Lt(jg) Suzuki) joined 16 from 251 Ku, four of 253 Ku and 12 from Ryuho to escort nine Rikkos to Rubiana. The 204 Ku pilots claimed eight destroyed and three probables, while 251 Ku claimed 15 and one probable for a single loss, and those from Ryuho claimed four, also for one loss. However, 253 Ku lost three aircraft including that flown by the unit's leader, Lt(jg) Saburo Saito, while five of the Rikkos failed to return and a sixth force landed. Therafter, daylight missions by the Rikkos were suspended and the 253 Ku detachment, which suffered heavy losses was withdrawn to Saipan."
(Page 393) "7/15/43 Losses: 253 Ku: Lt(jg) Saburo Saito, PO2c Shichiro Nagai and PO2c Fukumitsu Shimada. Ryuho: PO2c Taiji Suzuki"
Mitsubishi Type 1 Rikko 'Betty' Units of WWII page 75
"Losses on the 15th [July 1943] were particularly heavy when 751 Ku detachment had no fewer than six aircraft shot down in a 40 minute battle with F4Us, F4Fs and P-40s during a mission to Rovianna. One of those to die during this disastrous engagement was the detachment leader, Lt. Motozu. Five days later, 751 Ku Chutai returned to its parent unit on Tinian with its three surviving rikko.
The losses of 15 July put an end to daylight missions for the rikkos, but night sorties continued throughout the region."
Richard Dunn research notes July 15, 1943
Thanks to Richard Dunn and Edward Rogers for additional information.

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