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September 16, 1943
Today in World War II Pacific History
Day by day chronology

THURSDAY, 16 SEPTEMBER 1943
CHINA (Fourteenth Air Force): 8 B-25's and 12 P-40's hit warehouses, barracks, ammunition dumps, and HQ at Liujenpa, China.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC (Fifth Air Force): B-17's, B-26's, B-25's, and A-20's pound enemy positions at Lae after which Lae Airfield and town (evacuated by Japanese) are occupied by Australian forces; B-24's carry out a light strike on Sorong.

SOUTH PACIFIC THEATER OF OPERATIONS (13th AF) Seven B-25s from bomb and strafe Kahili Airfield on Bougainville. Lost is B-25C 41-13130 (MIA).

(USN, USMC, 13th AF, RNZAF) Twenty-four TBF Avengers and thirty-one SBD Dauntless on a mission to bomb Ballale Island. A multi-service fighter escort of 71 fighters included thirteen F6F Hellcats from VF-38 plus eleven F6F Hellcats from VF-40. This was the first combat mission for the Hellcat in the South Pacific theater. Also escorting were 13th AF P-38 Lightings and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P-40 Kittyhawks. In addition, 23 F4Us of VMF-214 "The Black Sheep" including Boyington took off from Banika Field at 1:00pm and rendezvous with the formation over New Georgia. In total, more than 100 aircraft proceeded to the target.

Over the target, the formation was intercepted by 40-50 A6M Zeros and Ki-61 Tonys [sic, none intercepted] plus anti-aircraft fire over the target area. A large, sprawling dog fight ensued. VF-38 claimed three Zeros shot down plus a probable. VMF-214 claimed 11 Zeros and 8 probables. Greg Boyington claimed four victories over Zeros and landed at Munda Airfield with only 10 gallons of fuel and 30 rounds of ammunition left plus minor damage from flying through the debrs of a Zero that exploded in mid-air. After refueling, he returning to Banika Field

American losses include: TBF-1 23909 (MIA), TBF-1 06452 (MIA), F4U 17527 (MIA), F6F pilot Anderson (MIA), F6F 25839 (survived), F6F Lt. Riley (survived). One Hellcat was damged and landed at Munda Airfield for a week of repairs before returning to Fighter 1. Two F4Us sustained minor damaged.

(IJN) Twenty-six A6M Zeros from the 204 Kokutai plus Zeros from the 201 Kōkūtai took off to intercept a large Allied formation of fighters and bombers.

Japanese losses include: five A6M Zero from the 204 Kōkūtai plus one A6M Zero from the 201 Kōkūtai.

References
VF-38 Combat Report, September 16, 1943
VMF-214 Squadron Report September 16, 1943
Kodochosho, 201 Kōkūtai, September 16, 1943
Kodochosho, 204 Kōkūtai, September 16, 1943

 

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