[10]Agano was near-missed by one bomb which damaged one anti-aircraft gun and killed one crewman. [4], From 12 October 1943, as part of Operation Cartwheel, the U.S. Fifth Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal New Zealand Air Force—directed by the Allied air commander in the South West Pacific Area, General George Kenney—launched a sustained campaign of bombing against the airfields and port of Rabaul. The whole idea of aerial bombing is to put as much high explosive onto a target as possible, but the B-26s’ limited bomb loads greatly reduced their effectiveness. Agano—which had remained at Rabaul after the 5 November strike—was torpedoed and heavily damaged in these attacks. The markedly inferior Wirraways were quickly dispatched, but not without a fight. The naval guns guarded Simpson Harbor and its shipping and the three airfields of Tobera, Lakunai, and Vunakanau. Like the B-26s, their results were mixed. Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Carmichael led the mission. The Bombing of Rabaul in February and March 1942 occurred when allied forces launched counter-attacks against the Empire of Japan base at Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.Rabaul had been captured by the Japanese during the Battle of Rabaul earlier in February.. Although Nimitz originally intended to invade and occupy Truk, the decision was made to bypass it. The distances involved limited the fighter escorts to P-38s since the other fighter type now active in the theater, the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, lacked the range to go all the way to Rabaul. Without a dependable rear-area base to back it up with supplies and reinforcements for the air squadrons stationed there, Rabaul was practically out of the war. Benn had come to Australia as Kenney’s aide, but immediately after their arrival his boss relieved him of the assignment and gave him a squadron in the recently arrived 43rd Bombardment Group. But two B-17s turned up missing after the mission, including that of the group commander, Lt. Col. Art Meehan. Dust and smoke obscured the airfield after the attack, but the men of the 3rd estimated that they had destroyed between 15 and 25 airplanes on the ground while group gunners claimed three air-to-air kills. Within a few weeks, Seventh Air Force had established heavy bomber bases on Kwajalein, which had been captured by U.S. forces in February. Truk itself lay close enough to Japan that single-engine fighters could be flown in from the home islands. [8]Takao was hit by two 500 lb bombs, causing heavy damage and killing 23 crewmen. In early 1943, Rabaul had been distant from the fighting. In November 1943, the allies in the Pacific launched a series of desperate, nearly unprecedented, and extraordinarily risky attacks that culminated on November 11. V Bomber Command claimed three transports, three destroyers, and 113 other vessels sunk. Gunn had actually conceived the idea of modifying B-25s earlier in the year, before the A-20s arrived in Australia, but permission for the modification had been denied due to the lack of available airframes. Four-engine heavy bombers and medium bombers could be delivered by air when they were available. They attempted to maintain a standing fighter force of 100 to 200 planes, flying replacements down from Truk to supplement those lost in the air and to ground attack. Rabaul swimming pool 1941 Update. Parshall, Jon; Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp, & Allyn Nevitt. The 65th Squadron reported 48 hits out of 48 bombs dropped! The U.S. Navy would dispute these claims, although Navy historian Samuel Eliot Morison would qualify the dispute by stating that Japanese loss reports may not have been entirely accurate, especially since they did not record losses of smaller vessels. The first Liberator missions in mid-November were directed against Rabaul, but the results indicated that the crews were in need of additional training. Until the South Pacific forces had moved far enough north that Rabaul was in range of their air forces, Fifth Air Force would mount an air campaign against the airfields and supply bases as well as any ships in the harbor. Armistice Day 1943 is history that deserves to be remembered. Rabaul continued to be the major target for Fifth Air Force heavy bombers, although combat in New Guinea often required diversions to others. Before the war, General Kenney himself had developed small 27-pound fragmentation bombs designed to float to earth beneath parachutes. The AIRSOLS crews were experiencing what Fifth Air Force crews had been enduring for almost two years. Ordinarily, the bomb capacity of a B-26 was half that of a B-17, but the long-range fuel tanks halved it again. His decision paid off in spades. Two days later, true to Kenney’s word, V Bomber Command mounted a 16-airplane mission against Rabaul. It was not until November 2 that weather conditions finally allowed the attack. An additional B-17 group, the 43rd, arrived in Australia in the late spring but wasn’t ready for combat for several weeks. Rabaul was the most heavily defended target in the Southwest Pacific; the Japanese had turned it into a practically impregnable fortress with large concentrations of antiaircraft guns. When the sweep group arrived on the scene, 25 minutes after the bombing attack began, about 40 Zekes were chasing the retiring bomber formation. The B-17s of the 19th Group began offensive operations from Australia on February 23, 1942, and flew about a dozen missions by April 1, of which half were directed against the Japanese installations around Rabaul. The army units defended Rapopo airfield, supply dumps and army installations; and assisted the navy in defending Simpson Harbor. Colonel Clint True led the other 67 strafers in an attack on Vanakanau. Operations by the Royal New Zealand Air Force December 1943 — May 1944", http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2-1Epi-c1-WH2-1Epi-d.html, "Solomons Campaign, August 23, 1942 – November 26, 1943", http://www.ww2db.com/battle_spec.php?battle_id=8, http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USMC/II/index.html, http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-P-Rabaul/index.html, "Imperial Japanese Navy Page (Combinedfleet.com)", Articles incorporating text from Wikipedia, South West Pacific theatre of World War II, United States Marine Corps in World War II, World War II aerial operations and battles of the Pacific Theatre, Battles of World War II involving the United States, Battles and operations of World War II involving Papua New Guinea, Battles of World War II involving Australia, Battles and operations of World War II involving New Zealand, Allied victory, prevented Japanese naval forces from threatening. 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