Skip to comments.U.S. FLIERS SMASH FOCKE-WULF BREMEN PLANT, R.A.F. HITS SKODA WORKS; 71 BOMBERS LOST (4/18/43)
Posted on 04/18/2013 5:07:36 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
John Toland, The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945
The News of the Week in Review
Both Sides Gird 15-16
Twenty News Questions 17
Tunisia: Battle Focus of the Mediterranean Theatre (maps) 18
Allies Now In Position for the Kill in Africa (Kluckhohn) 19
Air Power Holds Vital Place in Australias Defense (map) 20
New Offensive Appears to Be Shaping in Pacific (Shalett) 21
Argentina is Unmoved by Slights (by Arnaldo Cortesi) 22
Answers to Twenty News Questions 23
* The story of the trial and execution of Hans and Maria Scholl and Adrian Probst last February.
Americans shoot down Yamamoto’s plane
Sunday, April 18, 1943 www.onwar.com
Admiral Yamamoto’s plane just before it crashes into the sea [photo at link].
Over the Solomon Islands... An aircraft carrying the Commander of the Japanese Combined Fleet, Admiral Yamamoto, is shot down by P-38 Lighting fighters over Bougainville. Yamamoto is killed. This action is the result the interception of a coded Japanese message announcing a visit by Yamamoto. The Japanese fail to deduce that their codes are insecure.
In Moscow... The Soviets state that the story of the Katyn massacre is nothing more than German propaganda.
In Tunisia... A massive convoy of 100 transport aircraft leaves Sicily with supplies for the Axis forces. At least half the planes are shot down by Allied fighters.
April 18th, 1943 (SUNDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: No. 254 Squadron RAF makes the first successful operational sortie against enemy shipping using the new torpedo-carrying Bristol Beaufighter known as the ‘Torbeau’. (22)
U.S.S.R.: Moscow: The USSR accuses the Gestapo of concocting the Katyn massacre.
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: A convoy of 100 transport aircraft leaves Sicily for Tunisia to re-supply Axis forces. It sustains over a 50% loss to Allied fighters when intercepted off Cape Bon and 59 Luftwaffe transports and ten of the fighter escort are shot down. Nine Allied fighters are lost.
Submarine HMS Regent is lost to a mine off Bari in the Adriatic. All 53 crew are lost. Post mortem on some bodies wearing British uniforms which were washed ashore between Brindisi and Otranto during April and May 1943 gave indication of a sinking three weeks earlier, hence between 18 and 25 April.
After leaving Freetown on a routine passage to Takoradi in company with MMS107, submarine P.615 (ex-Turkish) is attacked by U-123 and struck (by a torpedo?) on the starboard side below the conning tower. There are no survivors. Location: off the Liberian coast at 06 49N 13 09W. (Alex Gordon)(108)
TUNISIA: Off Cap Bon, 46 Ninth Air Force P-40Fs of the 57th Fighter Group’s three squadrons (64th, 65th and 66th Fighter Squadrons) and the attached 314th Fighter Squadron, 324th Fighter Group, led by Arthur Salisbury, plus 11 Spitfires of the RAF No. 92 Squadron flying top cover, take off to patrol. At approximately 1800 hours, they spot 2 Bf 109s and an armada of 65 Ju 52/3m transports heading back to Sicily for more supplies. The transports are in three great vees, covered by 16 Bf109s and Mc 202s and 5 Bf 110s. The 64th Fighter Squadron and the RAF Spitfires stay high; the remaining 3 squadrons of P-40s attack the Luftwaffe formation and down 24 Ju 53/3m’s and 16 fighters; another 35 Ju 52/3m’s crash along the coast. This all takes places in the space of 20 minutes in what becomes known as the Palm Sunday Massacre. (Scott Peterson)
During the night of 17/18 April, RAF Wellingtons of the Northwest African Air Force bomb the Tunis docks and marshalling yard. RAF Blenheims hit the La Marsa landing ground while fighter fly reconnaissance and scramble missions. Fighters fly reconnaissance and patrols, attacking vessels, troop columns, and truck in the coastal area. (Jack McKillop)
ITALY: Sardinia: Northwest African Air Force B-25s, escorted by P-38s, hit the Alghero-Fertilia Airfield and shipping at Porto Torres while RAF Beaufighters attack the Decimomannu Airfield. (Jack McKillop)
Sicily: Ninth Air Force In Sicily, B-24 Liberators attack Catania.
Over 75 Northwest African Air Force B-17 Flying Fortresses, escorted by P-38s, attack Boccadifalco Airfield and the Palermo Marshalling Yard. (Jack McKillop)
CHINA: Fourteenth Air Force P-40s strafe an enemy-held supply village southeast of Tengchung. (Jack McKillop)
NEW GUINEA: Fifth Air Force B-24s bomb the Finschhafen and Saidor areas. (Jack McKillop)
EAST INDIES: B-25 Mitchells of the RAAF’s No. 18 (NEI) Squadron bomb the airfield at Penfoei, Timor. (Jack McKillop)
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Major John W. Mitchell leads a flight of 16 USAAF P-38s (2 others abort) on a low-level, circuitous, over-water trip from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal to a spot up the Bougainville coast from Kahili to intercept the fight of Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku, Chief of the Combined Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy. These P-38s are part of the USAAF 339th Squadron, 13th Airforce. Admiral Yamamoto according to US intelligence, is on an inspection trip in the South Pacific and is due in Ballale Airfield on Bougainville at 0945 local. As Chief of the Combined Fleet he has planned and directed the Japanese Naval moves from preparing for the attack on Pearl Harbor and the advance during 1942. His ability has helped stiffen the Japanese resistance in the South Pacific. This mission to intercept his flight has the support of high ranking US officers. It is not clear who actually authorized the mission.
Admiral Yamamoto’s well-known punctuality is calculated to allow the interception to take place at 0935 local at a point 35 miles (56 km) from Kahili. Two hours and 15 minutes after takeoff at 0725 local, as the P-38s streak toward Bougainville at almost sea level, a flight of 2 Mitsubishi G4M, Navy Type 1 Attack Bombers (Allied Code Name “Betty”) and 6 Mitsubishi A6M, Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighters (Allied Code Name “Zeke”) appears just ahead.
The 4-aircraft attack section under Captain Thomas G. Lanphier, Jr bores in. The “Zekes” spot the attacking P-38s at about 1 mile (1.6 km) and try in vain to cut off the attack as the bombers attempt to escape. In the air battle, both “Bettys” are shot down and Captain Lanphier and First Lieutenant Rex T. Barber are credited with shooting down the “Betty” carrying Admiral Yamamoto. The resulting controversy has never been resolved.
In 1997 the American Fighter Aces Association gave Barber 100 percent credit for the shoot down of the bomber carrying Yamamoto. In 1998 the Confederate Air Force recognizing that Barber alone and unassisted brought down Yamamotos aircraft inducted Barber into the American Combat Airman Hall of Fame. (Jack McKillop)
PACIFIC OCEAN: Submarine USS Drum (SS-228) sinks a Japanese ammunition ship about 200 miles (322 km) north-northwest of Mussau Island, Bismarck Archipelago. A submarine chaser rescues survivors, who include a number of Army prostitutes among them. (Jack McKillop)
TERRITORY OF ALASKA: ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: 22 Eleventh Air Force P-38 Lightnings (some flown by Royal Canadian Air Force pilots) and 37 P-40s hit Kiska Island 9 times. The submarine base and gun emplacements on North Head are bombed and gun emplacements near the submarine base are silenced. (Jack McKillop)
Damn, 71 bombers = 700 people. Thanks for posting these, BTW.
Enjoyed reading the thread this morning, as always. Thanks.
"Harry Baur, one of the most esteemed actors of the French and German cinemas, was among the Nazis' victims.
Born in 1880, Baur established an international reputation, starring in such films as Les Miserables, in which he played Jean Valjean, The Life and Loves of Beethoven, and Crime and Punishment.
While some stars of both stage and film fled Europe for the United States, others were unable or unwilling to do so.
Accused of being an Allied agent, Baur died on April 20, 1943, while in Nazi confinement."
Thanks for posting
One of the segments included the downing of Yamamoto. I seem to recall a P-38 pilot who took part in the ambush said he made what he described as an "impossible" 90 degree crossing shot that brought Yamamoto's Betty down.
I never realized there was a controversy as to which P-38 pilot downed Yamamoto until recently. I still don't fully understand the controversy since for such a mission, the fighters certainly had gun cameras with sufficient film to last the plane's entire ammunition supply.
Perhaps there were two P-38's simultaneously firing but that had never been my understanding.
There were two Betty bombers downed. One with Admiral Ugaki (who survived) and one with Yamamoto. Lanphier and Barber each downed a Betty, and each thought they got the one with Yamamoto.
After the war, I would think holes in the wreckage could be matched with P-38 pilot descriptions of their downing.
“A Japanese made slide rule, absolutely precise.............................was an instrument in the successful bombing of Japan a year ago today..............
Everyone of the thousands of calculations which went ito the power control charts was worked out on the Japanese slide rule giveen to Johnson as a gag a few days before.”
Isn’t the 2nd sentence of post #3 in error? Doolittle raided Tokyo in 1942, not 1941.
You are correct. Good catch.
Post war studies seem to conclusively give the credit to Barber. It doesn't really matter, since the entire operation was executed brilliantly. Of course, I wasn't there, and I can't speak to the men's motivation.
The decision not to stop with North Africa and proceed on to Sicily really forced the issue.
I wasn't there, and I can't speak to the men's motivation.
I would imagine pride had something to do with it. If both tagged a different Betty, I would presume neither pilot had any way of knowing until after the war which plane was carrying Yamamoto. By then, details of where the planes actually impacted had blurred.