AUTHOR'S END NOTE
This may seem to be a peculiar place to end this book -- right in the middle of the Java Campaign. Let me explain: This first book isintended to tell the story of the first confrontation between the Japanese Zero Fighter and the incomparable B-17E Flying Fortress of the U.S. Army Air Corps. I have tried, in combat sequences, to demonstrate the use of gun positions on the Flying Fortress. I have tried to add details of psychology and policy that affected the crews. I intend to continue writing additional chapters immediately, until the story of the Java Campaign is told in full.
There is a very special reason why I must end the first volume of JAVA 1942 right now. It must be completed and edited in time for a publication date which allows me to take copies to a reunion of the Seventh Group survivors in Salt Lake City in June 1988. I want to give copies to my good friends in the Seventh Group who still survive, and I want to invite those who have stories to tell to write me if they want to see their stories in the next volume.
Let me assure fellow Seventh Group members that I have not forgotten the Liberators. I was tail gunner on one of those Flying Boxcars. The next chapters will emphasize our Libs. I think the B-17E's have had their share of detailed description, and the very next chapter will be about the Liberators sinking a major Japanese carrier. The next volume will conclude with our evacuation of Java. I was on the last plane out of Jokjakarta to Broome, Australia. Some of the Seventh Group went out to India.
Personnel for Project
EXTRACTS FROM THE 5TH AIRFORCE 5TH BOMBER COMMAND JOURNAL COVERING THE EARLIEST CREW ARRIVALS IN JAVA AND THE COMBAT MISSIONS DESCRIBED IN THIS BOOK
(Extract) 16 January, 1942:
Three LB-30's and two B-17E's took off for a mission at 1210 for Kendari.
(Extract) 17 January, 1942:
Major Straubel returned Malang from Kendari II at 1200. Lts. Dougherty and Basye missing. Major Necrason returned at 1550 one man wounded. Lt. DuFrane remained at Kendari II - plane damaged by enemy action.
(Extract) 18 January, 1942:
On Jan. 16, 1942, three Liberators and two B-17E's took off from Malang at 0440 G.M.T. The airplanes were serviced with gasoline and bombs. The Liberators were loaded with twelve 100 kg. bombs each and the B-17E's were loaded with ten 100 kg. bombs each.
At 1915 G.M.T. Jan. 16 three Liberators and two B-17E's took off from Kendari II. The Liberators bombed the airdrome at Langoan (20 miles south of Manado) from 19,500' at 2236 G.M.T. Hits were made on the runway and parking areas. No airplanes were seen on the ground. No antiaircraft fire was noted. From 2309 to 2315 G.M.T. the three Liberators were subjected to fire from five "Zero" fighters. One enemy pursuit was shot down. At 0-00's and 118-l0E one of the Liberators left the formation. Neither pilot indicated what might be wrong with his plane. The leader returned to Malang and landed at 0430 G.M.T. Jan. 17. Two large and two small transports were seen in Manado Bay and two others were tied up at the dock at Manado. One transport was seen to capsize as a result of the bombing. Two bombing runs were made. Visibility was hampered by the sun on the first run and no bombs were dropped.
On the second run one of the planes had six bombs hung up in the racks. Two of them were then dropped on the runway of the airdrome. The other four remained in the airplane. About five minutes after the bombing run enemy pursuit were seen climbing to attack. From 2240 till 2320 fifteen enemy fighters attacked the two B-17E's. Also two Messerschmitts were noted. The others were "Zero" fighters. Attacks were made from the rear and by diving under the plane and pulling up to deliver fire. One of the Messerschmitts was shot down by the Bombardier in Major Necrason's plane and four Zero fighters were shot down by his rear gunners. Lt. DuFrane's gunners shot down one. Pvt. Hegdahl, Major Necrason's tail gunner was hit in the knee by an explosive bullet. Both airplanes landed at Kendari II for gas and medical aid. Lt. DuFrane's airplane had one engine shot out of commission and was generally shot up. Major Necrason's ship had a few bullet holes in it. The ships landed at 0100 G.M.T. Jan. 17th.
At 0215 an air raid alarm sounded. Major Necrason took off immediately. He was attacked by three Zero fighters, but beat them off and landed at Malang at 0820 G.M.T. Jan. 17.
Lt. DuFrane remained on the ground and a message from him indicated that it was attacked on the ground and damaged beyond repair. Lts. Dougherty and Basye were pilots of the Liberators which left the formation. Report of a local Japanese landing was made by the field commander on the night of January 16. The field at Kendari has been under surveillance by Japs since Jan. 15th.
The following took part in the mission:
At 1315 LB-30 No. AL-609 left for Kendari II with Lt. Wade as pilot. Object to pick up crew of Lt. DuFrane's plane, B-17E No. 41-2459, which was attacked there on the ground and destroyed.
Received news that Lt. Basye and crew of LB-30 No. AL-567 was forced down at Makassar, Celebes. Two men injured. Plane damaged beyond repair.
(Extract) 19 January, 1942:
At 0730 Lt. Wade, with LB-30 No. AL-609 returned from Kendari II with Lt. DuFrane and crew of B-17 No. 41-2459.
Two men of crew suffered minor arm injuries. Treated at hospital.
T/Sgt. Sager and Sgt. Wise sent to Makassar via PBY from Soerabaya for purpose of salvage work on Lt. Basye's plane LB-30 No. AL-576 20th Jan. 1942.
(Extract) 24 January, 1942:
At 0615 six ships of the 7th Group, with two ships of the 19th Group attached, took off on a bombing mission. Planes and pilots were as follows:
Lt. Poncik, T/Sgt. Sager, Sgt. Wise, M/Sgt. Flanagan, Pfc. Graf, Sgt. Oldford and Pfc. Chopping returned from Makassar via two PBY's. Sgt. Oldford and Pfc. Chopping were wounded in action and left in the Morokrembangen Hospital and C.B.Z. Hospital respectively, Soerabaya.
On returning from bombing mission Major Robinson's ship spotted Lt. Dougherty's missing LB-30 on the beach of a small island at 5 degrees 34' South -114-20' East Sighted people moving about the wreckage. Navy asked to investigate.
Lt. Dougherty and the crew of LB-30 No. AL-535, except Lt. Gibson, were picked up by Navy PBY. They had been forced down at 5-34' South - 114-20' East Lt. Gibson returned via fishing boat. Four crew members were injured and left at Soerabaya.
(Extract) 27 January, 1942:
Lt. Wade in LB-30 No. Al-609 and Lt. Funk In B-24A No. 40-2376 arrived from Darwin at 1245 and 1300 respectively. Between them they evacuated 40 officers and enlisted men from Del Monte Mindanao, P.I.
At 1430 the flight returned to Malang: One transport sunk. Waterline Hits* on the Cruiser and another transport.
Two out of four E. A. shot down. A. A. behind and erratic in height.
(* Waterline Hits are bombs which just miss a ship and explode right beside the ship at the waterline. They have about the same effect as a Naval torpedo. Waterline hits are considered to be more damaging than direct hits ordinarily.)
(Extract) 28 January, 1942:
Lt. Basye took off on bombing mission to Kendari in LB-30 No. AL-521 at 2345.
Lt. Tarter took off on bombing mission to Kendari in LB-30 No. Al-570 at 2356.
(Extract) 29 January, 1942:
At 0723 three B-17's of the 7th Group with two B-17's ofthe 19th Group attached took off for a bombing mission at Balikpapan. Ships and pilots:
Lt. Bayse returned from Kendari Mission in LB-30 No. AL-521 at 0813. Dropped bombs-results negative. Bad weather at target.
0940 Lt. Tarter in LB-30 No. AL-570 returned from Kendari mission. No bombs dropped account Wx.
The following ships returned from mission to Balikpapan at times indicated.
6 enemy pursuit planes shot down.
Major Robinson in B-17E No. 41-2476 did not return. His airplane was badly shot up when the formation was attacked by about 30 enemy fighters. The airplane was seen to crash into the sea from a steep dive at 3 degrees 26' South, 116 degrees 26' East. None of the crew was seen to jump by accompanying planes and no sign of the aircraft or crew was noted on the surface after the crash. Members of the crew were:
(Extract) 1 February, 1942:
Six Planes of the 7th Group (or attached from 19th Group) took off to attack enemy shipping in Balikpapan area at 0650. Mission abandoned on account of weather. Pilots and planes were:
Three LB-30's took off from Djogja at 2245, 2300, and 2315 respectively to attack enemy ships in Balikpapan area. Lt. Dougherty, Lt. Kelsay and Lt. Tarter pilots.
(Extract) 2 February, 1942: Three LB-30's landed at Djogja at 0800, 0805 and 0900. Lt. Dougherty's plane bombed and sank an enemy ship. Set oil well on fire.
(Extract) 3 February, 1942:
Major Straubel and Lt. Smith both badly burned when shot down in B-18 No. 36-338 near Soerabaya. In CBZ Hospital.
A Major Birch, 0-685971 in same ship died at Hospital. No word of any other passengers at Midnight. The losses at Singoseri in the air raid of Feb 3 were: B-17D No. 40-3074, B-17D No. 40-3078, B-17E No. 41-2470 burned to the ground due to the action of enemy strafers. B-17E No. 41-2474, which burned partially yesterday, burst into flames this morning (cause unknown) and burned to the ground. No casualties or injuries at the field.
The crew of B-17C No. 40-2062, which was shot down and burned about ten miles south of Malang were:
The airplane was attacked by Japanese pursuit at the same time the field at Malang was being raided. The crew of B-18 No. 36-338 which was shot down west of Soerabaya by Japanese fighters were (all died in crash or in Hospital later):
(Extract) 5 February, 1942:
An air raid alarm sounded at Singosari at 0950. B-17E No. 41-2456, Lt. Reyes, pilot and B-17E No. 41-2472, Capt. Parsel, pilot, who were standing by, took off within five minutes of the alarm. The "all clear" signal sounded at 1240.
The flight of six B-17's which took off earlier returned at 1530. They had been attacked by eight Zeros at 4,000' off the South coast of Madoera. Two of the upper turrets failed to operate and one plane's. No. 41-2485, oxygen system was shot up so the mission was abandoned. One fighter was shot down and another damaged. Head on, quartering frontal and side attacks were made by the fighters. They studiously avoided attacks from the rear.
(Extract) 7 February, 1942:
Eight B-17's of the 19th Group took off at 0520 for a reconnaissance bombing mission. Objective was a carrier reported SE of Makassar. Pilots and planes were:
Lts. Wade and Crowder in from Darwin in LB-30s AL-609 and AL-533. They had flown to Del Monte on Feb. 4th, taking off from Darwin at 0545 GOT. They returned to Darwin with 19th Group personnel. Wade landed Darwin at 0115 GCT and Crowder at 0425 GCT, Feb. 5th. They landed at Malang at 1605 and took off for Jogja at 1700. They brought twenty one 19th group evacuees with them.
The planes which took off at 0520 landed Malang at 1500. They patrolled a quadrangular area whose corners were 6 degrees 30' South, 120 degrees 26' East - 7 degrees South 120 degrees 40' East, 7 degrees South 121 degrees 30' East and 6 degrees 20' South 121 degrees 30' East. Poor visibility and an overcast in the target area caused the mission to return after searching the area for 45 minutes. Two planes had previously left the formation - one because of turret trouble and one because of low oil pressure. Results of mission-negative.
(Extract) 8 February, 1942:
At 0735 nine B-17's of the 7th Group took off from Singosari to bomb the occupied airdrome at Kendari II.
Pilots and planes:
Bomb bay tanks and 7-100 kg bombs were carried. The flight was intercepted by enemy pursuit (9 to 12 planes - type "0" and "96") at 6 degrees 45' South and 116 East at 0905 Java time. The altitude was 14,000'. The enemy made coordinated attacks from the front, front quarter and front underneath simultaneously. On the enemy's second attack Capt. DuFrane's airplane was hit and a great mass of flames burst from the bomb bay. The airplane continued to burn after the bomb bay tank was dropped and six men were seen to bail out as the ship descended. The enemy fired at the men in parachutes. The plane exploded in mid-air. Capt. Strother took over the lead of the formation when Capt. DuFrane went down. On a subsequent attack (head on) Lt. Prichard's airplane was hit, caught fire and exploded on the way down. One man bailed out of Lt. Prichard's airplane.
The remaining six planes in the formation (one had left the formation at 0845 due to mechanical difficulties) finally reached cloud cover where heavy rains and turbulence made formation impossible. Return to base was made individually. In Lt. Habberstad's plane Pfc. Homer D. Bilyeu, 6581616, was killed by enemy fire. Lt. Lindsey's plane had its tail section shot up so badly that it took two men to hold the controls. When the plane hit turbulent air it was impossible to hold it on an even keel and it evidently spun. It was brought under control at 7,000'. The navigator, co-pilot and tail gunner all bailed out during the spin. Lt. Lindsey, without the aid of a co-pilot, navigator or map, succeeded in righting his plane, finding his way home in unfavorable weather over strange territory and landing safely at Malang with one wounded man, Pfc J. R. Mackley, 6578551. Captain Strother's airplane was hit after he took the lead of the formation (another frontal attack). An explosion of low pressure oxygen bottle blew out the hydraulic system and the bomb release mechanism in front of the bomb bay. Because an air raid alarm was in progress at Malang and because of the damaged condition of the plane it was flown Jogja and landed. Lt. Swanson landed at Pasirian because of bad weather at Malang and a low gas supply. No damage to airplane and crew all okay. Capt. Preston's airplane was hit and a fire started in the bomb bay, but he jettisoned both his bombs and bomb bay tank coincidentally with the hit. The tank was seen to be on fire as it fell free. Four of the five airplanes which landed at Malang were damaged by gunfire-two of them seriously. Five enemy planes were shot down, two of them with the .30 calibre nose guns. The other three were shot down by the combined efforts of the top turrets, side guns and tail guns. The bottom turrets were ineffective. No anti-aircraft fire received. The planes landed from 1155 to 1615. Two unidentified surface craft were seen and reported to the Navy. Also a merchant vessel.
1. It is almost certain that the two airplanes were lost as a result of bomb bay tanks being hit by explosive bullets. But for quick action, a third might have been lost for the same reason. The entire flight jettisoned their bombs and tanks.
2. The enemy attack on the bombardment formation was the best executed attack so far encountered.
3. Coordinated attacks from head-on and front quarters were the first attacks of this nature reported by friendly forces in this area, however, the flight which was attacked at 4,000' on February 5 was subjected to individual attacks from the front hemisphere.
4. The relative speed between attacking pursuit and bombardment was so great that top turrets could not traverse fast enough to fire on the enemy during head-on attacks. The .30 calibre nose guns were the sole defense against this type of attack.
5. In both cases where head-on attacks were executed the bombardment formation was caught at a low altitude and climbing and the superior performance of pursuit enabled them to choose the avenue of attack. At altitudes in excess of 20,000' the advantage is lessened to the extent that pursuit attacks have, to date, come from the side or rear and can be dealt with much more effectively.
The three men who bailed out of No 41-2483 were:
The crew of No. 41-2492 was:
The crew of No. 41-2456 was: