|JAPANESE ANTI-AIRCRAFT ARTILLERY AND FIGHTER UNITS IN THE SOUTHWEST PACIFIC|
The 380th was opposed by the Japanese when we were on our combat missions by anti-aircraft artillery at every target of any value and by aircraft at all major Japanese airbases.
Those crews listed in Table 1 are those which were lost by the 380th to Japanese anti-aircraft artillery fire. Many others, too numerous to mention here, were damaged (from light to a heavier degree) but were able to return safely to our bases.
A much less frequent but more dramatic opposition was that with Japanese fighters of both the Japanese Navy and the Japanese Army Air Forces. Japanese Naval aircraft attacks occurred at Balikpapan, Borneo; Ambon and Halong, Ceram; at Koepang, Timor; Kendari and Macassar, Celebes; Taberfane in the Kai Islands; and Sorong, Vogelkopf, New Guinea, in the East Indies. They also took place at Rabaul and Gasmata on New Britain, when we were at New Guinea on detachment duty.
Japanese Army Air Force attacks took place at Ambon, Ceram; Koepang and Lautem, Timor; Taberfane in the Kai Islands, at Babo, Western New Guinea, and at Wewak and Madang in Eastern New Guinea.
According to available information, our contacts with Japanese Naval Air Force ZEKES were with the 202nd Kokutai, which had units at all the locations listed. Our most common contact with Japanese Army Air Force units was with the 5th Sentai's NICK twin-engine fighters. They had bases throughout the Southeast part of the Dutch East Indies at Lautem, Timor (the main base); Ambon, Ceram; Langgoer, Kai Islands; Sorong, Vogelkopf, New Guinea; and Babo, New Guinea. See Table 2. A Kokutai is equivalent to an American Group.
OSCARs were flown by the 63rd and 68th Hiko Sentais (equivalent to the Navy's Kokutai) of the Japanese Army Air Forces. The Japanese Army units tended to occupy the larger islands such as New Guinea, The Philippines, Halmaheras, etc., while the Navy occupied the smaller islands such as Java, the East Indies, etc.
Code names of the Japanese fighters are shown in Table 3.
In contrast to the U.S. practice of keeping the whole complement of an Air Force Group consolidated at one location, such as Darwin, Australia, for the 380th, the Japanese practice was to split up a group into squadrons or even flights and distribute them over a vast area such as from Java to the Vogelkopf of New Guinea for the 5th Sentai of the Army or the 202nd Kokutai of the Japanese Naval Air Force.
It is noted that all major Japanese aircraft contact occurred only in the early part of the 380th's assignment to the Southwest Pacific, i.e., prior to assignment to The Philippines and mainly prior to June 1944 - no losses to enemy aircraft attacks took place after May 1944.
Tables 4 and 5present the Japanese fighter units in the East Indies and New Guinea areas during this time. Those checked are the ones most likely to have engaged missions of the 380th Bomb Group.
1. The Best in the Southwest - The 380th Bomb Group in World War II, by Glenn R. Horton, Jr., Library of Congress Card Number 95-079703, ISBN 0-9645959-0-7. Mosie Publications, Savage, MN, 1995, 513 pp.
2. Japanese Army Fighters, Part 1, ISBN 0-356-08224-5, MacDonald and James, London, 1976, 58 pp.
3. Mission Orders and Intelligence Reports, 380th Bomb Group. Library of Congress and National Archives of United States for period 1943-1945.
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WE WENT TO WAR - Series Description
The members of the 380th Bomb Group Association, the veterans group of those who served with the 380th Bombardment Group (Heavy), 5th Air Force, like their compatriots in all of the other American combat units who took part in World War II, were anxious that the history of their unit during that period be preserved for their families and, indeed, for all future generations. This would include records of all those who served with details of that service, of all of the aircraft they flew and the details of the history of that aircraft, and of all the missions which the unit flew against our enemy, again with all important details.
This series, WE WENT TO WAR, was created to answer this desire. Previous volumes of the series are the rosters of the 380th (Part I), listing of the aircrews (Part II), identifying the Australians who served with the 380th (Part III), and a listing of the ground and aircrew classifications ( Part IV). Parts V and VI contain descriptions and missions of the aircraft flown by the 380th in Australia and New Guinea (Part V) and in The Philippines (Part VI). Information on the ground crews were covered in Part VII and a chronological history of the missions flown will be covered in Parts VIII (Australia/New Guinea) and IX (The Philippines). Part X provides a brief history of how the 380th came to be assigned to the South West Pacific Theatre, both from Australia and The Philippines.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 99-73366
Copyright © 2007 by Theodore J. Williams
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical, photo-copying, recording, or otherwise, for commercial purposes, without the prior written permission of the publisher. However, private use for historical research or related purposes is hereby granted on condition that credit be given to this publication and its authors.
Theodore J. Williams
208 Chippewa Street
West Lafayette, IN 47906-2123 USA
Last updated: 07/08/2012 08:30 PM