This is an enlargement of the 12th April 1943 air-raid taken from a trench at 14-Mile as the main Japanese formation flew overhead at 25,000 feet. The top right-hand arrow shows the direction of flight, whilst the lower left indicates the lead G4M1 flown by Commander of the 751st Kokutai, Masaichi Suzuki. Only thirty-six bombers can be counted in this photo, the reason being that one chutai of the 705th Kokutai was assigned to bomb Kila Drome and hence split up prior to the bomb run.

More about the April 12, 1943 Mission

  Richard E. Smith
  Port Moresby Raid April 12, 1943

That day, I was out on the strip installing a new headset in my plane, #26, and was out there with another pilot, Charles Sullavin.  Now, he calls himself O’Sullavin.  They told us about the raid and told us to get into two P-38;s at the end of the strip and get up there after them.  A large formation of Japanese fighters and Betty bombers were attacking Port Moresby.

In the air there was a big scrabble going on, planes everywhere.  By the time we got up to altitude, and behind the Japanese, a formation of nine BETTY bombers, they had all ready dropped their bombs.  One of their bombs hit at the end of our strip.  O’Sullavin and I attacked them, and he got one, and a damaged one.  I got credit for one of them.  When I went to land, I had to fly over top where they were fixing the bomb hole, and the people working on it.,  What was funny was, thirty years later, when I worked at Whirpool, one of the other guys there was in the hospital at Port Moresby, and watched the whole dogfight from there, including us taking off and the fight.  So, you can imagine the fun we had talking.

So, when I was flying that day, it was not in my usual plane, Japanese Sandman, #26.  Someone else flew it that day.  I forgot who it was, but they revved the engines up so high, it bent the propellers, and cracked it up pretty good.  When they were done with it, even the armor plate was bent.  So, I got a new plane out of it, that I called “Japanese Sandman II”. 

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