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Japanese missions against Rabaul

January 4, 1942
(IJN) First bombing raid on Rabaul, two civilians are killed and 15 New Guineans at Rapindik Labour Compound.

January 20, 1942
(IJN) Japanese carrier aircraft from Akagi, Kaga, Shokaku and Zuikaku under the command of Admiral Nagumo attacked Rabaul.

January 22, 1942
(IJN) Japanese carrier planes returned to Rabaul, but found no targets and preform aerobatics prior to the arrival of the Japanese invasion force via St. Georges Channel.

January 23, 1942
(IJA) After midnight of January 23, 1942 the 144th Infantry Regiment 'South Seas Detachment' landed at several locations: Raluana Point and to the west of Kokopo and Kerawun and north of Vulcan. Also Malaguna, west of Praed Point and Nordup. Opposing them were the outnumbered Australian Army 2/22nd Battalion and New Guinea Volunteer Rifles (NGVR) opposed. By morning, the Japanese have occupied Rabaul.

Allied missions against Rabaul


October 23, 1942
(5th AF) B-17s thoroughly pound shipping at Rabaul.


October 12, 1943
(5th AF, RAAF) Allied aircraft begin a major air offensive against Rabaul, with the aim of isolating and neutralizing it. Almost 350 B-24's, B-25's, P-38's, and RAAF airplanes pound the town, harbor, and airfields in the area, including the first parafag bomb attack on Vunakanau Airfield. The Allies calim 50+ Japanese aircraft destroyed and three ships are sunk and several damaged plus several small harbor craft are sunk. Lost are B-25D 41-30239 (MIA, BR), B-24D 42-40675 (crew rescued) and Beufighter A19-97 (MIA / BR).

Afterwards, USN codebreakers intercept a radio message about the air raid “Southeastern Force Action Summary. (October 12th Rabaul Air Action). ----. Attacked from 1004 to 1022 by: 54 (Heavy bombers in 9 waves of three to ten planes covered by about 16 P-38s attacked vessels and Rabaul airdrome vicinity. ------. Losses. (a) Vessels Tsukushi and Naruto hit: slight damage and holes in hull. Mochizuki, damaged by near misses and holes. Gun #3 inoperative. Miyatzuki [sic Minazuki], #2 ---- slight damage from near miss. Guns #1 and #2 out of commission. Tachikaze, ----- damage. I-180, as a result of a 60 kilo bomb hit unable to dive. I-177 and RO-105, holes from near misses.”

IJN: Due to the American air raid at Rabaul sunk is Keisho Maru, seatrucks Wakamatsu Maru No. 1, Kurogane Maru and gunboat Mishima Maru. Damaged are destroyers Mochizuki, Minazuki and Tachikaze, I-177, I-180, RO-105, shecial service ship Tsukushi, Tenryu Maru, Koan Maru and Naruto. During the American air raid on Rabaul, I-36, I-38, I-176 and RO-108 suberge and avoid damage.


January 2, 1944
(13th AF) 30+ Allied fighters sweep Rabaul area claiming 11 airplanes shot down; 1 US Navy (USN) fighter is lost.

January 3, 1944
(13th AF) 30+ Allied fighters sweep the Rabaul area claiming 6 Zekes shot down.
(USN, USMC) Gregory 'Pappy' Boyington commanded 46 fighters, including 8 F4Us from VMF-214, 12 F4Us from VMF-211 and 16 F6F from VF-33 over Rabaul for a fighter sweep, flying from 20,000 - 24,000 feet, spotting Zeros below, they dove to intercept (probably 29 Zeros of the 253 Kokutai).  Also, 27 Zeros of the 204 Kokutai already in the air, joined the fight. Boyington's F4U 17915 and his wingman F4U 02723 were both shot down and listed as missing in action.  Boyington survives the war as a POW.

January 4, 1944
(13th AF) 40+ Allied fighters attack the Rabaul area and claim at least ten airplanes shot down.

January 6, 1944
(13th AF) P-38's sweep the Rabaul area claiming 9 Zekes shot down during a running battle over the Cape Gazelle area.

January 12, 1944
(13th AF) 13 B-25's of the 42d Bombardment Group on their first mission against the Rabaul area in the early morning.

January 9, 1944
(13th AF) A P-70 piloted by Lukas departed, radar 2nd Lt. Blankenship and S/Sgt Glen DeForrest took off from Guadalcanal via Munda and Torokina, taking off at 22:00 for a night single plane mission against Rabaul. The P-70 dropps two 100 lbs incendiaries and four 100lbs high explosives on the target: the dock, fuel dump and 'Australian House'. After hitting the target the P-70 returns via Cape St. George and strafe the radar station, tents and anti-aircraft positions and made four strafing passes. The P-70 returned to Torokina at 2:00am.
References: "The First Solo Low-Altitude Night Raid on Rabaul" by Terry M. Mays, WWII Quarterly Vol 4, No. 1.

January 14, 1944
(13th AF) During the night of 13/14 Jan, 15 B-24's take off to bomb Rabaul just before dawn. Some meet bad weather and bomb alternate targets on New Ireland and Buka instead.

January 17, 1944
AAF and US fighters support 48 SBDs and 18 TBFs attacking shipping in Simpson Harbor off Rabaul; they claim 18 Japanese airplanes; Kanshin Maru is sunk. 10 Allied fighters are lost. Japanese Zeros from the 204th Kokutai at Lakunai Airfield and 16 Zeros from the 252 Kokutai at Tobera Airfield intercept. Lost are eight P-38s from the 339th and 44th FS, who claim six victories and five probables. Lost are P-38J piloted by Munson (MIA), P-38J 42-67785 (MIA), P-38J 42-67179 (MIA), P-38J 42-67611 (MIA), P-38H 42-66680 (MIA), P-38H 42-66897 (rescued), P-38J 42-67171 (MIA), F6F 26031 (MIA), SBD-5 28316 (MIA) and TBF-1C 24363 (MIA). Damaged are TBF-1 24489 and SBD-5 35933. Also lost is F-5A 42-12984 (survived). During the night of 17/18 Jan, a few B-24's, in two flights, bomb the Rabaul area.


April 2, 1944
(13th AF) 40+ fighter-bombers over Rabaul hit the SE part of Rabaul, the Toboi wharf area, and northern section of Rabaul along the Malaguna Road.

April 4, 1944
(13th AF) Ten B-25s are rained out of Rabaul.


April 16, 1944
(13th AF) 30+ fighter-bombers attack area inland from Toboi Wharf at Rabaul.


June 26, 1944
(13th AF) AAF and other Allied aircraft hit airfields, AA positions, and other targets in the Rabaul

June 27, 1944
(13th AF) Fighters and bombers join other Allied aircraft from the Solomon in bomb targets in the Rabaul area.

January 30, 1945
(RNZAF) Fighter sweeps against Rabaul. Lost is F4U Corsair NZ5415

June 21, 1945
(RNZAF) Fighters attack Rabaul area. Lost is F4U Corsair NZ5402.


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