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March 3, 1943
RAAF No. 30 Squadron
March 3, 1943
The Battle of the Bismarck Sea occurred in the Bismarck Sea between the northern coast of New Guinea and western New Britain and was fought entirely by Allied aircraft and to a small degree by U. S. Navy (USN) PT Boats versus the Japanese convoy of transports and destroyers escorted by fighters.
On February 28, 1943 a Japanese reinforcement convoy Operation 81 of eight transports escorted by eight destroyers departed Rabaul bound for Lae on New Guinea. The convoy included eight transports loaded with Japanese troops and supplies including Kyokusei Maru, Aiyo Maru, Oikawa Maru, Teiyo Maru, Taimei Maru, Sin-ai Maru, Kembu Maru and Nojima Maru. Escorted by eight destroyers: Tokitsukaze (aboard Lt. General Hatazō Adachi commander 18th Army) Yukikaze (aboard was Lt. General Hidemitsu Nakano, commander 51st Division), Shirayuki (aboard was Rear Admiral Masatomi Kimura), Arashio, Asashio, Asagumo, Shikinami and Uranami.
On March 1, 1943 the Japanese convoy was spotted by B-24D "Miss Deed" 41-24070 off Kimbe Bay and immediately radioed a report and shadowed the convoy. Afterwards, B-24D piloted by Lt. George W. Shaffer continued to shadow and and made the first bombing attack overnight. Over the next three days, every available Allied aircraft from the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) made repeated sorties against the convoy.
On March 2, 1943 in the morning, the convoy was shadowed by B-24D "The Butcher Boy" 41-24108 until B-17 Flying Fortresses from 43rd Bomb Group (43rd BG) arrive and commence the first coordinated with bombing runs from medium altitude. The first vessel sunk was Kyokusei Maru near Cape Gloucester.
On March 3, 1943 in the morning repeated Allied air attacks resume by B-17 Flying Fortresses from 43rd Bomb Group (43rd BG) and B-25 Mitchells from 3rd Bomb Group (3rd BG) plus Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Bostons, Beauforts and Beaufighters as the convoy transiting between Cape Gloucester and Finschafen. Escorting Ki-43 Oscars from the 11th Hiko Sentai (11th Flying Regiment) engage the Allied planes. During the dog fight, 1st Lt Richard "Dick" Bong claims a Ki-43 Oscar over the Huon Gulf, his sixth aerial victory claim. During the attacks, B-17E "Naughty But Nice" 41-2430 is damaged with five wounded. Lost is B-17F "Ka Puhio Wela / Double Trouble" 41-24356 (MIA), P-38F 42-12623 (MIA), P-38F 42-12633 (MIA) and P-38G 42-12715 (MIA). The morning attacks sink 2 destroyers and 3 transports. In the afternoon, 16 B-17's, 23 B-25's and 5 RAAF Bostons attack; 8 90th Bombardment Squadron planes sink a destroyer and 2 transport while the Boston's sink a destroyer. That night, U.S. Navy (USN) PT Boats sink the last damaged transport.
On March 4, 1943 the battle concludes as a decisive Allied victory with 5th Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircraft sinking 12 of 16 vessels over three days. In total, nearly 3,000 Japanese were killed and was the last Japanese attempt to use large vessels to reinforce Lae.
The Battle of the Bismarck Sea resulted in a decisive Allied victory as they sank all eight transports and four destroyers. Only 850 Japanese troops managed to reach Lae. The battle was was primarily conducted by Allied planes and employed new tactics including skip bombing. Afterwards, the Japanese were unable to use large vessels to reinforce Lae and afterwards could only reply on barges and submarine for resupply.
The Japanese lost all eight transports were sunk. On March 2, 1943 Kyokusei Maru. On March 3, 1943 lost was Aiyo Maru, Oikawa Maru, Teiyo Maru, Taimei Maru, Sin-ai Maru, Kembu Maru and Nojima Maru were sunk. Also sunk were four escorting destroyers Arashio, Asashio, Shirayuki and Tokitsukaze. In total, nearly 3,000 Japanese were killed.
P-38G Lightning 42-12715
Pilot Shifflet MIA March 3, 1943, 1 missing
P-38F Lightning 42-12623 Nose 16
Pilot Faurot MIA March 3, 1943, 1 missing
B-17F "Ka-Puhio-Wela" 41-24356
Pilot Moore MIA March 3, 1943, 10 missing
Sunk March 2, 1943 by Allied aircraft as the first vessel sunk during the Battle of Bismarck Sea.
Sunk by Allied aircraft March 3, 1943 during Battle of Bismarck Sea
Oigawa Maru (Oikawa Maru)
Sunk by Allied aircraft March 3, 1943 during Battle of Bismarck Sea 30 miles southeast of Finschafen
Cargo 6,801 tons. Sunk by Allied aircraft March 3, 1943
Cargo 2,883 tons. Sunk by Allied aircraft March 3, 1943
Cargo 3,793 tons. Also known as Shin-ai Maru or Sinai Maru. Sunk by Allied aircraft March 3, 1943
Cargo 954 tons carrying gasoline. Sunk by Allied aircraft March 3, 1943
Transport 8,750 Tons. Also known as Noshima Maru or Nozima Maru. Sunk by Allied aircraft March 3, 1943
Destroyer 2,370 tons. Sunk by Allied aircraft March 3, 1943
Destroyer 2,090 Tons. Sunk by Allied aircraft March 3, 1943
Destroyer 2,490 Tons. Sunk by Allied aircraft March 3, 1943
Damaged March 3, 1943 by B-25 Mitchells and sunk March 4, 1943
Legacy of the 90th Bombardment Group (1997) pages 43 (March 1, 1943), 44 (March 2, 1943)
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