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February 23, 1942
Today in World War II Pacific History
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MONDAY, 23 FEBRUARY 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (SWPA, 5th Air Force): First American bombing mission against Rabaul.  A group of six B-17s took off from Townsville before midnight on February 22, 1942 for a bombing mission against Japanese shipping in Simpson Harbor near Rabaul. Inbound, some B-17s suffer mechanical trouble and bad weather. Only two B-17s manage to bomb the target, and all are intercepted by Japanese fighters from the 4th Kōkūtai (4th Air Group). Returning, B-17E 41-2446 (aka 'The Swamp Ghost') runs out of fuel and force lands into Agaiambo Swamp in northern New Guinea.

Two B-17s bomb Denpasar Airfield from 27,000' through thick clouds.

Major General Lewis H. Brereton, Commanding General 5th Air Force, departs for India after issuing an order terminating HQ 5th Air Force. Until September 3, 1942, units of the 5th Air Force will be initially under control of ABDACOM and then Allied Air Force (SWPA).



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