February 23, 1942
Today in World War II Pacific History
Day by day chronology
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
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
of ABDACOM and then Allied Air Force (SWPA).