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April 18, 1943
Today in World War II Pacific History
Day by day chronology

Sunday, April 18, 1943

SOUTH PACIFIC THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Thirteenth Air Force) "Operation Peacock": G4M1 Betty 2656 Tail 323 with Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto aboard plus G4M1 Betty Tail 326 with Vice-Admiral Matome Ugaki aboard were intercepted by sixteen P-38 Lightning's led by Major John W. Mitchell (2 others abort) on a low-level, circuitous, over-water trip from Fighter 2 on Guadalcanal to a spot up the Bougainville coast to intercept Admiral Yamamoto who, according to U. S. intelligence, is on an inspection trip in the S Pacific and is due at Ballale at 9:45am local time. Admiral Yamamoto's punctuality was calculated to allow the interception to take place at 0935 local. Two hours and 15 minutes after takeoff at 0725 local, the P-38's having flown at almost sea level spot the flight of two two Betty bombers escorted by six Zeros.

The four P-38s in the attack section under Captain Thomas G. Lanphier, Jr. intercept the bombers. The Zekes spot the attacking P-38's at about one mile and try in vain to cut off the attack while the bombers dive to low level in an attempt to escape. G4M1 Betty 2656 Tail 323 with Admiral Yamamoto was attacked by P-38G "Miss Virginia" 43-2264 piloted by 1st Lt Rex Barber and shot crashing into the jungle on southern Bougainville.

Moments later, the other bomber G4M1 Betty Tail 326 with Vice-Admiral Ugaki aboard is also shot down and ditched into the sea off Molai Point on southern Bougainville. Lost was P-38G piloted by Hine (MIA). First to return, P-38G 43-2238 piloted by Thomas G. Lanphier, Jr. was the first pilot to land and claimed credit for both bombers shot down and was officially credited with both victories.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Fifth Air Force) B-25's bomb Penfoei Airfield. Single B-24's hit the Finschhafen and Saidor areas. A detachment of the 6th Night Fighter Squadron, 15th Fighter Group based at Kipapa Field begins operating from New Guinea with P-70's.

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Eleventh Air Force) In the Aleutians, 22 P-38's (some flown by Royal Canadian Air Force pilots) and 37 P-40's hit Kiska nine times. The submarine base and gun emplacements on North Head are bombed and gun emplacements near the submarine base are silenced.

CENTRAL PACIFIC THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Seventh Air Force) The 371st Bombardment Squadron and 372d Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 307th Bombardment Group based at Wheeler Field with B-24's begin operating from Funafuti.

CHINA (Fourteenth Air Force) In China, P-40's strafe an enemy-held supply village SE of Tengchung.

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