SUNDAY, 17 OCTOBER 1943
BURMA-INDIA (Tenth Air Force): Heavy and medium bombers bomb Naba, Burma.
CHINA (Fourteenth Air Force): Seven B-24's bomb Htawgaw, Burma.
USN: Over southern Bougainville, F4U Corsair pilot Milton E. Scheider from VMF-214 went MIA, and two F4Us sustained minor damage. Over the past two days (16-17) Japanese records indicate
the loss of 15 Zeros in the air, and deaths of 13 pilots (half a squadron).
SOUTHWEST PACIFIC THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Fifth Air Force): Eighteen
A-20's and B-25's bomb and strafe Sattelberg. Seven B-25's hit Wewak and Boram
Airfield with a low-level attack. Six B-24's bomb Ternate a 2,200-mile round trip.
Four P-39's intercept eighteen airplanes including Ki-48 Lilys attacking Finschhafen and claim six shot down.
Japanese mission against Oro Bay
American side: 40+ American P-38s an P-40s from Dobodura intercept a large group of enemy aircraft
attempting to attack Oro Bay. The P-38 Lightnings from the 475th Fighter Group, 432nd Fighter Squadron does not engage in air combat due to low fuel. U. S. fighters claim 24 Japanese aircraft shot down. Lost are P-40N 42-104991 (MIA), P-38H 42-66561 (MIA), P-38H 42-66743 (MIA), P-38H 42-66836 pilot 1st Lt. Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. (rescued), P-38H "We Dood It" 42-66908 (survived).
(IJN) Japanese side: At 7:55am, fifty-six Zeros from the 6th Air Attack Force (AAF) took off from Tobera Airfield near Rabaul. The formation includes 28 Zeros from 253 Kokutai and 28 Zeros from 204 Kokutai. At 10:05am, over the Buna anchorage, the Zeros were intercepted by P-38 Lightnings, P-40 Warhawks and P-39 Airacobras. The air combat lasted 25 minutes. The Japanese Zero pilot claimed 12 P-38s shot down plus one probable, 1 P-39 probable plus two P-40s and six P-40s damaged. The Japanese lost a total of eight Zeros (another source lists the losses as two exploded, six missing).
Richard Dunn adds: "Zero unit of 5th AAF (alias 25th AirFlot) at this time Air Group 253. Zero unit 6th AAF (alias 26th AirFlot) Air Group 204. 582 an all bomber unit at this point."
6th Air Attack Force Action Summary for 17 October 1943
"56 Zeros (28 each from 5th and 6th AAF) at 0555 took off from OFI [Tobera Airfield]. At 0805 tangled with about 60 P-38s and 10 or more P-39s and 40s over ONF [Buna Anchorage] and engaged them for about 25 minutes. Results: shot down 12 P-38s (1 probable only), 1 P-39 (probable), 2 P-40s and 6 damaged. Losses 8 planes."
Kodochosho, 253 Kōkūtai, October 17, 1943
"28 Zeros took off, combat at 0805 [Tokyo Time], 5 were lost, six damaged, 23 returned. Claimed 5 x P-38s and 1 x P-40"
Kodochosho, 204 Kōkūtai, October 17, 1943
"32 Zeros took off, 3 aborted, 29 reach target area, 3 were lost, two damaged. Claimed 7 x P-38, 1 x P-39 and 1 x P-40."
Japanese Naval Aces and Fighter Units of WWII by Hata and Izawa states 253 Kokutai lost three pilots over Buna on October 17, 1943
Thanks to Richard Dunn and Edward Rogers for additional research and analysis