December 7, 1941, to June 28, 1943


DECEMBER 7-8. Hickam and Wheeler Fields, Hawaii, and Clark and Nichols Fields, Philippines and Guam attacked by Japanese aircraft.

DECEMBER 11. A Boeing Flying Fortress (B-17) of Colonel Eubank's 19th Bombardment Group scored three direct hits on a Japanese battleship of the 29,000-ton Haruna class. The pilot was Capt Colin Kelly.

DECEMBER 17. Lieut Gen Delos C Emmons, chief of the Air Force Combat Command, replaces Lieut Gen Walter G Short as commander of the Hawaiian Department.

DECEMBER 20. First action of American Volunteer Group. Six Jap bombers downed near Kunming; four others jettisoned their bombs and fled. AVG losses: none.

DECEMBER 25. Col Eugene L Eubank awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross "for heroism and extraordinary achievement" in leading a mass flight of Fortresses from San Francisco to the Philippines following a route charted a month earlier by Maj Emmett O'Donnell, Jr, who also received the DFC, together with his men.


JANUARY 5. Flying Fortresses scored three direct hits on a Jap battleship and sank two destroyers off Davao, Mindanao Island, Philippines, and hit others ships. All Fortresses returned to their bases in the Netherlands East Indies. Remaining heavy. bombers and crews had been withdrawn from the Philippines by Maj Gen Lewis H Brereton as soon as it was found they could no longer be operated there and sent to Australia. From there they carried out several long-distance raids on Jap shipping and installations until thrown into the battle for Java.

JANUARY 23-26. Fortresses and other Allied bombers sank eight Jap ships in the battle of Macassar Strait.

FEBRUARY 9. American Volunteer Group claims its 101st aerial victory. Jap forces still held in check along Salween River, Burma,

FEBRUARY 19. Sixteen Curtiss Kittyhawks intercepted 25 Jap heavy bombers and two fighters over Surabaya, Java, destroying five bombers and one fighter. One Kittyhawk lost, pilot parachuting to safety.

FEBRUARY 24-26. Maj Gen Lewis H Brereton flew from Java to New Delhi, via Ceylon, to set up the nucleus of the 10th Air Force in India, which had been activated February 12.

FEBRUARY 28. Balance of General Brereton's bombardment units withdrawn from Java to Australia under General Brett, nucleus of 5th Air Force.

MARCH 4. Brig Gen H H George's Kittyhawks bomb and sink three ships and two launches in Subic Bay, Philippines. Also set supplies afire.

MARCH 10. Fortresses and Australian bombers destroy seven Jap ships and fire a flying boat on New Guinea's north coast.

MARCH 15. Fortresses bomb Rabaul and other Jap bases in New Britain; Kittyhawks destroy three Jap fighters.

MARCH 16. Reports of large US air reinforcements arriving in India.

MARCH 11. General MacArthur arrives in Australia by torpedo boat and plane to take full command of Southwest Pacific, including Philippines, Lieut Gen George H Brett becomes his air chief.

MARCH 24. Flying Tigers destroy 40 Jap planes on Thai airport,

MARCH 29-31. Thirty-three Jap planes destroyed over Timor and New Guinea.

APRIL 3. Six Fortresses of the 10th Air Force raid the Andaman Islands, 600 miles across the Bay of Bengal from Calcutta, General Brereton piloting the lead plane. Jap cruiser set on fire, troop ship and installations damaged. No AAF losses.

APRIL 15. Maj Gen Ralph Royce led a raid of three Fortresses and 10 North American Mitchell bombers from Australia to the Philippines in a week-end action. Secret island bases were used. Four Jap ships were sunk, Nichols Field and Davao base damaged, Jap aircraft destroyed.

APRIL 18. Maj Gen James Doolittle led a force of 16 specially-equipped Mitchell medium bombers on a raid of four Japanese cities, including Tokyo, taking off from aircraft carrier Hornet. Heavy damage on military objectives resulted. No planes were lost over Japan, but all were lost before reaching friendly bases in Chekiang Province, except one which landed in Russia.

APRIL 29. AVG down 22 Jap planes over Lashio. Heavy bombers of 10th Air Force severely damage docks and military installations in Rangoon.

MAY 4-9. 5th Air Force heavy bombers render substantial aid to Naval units in the great battle of the Coral Sea. Nineteen Jap ships were sunk.

MAY 25. AVG flyers bomb Jap concentration on the upper Salween River, Burma. The Chinese troops, badly battered, were in retreat. Six Kittyhawks bomb and strafe the crack Red Dragon Jap armored division, setting their gasoline supplies blazing, and knocking out many tanks and trucks. The Chinese rallied and a hopeless defeat was changed into a victory.

DURING MAY. The 10th Air Force assumed defense of Karachi region, Northwest India, cooperated with the British and other Allies in evacuating Burma, and began to fly supplies across the Himalayas to Yunnan Province, China.

JUNE 8-5. Fortresses, torpedo-carrying Martin Marauders, and Curtiss Warhawks of the 11th Air Force, operating from secret bases, saved Dutch Harbor from capture in Jap assault on the Aleutian Islands. Fog-bound Kiska, Attu and Agattu occupied by the enemy.

JUNE 4-7. Battle of Midway. Fortresses and torpedo-Marauders of the 7th Air Force, based in the Hawaiian Islands, aid Naval and Marine air forces in repulsing powerful Jap invasion fleet.

EARLY JUNE. American heavy bombers reinforce RAF Middle East Command, Cairo, being the first units of the 9th Air Force.

JUNE 12. Consolidated Liberators based in Egypt raided the Rumanian ports and oil fields, inflicting heavy damage. Four landed in Turkey and were grounded.

JUNE 15. AAF Liberators and British bombers sink Italian cruiser Littorio and two destroyers in Mediterranean.

JUNE 29. Heavy bombers of the 7th Air Force smash surface installations on Jap-held Wake Island.

EARLY JULY. Maj Gen Lewis H Brereton flew to Cairo to set up headquarters of the 9th Air Force, with Brig Gen Patrick Timberlake as bomber commander, and Brig Gen Aubrey Strickland as fighter commander.

JULY 4. American Volunteer Group disbands. China Air Task Force activated under Brigadier General Chennault, with bomber unit under Col Caleb V Haynes and 23d Pursuit Group under Col Robert L Scott, Jr.

JULY 4. American light bomber crews in six Douglas Bostons borrowed from the RAF raided airdromes in Holland in first American bomber action over the European continent.

JULY 8. Lieut Gen Carl Spaatz announced headquarters of the 8th Air Force, with Maj Gen Ira C Eaker as bomber commander and Brig Gen Frank O'D Hunter as fighter commander.

JULY 9. American planes aid Chinese in recapturing Nancheng, Kiangsi Province.

JULY AND AUGUST. Mitchell bombers added to 9th Air Force bombardment strength. 57th Fighter Group, including the Black Scorpions (64th sqdn), the Fighting Cocks (65th), and Exterminators (66th) began its spectacular career. The Mitchells and Liberators carry out smashing raids against Axis shipping and docks at Tobruk, Benghazi, etc. and the Liberators against longer-range objectives (ports in Crete, Greece, etc) to dry up Rommel's supply line. Warhawks join the RAF in short-range bombing and strafing attacks and in gaining air supremacy over the desert.

JULY 27. China Air Task Force routs 50 Jap bombers and fighters headed for Chungking.

AUGUST 7. US Marines make amphibious landings at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands under protection of Navy aircraft and warships after 5th Air Force bombers under Lieut Gen George C Kenney had prepared for this action by a series of heavy attacks on Jap bases at Rabaul, Buin and Lae.

AUGUST 11. 8th Air Force Fortresses bomb railway yards and shops at Rouen, occupied France, without loss. Damage was heavy and the British expressed admiration at the extreme bombing accuracy.

AUGUST 21. Eleven Fortresses encounter swarm of Focke-Wulf Fw-190s and Messerschmitt Me-109s over the North Sea, shot down three, damaged or destroyed nine more, with damage to one Fortress. All Fortresses returned.

AUGUST 27. 5th Air Force Warhawks intercept 27 Jap bombers and 20 Zeros at 27,000 feet altitude over Darwin, Australia, destroying four bombers and nine Zeros without loss. New technique was used for success at this high altitude.

SEPTEMBER 1-2. 9th Air Force bombers raid Tobruk and join with RAF in heavy bombardment of Rommel's forces near El Alamein, causing slight withdrawal.

SEPTEMBER 6. Three squadrons of Fortresses of 8th Air Force Bomber Command attack airframe factory at Meaulte, one squadron raided the St Orner enemy fighter airfield, and Douglas Havoc light bombers attack the Abbeville airfield. AAF losses: two fighters and three Fortresses, the first in 10 raids. Five Nazi fighters destroyed, 38 others probably destroyed or heavily damaged.

SEPTEMBER 12. Heavy, medium and attack bombers, escorted by fighters, carried out four raids on the Japanese airdrome at Buna, base for the drive on Port Moresby. Seventeen Jap planes destroyed on the ground, all antiaircraft positions silenced.

SEPTEMBER 14. A group of Liberators escorted by Bell Airacobras and Lockheed Lightnings heavily bombed and strafed Japanese ships, planes and shore installations at Kiska. Two mine sweepers were sunk, three submarines, three cargo vessels and several smaller craft were damaged. Four Zeros, one small plane and one large patrol plane destroyed, 500 Jap troops killed or wounded.

SEPTEMBER 16. Fifty pilots making up the American Eagle Squadrons of the RAF transferred to the US Army 8th Air Force. The first squadron was organized in September, 1940, during the Battle of Britain. The Eagles downed at least 73 German planes.

SEPTEMBER 21. During July and August, China Air Task Force flyers shot down 28 Jap planes and probably six more and destroyed 30 on the ground in 23 bombing raids in occupied China, Indo-China and Burma without the loss of a bomber.

SEPTEMBER 25. Turn of the tide in the Jap drive in eastern New Guinea. Enemy forced back at a point 32 miles from Port Moresby. Fortresses, Airacobras and Dauntless dive bombers bomb the strategic Wairopi Bridge, demolishing one end.

SEPTEMBER 29. Ioribaiwa Ridge in the Owen Stanley Mountains recaptured. Three air power reasons for stemming the enemy and rolling him back:

  1. Large numbers of troops, equipment and supplies flown in by Troop Carrier Command units in Australia, using Douglas Skytrains;
  2. Aerial reconnaissance pin-pointed hundreds of caches of enemy food, ammunition and supplies, which were completely destroyed by Airacobras and Kittyhawks in fast, low-flying, strafing and bombing attacks;
  3. the main Jap bases of Rabaul, Lae and Salamaua, and enemy transport ships were under constant attack by Fortress and Liberator heavy bombers, and Marauder, Mitchell and Boston medium and light bombers.

OCTOBER 3. Announcement made that Liberator, Fortress, Marauder and Mitchell bombers, and Lightning, Airacobra and Warhawk fighters are operating from bases in the Andreanof Islands, 125 miles east of Kiska. Aviation engineers had completed the landing fields with steel mats in record time, fighters landing about the end of August, bombers a few days later.

OCTOBER 8. Report of 9th Air Force activities show that American bombers carried out 90 bombing missions from June 15 to September 30 over Africa and the Mediterranean, dropping 1,580 tons of bombs and sinking or damaging 37 ships with a loss of five Liberators, six Mitchells and eight Warhawks.

OCTOBER 9. One hundred and fifteen Fortresses and Liberators of the 8th Air Force, escorted by 500 Allied fighters, bombed German-held industrial plants at Lille, France, in the greatest daylight raid of the war. The bombers shot down 48 Nazi fighters, probably destroyed 38 more and damaged 19. Four bombers were lost. None of the fighters, which destroyed five German planes, failed to return.

OCTOBER 10. 9th Air Force and RAF Middle East planes destroyed 24 Axis planes and damaged 10 in raids on airdromes and supply bases, against a loss of 12 British planes. Beginning of drive to "clear the air," preceding the all-out offensive at El Alamein to begin on October 24.

OCTOBER 18. US Army troops land on Guadalcanal to reinforce the embattled Marines who had held the beach and Henderson Field since August 7. Lieut Gen Millard F Harmon, who had been Chief of the Air Staff until June, was commander of all Army forces in the South Pacific under the overall command of Admiral Halsey. Planes of the newly organized 13th Air Force, under Maj Gen Nathan F Twining, were thrown into the desperate battle. Army, Navy and Marine flyers shot down 33 Jap planes in two days, against two losses.

OCTOBER 21. China Air Task Force carried out a most successful 2,000-mile attack on the Linsi mine installations near Manchuria, in Liberators from the 10th Air Force, India. The first US raid in North China.

OCTOBER 24. After four days of the most intense aerial pounding by planes of the 9th Air Force and RAF Middle East, General Montgomery's 8th Army starts its drive to roll the Axis out of Egypt and Libya. The preceding artillery barrage was the greatest ever known in North Africa.

OCTOBER 25-26. Mitchell bombers, escorted by Kittyhawks, bomb Hong Kong two days in succession, damaging the Kowloon docks, destroying the North Point power station, and blasting the White Cloud airdrome near Canton. Thirteen Jap fighters and probably three others shot down. One Mitchell bomber was lost, the only one to be lost in more than 10 months' action ending April 30, 1943.

NOVEMBER 4. Axis forces in full retreat in the western desert. 9th Air Force Warhawk fighter-bombers, and RAF Bostons, Hawker Hurricanes and Bristol Beaufighters strafe the fleeing forces and destroy hundreds of vehicles, and blow up supply and ammunition dumps. Liberators, Mitchells, Vickers Wellingtons and Handley Page Halifaxes bomb supply vessels in the Mediterranean and in Benghazi harbor in continued action to isolate the Axis forces. In the period from October 1 to November 4, US planes shot down 45 Axis planes, losing six of their own.

NOVEMBER 7. US troops land in French North Africa in powerful force, assisted by the US and British Navy, the AAF and the RAF. Hundreds of paratroopers in 47 Douglas Skytrain transports are flown to the scene on a 1,400-mile trip from bases in England. Lieut Gen Dwight Eisenhower announced as commander-in-chief of the Allied forces.

NOVEMBER 8. Maj Gen James H Doolittle announced as commanding the US Army 12th Air Force in North Africa, and Lieut Gen Frank M Andrews as overall commander of US Army air and ground forces in the Middle East, Maj Gen Lewis H Brereton retaining command of the 9th Air Force. Lieut Gen George H Brett replaced General Andrews as Chief of the Caribbean Defense Command, Canal Zone.

NOVEMBER 22. The largest formation of US bombers ever to operate from an air base in India attacked the Japanese-held railway center at Mandalay, Burma, inflicting heavy damage. No planes were lost.

NOVEMBER 25. 12th Air Force Lockheed Lightning twin-engined fighters destroyed 14 Axis planes in Tunisia with no losses.

NOVEMBER 26. Nine Liberators of the 10th Air Force fly 1,500 miles round trip to raid an oil refinery at Bangkok in the first American attack on Japanese-held Thailand.

DECEMBER 5. Lieut Gen Carl A Spaatz arrived in North Africa from London to reorganize the Allied air forces in Tunisia. Maj Gen Ira C Eaker, Chief of Bomber Command, took over command of the 8th Air Force in London.

DECEMBER 10. Allied forces complete the occupation of Gona, northeast New Guinea. Buna fell five days later.

DECEMBER 17. Fortresses and Havocs escorted by Lightning fighters raid Bizerte, Tunis, Gabes and other Axis bases in Tunisia on the sixth day of the 12th Air Force's aerial offensive. Only one plane was lost.

DECEMBER 24-26. China Air Task Force Mitchells raided Tengchung, Japanese-held base in Yunnan province (24th). Christmas Day the Japs sent fighters and bombers over an auxiliary airfield in Western Yunnan, Warhawks downing three bombers and five fighters at a loss of two planes. Mitchells also raided Lashio, Burma, three times within the week, inflicting heavy damage.

DECEMBER 27. A considerable force of Liberators raided Bangkok, Thailand, hitting the arsenal, power plant, the airfield and naval dock area, starting large fires. No planes lost.

DECEMBER 28. 5th Air Force bombers sank or set on fire four Japanese ships in a night attack on Rabaul, New Britain. Twelve latest type Lightnings, making their debut in New Guinea, shot down 15 out of 40 Jap Zeros and dive bombers in the Buna area.

DECEMBER 30. 8th Air Force heavy bombers carried out a daylight raid on the Nazi U-boat pens at Lorient, Bay of Biscay, shooting down 19 German fighters. Three bombers were lost. Since beginning of these raids on August 17, Fortresses and Liberators based in England have shot down more than 200 Nazi fighters.


JANUARY 6-7. A Japanese convoy of two light cruisers, four destroyers, and four transports attacked by Fortresses, Liberators, Mitchells, Marauders, Lightnings and Airacobras. Seven direct hits on transports, two sunk, third probably sunk. Twenty-nine Jap planes shot down, 11 probably destroyed. AAF losses: one shot down, one missing, one seriously damaged, 13 slightly damaged. Dress rehearsal for Bismarck Sea.

JANUARY 27. Fortresses of the 8th Air Force dropped 130 tons of high explosives on the port of Wilhelmshaven in the first AAF raid against Germany proper. Twenty-six enemy planes destroyed, five probably and 10 damaged. Three Fortresses lost.

FEBRUARY 18. Under the general direction of Air Marshal Tedder (General Eisenhower's air chief), the US 12th Air Force and RAF units in Africa merged as the Northwest African Air Forces. Lieut Gen Carl A Spaatz headed up the NWAAF, with Major General Doolittle in charge of the Strategic Air Force and Air Vice Marshal Coningham commanding the Tactical Air Force.

FEBRUARY 22-25. Northwest African Air Forces flew 1,109 sorties in support of Allied troops and played important part in driving Rommel's forces back through Kasserine Pass in Tunisia.

MARCH 1-4. The battle of the Bismarck Sea. Long-range bombers of General Kenney's 5th Air Force spot Jap convoy proceeding toward New Guinea (March 1). Crews and pilots of 162 Allied bombers and fighters repeatedly attack convoy and air cover, bomb airdromes at Lae, Finschafen, Gasmata. Heavy, medium and light bombers show unprecedented team work, especially in minimum altitude skip-bombing (March 2-3). Ten warships, 12 transports, 15,000 troops destroyed. Fifty-five Jap planes shot down, 25 probably destroyed, seven damaged. AAF losses: one Fortress, three Lightnings (March 4).

MARCH 10. 14th US Air Force activated in China, replacing the China Air Task Force operating under the 10th Air Force in India. Brig Gen Claire Chennault continues as commander, becoming a major general on March 25.

MARCH 18. Ninety-seven Fortresses and Liberators of the 8th Air Force attack Vegesack U-boat building center, near Bremen, dropping 268 tons of high explosives. Seven submarines were destroyed in the ways, others damaged. Twelve shops were completely destroyed, six others heavily damaged, including the powerplant. Fifty-two enemy planes shot down, 20 probably destroyed, and 23 damaged, with loss of one Liberator and one Fortress. Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal described the raid as a complete vindication of daylight precision bombing.

MARCH 19. Lieut Gen Henry H Arnold, commanding general of the Army Air Forces, confirmed for the promotion to the temporary rank of a full, four-star general, the first flying officer to win such rank.

APRIL 10-11. Sixty-six Junkers Ju-52 transports and 13 German fighters shot down over Tunisia, with no AAF losses.

APRIL 11-14. During this time Japan made three heavy attacks on our New Guinea bases, including Oro Bay (with 45 planes), Port Moresby (100 planes), Milne Bay (80 planes), losing 82 planes and 27 probables. AAF losses: nine planes.

APRIL 11. Fortresses dropped 250 tons of bombs on Focke-Wulf aircraft works at Bremen. Strong enemy fighter interception and heavy flak encountered. Five of the seven major structures of the factory destroyed or damaged severely. Sixty-three enemy planes shot down, 15 probably destroyed and 17 damaged. AAF lost 16 Fortresses.

APRIL 18. Curtiss Warhawks of the 57th Fighter Group and Vickers Spitfires intercepted a large formation of Ju-52s with a strong fighter escort. In a dramatic 20-minute action 74 planes were shot down, including 58 Ju-52s, 14 Me-109s and two Messerschmitt Me-110s. Nineteen transports and 11 fighters were damaged. AAF losses: Six Warhawks and one Spitfire.

MAY 3. Lieut Gen Frank M Andrews, distinguished flying general and commander of all US forces in the European theater of operations, killed in an airplane accident in Iceland.

MAY 7. Triumphant Allied troops capture Tunis and Bizerte, striking in overwhelming force with the aid of the greatest supporting aerial barrage in history, more than 2,500 sorties being flown.

MAY 10. America's heaviest single-engined fighter, the Republic Thunderbolt, officially announced in action against the enemy, having accompanied Fortresses on the Antwerp raid. No planes were lost.

MAY 14. American bombers, roaring out over Europe, struck their heaviest blow of the war to date with four separate, closely coordinated attacks on naval, airfield and factory targets in Germany (Kiel), Belgium (Antwerp and Courtrai) and Holland (Velzen).

JUNE 1. American fighters and bombers of the 14th Air Force play a decisive part in the battle of Hupeh-Hunan, removing threat to Chungking and to China's "rice bowl" area.

JUNE 11. Maj Gen Ira C Eaker announced that the 8th Air Force had doubled its strength since March and would be doubled again by October. In May the ratio of five enemy planes to one was maintained. Percentage of loss in 10 months of operation has been less than four.

JUNE 12. After 19 days of terrific pounding from the air, Pantelleria surrenders unconditionally under terms of Lieutenant General Spaatz. First case in history of a well-fortified citadel being subjugated by air power, with some support of sea power, without action by ground forces.

JUNE 18. Flyers of the 13th Air Force, Navy and Marines in the South Pacific shot down 77 out of 120 Japanese planes over Guadalcanal; antiaircraft accounted for 17 more. Our losses were six airplanes.

JUNE 26. More than 50 Liberator bombers of Major General Brereton's 9th Air Force (Middle East) carried out a raid on the big German airdrome of Sedes near Salonika without loss.

JUNE 28, More than 100 Fortresses made the heaviest single attack of the entire Mediterranean war by smashing the port of Messina, Sicily. Raging fires guided British heavy bombers to the target in a devastating night raid.

This article was originally published as part of the October, 1943, "Special Issue US Air Forces At War" issue of Flying magazine, vol 33, no 4, pp 348-350.
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