Attack on Japanese ships in Simpson Harbor, Rabaul, by aircraft of the USAAF 3rd Bomb Group, 2 November 1943. On October 5, Fifth Air Force bombers began a three-week sustained bombing campaign on Rabaul in an effort to interrupt the flow of Japanese supplies to both New Guinea and Guadalcanal, where the Marines were having a difficult time. The Royal Australian Air Force maintained a base at Vunakanau Airfield, where a squadron of twin-engine Lockheed Hudson bombers and a few lightly armed Wirraway observation planes were stationed. MacArthur, who had operational control over the Solomons and the Bismarck Archipelago, concluded (with the encouragement of General Kenney) that instead of fighting a costly battle to capture Rabaul, the installation should be bypassed and “left to dry on the vine.” Its surface lines of supply would be cut off by the Navy while the city itself was neutralized by air attack, a decision with which Halsey concurred. In early 1942, the only means of offensive operations in the region were the remnants of two squadrons of Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers belonging to the 19th Bombardment Group, which had been brought out of the Philippines, then reinforced with additional aircraft and personnel sent from the United States. Subject: RE: The Bombing of Rabaul, November 11, 1943 Rabaul is an interesting area. Such, however, is not the case. The naval guns guarded Simpson Harbor and its shipping and the three airfields of Tobera, Lakunai, and Vunakanau. Kenney saw modified B-25s as “Commerce Destroyers,” heavily armed gunships that would swoop in low on skip bombing attacks against ships. In the annals of military history magazines, this is one of those moments. Only one B-17 failed to return. The move was designed to divide the American and Australian air forces into separate commands. It was originally supposed to operate Douglas A-20 Havoc light bombers but, although the personnel were in Australia, their airplanes had yet to arrive. On October 12, V Bomber Command launched the largest aerial attack so far in the Pacific War. The B-17s continued operations against Rabaul whenever enough airplanes could be patched together for a mission. It sits on the narrow St. Georges Channel, which divides the two islands. WWII Quarterly, the hardcover journal of the Second World War that is not available in bookstores or on newsstands, and can only be obtained and collected through a personal subscription through the mail. Captain Charles W. Howe skipped a bomb into the side of another freighter, which sank immediately. This meant that whenever the 19th or 43rd Group lost an airplane and crew, replacements would not necessarily be coming. Only the heavy bomber groups that had originally been destined for the Philippines before the war were sent to Australia, and one of those was diverted to India. The Bombing of Rabaul in February and March 1942 occurred when allied forces launched counter-attacks against the Empire of Japan base at Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.Rabaul had been captured by the Japanese during the Battle of Rabaul earlier in February.. Taking advantage of the Japanese eagerness to intercept and break up bombing raids, Boyington's fighters were scheduled to hit soon after 18 B-24s with a 46-plane escort attacked Rabaul's airfields. However sustained attacks … Most of the production of military aircraft, especially bombers, was allocated to units in training for operations in the European theater. [4], The anti-aircraft defenses were well coordinated by army and naval units. There are moments in military history that forever alter the flow of human events. Navy carrier planes struck Rabaul again on November 11. This iconic photo taken by Horace Bristol (1908-1997). The commencement of air raids on Truk signaled the demise of Rabaul. Captain Harl Pease’s airplane lost an engine while en route to the target, but the veteran pilot, who had flown with the 19th Bomb Group in the Philippines, continued on three. The whole idea of aerial bombing is to put as much high explosive onto a target as possible, but the B-26s’ limited bomb loads greatly reduced their effectiveness. His orders stipulated that the heavy bombers should attack at dawn when the Japanese would still be sleeping. V Bomber Command claimed three transports, three destroyers, and 113 other vessels sunk. Just mounting a mission was a struggle in itself. The AIRSOLS crews were experiencing what Fifth Air Force crews had been enduring for almost two years. Incorporating advanced aeronautical engineering techniques, the B-24 was considerably faster and could carry a larger payload over a much greater distance than its predecessor, features that made it the ideal heavy bomber for Pacific use. McCullar skipped a bomb into the side of a Japanese destroyer. Most of the missions were flown at night, with the crews bombing under the light of flares. The 1994 Volcanic eruption would have been: well, the most devastating tragedy ever to happen to Rabaul and the people in the past well the past 100 years Rabaul has been rebuilt, the 1937 eruption of Vulcan and Tavurvur the burning down of old china town, the Japanese invasion the total bombing and destruction of Rabaul during the 40’s. Rabaul in turn was frequently the target of air raids by the U.S. Army’s Fifth and Thirteenth air forces, the U.S. Marines, and the Royal Australian and Royal New Zealand air forces. There have been countless thousands of published works devoted to all or of it. The fifth airfield protecting Rabaul was Borpop airfield, completed in December 1942 across the St. Georges Channel on New Ireland. But neutralizing Rabaul itself was still his major concern. The burning transport in the left center appears to be one of the Hakone Maru class (NH 95559). Only two Liberators were lost. Kenney informed MacArthur that he had grounded all of the bombers but would have them ready in time to send 16 B-17s against Vunakanau Airfield, where an estimated 150 Japanese aircraft were based, to support the Marine landings that were to take place on August 7. Nine airplanes returned to Moresby in formation, and three others followed as stragglers. The Hudsons were a military version of the Lodestar transport, but they offered very limited capabilities. Coordinates: 4°11′58″S 152°10′4″E / 4.19944°S 152.16778°E / -4.19944; 152.16778 (Rabaul), Rabaul on New Britain in the Bismarck Archipelago. 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