21st March 1943
A day that may be pivotal in the air war over Burma. Ki-43 IIa’s escorted around 30 Betty bombers in a raid over Calcuta harbour targetting a large resupply transport that had arrived yesterday evening. As Japanese planes had already successfully attacked and sank ships in Calcutta a large CAP of fighters, both RAF and USAAF were up in the air protecting the ships as they unloaded supplies. Radar stations all along the coast were picking up the raid and giving plenty of early warning to the fighter fields around Calcutta. RAF Hurricanes and P-38’s took the high stations between 18,000 and 20,000 feet while USAAF P-40’s were flying the 13,000 shift. The first contact with the enemy came at 10:15 am when P-40’s swooped down on 8 Ki-43’s that were flying in at around 8,000 feet. The bounce was spectacular and 5 enemy planes had been shot down before the Japanese pilots could even react. These 8 planes were a vanguard for another 16 Oscars escorting 33 G4M1’s, some carrying sleek torpedoes on their fuselages. This was the moment the Hurricanes and Lightnings were waiting for as they tore into the enemy fighter formation with their 20mm cannons. Fighter jocks, being fighter jocks however ignored the bombers until too late. Only two of the Betty’s were shot down over the harbour as one 4,000 ton ship went down after being hit with two torpedoes. The return journey however was not so easy for the bomber pilots as 17 of their number were shot down as they tranisted south, the last four remaing escorts were easily dealt with by the P-40’s. Observers by days end had tallied 43 enemy planes confirmed shot down whereas no American or British fighter had been lost.
Just off the Australian coast however, Japanese crusiers once again pumelled Bathurst Island. As of yet no counter has been able to be found to these raids. Though a dedicated night time naval attack sqaudron did manage to get some licks in! The need to counter the threast from Japanese bases in Timor and the DEI’s has forced General Blamey to call an all branches conference to discuss immediate strategy.