22nd March 1943
After Action Report for 20th March 1943, 26th Bomber Squadron, 11th Bomber Group.
‘Together with other squadrons of Seventh Air Force we took off to attack Wewak as part of dedicated campaign to deny the enemy air superiority over New Guinea. We took off as planned at 04:30z and navigated ENE until sighting land, the coast of New Guinea at approximately 08:45z. No enemy fighters were observed and we approached the target unmolested as we have done in previous missions. Being the lead squadron we formed up in formation for the bombing run some 40 miles due south of the target at Wewak. Sporadic flak fire, something totally normal in the approach to Wewak, met our approach and we observed a number of ships at the harbour.
Things began to go wrong when our bubble turrent gunner began to report engaing enemy fighters at 8 o’clock high. The hammer of 50 cals could be heard along the fuselage as our defensive armament took up the challenge of the enemy fighters. Having met both the Ki-44 and two different variants of the A6M, we were confident our attack run would not be impeded. As the target slowly came into focus the enemy fighters were identifed as ME 109’s! Indeed, I myself caught a glimpse of one as it sped past my cockpit spitting fire against the B-24 on our port side. The Japanese plane had similar characteristics and lines to the ME 109 and they did seem faster than the Ki 44…’
Footnote: Interesting to note that when the Ki-61 made its debut over New Guines, USAAF pilots did misidentify it as a Messerschmitt 109. Ready more about the Kawasaki Ki-61 ‘Hien’ (Swallow). Allied Codename Tony here.