21st April 1943
Japanese air raids over Lunga continue but the 39th Fighter Squadron flying P-38 Lightnings is providing sterling service trying to protect both ships and men on Lunga. Today they intercepted two enemy air raids following on from an attack on enemy Betty bombers that had target the much punished aerodrome on Lunga.
The kill rate of the unit is steadily going up. A lot of its pilots are former members of the Allied Volunteer Group that had flown in China earlier in the war. Using the pilot transfer mechanism of the game I made sure that this squadron, scheduled to upgrade to different models of the P-38, received as many veteran pilots as possible. The policy worked as the 39th is the leading Allied fighter squadron in kills with over 150 and its ranks are full of Aces. Major Boyington got his 13th and 14th kills in the action over Lunga today (both B5N2 bombers).
The days action however belongs to the SS Grouper that engaged an enemy convoy on the surface off the coast near Balabac. Sighting 5 transports her captain ordered the boat to surface and immediately launched a spread of torpedoes at the Kurogane Maru. She took two hits amidships and was burning heavily as the Groupers deck gun started to pump 3 inch shells in her direction. A second spread of torpedoes found the Yamamiya Maru that also soon sunk under the pummelling of the Grouper’s deck gun. As she sailed through the convoy a third spread of torpedoes hit another Japanese transport ship while her deck gun engaged targets to both port and starboard. At this junction a small escort vessel, unseen by the Grouper’s skipper emerged from the far side of the convoy. It was only a small subchaser but its presence and its 88mm gun spelled the end of the Grouper’s adventure. Her skipper ordered her to dive but not before two heavy bangs were hear on the conning tower as the sea swallowed it up. Damage control parties however soon had the flooding under control but this patrol was now over at a port was needed to repair the damage caused.
SC Ch 9
xAK Kurogane Maru, Shell hits 1, Torpedo hits 2, on fire, heavy damage
xAK Yamamiya Maru, Shell hits 1, Torpedo hits 1, on fire, heavy damage
xAK Fukko Maru, Shell hits 2
xAK Hokko Maru, Shell hits 1, Torpedo hits 1, heavy fires, heavy damage
SS Grouper, hits 2, heavy damage