3 January – Greg “Pappy” Boyington commanded 46 fighters, flying from Ondonga, to Rabaul. Several needed to abort due to mechanical failure. From 20-24,000′ they dove to intercept 27 Zeros of the 253 Kokutai, while they were already confronted with 27 Zeros of the 204 Kokutai. Boyington’s F4U 17915 and his wingman F4U 02723 were shot down and both men were listed as missing.
4 January – the ‘Snooper Squadron’ of the 13th Air Force flew their first mission. Fifteen B-24’s, escorted by 70 or more P-38’s and US Navy F6F’s bombed Lakunai Airfield, near Rabaul, on New Britain. The enemy sent 80-90 fighters to intercept. The US claimed 20 enemy aircraft downed and lost one B-24 and 2 damaged. Twelve other aircraft supported ground troops on Bougainville.
6-9 January – Australian troops at…
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