From: Brisbane, Australia
7 December 1943
The landings continue at Kai Island. DD Urakaze takes 3 hits from the coastal guns.
SS Pompano lurking around Kai Island is reported to have taken 4 hits from the escorts protecting the troop transports. Pompano then manages to claim a torpedo hit on AK Boko Maru before the escorts claim another 2 hits on the sub. SS Trigger also gets in on the act but the escorts claim 2 hits on this sub.
The British carriers launch another raid against the Japanese troop transports. 10 Avenger II and 16 Barracuda escorted by 11 Hellcat II and 8 Corsair IV swoop in and find no CAP. DD Minegumo is hit by a torpedo whilst AK Teikin Maru takes one as well and AK Boko Maru is hit by 2 torpedos.
The expected LBA raid then turns up. 15 Mitchell put one bomb into DD Ayanami and a bomb into Mogami.
A covering Japanese surface action task force is located and a raid by 47 Liberators puts 4 bombs on Musashi.
The reconstituted KB locates the British carrier force and launches a Japanese counter raid. 53 D4Y Judy and 17 B6N Jill are escorted by a mere 14 A6M5 Zeke. They are met by a CAP of 15 Hellcat II and 10 Corsair IV. A far cry from the masses of fighters buzzing around any American carrier task force. By the end of this raid the Japanese have lost 3 Zekes, 28 Judy and 10 Jill for a report of a single Hellcat destroyed. Three allied ships are targeted... CVs Indomitable and Victorious and BC Repulse. Repulse is reported to have been hit by 1 bomb and Victorious by 2 bombs. This is not a pleasing results especially considering that armoured deck on Victorious.
Undeterred the Japanese launch another raid on the Allied fleet. 34 Judy, 12 Jill and 13 Zekes meet a CAP of 14 Hellcat and 10 Corsairs. A smaller Japanese effort and a CAP still full of fight. By the end of this action 8 Zekes, 9 Judy and 6 Jill are report downed. Not a single British fighter is reported lost. A slightly better result this time around. Repulse is reported to have been hit by another bomb. Victorious takes another bomb and is reported to have been hit by a torpedo!!!! Will this have slowed her down?
A third raid (30 Jill and 18 Zeke) homes in on the British fleet. 10 Hellcats and 5 Corsairs make up the CAP. The Japanese loose 11 Zekes and 9 Jills for again a single Hellcat destroyed. The previous torpedo strike on Victorious must have had some effect upon her as the third strike manages to score 2 torpedo hits on the carrier. She is on fire and is reported to be heavily damaged.
The British mount a strike of their own (14 Barracuda and 4 Hellcat). They locate Atago, Myoko and Agano but are unable to inflect any damage on the uncapped ships.
A LBA strike on the same ships (13 Mitchell and 2 Lightning) fairs better and drops another bomb on Myoko for the loss of 1 bomber.
Over Kai Island 31 Mitchell escorted by 7 Warhawk and 14 Kittyhawk give the transports a working over with AP Tatsuwa Maru suffering 11 bomb hits and AP Tango Maru 4 bomb hits. With KB occupied the skies are clear for the Australian based bombers to do their worst.
Late in the day the Japanese get together their 4th strike for the day (33 Jill, 40 Judy and 41 Zeke). They locate the British fleet which has 12 Hellcats on CAP. Carnage in the skies again with 11 Zekes, 5 Judy, 9 Jill and 7 Hellcats reported as destroyed. The bombers, however, fight their way through and report 2 bombs hits on CA Shropshire, 5 bomb hits and a torpedo on Repulse and 4 bomb hits and 2 torpedoes on Indomitable. Victorious was not sighted.
At around the same time a bomber force of 12 G4M2 Betty and 7 P1Y Frances (I think they flew from Amboina) does locate Victorious and report putting 2 torpedoes into the carrier for the loss of 1 Betty. No CAP so she must be in a bad way and these 2 torpedoes should have finished her off.
On Kai Island the combatants exchange bombardments with the Japanese loosing 7 casualties and 2 guns lost.
Mandalay is bombed by 69 Liberator bombers.
It was a good day in the air for the Allies.
FLT Palmer, L of 896 Squadron is credited with kills 4,5,6,7,8 and 9!
FLT Ellsworth, J of 806 Squadron is credited with kills 2,3,4,5, 6 and 7!
FLT Spanton, I of 896 Squadron is credited with kill # 5
PO Sloan, P of 806 Squadron is credited with kills 4, 5, 6 and 7
FLT Palmer, L of 896 Squadron is credited with kill # 10
FLT Woodroffe, E of 896 Squadron is credited with kills 5 and 6
FLT Caldwell, A of 896 Squadron is credited with kills 4 and 5
PO Dobbins, R of 806 Squadron is credited with kill # 5
FLT Gilchrist, B of 806 Squadron is credited with kills 4 and 5
PO Ainsworth, V of 806 Squadron is credited with kills 4, 5 and 6
And just to balance the picture a little.....
PO1 Kaneko, E of AII-1 Daitai is credited with kill # 5
No joy there in giving credit to the British pilots. On the plus side for me it looks like Victorious should rightly be claimed as sunk and Indomitable and Repulse have hopefully had some serious damage inflicted upon them. For me a good result on the anniversary of Todd and I slugging away for 2 years albeit at the cost of thinning out the aircraft on the decks of my KB.
Kido Butai, although powerful, was a raiding force, and this is exactly how the Japanese understood its usage. 'Shattered Sword'