12 Apr 43
It appears that the enemy is now using a convoy route just off the Vietnamese coast. E-boats are patrolling here also.
The dance steps for the air attack at Koepang got a bit out of order, but the dance was completed. Instead of the sweepers going in first, the heavy bombers arrived first. With 36 Zeros and 78 Oscars on CAP, the bomber losses were heavy. 6 heavies were shot down, with 11 more becoming operational losses. B-17s and B-25s. Some fighters were downed, and a few more were destroyed on the ground. Airfield damage was very light in light rain.
After the numerous bombers attacked, the sweepers arrived. 2 squadrons of P-38s swept, finding a much reduced CAP of just 15 Zeros and 14 Oscars. The P-38s tore into the tired defenders. For the day, 36 Oscars and 19 Zeros were downed. No P-38s were lost. Just a bunch of bombers.
Lt. R.P. Hedman became the first Allied triple ace of the war, shooting down 4 enemy aircraft over Koepang in his P-38, giving him 15 kills total.
Carrier aircraft sortied in the morning, but went after a tiny minesweeper on the northern Timor coast. 36 SBDs with 28 Wildcats sank the tiny ship.
In the afternoon, the carriers launched a large attack on shipping at Koepang.
Afternoon Air attack on TF, near Koepang at 68,116
Weather in hex: Light cloud
Raid detected at 40 NM, estimated altitude 15,000 feet.
Estimated time to target is 15 minutes
A6M5 Zero x 1
F4F-4 Wildcat x 27
SBD-3 Dauntless x 108
TBF-1 Avenger x 54
No Japanese losses
Allied aircraft losses
SBD-3 Dauntless: 4 damaged
SBD-3 Dauntless: 1 destroyed by flak
TBF-1 Avenger: 1 destroyed by flak
CA Myoko, Bomb hits 2, heavy fires
DD Kiyonami, Bomb hits 1, on fire
AKE Clyde Maru, Bomb hits 3, Torpedo hits 1, and is sunk
DD Makinami, Bomb hits 1
CA Chokai, Bomb hits 3, heavy fires
AD Gyoko Maru, Bomb hits 4, Torpedo hits 1, and is sunk
CA Takao, Bomb hits 2, on fire
And in a fragmented strike:
DD Makinami, Bomb hits 1, on fire, heavy damage
DD Kiyonami, Bomb hits 6, and is sunk
Considering the number of bombers, almost no CAP, and decent weather, this was a poor result. Many bombers went after destroyers and missed. Most of the TBF went after DDs. Still, some hits were achieved.
Today the armada will veer to the northwest and head towards Koepang. There are subs in the way; there's no avoiding them. It will be interesting to see what OPilot does with his damaged and undamaged ships at Koepang. From the position of the armada, they could look like they are heading to either the western or eastern tip of Timor.
And where is KB? Not known at this time.
A side note: APA President Jackson successfully unloaded its men and cargo at Darwin. Something about a bit of a rebellion on board. The captain, LTJG Douglas A. Roberts, convinced the crew that shore leave would be nicer at Darwin than at Gove. Thanks to Mister Roberts, all is well now.