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'Not a combat airplane' (part 2)

continued from part 1

Statement of Captain John Frank Carey, USMC:

We had been on the alert before daylight. Then, the alarm came at about 6:30 A.M. We all got into the air and there was a little mix-up among the Grummans as the planes took to the air. From the radar we were directed up to three hundred ten_. Many bandits at twelve thousand feet altitude. We went out there and contacted them and there were about nineteen carrier dive-bombers escorted by approximately ten "Zero" fighters. The dive-bombers were in four and five plan "V's" and the "Zero" fighters were about two thousand feet above them. There were only three of us.

I went ahead after the leader of the division of bombers and while making the first run, an overhead approach on the division leader of the dive-bomber formation, I got a bullet through the wind shield but continued my attack and shot down the division leader. Then I made an above side approach on the center plane of the formation, hit the leader and think I got one of them. Just then I got shot through the right knee and left leg. I kept going right down, got out of my dive and returned to Midway. I returned with great difficulty and attempted to make a landing which ended in a ground loop as I had a flat tire and could not control the plane because of the wound in my leg.

In talking it over with the other pilots who returned they invariably had tangled with two to five "Zero" fighters and were unable to shake them. The only maneuver which would evade them would be a vertical dive and then a pull-out at high speed just over the water.

The "Zero" fighters out-maneuvered, out-performed and out-climbed the Brewsters and Grummans in over respect. The only advantage the Brewsters and Grummans has was in armor.

While the fighters were attempting to stop the dive-bombers and intercept the oncoming fighters, the Scouts and B-17's had gone on out farther to attempt to intercept the surface craft.

Statement of Captain Marion Eugene Carl, USMC.

At 0600, 4 June, 1942, I took off with my division leader, Captain John Frank Carey. I was flying a F4F-3, bureau No. 4000. When I noticed his wing man missing, I moved up into No. 2 position on his wing and my wing man, Second Lieutenant C. M. Canfield, moved up into No. 3 position on Captain Carey.

Soon after taking off we received a vector of 310o, angle 12. A few minutes later we were told to vector 320o. When about 30 miles out at 14,000', Captain Carey made a right turn. I had been having trouble keeping my position and had dropped behind several hundred yards. Coming out of the turn, Captain Carey reported a large formation of bombers accompanied by fighters, then dived on the bombers. I saw the fighters, three divisions of five each, moving up to screen the bombers, so I made a high side on one of the fighters which was some 2,000' below me. My fire passed through my target and I pulled away and up. When I looked back to see the results of my attack, I was surprised to see several Zero Fighters already swinging into position on my tail. I headed straight down at full throttle and they gave up the chase. I leveled off at 3,000'.

I again climbed and headed for my base. At 20,000' I leveled off and looked for another target. Not seeing anything, I dropped to 12,000' and approached within two miles of my base. I saw three Zero Fighters at a low altitude that were making a wide circle so I came down in a 45o dive with almost full throttle and had barely enough speed to drop in astern and to the inside of the circle made by one of the Zero Fighters. I gave him a long burst, until he fell off on one wing and when last seen was out of control headed almost straight down with smoke streaming from the plane. The other two fighters had out across and were closing on me so I headed for a cloud. One fighter gave up the pursuit, but the other came on and started firing. He fired steadily for several seconds, but was shooting low, for I could see the tracers going by one both side and slightly below me. Finally I felt the impact of bullets striking the throttle, throw the plane into a skid, and he over ran me. I raked him with gun fire as he went by. He slid across in front and below me, and I shoved over sharply and pressed the trigger at the same time, but evidently the pushover was too sharp for none of my guns would fire. I dropped down astern the fighter and through a cloud. I saw no enemy plane thereafter.

I climbed to 10,000' in the vicinity of my base and a few minutes later at 0720 received an order to land. I landed at approximately 0730, having managed to clear but one of my four guns. I used a total of a little over 300 rounds.

In my opinion, I shot down one Zero Isento Ki heavy Fighter and inflicted unknown damage to two more of the same type.

Statement of Second Lieutenant Roy Alvin Corry, USMC.

On the morning of June 4, 1942, Captain McCarthy and I were preparing to land after a routine patrol we received a message from radio telling of enemy planes approaching the island from a bearing of 310o true at a distance of approximately 35 miles.

As we were very short on fuel, we landed immediately, serviced our ships and took off.

We were at 8,000 feet heading for the enemy bombers which were around 12,000 or 15,000 feet when we were attacked by eight 00 Fighters. We were immediately broken up by the first pass, and from than on we were fighting singly.

Captain McCarthy shot down one fighter immediately, and I shot one down on his tail.

I lost sight of Captain McCarthy shortly after due to the fact that I had three 00 Fighters on my tail. Being unable to out maneuver them, I attacked a dive bomber that was leaving the area of Eastern Island. I fired a short burst and the dive bomber (Aichi 99) rolled over and crashed in the ocean.

By this time my tanks were all leaking badly and the fighters were shooting my plane up very effectively. I managed to stay low on the water and get back to the field safely. I was flying a F4F-3 type plane, bureau No. 2537.

I observed two F2A-3's shot down during the conflict, one pilot balled out and was strafed.

The 00 Fighter is by far the most maneuverable plane that exists at the present time. You cannot compare them with our service type ships. The 00 Fighter is apparently very strong in construction, being able to withstand as much stress and strain as our own planes. The Japanese planed seem to be very vulnerable if you are fortunate enough to bring your guns to bear.

I expended a total of about 20 rounds out of each gun.

Statement of second lieutenant Charles S. Hughes, USMCR:

The Morning of June 4, 1942, I warmed up my plane at approximately 0350. At 0530 (exactly by my watch) I received word to start the engine again. At approximately 0605 we took off, at five thousand feet I started having trouble keeping with my division, as the engine started vibrating and losing power. At sixteen thousand feet I was lagging badly and the engine was so rough I concluded it would be suicide to try to fight the plane. My decision was to get the plane back to its revetment where it could be readied to hit them later. I carried out this plan and had the plane in the revetment at about 0630. Minute later the horizontal bombers arrived.

The anti-aircraft batteries went into action as soon as the enemy was in range and got two out of the eleven that stated their run on Sand Island. I saw the bombs released over San Island and then had to hug ground as six planes released their bombers over Eastern Island and they landed close to my position. The dive bombers came out of the sun a few minute later. They appeared to be Aichi 99's. The Zeroes came in strafing immediately after word. I saw two Brewsters trying to fight the Zeroes. One was shot down and the other was saved by ground fires covering his tail. Both looked like they were tied to a string while the zeroes made passes at them. I believe that our man with planes even half as good as the zeroes would have stopped the raid completely.

Statement of Captain William Carter Humberd, USMC:

While in the standby division on morning of June 4, 1942, the air raid alarm sounded at 0559. Our division took off at approximately 0605. In our division of six planes, Capt. Kirk Armistead is division leader, 2nd Lt. William B. Sandoval his wingman, myself section leader of second section with 2nd Lt. William V. Brooks as wingman, 2nd Lt. Charles Murphy Kunz 3rd section leader with 2nd Lt. Martin Edward Mahannah his wingman. We took off immediately after fourth division and started gaining altitude in direction of approaching enemy which was 310 degrees, altitude 12,000 feet given by base radio.

Sight contact was made of enemy formations at approximately 12,000 feet bearing about 30 degrees to port and distance of about 10-15 miles. We continued climbing to 17,000 feet, still keeping the enemy slightly to our port, then when in position of about 3,500 to 4,000 feet above and still to port we made attack, about 30-35 miles bearing 320 degrees from islands.

By time to make attack, my division leaders wingman had dropped back some in which case I was second to attack. I followed division leader in a high side approach shooting down one (1) bomber in this approach, then coming up for high side approach on other side I again attacked, thinking I might have shot down another bomber in this approach. I again attacked, thinking I might have shot down another bomber in this approach. I came up on other side and started another approach when, about half way through run, I heard a loud noise and turning around I saw a large hole in hood of my plane and also two type 00 navy fighters on me about 200 yards eastern, then I immediately pushed over in steep dive in which one (1) followed me. I descended to water level in trying to gain distance on the fighter, the plane staying with me; I stayed at water level with full throttle gaining distance slowly until I decided the distance was great enough to turn on 300 yard distant and the plane caught on fire and out of control dived in the water. By this time I was approximately 40 miles from first attack and started gaining altitude up to 10,000 feet. My fuel and ammunition were fairly low, about three-fourths exhausted, and I called to see if field was clear for landing, in which case I received an "affirmative". In the meantime, while climbing for altitude, I discovered my hydraulic fluid had been lost and my flaps and landing gear would not lower so I used emergency system and the wheels lowered, then made proper approach to field and landed. After refueling and rearming, I again took off and while I knew my wheels would not retract, I intended going some distance from field to remain for a period when orders to land were given to all fighting planes.

My plane was a F2A-3, Bureau Number 01553, loaded with 1300 rounds of .50 cal. Ammunition, one ball, 2 armor piercing. The attack was made at approximately 0625 and I used approximately 400-600 rounds of ammunition; the final landing being about 0745.

The enemy formations were of a Vee consisting of about five to nine planes each, there being about 4 to 5 of such formations in group we attacked. I don't know what formation the fighters used or where they were as the first I knew of their presence was the loud burst in my plane and turning, saw them. The type of bombers seems to correspond to the type 99 Aichi (navy), and the fighters were navy type 00.

After my second approach, I saw about four or five planes going down in flames and only identified one as our own, all this was just a glance on my part. Their fighters seemed to out maneuver us in most all respects except n my case, I out dived the one after me and gained distance at sea-level. Frankly, I think the F2A-3 does not compare with their type 00 fighters whatsoever.

My plane had a number of holes in it, three or four making the left beam tank unusable. Had two large holes in fuselage of what appeared to be 20 mm size. No apparent damage to plane except for left beam tank and hydraulic lines broken.

continued in part 3