Port Moresby September 9th 1942 – While Yellow flight is away on a the bomber escort mission, Blue flight is detailed to perform a fighter sweep over the Kokoda Track in support of the Australian ground troops.
The flight leader First Lieutenant Barley spots a flight of Japanese NAVY fighters. Immediately he positions the flight to attack and blasts the Japanese flight leader out of the sky before the enemy can even react.
The two remaining Japanese aircraft scrable and pincer the Americans in deadly crossfire. The A6M2 “Zero” Rei-sen now shows its superiour manouvrability over the American P-39 “Airacobra”. Blue 2 explodes in a fireball.
Now both sides airmen break formation and attempt to manoeuver for good firing positions, the robust American P-39 taking some of punishment from the more agile Zeros. But then in a lucky strike, Blue 3, the American section leader gets to perform a deadly overhead sweeping manoeuver. He closes on White 13 and hits the tank. The “Zero” vanishes in a fireball.
The odds are three Americans to one Japanese now. But two of the P-39s are allready limping back home because of combat damage to engines and elevators. The Zero goes for the hunt wanting to avenge his comrades.
But the Americans somehow absorbe the Japanese bullets and successfully cover each others backs. Eventually they manage to evade the lone “Zero”. Both sides break off combat and try to make for home.
What makes it an espacially black day for the squadron is the events on the return trip. I rolled for the American planes and got two downed aircraft. One crashes near the airbase, the pilot returning unharmed. But Blue flight leader, First Lieutenant Barley , is forced to bail out over the jungle ridges. He has been seen landing safely but as he has not jet returned, he is accounted for als MIA.
Fighter sweep USAAF: A6M3 “Zero” Rei-sen| IJN: P-39/P-400 “Airacobra”| draw
The mission is a draw. The Japanese fighters where repulsed, but American losses are excessive with two pilots killed or missing and three aircraft lost. The squadron cannot expect any replacements within the next few weeks. So the losses in men and material will be grievously felt in the missions that are to come. All in all this is a blow to 36th Pursuit Squadron’s reputation.