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Pacific Historian
Jun 4, 2005
Orange County, CA
This is a pretty interesting website put together by some divers of a series Japanese wrecks in the Philipines. The author did a great job descibing the background, the participants and the results.

The website is at the bottom of the thread. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in the war in the Pacific.

"On 23 Sep reports from Combat Air Patrol (CAP) missions revealed unusual enemy activities in
the Calamians, south-west of Mindoro. AG-18 and AG-19 received orders to equip 12 Curtiss
SB2C-3 "Helldiver" bombers each with wing tanks and to send them out on a fighter-bomber
attack on Japanese shipping in and around Coron Bay. They were to carry two 500-pound bombs
each. The "Helldivers" were the latest models already fitted with the APG-4 automatic low-level
bombing system. AG-31 was ordered to provide fighter escort. However, also some
"Hellcat"-fighters had been equipped with bombs. The sortie was to cover a chart distance of 350
miles from the carrierseast of Leyte to Coron Bay, thus, it became one of the longest bombing
missions in the history of U.S. naval aviation.

Just before dawn at 05:55 hrs. local time on 24 Sep 1944 Lexington, Intrepid and Cabot launched
following aircraft:
- VB-18 with 12 Curtiss SB2C-3 "Helldiver" bombers;
- VB-19 comprising 12 "Helldiver" bombers, 2 of which were forced to return due to engine trouble
and defective wing tank fuel supply; and ...
- VF-31 (the "MeatAxe Squadron - Cut `em down") with 12 Grumman F6F-3 "Hellcat" fighters.

All in all, 24 bombers and 96 fighters were ordered on this sweep by TF-38. According to the
"After Action Report" of VB-19 the number of fighters that actually participated from other Task
Groups is not known. Lt. (S.G.) Mark Zalick led AG 18`s bomber group VB-18, Commander R.
McGowan was leader of VB-19. After a 3-hour flight they surprised 15 Japanese ships in the
Bay, the Coron Passage, the area just west of Coron Island as well as 3 more vessels in a
remote anchorage at the northern coast of Busuanga. Ships ranged in size from small freighters
to 15,000 ton tankers.

Upon teaming up to take on the targets the Japanese ships were dispersed as follows (according
to AF-31`s "After Action Report" ):
i) Bbetween Tangat and Lusong Islands:
- 1 x destroyer (DD) or destroyer escort (DE);
- 2 x 10,000 ts auxiliary supply ships (AK or AG);
- 2 x 5,000 ts aux. supply ships (AK or AG);
- 3 medium-sized aux. supply ships (AK or AG).
ii) Between Lusong and Lajo Islands:
- 2 destroyers (DD);
- 1 auxiliary oiler (AO);
- 1 gunboat (PG).
iii) West of Lajo Island:
- 2 destroyers (DD) or destroyer escorts (DE)
iv) In Coron Passage:
- 1 x 7,000-8,000 ts aux. supply ship (AK or AG)
v) West of Coron Island:
- 3 Subchasers (SC)
vi) North of Busuanga Island::
- 1 x 10,000-12,000 ts aux. supply ship (AK or AG)
- 2 x 7,000-9,000 ts aux. supply ships (AK or AG)"

Coron History Report by Peter Heimstaedt


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