P-38 Ace

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Jun 3, 2005
Who was the ace that was killed in the pacific after a wing tip contact with a green pilot? I had thought it was Bong but now i am confused.
Enjoy this segment from an article I did some time ago:

They called him The Preacher. 2nd Lt. Daniel T. Roberts, Jr. was a former divinity student from the torrid ranching community of Springer, New Mexico. With the onset of World War II Danny set aside his theology studies and joined the Air Corps completing flight training at Randolph Field, Texas. He didn't smoke, drink or cuss and the nickname stuck.

The 80th Squadron of the 8th Fighter Group went to Darwin Australia and on to Port Moresby, New Guinea to bolster sagging fighter defenses in the area with P-39s and P-400s- the export P-39 version with the 20 mm cannon replacing the 37 mm but the four .50s in nose and wing retained.

The Japanese were on the move in New Guinea. Only the where and when were uncertain. The group flew a few missions without enemy fighter contact. There was activity at Buna Bay and enemy troops finally established a beachhead close to Milne Airdrome. The 80th went on a mission against the Japanese airfield near Buna Mission on August 26, 1942.

Ten war-weary P-400s cranked their rear-mounted Allisons and took off at 0600 led by Captain Greasly. His Airacobra developed electrical problems and he aborted along with three others cutting the odds even before enemy contact. Six planes led now by Lt. William Brown popped up over the Owen Stanley mountains and skimmed down the northern slope.

It was a surprise as the Zeroes were all not yet in the air. Roberts hit the triggers and a Zero just airborne took the brunt of his shells. Danny pulled a tight turn and came at one head on. Both pilots fired but Roberts' rounds were accurate. The fighter shuddered and dropped into the water just off the beach. He got some rounds into another Zero before exiting the area. Two other Zeros were dispatched by other pilots and the P-400s pushed for home.

In the following days the groups continually attacked troop and supply columns and escorted bombers. The pounding paid off and though the Japanese were but a day's march from Port Moresby, they were halted. New P-39Ds soon arrived with the blessing of the maintenance crews who'd done wonders keeping the older ships flying so long. No better than the P-400s, the P-39Ds at least were fresh and the group managed to hold off the enemy with them until they were scheduled for R and R in Australia in December 1942.

Upon returning to New Guinea in March and promoted to Captain, Roberts and his fellow flyers received the P-38F Lightnings to play with. On April 11th He led a flight of four and sighted a gaggle of twenty Vals escorted by Zeros intent on attacking Allied shipping in Oro Bay.

The quartet dived and Roberts caught a Val at 17,000 feet squarely with 20mm and .50 caliber. It disintegrated. Looking up he saw three more dive-bombers and pushed the throttles forward entering a steep climb. A long burst nailed one and a wing fluttered off. The result was a crazy, sharp turn and it crashed into the sea. Roberts noticed his wingman blazing away at a Val but three Zeros were lining up on him as he horsed the big plane towards them. The Val exploded and the other P-38 nosed over diving out of the Zeros' reach. As often happened in combat, when Danny looked around again the sky was empty. But the four Americans tallied eleven shot down- three Vals and eight Zeroes.

When the 475th F.G. was formed in summer 1943 Danny Roberts was squadron commander of the 433rd Squadron. He was responsible for tactics, which he planned and discussed on the ground stressing that the pilots stay together "like a pack of wolves." His ability continued and he downed a pair of Haps (A6M3 Model 32) on August 21st. An Oscar followed on September 9th.

On October 23rd Roberts led a sweep over Rabaul and was to keep enemies at bay from B-24s scheduled to appear for their big show. His squadron was at 25,000 feet and the two other squadrons at 15,000 were more than holding their own against some Zeros. Then thirty-five more enemy fighters materialized and the squadron now dropped their auxiliary tanks.

Thirty-two Allisons wound up and the sixteen P-38s accelerated down. Roberts lined up behind a Zero and punched out three short bursts. It fell off on a wing as The Preacher immediately slipped behind another. One burst hammered the right wing and the flimsy fighter turned into a ball of fire. Danny racked the P-38 around in a tight turn and came out head on to yet another. One more torrent of shells made the Zero roll and plunge groundward, streaming fire. He registered three quick victories and the whole squadron scored twelve.

By the November 2, 1943 Roberts had thirteen confirmed and a probable when their mission was to escort B-25 to hit airfields at Alexishafen on the northern New Guinea coast.

The P-38s dropped to treetop level to scour the area for enemy planes. Twenty Zeros, Haps, and Oscars challenged and Roberts sent deflection fire at a Hap maneuvering low to the water. The plane promptly exploded.

As they reformed with the bombers Roberts spotted a lone Zero skimming low headed home. Wingman Lt. Dale Meyers saw him and formed up on the right with Roberts as Lt. William Grady did so on the left. Down the trio went. Evidently the enemy saw his doom in the making and snapped a sharp turn to the right. Roberts quickly began a turn to counteract it but Meyers was split second slow and the two Lightnings smashed together and exploded killing both men.

Danny Roberts had the potential of being one of the top Pacific aces. At this time **** Bong only had nineteen and McQuire thirteen kills. Yet another fine ace was felled through accidental means.
I know this thread is old, that's ok. I just wanted to tell everyone who has posted Thank you! Danny is my dads Uncle, my Great Uncle(he would have been). My dad was named after him as well. I'm just learning all I can about my Great Uncle Danny and just reading all of your information brought so much JOY to my heart. I didn't know how respected or talked about my Great Uncle ever was. And to read it, well it's just amazing. Thank you all again so very much for sharing your articles and stories

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