Was this the last fighter vs fighter battle of WW2?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by syscom3, Aug 15, 2010.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    August 15, 1945 Final aerial battle on the last day with 15 Japanese Zeros

    August 15, 1945 - The Last Day of the War

    On their way to bomb Japanese airfields in the interior of Japan, 4 Hellcats from VF-31 from the USS Belleau Wood were flying with 4 Hellcats from VF-49 from the USS San Jacinto (CVL-30) when they came across four British torpedo bomber aircraft being attacked by a group of 15 Zeros. This was very unusual as there had not been much enemy fighter resistance in the last month of the war as there were very few aircraft and fewer pilots remaining with the Japanese forces.

    The four fighters from VF-49 dropped down to engage the enemy aircraft while the pilots of VF-31 flew top cover. The pilots of VF-49 succeeded in downing 4 of the Zeros but were having difficulties from the other 11 so VF-31 dropped down and engaged the enemy aircraft and VF-49 flew top cover for a while. They switched back and forth until 12 of the enemy aircraft were shot down and the other 3 fled. Not one of the British torpedo planes or American fighter planes were lost or badly damaged in this engagement.

    Lt (jg) Ed Toaspern: Is credited with 2 aerial victories
    Lt. Jim Stewart: Is credited with 1 aerial victory

    35 minutes after regrouping with the aircraft from VF-49 and heading once again for their assigned target, the division from VF-31 got word over the radio from the air officer aboard USS Belleau Wood to abort their mission and return to the carrier Belleau Wood as Japan had just surrendered and the war was over. All aircraft landed safely aboard.

    This may very well have been the last fighter to fighter aerial engagement of the war against Japan.

    Shortly after 1400 hours radar picked up a single unidentified contact closing on the fleet. Four divisions from VF-31 were flying CAP over the task force and were ordered to intercept. The aircraft was identified as Japanese "Judy" dive bomber and Admiral Halsey gave the order "To shoot down, not with hostility but with compassion".

    Ens. Clarence Moore fell in behind the Judy and with 2 short bursts from his F6F, set it on fire and it crashed into the ocean.

    This was the last aerial engagement of the war against Japan.
     
  2. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    I remember reading about the British Pacific fleet taking part in the last mission of the war. I wonder if the British TB aircraft mentioned were Avengers or Barracudas? (or Fireflies?)


    Fairey Firefly - Development and Combat

    A British pilot was captured that day, but executed in the evening, despite the war having ended.

    FRED HOCKLEY Sub-Lieutenant (A)
    H.M.S. Indefatigable, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve who died on Wednesday, 15th August 1945. Age 22.

    As an Officer in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve flying Seafires with 24 Wing with the Fleet Air Ann on H.M.S. Indefatigable he took off early on 15th August 1945 to attack airfields in the Tokyo Bay area of Japan.

    His aircraft was shot down, he parachuted to land near Higashimura. At midday that day the Emperor of Japan declared the war was officially over.

    Three senior officers nine hours later executed Fred. All three were later tried by a War Crimes Court in Hong Kong in May/June 1947. Colonel Tamura, Major Hirano were hanged in Sept.1947 and Captain Fujino sentenced to 15 Years imprisonment. Inexcusable barbaric act by these Japanese soldiers



    Soham Grammarians : Fred Hockley
     
  3. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Interesting info you have there.
     
  4. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    Yes, and I can only imagine how his relatives felt to find out that he was executed after the war ended. :mad:
     
  5. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    #5 JoeB, Aug 15, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2010
    The Fleet Air Arm combat mentioned was early morning of August 15. USN fighters were also engaging the Japanese in the same area and time, according to all three air arm's accounts (FAA, USN and JNAF), in a series of combats from around 0545-0720 per Allied side's time. The FAA combat was towards the beginning of that time period (VF-31's combat helping them was recorded at 0545). The last 'fighter v fighter' combat of the Allied carrier TF's would have been that of VF-88 F6F's at 0720, where 6 were bounced by what were identified as 'Jacks', 'Franks', 'Georges' and 'Zeroes' and lost 4 F6F's though eventually claimed 9 enemy fighters.*

    The victory credit of VF-31 at 1400 v 'Judy' was the last USN credit of WWII, but obviously not 'fighter v fighter battle', and the last fighter credit, 'Zeke' at 1300 by VF-86 was probably a kamikaze.**

    The late afternoon of August 15 Soviet Fleet Air Arm 19th Fighter Regiment Yak-9's claimed a pair of 'Jacks' over northern Korea. I've never seen a Japanese account of this action but assuming it at least happened, that's the last 'fighter v fighter' combat of WWII.

    On August 17 and 18th USAAF B-32's on recon over Tokyo area were attacked by JNAF fighters, claiming a couple of 'Tojo's' (the fighters in both cases were JNAF, Zeroes, Raiden [Jack] and perhaps Shiden-kai [George] per one JNAF account, they apparently suffered no losses). I read of some later supposed night encounter in SEA invloving P-61(?) and Japanese non-fighter.

    *though 'Franks' were claimed in this and other combats that morning along w/ an 'Oscar', there's no evidence the JAAF was involved. The JNAF was, but I don't know their account of this last combat specifically.
    **this listing of Navy kamikaze attacks says August 15 featured 8 Suisei ('Judy') and 1 Ryusei ('Grace'), and an Army list gives none in August. Of potentially similar a/c (some 'Judy's were radial, the exact type is not given in the list) USN fighters claimed 3 'Myrts' (Saiun), 1 Kate (Type 97 Carrier Attack), 2 Judy's and the lone Zeke claim mentioned above on defense at 1300 might have a radial Judy also, or perhaps the list might not be complete, no gtee in this case.
    http://ww41.tiki.ne.jp/~yt737/navy.htm

    Joe
     
  6. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    Interesting stories ... thanks

    MM
     
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