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By Lawrence Cortesi

WW2 precise tale

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Perhaps this skip bomb could exert maximum damage on Japanese shipping, despite the fickle weather or pilots to test this the adept Japanese helmsmen. AT MIDMORNING, FEBRUARY 1, 1943, Larner and his 90th Squadron airmen boarded their aircraft at Eight-Mile Drome. Soon, the B-25's were circling like giant hawks over Merrick Bay. With Lamer in his plane, Spook, was his copilot, Lt. Sal Dineo, a young, nervous newcomer to the Southwest Pacific. The 23-year-old lieutenant had not yet acclimated himself to the harsh, jungle terrain over which he flew.

It was a sudden change in weather that had hampered the B-17 effort against the convoy carrying the Japanese 102nd Brigade to Lae several weeks ago. Secondly, the Japanese helmsmen had mastered the art of avoiding low-level torpedo and strafing attacks from fighter planes and low-level light bombers. Nothing was more discouraging than the open defiance of Japanese ships of the Fifth Air Force, nothing more frustrating than the disembarkment of men and supplies on Japanese bases. The Tokyo Express in the Solomon Islands, where enemy convoys came down the Slot from Rabaul to deliver men and supplies to Guadalcanal, was an excellent example of Japanese contempt for the tlnited States Air Force.

The briefing, only a few minutes old, had already left the battle-clad flyers restless and uncomfortable. Sweat dampened their faces and perspiration itched their bodies under the heavy, fur-lined jackets. Standing before them was the group commander, the 3rd jammed themselves Colonel Bob Strickland, a hardened, veteran bomber pilot. Strickland had been in the Southwest Pacific over a year, flying B-25's against overwhelming odds in the early battle against the Japanese. He had been part of that 1942 island hopping group who flew into Mindanao to bomb Japanese airfields so the 19th Bomb Group could escape from Delmonte and return most of their B-17's to Australia.

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