SKETCHES FROM AN EARLY MORNING MISSION IN NEW GUINEA

A familiar sound in the New Guinea early morning is the roar of American bombers, taking off for raids on Japanese convoys and installations on nearby islands. When they return, ground crews proudly decorate the planes with combat insignias. Bombs painted on the ship signify missions; purple hearts on white backgrounds for crew members who have been wounded. Japanese flags appear when an enemy plane is shot down and ship are painted on the nose when transports or freighters are sunk. Sgt. Charles D. Pearson, who sketched these drawings of a typical morning mission, used to contribute cartoons to Collier’s and the Saturday Evening Post before the Army requested his presence and sent him to the Southwest Pacific. His drawings from Down Under have appeared in YANK regularly during the past year and he has recently become a member of YANK’s staff in Australia.



new guinea B17 flying fortress bombing mission

new guinea B17 flying fortress bombing mission

1. Just back from another mission, this U.S. bomber is being loaded with explosives at its base in New Guinea by bare-legged, bare-chested crew.



new guinea B17 flying fortress bombing mission

2. Briefing. Aerial reconnaissance ha discovered a small Japanese convoy moving toward Lae. Intelligence outlines the mission to the bomber crews.

new guinea B17 flying fortress bombing mission

3. The planes taxi out of their protected revetments and proceed down the roadway to the take-off strip while vehicular traffic pauses respectfully.

new guinea B17 flying fortress bombing mission

4. Planes pick up their formations and fly over uneven New Guinea terrain toward a gap in the Owen Stanley Range. Soon they will reach the open sea.

new guinea B17 flying fortress bombing mission

5. Japanese convoy is sighted and the ships zigzag to avoid bombs. This eight-thousand -ton cargo vessel has been selected by the Americans as the first target.



new guinea B17 flying fortress bombing mission

6. Convoy’s escort of Zero fighters comes up and attacks the bombers. American gunners drive them off while the bombardiers set their sights on the ships.

new guinea B17 flying fortress bombing mission

7. Bombs fall in a pattern-around the Japanese freighter, setting it afire with a direct hit and a near miss. Rest of the bombs go down on smaller boats.

new guinea B17 flying fortress bombing mission

8. Successfully evading Zeros and ack-ack, U.S. bombers head home leaving three ships burning beyond the horizon a others flea for a New Britain port.



For More Reading on the Air War in the Pacific Check Out:

Target: Rabaul: The Allied Siege of Japan’s Most Infamous Stronghold, March 1943 – August 1945




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