By Dr William Wolf (Mi

Within the savage air wrestle over Guadalcanal after which the both bloody air battles up Solomon chain, New Georgia and Bougainville, thirteenth Fighter Command took a again seat to Marine aviation in body of workers, gear, provide, operations, and exposure

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Maj. Brannon and Lts. Fincher and Head taxied their P-400s out onto the runway loaded with a 500lb. bomb and a full load of fuel and ammunition. Brannon taxied to the end ofthe runway, followed by Head and Fincher. Brannon, with half flaps, stood on the brakes and put the engine in full throttle. He released the brakes and the plane moved slowly forward, swaying and picking up speed, and finally lifted out of the sucking mud into the air. Next Lt. Head tried the same procedure, but his plane, in trying to pick up speed, skidded and soaked the plane with mud as it sloshed through pools of water.

Fincher, returned to strafe the barges that were unloading supplies onshore, and to destroy the supplies that had been abandoned in the landing craft that had been grounded on the reefs close inshore. Despite the apparent success of these attacks, Japanese records indicate that 5,200 troops had nonetheless landed by 7 September. Despite their new success as fighter-bomber pilots, the 67 th considered themselves fighter pilots, trained for air combat. But during every Tojo Time they were sent out on ground support sorties or to interdict suspected supply and troop concentrations, or to go after targets of opportunity.

However the Lufbery, while workable against the Luftwaffe Me109s over Europe, was ineffective against the nimble Zero. The Japanese fighter had a short turning radius that permitted it to get inside the defensive circle, flying in the opposite direction. A P-39 or P-40 could not turn tight enough to hit the Zeros, and soon there were more Zeros in the circle than PAOOs. But Marine Wildcats dove to the rescue, and the air battle turned into a disorganized dogfight. The P-400s were no match for the agile Zeros piloted by veteran Imperial Navy pilots, and their only alternative was to dive and duck into a cloud.

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