1942 in aviation

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Years in aviation: 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945
Centuries: 19th century · 20th century · 21st century
Decades: 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s
Years: 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945

This is a list of aviation-related events from 1942:

Events[edit]

January[edit]

February[edit]

March[edit]

  • March 1 – The U.S. Navy sinks a German submarine for the first time in World War II when a Patrol Squadron 82 (VP-82) PBO-1 Hudson piloted by Ensign William Tepuni USNR sinks U-656 off Cape Race, Newfoundland.[29]
  • March 3 – Three Imperial Japanese Navy Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters shoot down the KNILM Douglas DC-3 airliner Pelikaan (tail number PK-AFV) as it approaches Broome, Australia, forcing it to make a belly landing in shallow surf at Carnot Bay, then strafe it, killing or seriously injuring four of the 12 people on board. A Japanese Kawanishi H6K (Allied reporting name "Mavis") flying boat bombs the wreckage the following day. A shipment of diamonds worth 150,000 to A£300,000 aboard the plane disappears, apparently stolen.
  • March 3–4 (overnight) – 235 British bombers – the largest number sent against a single target to date – attack the Renault vehicle factory at Boulogne-Billancourt in Paris in an attempt at night precision bombing. Three-quarters of the bombs hit the factory, but 367 French civilians are killed and 10,000 rendered homeless by errant bombs. The death toll in fact is greater than in any single attack on a German city thus far in the war.[30]
  • March 4 – Aircraft from the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) raid Japanese bases on Marcus Island.[31]
  • March 4–5 (overnight) – Two Imperial Japanese Navy Kawanishi H8K (Allied reporting name "Emily") flying boats fly from Wotje, refuel from a submarine at French Frigate Shoals, and fly on to bomb Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands, returning safely. The mission is unsuccessful because of heavy cloud cover in the Honolulu area. It is the first combat flight of the H8K.[32]
  • March 5 – The Civil Air Patrol begins maritime patrols off the United States East Coast.[33]
  • March 7 – The Royal Air Force commits Spitfires to the defense of Malta for the first time, flying 15 of them to the island from the aircraft carriers HMS Argus and HMS Eagle.[34]
  • March 8–9 (overnight) through 10-11 (overnight) – Royal Air Force Bomber Command bombs Essen, Germany, on three consecutive nights with 211, 187, and 126 aircraft respectively, losing a combined total of 16 bombers. The raids are the combat debut of the Gee navigation aid, raising British hopes that precision bombing of the Krupp armaments factory will be achieved, but it is not hit, and bombs in fact do far more damage to neighboring towns than to Essen itself. The third raid includes two Avro Lancasters, the first use of the Lancaster against a German target.[35]
  • March 9
  • March 10 – The U.S. Navy aircraft carriers USS Lexington (CV-2) and USS Yorktown (CV-5) launch a 104-aircraft raid from south of New Guinea and over the Owen Stanley Mountains via a 7,500-foot (2,286-meter) pass to strike Japanese shipping off Lae and Salamaua, New Guinea.[40]
  • March 12–13 (overnight) – 68 British Wellington bombers raid Kiel, Germany, losing five of their number.[35]
  • March 20 – The Luftwaffe '​s Fliegerkorps II further escalates its bombing campaign against Malta as truly massive air raids begin with a goal of forcing the island '​s antiaircraft artillery to exhaust its ammunition and personnel, followed by large attacks on airfields and aircraft on the ground, and finally the destruction of naval forces, dockyards, and other military installations.[41]
  • March 21 – HMS Eagle makes the second delivery of Spitfires to Malta, flying off nine.[34][42]
  • March 22 – The Second Battle of Sirte takes place between Royal Navy and Italian forces in the Mediterranean. The Italians fail to prevent a convoy of four Allied cargo ships from arriving at Malta, and an attack by Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 torpedo bombers is ineffective.[34][42]
  • March 23–26 – Fliegerkorps II dedicates 326 aircraft to the destruction of the four Allied cargo ships that have arrived at Malta, sinking three of them and a destroyer and damaging one of them.[43]
  • March 26 – Fliegerkorps II begins attacks on Malta '​s submarine base, sinking the British submarine HMS P39 and damaging two other submarines. From this time, submarines at Malta submerge all day while in port.[22]
  • March 26–27 (overnight) – 115 British bombers attack the Ruhr.[44]
  • March 29 – HMS Eagle makes the third delivery of Spitfires to Malta, flying off seven.[34][42]
  • March 29–30 (overnight) – In an experiment to see whether a first wave of bombers could start a conflagration in a city center that would guide later waves of bombers to the city during an area bombing attack, 234 British bombers attack Lübeck, Germany. The experiment succeeds, with the center of Lübeck largely destroyed and over 300 people killed.[45]
  • March 31
  • March 31-April 1 (overnight) – The Royal Air Force places the new 4,000-lb (1,814-kg) high-capacity "Cookie" bomb – its largest bomb to date and its first "blockbuster" bomb – into service in a raid on Emden, Germany. The RAF will drop 68,000 "Cookie" bombs during World War II.[47]

April[edit]

May[edit]

June[edit]

  • Royal Air Force Bomber Command mounts 20 major raids against Germany in June and July, losing 307 bombers (4.9 percent of the attacking force), as well as an additional 63 bombers lost on lesser raids.[77] Beginning in June, Bomber Command monthly loss rates begin to hover consistently around 5 percent, which the British believe is the maximum sustainable loss rate.[13]
  • June 1 – Because of the similarity of the red disc in the center of the national insignia for U.S. military aircraft USAAC Roundel 1919-1941.svg to Japanese markings, the United States adopts a new national insignia without the red disc, consisting simply of a white star centered in a blue circle US roundel 1942-1943.svg. The new marking will remain in use until July 1943.[78]
  • June 1–2 (overnight) – Royal Air Force Bomber Command mounts what is nominally its second "thousand-bomber raid" – 956 bombers actually participate – targeting Essen, Germany. Industrial haze spoils the attack; the British bombers kill only 15 people in Essen and destroy only 11 homes there, while widely scattered bombs strike Oberhausen, Duisburg, and at least eleven other cities and towns, which suffer more damage than Essen itself.[79]
  • June 3 – In an effort to decoy U.S. forces away from planned Japanese landings on Midway Atoll and to cover planned Japanese landings on Attu and Kiska, aircraft from the carriers Junyo and Ryūjō strike Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands. Although only 12 planes, all from Ryūjō, manage to reach Dutch Harbor, they inflict considerable damage.[80]
  • June 4
    • 32 aircraft from Junyo and Ryūjō conduct another damaging strike against Dutch Harbor. Small strikes by U.S. Navy PBY Catalina flying boats and U.S. Army Air Forces bombers against the two Japanese aircraft carriers are ineffective.[81]
    • The Battle of Midway begins with a predawn torpedo strike by U.S. Navy PBY Catalinas against Japanese ships, which damages an oiler. After sunrise, 108 aircraft from all four Japanese aircraft carriers – Akagi, Kaga, Hiryū, and Sōryū – carry out a destructive strike on Midway Atoll, shooting down 17 and severely damaging seven of the atoll '​s 26 fighters. A series of Midway-based strikes by various types of aircraft against the Japanese carriers sees the combat debut of the Grumman TBF Avenger, but achieve no hits and suffer heavy losses. All three U.S. aircraft carriers – USS Enterprise (CV-6), USS Hornet (CV-8), and USS Yorktown (CV-5) – launch strikes against the Japanese carriers; their 41 TBD Devastator torpedo bombers arrive first and achieve no hits, losing all but four of their number, but Enterprise '​s and Yorktown '​s SBD Dauntless dive bombers then arrive and inflict lethal damage on Akagi (which sinks on June 5) and Kaga and Soryu (which both sink later on June 4). A retaliatory strike by Hiryu fatally damages Yorktown (which sinks on June 7), but Enterprise and Yorktown dive bombers then fatally damage Hiryu (which sinks on June 5). The loss of all four of their carriers cause the Japanese to cancel the Midway operation and withdraw. It is widely considered to be the turning point of World War II in the Pacific.[82]
  • June 6
    • Flying 112 sorties, carrier aircraft from Enterprise and Hornet sink the Japanese heavy cruiser Mikuma as she withdraws from the Midway area, bringing the Battle of Midway to an end. Three TBD Devastators participate; it is the last combat flight of the Devastator.[83]
    • Four U.S. Army Air Forces B-24 Liberator bombers led by Major General Clarence L. Tinker take off from Midway to attack the Japanese bomber base on Wake Island. Tinker '​s plane disappears after take-off and no wreckage or bodies are ever found.[84]
  • June 8 – Conducting experimental visual and photographic observations during night flight, the U.S. Navy blimps G-1 and L-2 are destroyed in a mid-air collision, killing 12.
  • June 10 – An U.S. Army Air Forces LB-30 Liberator on a reconnaissance flight discovers that Japanese forces have occupied Kiska in the Aleutian Islands.[85]
  • June 11 – In response to orders from Admiral Chester W. Nimitz to "bomb the enemy out of Kiska," U.S. Army Air Forces B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator bombers and U.S. Navy PBY Catalina flying boats begin a bombing campaign against Japanese forces at Kiska in the "Kiska Blitz." The PBYs bomb almost hourly for 72 hours before withdrawing on July 13, while Army Air Forces continue with twice-daily raids until late June.[86] Flying a 1,200-mile (1,900 km) round trip, the Army bombers will continue to raid Kiska from a base on Umnak until September.[87]
  • June 14–16 – German and Italian aircraft join Italian surface warships and submarines in opposing Operation Harpoon, an Allied Malta resupply convoy from Gibraltar escorted by the British aircraft carriers HMS Argus and HMS Furious, and Operation Vigorous, a simultaneous resupply convoy from Alexandria, Egypt; Royal Air Force and U.S. Army Air Forces aircraft from Malta and North Africa provide support to the convoys. Before the remnants of the Harpoon convoy arrive at Malta and the Vigorous convoy turns back to Alexandria, Axis aircraft sink three merchant cargo ships, fatally damage three destroyers, a cargo ship, and a tanker, and damage the British light cruisers HMS Birmingham and HMS Liverpool. Royal Air Force Beaufort torpedo bombers knock the Italian battleship Littorio out of action for two months, and disable the Italian heavy cruiser Trento, allowing a British submarine to sink her.[88]
  • June 20 – In North Africa, Axis forces begin the final phase of the Battle of Gazala with a massive aerial bombardment of Tobruk by between 296 and 306 aircraft. Tobruk surrenders the next day.[89]
  • June 21–22 – In response to an erroneous report that a Japanese task force is threatening Nome in the Territory of Alaska, 55 U.S. Army Air Forces and commandeered civilian aircraft carry out the first mass airlift in U.S. military history, carrying 2,272 men, 20 antiaircraft guns, and tons of supplies in 179 trips from Anchorage to Nome over a 24-hour period. The airlift will continue until early July.[90]
  • June 25–26 (overnight) – Royal Air Force Bomber Command flies its third "thousand-bomber raid," with 1,067 bombers targeting Bremen, badly damaging the city in exchange for the loss of 55 bombers; night fighters of II Gruppe of the Luftwaffe '​s Nachtjagdgeschwader 2 alone shoot down 16 of them.[79] The Avro Manchester bomber flies its last combat mission in this raid.[91]
  • June 26 – The U.S. Navy '​s Naval Air Transport Service initiatives service between the United States West Coast and the Territory of Alaska with a flight by Air Transport Squadron 2 (VR-2).[39]

July[edit]

August[edit]

September[edit]

October[edit]

  • The U.S. Army Air Forces activate the India Air Task Force.[95]
  • October 3 – The first A4 rocket, later dubbed the V-2, flies from Peenemünde, covering 190 km (120 mi) in 296 seconds at five times the speed of sound, reaching an altitude of 84.5 km (52.5 mi).
  • October 14 – The Japanese battleships Kongō and Haruna bombard Guadalcanal '​s Henderson Field,[128] firing 973 14-inch (356-mm) shells in 1 hour 23 minutes. The shelling kills 41 men and leaves only 42 aircraft operational out of 90 at the airfield.
  • October 18 – A Royal Air Force Vickers Wellington of the Czech-manned 311 Squadron crashed on approach to RAF Northolt killing all onboard and six on the ground.
  • October 21 – On a flight from Hawaii to Canton Island, a B-17D Flying Fortress carrying the top-scoring U.S. World War I ace, Eddie Rickenbacker, on a tour of U.S. Pacific bases strays hundreds of miles off course due to faulty navigational equipment and ditches in the Pacific Ocean due to fuel exhaustion. All seven men aboard get into life rafts. They will remain adrift for 22 days before being rescued.[129]
  • October 22–23 (overnight) – In support of Allied operations in North Africa, RAF Bomber Command mounts the first of 14 night attacks against targets in Italy, the last of which is flown on the night of December 11–12. The series of raids consists of night attacks on Genoa, Milan, and Turin and one daylight raid against Turin. Dispatching 1,752 sorties against Italian targets, it loses only 31 bombers (1.8 percent). During the same period, Bomber Command flies only five major night attacks against Germany.[17]
  • October 23 – A U.S. Army Air Forces B-34 Lexington bomber collides with a Douglas DC-3 airliner operating as American Airlines Flight 28 over California. The B-34 lands safely, but the DC-3 crashes into Chino Canyon, killing all 12 people on board including songwriter Ralph Rainger.
  • October 26 – An aircraft carrier action takes place northeast of the Solomon Islands during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. U.S. Navy carrier aircraft badly damage the Japanese aircraft carriers Shōkaku and Zuihō, while Japanese carrier aircraft fatally damage the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8). The abandoned Hornet is finished off by Japanese destroyers early the next morning.[130] becoming the only U.S. fleet carrier ever to be sunk by enemy surface ships.

November[edit]

December[edit]

First flights[edit]

January[edit]

February[edit]

March[edit]

April[edit]

May[edit]

June[edit]

July[edit]

August[edit]

September[edit]

October[edit]

November[edit]

December[edit]

Entered service[edit]

January[edit]

February[edit]

April[edit]

May[edit]

May[edit]

August[edit]

September[edit]

References[edit]

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