1943 in aviation

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Years in aviation: 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946
Centuries: 19th century · 20th century · 21st century
Decades: 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s
Years: 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946

This is a list of aviation-related events from 1943:

Events[edit]

January[edit]

February[edit]

March[edit]

April[edit]

May[edit]

June[edit]

  • June 1
  • June 2 – American former college football star and Heisman Trophy winner Nile Kinnick, a United States Naval Reserve fighter pilot, dies when he ditches his Grumman F4F Wildcat fighter after it develops a serious oil leak over the Gulf of Paria off Venezuela during a training flight from the aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-16). His body is never found.
  • June 5 – In a battle over the Russell Islands between 81 Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters and 110 Allied aircraft, the Japanese lose 24 aircraft in exchange for seven U.S. fighters.[72]
  • June 6–9 – Allied aircraft drop an average of 600 tons (544,316 kg) of bombs per day on Pantelleria.[62]
  • June 10
  • June 11 – Demoralized by heavy aerial bombing and naval surface bombardment, the Italian garrison on Pantellaria surrenders almost as soon as Allied ground forces land on the island. Pantelleria arguably is the first ground captured by air power almost alone. Allied aircraft have also shot down 57 Axis aircraft since beginning operations against Pantelleria in May, losing 14 of their own.[62]
  • June 11–12 (overnught) – 783 British bombers attack Düsseldorf, killing 1,326 people, injuring 2,600, and leaving 13 missing and 140,000 homeless. Fires burn 25 square miles (65 square kilometers) of the city and there are 180 major building collapses. During the raid, the German Heinkel He 219 Uhu ("Eagle Owl") night fighter makes its combat debut in the early morning hours of June 12 in an experimental flight piloted by Major Werner Streib. Streib shoots down five British bombers – a Lancaster and four Halifaxes – in a single sortie, but his He 219 is wrecked in a landing accident when he returns to base.[74]
  • June 12 – Another large dogfight between Japanese and Allied aircraft over the Russell Islands yields almost identical results to those of June 5.[75]
  • June 14 – The B-17C Flying Fortress Miss Every Morning Fixin (40-2072) crashes at Bakers Creek, Queensland, Australia, killing 40 of the 41 servicemen on board. It remains the worst aviation disaster in Australian history, and it is worst aircraft crash in the Southwest Pacific Theater during World War II.
  • June 14–15 (overnight) – Accompanying a raid by 197 British Lancaster bombers against Oberhausen, Germany, five British Beaufighter night fighters make the first operational use of Serrate, a radar detector and homing device that allows them to home in on German night fighters employing the Lichtenstein airborne radar from up to 80 km (50 mi) away and intercept them. The Beaufighters do not intercept any German aircraft during the raid, however, and 17 British bombers are lost.[76]
  • June 16 – A raid by 94 Japanese aircraft – 24 Aichi D3A (Allied reporting name "Val") dive bombers and 70 Zero fighters – attack U.S. shipping in Ironbottom Sound off Guadalcanal. They damage a cargo ship and a tank landing ship and shoot down six U.S. fighters, but almost all the Japanese aircraft are lost.[75]
  • June 21 – The first airbase designed for use by B-29 Superfortress bombers in attacks on Japan, Shemya Army Airfield, opens on Shemya in the Aleutian Islands. However, B-29s instead attack Japan from bases in China and the Mariana Islands, and only one B-29 – on a non-combat flight – visits Shemya during World War II.[77][78]
  • June 21–22 (overnight) – 705 British bombers attack Krefeld, Germany, losing 44 of their number.[79]
  • June 22 – In order to better defend Sicily from Allied air attack, Italy and Germany agree to withdraw all of their bombers from Sicily and all but a few from Sardinia, concentrating instead on fighter operations in Sicily and southern Sardinia.[80]
  • June 28 – To increase the visibility of the national insignia on its military aircraft, the United States replaces the marking adopted in June 1942 with a new marking consisting of a white star centered in a blue circle flanked by white rectangles, with the entire insignia outlined in red USAAF roundel 1943.svg. The new marking will cause confusion with Japanese markings and will remain in use only until September 1943.[81]
  • June 28–29 (overnight) – 608 British bombers attack Cologne, Germany, losing 25 of their number. In Cologne, 4,377 people are killed – by far the highest number killed in any single Bomber Command raid so far – 10,000 injured, and 230,000 rendered homeless. In the next two raids, Cologne will incur another 1,000 killed and 120,000 made homeless.[82]
  • June 30
    • U.S. forces land on Rendova Island. A sweep by 27 Japanese Zero fighters over the area accomplishes little and almost is wiped out, and 43 U.S. aircraft bomb Munda Airfield. In the evening, a Japanese torpedo strike by 25 Mitsubishi G4Ms (Allied reporting name "Betty") escorted by 24 Zero fighters sinks an attack transport, with 17 of the G4Ms shot down by U.S. Marine Corps Vought F4U Corsairs and antiaircraft fire.[83]
    • Royal Air Force Bomber Command has lost 3,448 aircraft – about 1,600 of them to German night fighters – and about 20,000 aircrewmen on night raids since the beginning of World War II. Since April 1, Bomber Command has lost 762 aircraft, 561 of them to German night fighters.[84]
    • Since November 1, 1942, Italy has lost 2,190 military aircraft and suffered another 1,790 damaged.[85]
    • Since June 1, the U.S. Army Air Forces' Eleventh Air Force has flown 407 sorties against Japanese forces on Kiska in the Aleutian Islands. U.S. Navy PV-1 Venturas have made additional night bombing attacks on the island.[86]

July[edit]

August[edit]

  • The United States Navy Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter enters combat.[126]
  • August 1
  • August 2 – A U.S. Army Air Forces C-87 Liberator Express operated by United Airlines carrying Japanese nationals of the consular corps slated to be exchanged with Japan for Allied prisoners of war crashes just after takeoff from Whenuapai Aerodrome at Auckland, New Zealand, killing 16 of the 30 people on board.
  • August 2–3 (overnight) – The final raid of the Battle of Hamburg, by 740 British bombers, fails when the bombers encounter thunderstorms over northern Germany and scatter their bombs widely over an area 100 miles (160 km) across. Thirty British aircraft do not return. Despite the enormous damage it has inflicted, Operation Gomorrah has failed to completely destroy Hamburg.[131][132]
  • August 4
  • August 5 – The Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) and the 319th Women's Flying Training Detachment (WFTD), both organizations of civilian women ferry pilots employed by the U.S. Army Air Forces Air Transport Command, are merged to form the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).
  • August 6
  • August 7–8 (overnight) – 197 British Lancasters bombers attack Genoa, Milan, and Turin, with the loss of two aircraft. Over Turin, where 20 people are killed and 79 injured, Group Captain John H. Searby serves as the first successful "Master of Ceremonies" – later known as "Master Bomber" – an experienced officer who circles over a bombing target throughout an attack to direct bombing crews by radio and improve their accuracy.[132][136]
  • August 8 – Axis bombers attack the American light cruiser USS Philadelphia (CL-41) off Sant'Agata di Militello, Sicily, scoring no hits.[125]
  • August 8–17 – Allied aircraft of the Northwest African Air Force attack Axis forces evacuating Sicily across the Strait of Messina to mainland Italy in Operation Lehrgang. Wellington strategic bombers average 85 sorties nightly – attacking evacuation beaches in Sicily until the night of August 13–14, then ports in mainland Italy – and medium bombers and fighter-bombers fly 1,170 sorties. Allied planes face no Axis air opposition but face heavy antiaircraft fire and succeed in sinking only a few vessels, never endangering the success of the Axis evacuation.[137]
  • August 9–10 (overnight) – 457 British bombers attack Mannheim, Germany, and scatter their bombs due to cloud cover. Nine do not return.[132]
  • August 10 – Reinforced by 250 Imperial Japanese Army aircraft from Rabaul, Japanese air forces in New Guinea are ordered to conduct an air offensive against Allied airfields on New Guinea and Allied convoys along the Papuan coast.[138]
  • August 10–11 (overnight) – 653 British bombers strike Nuremberg, Germany, damaging the central and southern parts of the city and starting a large fire. Sixteen bombers are lost.[132]
  • August 11
    • Eight German Focke Wulf Fw 190s attack USS Philadelphia and two American destroyers off Brolo, Sicily; they score no hits. Philadelphia shoots down five of them and destroyer USS Ludlow (DD-438) and a U.S. Army Air Forces fighter shoot down one each. Allied aircraft break up a German counterattack against U.S. Army forces at Brolo, but seven U.S. Army Air Forces A-36 bombers mistakenly attack the American positions, destroying the command post and four artillery pieces.[139]
    • Nine U.S. Army Air Forces B-24 Liberators of the Eleventh Air Force make the second raid of World War II against the Kurile Islands, again attacking the Japanese base at Paramushiro, causing noteworthy damage. Japanese fighters shoot down one B-24 and damage the other eight; the B-24s shoot down 13 Japanese fighters. The Eleventh Air Force decides not to raid the Kuriles again without fighter escort of its bombers.[140]
  • August 12–13 (overnight) – 504 British bombers bomb Milan and 152 strike Turin, losing five of their number. Although horribly wounded by misdirected machine-gun fire from another bomber while approaching Turin, Flight Sergeant Arthur Louis Aaron, the pilot of a No. 218 Squadron Short Stirling, assists his surviving crew in getting the plane home before dying; he later receives a posthumous Victoria Cross.[132]
  • August 13 – The U.S. Army Air Forces make their first bombing raid on Austria.
  • August 14 – Japanese aircraft raid the Allied air base at Marilinan, New Guinea.[141]
  • August 14–15 (overnight) – 140 British Lancasters bomb Milan. One does not return.[132]
  • August 15
    • U.S. forces land on Vella Lavella. The Japanese respond with air raids of 54, 59, and eight planes during the day, but do little damage, and U.S. Marine Corps F4U Corsair fighters strafe Kahili Airfield on Bougainville Island. The Japanese claim to have lost 17 planes, but U.S. forces claim 44 shot down.[142]
    • In Operation Cottage, American and Canadian forces invade Kiska, only to find that all Japanese had evacuated the island secretly on July 28. Employing 359 combat aircraft – the most it ever had during World War II – the Eleventh Air Force has conducted a continuous bombing campaign and dropped surrender leaflets for three weeks before the invasion, mostly against an uninhabited island.[64] Since June 1, the Eleventh Air Force has made 1,454 sorties against Kiska, dropping 1,255 tons (1,138,529 kg) of bombs.[143]
    • The landings on Kiska end the 439-day-long Aleutian Islands campaign, during which the Eleventh Air Force has flown 3,609 combat sorties, dropped 3,500 tpns (3,175,179 kg) of bombs, lost 40 aircraft in combat and 174 to other causes, and suffered 192 aircraft damaged. U.S. Navy patrol aircraft have flown 704 combat sorties, dropped 590,000 pounds (267,622 kg) of bombs, and lost 16 planes in combat and 35 due to other causes. Including transport aircraft, the Allies have lost 471 aircraft during the campaign to all causes, while the Japanese have lost 69 aircraft in combat and about 200 to other causes.[64]
  • August 15–16 (overnight) – Royal Air Force Bomber Command makes its last raid on Italy, with 199 Lancasters attacking Milan and 154 striking Turin. Eleven bombers are lost, most of them shot down by German fighters waiting for them as they make their return flight across France.[132]
  • August 17
    • 164 U.S. Army Air Forces aircraft of the Fifth Air Force attack Japanese airfields at Wewak, New Guinea, destroying 70 planes while the Japanese are servicing them for another raid on Marilinan.[141]
    • 60 U.S. Army Air Forces bombers are lost in raids on Regensburg and Schweinfurt.
    • The last Axis forces evacuate Sicily, bringing the Sicily campaign to an end. The U.S. Army Air Forces have lost 28 killed, 41 wounded, and 88 missing during the campaign.[144]
    • The Germans make the first operational use of any type of rocket-boosted PGM in aerial warfare, with their radio-controlled Henschel Hs 293 anti-ship missile.
  • August 17–18 – The German Luftwaffe makes two 80-plane raids by Junkers Ju 88s against Bizerte, Tunisia, where Allied ships are assembling for the invasion of mainland Italy. They sink an infantry landing craft, damage three other vessels, destroy oil installations, kill 22 men, and wound 215.[145]
  • August 17–18 (overnight) – 596 Royal Air Force bombers attack the German ballistic missile research station at Peenemünde for the first time in a raid especially designed to kill as many German scientists and other workers as possible before they can reach air raid shelters. They kill nearly 200 people in the accommodations area, but also mistakenlhy bomb a nearby prison camp for foreign slave workers, killing 500 to 600 there. For the first time, the British bombers fly a route intended to trick German night fighter forces into deploying to defend the wrong target. Also for the first time, the British employ the new Spotfire 250-lb (113-kg) target indicator. Forty British bombers (6.7 percent) fail to return. The raid sets the German ballistic missile program back at least two, and perhaps more than six, months.[146]
  • August 19 – Generaloberst Hans Jeschonnek, the Chief of the General Staff of the Luftwaffe, commits suicide.
  • August 22–23 (overnight) – Bomber Command sends 462 aircraft to attack the IG Farben factory at Leverkusen, Germany. Due to thick cloud cover and a partial failure of the Oboe navigation system, heir bombs scatter widely, striking 12 other towns in addition to Leverkusen. Five bombers do not return.[132]
  • August 23 – About 20 German Junkers Ju 88 bombers attack the harbor at Palermo, Sicily, damaging several ships.[147]
  • August 23–24 (overnight) – Royal Air Force Bomber Command resumes the bombing of Berlin with a raid by 727 bombers. Poor target marking, poor timing by bombers, and the difficulty H2S navigation radar has in identifying landmarks in Berlin lead to wide scattering of bombs, although the Germans suffer nearly 900 casualties on the ground. For the first time, the Germans employ new Zahme Sau ("Tame Boar") tactics – the use of ground-based guidance to direct night fighters into the British bomber stream, after which the night fighters operate independently against targets they find – and the British lose 56 bombers, the highest number so far in a single night and 7.9 percent of the participating aircraft.[132][148]
  • August 25 – A Luftwaffe aircraft scores the first hit on a target in history using a guided missile, striking the Royal Navy sloop HMS Bideford (L43) in the Bay of Biscay with a Henschel Hs 293 glide bomb. The warhead does not explode, and damage to Bideford is minimal. In the same strike, an Hs 293 slightly damages the Royal Navy patrol vessel HMS Landguard (Y56) with a near miss.
  • August 27 – Guided missiles sink a ship for the first time, when a squadron of 18 German Dornier Do 217s launching Henschel Hs 293 glide bombs sinks the Royal Navy sloop HMS Egret (L75) in the Bay of Biscay with the loss of 198 lives.[149] In the same strike, the Royal Canadian Navy destroyer HMCS Athabaskan (G07) suffers heavy damage from Hs 293 hits, while the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Grenville (R97) evades damage by out-turning the Hs 293s as the German bombers launch them at her one at a time.[150] The loss of Egret and damage to Athabaskan lead the Allies to halt antisubmarine patrols in the Bay of Biscay by surface ships.[151]
  • August 27–28 (overnight) – 674 British bombers attack Nuremberg, suffering the loss of 33 aircraft. Despite clear skies, it is very dark and many aircraft have trouble with their H2S radar sets and with hearing the directions of the Master Bomber, and results are unsatisfactory.[132]
  • August 30 – A Qantas Empire Airways PBY Catalina flying boat on the "Double Sunrise Route" from Ceylon to Perth, Australia, completes the longest non-stop scheduled airline flight in history. From mooring buoy to mooring buoy, the flight takes 31 hours 51 minutes.[152]
  • August 30–31 (overnight)
    • RAF Bomber Command dispatches 660 bombers to attack Mönchengladbach and Rheydt, Germany. Good visibility and successful marking by Pathfinder aircraft leads to a successful raid.[132]
    • Bomber Command begins a series of small night raids against German ammunition dumps in forests in northern France.[132]
  • August 31 – Serving in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II, American professional football player Len Supulski dies along with seven other men in the crash of a B-17 Flying Fortress near Kearny, Nebraska, during a training flight.
  • August 31-September 1 (overnight) – RAF Bomber Command sends 622 bombers to attack Berlin. For the first time, the Luftwaffe employs illuminator aircraft – Junkers Ju 88s dropping flares – to provide light for attacking "Wild Boar" fighters. Cloud cover, H2S problems, and stiff German resistance cause Pathfinder aircraft to drop their markers well south of the target area and lead the bombers to scatter their bombs as much as 30 miles (48 km) back along the approach route to Berlin, suggesting that Bomber Command crews are turning back early in the face of increasing losses. Forty-seven bombers do not return; although this is only 1.6 percent of the overall force, the loss rate among Handley Page Halifaxes is 11.4 percent and that among Short Stirlings is 16 percent. German fighters have shot down two-thirds of the lost bombers. Despite the raid's failure, it prompts Gauleiter of Berlin Josef Goebbels to order all children and all adults not engaged in war work to be evacuated from Berlin to the countryside and to towns in eastern Germany where air raids are not expected.[153][154]

September[edit]

October[edit]

  • The U.S. Navy takes delivery of its first helicopter, a Sikorsky HNS-1.[185]
  • During the month, American land-based aircraft fly 3,187 combat sorties in the South Pacific Area, but only 71 sorties in the Central Pacific Area.[156] Air Solomons (AirSols) aircraft make 158 flights totalling 3,259 sorties against Japanese land targets and ships at Kahili, Kara, Ballale Island, Buka Island, Bonis, and Choiseul Island, badly damaging five Japanese airfields and claiming 139 Japanese aircraft destroyed in exchange for the loss of 26 Allied aircraft.[186]
  • October 1–2 (overnight) – 253 British bombers make a very successful attack on Hagen, Germany, with the loss of two aircraft.[187]
  • October 2–3 (overnight) – 294 British Lancasters and two U.S. Army Air Forces B-17 Flying Fortresses bomb Munich, Germany, with limited successful due to scattering of Pathfinder markers. Eight Lancasters are lost (2.8 percent of the force).[187]
  • October 3–4 (overnight) – 547 British bombers attack Kassel, Germany, losing 24 of their number (4.4 percent). Poor target marking leads to most of the bombs hitting the western suburbs and outlying towns and villages.[187]
  • October 4 – During Operation Leader, aircraft from the American aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-4) raid German shipping along the coast of Norway, sinking six steamers and damaging four others, including a transport on which about 200 German troops are killed.[188]
  • October 4–5 (overnight) – 406 British bombers and three U.S. Army Air Forces B-17 Flying Fortresses attack Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, and inflict the first serious damage on the city, hitting its eastern half and the docks on the River Main. Ten British aircraft (2.5 percent of the force) are lost as well as one B-17. It is the last time that American aircraft participate in a Royal Air Force night-bombing raid.[187]
  • October 5–6 – The Fast Carrier Task Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, strikes Wake Island with the largest force of American fast carriers – three fleet carriers and three light carriers – ever organized at the time. Their aircraft make six strikes totalling 738 sorties, destroying 22 of the 34 Japanese aircraft on the island in exchange for the loss of 12 American aircraft lost in combat and 14 to other causes. For the first time, a U.S. Navy submarine is assigned to support the raid by performing "lifeguard" duties for aviators forced down at sea during the strike; USS Skate (SS-305) rescues four fliers. Submarine "lifeguarding" will become a standard feature of American carrier raids beyond the range of Allied search-and-rescue aircraft.[189]
  • October 7 – While serving as a German SS officer, Prince Christoph of Hesse dies in an aviation accident in the Appenine Mountains near Forlì, Italy. His body is found two days later.
  • October 7–8 (overnight) – 343 British Lancasters attack Stuttgart, Germany, including the first aircraft equipped with ABC equipment for jamming German night fighter communications. Few German night fighters interfere because they are misdirected to a diversionary raid on Munich, and only four Lancasters (1.2 percent) are lost. An additional 16 Lancasters attack Friederichshafen and claim hits on the Zeppelin factory there.[187]
  • October 8–9 (overnight) – In the last RAF Bomber Command raid in which Vickers Wellingtons participate, 504 British bombers strike Hanover and successfully bomb the city center in probably the most damaging attack on the city during the war. German night fighters are well placed for interception, and 27 British aircraft (5.4 percent) are lost. In the largest diversionary raid thus far in the war, 119 other British bombers attack Bremen, scattering their bombs widely and losing three aircraft (2.5 percent of the force).[187]
  • October 12 – The U.S. Army Air Forces' Fifth Air Force conducts the largest Allied airstrike thus far in World War II in the Pacific, sending 349 aircraft to attack the Japanese airfields, shipping, and supply depots at Rabaul, New Britain, losing five aircraft. Allied airstrikes on Rabaul will continue for much of the rest of the war.[186]
  • October 13
  • October 15 – A Douglas DC-3 airliner operating as American Airlines Flight 63 crashes near Centerville, Tennessee, killing all 11 people on board. Speaker of the Tennessee State Senate Blan R. Maxwell is among the dead.
  • October 18 – From Dobodura, New Guinea, the Fifth Air Force mounts another raid on Rabaul of about the same size as the October 12 raid, but bad weather hampers the aircraft and only 54 B-25 Mitchell bombers get through.[192]
  • October 18–19 (overnight)
    • In the conclusion of the four-raid series against Hanover, 360 Lancasters attack the city with the loss of 18 of their number (5 percent of the force). Due to cloud cover and poor target marking, they scatter their bombs widely, mostly over open country to the north and west of Hanover. One of the British bombers is the 5,000th lost by Bomber Command during World War II. In the four Hanover raids, the British have flown 2,253 sorties and the U.S. Army Air Forces have contributed 10 B-17 Flying Fortress sorties, and 110 bombers (4.9 percent) have been lost.[187]
    • Through raids of this night, Bomber Command aircraft have flown about 144,500 sorties since the beginning of World War II, 90 percent of them at night. It has lost 5,004 aircraft, 4,365 at night and 639 in daylight.[187]
  • October 20 – A U.S. Navy PBY Catalina flying boat and an Imperial Japanese Navy Mitsubishi G4M (Allied reporting name "Betty") bomber exchange fire off Attu. It is the last air combat action in the Aleutian Islands.[191]
  • October 20–21 (overnight) – 358 British Lancasters make the first major attack on Leipzig with the loss of 16 aircraft (4.5 percent). Due to what Bomber Command calls "appalling" weather, the aircraft scatter their bombs widely.[187]
  • October 21 – The German ace Emil Lang shoots down 12 Soviet aircraft in one day over the Soviet Union near Kiev, raising his victory total to 72.
  • October 22–23 (overnight)
    • 569 British bombers strike Kassell, Germany, in the most destructive raid since the July 1943 Hamburg raid and not equalled until well into 1944, with a firestorm breaking out in the city center. German night fighters are well positioned for interception, and the British lose 43 bombers (7.6 percent of the force). A diversionary raid on Frankfurt-am-Main by another 36 bombers scatters its bombs and loses an additional Lancaster.[187]
    • A Royal Air Force ground radio station in England begins broadcasts to break into German ground controller communications with night fighters and give false and confusing directions to the German aircraft.[187]
  • October 23 – 45 Fifth Air Force B-24 Liberators raid Rabaul, escorted by 47 P-38 Lightnings.[193]
  • October 24 – 62 Fifth Air Force B-25 Mitchells raid Rabaul, escorted by 54 P-38 Lightnings.[193]
  • October 25 – 61 Fifth Air Force B-24 Liberators raid Rabaul, escorted by 50 P-38 Lightnings. The Fifth Air Force's commander, Major General George Kenney, claims 175 Japanese aircraft destroyed in the raids of October 23–25; the Japanese admit a loss of nine of their planes shot down and 25 destroyed on the ground.[193]
  • October 27 – During U.S. landings in the Treasury Islands, 25 Japanese Aichi D3A ("Val") dive bombers attack U.S. ships offshore, damaging a destroyer in exchange for the loss of 12 aircraft.[194]
  • October 29 – Between 37 and 41 Fifth Air Force B-24 Liberators, escorted by between 53 and 75 P-38 Lightnings, drop 115 tons (104,327 kg) of bombs on Vunakanau airfield at Rabaul, claiming 45 Japanese aircraft shot down or destroyed on the ground; the Japanese admit a loss of seven of their planes shot down and three destroyed on the ground.[193]

November[edit]

  • During the month, the Japanese government sets up a Ministry of Munitions to expedite the production of aircraft and to unify and simplify the production of military goods and raw materials.[195]
  • During the month, U.S. Navy carrier aircraft fly 2,284 combat sorties against the Gilbert and Marshall islands, dropping 917 tons (831,897 kg) of bombs. Land-based U.S. Army Air Forces B-24 and U.S. Navy PB4Y-1 Liberators fly 259 sorties against the islands and drop 275 tons (249,478 kg).
  • During the month, American aircraft carriers lose 47 aircraft in combat and 73 due to other causes out of 831 carried, a loss rate of 14 percent.[196]
  • During the month, the United States and United Kingdom conduct joint evaluations aboard the steamer Daghestan off Bridgeport, Connecticut, to determine the limiting conditions for carrying out helicopter flights from a ship underway at sea.[155]
  • November 1
  • November 1–2 – Carrier aircraft from USS Saratoga (CV-3) and USS Princeton (CVL-23) raid two Japanese airfields adjacent to the Buka Passage between Buka Island and Bougainville.[199]
  • November 1–2 (overnight) – 627 British bombers attack Düsseldorf, Germany, with the loss of 20 aircraft. Some of the bombers employ the G-H blind bombing device in combat for the first time. The raid inflicts much damage on residential and industrial property. Flight Lieutenant William Reid of No. 61 Squadron, badly wounded by two German night fighter attacks, flies his heavily damaged bomber to the target and back and later receives the Victoria Cross for his actions. A diversionary raid on Cologne by another 62 bombers suffers no losses.[200]
  • November 2 – 75 Fifth Air Force B-25 Mitchells escorted by 80 P-38 Lightnings raid Rabaul, where they encounter the newly arrived Japanese carrier aircraft and lose nine B-25s and 10 P-38s shot down. They shoot down 20 Japanese planes and sink two merchant ships and a minesweeper.[201]
  • November 3 – Flying Focke-Wulf Fw 190A fighters, the German ace Emil Lang shoots down 18 Soviet aircraft over the Soviet Union during four sorties near Kiev. It remains the record for the most aerial victories by a pilot in one day.[202]
  • November 5 – 97 carrier aircraft from USS Saratoga (CV-3) and USS Princeton (CVL-23) carry out a destructive strike on a Japanese task force at Simpson Harbor, Rabaul, damaging the heavy cruisers Atago, Maya, Mogami, and Takao, the light cruisers Agano and Noshiro, and a destroyer for the loss of 10 aircraft. The U.S. Army Air Forces' Fifth Air Force follows up with a strike by 27 B-24 Liberators escorted by 67 P-38 Lighntings on Rabaul town and its wharves. A counterstrike by 18 Japanese Nakajima B5N (Allied reporting name "Kate") torpedo bombers against the U.S. aircraft carriers mistakenly attacks a group of PT boats and a tank landing craft. The Japanese never risk heavy ships in the Solomon Islands again.[203]
  • November 6–7 (overnight) – The last Japanese air raid on Munda Airfield takes place.[204]
  • November 8 – A morning strike by 97 Japanese dive bombers and fighters and a few torpedo bombers damages a U.S. attack transport off Bouganiville. An evening strike by 30 or 40 aircraft damages the light cruiser USS Birmingham (CL-62).[205]
  • November 10–11 (overnight) – 313 Bomber Command Lancasters attack the railway yards at Modane, France, and the main rail line between France and Italy, inflicting serious damage on the railway system.[200]
  • November 11
    • A strike by carrier aircraft from USS Saratoga (CV-3) and USS Princeton (CVL-23) against Japanese ships at Rabaul is ineffective due to bad weather. Another strike by approximately 185 aircraft from USS Essex (CV-9), USS Bunker Hill (CV-17), and USS Independence (CVL-22) sinks a Japanese destroyer and damages the light cruiser Agano and a destroyer; the raid is the combat debut of the SB2C Helldiver dive bomber. A counterstrike by 108 Japanese Zero fighters, Aichi D3A "Val" dive bombers, and Nakajima B5N "Kate" torpedo bombers and a number of Mitsubishi G4M ("Betty") bombers is ineffective. The U.S loses 11 aircraft, while the Japanese lose 39 single-engine planes and several G4Ms. During operations from shore bases at Rabaul, Japanese carrier aircraft have lost 50 percent of their fighters, 85 percent of their dive bombers, and 90 percent of their torpedo bombers in less than two weeks.[206]
    • The last unit of the former U.S. Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command, the 480th Antisubmarine Group, is disbanded, and all American antiubmarine activities become the responsibility of the U.S. Navy.[207] The U.S. Army Air Forces' antisubmarine effort has sunk 12 German submarines.[208]
  • November 11–12 (overnight)
    • 134 British bombers raid the railroad marshalling yards at Cannes, France, and the main railway line between France and Italy, losing four aircraft. The raid fails to hit the railroad yards and succeeds only in inflicting blast damage on railway workshops.[200]
    • After Bomber Command's No. 617 Squadron completes its training to operate from high altitudes following the abandonment of low-level missions by heavy bombers, 10 of the squadron's Lancasters attack French railroads with 12,000-pound (5,443-kg) bombs, scoring one hit on a railroad viaduct at Anthéor.[200]
  • November 12 – A strike by five Japanese Mitsubishi G4M ("Betty") bombers damages the light cruiser USS Denver (CL-58) off Bougainville.[209]
  • November 13 – American preparatory bombing for the amphibious landings in the Gilbert Islands begins with a strike by 17 U.S. Army Air Forces B-24 Liberators against Japanese forces on Betio island at Tarawa Atoll. For the next week, B-24s raid Betio, Butaritari, or both every day, Mili four times, and Jaluit and Maloelap twice each, destroying several Japanese aircraft. Japanese aircraft strike Nanumea and Funafuti once each, destroying one B-24 and damaging two.[210]
  • November 17 – Air Solomons (AirSols) fighters intercept 35 Japanese planes heading for a strike on the U.S. landings on Bougainville, shooting down 16 for the loss of two Vought F4U Corsairs. A Japanese torpedo bomber sinks a U.S. destroyer-transport off Bougainville with heavy loss of life.[211]
  • November 17–18 – 83 British bombers make a completely blind bombing raid on Ludwigshafen. Germany, guided only H2S radar. British radio broadcasts succeed in misdirecting most German night fighters to land too early to intercept them, and only one Lancaster is lost.[200]
  • November 18–19 – Carrier aircraft from USS Essex (CV-9), USS Intrepid (CV-11), and USS Cabot (CVL-28) strike the island of Betio at Tarawa Atoll, inflicting considerable damage on Japanese forces there.[212]
  • November 18–19 (overnight) – Bomber Command's "Battle of Berlin" begins with a raid by 444 bombers on Berlin, of which nine (2 percent) are lost; few German night fighters intercept them, but Berlin is covered by cloud and they bomb blindly with unknown results. German night fighters successfully intercept a major diversionary raid by another 395 British bombers on Mannheim and shoot down 23 bombers (5.9 percent of the force). Mannheim also is cloud-covered and the raid scatters its bombs largely outside the city, but nonetheless kills 21 people, injures 154, and renders 7,500 homeless. It is the last raid on Mannheim for 15 months.[200]
  • November 19–20 (overnight) – 266 British bombers attack Leverkusen, Germany, in bad weather, which prevents most German night fighters from intercepting them but also makes them scatter their bombs so widely that only one bomb lands in Leverkusen, with other bombs hitting at least 27 other towns well to the north. Five bombers (1.9 percent of the force) are lost.[200]
  • November 20 – Operation Galvanic, the American invasion of the Gilbert Islands, begins with amphibious landings on Betio island at Tarawa Atoll and on Butaritari. The invasion is supported by 11 fleet and light aircraft carriers, eight escort aircraft carriers, and land-based aircraft of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army Air Force's Seventh Air Force. To oppose them, the Japanese have only 46 aircraft in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands combined. During the evening, Japanese torpedo bombers hit the aircraft carrier USS Independence (CVL-22) with on torpedo, forcing her to withdraw for repairs but losing eight of their number; it is the only damage Japanese aircraft inflict on any American ship during the Gilbert Islands campaign.[213]
  • November 22–23 – Bomber Command mounts its largest raid on Berlin to date, dispatching 746 bombers. Despite having to bomb in weather bad enough to ground most German night fighters, the bombers conduct one of the most successful raids of the war, creating several firestorms with smoke reaching an altitude of 19,000 feet (6,000 meters), rendering 175,000 people homeless, and damaging many sights and attractions in central Berlin as well as several factories and government buildings. Twenty-six British bombers (3.4 percent of the force) are lost. It is the last time that Short Stirlings participate in a raid against a target in Germany.[200]
  • November 23–24 (overnight) – 383 British bombers attack Berlin with the loss of 20 of their number (5.2 percent of the force). Although cloud cover interferes with target maerking, bomber crews are able to bomb using 11 major fires still burning from the previous night as aiming points and inflict further heavy damage on the city.[200]
  • November 24
  • November 25–26 (overnight)
    • Japanese aircraft attack American ships east of the Gilbert Islands, scoring no hits.[214]
    • 262 British bombers raid Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, losing 12 aircraft (4.6 percent of the force).[200]
  • November 26
  • November 26–27 (overnight)
    • Japanese aircraft again strike American ships off the Gilbert Islands, scoring no hits. They encounter the first aircraft-carrier-based night combat air patrol in history, consisting of a TBF Avenger torpedo bomber and two F6F Hellcat fighters. The Avenger shoots down one Japanese plane, but Lieutenant Commander Edward H. "Butch" O'Hare, the U.S. Navy's second ace in history and first of World War II, is shot down and killed flying one of the Hellcats;[219] he has seven victories at the time of his death.[220]
    • Bomber Command dispatches 450 bombers to attack Berlin; they scatter their bombs, but add to the damage to the city center and suburbs. German night fighters intercept them, and 28 Lancasters (6.2 percent of the force) are lost and 14 more crash upon reaching England. A diversionary raid on Stuttgart by 173 more bombers scatters its bombs and loses six additional bombers (3.4 percent of the force).[200]
  • November 28 – Japanese resistance on Tarawa Atoll ends. American aircraft carriers depart the Gilbert Islands area before the end of the month.[221]

December[edit]

  • The Venezuelan airline Avensa makes its first flights.
  • Early in the month, the U.S. Navy ceases testing of amphibious gliders. It had formally terminated the amphibious glider program in September.[183]
  • December 1 – The United States reopens the former Japanese airfield on Betio at Tarawa Atoll as Hawkins Field for use by fighters. In mid-December, it will begin to handle heavy bombers as well.[222]
  • December 2 – A night raid by 105 German Junkers Ju 88 bombers surprise the brilliantly lit Italian port of Bari while it is crowded with about 30 Allied ships, meeting little opposition. A sheet of flame from a burning tanker spreads over the harbor; 16 ships carrying 38,000 tons (34,473,374 kg) of cargo are destroyed, eight are damaged, and a quantity of mustard gas is released from the cargo of one stricken ship; at least 125 American personnel alone are killed; and the port does not return to full operations for three weeks. It is the most destructive single air raid against shipping since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.[223]
  • December 2–3 (overnight) – 458 British bombers attack Berlin, scattering their bombs widely across the southern part of the city and the countryside beyond due to adverse winds but nonetheless causing some damage to factories and destroying 136 buildings. German night fighters intercept the raid and the British lose 40 bombers (8.7 percent of the force).[224]
  • December 3–4 (overnight)
    • Japanese Rabaul-based aircraft attack U.S. ships approaching Bougainville Island.[225]
    • 527 British bombers raid Leipzig, Germany, with the American broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow riding as an observer in a Lancaster of No. 619 Squadron. The most successful attack on Leipzig of the war, it inflicts heavy damage on housing and industrial buildings. During the return flight to England, the bombers mistakenly fly over the defenses of Frankfurt-am-Main, where many are shot down. Twenty-four bombers do not return, a 4.6 percent loss rate.[224]
  • December 4
  • December 8 – Aircraft from the U.S. Navy carriers USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) and USS Monterey (CVL-26) strike Nauru in cooperation with a bombardment by surface warships; eight or ten of the 12 Japanese planes on the island are destroyed.[228]
  • December 10 – The Allied airstrip at Cape Torokina on Bougainville officially opens.[215]
  • December 13 – Since November 14, the Japanese have lost 122 aircraft based in the Marshall Islands.[196]
  • December 14 – Aircraft of the U.S. Army Air Forces' Fifth Air Force attack Japanese forces at Arawe with 433 tons (393 metric tons) of bombs.[229]
  • December 15 – Fifth Air Force aircraft cover U.S. Army landings at Arawe. A strike on the landing forces by 64 Japanese naval aircraft is unsuccessful.[230]
  • December 16–17 – Almost continuous unopposed Japanese air attacks on the landing force at Arawe damage and destroy various U.S. landing craft and small craft.[231]
  • December 16–17 (overnight)
    • 493 British bombers attack Berlin. German night fighters intercept them continuously from the coast of the Netherlands all the way to the target, and 25 Lancasters (5.2 percent of the force) are shot down; the raid sees the first use of the British Serrate radar homing system, which four British night fighters use to attack German night fighters along the bombers' route, and they damage one Messerschmitt Bf 110. Most of the bombs fall on the city; the damage to railroads combines with people using trains to escape the bombing to delay supplies to German forces on the Eastern Front, and damage inflicted by this attack combines with that of earlier attacks to leave one-quarter of Berlin's housing destroyed. An additional 29 Lancasters crash upon returning to England due to low cloud cover at their bases.[224]
    • RAF Bomber Command sends 47 bombers against two V-1 flying bomb launch sites near Abbeville, France. One raid fails, but the other, by No. 617 Squadron Lancasters employing 12,000-pound (5,443-kg) Tallboy bombs, damages its target.[224]
  • December 15–25 – Japanese aircraft at Rabaul bomb U.S. forces on Bougainville nightly, killing 38 and wounding 136.[215]
  • December 17 – For the first time, the Cape Torokina airstrip on Bougainville is used to stage the first Air Solomons (AirSols) raid on Rabaul.[215]
  • December 20–21 (overnight) – 650 British bombers raid Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany. German night fighters intercept them successfully and 41 British aircraft (6.3 percent) are lost. Despite the scattering of bombs due to cloud cover – which even leads to the city of Mainz being hit by mistake – the raid inflicts significant damage on Frankfurt-am-Main. A diversionary raid on Mannheim mostly misses the city but suffers no losses.[224]
  • December 21 – Rabaul-based Japanese aircraft make three dive-bombing attacks on U.S. forces unloading at Arawe.[232]
  • December 21–30 – Butaritari-based U.S. Army Air Forces Douglas A-24 Banshee dive bombers make nine strikes on Mili and one on Jaluit.[233]
  • December 23 – American aircraft based at Tarawa strike Nauru.[234]
  • December 23–24 – 379 British bombers raid Berlin, losing 16 (4.2 percent) of their number. They scatter their bombs widely due to cloud cover.[224]
  • December 23–25 – Air Solomons (AirSols) aircraft strike Rabaul heavily, U.S. Navy carrier aircraft strike Kavieng on New Ireland, and Fifth Air Force aircraft attack Japanese positions at Cape Gloucester and Cape Hoskins on New Britain.[235]
  • December 26 – 70 to 80 Japanese Rabaul-based aircraft attack U.S. ships supporting the day's U.S. landing at Cape Gloucester, sinking a destroyer and damaging two others. Minor raids follow on the next two days.[236]
  • December 26–27 – Japanese Rabaul-based aircraft raid U.S. forces off Arawe.[237]
  • December 28 – American aircraft based at Tarawa strike Nauru.[234]
  • December 29–30 (overnight) – 712 British bombers strike Berlin with the loss of 20 aircraft (2.8 percent of the force). Cloud cover makes them scatter their bombs, with many missing the city.[224]
  • December 31

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]

October[edit]

Retirements[edit]

August[edit]

December[edit]

References[edit]

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  6. ^ Aviation Safety Network Accident Description
  7. ^ a b c d planecrashinfo.com Famous People Who Died in Aviation Accidents: 1940s
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