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History of RAAF No.78 Kittyhawk Fighter Squadron-Flights in Kiriwina


No 78 Interceptor Squadron formed at Camden NSW on 20th July 1943, as a Kittyhawk Fighter Squadron, under the temporary command of Flight Lieutenant R.S.Osment.

Squadron Leader G.F.Walker assumed the command of the newly formed squadron on the 14th August 1943.

Camden NSW Australia 1943

After a period of training, the squadron moved in sections and re-assembled at Kiriwina Island (Trobriand Island Group) on 13th November 1943.

SS Karsik

Dutch shipping line, usually known as the KPM. The first ships to arrive were the Bontekoe and Karsik, later followed by ships like the Maetsuycker, Cremer, Van Heemskerck and many others,

also from other nations like the Australian Taroona, Katoomba and Duntroon, and the American West Cactus and Bushnell.

Some of the men of 78 Squadron were transported by the SS Karsik ( pictured above )

It was now within the command of the 5th Air Force, was part of No9 Operational group and belonged to the No73 Fighter Wing.

A29-537  78 squadron Kittyhawk HU-W

Kiriwina

The commanding and two flight commanders flew with No.76 Squadron for familiarisation purposes, when that squadron dived- bombed the Gasmata area on 17th November. Before the end of the month, in company with Nos 76 and 77 Squadrons, the squadron carried out three successful operations as top cover for B24s when Ring Ring Plantation and the Gasmata area were attacked.

On 6th December, twelve (12) Kittyhawks co-operated flights with No.76 Squadron in an attack on Wulagi Island, a pontoon bridge over Kupiura River and Malaba Village. The bridge was destroyed and both targets bombed. On the following day a Wing attack was staged when the dump area of Gasmata was dive –bombed. Sixty-three (63) aircraft participated, sixteen being provided by the Squadron. In the attack No.78 Squadron dropped 16 x 500 pound bombs with unobserved results and one aircraft fired a burst of 60 x .50 rounds into a native hut.

Attacks on Gasmata were renewed on the 12th. Twenty (20) of the squadron’s Kittyhawks with twenty-one (21) from No. 76 Squadron.

The bombing was accessed as excellent, sixteen of the eighteen 500 pound bombs falling on in the target area.

Two actually fell into the centre of the target. On leaving the target, a clearing, where ack ack was observed, was strafed from 1000 feet to treetop level with 1415 x. 50-calibre ammunition.
On the 19th, the Squadron was Top cover for Vengeance dive –Bombers from No.23 Squadron, when a bridge over the Anwek river in New Britain was attacked. The following day, top cover was provided for No 76 Squadron on an offensive sweep from Cape Comoran to Roebuck Point. During the next eight days, the squadron covered dive-bombing attacks on Cape Hoskins by Nos .76 and 77 squadrons. Buildings and a probable radar station on the north end of Cape Hoskins were strafed on the 23rd, and two Vals were destroyed on the ground and the defences silenced.

Commencing on the 26th, offensive sweeps were carried out over various parts of New Britain. On this particular day, three sweeps were flown in 88 flying hours.

Similar flights were repeated on 27th, 28th, and 31st December.

Twenty (20) aircraft were scrambled on the 1st January 1944, to intercept enemy planes returning to Rabaul. This patrol was carried out between Father Reef and Bamus.On the 2nd three (3) offensive sweeps were flown over northern and central New Britain. In all 29 sorties were flown in 80 hours, 30 minutes. No Contact was made with the enemy, but barges were strafed when returning to base. These were the last operations carried out by the Squadron in Kiriwina.

Images on this website may be disturbing ,and are in no way intended to offend, but to honour those who have fallen.

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