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Stan Andrews, P-38 ace, remembers his first fight and first victory

 

Stan Andrews tells us about his first air to air combat after arriving in New Guinea. That took place on 27 Dec 42. Incidentally, it is this same fight that Dick Bong  (Leading American Ace, WWII) got his first two kills. He was attached to the 39th Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Group the same squadron that Stan was in. However, they were not in the same flight that day. 


"Note the moccasins. I didn't fly in them in
case you are wondering! Wore GI boots for flying."

 

On 27 Dec 42, I was tail-end Charlie in a flight of four P-38s lead by Lt. Eason. (He was killed a few months later in the Bismark Sea Battle). We were flying a patrol over Buna, New Guinea. My radio was out so I was just staying with the flight and was keeping my eyes open. There were broken clouds over the area at about fifteen thousand feet. We were cruising around in a out of the clouds and underneath them from time to time. I noticed the leader started down through them all of a sudden but since I didnít have a radio that was functioning, I didnít know what was taking place so I tagged along. When I broke out of the clouds, I was looking head-on at a Zero coming at me with a lot of little lights blinking on the wings. Needless to say, I suddenly got very busy turning on gun switches, pushing the throttles and prop pitches full forward and taking evasive action. I was really scanning the sky at this point, clearing my tail, underneath, above, etc. All of those fly specks on my windshield and canopy turning into Zeros in a hurry..

At this point, I canít remember seeing another P-38. I felt that I was a huge target, very slow and very vulnerable. Time seemed to slow down. After a few unsuccessful passes at an infinite number of Zeros, I got on the tail of one diving toward the water just of the coast of Buna. I had the impression that he never saw me. I gave him a long burst with no apparent damage until I noticed that the stab and rudder were coming apart. I was shooting behind him and almost missed the plane. About that moment, he seemed to lose control and shortly after crashed into the sea between the reefs and the shoreline. By this time, I was so far away from the original fight that I couldnít see any planes, ours or theirs! I finally found some other P-38s and joined forces with them for the trip back to home base. I donít think that any of us ever forget our first aerial combat
.

  

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