S2E6: 67th Fighter Squadron at Guadalcanal

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Arriving just two days after John L. Smith and VMF-223, the pilots of the 67th Fighter Squadron quickly learned their P-400 Airacobras were woefully inadequate for the air to air mission. Unable to climb quickly or high enough to intercept the Japanese Zeros and Betty bombers, the P-39 variants were pressed into an air to ground role. From September to December of 1942, this group of Army Air Forces pilots would go about the dirty business of air to ground killing. They would never get the publicity of the Marine fighter aces, but in the words of 1st Marine Division commander General Vandegrift, on the morning of 14 September they “saved Guadalcanal”. This episode will look at the development of the Bell P-39 and why it struggled as a fighter over Guadalcanal as well as the history of the 67th Fighter Squadron.

Next episode: Up the Slot with the Marines and the mighty F4U Corsair

*Correction* After 5 episodes on Guadalcanal, I somehow managed to say the landings took place on 8 August instead of the actual date of 7 August.

Selected readings:

Guadalcanal, the Island of Fire: Reflections of the 347th Fighter Group by Robert Ferguson

Pacific Counterblow - The 11th Bombardment Group and the 67th Fighter Squadron in the Battle for Guadalcanal

P-39/P-400 Airacobra vs A6M2/3 Zero-sen: New Guinea 1942 by Michael Claringbould

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