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 L-4 Grasshopper versus Zero on New Britain, March 1944

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PacificWrecks
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PostSubject: L-4 Grasshopper versus Zero on New Britain, March 1944   Thu May 06, 2010 12:53 pm

Dear all,

I was reading the book, "Island of the Damned" that includes Marine R. V. Burgin's recollection of a dogfight he observed between a Grasshopper (L-4 or L-5) versus a "Zero" on New Britain.

There is no exact date, only that it is probably middle or late March 1944. Incident happened while the Marines were on patrol from Bitokara toward Numundo Plantation on a three day patrol

Island of the Damned, page 88
http://pacificwrecks.com/reviews/island-of-the-damned.html

"We had those little spotter planes - we called them grasshoppers - to help us off and on. One afternoon, I saw a Japanese Zero get after one of those plane. The grasshopper was flying along the edge of the ocean about fifty miles an hour or so. When the Zero showed up, the spotter plane dipped down to tree top level and started weaving back and forth. The Zero must have been going more than a hundred and he couldn't adjust. He made a pass at that little plane moving in slow motion and overshot his his target and went flying by. Then he came around and made another pass - he missed again. As we watched he made pass after pass firing at the grasshopper, which kept zigzagging frantically. Finally I guess the Zero ran out of ammunition and flew off. Never did hit him. We were cheering that little plane until he flew out of sight."

Numundo, New Britain
http://pacificwrecks.com/provinces/png_numundo.html

This might be an interesting combat to research, or try to confirm!
Or, a strange dogfight combination!
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PostSubject: Re: L-4 Grasshopper versus Zero on New Britain, March 1944   Thu May 06, 2010 1:41 pm

Same story seems to have happened numerous times - not always with happy endings, but the L-bird pilots seemed to survive on a fairly regular basis.

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PostSubject: Re: L-4 Grasshopper versus Zero on New Britain, March 1944   Thu May 06, 2010 1:45 pm

If any L-bird pilots or crews remember this or any other air combat incident, I would be very interested to email with you. I believe, it might be possible to identify the Japanese plane / pilot in this story, if it is true.

At this stage (March 1944) the Japanese air units had withdrawn from Rabaul to Truk, but a "Rabaul Air Force" of a small group of pilots were operating from Rabaul. The story of this ad hoc force is told in Henry Sakaida's book, The Siege of Rabaul
http://www.pacificwrecks.com/reviews/siege.html

Will advise if I or others can confirm this specific reference
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PostSubject: Re: L-4 Grasshopper versus Zero on New Britain, March 1944   Thu May 06, 2010 2:52 pm

First I guess we'd need to identify the nearby artillery units and their flight crews. More than likely the pilots are gone by now as a number of the enlisted pilots were older than the typical AAF crews.

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PostSubject: Re: L-4 Grasshopper versus Zero on New Britain, March 1944   Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:07 pm

I can tell you for certain that it wasn't an L-5; it could only have been an L-4 on New Britain.
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