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History Mystery Answer.

On April 14, 1943, U.S. Navy Code breakers intercepted Japanese Naval message traffic that detailed Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto's itinerary for his inspection tour. With the approval of the president and the secretary of the navy, on April 17, 1943, Admiral Nimitz gave the go ahead to ambush Admiral Yamamoto as he flew to Balalea Island, near Bougainville. The mission was called Operation Vengeance. Flying over 400 miles at wave-top level via a circuitous route to avoid detection, pilots from the 12th, 70th, and 339th Fighter Squadrons flew sixteen (two aborted) P--38G Lightings (the only aircraft with sufficient range) equipped with external fuel tanks, to ambush the admiral. Aware of Admiral Yamamoto's punctuality, Major John Mitchell, the leader of Operation Vengeance's estimated that at 0935 the admiral's flight would be just ten minutes/thirty-five miles from his destination near Bougainville. This would be the intercept point. Maj Mitchell dedicated four P-38s to serve as a "killer" flight dedicated to shooting down the admiral's plane. The rest of the P--38s would engage the fighter escorts. True to his strict punctual nature, Admiral Yamamoto's flight of two Betty Bombers with six Mitsubishi A6M Zeroes as escort was exactly on time, 0935, April 18, 1943. The P-38's engaged the Japanese, Admiral Yamamoto's Betty bomber was engaged and shot down. Admiral Yamamoto died as a result of two 50 caliber bullet wounds.

To learn more about,

The P-38 Lightning:

US Code Breaking During World War II:

Piercing the Fog, John F. Kries, ed.

Operation Vengeance (pg 213-14) and the

Airwar in the Pacific:

Volume Four: The Pacific: Guadalcanal To Saipan August 1942 To July 1944, The Army Air Forces in World War II, Wesley Craven and James Cate, Editors.,

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Publication:Air Power History
Date:Dec 22, 2018
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