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- Order number: COATC001
Australia’s Pacific Air War: In a one-sided fight over Rabaul on January 20th, 1942, Japanese Zeros annihilated a small force of RAAF Wirraway armed-trainers, which were all that stood between Japanese air power and Northern Australia. Little bothered by the smattering of slow climbing American P-40 fighters subsequently rushed to the area, high flying Japanese planes raided the Northern Territories an average of four times a month during 1942. This changed dramatically in early 1943 when the rapidly expanding RAAF deployed an entire wing of British built Spitfires to Darwin. Led by Australian ace Clive “Killer” Caldwell, the Spitfires quickly and forcibly confronted the Japanese. At this same time, the RAAF fielded another famous British fighter, the long-range, twin engine Beaufighter. These fast, ten-gun behemoths had an offensive role, ranging far and wide to attack Japanese bases and shipping as far away as Timor, Rabaul and all of New Guinea. Mid-1943 also saw the deployment of the Boomerang to New Guinea. This nimble homegrown fighter, though lacking in air combat ability, proved excellent as a ground support plane. Thus, whether defending the north, sweeping the seas or bombing bunkers, Australian aircrews and their planes, were a decisive factor in reversing the Japanese fortunes of war in 1943.