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The 5th Air Force in WWII... the South Pacific

When General George C. Kenney assumed command of the 5th Air force in 1942 the momentum of the war in the skies over New Guinea began to change from defense to offense. History has recorded the ensuing island-to-island battle that progressed from Australia to the door-step of Japan itself. As elsewhere in the world, the war in the Pacific was shortened by the devastating blows delivered by U.S. air power-- and nowhere under tougher odds than those faced by the 5th Air Force in their Pacific theater of operations.

Douglas A 20

Aerial contenders were the critical phase of the war in the Pacific. The Douglas A-20 Havoc (shown) was widely used as a deadly skip-bomber.

P-38, P-39, P-40

With Strafer B-25's, the Attack A-20's, the heavy B-24's and B17's... and with the welcome complement of the P-38, P-39, P-40, (shown left) and P-47 fighters--

and with the sometimes overlooked help provided by the Photo Squadrons, Troop Carriers, (Douglas C-47 shown below) and other support units ---

Douglas C-47 Troop Carrier

Click here for more Planes of the 5th in WWII

--- the 5th AF began to turn the tide of the battle. By November 1943, it had gained air superiority over New Guinea and New Britain, thus enabling Allied ground forces to begin the island-hopping trek back to the Philippines.

With the arrival of replacement aircraft, and new fighter and bomb groups entering the action, the 5th Air Force progressed from Australia to New Guinea, the Philippines, Okinawa, and Japan. It played a major role in the final surrender. At war's end, the 5th Air Force crews met and escorted Japanese planes and envoys from Japan to Ie Shima, where they were flown in a 5th Air Force C-54 to General MacArthur's headquarters in Manila for framing surrender details.

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