Magee's Cross
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Military Aviation Art
Of all the missions Chris Magee flew, the most impressive was probably the day he singlehandedly caused about 15 enemy dive bombers to abort their mission to attack a U.S. task force docked at Vella Lavella. Here is an excerpted version of VMF 214 Air Intelligence Officer Frank Walton's official mission report:

At 1130 on 18 September 1943, a four plane division consisting of John Begert, Jim Hill, George Ashmun and Chris Magee took off from Munda to fly cover over a U.S task force landing at Barakoma, Vella Lavella. [VMF 214 sent a total of ten flights on this day long assignment, starting at 0525 and ending at 1730.] Magee [off late because of mechanical problems] couldn't find his flight and joined up with three other Corsairs. They spotted 30 Jap dive bombers (Vals) heading back toward Bougainville, having apparently jettisoned their bombs without attacking. His flight nosed over, swooped and made a low stern pass on the formation. One of the bombers pulled off to the left and Lt. Magee pulled after him and gave him three medium bursts.
The Jap plane burst into flames in the middle and nosed down. Seeing another formation of about 15 Jap dive bombers (Vals) heading for the shipping, Lt. Magee pushed over and went down after them with full gun--alone--through his own [the American ships] anti-aircraft fire--and caught up with them some 100 feet off the surface of the water.
He made high side beam runs until one broke loose from the formation. Going after this Jap plane he got on its tail and chopped it to pieceswith a long raking burst. The Jap nosed over and crashed into the water.
[Magee said many years later that he actually shot the tail section off
the Val, and it pinwheeled into the water.]
Magee then turned to attack another bomber which was straggling. Making a high side beam run from a short distance, he passed over the Val before getting in an effective burst. He circled and made another beam run. The Jap turned into him and they came head on at each other. Magee gave him a long burst, saw his bullets striking the bomber, knocking off pieces around the cowling and fuselage, and then passed over him.
â€Hearing a rat-tat-a-tat on his wing, and seeing holes appear there suddenly, he kicked hard left rudder at 240 knots and then turned hard right alternately, skidding all over the sky, and diving towards the AA over the shipping as he saw four Zeros on his tail.
In spite of the fact that his plane had been hit--since there were apparently no other friendly planes in the sky--Lt. Magee resumed his patrol over the shipping.
He remained there for 15 minutes until four P-40's appeared to relieve him, at which time he headed for home.

Chiefly because of his piloting expertise and bravery on this mission, Chris was awarded the Navy Cross.

Image size 15 x 30

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