Exactly one year, to the day, after
Jimmy Doolittle led his group of Army B-25 bombers off of the
flight deck of the USS HORNET and into history - Major John W.
Mitchell, commanding officer of the 339th Fighter Squadron led a
group of sixteen 13th USAAF P-38 Lightnings on a mission from
Guadalcanal to Bougainville that has remained the most examined
and analyzed fighter mission of the air war in the Pacific.
On this day, Mitchell's fighters intercepted a group of two
Mitsubishi G4M1 "BETTY" bombers and six "ZERO"
fighters just south of the wide mouth of Empress Augusta Bay, on
the western side of the island of Bougainville in the Northern
Solomons.The story is well known and space prevents its repetition
The painting depicts the moment, described by Rex Barber to the
artist in 1991, when Barber's aircraft overran the bomber carrying
Admiral Yamamoto. At this moment, the bomber's left wing dropped,
pitching the right wing upward and into Barber's path. His quick
evasive action narrowly averted a midair collision with the doomed
aircraft carrying the Japanese architect of the infamous sneak
attack upon the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, on
December 7, 1941.