B-25 Bombers Attack
the Japanese Stronghold at Rabaul
"On the Deck!"


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In October 1943 a massive Allied air offensive was launched to neutralize the Japanese stronghold at the anchorage at Rabaul on the island of New Britain in the South West Pacific. This dramatic film, shot by 5th Air Force Combat Cameramen, shows North American B-25 medium bombers from the 38th and 345th Bomb Groups attacking airfields, ships and storage dumps in and around Rabaul harbor, including airfields at Vunakanau, Rapopo and Tobera from October 11th through October 15th. To maintain the element of surprise and avoid antiaircraft fire, the attacking aircraft flew “on the deck,€ just above the jungle, dropping conventional and parafrag€ parachute bombs and strafing with machine guns at very low altitudes. Many of the attacking €œmediums€ were B-25Gs, equipped with 75mm canon for ground attack, in addition to 50mm machine guns bristling on the nose & fuselage. The initial attack caught the Japanese completely by surprise. Some of the action scenes in film are a bit shaky, but bear in mind that much of it was shot using a 16mm handheld camera during combat while numerous 50mm machine guns were being fired. In some of the scenes, the cameraman is crouching between the pilot & copilot in the narrow B-25 cockpit. The film is part of the "Combat Weekly Digest" series, shown only Armed Forces personnel. The 38th BG was comprised of the 71st, 405, 822nd and 832nd Bomb Squadrons, and the 345th BG was made up of the 498th,499th, 500th and 501st Bomb Squadrons, based near Fort Moresby on the Island of Papua, New Guinea, 400 miles away from the target. The bombers were attacked by Japanese fighters on all three days, but their own fighter escorts, including P-38 Lightnings, were very effective in dealing with them, downing many with the loss of only a handful of bombers. The 501st Bomb Squadron is featured in the film, including its Operations Officer, Capt €œJack Manders, who leads one of the mission briefings. Captain Manders (DFC and DSC) was reported “Missing in Action” over the Philippines on January 30, 1944. RIP. 

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