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Graf1119
06-26-2007, 09:57 AM
"The Hell With That...Get Off!"

Click to enlarge
http://img440.imageshack.us/img440/8513/welchp40smpp5.jpg (http://img263.imageshack.us/img263/1255/welchp40rs4.jpg)

P-40B Skin by Graf
D3A1 Val Skin by Jesters Ink.

The party and poker game had been pretty much the norm. It had begun shortly after 21:00 hours and continued going strong until the sky began getting brighter along the eastern horizon. Welch and fellow pilot, Ken Taylor crawled into their beds at the Wheeler BOQ expecting to sleep in on a duty free Sunday morning. Just two hours into their party induced slumber, an unfamiliar rumble roused them to their feet. Running to the window, Welch was horrified to see smoke rising from burning aircraft on the field. Gazing up at a passing plane he noted the big red ball on the wings and fuselage. Japanese! Wheeler was being bombed by Japanese aircraft!

Leaping into the same clothes he had worn the previous evening, George raced from his room just as Taylor burst out of his door. Welch and Taylor had flown their P-40B fighters over to the small airfield at Haleiwa as part of a plan to disperse the squadron's planes away from Wheeler. George grabbed the telephone in the duty office and called Haleiwa. Getting the Duty sergeant on the line, he told him to see that both fighters were fueled, armed and warmed up. He and Taylor were on their way. Running at full tilt, the two pilots piled into Taylor's car. Racing for the base gate, they were strafed by a passing dive bomber. Once on the road to Haleiwa, Taylor drove at breakneck speeds, frequently pushing 100 mph, and covered the winding 16 miles of road in little more than 15 minutes. Sliding to a stop in a cloud of dust and gravel, both men raced to their P-40s, now warmed up and ready. Jumping into the cockpit, Welch listened as his crew chief said, "Lieutenant, we don't have any .50 caliber ammo here. All that you're gonna have is the .30s." "Ok" said Welch, as he got his harness buckled. The crew chief continued, "We got word that we should disperse the planes, sir." "The hell with that", said Welch, "get off." The crew chief slid off the back of the wing and George pushed up the throttle and taxied to the narrow airstrip. Ignoring the usual pre-takeoff check-list, George slowly fed in full power and roared off the grass with Ken Taylor two minutes or so behind him.

Retracting his landing gear, Welch reached down and grabbed the charging handles for the wing mounted .30 caliber machine guns. Climbing past 1,000 feet, he spotted a large formation of aircraft heading towards the Marine airfield at Ewa. With the throttle jammed full forward, Welch raced in after the Japanese. Lining up on a dive-bomber, he opened fire from very close range. Despite having a gun jam, his fire was dead accurate. The single engine, elliptical winged bomber exploded into flame and nosed straight over into the ground. Pulling off to make another run, Welch felt his fighter take hits from another bomber's rear gunner. Climbing away from the Japanese, Welch felt out the P-40 and determined that there was no damage of consequence. Rolling out into a dive, George headed back for the enemy formation. He arrived in time to see Taylor flame one of the "meatball" emblazoned dive bombers. Zooming in after another of the bombers (later to receive the Allied designation of Val) apparently headed back to its carrier, Welch again closed to point-blank range and sent the plane tumbling into the sea. Taylor had latched on to another of the Vals and sent him crashing into the ground just in from the beach near Barber's Point. Just as suddenly as it began, the sky was empty of enemy aircraft.

Not far from Wheeler, both pilots headed in and set down on the devastated airfield to replenish their nearly exhausted ammunition supply. Fortunately, one of the field's fuel trucks had survived the attack. Welch and Taylor remained in their cockpits gulping water provided by their ground crews. Both aircraft were fully fueled and armed, including the two .50 caliber guns mounted above the engine. The armorers were unable to clear George's jammed wing gun. No matter, another formation of Japanese aircraft were spotted heading in. Welch waved the ground crew away and started the big Allison engine. As he turned onto the runway he eased up the throttle and roared down the field. Taylor rolled onto the runway and proceeded to take off in the opposite direction. As Welch cleared the ground, he pulled up his landing gear in time to see a Japanese fighter strafing Taylor on his takeoff roll. Meanwhile, yet another of the enemy fighters strafed Welch as his P-40 raced down the runway. Rolling into a hard left turn, Welch felt the landing gear lock into their wells and went straight for the fighter (an A6M2 "Zero") that had attacked Taylor. Overhauling the radial engine plane, he opened fire. His rounds exploded the Zero's fuel tank and it crashed in a ball of fire just beyond the runway. Welch then spotted a lone dive bomber headed for the safety of its carrier and took out after him at full power. It didn't take long for the P-40 to close within range. Under a whithering rain of machine gun bullets, Welch's fourth victim crashed into the sea. Having used most of his ammunition supply, it was time to return to Wheeler in order to rearm and top off the fuel tanks. After George taxied in and cut his engine he discovered that Taylor had been wounded by the marauding Zero that had worked him over on his takeoff run. Taylor had ignored the rifle caliber machinegun bullet that passed through his arm and went directly for the enemy. Taylor had managed to hit several other Japanese aircraft, but had not been able to see any of them crash, he was too busy for that. All he could do was claim two probables. Likewise, Taylor has stated that at least two other Japanese aircraft fell to Welch. However, like Taylor's probables, wreckage was never discovered out at sea. Once again, the two pilots refueled, rearmed and took off on a third sortie. However, by this time the Japanese carriers were already steaming away from Pearl Harbor. There would be no more encounters that day. Much to Taylor's credit, he allowed only first aid to be performed on his wound before taking off for the third time.

Graf1119
06-26-2007, 09:57 AM
"The Hell With That...Get Off!"

Click to enlarge
http://img440.imageshack.us/img440/8513/welchp40smpp5.jpg (http://img263.imageshack.us/img263/1255/welchp40rs4.jpg)

P-40B Skin by Graf
D3A1 Val Skin by Jesters Ink.

The party and poker game had been pretty much the norm. It had begun shortly after 21:00 hours and continued going strong until the sky began getting brighter along the eastern horizon. Welch and fellow pilot, Ken Taylor crawled into their beds at the Wheeler BOQ expecting to sleep in on a duty free Sunday morning. Just two hours into their party induced slumber, an unfamiliar rumble roused them to their feet. Running to the window, Welch was horrified to see smoke rising from burning aircraft on the field. Gazing up at a passing plane he noted the big red ball on the wings and fuselage. Japanese! Wheeler was being bombed by Japanese aircraft!

Leaping into the same clothes he had worn the previous evening, George raced from his room just as Taylor burst out of his door. Welch and Taylor had flown their P-40B fighters over to the small airfield at Haleiwa as part of a plan to disperse the squadron's planes away from Wheeler. George grabbed the telephone in the duty office and called Haleiwa. Getting the Duty sergeant on the line, he told him to see that both fighters were fueled, armed and warmed up. He and Taylor were on their way. Running at full tilt, the two pilots piled into Taylor's car. Racing for the base gate, they were strafed by a passing dive bomber. Once on the road to Haleiwa, Taylor drove at breakneck speeds, frequently pushing 100 mph, and covered the winding 16 miles of road in little more than 15 minutes. Sliding to a stop in a cloud of dust and gravel, both men raced to their P-40s, now warmed up and ready. Jumping into the cockpit, Welch listened as his crew chief said, "Lieutenant, we don't have any .50 caliber ammo here. All that you're gonna have is the .30s." "Ok" said Welch, as he got his harness buckled. The crew chief continued, "We got word that we should disperse the planes, sir." "The hell with that", said Welch, "get off." The crew chief slid off the back of the wing and George pushed up the throttle and taxied to the narrow airstrip. Ignoring the usual pre-takeoff check-list, George slowly fed in full power and roared off the grass with Ken Taylor two minutes or so behind him.

Retracting his landing gear, Welch reached down and grabbed the charging handles for the wing mounted .30 caliber machine guns. Climbing past 1,000 feet, he spotted a large formation of aircraft heading towards the Marine airfield at Ewa. With the throttle jammed full forward, Welch raced in after the Japanese. Lining up on a dive-bomber, he opened fire from very close range. Despite having a gun jam, his fire was dead accurate. The single engine, elliptical winged bomber exploded into flame and nosed straight over into the ground. Pulling off to make another run, Welch felt his fighter take hits from another bomber's rear gunner. Climbing away from the Japanese, Welch felt out the P-40 and determined that there was no damage of consequence. Rolling out into a dive, George headed back for the enemy formation. He arrived in time to see Taylor flame one of the "meatball" emblazoned dive bombers. Zooming in after another of the bombers (later to receive the Allied designation of Val) apparently headed back to its carrier, Welch again closed to point-blank range and sent the plane tumbling into the sea. Taylor had latched on to another of the Vals and sent him crashing into the ground just in from the beach near Barber's Point. Just as suddenly as it began, the sky was empty of enemy aircraft.

Not far from Wheeler, both pilots headed in and set down on the devastated airfield to replenish their nearly exhausted ammunition supply. Fortunately, one of the field's fuel trucks had survived the attack. Welch and Taylor remained in their cockpits gulping water provided by their ground crews. Both aircraft were fully fueled and armed, including the two .50 caliber guns mounted above the engine. The armorers were unable to clear George's jammed wing gun. No matter, another formation of Japanese aircraft were spotted heading in. Welch waved the ground crew away and started the big Allison engine. As he turned onto the runway he eased up the throttle and roared down the field. Taylor rolled onto the runway and proceeded to take off in the opposite direction. As Welch cleared the ground, he pulled up his landing gear in time to see a Japanese fighter strafing Taylor on his takeoff roll. Meanwhile, yet another of the enemy fighters strafed Welch as his P-40 raced down the runway. Rolling into a hard left turn, Welch felt the landing gear lock into their wells and went straight for the fighter (an A6M2 "Zero") that had attacked Taylor. Overhauling the radial engine plane, he opened fire. His rounds exploded the Zero's fuel tank and it crashed in a ball of fire just beyond the runway. Welch then spotted a lone dive bomber headed for the safety of its carrier and took out after him at full power. It didn't take long for the P-40 to close within range. Under a whithering rain of machine gun bullets, Welch's fourth victim crashed into the sea. Having used most of his ammunition supply, it was time to return to Wheeler in order to rearm and top off the fuel tanks. After George taxied in and cut his engine he discovered that Taylor had been wounded by the marauding Zero that had worked him over on his takeoff run. Taylor had ignored the rifle caliber machinegun bullet that passed through his arm and went directly for the enemy. Taylor had managed to hit several other Japanese aircraft, but had not been able to see any of them crash, he was too busy for that. All he could do was claim two probables. Likewise, Taylor has stated that at least two other Japanese aircraft fell to Welch. However, like Taylor's probables, wreckage was never discovered out at sea. Once again, the two pilots refueled, rearmed and took off on a third sortie. However, by this time the Japanese carriers were already steaming away from Pearl Harbor. There would be no more encounters that day. Much to Taylor's credit, he allowed only first aid to be performed on his wound before taking off for the third time.

PBNA-Boosher
06-26-2007, 10:12 AM
It's an absolute beauty, Graf. Good work with this one!

Ernst_Rohr
06-26-2007, 12:43 PM
Very nice indeed!

Nice write up as well. I got the chance to see both Wheeler and Bellows AFB when I lived in Hawaii many years ago, there were still WW2 era buildings and remnants left laying around.

One of the a/c that was shot down during the engagement went down in the local jungle and parts of it were sill there in the early 80's. There were (and I think still are) a couple of the shot down Japanese planes in local Hawaiian waters as well. I have seen pictures of a couple of them years ago when I lived back there courtesy of some Navy divers.

CINCPAC still works out of the original WW2 era buildings on Hickam AFB, right next to Pearl Harbor. The central buildings are still pockmarked with holes from Japanese guns, the Army left them in place as a reminder. Lots of stuff like that was still there when I lived there, not sure about now.