January 22, 1943 (Friday)

“Buttons,” Espiritu Santo

We are trying to get another gun into the bow of our planes. There are three “fifties” there already, but none that will fire straight forward, a fact with the Japs have already ascertained. A Marine B-24 photograph plane that came in a couple days ago fought off six Zeros for almost an hour. As he had no belly turret (we haven’t either) he dove from 12,000 feet to sea level at 400 knots (460 mph) and 60 inches manifold pressure. Leveled off at 45 inches and 2500 rpm. The Japs, detecting the weakness in the bow, made repeated runs from dead ahead. The Marines shot down two Zeros before the Japs quit.

Went out on a “familiarization” hop this afternoon. Took Lew Larson along. Went around the island twice, and made a speed run along the west shore at 45 inches and 2500 rpm, at sea level. Averaged about 260 mph. Took approximately an hour to make each circuit of the island. Some of the beaches along the east shore of the island are beautiful,. The interior is dense jungle. In places the vines interlacing the treetops are so dense they resemble a solid green carpet propped on the underneath by the trees. The west side of the island is very mountainous up to 7000 ft.

The natives here are quite short, potbellied, and rather vicious looking. Their covering consists of a nondescript loincloth and a bare knife with a 12 to 15 inch blade. Noticed a bunch of them standing on the road this morning, waiting to cross the runway. The planes taking off didn’t seem to bother them much.  A few stared at it, but did not seem frightened. Their bushy hair has a peculiar reddish tinge.

Had dinner with Larson out in the bay on the Minneapolis. A good steak and ice cream for dessert — shades of the good old days!

Jap plane (“Sewing-machine Charley”) came over at midnight and dropped about 12 bombs, which woke everyone up, but did no damage.

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