Hmmm, calling this a nope.
Had an interest in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea for a long time reading up and watching the Aussie film footage taken by a camera man riding shotgun in a RAAF Beaufighter. What caused my pass on this is the fact it states the tactic was for the B-25 to skip bomb by flying the length of the ship this is according to everything I’v read on the subject wrong! The Beaufighter flew down the length of the ship all guns blazing while the A-20’s and B-25’s came in and skip bombed against the side. The reason for the Beau to fly the length of the ship was also not due to the Beau lining up like that but due to the Japanese believing the Beaufighters were Torpedo carrying Beauforts against which the best tactic is to make the ship as small and narrow a target as possible. However this played into the hands of the Beaufighter with it huge forward firepower, a Beaufort torpedo attack had taken place against this convoy a few hours earlier. With the attention of the Japanese on the Beaufighters the A-20’s and B-25’s were free to commence their skip bombing runs.
As an aside, in the battle of the Bismarck Sea a formation of B-17’s carried out a high level bomb run with the intention of breaking up the convoy. The joint USAAF / RAAF operation had been practised against a wreck in northern Australia waters.
Luciano, thanks for bringing this up about the claim the planes attacked parallel to the ships. That part of the book did and does trouble me, and I actually meant to include it as a typo/error. I will amend the review and note this. I decided to give it a pass for two reasons, (1) I wonder if he is focused on the Bismarck Sea battle phenomenon of the Beaufort torpedo attack spooking the IJN thinking all the low flying attackers were torpedo planes and turning to comb their expected torpedoes and, (2) most of the photos show the aircraft attacking ships parallel or at a low angle-off. It did lead me to research more deeply. From *A War of Their Own Bombers over the Southwest Pacific* by Capt. Matthew K. Rodman, USAF, Air University Press,Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, April 2005:
Interim Training Circular no. 46, Minimum Altitude Attack of Naval Objectives, appeared in July of 1942. Augmenting Air Corps Field Manual 1-10, Tactics and Technique of Air Attack , 20 November 1940,
and foreshadowing the work at Eglin, the circular suggested
that pilots using modified gun sights on visual bomb runs
would obtain the best results at minimum altitude. Making
such attacks should depend upon the size of the vessel:
Point of aim—(1) Vessels having 1 inch or less armor plate.—Side of ves-
sel. (2) Vessels, such as battleships and heavy cruisers, having armor
plate over 1 inch thick. —In this case the 4-second delay tail fuze must
be used unless the vessels are lying in a harbor less than 70 feet deep.
Bombs should be so released as to strike the water from 50 to 100 feet
from the side of the vessel attacked. Caution should be used not to
strike the armored side directly as the bomb case will then rupture, re-
sulting in a low order detonation with but little damage to the ship.
In December 1942, exactly one year after Pearl Harbor, the
official results of the Eglin tests were released in a document
called Final Report on Minimum Altitude Attack of Water-Borne
Surface Vessels with Aircraft Bombs . The Eglin conclusions
were very similar to those of Training Circular no. 46:
The report fully endorsed the concept and recommended that “training
of pilots in these techniques be initiated at the earliest possible mo-
ment.” Two of the attacks were deemed highly effective:
(1) Quartering front attack on armored surface vessels (more than
one  inch of side armor plate) at maximum level flight speed
and one hundred-fifty (150) feet to three-hundred (300) feet al-
titude, dropping one-thousand (1,000) pound or two-thousand
(2,000) pound demolition bombs.
(2) Broadside attack on unarmored or lightly armored surface
vessels (less than one  inch of side armor plate) at maxi-
mum level flight speed and at the minimum altitude necessary
to clear the target, dropping demolition bombs of any appro-
While not addressing the tactics of low-level, masthead and skip bombing, I did find this portion (and others) of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey The Fifth Air Force in the war against Japan:
Thank you Fred, always interesting,of interest is this Youtube video which includes photos, maps and reports of the Bismarck Sea battle and is very well done and researched not like some. Included is a photo of the wreck the crews practiced the skip bombing on under attack by a B-25.
I know this is more about the Bismarck Sea and not about the whole B-25 V IJN Destroyer but when I pick up on one thing that doesn’t ring true for me it puts the whole thing under suspicion.
Allied Air Dominance in the Pacific: The Battle of the Bismarck Sea March 2 - 3 1943 - YouTube
Luciano, i’ll watch that YouTube video. The book includes a still of a B-25 pulling up over the SS Pruth, noting that four B-25s and a RAAF A-20 and Beaufighter crashed while practicing against it.
Here is an amazing image I just found of a B-17 practicing against it:
This site has a section about the Pruth with an amazing set of photos of six B-25s in formation attacking it: Port Moresby
Some nice photos on that site Fred.
From what I’ve read on the second day at least 1 B-17 joined the wave top hunt for Japanese survivors in the water and the strafing of those survivors. After the Allied forces witnessing the Zeros shooting the B-17 aircrew in their chutes the day before you can understand their anger and want for revenge, something some today won’t or can’t understand.