Flat Top Double Blind
Battle of Wake Island continues
1941, 21 December, 01:00 – 10:00
USN - Jens " Balls of Steel" Hansen
IJN - Stefan Karolyi-Brink
The first contacts occured around 03:00. In three separate locations, IJN Mavis reconnaissance groups observed surfaced USN submarines around Wake Island. The IJN Mavises chose to attack the detected submarines who fired back with their deck guns. No hits where scored by either side in the darkness and the subs dived to avoid further harassment from the IJN aviators.
The IJN Mavises are most likely operating from the IJN base on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands.
Around the same time the USN radar station on Wake detected two IJN air groups passing S to N, one on each side of Wake Island. These air groups could be two of the Mavis groups that also attacked the USN subs.
The dark hours passed with further contacts between IJN Mavises and USN subs. It seems clear that USN has a very strong sub presence in the area around Wake Island and that IJN is air patrolling in force around Wake Island.
After sunrise at 06:00 contacts between IJN Mavises and USN subs ceased. This may be due to IJN moving or withdrawing their reconnaissance flight, or the USN submarines staying under the surface.
Around 06:00 the USN radar station on Wake Island detected an IJN air formation incoming directly from the S. As it came in over Wake Island the IJN air formation was intercepted by three USN Wildcats. The IJN air formation was found to consist of 50 Nell bombers which came in at high altitude for a level bombing run. The USN Wildcats valiantly attacked the IJN air armada but were quickly blasted out of the sky in a hailstorm of 20 mm cannon shells and 7,7 mm machine gun bullets. Apart from the Wildcats, IJN didn’t see any USN planes at Wake, either in the air or on the ground.
Wake Island AA batteries did their best to repel the bombers and succeeded in shooting down three Nells. The bombing run proceeded none the less and the release was spot on. IJN noted solid hits cratering the runway, which will be out for a couple of hours.
IJN air crews targeting defense installations also noted multiple secondary explosions, which indicate several AA or coastal defense guns may have been hit.
After the bombing run the IJN Nells set of straight S, probably for their Kwajalein base. It seems clear that IJN has a strong bomber force stationed at Kwajalein and well within strike range of Wake Island.
The battle continues…