Chapter One

The 426th Night Fighter Squadron had a special priority mission in China -- that was to discourage and stop Japanese night aerial bombardment.  It was in the fall of 1944 and our day fighters had halted enemy daylight raids.  The Japanese had begun making night attacks on our airfields.  The squadron had been in action for about two months when we came in as a replacement crew.  We were Captain Carl J. Absmeier (Ab), pilot, and me, 2nd Lt. James R. Smith, radar observer.  At the time we arrived, the squadron had confirmed three Japanese planes destroyed, two of them by Capt. Robert R Scott and F/O Charles W Phillips, and one by Capt. John Wilfong and 2nd Lt. Glenn E. Ashley. 

We were first stationed in Ondal, India, far from any action, for transition training in the new P-61, Black Widow aircraft.  During this training period we flew almost every day, at times, restricted to 200 feet of altitude -- no higher.  It was the first time I had ever "buzzed" and didn't get into trouble.  Ab and I loved this low level flying; most of the time we were just a few feet off the deck -- hustling along at a good 250 mph clip, stampeding "sacred" cattle, tipping sampans on the river, startling citizenry and generally playing hell with the countryside.  The rest of our training at Ondal was taken up with exploring and learning the flight characteristics of our exciting new aircraft.  The six-week transition period went by fast, and we found ourselves one sunny morning looking at the snow plume on Mount Everest as we flew over the "hump" (aka the high Himalayas) to Kunming, China.  We were assigned to the 426th's "D" flight stationed there.


Chapter 2