the assault mounted on the Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, simultaneously
the air base at Wheeler Field came under heavy attack, most
of the P-40s and P-36s neatly lined up making easy targets for
the marauding Japanese aircraft. Almost all were hit.
Bleary-eyed from an all-night party, two
young USAAF pilots, Kenneth Taylor and George Welch, quickly
assessed the situation: Not waiting for instructions Taylor
called Haleiwa Field in the north of the island, and ordered
their 47th Pursuit Squadron P-40 Tomahawk fighters to readiness.
Running through a hail of gunfire and shrapnel, they leapt
into Taylor's car and raced northwards, bullets chewing up
the road as they went.
Surviving the strafing, within minutes
of arrival at Haleiwa the two pilots got their P-40 Tomahawks
airborne. Only then did they realize what they were up against:
"There were between 200 and 300 Japanese aircraft,"
said Taylor "There were just two of us!" Winging
southwards towards Ewa Field they ripped into a dozen or more
enemy planes attacking the marine field. Diving into the formation
they each downed "Val" fighter-bombers.
Low on fuel and ammunition they
landed at Wheeler, where ground crews got them back in the
air replenished in minutes. As he followed Welch into the
air, Taylor's aircraft was hit and the young pilot was wounded
in shoulder and leg. Welch jumped on his attacker immediately
scoring his third kill. Ignoring his injuries Taylor continued
into the fray. Wheeling and turning in the humid air above
the lush green terrain of Oahu, Taylor and Welch continued
their solitary combat against the hordes of Japanese, bringing
their total to at least six victories before the Japanese,
having done their worst, headed out to sea. For their quick
thinking, and courageous action both Taylor and Welch were
awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. They were the first
American pilots to strike back at an enemy that would take
four long years to defeat.
Robert Taylor's carefully researched
painting shows Ken Taylor in his P-40 Tomahawk bringing down
his second enemy aircraft on December 7, 1941, an Aichi D-3A1
"Val" dive-bomber. George Welch is in close company
as a group of Japanese planes head for the sea over Barbers
Point. In the background palls of smoke rise from Hangar 6 housing
the naval float planes, and the up-turned battleship Oklahoma.
Joining the artist and Brigadier General Ken Taylor in signing
this important collector print are four highly distinguished
American veteran pilots from World War II.
General Kenneth M. Taylor
Ken Taylor was one of the Army's heroes
on December 7, twice engaging the retiring Japanese planes in
his P-40 Tomahawk. Together, he and George Welch managed to
get airborne - some of the very few who managed to do so. Ken
was wounded but together they managed to down six Japanese aircraft
that day. For his presence of mind and coolness under fire against
overwhelming odds, he was awarded the Distinguished Service
William Dickman was a Marine pilot
wounded in the attack of December 7. The Marine air station
was located at Ewa Mooring Mast Field, near Barbers Point,
turning point for the Japanese torpedo bombers as they began
their runs into Pearl. William Dickman went on to fly over
60 combat missions in the Pacific Theater, including Guadalcanal
and Iwo Jima.
Flying a stripped down B-17 with the
38th Reconnaissance Squadron en-route from Hamilton Field to
Clark Field in the Philippines, Earl's aircraft and eleven others
were landing to refuel at Oahu when they ran straight into the
Japanese attack. With their aircraft hit they managed to land.
Williams went on to complete 55 combat missions in the South
Pacific, including the Battle of the Coral Sea.
Lt. General Joe
Joining the service in 1937, Joe
Moore flew P-40 Tomahawks with the 323rd Tactical Fighter
Wing out of Clark Field in the Philippines and accumulated
over 100 combat missions in the Pacific, including two victories
over Japanese Zeroes. He later transferred to fly P-47s in
Europe, taking part in the Normandy Invasion.
After serving aboard the USS Ranger
as a navy pilot, 'Tex' Hill volunteered for the AVG 'Flying
Tigers' in China, becoming Squadron Leader in the 2nd Squadron
(Panda Bears), and notching up 12 ¼ air victories.
'Tex' Hill remained in China to activate the 75th Fighter
Squadron. He later commanded the 23rd Fighter Group, again
in China, increasing his total score to 18 ¼ victories.