Report of Ensign Joseph D. McGraw

Patrol Over Leyte –  October 24, 1944

The painting below is by VC-10 fighter pilot Joseph McGraw. The painting depicts the fifth enemy aircraft that he shot down during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

The painting above is by VC-10 fighter pilot Joseph McGraw.
The painting depicts the fifth enemy aircraft that he shot down during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

 

Our VF division was catapulted at 0500. We joined up and departed from over the lead destroyer. We arrived on station at about 0525, and patrolled from Point KING to Point NAN. At about 0800 over point KING a large bogie was reported. We started climbing at full military power as we were only at about 4000’. We had been chasing a bogie on the deck which turned out to be a TBM. We tally hoed three SALLY’s high above us (about 12000’), and Lt. Seitz and Ens. Dugan, his wingman overtook two of them to shoot them down a few miles west of Tacloban Town. I was unable to close within firing range. I think the third SALLY was also shot down by a VC-10 fighter.During the chase I became separated from my section leader, so I joined up on Lt. Seitz. We circled at point KING again until Lt. Seitz was forced to leave due to shortage of fuel. I remained on station as I still had about 65 gallons. At about 0840 a large bogie was reported coming in at point KING, high. Just then a large formation of twin-engine bombers was tally hoed.  I was at 10,000’, and a  I climbed to 13,000’. I sighted about 21 LILLY’s in close formation headed for Leyte Gulf a 15,000’. I made my first run on a section of LILLY’s, low, and on the starboard side of the formation. I fired a long burst at mid-range of about 200 yards at the section leader from a full deflection down to about 30 degrees. My tracers were hitting the starboard side of the fuselage just aft of the cockpit, but he seemed to suffer no serious damage. Then I concentrated my fire at his wingman at about 100 yards range. After a long burst from 20 degree deflection to almost dead astern, that went into his starboard engine and wing root, the LILY burst into flames, and dropped out of the formation. Just as he fell, in flames, his starboard wing came off. Just as the LILY burst into flames another FM-2 zoomed very close underneath me-coming from my left. He may have been firing at the same LILY as I although I saw no other tracers. There was no return fire from this plane, although the dorsal hatch was opened. He made no evasive action-but held in formation. His speed was 160-170 knots, and mine was from 180-200 IAS. I recovered to the right of the bombers and made another beam run from the starboard, this time on a lone LILY low and on the starboard side of the formation. I fired a long burst from full deflection down to about 30 degrees, and observed hits on the fuselage and cockpit. I then sucked in behind and fired another long burst at his port engine,which exploded and caught fire. Then I fired into his port wing roots, which also flamed. As the LILY dropped off on his left wing, I rolled to the left. As I did the rear hatch gunner scored 8 hits on my plane, although none did any serious damage. The LILY continued its roll and spun-in in flames. I recovered on the left side of the remaining bombers, and I now saw only six left. I made two more runs on the rear LILLY’s but observed no real damage from my fire. Three more of the bombers were shot down by other fighters, two were in flames, before they arrived over the transports in the Gulf. As the remaining three bombers dove thru the thin layers of clouds over the ships, the ships’ AA opened fire. I pulled out to the left and headed back to point NAN. I observed two planes crash into the water that had probably been hit by our AA fire, and one was close alongside a large landing ship just off shore. At Point NAN I joined up with Lt. Seitz, who had turned back, and Lt.(jg) Hunting. Aswe were all quite low on fuel we headed for our base. I landed aboard with from 8-10 gallons at 0930.

Joseph crossed the bar in July 2015