"ZERO FIGHTER SWEEP"

BY ROY GRINNELL

L/E of 1,250. Signed by Ken Walsh.

Size:(pending)

Price: $175


American Fighter Aces
Series 1

The air raid alarm on Guadalcanal sounded at 11:35 on 13 May 1943. The island radar had picked up a large formation of "bogies" approaching Guadalcanal from the northwest. Minutes later the air was split with the sound of twelve 2,000 h.p. Pratt & Whitney R-2800-8 engines roaring to life as a flight of F4U-1 Corsairs from Marine Fighter Squadron 124 [VMF-124] were scrambled to intercept a Zero fighter sweep.

Twenty-six-year-old First Lieutenant Kenneth A. Walsh was the first to be airborne. Ground control vectored Walsh and his four-plane division north to the Florida Islands. As he approached the intercept point, he spotted the "bogies" - a formation of P-38s. At that moment Walsh heard ground control vector Major William E. Gise IC.0. VMF-1241 and his flight northwest to the Russell Islands at "Angels 20." Turning back due west, Walsh radioed Gise that he was abeam Savo and would proceed to join him. Climbing to 25,000 feet, Walsh saw the air battle in progress. Placing his flight in right echelon, he led the four in a wingover into the melee. Selecting a Zero to his far left, Walsh racked the big bent-winged fighter around to the attack. The two fighters were almost head-on as Walsh began firing, spraying the Japanese fiqhter with fire from six .50-caliber guns. Mortally wounded. the Zero was smoking as it flashed by above Walsh's canopy. Within minutes, Walsh scored twice more to become the squadron's first ace and the first ace in the Corsair.