Commander David McCampbell led a flight of six U.S. Hellcats against a Japanese force of twenty bombers and forty fighters. It was October 24, 1944, just tour days after the American invasion of the Philippines, and McCampbell knew that the Japanese planes must not reach the American fleet supporting the invasion. Sending four of his Hellcats after the bombers, he and his wingman. Roy Rushing. took on the forty Zeros. When the combat was done, McCampbell had downed nine Zeros. Rushing scored six. and the enemy force was dispersed, lacking fuel for further battle. By the war's end McCampbell had 34 kills to his credit as the top U.S. Navy Ace. Robert S. Johnson of the 8th Air Force was thought to have been the first American to top Eddie Rick en backer's World War I score of 26 victories. It turned out that Richard Bong had accomplished the feat a few months earlier in the Pacific. By war's end Johnson shared top ace honors for the European conflict with Colonel Francis S. Gahreski, each with 28.
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