"MISSION TO BALIKPAPAN" by JACK FELLOWS
Limited Edition of 199 Giclee Prints: $200
S/N by the Artist
Image Size: 28" x 15"
Paper Size: 34" x 22"
Plane Type: B-24 Liberator
The objective of Imperial Japan in occupying the Dutch colonial oil resources in the Netherlands East Indies and on
Borneo was realized shortly after the initiation of hostilities against the Allies on 8 December, 1941. This important oil
resource was unavailable to Japan, since prior to hostilities, the Allies had denied Japanese access to the oil that would,
it was hoped, prevent Japan from its expanding pan-Asian ambitions that were too often being realized at the edge of the
sword. The subsequent campaign by the Allies to either destroy or recapture these Dutch assets fell to General MacArthur
and his Fifth US Army Air Force, commanded by Maj. General George C. Kenney. The ensuing campaign waged against
the occupied oil facilities at Balikpapan on the east coast of the island of Borneo by the 5th USAAF commenced on 13
August, 1943 and was not concluded until the raids commencing on 1 June, 1945 in support of operation OBOE were
completed (in support of OBOE landing forces). Raids by heavy bombers of one or more of five heavy bombardment
groups from both the 5th and 13th US Army Air Forces commenced in earnest after the August ʼ43 raids on 29 September,
1944 when two groups from the Jungle Air Force, the Bomber Barons and Long Rangers, and the Jolly Rogers from the
5th USAAF attacked Balikpapan, losing three B-24s in the process, but inflicting substantial damage. Subsequent raids
took place on October 3, 8, 9, 10, 14, and the 18th - with the raids on the 10th and the 14th being the largest and most
Pictured are elements of the 403rd Bomb Squadron and the 65th Bomb Squadron leaving the two burning target sites at
Balikpapan on 10 October as described by Col. James Pettus after he lead the 43rd BG on that day. The picture replicates
his view out of the lead Liberatorʼs pilotʼs window. His left wingman is the nearest B-24, "WOLF PACK" which was usually
flown by 403rd Bomb Sqdn. pilot Lt. Leonard Clark. Beyond Clarkʼs aircraft are elements of the 65th Bomb Sqdn. Col.
Pettus notes in his narrative that at this point, a Japanese float plane inexplicably made an oblique high-angle head-on
pass through the group, without firing a shot, perhaps having intended initially to ram one of the bombers. The 43 BG lost
no aircraft to the enemy defenses on this mission, however one of the aircrew on Col. Pettusʻ aircraft was killed by
Japanese defensive guns.
Taken as a whole, the raids were only partially successful, since the occupying Japanese could quickly repair damage and
resume production, however in the meantime the construction of Allied airfields in the area allowed interdiction of
petroleum shipments out of Borneo, achieving the desired effect which was to cut off the Japanese war machine from the
fuel it needed to continue.
MISSION TO BALIKPAPAN by JACK FELLOWS (B-24 Liberator: 403rd Bomb Grou: 6th Bomb Group)@vbader.com