cond pass, he hit a fourth bomber.
Thach later reported that he saw
three bombers falling in flames
At 1700 hours, Lexington’s radar picked at the same time when his sectiup the second formation, only 12 miles on joined the fight. O‘Hare made
out on the disengaged side of the task a third high side pass, diving throuforce, completely unopposed. O‘Hare and gh flak bursts from Lexington‘s AA
Dufilho were ordered to intercept and to blow up the formation leader as
climbed as fast as the relatively-sluggish his guns rattled empty. The four
F4F-3 could. They were 1,500 feet above surviving bombers dropped their
the attacking eight bombers only nine mi- bombs within 100 yards of Lexingles out when they rolled into a starboard ton‘s stern just before Thach interhigh side pass as the G4Ms descended in vened and shot down two.
a fast shallow dive toward Lexington.
The value of the Navy‘s emphaAs O‘Hare lined up his first target, Dufilho sis on gunnery training for fighter
dove away with jammed guns. The Fleet pilots had been fully demonstraGunnery Competition Champion was ted. When O‘Hare climbed out of
about to enter the only contest that coun- his cockpit after landing, his first
ted. Tracers streaked past as he closed request was for a glass of water;
to 100 yards and opened fire, hitting the he downed four before leaving the
starboard engine of the last plane with flight deck. Against the loss of two
such concentrated fire it literally jumped F4Fs and one pilot, VF-3 had dowout of its mountings. As the first bomber ned 15 of 17 attackers, including
spun toward the ocean below, O‘Hare hit two that ditched on the way home.
a second with another concentrated burst It was later determined O‘Hare only
that sent it down on fire. As he pulled out, shot down four, though a fifth was
he fired at the last bomber on the far side one of the two that ditched, validaof the formation and sent it down with its ting his claim. He had used only 60
port engine on fire. Winging over into a se- rounds for each plane destroyed.
rion Dufilho. Sixteen of VF-3‘s 18 Wildcats
were now committed to the battle.
Noel Gaylor’s 8 victories defending Lexington at the
Rabaul strike in February and his combats during
the Battle of the Coral Sea in May made him the leading US Navy ace of the time.
Lt.Cdr. John S. Thach, CO of VF-3 (second from r) with pilots of VF-3 aboard USS Lexington (CV-2) in February 1942.