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By July 1, 1942, the United States has been fighting in the Pacific for nearly seven months. The Japanese advance halted west of Australia at the island of Timor, and from Timor the Japanese stage bombing raids on Darwin. In the north, the Japanese hold the former Australian possessions of New Ireland and New Britain, including the town of Rabaul in the north of New Britain. Holding Rabaul gives the Japanese possession of Simpson Harbor, a deep-water port that the Japanese turn into a formidable forward base, swarming with Zeros and antiaircraft weapons. Rabaul begins to earn an evil reputation among the bomber crews of the USAAF and RAAF who fly there.
In May the Japanese tried to take Port Moresby, the Allied base on the south coast of Papua New Guinea. They were turned back at the Battle of the Coral Sea. In June, the Japanese were soundly defeated at the Battle of Midway in the north Pacific. Both sides suffered losses but neither the Empire of Japan nor the Allies were close to being beaten. East of Salamaua and Lae on the western end of the Huon Gulf, the north coast of Papua New Guinea is a no-man's land.
Jack Davis has been sent home, and Jimmy Ardana takes his place as Boxcar Red Leader. Charlie Davis and his crew continue flying missions in their increasingly worn and patched B-17E, Bronco Buster II.