At Iba, the U.S. 3rd Pursuit Squadron flew 16 P-40Es off the grass strip about 11:45 a.m. to intercept the Japanese planes, reportedly heading for Manila. This action was the Americans' second scramble of the morning. They failed to detect any Japanese, and the planes raced back when they heard Iba Field's radio warn of a hostile force approaching from the sea. The 3rd Pursuit Squadron reached Iba low on fuel and, in any case, failed to locate the Japanese aircraft. The squadron entered the landing pattern at 12:45 p.m. Six aircraft landed just as the Japanese bombers and fighters struck. Japanese bombs tore into barracks, service buildings, and maintenance equipment. A bomb also destroyed Iba's radar, a fatal blow to subsequent U.S. air-defense efforts.
A few American pilots turned their aircraft against the Zeros, despite near empty fuel tanks. The nimble Japanese shot down five P-40s, and swirling dogfights ran three more Americans out of gas. These desperate American attacks prevented the Zeros from strafing Iba. Ultimately, however, the 3rd Pursuit lost 16 P-40s in the air and on the ground—nearly the entire squadron—as well as 45 trained pilots and mechanics. Damage to the field and equipment was significant.
The unexpected success of the Japanese raids on Clark and Iba stunned both the Japanese and the Americans. The attacks crippled General Douglas MacArthur's air force and made possible the safe approach of the Japanese invasion convoys.
John W. Whitman
Bartsch, William H. Doomed at the Start: American Pursuit Pilots in the Philippines. College Station: Texas A&M Press, 1992.; Bartsch, William H. December 8, 1941: MacArthur's Pearl Harbor. College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2003.; Craven, Wesley F., and James E. Cate, eds. The Army Air Forces in World War II. Vol. 1, Plans and Early Operations, January 1939 to August 1942. Chicago: Office of Air Force History, University of Chicago Press, 1948.; Edmonds, Walter D. They Fought with What They Had. Boston: Little, Brown, 1951.; Sakai, Saburo. Samurai! New York: E. P. Dutton, 1957.