Washing Machine Charlie

Washing Machine Charlie or Bedcheck Charlie was a name given by the Allies (primarily the United States) to Imperial Japanese aircraft that performed usually solitary, nocturnal operations over Henderson Field, Guadalcanal during the Guadalcanal Campaign. The name came from the distinctive sound of the aircraft engines.

During the campaign, the Japanese sent solitary aircraft on nighttime missions over Guadalcanal for various reasons, including scouting, dropping flares over Allied positions to assist Japanese naval or ground forces operating on or near the island, bombing the airfield or Allied installations, and/or harassing troops and disrupting their sleep.

Various aircraft were used, including ship or shore-based single-engine seaplanes, and, on occasion a two-engine airplane, probably a Betty bomber whose pilot had made sure his engines were out of synchronization. The vibration was bad enough to wake most people, and then the waiting for the bomb (most of which missed) kept the men awake for the rest of the night.

Later in the war, night fighters were developed to help stop these raiders.

Independent of these Japanese raiders, Bedcheck Charlie was well known to American troops in the European theater, when lone German planes appeared over their lines in late afternoon/evenings.

See also

  • "Washing Machine Charlie". History of the 93rd Seabees.
  • Fournier, Leo. "Bedcheck Charlie Hits K-13! Two Wounded, One Sabre Destroyed". F-86 Sabre Pilots Association.
  • "McHale's Navy: Washing Machine Charlie". IMDb.
  • "Guadalcanal Legacy, 50th Anniversary, 1942-1992, Volume 2". Philip D. Birkitt, Turner Publishing Company, Eugene L. Keller.
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