You are correct in that the bombs painted on the aircraft indicate each mission. The "stars" that you refer to are not stars at all but Japanese flags with their Rising Sun emblem. They indicate each recorded kill.
Would anyone know the significance of stars painted above bombing mission tally bombs that were painted on the forward fuselage? See this photo for example: If you have an answer, either post here or ... more
Bombing Mission Tallys John Barone,Wed Feb 22 16:52