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Volume  Five  "i" 

THE  PACIFIC:  MATTERHORN  TO  NAGASAKI 
JUNE  1944  TO  AUGUST  1945 

THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES 
In  World  War  II 

j      PREPARED  UNDER  THE  EDITORSHIP  OF 

WESLEY    FRANK  GRAVEN 

Princeton  University 

JAMES    LEA  GATE 

University  of  Chicago 


New  Imprint  by  the 
Office  of  Air  Force  History 
Washington,  D,G.,  1983 


For  sale  by  tbe  Superintendent  of  Documents,  U.S.  GoTemment  Printing  Office 
Washinjrton,  D.O.  20402 


The  University  of  Chicago  Press,  Chicago  37 

Cambridge  University  Press,  London,  N.W.  1,  England 

Copyright  1953  by.  The  University  of  Chicago.  All 
rights  reserved.  Published  1953.  Composed  and  printed 
by  Kingsport  Press^  Inc.^  Kingsport^  Tennessee^  U.S.A. 

Copyright  registration  renewed  1981 

This  work,  first  published  by  the  University  of  Chicago  Press, 
is  reprinted  in  its  entirety  by  the  Office  of  Air  Force  History. 
With  the  exception  of  editing,  the  work  k  the  product  of  the 
United  States  government.  ) 

Library  of  Congress  Cataloging  in  Publication  Data 
Main  entry  under  title : 

The  Army  Air  Forces  in  World  War  IL 

Vol.  1  originally  prepared  by  the  OfEce  of  Air  Force 
History;  v.  2,  by  the  Air  Historical  Group;  and  v.  3-7, 
by  the  USAF  Historical  Division. 

Reprint.  Originally  published :  Chicago:  University 
of  Chicago  Press,  1948-1958. 

Includes  bibliographical  references  and  indexes. 

Contents:  v.  1.  Plans  and  early  operations,  January 
1939  to  August  1942— V.  2.  Europe,  torch  to  point- 
blank,  August  1942  to  December  1943— [etc.]— v.  7. 
Services  around  the  world. 

1.  World  War,  1939-1945— Aerial  operations, 
American.  2.  United  States.  Army  Air  Forces — 
Histdry-^World  War,  1939-1945.  I.  Craven,  Wesley 
Frank,  1905-  .  II.  Cate,  James  Lea,  1899- 
III.  United  States.  Air  Force.  OfBce  of  Air  Force 
History.  IV,  United  States.  Air  Force.  Air  Historical 
Group.  V.  United  States.  USAF  Historical  Division. 
D790.A89  1983  940.54^4973  83-17288 
ISBNO-912799-03-X  (v.  1) 


ii 


FOREWORD 
to  the  New 
Imprint 


IN  March  1942,  President  Franklin  D.  Roosevelt  wrote  to  the 
Director  of  the  Bureau  of  the  Budget  ordering  each  war 
agency  to  prepare  "an  accurate  and  objective  account"  of 
that  agency's  war  experience.  Soon  after,  the  Army  Air  Forces 
began  hiring  professional  historians  so  that  its  history  could,  in  the 
words  of  Brigadier  General  Laurence  Kuter,  "be  recorded  while 
it  is  hot  and  that  personnel  be  selected  and  an  agency  set  up  for 
a  clear  historian's  job  without  axe  to  grind  or  defense  to  prepare." 
An  Historical  Division  was  established  in  Headquarters  Army 
Air  Forces  under  Air  Intelligence,  in  September  1942,  and  the 
modern  Air  Force  historical  program  began. 

With  the  end  of  the  war,  Headquarters  approved  a  plan  for 
writing  and  publishing  a  seven- volume  history.  In  December  1945, 
Lieutenant  General  Ira  C.  Eaker,  Deputy  Commander  of  Army 
Air  Forces,  asked  the  Chancellor  of  the  University  of  Chicago  to 
"assume  the  responsibility  for  the  publication"  of  the  history, 
stressing  that  it  must  "meet  the  highest  academic  standards." 
Lieutenant  Colonel  Wesley  Frank  Craven  of  New  York  University 
and  Major  James  Lea  Cate  of  the  University  of  Chicago,  both  of 
whom  had  been  assigned  to  the  historical  program,  were  selected 
to  be  editors  of  the  volumes.  Between  1948  and  1958  seven  were 
published.  With  publication  of  the  last,  the  editors  wrote  that 
the  Air  Force  had  "fulfilled  in  letter  and  spirit"  the  promise  of 
access  to  documents  and  complete  freedom  of  historical  interpre- 
tation. Like  all  history,  The  Army  Air  Forces  in  World  War  II 
reflects  the  era  when  it  was  conceived,  researched,  and  written. 
The  strategic  bombing  campaigns  received  the  primary  emphasis, 
not  only  because  of  a  widely-shared  belief  in  bombardment's  con- 


tribution  to  victory,  but  also  because  of  its  importance  in  establish- 
ing the  United  States  Air  Force  as  a  military  service  independent 
of  the  Army.  The  huge  investment  of  men  and  machines  and  the 
eflFectiveness  of  the  combined  Anglo-American  bomber  offensive 
against  Germany  had  not  been  subjected  to  the  critical  scrutiny 
they  have  since  received.  Nor,  given  the  personalities  involved  and 
the  immediacy  of  the  events,  did  the  authors  question  some  of  the 
command  arrangements.  In  the  tactical  area,  to  give  another 
example,  the  authors  did  not  doubt  the  effect  of  aerial  interdiction 
on  both  the  German  withdrawal  from  Sicily  and  the  allied  land- 
ings at  Anzio. 

Editors  Craven  and  Gate  insisted  that  the  volumes  present  the 
war  through  the  eyes  of  the  major  commanders,  and  be  based  on 
information  available  to  them  as  important  decisions  were  made. 
At  the  time,  secrecy  still  shrouded  the  Allied  code-breaking  effort. 
While  the  link  between  decoded  message  traffic  and  combat  action 
occasionally  emerges  from  these  pages,  the  authors  lacked  the 
knowledge  to  portray  adequately  the  intelligence  aspects  of  many 
operations,  such  as  the  interdiction  in  1943  of  Axis  supply  lines 
to  Tunisia  and  the  systematic  bombardment,  beginning  in  1944, 
of  the  German  oil  industry. 

All  historical  works  a  generation  old  suffer  such  limitations. 
New  information  and  altered  perspective  inevitably  change  the 
emphasis  of  an  historical  account.  Some  accounts  in  these  volumes 
have  been  superseded  by  subsequent  research  and  other  portions 
will  be  superseded  in  the  future.  However,  these  books  met  the 
highest  of  contemporary  professional  standards  of  quality  and 
comprehensiveness.  They  contain  information  and  experience 
that  are  of  great  value  to  the  Air  Force  today  and  to  the  public. 
Together  they  are  the  only  comprehensive  discussion  of  Army  Air 
Forces  activity  in  the  largest  air  war  this  nation  has  ever  waged. 
Until  we  summon  the  resources  to  take  a  fresh,  comprehensive 
look  at  the  Army  Air  Forces'  experience  in  World  War  II,  these 
seven  volumes  will  continue  to  serve  us  as  well  for  the  next  quarter 
century  as  they  have  for  the  last. 

RICHARD  H.  KOHN 
Chief,  Office  of  Air  Force  History 


iv 


FOREWORD 

*  *  5|C  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 


WITH  the  publication  of  this  fifth  volume  of  The  Army 
Air  Forces  in  World  War  II  the  narrative  of  AAF  com- 
bat operations  is  completed.  The  plan  of  the  series  will  be 
familiar  to  those  readers  w^ho  have  foUow^ed  the  story  in  earlier 
volumes;  for  others  it  may  be  helpful  to  place  the  present  study  in  the 
/  context  of  the  whole  series.  Volume  I  carried  the  story  of  the  AAF, 
both  at  home  and  abroad,  through  the  first  critical  months  of  the  war 
to  the  latter  part  of  1942,  when  it  could  be  said  that  the  Allied  forces 
had  seized  the  initiative  in  accordance  with  agreed-upon  strategy. 
That  strategy  rested  upon  the  assumption  that  there  were  in  fact  two 
wars,  at  least  to  the  extent  of  permitting  the  war  against  the  European 
Axis  to  be  assigned  a  priority  over  that  with  Japan,  and  this  assump- 
tion has  been  taken  by  the  editors  as  warrant  enough  for  a  separate 
treatment  of  AAF  operations  in  Europe  and  against  Japan  after  the 
summer  of  1942.  In  Volumes  II  and  III  the  narrative  of  combat  op- 
42;ratiqps  against  the  European  Axis  was  carried  forward  from  the 
beginning  of  Eighth  Air  Force  bombing  operations  in  August  1942 
to  the  final  collapse  of  Germany.  In  Volumes  I  and  IV  the  fortunes 
of  the  AAF  in  the  Pacific  and  CBI  were  followed  from  the  initial  at- 
tack on  Pearl  Harbor  to  the  summer  of  1944.  Taking  up  the  story 
at  that  point,  the  present  study  provides  a  narrative  of  combat  opera- 
tions against  Japan  to  the  final  victory  in  August  1945.  The  two  re- 
maining volumes  in  the  series  will  be  devoted  to  the  home  front  and 
to  services,  like  that  of  the  Air  Transport  Command,  which  do  not 
readily  fit  into  a  discussion  bound  by  theater  limits. 

At  the  close  of  Volume  IV,  MacArthur's  forces  had  advanced 
along  the  northern  coast  of  New  Guinea  to  Sansapor  and  Admiral 
Nimitz'  central  Pacific  forces  had  recently  seized  the  Marianas, 
where  engineers  promptly  undertook  the  development  of  airfields 
for  use  by  the  B-29's.  A  large  part  of  the  present  volume,  as  would  be 
expected,  is  devoted  to  the  strategic  air  offensive  against  Japan,  an 

V 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 


offensive  opened  by  XX  Bomber  Command  from  Chinese  bases  on 
15  June  1944  and  continued  with  mounting  fury  after  November  by 
XXI  Bomber  Command  from  bases  in  the  Marianas.  But  that  offensive, 
like  the  Combined  Bomber  Offensive  against  Germany,  was  con- 
sidered officially  as  no  more  than  an  adjunct  to  other  plans  for  the 
defeat  of  Japan,  and  it  may  be  well  to  consider  first  the  development 
of  those  other  plans. 

At  the  time  of  the  launching  of  the  B-29  offensive  no  final  plan  for 
the  defeat  of  Japan  had  taken  shape.  Proponents  of  a  strategy  that 
would  advance  MacArthur's  forces  (mainly  Army)  northward  from 
New  Guinea  by  way  of  the  Philippines  toward  Japan  continued  to 
press  vigorously  for  a  decision  that  would  concentrate  U.S.  resources 
upon  this  line  of  attack;  no  less  vigorous  were  the  advocates  of  a 
strategy  that  would  concentrate  on  a  drive,  under  the  leadership  of 
Admiral  Nimitz,  for  the  establishment  of  air  and  sea  bases  on  the 
China  coast  as  a  preliminary  to  the  final  assault  on  the  home  islands. 
By  the  summer  of  1944  the  debate  was  an  old  one  and  had  been  re- 
solved only  to  the  extent  of  an  agreement  by  the  Joint  Chiefs  that 
for  the  time  being  there  was  some  advantage  in  keeping  Japanese 
forces  under  the  pressure  of  a  double  attack.  In  a  directive  of 
12  March  1944  Mac  Arthur  had  been  instructed  to  continue  with 
operations  necessary  to  support  of  an  invasion  by  Nimitz  of  the 
Palaus  on  1 5  September  and  to  land  with  his  own  forces  on  Mindanao 
in  the  southern  Philippines  on  1 5  November.  Depending  upon  subse- 
quent decisions,  Nimitz  would  occupy  Formosa  on  15  February  1945 
or  MacArthur  would  land  on  Luzon  in  a  move  preliminary  to  a  de- 
layed attack  on  Formosa.  The  Joint  Chiefs  again  postponed  a  final 
decision  when  on  8  September  1944  they  approved  plans  for  the 
seizure  of  Leyte  in  the  following  December. 

Meantime,  plans  had  been  laid  by  MacArthur  for  the  capture  of 
Morotai  in  the  Moluccas  as  a  stepping  stone  on  the  way  to  Mindanao 
and  Leyte,  the  timing  of  the  operation  to  coincide  with  Nimitz'  in- 
vasion of  the  Palaus  in  order  that  a  double  advantage  might  be  taken 
of  available  naval  cover.  Kenney's  Far  East  Air  Forces,  which  since 
15  June  had  combined  the  Fifth  and  Thirteenth  Air  Forces,  recipro- 
cated by  collaborating  with  the  Seventh  Air  Force,  which  until  the 
summer  of  1945  would  continue  to  operate  as  a  subordinate  unit  of 
Nimitz'  central  Pacific  command,  in  pre-invasion  bombardment  pre- 
paratory to  both  landing  operations.  The  landings  were  accomplished 

vi 


FOREWORD 


Oil  schedule  at  Morotai  and  Peleliu,  and  engineers  followed  hard  upon 
the  assault  forces  to  make  ready  the  airfields  which  gave  to  the  islands 
their  strategic  significance. 

Such  a  sequence  long  since  had  become  a  familiar  feature  of  island- 
hopping  operations  in  the  Pacific,  but  the  engineers  on  this  occasion 
approached  their  tasks  with  an  unusual  sense  of  urgency.  Admiral 
Halsey,  commanding  the  U.S.  Third  Fleet  in  pre-invasion  strikes,  had 
picked  up  intelligence  indicating  that  Leyte  contained  no  Japanese 
forces.  Moreover,  the  reaction  to  his  attacks  argued  a  general  weak- 
ness of  the  enemy  throughout  the  Philippines.  On  Halsey's  initiative, 
therefore,  it  had  been  decided  to  cancel  a  projected  occupation  by 
Nimitz  of  Yap  and  to  jump  MacArthur's  front  forward  in  one  leap 
from  Morotai  to  Leyte,  with  a  target  date  of  20  October.  The  de- 
cision was  one  of  the  major  gambles  of  the  war.  Even  with  the  rhost 
rapid  develbpment  of  air  facilities  oh  Morotai,  Leyte  would  remain 
beyond  the  range  of  effective  cover  by  Kenney's  air  forces,  still  based 
on  New  Guinea.  The  plan  of  the  Leyte  operation  thus  violated  one  of 
the  cardinal  principles  of  SWPA  strategy:  to  keep  each  forward  move 
within  the  reach  of  land-based  air  forces.  But  Halsey's  estimate  of  the 
enemy's  weakness  in  the  Philippines  was  not  out  of  line  with  SWPA 
assumptions  that  the  Japanese  air  forces  were  in  a  state  of  near- 
collapse,  and  powerful  uilits  of  the  Navy's  carrier  forces  promised 
protection  during  the  interval  before  Itenney  could  get  his  air  gar- 
risons forward.  The  gamble  seemed  to  be  one  worth  taking. 

And  so  it  was,  as  events  proved.  Yet,  the  risk  was  also  proved  to 
have  been  greater  even  than  that  anticipated.  The  report  that  there 
were  no  Japanese  forces  on  Leyte  was  wrong;  actually  the  veteran 
i6th  Division  was  stationed  there.  Other  intelligence  regarding  Leyte, 
intelligence  affecting  plans  for  airfield  development  and  the  build-up 
of  an  air  garrison,  turned  out  to  be  misleading.  The  enemy,  correctly 
anticipating  the  general  plan  of  U.S.  leaders,  was  engaged  in  strength- 
ening his  position  throughout  the  Philippines.  It  was  true  enough  that 
Japanese  air  strength  was  on  the  point  of  collapse,  as  the  desperate 
tactics  of  kamikaze  attacks  soon  made  abundantly  clear,  but  remain- 
ing resources  could  be  and  were  concentrated  on  the  Philippines  to  an 
extent  that  dangerously  belied  Allied  estimates  of  the  situation.  A 
plan  to  concentrate  Japanese  naval  forces  for  all-out  resistance  to  an 
Allied  invasion  of  the  Philippines  rested  upon  the  hope  that  U.S. 
carriers  might  be  decoyed  away  from  the  beachhead  to  permit  its 

vii 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

destruction  by  the  main  force.  And  the  American  naval  forces  which 
carried  the  responsibility  for  protecting  the  beachhead  also  carried 
orders,  thoroughly  consistent  with  naval  doctrine,  that  an  *'oppor- 
tunity  for  destruction  of  major  portions  of  the  enemy  fleet"  would 
become  "the  primary  task." 

The  landings  on  Leyte  were  easily  made.  A  now  extended  experi- 
ence with  pre-invasion  bombardment  by  Allied  naval  and  air  forces 
had  persuaded  the  enemy  to  adopt  the  tactic  of  withdrawing  from  the 
beaches  for  concentration  in  the  interior,  and  Allied  air  operations  for 
isolation  of  the  battle  area  had  been  effective  enough  to  limit  inter- 
ference by  enemy  air  to  sporadic  though  vicious  attacks.  During  the 
weeks  preceding  the  invasion,  FEAF  planes  ranged  widely  over  the 
area  south  of  Leyte  and,  beginning  ten  days  in  advance  of  the  land- 
ing, Halsey's  Task  Force  38  once  more  gave  an  impressive  demonstra- 
tion of  the  carrier's  power  in  destructive  sweeps  of  the  Ryukyus, 
Formosa,  and  Luzon.  Despite  the  sweeps  of  Task  Force  38,  assisted 
by  302  B-29  sorties  against  a  few  selected  air  installations  on  Formosa, 
the  enemy  was  able  to  begin  moving  air  reinforcements  into  Formosa 
and  Luzon  almost  as  the  carriers  withdrew.  And  when  the  naval  en- 
gagements with  the  Japanese  fleet  on  24  and  25  October  drew  off  the 
protecting  forces  at  Leyte,  enemy  air  units  were  in  position  to  punish 
the  beachhead  severely  on  the  afternoon  of  the  24th  and  to  follow 
through  the  next  morning  with  no  less  than  sixteen  attacks  upon  the 
airfield  seized  by  U.S.  assault  troops  on  the  day  of  their  first  landing. 
The  courage  and  daring  of  U.S.  fleet  units,  coupled  with  blunders  by 
the  enemy,  saved  the  beachhead  from  the  intended  assault  by  the  main 
body  of  the  Japanese  fleet,  but  escort  carriers  in  Leyte  waters  had 
spent  themselves  in  desperate  fleet  actions,  and  Halsey's  fast  carriers, 
which  had  been  decoyed  far  to  the  north,  now  had  to  be  withdrawn 
for  replenishment.  The  last  of  the  fast  carrier  groups  departed  on  the 
29th,  almost  a  week  before  FEAF  planes  were  scheduled  to  take  over 
responsibility  for  air  defense  of  the  beachhead. 

Kenney  reacted  promptly  to  emergency  demands  for  help.  Though 
recently  captured  Morotai,  nearest  of  his  bases,  as  yet  possessed  facili- 
ties hardly  equal  to  the  requirements  of  a  single  bombardment  squad- 
ron, he  crowded  substantial  reinforcements  onto  the  island.  Attempts 
to  attack  enemy  fleet  units  completely  miscarried,  but  on  Leyte 
ground  crews  which  had  been  sent  ahead  of  their  planes  labored  night 
and  day  (and  under  repeated  air  attacks)  with  the  engineers  to  lay  the 

viii 


FOREWORD 


Steel  matting  that  permitted  a  force  of  thirty-four  P-38's  to  move  in 
as  the  initial  air  garrison  on  27  October.  The  Navy  having  indicated 
its  inability  to  fulfill  its  original  mission  of  air  defense,  the  job  was 
promptly  given  to  Kenney.  Anxious  days  remained.  Jammed  together 
on  a  single  strip  with  no  provision  for  dispersal  yet  possible,  the  P-38's 
constituted  an  inviting  target  for  enemy  attack.  Between  zy  October 
and  3 1  December  the  enemy  sent  more  than  a  thousand  sorties  against 
Leyte.  The  American  defense  force,  which  by  December  included 
Marine  air  units,  proved  itself  superior  to  the  enemy,  and  losses  in 
combat  were  relatively  small.  But  most  planes  continued  to  be  based 
on  Tacloban,  the  original  field,  where  damaged  aircraft  were  pushed 
into  the  sea  to  make  room  for  reinforcements.  All  Philippine  targets 
had  been  cleared  for  FEAF  attack  on  27  October,  with  instructions 
to  the  Navy  to  coordinate  with  FEAF  before  attacking.  With  both 
heavy  bombardment  groups  of  the  Thirteenth  Air  Force  brought 
forward  to  Morotai  by  mid-November,  FEAF  attacks  on  Philippine 
airfields  began  to  count.  Halsey's  carriers  were  back  by  5  November 
for  heavy  blows,  and  from  its  base  in  the  Palaus  the  Seventh  Air 
Force's  494th  Group  added  weight  to  the  attack.  But  the  enemy  had 
developed  new  skills  in  dispersal,  and  only  with  mid-November  could 
it  be  said  that  U.S.  forces  asserted  a  telling  superiority  in  the  air. 
Meanwhile,  the  enemy  had  reinforced  his  ground  troops  on  Leyte  by 
22,000  men  within  the  first  two  weeks  after  the  U.S.  landing,  and 
other  thousands  would  follow,  though  at  times  without  getting  their 
equipment  ashore.  The  evidence  indicates  that  some  19,000  enemy 
troops  were  on  Leyte  at  the  time  of  our  landing.  At  the  close  of  land 
operations  on  Leyte  in  May  1945,  totals  showed  some  56,000  enemy 
troops  killed  or  captured. 

The  entire  Leyte  operation  is  extremely  complex  and  at  many 
points  debatable.  For  so  long  as  men  study  military  history,  the  opera- 
tion will  retain  a  special  fascination  of  its  own.  The  editors  of  this 
volume  have  gone  into  some  detail  here,  not  so  much  because  of  a 
desire  to  enter  into  a  debate  as  because  of  the  belief  that  the  experi- 
ence at  Leyte,  in  reverse  so  to  speak,  lends  a  special  emphasis  to  the 
principles  on  which  air  operations  had  been  successfully  coordinated 
with  the  advance  of  ground  and  naval  forces  in  the  southwest  Pacific. 
Those  principles  were  grounded  upon  the  assumption  that  air  forces 
must  first  be  in  a  position  to  assert  and  maintain  superiority  in  the 
area  of  battle.  It  had  been  repeatedly  recognized,  as  at  Hollandia  in 

ix 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


New  Guinea,  that  carrier-based  air  power  could  extend  the  reach  of 
amphibious  operations  and  safely  so,  provided  land-based  air  power 
was  in  a  position  to  take  over  promptly  the  primary  responsibility. 
The  advantage  belonging  to  land-based  air  power  obviously  was  its 
staying  power:  the  capacity  to  stay  there  and  fight  it  out  for  what- 
ever term  might  be  necessary  to  maintain  air  superiority  and  to  do 
this  without  reference  to  any  other  competing  obligation. 

Fortunately,  the  U.S.  command,  given  time,  had  more  than  enough 
resources  to  make  good  the  gamble  at  Leyte.  Fortunately,  top,  leaders 
showed  a  continued  willingness  to  gamble  on  the  declining  power  of 
the  enemy  by  adhering  to  a  stepped-up  timetable  of  operations.  The 
Joint  Chiefs  in  October  finally  had  resolved  the  question  of  an  inter- 
mediate strategic  objective  by  agreeing  that  MacArthur  should  ad- 
vance by  way  of  Mindoro  to  Luzon  on  20  December  and  stand  ready 
to  support  Nimitz  in  a  later  occupation  of  Okinawa,  which  at  Nimitz' 
suggestion  had  been  chosen  in  lieu  of  Formosa.  Mindoro,  which  was 
to  serve  as  an  advanced  air  base  for  cover  of  the  landings  at  Luzon, 
was  scheduled  for  5  December.  Disappointing  delays  in  the  develop- 
ment of  airfields  on  Leyte  threatened  the  plan,  for  without  a  greatly 
increased  capacity  there  Kenney  would  be  unable  to  cover  Luzon 
for  the  Mindoro  operation.  Happily,  a  rescheduling  of  Mindoro  for 
15  December  and  postponement  of  Luzon  to  9  January  1945  made  it 
possible  for  Halsey's  carriers  to  cover  Luzon  while  FEAF  concen- 
trated on  the  southern  Philippines  and  protected  the  convoy  en  route 
to  Mindoro.  The  convoys  had  a  rough  time  of  it,  even  though  Kenney 
had  stripped  Leyte  of  air  defense  to  provide  a  cover;  but  the  schedule 
was  kept  and,  with  the  protection  of  Mindoro-based  planes  and  the 
assistance  once  more  of  the  carriers,  MacArthur  reached  the  Lingayen 
beaches  on  time. 

In  the  rapid  development  of  the  Philippine  campaign,  during  which 
U.S.  forces  not  only  overran  Luzon  but  in  a  series  of  brilliantly  exe- 
cuted operations  retook  the  whole  of  the  Philippine  archipelago  by 
the  summer  of  1945,  AAF  forces  demonstrated  an  extraordinary  ver- 
satility both  in  the  fulfillment  of  primary  responsibilities  and  in  the 
support  of  other  services.  As  expanding  facilities  on  Morotai  and 
Mindoro  and  the  capture  of  airfields  in  the  Philippines  made  possible 
the  forward  staging  of  FEAF  strength,  Kenney 's  ''boys"  gave  re- 
peated demonstfation  of  the  full  meaning  of  air  supremacy.  If  the 
relative  ease  with  which  they  asserted  and  maintained  that  supremacy 

X 


FOREWORD 


bespoke  the  advantage  gained  from  an  earlier  victory  over  the  enemy 
air  forces  in  the  battles  of  New  Guinea  and  the  Solomons,  the  fact 
takes  nothing  from  the  evidence  of  skills  which  had  been  well  de- 
veloped. Only  in  the  direct  support  of  ground  troops  in  a  land  cam- 
paign of  the  magnitude  developed  on  Luzon  did  AAF  crews  face  a 
task  for  which  they  had  limited  experience,  and  even  here  their  sup- 
port more  than  met  the  test  of  battle. 

In  the  Philippines,  as  earlier  in  New  Guinea,  AAF  planes  struck 
ahead  of  land  and  amphibious  forces  to  clear  the  way,  protected  con- 
voys and  other  troop  movements,  delivered  by  air  emergency  sup- 
plies and  paratroopers,  kept  enemy  air  beaten  down  on  fields  far  and 
near,  joined  with  naval  forces  to  deny  the  enemy  opportunity  to  re- 
inforce his  positions,  maintained  daily  patterns  of  search  covering 
thousands  of  miles  for  the  intelligence  of  all  services,  and  withal  kept 
the  flexibility  necessary  to  meet  emergency  demands.  In  addition  to 
commitments  to  the  fighting  in  the  Philippines,  FEAF  shared  in  the 
increasingly  successful  effort  by  U.S.  submarines  to  cut  the  sea  com- 
munications joining  Japan  to  the  southern  parts  of  its  Empire,  found 
the  reserve  strength  to  assist  the  Australians  in  the  reconquest  of 
Borneo,  and  assumed  responsibility  for  the  neutralization  of  Formosa, 
a  key  enemy  base  that  acquired  special  significance  with  the  U.S. 
landing  on  Okinawa  in  April  1945.  When  kamikaze  attacks  seriously 
endangered  U.S.  naval  forces  supporting  the  Okinawa  operation, 
some  disagreement  developed  between  naval  and  air  leaders  as  to  the 
source  of  these  attacks.  Having  reason  to  believe  that  its  pre-invasion 
bombardment  of  Formosa  had  reduced  enemy  air  there  to  a  state  of 
impotency,  FEAF  argued  that  the  attacks  came  from  Kyushu,  as 
postwar  evidence  indicates  most  of  them  did;  the  Navy  suspected  that 
most  of  them  came  from  Formosa,  as  indeed  perhaps  20  per  cent  of 
the  attacks  did.  Though  loath  to  waste  any  effort  needed  elsewhere, 
FEAF  repeatedly  stepped  up  its  continuing  operations  against  For- 
mosa air  installations  in  response  to  urgent  appeals  from  the  Navy.  It 
was  difficult,  however,  to  cope  with  a  well  conceived  program  of 
dispersal  that  was  implemented  on  a  much  larger  scale  and  with  far 
more  determination  than  was  at  any  time  suspected  by  FEAF  in- 
telligence. And  even  had  the  intelligence  been  more  accurate,  it  is 
doubtful  that  any  of  the  conventional  forms  of  air  attack  could  have 
accomplished  more  than  some  reduction  of  the  enemy  effort.  In 
retrospect,  perhaps  the  kamikaze  form  of  attack  will  serve  chiefly  to 


xi 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

remind  us  that  air  supremacy  can  never  be  conceived  of  as  an  abso- 
lute. 

When  the  war  ended,  AAF  units  flying  from  the  hard-won  bases 
of  Okinawa  had  already  brought  Kyushu,  southernmost  of  the  ene- 
my's home  islands,  under  an  attack  preparatory  to  a  scheduled  am- 
phibious landing  in  the  following  November.  Earlier  assumptions  that 
the  establishment  of  some  lodgment  on  the  Chinese  mainland  would 
be  a  necessary  preliminary  to  the  final  assault  on  Japan  had  been 
abandoned.  Difficulties  arising  from  the  question  of  command,  which 
in  the  Pacific  often  had  complicated  the  problem  of  agreement  on 
strategy,  had  been  resolved  by  a  decision  that  MacArthur  would 
command  all  Army,  and  Nimitz  all  naval,  forces,  with  dependence 
upon  the  principle  of  cooperation  in  joint  actions.  FEAF,  enlarged 
by  the  addition  of  the  Seventh  Air  Force  redeployed  to  Okinawa, 
continued  to  serve  as  MacArthur's  air  command.  A  new  air  com- 
mand, the  United  States  Army  Strategic  Air  Forces  in  the  Pacific 
(USASTAF) ,  would  control  the  Twentieth  Air  Force  and  the  Eighth 
Air  Force  when  redeployed  from  ETO  to  Okinawa. 

The  decision  to  mount  the  invasion  of  Japan  from  island  bases  with- 
out benefit  of  a  lodgment  on  the  east  China  coast  meant  that  the  war 
would  end,  as  it  had  been  waged  throughout,  with  no  real  connection 
between  the  Pacific  theaters  and  China-Burma-India.  In  the  latter 
theater  problems  of  strategy  and  command  had  been  even  more  diffi- 
cult of  solution  than  in  the  Pacific,  being  rooted  in  the  divergent  in- 
terests of  the  three  Allied  nations  and  made  bitter  by  the  personal 
animosities  of  some  leaders.  China-Burma-India,  lying  at  the  extreme 
end  of  the  supply  line  from  America,  was  accorded  a  very  low  pri- 
ority, and  geographical  factors  within  the  theater  made  it  difficult  to 
use  the  bulk  of  the  resources  in  combat:  most  of  the  tonnage  available 
was  spent  merely  in  getting  munitions  to  the  various  fronts.  There 
were  few  U.S.  ground  forces  in  CBI,  most  of  the  troops  being  air  or 
service  forces  whose  mission  was  to  see  that  a  line  of  communication 
was  preserved  whereby  China  could  be  kept  in  the  war. 

The  Tenth  Air  Force,  having  earlier  protected  the  southern  end 
of  the  Assam-Kunming  air  route  that  was  long  the  only  connection 
between  China  and  U.S.  supply  bases  in  India,  was  committed  in  mid- 
1944  to  a  campaign  in  northern  Burma  whose  dual  objective  was  to 
open  a  trace  for  the  Ledo  Road  into  China  and  to  secure  bases  for  a 

xii 


FOREWORD 


more  economical  air  route  over  the  Hump.  By  that  time  Allied  air 
forces,  combined  in  the  Eastern  Air  Command,  had  control  of  the 
skies  over  Burma;  they  helped  isolate  the  strategic  tov^^n  of  Myitkyina, 
supplied  by  airlift  the  ground  forces  conducting  the  siege,  and  ren- 
dered close  support  in  the  protracted  battle  that  dragged  on  from 
May  to  August.  After  the  fall  of  Myitkyina,  the  Tenth  Air  Force 
participated  in  the  drive  southward  to  Rangoon,  a  campaign  that 
would  seem  to  have  borne  little  relation  to  the  primary  American 
mission.  In  both  air  support  and  air  supply  the  Tenth  showed  skill 
and  flexibility,  but  these  operations  absorbed  resources  that  might 
have  accomplished  more  significant  results  in  China.  After  the  Burma 
campaign  EAC  was  dissolved  in  belated  recognition  of  differing  in- 
terests of  the  Americans  and  British,  and  at  the  end  of  the  war  the 
Tenth  was  moving  into  China  to  unite  with  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force. 

That  force,  ably  commanded  by  Maj.  Gen.  Claire  E.  Chennault, 
had  developed  tactics  so  effective  that  its  planes  had  been  able  to  sup- 
port Chinese  ground  forces  and  strike  at  shipping  through  advanced 
bases  in  east  China  while  giving  protection  to  the  northern  end  of  the 
Hump  route.  Chennault  believed  that  if  his  force  and  the  airlift  upon 
which  it  depended  could  be  built  up,  air  power  could  play  a  decisive 
role  in  ejecting  the  Japanese  from  China.  The  promised  build-up 
came  too  slowly.  In  the  spring  of  1944  the  Japanese  started  a  series  of 
drives  which  gave  them  a  land  line  of  communication  from  north 
China  to  French  Indo-China,  a  real  need  in  view  of  the  insecurity  of 
their  sea  routes,  and  the  drives  in  time  isolated,  then  overran,  the  east- 
ern airfields  which  had  been  the  key  to  much  of  Chennault's  success. 
In  the  emergency,  a  larger  share  of  Hump  tonnage  was  allocated  to 
the  Fourteenth  and  totals  delivered  at  Kunming  by  ATC  grew  each 
month,  dwarfing  the  tiny  trickle  of  supplies  that  came  over  the  Ledo 
Road.  Chennault  received  too  some  additional  combat  units,  but  the 
time  lag  between  allocation  of  resources  and  availability  at  the  front 
was  fatal.  Different  views  of  strategy  and  personal  disagreements  be- 
tween Chennault  and  Chiang  Kai-shek  on  the  one  side  and  Lt.  Gen. 
Joseph  W.  Stilwell,  the  theater  commander,  on  the  other  resulted  in 
the  relief  of  Stilwell  and  the  division  of  CBI  into  two  theaters,  India- 
Burma  and  China,  with  Lt.  Gen.  Albert  C,  Wedemeyer  commanding 
the  latter.  Heroic  efforts  by  air,  including  mass  movements  of  Chinese 
ground  forces  by  plane,  prevented  the  Japanese  from  overrunning  all 

xiii 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

China.  In  the  last  months  of  the  war  the  combined  Fourteenth  and 
Tenth  Air  Forces  were  preparing  for  a  final  offensive,  but  the  sur- 
render came  before  this  could  be  developed. 

The  command  system  in  CBI  and  logistical  problems  as  well  were 
made  more  complicated  by  the  deployment  in  that  theater  of  XX 
Bomber  Command,  an  organization  equipped  with  B-29  bombers  and 
dedicated  to  a  doctrine  of  strategic  bombardment.  The  plane,  an  un- 
tried weapon  rated  as  a  very  heavy  bomber,  had  been  developed  dur- 
ing the  expansion  of  the  Air  Corps  that  began  in  1939,  and  its  combat 
readiness  in  the  spring  of  1944  had  been  made  possible  only  by  the  Air 
Staff's  willingness  to  gamble  on  short-cuts  in  testing  and  procurement. 
The  bomber  command,  which  resembled  in  many  respects  an  air 
force  rather  than  a  command,  had  also  been  put  together  in  a  hurry, 
and  the  mission  in  CBI  was  conceived  both  as  a  shakedown  for  plane 
and  organization  and  as  an  attack  on  Japanese  industry.  Early  plans 
had  contemplated  using  the  B-29  against  Germany,  but  by  the  sum- 
mer of  1943  thoughts  had  turned  to  its  employment  against  Japan. 
The  prospect  that  some  time  would  elapse  before  appropriate  bases 
in  the  Pacific  could  be  seized  plus  the  desire  to  bolster  the  flagging 
Chinese  resistance  to  Japan,  a  need  in  which  President  Roosevelt  had 
an  active  interest,  led  to  a  decision  to  base  the  first  B-29  units  in  CBI. 
The  plan  looked  forward  also  to  VHB  operations  from  the  Marianas, 
where  U.S.  Marines  landed  on  the  same  day  that  XX  Bomber  Com- 
mand flew  its  first  mission  against  Japan. 

To  insure  flexible  employment  of  a  plane  whose  range  might  carry 
it  beyond  existing  theater  limits,  the  JCS  established  the  Twentieth 
Air  Force  under  their  own  control  with  Arnold  as  **executive  agent." 
Theater  commanders  in  whose  areas  B-29  ^^^^^  operated  would  be 
charged  with  logistical  and  administrative  responsibilities,  but  opera- 
tional control  would  remain  in  the  Washington  headquarters.  This 
system  of  divided  responsibilities  found  its  severest  test  in  CBI  where 
the  command  system  was  already  confused  and  where  the  dependence 
on  air  transport  led  to  fierce  competition  for  all  supplies  laid  down 
in  China. 

Operational  plans  (MATTERHORN)  for  XX  Bomber  Command 
involved  the  use  of  permanent  bases  at  Kharagpur  near  Calcutta  and 
of  staging  fields  near  Chengtu  in  China,  within  B-29  radius  of  Kyushu 
and  Manchuria  but  not  of  Honshu.  Supplies  for  the  missions  were  to 
be  carried  forward  to  Chengtu  by  the  B-29's  and  by  transport  planes 

xiv 


FOREWORD 


assigned  to  the  command.  Delays  in  the  overseas  movement  of  the 
B-29's  and  in  airfield  construction  held  up  combat  operations,  the 
first  regular  mission  being  sent  against  Yawata  on  15  June. 

The  earliest  target  directives  gave  precedence  to  the  steel  industry, 
to  be  attacked  through  bombing  coke  ovens.  This  target  system  was 
basic  to  the  whole  Japanese  war  effort  and  it  had  the  tactical  advantage 
of  lying  within  range  of  the  Chengtu  bases.  Little  damage  was  done  in 
Japan  proper,  but  a  few  missions  against  Manchurian  objectives  were 
more  effective  than  was  then  realized.  From  the  beginning,  operations 
were  strictly  limited  by  the  difficulty  of  hauling  supplies,  especially 
fuel  and  bombs,  to  the  forward  bases.  It  was  impossible  for  XX 
Bomber  Command  to  support  a  sustained  bombardment  program  by 
its  own  transport  efforts,  and  the  Japanese  offensive  in  east  China 
which  began  just  before  the  B-29  missions  prohibited  any  levy  on 
normal  theater  resources,  When  the  B-29's  were  assigned  a  secondary 
mission  of  indirect  support  of  Pacific  operations,  logistical  aid  was 
furnished  in  the  form  of  additional  transport  planes  which  were  first 
operated  by  the  command,  then  turned  over,  to  ATC  in  return  for  a 
flat  guarantee  of  tonnage  hauled  to  China. 

Because  support  of  Pacific  operations  was  designed  to  prevent  the 
enemy  from  reinforcing  his  air  garrison  during  the  invasion  of  the 
Philippines,  XX  Bomber  Command  shifted  its  attention  to  aircraft 
factories,  repair  shops,  and  staging  bases  in  Formosa,  and  factories  in 
Kyushu  and  Manchuria.  This  shift  from  steel,  considered  a  long-term 
objective,  to  aircraft  installations  reflected  recent  decisions  to  speed 
up  the  war  against  Japan.  Attacks  against  the  newly  designated  tar- 
gets, begun  in  October,  were  moderately  successful,  but  a  new  Japa- 
nese drive  lent  urgency  to  the  need  for  additional  logistical  support 
for  ground  and  tactical  air  forces  in  China;  consequently,  at  the  re- 
quest of  General  Wedemeyer,  the  command  abandoned  its  Chengtu 
bases  in  mid- January  1945. 

Earlier,  the  B-29's  had  run  a  number  of  training  missions  in  south- 
east Asia  and  one  strike,  from  a  staging  field  that  had  been  built  in 
Ceylon,  against  the  great  oil  refinery  at  Palembang  in  Sumatra;  now 
the  giant  bombers  continued  with  attacks  against  Burma,  Thailand, 
Indd-China,  and  Malaya.  Strategic  targets,  as  defined  by  the  Twen- 
tieth Air  Force,  were  lacking,  and  though  some  important  damage  was 
done  to  the  docks  at  Singapore,  operations  had  taken  on  an  air  of 
anticliinax  long  before  the  last  mission  was  staged  on  30  March,  At 

XV 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

that  time  the  command  was  in  the  midst  of  the  last  and  most  sweeping 
of  a  series  of  reorganizations:  the  58th  Bombardment  Wing  (VH), 
its  only  combat  unit,  was  sent  to  Tinian  where  it  became  part  of  XXI 
Bomber  Command,  while  the  headquarters  organization  went  to  Oki- 
nawa to  be  absorbed  by  the  Eighth  Air  Force. 

Measured  by  its  effects  on  the  enemy's  ability  to  wage  war,  the 
MATTERHORN  venture  was  not  a  success.  For  want  of  a  better 
base  area  it  had  been  committed  to  a  theater  where  it  faced  a  fantasti- 
cally difficult  supply  problem.  Something  of  the  difficulty  had  been 
realized  in  advance,  but  the  AAF's  fondness  for  the  concept  of  a  self- 
sufficient  air  task  force  had  perhaps  lent  more  optimism  to  the  plan 
than  it  deserved.  Certainly  the  desire  to  improve  Chinese  morale  was 
a  powerful  argument,  and  here  there  may  have  been  some  success, 
though  it  would  be  difficult  to  prove.  Powerful  also  was  the  desire  of 
AAF  Headquarters  to  use  the  B-29  for  its  intended  purpose,  very 
long-range  attacks  against  the  Japanese  home  islands,  and  in  justice 
to  that  view  it  must  be  noted  that  the  planners  from  the  beginning 
expected  to  move  the  force  to  island  bases  when  they  were  available, 
just  as  was  done.  As  an  experiment  with  a  new  and  complex  weapon, 
MATTERHORN  served  its  purpose  well:  the  plane  was  proved, 
not  without  many  a  trouble,  under  severest  field  conditions;  tactics 
were  modified  and  the  organization  of  tactical  units  streamlined.  The 
lessons  learned  were  of  great  value  to  XXI  Bomber  Command,  but  the 
necessary  shakedown  might  have  been  accomplished  at  less  expense 
elsewhere,  perhaps  in  the  southwest  Pacific.  At  any  rate,  the  editors 
find  no  difficulty  in  agreeing  with  USSBS  that  logistical  support  af- 
forded to  XX  Bomber  Command  in  China  would  have  produced 
more  immediate  results  if  allocated  to  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force, 
though  it  seems  dubious  that  the  alternate  policy  would  have  made 
for  an  earlier  victory  over  Japan. 

In  his  remarkable  fictional  account  of  a  future  American-Japanese 
war,  published  in  1925,*  Hector  Bywater  referred  to  a  news  dispatch 
describing 

American  preparations  to  recover  Guam  by  a  sudden  attack  in  overwhelming 
strength,  this  being  but  the  first  move  in  a  great  offensive  campaign  which  was 
to  be  carried  on  with  the  utmost  vigour  until  the  Philippines  were  again  in 
American  hands.  Further,  it  was  hinted  that  the  war  would  then  be  carried  to 
the  coasts  of  Japan  proper,  and  allusions  were  made  to  the  gigantic  fleet  of  air- 

*  Hector  Bywater,  The  Great  Pacific  War:  a  History  of  the  American  Japanese 
Campaign  of  i $31-1^33  (2d  ed.;  Boston,  1932),  p.  244. 

xvi 


FOREWORD 


craft  which  was  building  for  the  express  purpose  of  laying  waste  to  Tokyo  and 
other  great  Japanese  cities  when  the  Americans  had  secured  a  base  within 
striking  distance. 

Written  two  decades  in  advance,  this  proved  to  be  an  uncannily 
shrewd  forecast  of  plans  for  the  real  war  as  they  developed  from  the 
spring  of  1944.  First  Saipan,  then  Tinian  and  Guam,  were  seized  by 
Nimitz'  forces  for  the  primary  purpose  of  serving  as  bases  for  VLR 
bombers,  and  while  the  Philippines  were  being  secured,  airfields  were 
built  in  the  Marianas  and  the  bombardment  of  Japan  was  begun.  Base 
development  in  the  Marianas  was  delayed  by  the  prolonged  resistance 
of  the  Japanese  garrisons,  by  competition  for  priorities  with  the  Navy, 
and  by  fluctuations  in  deployment  plans*  However,  minimum  facili- 
ties were  available  to  accommodate  the  73d  Bombardment  Wing 
(VH)  when  its  B-29's  began  to  arrive  at  Isley  Field  on  Saipan  in 
October,  and  to  receive  each  of  the  succeeding  wings— the  313th 
(Tinian),  314th  (Guam),  58th  (Tinian),  and  315th  (Guam).  The 
schedule  was  met  only  by  the  unprecedented  device  of  basing  each 
wing  on  a  single  field,  all  served  by  a  depot  field  at  Guam,  which  was 
also  the  site  of  the  several  headquarters  connected  with  the  B-29  proj- 
ect—XXI  Bomber  Command,  AAFPOA,  and  after  July  1945  the 
Twentieth  Air  Force  and  USASTAF. 

Much  of  the  credit  for  securing  adequate  priorities  for  B-29  build- 
ing programs  that  frequently  ran  counter  to  Navy  demands  in  a  Navy 
theater  is  due  Lt.  Gen.  Millard  F.  Harmon,  who  became  commander 
of  AAFPOA  upon  its  activation  on  i  August  1944.  That  headquarters 
was  established  primarily  to  centralize,  under  Nimitz,  logistical  and 
administrative  responsibility  for  all  AAF  forces  in  the  central  P^icific. 
The  maintenance  and  repair  system  for  B-29's  in  the  Marianas  de- 
veloped great  efficiency,  while  supply  problems  never  affected  opera- 
tions as  seriously  as  they  had  in  the  CBI:  the  one  major  crisis  was 
caused  by  a  threatened  shortage  of  incendiary  bombs  that  actually 
failed  to  materialize.  Harmon,  as  commander  of  Task  Force  93,  had 
operational  control  of  all  land-based  planes  in  the  theater.  Navy  and 
Marine  as  well  as  Seventh  Air  Force  units  reinforced  by  VLR  fighter 
groups.  As  deputy  commander  of  the  Twentieth  Air  Force  he  was 
responsible  for  coordinating  B-29  operations  with  other  theater  ac- 
tivities, and  he  himself  was  inclined  to  interpret  that  duty  to  mean 
virtual  control  of  all  B-29  operations.  This  interpretation  Arnold's 
office  refused  to  accept,  maintaining  its  direct  control  over  the  com- 

xvii 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


manding  general  of  XXI  Bomber  Command,  to  whom  was  accorded 
a  considerable  latitude  in  the  fulfillment  of  directives.  In  July  1945, 
as  a  part  of  the  general  reorganization  of  U.S.  forces  in  preparation 
for  the  invasion  of  Japan,  a  new  headquarters,  United  States  Army- 
Strategic  Air  Forces,  was  established  at  Guam  under  Gen.  Carl  Spaatz, 
its  constituent  air  forces  being  the  Twentieth  (formerly  XXI  Bomber 
Command)  and  the  Eighth,  now  converting  to  a  VHB  organization 
in  the  Ryukyus, 

The  B-29  assault  began  on  24  November  1944  with  a  strike  against 
Nakajima's  Musashino  aircraft  plant  at  Tokyo,  a  target  chosen  ac- 
cording to  current  directives  which  gave  precedence  to  aircraft  en- 
gine and  assembly  plants  in  that  order.  For  the  next  three  and  a  half 
months  most  of  the  missions  were  directed  against  such  targets,  with 
Musashino  and  the  even  more  important  Mitsubishi  complex  at  Na- 
goya  bearing  the  brunt  of  the  attacks.  High-level  precision  tactics 
were  used,  but  with  cloudy  weather  generally  prevailing  bombing  ac- 
curacy was  not  up  to  expectations;  damage  was  in  most  cases  negligi- 
ble to  moderate,  but  the  threat  of  more  effective  attacks  forced  the 
Japanese  into  a  badly  planned  dispersal  program  which  materially  re- 
duced the  output  of  engines  and  planes.  Although  in  this  period,  as 
throughout  the  rest  of  the  war,  weather  constituted  the  most  serious 
obstacle  to  successful  operations,  some  of  the  difficulties  were  those 
commonly  associated  with  the  breaking-in  of  a  new  air  force  under 
arduous  combat  conditions;  it  was  a  tribute  to  the  leadership  of  first 
Brig.  Gen.  Haywood  S.  Hansell,  Jr.,  then  Maj;  Gen.  Curtis  E.  LeMay, 
that  the  period  of  adjustment  was  so  brief. 

Losses  were  relatively  heavy,  both  those  inflicted  by  recently  rein- 
forced defenses  in  Japan  and  the  operational  losses  incident  to  the 
long  overwater  flight  to  Japan  and  return.  The  Japanese  were  also 
able  to  destroy  some  B-29's  on  the  ground  at  Saipan  by  staging  down 
through  Iwo  Jima  in  small  raids  that  were  annoying  if  not  actually 
dangerous  to  the  strategic  campaign.  Iwo  Jima  and  its  neighboring  is- 
lands of  the  Nampo  Shoto  had  been  under  attack  since  August  by 
AAFPOA  B-24's  as  a  part  of  a  general  program  of  interdiction,  but 
neither  these  attacks  nor  those  occasionally  delivered  by  B-29's  and 
surface  ships  were  sufficient  to  keep  the  air  strips  out  of  use.  Iwo  Jima, 
directly  along  the  route  to  Honshu,  was  also  a  menace  to  B-29's  in 
their  missions  northward,  but  in  American  hands  the  island  could  be 
developed  into  an  emergency  landing  place,  an  advanced  staging  area, 

xviii 


FOREWORD 


a  base  for  VLR  escort  fighters,  and  an  air-sea  rescue  station.  These 
were  the  motives  that  led  to  the  seizure  of  Iwo  in  a  bitter  struggle 
that  began  on  19  February  and  was  finished  only  on  26  March.  Pre- 
liminary bombardment  by  aircraft  and  surface  ships  failed  to  knock 
out  the  island's  underground  strongpoints,  and  the  skilful  and  fanati- 
cal resistance  of  the  enemy  took  heavy  toll  of  the  Marine  invaders. 
The  unexpectedly  long  struggle  delayed  the  development  of  airfields, 
though  one  Japanese  strip  was  rapidly  overrun  and  rehabilitated  for 
use  of  AAFPOA's  fighters,  which  flew  in  to  lend  ground  support  to 
the  Marines.  Base  development,  still  unfinished  at  the  end  of  the  war, 
turned  the  island  into  a  complex  of  fighter  and  bomber  strips.  The 
fighters  were  used  as  escorts  less  frequently  than  had  been  expected, 
since  waning  enemy  strength  and  a  turn  to  night  missions  cut  B-29 
losses,  but  the  fighters  helped  police  the  other  Bonin  Islands  and  made 
offensive  sweeps  over  Japan.  The  use  of  Iwo  as  a  staging  base  was 
less  frequent  than  had  been  anticipated,  also.  As  an  emergency  land- 
ing field,  however,  the  island  fully  lived  up  to  expectations;  about 
2,400  B-29's  made  unscheduled  landings  there  and  the  crews  saved 
thereby,  and  in  the  improved  air-sea  rescue  service  made  possible  by 
possession  of  Iwo,  perhaps  balanced  the  number  of  casualties  suflFered 
during  its  capture. 

On  9  March  XXI  Bomber  Command  began  a  series  of  incendiary 
attacks  against  urban  areas  that  profoundly  changed  the  nature  of  the 
strategic  bombardment  campaign.  In  spite  of  a  general  bias  in  favor 
of  precision  techniques,  Twentieth  Air  Force  headquarters  had  from 
the  first  been  interested  in  the  possibilities  of  incendiary  attacks 
against  the  crowded  and  inflammable  cities  of  Japan,  and  a  few  staflf 
members  in  Washington  and  in  the  field  believed  that  such  raids,  con- 
ducted at  night,  would  be  far  more  destructive  than  conventional 
precision  tactics.  Early  test  raids  were  inconclusive  (though  a  daylight 
incendiary  raid  on  Hankow  in  China  by  Chengtu-based  B-29's  was 
highly  successful),  but  under  directives  from  Washington  other  at- 
tempts were  made  early  in  1945  which  aflforded  more  positive  evi- 
dence. The  tactics  finally  adopted  by  LeMay  involved  low-level  night 
attacks  with  a  heavy  concentration  of  incendiaries  of  mixed  types. 
The  low  approach  and  the  partial  stripping  of  defensive  armament 
allowed  a  great  increase  in  bomb  load,  but  those  measures  were  con- 
sidered by  some  as  adding  gravely  to  the  danger  from  Japanese  de- 
fenses. Fortunately  the  new  tactics  did  not  result  in  heavy  losses,  and 


XIX 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


offensively  they  proved  extraordinarily  successful.  The  first  attack, 
against  Tokyo,  burned  out  15.8  square  miles  of  the  city,  killed  83,793 
people,  and  injured  40,918,  being  perhaps  the  most  scathing  air  attack 
of  the  whole  war.  In  rapid  succession  Nagoya,  Osaka,  Kobe,  and  again 
Nagoya  were  hit  in  a  ten-day  fire  blitz  that  destroyed  over  thirty-one 
square  miles  while  the  command  was  perfecting  its  new  tactics. 

The  invasion  of  Okinawa  on  i  April  and  the  energy's  wholesale  use 
thereafter  of  kamikaze  attacks  against  the  assaulting'  fleet  interrupted 
the  strategic  bombardment  campaign;  for  over  a  month  the  B-29's 
were  sent  against  airfields  in  Kyushu,  the  source  of  most  of  the  kami- 
kaze attacks,  in  the  only  serious  diversion  to  tactical  operations  suf- 
fered by  XXI  Bomber  Command.  That  assignment  completed,  the 
Superforts  returned  to  their  primary  task  with  a  flexible  program,  the 
so-called  * 'Empire  Plan/'  in  which  the  choice  between  daylight  at- 
tacks on  precision  targets  and  radar  or  night  bombing  of  urban  areas 
was  determined  by  the  weather.  In  May  and  June,  the  six  largest  in- 
dustrial cities  were  finished  off  as  profitable  targets  and  the  attack 
then  turned  to  medium-sized  towns,  of  which  fifty-eight  were 
bombed  with  incendiaries.  In  all,  counting  the  2  hit  by  atom  bombs, 
66  cities  suffered  area  attacks  which  burned  out  a  total  of  178 
square  miles.  In  the  meantime,  precision  attacks  against  individual 
targets  were  scheduled  for  clear  days.  Targets  were  largely  those 
which  seemed  to  bear  an  immediate  rather  than  a  long-term  effect  on 
Japan's  ability  to  resist:  aircraft  factories,  oil  refineries,  arsenals,  light 
metals  works,  and  other  industrial  plants.  In  an  effort  to  increase  bomb 
loads  and  accuracy,  the  B-29's  now  went  in  at  altitudes  much  lower 
than  in  the  earlier  daylight  missions  and  this  change  in  tactics  paid 
off  without  any  great  increase  in  losses.  In  fact,  during  the  last  weeks 
of  the  war  B-29  losses  fell  to  a  negligible  rate.  Air  battles  during  the 
earlier  campaigns  had  killed  off  the  best  of  the  Japanese  pilots  and  re- 
placements from  an  inadequate  training  program  were  no  match  for 
U.S.  crews.  Aircraft  production  had  been  seriously  hurt  by  the  B-29 
attacks  and  although  the  Japanese  still  had  thousands  of  planes,  they 
tended  to  hoard  these  and  their  dwindling  fuel  stocks  to  use  in  kami- 
kaze attacks  against  the  anticipated  invasion,  so  that  they  seldom  rose 
in  force  to  challenge  the  VHB  formations.  It  was  LeMay's  belief  that 
by  driving  his  crews— relatively  less  plentiful  than  bombers  and  less 
easily  replaced— he  could  force  a  surrender  before  the  invasion  was 
launched,  and  to  that  end  he  built  up  to  a  furious  pace  of  operations 

XX 


FOREWORD 


that  in  time  would  have  exhausted  his  flyers,  but  again  his  calculated 
risk  paid  off. 

The  B-29*s  participated  in  two  types  of  operations  that  demanded 
specialized  training  and  tactics.  One  was  a  campaign  against  oil  re- 
fineries by  the  315th  Wing,  equipped  with  an  improved  radar 
(AN/APQ-7)  mounted  in  stripped-down  B-29's.  Bombing  wholly  at 
night,  the  winjg  achieved  a  remarkable  degree  of  accuracy,  destroying 
or  heavily  damaging  Japan's  ten  largest  petroleum  or  synthetic  oil 
plants  and  much  of  the  nation's  storage  capacity.  These  attacks  began 
late  in  the  war,  on  26  June,  and  although  successful  in  wiping  out 
most  of  the  enemy's  refining  potential,  they  were  not  particularly 
important  as  the  blockade  had  long  since  created  an  excess  of  plant 
capacity.  To  that  blockade  the  B-29's  had  contributed  generously  in 
a  program  of  aerial  mining  begun  late  in  March  by  the  313th  Wing, 
which  expended  by  V-J  Day  12,053  ^  2,000-  and  1,000-pound  mines. 
As  Allied  submarines  and  aircraft  had  cut  off  one  convoy  route  after 
another,  the  importance  of  the  relatively  safe  Inland  Sea  routes  was 
enhanced.  The  chief  target  for  the  3 1 3th  Wing  was  the  Shimonoseki 
Strait,  through  which  80  per  cent  of  the  Japanese  merchant  marine 
traffic  passed.  Other  objectives  included  sealing  off  the  ports  in  the 
Tokyo  and  Nagoya  areas  (no  longer  of  prime  importance),  those 
within  the  Inland  Sea,  and  the  smaller  harbors  of  the  west  that  were 
in  contact  with  Manchuria  and  Korea.  The  campaign  had  as  twin  ob- 
jectives interdiction  and  attrition.  It  was  impossible  wholly  to  choke 
off  trafiic  in  the  target  areas,  since  the  Japanese  could  usually  open  a 
passage  within  a  few  days  after  a  mission  by  sweeping  and  sending 
through  small  suicide  craft.  But  their  countermeasures  could  not  cope 
with  the  varied  mine-types  and  tactics  used,  and  by  persistent  remin- 
ing  the  B-29's  reduced  materially  the  traffic  in  the  designated  waters. 
So  desperate  was  the  shipping  situation  that  the  Japanese  were  forced 
to  take  grave  risks,  so  that  after  April  the  B-29's  supplanted  the  sub- 
marine as  chief  killer  in  the  war  against  merchant  shipping,  account- 
ing during  that  time  for  about  half  the  tonnage  put  out  of  action. 

The  shipping  situation  had  become  increasingly  serious  since  1944 
as  losses  mounted  and  as  the  advance  of  the  Allies  allowed  them  to 
cut  one  convoy  route  after  another.  Through  desperate  efforts  the 
Japanese  had  increased  their  over-all  production  which  reached  a  peak 
a  little  after  the  middle  of  that  year,  but  only  by  drawing  on  some 
stockpiled  materials  and  by  giving  overriding  priorities  to  munitions 

xxi 


/ 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

in  immediate  demand.  Some  Japanese  ofEcials  and  many  of  the  intel- 
lectuals had  become  convinced  that  the  fall  of  Saipan,  with  its  obvious 
threat  of  aerial  bombardment  of  the  homeland,  spelled  eventual  de- 
feat; as  the  B-29  attacks  gave  reality  to  the  threat,  those  persons  began 
clandestine  efforts  to  bring  about  a  surrender.  The  loss  of  Saipan  had 
brought  about  the  fall  of  Tojo's  militant  government  and  while  his 
successor  Koiso  attempted  to  spur  the  war  effort,  the  peace  movement 
gained  quiet  momentum  during  the  latter's  premiership.  When  the 
Allies  invaded  Okinawa,  Koiso  was  ousted  and  the  Emperor  directed 
Suzuki  to  form  a  cabinet  which  should  have  the  dual  function  of  con- 
tinuing the  war  effort  while  seeking  appropriate  means  of  bringing 
about  peace,  even  if  that  meant  accepting  unfavorable  terms.  Suzuki 
set  up  a  new  organ  of  government,  a  small  inner  war  council  composed 
of  the  Premier,  the  Foreign,  Navy,  and  War  ministers,  and  the  two 
military  chiefs  of  staff.  The  first  three  in  that  list  were  for  peace,  the 
last  three  for  a  continuation  of  war  until  some  Japanese  victory  would 
give  a  favorable  position  from  which  to  engineer  a  negotiated  peace.  It 
was  the  task  of  the  peace  party  to  inform  members  of  the  government 
and  of  the  circle  of  elder  statesmen  of  Japan's  desperate  military  situa- 
tion, poorly  understood  by  most,  so  that  various  factions  among  the 
ruling  oligarchy  should  be  convinced  of  the  necessity  of  an  early  sur- 
render. There  was  some  thought  of  trying  to  negotiate  through  the 
Chinese  government  at  Chungking;  then,  beginning  in  May,  efforts 
were  made  to  secure  the  services  of  the  Soviets  as  mediators.  These  ap- 
proaches, sanctioned  by  the  Emperor,  made  little  headway  and  when 
the  Japanese  ambassador  became  urgent  in  July,  the  Kremlin  post- 
poned any  decision  until  after  the  imminent  meeting  of  the  Big  Three 
at  Potsdam. 

Certain  individuals  in  Washington,  particularly  Acting  Secretary 
of  State  Joseph  C.  Grew  and  Secretary  of  War  Henry  L.  Stimson, 
correctly  diagnosed  the  situation  in  Japan  and  thought  that  that  na- 
tion might  be  brought  to  surrender  without  an  invasion  if  an  increas- 
ing show  of  force  could  be  accompanied  by  a  public  statement  that 
the  Allied  demand  for  unconditional  surrender  did  not  contemplate 
the  destruction  of  the  Emperor  or  the  Japanese  nation.  Others,  im- 
pressed with  the  fanatical  resistance  of  the  Japanese  at  Iwo  Jima  and 
Okinawa  and  aware  of  the  existence  in  Japan  of  a  large  and  unde- 
feated army,  believed  that  an  invasion  in  force  would  be  necessary.  If 
these  latter  leaders  failed  to  appreciate  conditions  familiar  to  us  all 

xxii 


FOREWORD 


through  postwar  disclosures,  it  must  be  remembered  in  their  favor 
that  they  were  committed  to  winding  up  the  war  as  soon  as  possible 
and  that  preparations  for  so  large  an  invasion  demanded  an  early  de- 
cision on  strategy.  And  so,  in  spite  of  a  belief  by  many,  particularly 
in  the  AAF  and  the  Navy,  that  air  attack  and  the  blockade  would 
force  a  surrender,  the  JGS  in  June  set  up  an  invasion  of  Kyushu  for 
November  and  of  Honshu  for  the  following  March,  At  Potsdam,  this 
decision  was  confirmed  by  the  CCS  and  the  Soviets  reiterated  their 
earlier  promise  to  enter  the  war  against  Japan  in  August.  The  clarifi- 
cation of  war  aims,  which  had  been  postponed  for  military  purposes 
during  the  Okinawa  campaign,  was  released  on  26  July  as  the  Potsdam 
Declaration,  and  disclosure  by  Stalin  of  Japan's  recent  peace  efforts 
seemed  to  augur  well  for  its  success.  The  tightening  of  the  blockade 
and  the  increasing  tempo  of  the  B-29  attacks,  now  grown  so  bold  that 
leaflets  were  dropped  in  advance  of  attacks  to  warn  cities  of  their 
impending  doom,  had  in  fact  given  impetus  to  the  peace  movement 
in  Tokyo,  but  a  recalcitrant  clique  of  militarists  objected  to  some  of 
the  Potsdam  terms  and  in  fear  of  a  military  coup  Suzuki  refused  to 
treat  on  the  basis  of  the  declaration.  His  refusal,  made  public  in  a  press 
interview  of  28  July,  gave  no  evidence  of  his  continuing  endeavors; 
it  became,  therefore,  the  signal  for  the  United  States  to  add  a  most 
terrible  sanction  to  those  already  in  force. 

In  1939  the  United  States  government  had  become  interested  in  the 
possible  military  use  of  nuclear  fission.  In  collaboration  with  some  of 
our  Allies,  and  through  the  teamwork  of  scientists,  industry,  and  gov- 
ernment, a  vast  project  for  the  production  of  fissionable  materials  had 
been  carried  through  to  success  and  a  bomb  had  been  designed  to 
derive  from  those  materials  unprecedented  destructive  power.  The 
first  test  bomb  had  been  exploded  successfully  at  Alamogordo  in 
New  Mexico  on  16  July,  and  it  was  the  decision  of  President  Truman 
and  Stimson,  his  chief  adviser  in  the  matter,  that  the  bomb  should  be 
used  if  the  Japanese  refused  to  accept  the  surrender  terms.  Since  the 
previous  autumn  a  specialized  B-29  ^^^^5  ^he  509th  Composite  Group, 
had  been  in  training  to  deliver  the  atom  bomb,  and  the  group  was 
now  at  North  Field,  Tinian,  awaiting  the  bomb  and  the  required 
orders. 

The  orders,  a  facsimile  of  which  is  shown  in  the  present  volume,* 
were  issued  on  25  July;  they  authorized  an  attack,  after  3  August,  on 
*  See  below,  facing  p.  696. 

xxiii 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

one  of  the  following  cities  which  had  previously  been  relatively  im- 
mune to  attack:  Hiroshima,  Kokura,  Niigata,  or  Nagasaki.  On  6  Au- 
gust, in  an  attack  which  was  a  model  of  tactical  performance,  the 
first  bomb  was  dropped  on  Hiroshima.  Exploding  at  a  considerable 
altitude,  the  bomb  caused  tremendous  damage  by  blast  and  by  fires  of 
immediate  and  secondary  origin  which,  fanned  by  a  heat-induced 
wind,  destroyed  4.7  square  miles  in  the  heart  of  the  city;  minor  dam- 
age was  done  to  buildings  as  far  as  15,000  feet  from  the  center  of  im- 
pact though  industries  in  the  suburbs  escaped  without  substantial 
hurt.  Casualties  were  terrific,  amounting  according  to  the  best  esti- 
mates to  between  70,000  and  80,000  dead  and  a  like  number  wounded. 
The  most  prevalent  cause  of  casualties  was  burns,  with  direct  or  indi- 
rect effects  of  blast  coming  second  and  the  dreaded  effects  of  radia- 
tion third,  though  many  more  persons  undoubtedly  would  have 
suffered  from  radiation  had  they  not  been  killed  immediately  by  other 
causes.  The  attack  brought  about  a  complete  breakdown  in  the  civil- 
ian defense  organization  and  relief  activities  were  taken  over  by  the 
Army,  whose  headquarters  at  Hiroshima  had  been  one  of  the  reasons 
for  the  choice  of  that  city  as  a  target. 

The  Army's  top  command  tried  to  play  down  the  importance  of 
the  attack  and  to  restrict  knowledge  of  the  type  of  bomb  used,  though 
that  information  had  been  disclosed  in  a  broadcast  by  President  Tru- 
man and  confirmed  by  Japanese  scientists.  The  fact  that  the  United 
States  had  so  terrific  a  weapon  and  was  prepared  to  use  it  gave  added 
weight  to  the  arguments  of  the  peace  party,  though  in  protracted  ses- 
sions of  the  inner  council  and  the  cabinet  the  extreme  militarists  con- 
tinued to  haggle  over  terms  they  had  previously  objected  to— Allied 
trials  for  war  criminals,  the  ambiguous  position  of  the  Emperor  in 
postwar  Japan,  and  the  threat  to  the  existing  '^national  polity."  Fear 
of  a  revolt  of  the  radical  element  in  the  services,  which  included  most 
of  the  Army  officers  and  many  junior  Navy  officers,  still  influenced 
some  officials,  and  there  was  also  much  anxiety  lest  a  surrender  be 
followed  by  a  Communist  revolution. 

On  9  August,  while  the  debate  continued,  a  B-29  dropped  the 
second  atom  bomb  on  Nagasaki.  The  terrain  of  the  city,  divided  by 
the  hills  and  valleys  of  two  converging  valleys  and  a  bay,  prevented 
the  wide  and  regular  pattern  of  destruction  that  occurred  at  Hiro- 
shima; within  the  bowl-shaped  area  hit,  however,  the  surrounding 
hills  tended  to  intensify  the  blast.  Nagasaki  was  unusually  well 
equipped  with  air-raid  shelters,  tunnels  dug  into  the  numerous  hills 

xxiv 


FOREWORD 


where  a  few  persons  at  work  were  saved  from  the  bomb.  The  Army's 
censorship  of  candid  news  about  Hiroshima  prevented  full  use  of 
those  shelters,  however,  and  casualties  were  again  severe— including 
perhaps  40,000  dead  and  missing  and  60,000  wounded.  There  was 
grim  irony  in  the  fact  that  Nagasaki  had  been  the  least  preferred  of 
the  four  target  cities:  Niigata  had  been  scratched  because  of  the  dis- 
tance involved;  Kokura  was  the  primary  target  on  the  9th  but  was 
cloud-covered,  and  the  drop  at  Nagasaki  was  possible  only  because 
of  a  last-miiiute  break  in  the  clouds  just  before  the  B-29  was  prepared 
to  turn  back  with  the  bomb. 

With  the  threat  of  further  atomic  attacks  and  the  news  of  Russia's 
declaration  of  war,  Suzuki  was  able  to  break  the  deadlock  in  his  cabi- 
net, though  only  by  securing  the  direct  intervention  of  the  Emperor. 
The  surrender  offer  dispatched  on  10  August  was  qualified  by  a 
clause  intended  to  preserve  the  Emperor's  life  and  position;  momen- 
tary hesitation  in  Washington  over  the  form  rather  than  the  substance 
of  a  reply  delayed  its  transmittal,  and  there  was  more  debate  in  Tokyo 
before  the  oblique  rejoinder  of  the  Americans  was  finally  accepted 
by  imperial  mandate  on  14  August.  During  the  week  of  intensive  de- 
bate in  Tokyo  the  B-29's  and  other  AAF  and  Navy  planes  had  only 
momentarily  interrupted  their  violent  attacks  on  the  home  islands, 
but  these  ended  as  the  Japanese  with  only  sporadic  exceptions  obeyed 
the  imperial  cease-fire  orders.  The  Emperor's  broadcast  to  the  nation 
on  1 5  August  came  as  a  surprise  to  most  of  the  nation  but  there  was 
no  general  protest  to  the  news  of  the  surrender  and  only  a  minor 
amount  of  difficulty  from  the  Army  radicals. 

The  surrender,  coming  without  an  invasion  of  the  home  islands, 
where  the  Japanese  were  still  possessed  of  an  undefeated  and  confident 
army  of  2,000,000  and  thousands  of  planes  cached  away  for  kamikaze 
service,  made  the  war  unique  in  American  military  annals.  It  is  con- 
ventional to  assign  credit,  as  USSBS  has  done,  to  the  combined  efforts 
of  all  arms  and  services  of  the  United  States  and  its  allies  and  the 
editors  believe  that  the  text  of  this  volume  fully  substantiates  that  ap- 
praisal. Yet  the  role  of  the  several  services  differed  importantly  from 
recent  experiences  in  Europe  and  even  more  from  that  of  earlier  wars. 
Ground  forces,  whether  Army  or  Marine,  served  principally  to  ad- 
vance air  and  naval  bases  ever  nearer  the  heart  of  Japan  in  a  series  of 
leapfrog  hops.  The  forward  movements,  made  usually  by  great  ar- 
madas, required  a  decided  and  continuing  air  supremacy  which  the 
Allies  gained  as  their  offensive  developed,  first  a  local  supremacy,  then 


XXV 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

as  heated  air  battles  depleted  the  enemy's  supply  of  first-line  pilots 
and  crews,  an  over-all  supremacy.  By  the  time  U.S.  bombers  were 
emplaced  within  striking  distance  of  the  home  islands,  Japanese  air 
power  hid  been  badly  deiFeated;  the  turn  to  wholesale  kamikaze 
tactics  was  a  confession  of  that  defeat  and  while  such  tactics  could 
inflict  annoying  losses  on  an  invasion  fleet,  they  left  mastery  of  the 
air  to  the  Allies.  Free  to  bomb  Japanese  factories  and  cities  without 
serious  challenge,  the  B-29's  added  to  industrial  shortages  caused  by 
the  blockade,  and  with  the  planned  intensification  of  operations  from 
Okinawa  would  eventually  have  destroyed  Japan's  ability  to  resist. 
The  blockade,  enforced  largely  by  submarines  and  aircraft,  would 
also  have  been  intensified.  Whether  air  attack  or  blockade  was  the 
niore  important  factor  it  seems  impossible  firmly  to  determine  and, 
in  kst  analysis,  is  immaterial.  It  was  the  combination  that  broke  Ja- 
pan's will  to  resist,  both  within  the  ruling  factions  and  among  the 
people  as  a  whole,  and  if  postwar  studies  have  suggested  that  it  was 
the  blockade  that  first  undermined  Japan's  war  economy,  available 
evidence  seems  to  indicate  that  it  was  the  direct  air  attack  that  most 
strongly  afl^ected  the  nation's  morale.  In  any  event,  chiefly  through 
air  and  sea  power  the  Allies  were  able  to  achieve  their  political  objec- 
tive without  an  invasion.  It  was  not  the  kind  of  quick  decision  the 
air  theorists  wrote  about  in  the  1920's  and  1930's,  but  once  bases  had 
been  seized  within  range  of  Tokyo,  the  end  came  without  undue  de- 
lay. With  all  his  exaggerations,  Billy  Mitchell  had  been  right  in  pre- 
dicting that  the  future  lay  with  the  airplane,  the  carrier,  and  the  sub- 
marine rather  than  the  battleship  and  the  large  army.  Right,  that  is, 
for  the  Pacific  War. 

Though  each  of  the  authors  contributing  to  this  volume  is  identified 
in  the  Table  of  Contents,  it  may  be  helpful  to  mention  here  their 
several  wartime  assignments.  Jiames  Lea  Ciate  as  a  member  of  the  AAF 
Historical  Division  devoted  his  attention  to  studies  of  strategic  bom- 
bardment and  served  as  historical  officer  of  the  Twentieth  Air  Force 
from  the  time  of  its  activation  to  the  end  of  the  war.  Frank  Futrell 
served  as  historical  ofiicier  with  the  Far  East  Air  Forces,  Lee  Bowen 
with  Eastern  Air  Command  in  India,  Woodford  A.  Hefliti  with  the 
CBI  Air  Service  Command,  Maj.  Bernhardt  L.  Mortensen  with  V 
Bomber  Command  in  the  Southwest  Pacific,  aiid  James  C.  Olson  and 
James  Taylor  with  Army  Air  Forces,  Pacific  Ocean  Areas,  in  Hawaii 
and  on  Guam. 

xxvi 


i 


FOREWORD 


Once  more  it  is  a  pleasure  to  acknowledge  the  never  failing  aid 
rendered  to  the  editors  by  Col.  Wilfred  J.  Paul,  Director  of  the  Re- 
search Studies  Institute,  Air  University,  and  Dr.  Albert  F.  Simpson, 
Chief  of  the  USAF  Historical  Division.  Among  the  members  of  their 
staffs  our  chief  indebtedness  is  to  Mr.  Joseph  W.  Angell  and  Lt.  Col. 
Eldon  W.  Downs;  their  cooperative  spirit  has  never  failed,  even  in  the 
face  of  unreasonable  demands.  Ernest  S.  Gohn  and  Robert  F.  Gleck- 
ner,  by  their  careful  checking  of  both  manuscript  and  proof  have 
done  much  to  improve  the  accuracy  and  quality  of  the  text.  Mrs, 
Wilhelmine  Burch,  who  was  the  editors'  chief  assistant  during  the 
preparation  of  the  first  four  volumes,  kindly  consented  to  return  to 
the  project  to  help  with  the  page  proofs.  Dr.  Gohn  has,  in  addition, 
prepared  the  index.  Mr.  Z.  F.  Shelton  has  done  the  maps.  To  others  of 
the  staffs  of  RSI  and  the  Historical  Division  our  obligation  for  many 
courtesies  is  heavy,  especially  to  Miss  Sara  Venable,  Mrs.  Molly 
Keever,  Mrs.  Lois  Lynn,  and  Mrs.  Margie  McCardel  who  handled  the 
tedious  and  exacting  task  of  typing  the  manuscript  of  the  entire  vol- 
ume, and  to  Miss  Marguerite  K.  Kennedy,  Mr.  Frank  C.  Myers,  and 
the  other  members  of  the  Archives  Branch  of  the  Historical  Division 
who  made  available  to  the  authors  and  editors  the  principal  documents 
from  which  the  book  was  written.  Thanks  also  are  due  to  Lt.  Col. 
Ernest  B.  Stevenson,  Lt.  Col.  Russell  A.  Bell,  Maj.  Thad  S.  Strange, 
Capt.  George  H.  Saylor,  Mrs.  Juliette  A.  Hennessy,  Dr.  Edith  C. 
Rodgers,  Miss  Ruth  McKinnon,  Mr.  David  Schoem,  and  Mrs.  Frances 
Poole.  In  this  volume,  as  in  others  in  the  series,  the  illustrations  were 
made  available  through  the  courtesy  of  the  Photographic  Records 
and  Services  Division,  Headquarters,  USAF. 

We  are  also  glad  to  make  special  acknowledgment  of  the  assistance 
provided  by  some  of  those  who  bore  a  heavy  responsibility  for  the 
operations  herein  recorded.  Gen.  George  C.  Kenney  has  been  kind 
enough  to  read  that  portion  of  the  manuscript  which  covers  air  opera- 
tions in  the  southwest  Pacific  and  to  offer  helpful  criticism.  Lt.  Gen, 
George  E.  Stratemeyer  and  Maj.  Gen.  Claire  L.  Chennault  have 
readily  submitted  to  interrogations  which  helped  to  clarify  the  com- 
plex problems  of  CBI.  The  Hon.  Patrick  J.  Hurley,  in  addition  to 
answering  questions,  has  generously  permitted  the  use  of  pertinent 
evidence  from  his  personal  files.  Col.  Cecil  E.  Combs,  executive  in 
the  headquarters  of  the  Twentieth  Air  Force,  not  only  saw  to  it  that 
the  historical  officer  enjoyed  an  unqualified  right  of  access  to  all  files 

xxvii 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

but  repeatedly  found  the  time  to  talk  at  length  about  the  peculiar 
problems  of  a  unique  experiment  in  command.  Lt.  Gen.  Laurence  S. 
Kuter,  ever  an  understanding  friend  of  the  historical  office,  has  gen- 
erously responded  to  requests  for  clarification  of  problems  relating  to 
AAF  planning,  for  which  he  bore  a  primary  responsibility  throughout 
most  of  the  war.  In  all  instances,  these  officers  have  given  their  time 
generously  and  with  no  effort  to  force  their  own  views  upon  the 
historian.  The  opinions  expressed  in  the  following  pages  are  those  of 
the  authors. 

In  bringing  to  a  close  the  discussions  of  AAF  combat  operations, 
the  editors  would  like  to  express  their  special  sense  of  indebtedness  to 
the  many  historical  officers  whose  contribution  to  this  history  has 
been  recorded  chiefly  in  the  footnotes.  The  assignment  must  often 
have  seemed  a  thankless  task,  nothing  more  than  an  additional  duty 
of  debatable  utility,  but  to  those  of  us  who  have  been  charged  with 
straightening  out  the  record  of  a  significant  experience  in  the  history 
of  the  nation  the  assignment  appears  in  an  altogether  different  light. 
We  would  have  liked  in  every  instance  to  credit  the  author  by  name, 
but  experience  soon  taught  us  that  grave  injustice  might  be  done  by 
such  a  practice,  for,  as  is  true  of  other  military  documents,  the  name 
appended  to  the  document  was  not  always  the  name  of  the  man  who 
did  the  work.  And  so  it  was  decided  that  citations  should  be  made 
only  by  the  name  of  the  organization,  a  decision  which  also  promised 
to  be  of  assistance  to  those  who  may  wish  to  consult  the  fuller  record 
provided  in  the  archives  of  the  Historical  Division,  where  all  of  the 
AAF  histories  have  been  filed  according  to  organization.  To  those 
of  our  friends  whose  responsibility  for  organizational  histories  is  be- 
yond question  but  whose  work  is  cited  without  credit  to  the  author, 
the  editors  offer  their  apologies  and  this  explanation:  there  seemed 
to  be  no  fair  line  that  could  be  drawn  between  a  policy  crediting  all 
authors  or  crediting  none. 

From  the  very  beginning  of  the  project  AAF  historians  have  en- 
joyed the  helpful  and  cheerful  cooperation  of  the  Army's  Historical 
Division.  To  Dr.  Kent  Roberts  Greenfield  and  his  colleagues  again 
go  thanks  from  us  all. 

Wesley  Frank  Craven 
James  Lea  Gate 

Princeton,  New  Jersey 
November  8,  1952 


xxviii 


CONTENTS 
*********** 


I.  THE  TWENTIETH  AIR  FORCE  AND 
MATTERHORN 

James  Lea  Gate,  University  of  Chicago 

1.  The  VLR  Project   3 

2.  The  Twentieth  Air  Force   33 

3.  MATTERHORN  Logistics   58 

4.  XX  Bomber  Command  against  Japan   92 

5.  Exit  MATTERHORN   131 

IL  AID  TO  CHINA:  THE  THEATER  AIR 
FORCES  IN  CBI 

Woodford  A.  Heflin,  Air  University 
Lee  Bowen,  USAF  Historical  Division 

6.  Ways  and  Means  179 

Woodford  F.  Heflin 

7.  Delay  in  Burma,  Disaster  in  China  200 

Lee  Bowen 

8.  The  Liberation  of  Burma  233 

Lee  Bowen 

9.  Victory  in  China  252 

Lee  Bowen 

xxix 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN    WORLD   WAR  U 

III.  RETURN  TO  THE  PHILIPPINES 

Frank  Futrell,  USAF  Historical  Division 
Maj.  Bernhardt  L.  Mortensen,  USAF 


10.  Prelude  to  Invasion  275 

Frank  Futrell 

11.  Men  and  Weapons  323 

Frank  Futrell 

12.  Leyte  341 

Frank  Futrell 

13.  MiNDORO  390 

Frank  Futrell 

14.  Luzon  413 

Frank  Futrell 

15.  The  Clean-Up  448 

Maj.  Bernhardt  L.  Mortensen 

16.  Cutting  THE  Enemy's  Lifeline  470 


Maj.  Bernhardt  L.  Mortensen 

IV.  STRATEGIC  BOMBARDMENT  FROM 
PACIFIC  BASES 

James  Taylor,  Southwest  Texas  State  Teachers  College 
James  Lea  Gate,  University  of  Chicago 
James  C.  Olson,  Nebraska  State  Historical  Society 
Frank  Futrell,  USAF  Historical  Division 
Wesley  Frank  Craven,  Princeton  University 


17.  Preparation  for  Combat  507 

James  Taylor 

18.  Precision  Bombardment  Campaign  546 

James  Lea  Gate 
James  C.  Olson 

XXX 


CONTENTS 


19.  IWO  JiMA     ,      .      .   577 

James  Lea  Gate 
James  C.  Olson 

20.  Urban  Area  Attacks  608 

James  Lea  Gate 
James  C.  Olson 

21.  The  All-Out  B-29  Attack  645 

James  Lea  Gate 
James  G.  Olson 

22.  Reorganization  for  Victory  676 

Frank  Futrell 
James  Taylor 

23.  Victory  703 

James  Lea  Gate 
Wesley  Frank  Graven 

Notes  759 

Glossary   841 

Index  845 


3jc  jjc  Sjc  jjc  jjc  jjc 


LIST  OF  MAPS  AND  CHARTS 


Potential  B-29  Bases  with  Radius  of  Action  of  1,600  Nau- 
tical Miles   5 

Kharagpur  Area  Airfields   61 

Chengtu  Area  Airfields   67 

Ceylon  Airfields   72 

Hump  Routes  of  XX  B6mber  Command  .    .    .    .    .    .  82 

Primary  Targets  of  B-29's  FROM  China  Bases    ....  134 

Primary  Targets  of  B-29's  from  India  Bases   153 

Location  of  Service  Units  in  the  India-Burma  Air  Service 

Command  and  China  Air  Service  Command  ....  i8i 

SotriHEAST  Asia   202 

China   21  (5 

The  Burma  Campaign     ...........  241 

The  Philippines   277 

Palau  Islands   308 

MoROTAi   311 

Leyte-Samar,  P.L  .......  1  ......  343 

Landing  Area — Combat  Zones  (Leyte)    .    .    .    .    *    -  357 

San  Jose  Area  (Mindoro)                                           .  394 

Landing  Area,  Ling AYEN  Gulf,  Luzon  .    .    .    .    .    .    -  414 

Luzon,  Philippine  Islands   .   417 

Corregidor   432 

Air  Force  Bases,  Luzon-Mindoro  ........  444 

xxxiii 


THE   ARMY    AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

AAFSWPA  Areas  of  Responsibility,  i  April  1945  .    .    .  449 

Southern  Philippines   .    .  .451 

Southern  Philippine  Is.,  Borneo,  Celebes,  and  Halmahera  .  464 

Formosa   472 

Allied  Air  Forces  SWPA  Search  Sectors,  April  1945  .    .  493 

Organization  of  US  AAFPOA  and  Deputy  Commander 

Twentieth  Air  Force   513 

Twentieth  Air  Force  Bases  in  the  Marianas   514 

Command  Relations  in  Pacific  Ocean  Areas    .    .    .    .  527 


xxxiv 


LIST  OF  ILLUSTRATIONS 
********  *** 


FACING 

Building  THE  Chengtu  Airfields   72 

MATTERHORN  Operations  .  72 

Before  the  Yawata  Mission 

Attack  on  Mingaladon  Cantonment  Area,  Rangoon 

C-46's  ON  THE  Assam-China  Route   .  72 

The  First  Ridge  on  the  Hump  Route 
Loading  Gasoline  Drums 

The  Ledo  Road   .  72 

Bomb  Damage  at  Myitkyina    .   .  200 

Air  Supply  in  Burma  •  • 

Rail  Bridge  in  Burma  Destroyed  by  the  7TH  Bombardment 

Group   200 

Operation  GRUBWORM,  December  1944    .  .  248 

Fourteenth  Air  Force  Bases     .   248 

Runway  at  Liuchow 
Abandoning  Hengyang 

Battle  for  Leyte  Gulf   ,280 

FEAF  Planes  Sink  Abukuma 
But  Miss  Yamato 

Ormoc  Bay   .  280 

FEAF  Planes  Sink  Destroyer 
Attack  on  a  Transport 


XXXV 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 

FACING 

Bombing  Corregidor  424 

Return  to  Clark  Field  424 

Close  Support  in  Luzon  424 

Air  Liaison  Officer  in  L-5  Marking  Target 
P-38  Bombing  Ahead  of  Ground  Troops 

P-38's  Dropping  Napalm  Bombs  near  Ipo  Dam    ....  424 

Balikpapan  472 

Attack  by  Thirteenth  Air  Force  B-24's 
Damage  to  Cracking  Plant 

B-25's  OF  THE  345TH  Bombardment  Group  Sink  Frigate  near 
Amoy,  6  April  1945  472 

Marianas  Air  Bases  504 

Harmon  Field,  Guam 
Isley  Field,  Saipan 

B-29  Maintenance  504 

R-3350  Engines  at  Guam 

Night  Work  During  the  March  Fire  Blitz 

Japanese  Attack  on  Isley  Field,  27  November  1944  .    .    .  584 

Japanese  Weather  584 

Japanese  Defenses  584 

Fighter  Making  a  Pass  under  B-29 
Direct  Hit  on  B-29  by  Flak 

P-51's  ON  Iwo  JiMA  584 

Tokyo:  Burnt-Out  Areas  616 

Nakajima-Musashino  616 

Incendiary  Attack  on  Osaka  616 

xxxvi 


LIST  OF  ILLUSTRATIONS 


FACING 

Osaka:  Burnt-Out  Area                                    .    .    .  6i6 

M26  Mine  Dropped  BY  B-29   664 

Okinawa:  Motobu  Airfield   664 

Last  Day:  Attack  on  Marifu  Rail  Yards,  14  August  1945  .  696 

The  Atom  Bomb  Directive   696 

Hiroshima:  Last-Minute  Instructions   712 

Letter  from  President  Truman,  i  2  January  1953    .    .    .  712 

Nagasaki:  the  Atomic  Cloud   712 

Nagasaki:  Post-Strike  Photo   744 

Hiroshima   744 

Before  Attack 
After  Attack 

Nagasaki:  Mitsubishi  Steel  and  Arms  Works    .    .    .    .  744 


xxicvii 


United  States  Air  Force 
Historical  Advisory  Committee 

(As  of  May  1,  1983) 


Lt.  Gen.  Charles  G.  Cleveland, 

USAF 

Commander,  Air  University,  ATC 

Mr.  DeWitt  S.  Copp 

The  National  Volunteer  Agency 

Dr  Warren  W.  Hassler,  Jr. 
Pennsylvania  State  University 

Dr  Edward  L.  Homze 
University  of  Nebraska 

Dr.  Alfred  F.  Hurley 
Brig.  Gen.,  USAF,  Retired 
North  Texas  State  University 


Maj.  Gen.  Robert  E.  Kelley,  USAF 
Superintendent,  USAF  Academy 

Dr.  Joan  Kennedy  Kinnaird 
Trinity  College 

Mr  David  E.  Place, 

The  General  Counsel,  USAF 

Gen.  Bryce  Poe  II, 
USAF,  Retired 

Dr  David  A.  Shannon  (Chairman) 
University  of  Virginia 


xxxviii 


SECTION  I 
*********** 


THE  TWENTIETH  AIR  FORCE  AND 

MATTERHORN 


CHAPTER  1 


THE  VLR  PROJECT 

ON  15  June  1944  a  force  of  half-a-hundred  B-ip's  of  XX 
I  Bomber  Command  struck  at  the  Imperial  Iron  and  Steel 
Works  at  Yawata  in  Kyushu.  On  the  same  day  the  2d  and 
4th  Marine  Divisions  swarmed  ashore  at  Saipan.  The  two  attacks, 
widely  separated  in  space,  were  synchronized  for  tactical  reasons. 
They  were  connected  too  in  a  wider  strategic  sense,  for  together  they 
signalized  the  inauguration  of  a  new  phase  of  the  air  war  against  Ja- 
pan. The  Yawata  mission  initiated  a  program  of  strategic  bombard- 
ment against  the  Japanese  Inner  Zone  from  Chinese  bases;  the  Saipan 
operation  opened  an  assault  on  the  Marianas  which  was  to  provide 
more  effective  bases  for  that  program.  In  a  press  release  on  the  follow- 
ing day  Gen.  George  C.  Marshall  remarked  that  the  B-29  attack  had 
introduced  "a  new  type  of  offensive"  against  Japan,  thereby  creating 
"a  new  problem  in  the  application  of  military  force."^  For  the  new 
problem  the  Joint  Chiefs  of  Staff  (JCS)  had  evolved  a  new  answer 
—the  Twentieth  Air  Force,  a  Washington  headquarters  for  a  striking 
force  based  in  India  and  staging  through  China  to  hit  at  Japan  and  for 
a  second  force  subsequently  to  operate  from  the  Marianas.  All  was 
new— weapon,  bases,  controlling  agency. 

Even  the  mission  was  novel  in  that  area.  In  the  ETO  the  Army  Air 
Forces  had  thrown  its  most  substantial  efforts  into  a  bomber  offensive 
against  the  industrial  sources  of  the  Nazi  war  machine.  As  yet  there 
had  been  no  such  effort  in  the  war  against  Japan.  Bombardment  by 
the  several  Army  air  forces  in  the  Pacific— the  Fifth,  the  Thirteenth, 
the  Seventh,  and  the  Eleventh— had  been  almost  exclusively  tactical, 
directed  against  the  enemy air  strips,  at  the  shipping  whereby  he 
nourished  his  advanced  forces,  at  his  supply  dumps  and  island  de- 
fenses, against  his  troops  in  the  field.  Those  operations  had  helped 


3 


THE  ARMY   AIR  FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 

ground  and  naval  forces  to  check  the  Jap's  advance,  then  to  throw 
him  back;  by  the  seizure  or  neutralization  of  island  bases  his  perimeter 
had  been  constricted.  In  the  CBI  the  Tenth  and  Fourteenth  Air  Forces 
had  been  successful  in  their  primary  mission  of  keeping  open  the  air 
link  between  India  and  China;  they  had  cooperated  with  ground  force 
operations  and  the  Fourteenth  had  been  able,  by  staging  through  fields 
in  east  China,  to  reach  out  with  heavy  and  medium  bombers  and  take 
toll  of  Japanese  shipping  in  the  China  Sea.  But  the  important  targets 
of  the  Inner  Zone  had  been  immune  to  land-based  air  attacks,  girded 
about  with  a  formidable  chain  of  island  bases  and  lying  far  beyond  the 
range  of  the  B-i  7  or  B-24  from  any  U.S.  airfield.  A  few  strikes  agamst 
oil  installations  in  the  Netherlands  East  Indies  (NEI)  had  most  nearly 
approximated  the  AAF*s  classic  concept  of  strategic  bombardment, 
but  those  targets,  at  the  very  edge  of  the  tactical  radius  of  Liberators, 
were  far  from  metropolitan  Japan.  Now  as  summer  of  1944  came 
in,  joint  U;.S.  forces  bad  set  the  stage  for  a  new  type  of  air  opera- 
tion. 

For  the  air  strategist  the  controlling  factor  was  distance.  He  could 
inscribe  on  a  chart  of  the  Asia— West  Pacific  area  two  arcs  with  1,600- 
mile  radii— one  centered  at  Chengtu  and  one  at  Saipan— and  see  within 
the  two  segments  the  whole  heart  of  the  Japanese  Empire.  Very  long 
range  bombers  based  at  those  foci  and  properly  supplied  could  subject 
the  very  source  of  the  Japanese  war  effort  to  the  same  sort  of  attack 
which  had  paved  the  way  for  the  recent  invasion  of  Europe.  By 
15  June  VLR  bombers,*  in  moderate  numbers,  were  available.  One  of 
the  base  areas  had  been  developed,  the  other  was  being  wrested  from 
the  enemy.  For  the  former  a  system  of  supply,  fantastically  uneco- 
nomic and  barely  workable,  had  been  devised;  for  the  latter  the  logis- 
tical problem  appeared  in  prospect  much  simpler.  From  the  point  of 
view  of  those  who  saw  in  the  airplane  a  strategic  weapon,  all  that  had 
passed  was  prologue.  And  that  prologue  had  begun  with  the  develop- 
ment of  the  weapon  itself  ^Boeing's  B-29,  officially  labeled  Super- 
fortress and  designated  in  coded  radio  messages  by  such  fanciful  titles 
as  Dreamboat,  Stork,  or  Big  Brother. 

•To  describe  the  B-29  and  B-32  the  AAF  used  indiscriminately  the  terms  Very 
Long  Range  (VLR)  bomber  and  Very  Heavy  Bomber  (VHB).  The  latter  term  was 
the  official  designation  of  units,  as  in  58th  Bombardment  Wing  (VH),  but  in  most 
of  the  early  pluming  papers  VLR  was  the  favored  term,  and  rightly,  since  it  was 
range  rather  man  bomb  load  that  was  stressed. 


4 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


The  Weapon 

The  inception  of  the  B-29  program  can  be  traced  back  to  10  No- 
vember 1939.  On  that  date  General  Arnold,  then  Chief  of  the  Air 
Corps,  asked  permission  of  the  War  Department  to  initiate  action  for 
experimental  development  of  a  four-engine  bomber  of  2,000-mile 
radius  and  superior  in  all  respects  to  the  B-i  7B  and  the  B-24.^  The  de- 
sired authority  was  granted  on  2  December,  and  on  29  January  1940 
Request  for  Data  R-40B  was  circulated  among  five  leading  aircraft 
manufacturing  companies.^  During  February  the  stipulated  require- 
ments were  in  several  instances  revised  upward,  and  on  the  basis  of 
specifications  of  8  April  preliminary  designs  were  submitted  by  several 
companies.  An  evaluation  board  appraised  the  designs  and  rated  the 
competitors  in  this  order  of  preference:  Boeing,  Lockheed,  Douglas, 
Consolidated/  Contracts  for  preliminary  engineering  data  were  issued 
to  the  firms  on  27  June®  and  their  planes  were  designated,  respectively, 
the  XB-29,  XB-30,  XB-31,  XB-32.  Lockheed  and  Douglas  subse- 
quently withdrew  from  the  competition.  Orders  placed  on  6  Septem- 
ber for  two  experimental  models  each  from  Boeing  and  Consolidated 
were  later  increased  to  three.  Mock-up  inspections  occurred  on 
7  April  1941.^ 

The  XB-32  was  first  to  fly,  its  initial  model  being  airborne  on  7  Sep- 
tember 1942.  After  thirty  flights  that  model  crashed  on  10  May  1943. 
The  second  and  third  models  flew  first  on  2  July  and  9  November, 
respectively.  Frequent  changes  in  design  so  retarded  the  development 
of  the  B-32  that  only  in  the  closing  days  of  the  war  did  a  few  of  them 
get  into  combat;*  hence,  in  the  present  context  the  B-32  is  of  interest 
only  as  it  appears  in  plans  as  a  possible  teammate  of  the  B-29. 

The  first  XB-29  model  made  twenty-two  test  flights  between 
21  September  and  28  December  1942.  The  second  model,  airborne 
first  on  28  December,  caught  fire  and  crashed  on  18  February  1943  in 
a  costly  accident  which  wiped  out  Boeing's  most  experienced  B-29 
personnel  (including  test  pilot  E.  T.  Allen  and  ten  engineers)  and  a 
score  of  workers  in  a  nearby  factory.^  This  tragedy  delayed  the  pro- 
gram by  several  months  while  changes  were  made  to  cut  down  on  the 
fire  hazards,  but  in  June  the  third  model  made  eight  successful  flights, 
after  which  both  it  and  the  first  number  were  turned  over  to  the  AAF 
at  Wichita  for  armament  and  accelerated  flight  testing.® 

•  See  below,  p.  332. 

6 


THE   VLR  PROJECT 


Months  before  this  a  tentative  production  schedule  had  been  drawn 
up,  and  the  first  production  model  rolled  off  the  line  in  July.  This  was 
a  highly  unusual  procedure  in  air  procurement,  a  token  and  a  result 
of  the  urgency  felt  by  the  Air  Corps  as  war  clouds  had  gathered  in 
1940.  Ordinarily,  a  plane  must  pass  rigorous  service  testing  before  pur- 
chase contracts  are  made:  it  had  been  six  months  after  the  first  success- 
ful test  flight  of  Boeing's  B-17  before  the  Air  Corps  placed  an  order 
for  thirteen  planes,  another  year  before  the  first  was  delivered.  But 
time  seemed  short  in  1940  and  the  development  of  a  very  heavy 
bomber  was  a  slow  and  unpredictable  task.  General  Arnold's  estimate 
that  the  B-29  could  not  be  procured  by  normal  processes  before  1945^ 
was  grounded  on  experience— the  XB-19,  latest  forerunner  of  the  Su- 
perfortress, was  contracted  for  in  1936,  first  flown  in  1941,  and  never 
put  into  production.  In  the  emergency,  with  a  new  emphasis  on  heavy 
bombers  in  defense  plans,  the  Air  Corps  decided  to  order  the  B-29  ^^^^ 
quantity  production  even  before  the  plane  had  been  airborne.  This 
radical  departure  from  long  established  custom— called  familiarly  "the 
three-billion-dollar  gamble"— not  only  involved  a  huge  financial  risk, 
it  threatened  also  to  disrupt  schedules  of  desperately  needed  aircraft 
models  already  in  production.  Nonetheless,  the  Air  Corps  on  1 7  May 
1 94 1  authorized  Boeing  to  begin  manufacture  when  ready.  This  au- 
thorization, based  on  a  mass  of  blueprints  and  a  wooden  mock-up, 
came  six  months  before  the  XB-29's  maiden  flight.  When  the  plane 
first  lifted  off  the  runway,  1,664  Superfortresses  were  on  order.^^ 
Long  before  the  first  combat  mission,  that  number  had  been  sharply 
increased. 

The  story  of  B-29  development  and  production  is  a  complex  one. 
In  magnitude  and  boldness  of  design  the  program  was  remarkable  in 
a  war  replete  with  production  miracles.  Four  years,  not  the  five  origi- 
nally expected,  elapsed  between  submission  of  preliminary  designs 
and  departure  overseas  of  the  first  B-29  units.  The  ultimate  success  of 
the  gamble  derived  in  no  small  part  from  closest  cooperation  between 
the  Air  Corps  Materiel  Center,  Boeing,  and  a  host  of  other  participat- 
ing civilian  firms.  The  huge  size  of  the  Superfort,  the  extraordinary 
performance  demanded,  and  a  number  of  revolutionary  features 
(most  notably  the  pressurized  cabin  and  remote-control  turrets)  pre- 
sented numerous  engineering  diflficulties.  Here  Boeing's  experience 
with  heavy  commercial  transports,  with  the  various  B-17  i^odels  and 
with  the  abortive  XB-15  proved  invaluable.  To  a  large  degree  the  fail- 


7 


THE  ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


ure  of  the  XB-15  and  Douglas'  XB-19  had  stemmed  from  lack  of  suf- 
ficient power.  A  new  engine  designed  by  Wright  promised  to  obviate 
that  difficulty  for  the  B-29,  but  the  engine,  like  the  plane,  had  novel 
features  and  long  remained  an  uncertain  factor.  Delays  inevitable  in 
developing  a  new  aircraft  were  aggravated  by  numerous  modifications 
which  the  Air  Corps  ordered— a  change  in  the  type  of  gun  turrets,  for 
example,  cost  weeks  of  time  in  1943-44.  Suggested  by  tactical  experi- 
ence, these  modifications  sacrificed  performance  as  well  as  time  in 
favor  of  crew  survival.  Here  as  in  most  cases  the  conflict  between  the 
engineer's  desire  to  retain  purity  of  design  and  the  airman's  wish  for 
a  plane  which  would  bring  him  back  alive  ended  in  a  compromise 
heavily  weighted  in  the  airman's  favor.  As  W.  E.  Beall,  the  Boeing 
engineer  in  charge,  said,  "When  I  put  myself  in  the  place  of  the  guy 
in  the  cockpit,  I  can  see  his  point."" 

Quantity  production  involved  intricate  arrangements  within  the 
aircraft  industry.  Boeing  devoted  its  Renton  and  Wichita  factories 
exclusively  to  B-29  production  and  eventually,  as  Douglas  and  Lock- 
heed assumed  responsibility  for  building  the  B-17,  its  No.  2  plant  at 
Seattle.  Bell  Aircraft  (at  Marietta)  and  Fisher  Bodies  (at  Cleveland) 
and  later  Glenn  L,  Martin  (at  Omaha)  built  airframe  assemblies.  En- 
gines were  made  by  Wright  and  Chrysler-DeSoto-Dodge;  dozens  of 
other  firms  furnished  components,  instruments,  and  equipment.^^  It 
was  an  all- American  team  which  sent  the  B-29  against  Japan. 

Eventually  the  Superfortress  became  as  familiar  to  the  American 
public  as  the  Flying  Fortress.  For  all  its  deadly  mission  the  B-29  was 
a  thing  of  beauty,  its  lines  as  sleek  as  a  fighter's  and  its  skin,  flush- 
riveted  and  innocent  of  camouflage  paint,  a  shining  silver.  Its  size 
could  best  be  appreciated  when  it  stood  near  a  B-17,  which  General 
Arnold  soon  came  to  call  ''the  last  of  the  medium  bombers."  Even  the 
dry  recital  of  the  B-29's  characteristics  and  performance  data,  as  they 
were  used  by  tactical  planners  in  1944,  appeared  impressive.  The  B-29 
had  a  span  of  141'  3'^  a  length  of  99^  an  over-all  height  of  27'  9".  It 
had  a  basic  weight  of  74,500  pounds,  combat  weight  of  12,000,  maxi- 
mum war  weight  of  135,000.  Four  Wright  R-3350-23  engines  with 
turbosuperchargers  developed  2,200  horsepower  each  at  sea  level  to 
turn  16'  7"  four-bladed  Hamilton  propellers.  The  plane  was  armed 
with  twelve  .50-caliber  machine  guns  and  a  20-mm.  cannon  carried 
in  the  tail.  The  remote-control  turrets  were  power-driven." 

Performance,  as  in  any  plane,  varied  with  a  number  of  factors.  Stand- 

8 


THE   VLR  PROJECT 

ard  estimates  gave  it  a  service  ceiling  of  38,000  feet  and  at  33,000 
feet  a  maximum  speed  of  361  m.p.h.  Its  range  (a  subject  of  much 
debate  until  combat  experience  provided  incontrovertible  data)  was 
calculated  at  4,400  miles  without  bombs,  3,500  miles  with  a  four-ton 
bomb  load.  In  spite  of  very  heavy  wingloading  and  a  stalling  speed  of 
125  m.p.h.,  landing  speed  was  brought  within  practicable  limits  by 
tremendous  flaps,  partly  retractable."  Pilots  with  B-17  or  B-24  experi- 
ence found  the  B-29  "hot"  to  handle  and  at  first  compared  it  unfavor- 
ably with  their  former  planes.  Eventually,  however,  they  swore  by, 
rather  than  at,  the  Superfort. 

Early  Plans  for  the  Use  of  the  B-2p 

In  November  1943  an  AAF  general  remarked  that  *'the  B-29  ^i^" 
plane  wa?  thought  out  and  planned  as  a  high  altitude,  long-range 
bomber  to  attack  Japan,  her  cities  arid  industrial  keypoints.""  When 
he  wrote,  it  appeared  that  the  B-29  would  be  dedicated  solely  to  that 
mission  and  so  time  was  to  prove.  But  his  statement  needs  some  quali- 
fication. When  the  Superfortress  was  conceived,  the  Air  Corps  was 
faced  with  responsibilities  of  more  immediate  concern  than  the  de- 
struction of  Japanese  cities.  In  the  feverish  telescoping  of  research, 
development,  testing,  and  procurement  which  followed,  it  was  in- 
evitable that  uncertainty  should  exist  as  to  when  the  B-29  could  be 
committed  to  action.  Plans  for  its  use  fluctuated  with  readjustments 
in  the  production  schedule  and  with  changes  in  the  strategic  or  tacti- 
cal situation.  Only  in  late  1943  were  those  plans  firmly  oriented  to- 
ward Tokyo. 

The  theory  that  strategic  bombardment  constituted  the  prime  func- 
tion of  military  aviation  had  received  much  emphasis  within  the  Air 
Corps  during  the  1930's  and  had  stimulated  interest  in  the  develop- 
ment of  long-raiige  heavy  bombers.*  Yet  the  argument  imost  often 
advanced  to  secure  funds  for  sucih  planes  as  the  B-17  XB-15  had 
been  based  on  the  security  they  could  afford,  through  long-range  re- 
connaissance and  sea  strikes,  against  an  attempted  invasion  of  the 
United  States  or  its  outlying  possessions.  As  the  concept  of  hemi- 
sphere defense  developed  in  the  years  1938-41,  Air  Corps  thought 
turned  increasingly  to  the  dangers  of  an  Axis  lodgment  in  some  other 
American  country  from  which  aircraft  could  strike  at  points  vital  to 
our  national  safety.  Counter-air  operations  then  took  on  top  priority 

*  See  Vol.  I,  Chap.  2. 


9 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


among  the  missions  of  the  Air  Corps,  whose  strategists  proposed  to 
meet  the  new  responsibilities  with  a  force  of  long-range  bombers.  Suc- 
cessive reports  by  various  Air  Corps  boards  from  1938  to  1940  stressed 
the  necessity  of  developing  bombers  with  performance  characteristics 
superior  to  those  of  the  6-17  and  B-24;  suggested  operating  radii 
varied  from  1,500  to  4,000  miles.^^  The  specifications  from  which  the 
B-29  and  B-32  were  developed  approximated  most  nearly  those  of  a 
2,000-mile  radius  bomber  recommended  by  the  Kilner  Board  in  the 
summer  of  1939  when  large  sums  were  being  appropriated  for  hemi^ 
sphere  def(ense.^*  It  was  the  allocation  of  $4,700,000  from  those  sums 
for  the  procurement  of  five  experimental  heavy  bombers  that  had  en- 
abied  General  Arnold  to  inaugurate  the  competition  which  eventually 
produced  the  B-29.^^ 

Ostensibly  at  least,  the  B-29  grew  out  of  a  responsibility  for  defend- 
ing the  two  Americas  and  that  mission  predominated  in  early  discus- 
sions of  its  use.  But  in  an  organization  so  thoroughly  inbued  with  a 
doctrine  of  the  offensive  as  was  the  Air  Corps,  it  was  natural  that  the 
so-called  "Air  Board  heavy  bomber''  should  be  viewed  as  a  weapon 
capable  of  carrying  war  to  our  enemy's  homeland.  As  early  as  Sep- 
tember 1939  Col.  Carl  A.  Spaatz  suggested  that  this  plane  (i.e.,  the 
future  B-29)  i^ight  be  used  against  Japanese  industry  from  bases  in 
Luzon,  Siberia,  or  the  Aleutians.^^  The  progress  of  the  war  in  Europe, 
particularly  after  the  fall  of  France,  stimulated  concern  for  the  safety 
of  the  Americas;  at  the  same  time  it  gave  impetus  to  consideration  of 
means  of  attacking  potential  enemies  in  their  own  territory.  The  grave 
danger  that  Britain  might  fall  gave  point  to  an  examination  of  the 
possibility  of  employing,  from  bases  in  North  America,  a  projected 
4,000-mile  radius  bomber,  but  its  completion  was  not  expected  before 
1947,  and  more  immediate  needs  would  have  to  be  met  by  existing 
models  and  by  the  B-29  or  B-32.^^  Those  planes  could  not  bomb  Ger- 
many from  North  America  but  they  could  from  England  or  the 
Mediterranean.  When  in  the  spring  of  1941  the  U.S.  and  British  mili- 
tary staffs  began  to  plan  for  collaboration  should  the  United  States 
be  drawn  into  the  war,  the  VLR  bomber  became,  in  anticipation,  the 
AAF's  most  potent  offensive  weapon.  In  the  Air  Staff's  first  war  plan 
(AWPD/i,  II  September  1941),*  the  original  defensive  role  of  the 
B-29      longer  figured:  by  1 944  twenty- four  B-29/B-32  groups  were 

•  AWPD/i  formed  the  AAF  section  of  the  Joint  Board  Estimate  of  U.S.  Over-all 
Production  Requirements,  11  September  1941,  For  a  fuller  analysis,  see  Vol.  I,  145-50. 

10 


THE  VLR  PROJECT 


to  be  engaged  in  bombing  Germany  from  bases  in  Great  Britain  and 
Egypt;  two  groups  might  operate  against  Japan  from  Luzon, 

This  heavy  weighting  in  favor  of  European  targets  derived  from 
the  cardinal  principle  of  Anglo-American  strategy:  that  the  Allies 
should  concentrate  their  main  efforts  against  Germany  until  that 
country  succumbed,  Japan  being  meanwhile  contained  in  a  defensive 
war  in  which  naval  forces  would  predominate.  In  spite  of  Japanese 
successes  in  the  months  which  followed  Pearl  Harbor,  AAF  strategists 
adhered  staunchly  to  this  concept  of  the  war.  Forced  immediately  to 
divert  air  strength  to  the  Pacific,  and  in  autumn  of  1942  to  the  Medi- 
terranean, they  still  looked  on  the  bomber  offensive  against  Germany 
as  the  AAF's  most  important  mission.  Hence  in  long-term  over-all 
plans  emanating  from  the  Air  Staff  during  the  first  year  of  the  war— 
AWPD/4  (15  December  1941)  and  AWPD/42  (9  September  1942) 
— B-29's  arid  B-32's  were  assigned  almost  exclusively  to  Europe.*  Only 
when  victory  there  should  free  them  for  redeployment  and  bases 
within  striking  distance  of  Honshu  could  be  won,  would  VLR  bomb- 
ers be  used  against  Japan. 

This  design  for  employment  of  the  B-29  persisted  in  AAF  Head- 
quarters without  serious  challenge  until  the  spring  of  1943.  The  North 
African  campaign  with  its  heavy  demand  for  air  forces  had  seriously 
weakened  Eighth  Air  Force  efforts  against  Festung  Europa,  and  pro- 
jected operations  in  the  Mediterranean  would  continue  to  drain  off 
needed  air  units.  But  at  Casablanca  the  Combined  Bomber  Offensive 
against  Germany  had  been  approved  in  principle  and  B-29's  could 
add  to  the  impact  of  that  campaign.  Rather  than  go  on  to  invade  Sicily 
and  Italy,  Air  Staff  planners  would  have  preferred  to  use  Tunisia  bases 
for  VHB  operations  against  German  industry,  shuttling  B-29's  be- 
tween England  and  North  Africa  as  weather  conditions  might  dic- 
tate.'' / 

This  cbncept  was  indorsed  by  theater  AAF  leaders.  Lt.  Gen. 
Carl  A.  Spaatz  of  the  Northwest  African  Air  Forces  had  developed 
on  Arnold's  prompting  a  scheme  for  an  over-all  theater  air  force  link- 
ing units  in  England  and  North  Africa. t  Maj.  Gen.  Ira  C.  Eaker  of 
the  Eighth  Air  Force,  charged  with  developing  a  plan  for  the  Com- 
bined Bomber  Offensive,  attempted  in  March  1943  to  secure  from 
Washington  a  tentative  deployment  schedule  of  B-29  groups.  Neither 

*  For  discussion  of  these  plans,  see,  respectively,  Vol,  I,  236,  and  Vol.  II,  lyy-r^g. 
t  See  Vol.  II,  especially  pp.  60-66. 

II 


THE   ARMY  AIR   FORC£S   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

this  nor  subsequent  requests  brought  definite  commitments.  No 
groups  would  be  combat-ready  before  the  end  of  the  year  at  best  and 
by  summer  plans  for  using  the  B- 2  9  were  favoring  Japan.  So  long 
were  those  plans  in  crystallizing  that  it  was  December  before  Arnold 
could  inform  Eaker  definitively  that  VHB's  would  not  be  used  in 
Europe.''^ 

Meanwhile,  both  before  and  after  the  reversal  of  Air  Staff  plans, 
AAF  Headquarters  had  been  besieged  by  requests  for  B-29's  from 
other  theaters  arid  agencies.  In  April  1943  the  Antisubmarine  Com- 
mand tried,  unsuccessfully,  to  have  twenty-four  B-29's  earmarked  for 
early  deliyery.^^  Similarly  the  Navy  wished  to  obtain  Superforts  to 
supplement  its  AAF-procured  B-24's  in  long-range  reconnaissance  and 
in  their  war  against  the  U-boat.  This  request,  hardly  in  keeping  with 
the  Navy's  long  struggle  against  high  production  priorities  granted 
the  B-29,  drew  from  AAF  authorities  on  7  July  the  curt  comment 
that  "the  Army  Air  Forces  will  not  discuss  the  allocation  of  B-29's 
to  the  Navy."^*  Queries  came  from  every  theater  in  the  war  against 
Japan,  where  distances  lent  special  value  to  the  B-29's  range:  from 
Brereton  in  the  CBI  in  March  1942;^'*  from  Emmons  in  Hawaii  after 
the  battle  of  Midway  had  taxed  the  endurance  of  his  B-17's;''^  from 
Harmon  in  the  South  Pacific  who  would  have  used  VHB's  out  of 
Borabora;^^  from  the  North  Pacific  after  U.S.  victories  in  the  western 
Aleutians  revived  earlier  designs  for  bombing  Japan  from  that  area.* 
The  Southwest  Pacific  received  most  serious  consideration.  Maj.  Gen. 
George  C.  Kenney  of  the  Fifth  Air  Force  had  helped  develop  the 
B-29  while  serving  with  the  Materiel  Division  at  Wright  Field  (1939- 
42),  and  he  seems  to  have  entertained  some  belief  that  he  enjoyed  a 
personal  priority  in  plans  for  its  use.  In  June  1943  he  began  seeking 
information  on  the  special  type  of  airfield  required  and  on  28  July 
wrote  to  Arnold:  hear  that  the  B-29  is  ^Y^^S  ^g^^^- 1  assume  that  I 
am  still  to  get  the  first  B-29  unit."^^  Three  months  later  Arnold  asked 
Kenney  his  views  on  the  best  use  of  the  B-29  in  the  war  against  Japan. 
In  a  long  and  enthusiastic  letter  Kenney  outlined  a  plan  for  striking  at 
Japanese  petroleum  installations,  shipping,  and  military  base§  from  air- 
fields in  Darwin  and  Broome.  He  concluded:  ''If  you  want  the  B-29 
used  efficiently  and  effectively  where  it  will  do  the  most  good  in  the 
shortest  time,  the  Southwest  Pacific  area  is  the  place  and  the  Fifth  Air 
Force  can  do  the  jpb."^®  There  were  some  in  Washington  who  agreed 

•  See  Vol.  ly,  39SH400. 


12 


THE   VLR  PROJECT 

both  to  the  area  and  the  targets,*  but  when  Kenney's  letter  arrived, 
AAF  Headquarters  was  firmly  committed  to  another  use  for  the  B-29, 
and  he  was  so  informed.^^  The  new  plan  had  grown  out  of  a  threat- 
ened crisis  in  CBL 

MATTERHORN 

When  President  Roosevelt  and  Prime  Minister  Churchill  assembled 
their  advisers  in  Washington  on  11  May  1943  for  the  TRIDENT 
conference,  the  war  against  Germany  was  still  their  primary  concern. 
The  Tunisian  campaign  was  just  finishing,  belatedly,  with  the  Axis 
surrender  on  Cap  Bon,  and  the  invasion  of  Sicily  was  in  the  oflSng  with 
Italy  as  the  next  logical  objective.  From  England  the  Combined 
Bomber  Offensive  was  getting  under  way,  and  in  spite  of  diversions  to 
the  Mediterranean  the  build-up  of  huge  forces  in  the  United  King- 
dom must  be  provided  for  if  the  continent  was  to  be  invaded  in  1944. 

Nevertheless  the  two  leaders  and  their  Combined  Chiefs  of  Staff 
were  confronted  with  serious  problems  in  Asia  and  the  Pacific.  The 
war  against  Japan  had  been  so  far  a  defensive  one.  American  forces 
had  checked  the  Japanese  advance  eastward  at  Midway,  southward 
in  the  Solomons  and  New  Guinea;  with  the  successful  termination  of 
the  Guadalcanal  and  Papua  campaigns  and  the  recent  landing  on  Attu, 
the  Allies  could  begin  to  think  of  the  long  trek  back  to  the  Philippines 
and  on  to  Japan.  Except  for  naval  forces,  allocations  for  the  Pacific 
and  for  Asia  would  continue  to  be  subordinated  to  the  needs  of  the 
European  war,  but  it  was  time  to  take  stock  in  the  Far  East. 

Deliberations  followed  two  correlative  but  distinct  lines— one  gen- 
eral, the  other  specific  and  more  immediately  urgent.  First,  since  some 
hope  existed  that  Germany  might  be  defeated  by  the  end  of  1944, 
plans  must  be  formulated  for  the  redeployment  of  forces  from  Eu- 
rope and  for  a  strategic  offensive  against  Japan  both  before  and  after 
that  move.  Meanwhile,  Japanese  armies  were  consolidating  gains  in 
war-weary  China.  British  failures  in  Burma  had  damaged  the  Allied 
cause  in  China,  and  the  deteriorating  tactical  situation  there  was  prov- 
ing embarrassing  to  the  Chungking  government.  A  more  vigorous 
policy  in  CBI,  both  by  the  western  powers  and  by  China,  seemed  im- 
perative if  the  latter  country  was  to  be  kept  in  the  war. 

No  final  solution  for  either  of  those  related  problems  could  be 
found  at  TRIDENT,  and  they  were  to  reappear  at  the  Quebec  con- 

•  Sec  below  pp.  18-30. 

13 


THE  ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


ference  in  August  and  at  Cairo  in  November.  In  the  meanwhile,  a 
fairly  dependable  estimate  of  the  readiness  date  of  the  initial  6-29 
groups  had  become  available.  Too  late  to  allow  those  groups  to  play 
any  considerable  part  in  the  pre-invasion  bombardment  of  Europe, 
that  date  could  readily  be  fitted  into  a  schedule  of  operations  against 
Japan.  So  it  was  that  the  B-29  came  to  figure  prominently  in  discus- 
sions both  of  long-term  Pacific  strategy  and  of  immediate  aid  to 
China.  Little  opposition  was  voiced  at  high  planning  levels  over  the 
proposed  diversion  of  VHB*s  from  Europe  to  the  Far  East.  But  among 
the  several  services,  agencies,  and  individuals  concerned  there  were 
dissident  opinions  as  to  where  and  how  the  B-29  could  best  contribute 
to  the  defeat  of  Japan,  and  a  final  decision  was  not  reached  until  after 
months  of  planning  and  debate.  To  understand  how  the  B-29  fitted 
into  the  general  pattern  of  the  Japanese  war,  it  becomes  necessary  to 
follow  the  development  of  strategy  for  China  and  for  the  Pacific  from 
May  1943  to  April  1944.  The  story  is  an  involved  one  and,  worse,  it 
is  a  story  of  words  and  papers  rather  than  of  actions,  but  it  is  an  im- 
portant one  nevertheless. 

From  the  outset  of  the  war  Anglo-American  authorities  had  refused 
to  commit  strong  forces  in  China.  The  war  could  not  be  won  there; 
supply  was  exceedingly  difficult  and  available  units  were  needed  else- 
where. With  China's  unlimited  manpower,  it  seemed  preferable  to 
furnish  munitions  through  lend-lease  and  to  provide  minimal  air 
forces  and  technicians  and  training  in  the  use  of  modern  equipment. 
Thus  China  might  be  saved  to  serve  later  as  a  base  area  for  the  even- 
tual assault  on  Japan.  The  Japanese  conquest  of  Burma  in  1942  had 
closed  the  Burma  Road,  cutting  down  the  flow  of  lend-lease  supplies 
to  a  thin  trickle  delivered  "over  the  Hump"  by  air.  To  break  the  Japa- 
nese blockade  would  require  the  reconquest  of  northern  Burma  to 
open  a  road  to  Kunming,  or  a  sharp  increase  of  air  transport  out  of 
Assam.  At  Casablanca  in  January  1943  Anglo-American  leaders  had 
promised  substantial  aid  toward  both  these  goals,  but  performance  had 
fallen  far  short  of  promises.*  In  April  Chiang  Kai-shek  asked  Roose- 
velt that  Maj.  Gen.  Claire  L.  Chennault  be  called  to  Washington  to 
present  a  new  plan  for  an  air  offensive  by  his  Fourteenth  Air  Force. 
Other  top  U.S.  and  British  commanders  were  summoned  as  well  and 
met  with  Roosevelt,  Churchill,  and  their  chiefs  of  staff  in  the  TRI- 
DENT conference.^^ 

*  See  Vol.  IV,  435-49. 


THE   VLR  PROJECT 


Two  strategies  were  presented.  Lt.  Gen.  Joseph  W.  Stilwell,  U.S. 
theater  commander  and  chief  of  staff  to  Generalissimo  Chiang  Kai- 
shek,  wished  to  bend  all  efforts  toward  regaining  Burma,  opening  the 
truck  road  to  China,  and  utilizing  much  of  its  tonnage  to  equip  a  large 
modernized  Chinese  ground  force  to  drive  the  Japanese  out  of  China. 
Chennault's  plan  called  for  a  greatly  increased  airlift  into  Kunming, 
with  most  of  the  additional  tonnage  going  to  an  augmented  air  force 
in  China.  Thus  reinforced,  Chennault  thought  he  could  maintain  with 
existing  Chinese  armies  an  effective  defense  against  Japanese  air  and 
ground  forces  by  cutting  their  inland  supply  routes  and  at  the  same 
time  could  reach  out  from  airfields  in  eastern  China  to  harass  the  en- 
emy's sea  lanes.^^  In  the  Washington  debates  Chennault's  arguments 
won  out;  the  British  were  not  eager  for  intensive  campaigns  in  Burma 
and,  according  to  Stilwell,  Roosevelt  "had  decided  on  an  air  effort  in 
China  before  we  reached  Washington,"^^  New  promises  were  made.^* 

This  decision,  favored  by  Chiang  Kai-shek,  was  a  concession  to  the 
immediate  need  for  encouraging  China;  that  nation  was  also  important 
in  the  long-term  offensive  strategy  recommended  by  the  Combined 
Planning  Staff  (CPS).^^  This  strategy  called  for  an  intensification  of 
operations  currently  projected  in  China  and  Burma,  but  its  chief  con- 
cern was  to  carry  the  war  to  Japan.  Hong  Kong  was  to  be  recaptured 
to  serve  as  a  port  of  entry,  and  from  bases  to  be  prepared  in  east  China 
the  Allies  were  to  conduct  against  Japan  an  overwhelming  bomber 
offensive  preparatory  to  a  final  invasion.  Hong  Kong  was  the  logisti- 
cal kingpin  of  this  plan;  capture  and  use  of  the  port  depended  upon 
Allied  control  of  the  China  Sea,  which  in  turn  must  await  advances 
from  the  Central  and  Southwest  Pacific  by  U.S.  forces.  At  the  direc- 
tion of  the  Combined  Chiefs  of  Staff,  their  planners  undertook  to  elab- 
orate this  general  concept  of  operations.^^  They  completed  the  task  on 
8  August  1943  in  anticipation  of  the  next  general  conference." 

The  finished  plan  counted  heavily  on  the  naval  and  air  superiority 
of  the  Allies,  which  would  be  overwhelming  after  redeployment  from 
the  ETO.  The  destruction  of  Japanese  sea  and  air  forces,  the  blockade 
of  Japan,  and  the  long-range  bombardment  of  strategic  targets  in  the 
home  islands  from  bases  in  China  or  Formosa— these  were  considered 
as  absolute  prerequisites,  perhaps  even  as  substitutes,  for  a  final  inva- 
sion. The  timing  was  slow.  Consciously  accepting  the  most  conserva- 
tive date  for  each  operational  phase,  the  CPS  expected  the  bomber  of- 
fensive to  begin  only  in  i^^j.  Because  of  the  minor  part  assigned  to 


15 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


ground  forces  one  critic  was  moved  to  label  this  a  "Navy  plan."  But 
the  strategy,  with  its  emphasis  on  the  recapture  of  Hong  Kong  and  its 
preference  for  indirect  methods  of  attack  over  an  assault  in  force  on 
the  Inner  Empire,  was  essentially  British,  repeating  for  the  Far  East 
the  pattern  of  operations  which  they  had  supported  in  Europe.  Amer- 
ican strategists  favored,  in  the  Japanese  war  as  in  the  European,  a 
faster  pace. 

A  week  after  this  plan  was  finished  Roosevelt  and  Churchill  met  at 
Quebec  in  the  QUADRANT  conference  (14-24  August  1943). 
Again  the  related  problems  of  immediate  aid  to  China  and  prepara- 
tions for  the  eventual  defeat  of  Japan  were  associated  in  the  agenda. 
Further  commitments  to  the  Generalissimo  carried  a  plea  for  stronger 
Chinese  cooperation.^®  The  CCS  tabled  the  over-all  plan  offered  by 
their  planners  because  of  its  slow  tempo.'^^  To  advance  the  target  date 
for  landings  on  the  east  China  coast,  the  U.S.  Chiefs  of  Staff  submit- 
ted instead  an  accelerated  schedule  of  operations  in  the  Pacific.'*'^  The 
final  report  of  the  CCS  to  the  President  and  Prime  Minister  reflected 
this  more  aggressive  attitude.*^  The  new  strategy  was  predicated  on 
the  assumption  that  Japan  could  be  defeated  within  twelve  months 
after  Germany's  surrender.  So  early  a  victory  would  require  rapid  re- 
deployment and  a  willingness  to  capitalize  on  Allied  air  and  naval  su- 
periority and  on  "novel  methods  of  warfare."  For  planning  purposes, 
the  JCS  revised  schedule  of  Pacific  operations  was  accepted.  Briefly, 
this  contemplated  an  advance  by  U.S.  naval  and  amphibious  forces 
through  the  Central  Pacific  via  the  Gilberts-Marshalls-Ponape-Palaus, 
coordinated  with  a  parallel  sweep  by  MacArthur's  forces  from  south- 
ern New  Guinea  and  the  Solomons  through  the  Bismarck  Sea  and 
Admiralties  and  along  the  New  Guinea  coast  to  Vogelkop.  The  fea- 
sibility of  attacks  on  the  Marianas  and  Kurils  needed  further  study.*^ 

Meanwhile,  the  British  were  to  carry  the  main  combat  burden  in  the 
CBI.  Chief  objectives  for  the  Americans  were  to  drive  a  land  line  of 
communications  (LOC)  through  from  India  to  China  (Ledo  Road), 
to  improve  air  transport  routes,  and  to  build  a  Calcutta- Assam-Kun- 
ming pipeline.  The  common  end  of  these  operations  was  to  maintain 
China  as  an  effective  ally  and  to  allow  U.S.  and  Chinese  air  forces  to 
increase  the  intensity  of  their  strikes  against  the  enemy.  This  emphasis 
upon  the  air  war,  prefigured  in  the  TRIDENT  decisions,  was  cli- 
maxed by  a  paragraph  calling  for  a  study  of  the  possibilities  of  devel- 
oping the  air  route  to  China  on  a  scale  which  would  permit  the  full 

16 


THE  VLR  PROJECT 

employment  in  and  from  China  of  all  heavy  bombers  and  transports 
made  available  should  Germany  capitulate  by  autumn  1944.*' 
.  This  last  item  had  been  suggested  by  an  AAF  plan  for  defeat  of 
Japan  which  the  JCS  had  circulated,  without  indorsement,  on  20  Au- 
gust.^ In  spite  of  a  continuing  preference  for  using  the  B-29  in  Eu- 
rope, AC/AS,  Plans  (Maj.  Gen.  Laurence  S.  Kuter)  in  March  1943 
had  initiated  detailed  studies  preliminary  to  a  plan  for  the  VLR  bomb- 
ing of  Japan  out  of  China  bases.**^  Concurrently  General  Arnold  had 
directed  the  Committee  of  Operations  Analysts  (COA)  to  prepare  an 
"analysis  of  strategic  targets  in  Japan"  whose  destruction  might  end 
the  war.*  In  the  early  months  of  the  war  the  AAF  had  been  interested 
in  a  number  of  schemes  for  bombing  metropolitan  Japan:  the  cele- 
brated Doolittle  raid  from  a  Navy  carrier  and  the  HALPRO  and 
AQUILA  projects,  abandoned  because  of  emergencies  elsewhere, 
which  had  counted  on  using  B-24's  to  stage  through  east  China  air- 
fields.t  With  the  forces  available  and  the  logistical  difBculties  in- 
volved, neither  project  could  have  conducted  a  sustained  bombard- 
ment program,  but  there  was  hope  that  strikes  at  Japanese  cities  would 
have  a  marked  psychological  effect  in  Japan,  China,  and  America. 
These  designs,  like  the  Doolittle  mission,  had  the  President's  sanction, 
and  in  the  summer  of  1943  he  was  still  anxious  to  use  U.S.  bombers 
against  Japan  as  a  spur  to  China's  war  effort.^®  Air  Staff  planners  cou- 
pled this  morale  factor  with  the  new  concept  of  a  short  war  in  the 
Far  East.  Current  estimates  indicated  that  ten  B-29  groups  (twenty- 
eight  planes  each)  might  be  available  by  October  1944,  ten  more  by 
May  1945.  According  to  existing  schedules,  no  Pacific  islands  within 
B-29  radius  of  Honshu  would  be  in  U.S.  hands  in  1944,  but  China  of- 
fered bases  within  practical  operating  range  and  with  the  requisite 
capacity  and  dispersion.^^  Political  and  strategic  considerations  rein- 
forced this  choice.  The  AAF  planners  believed  that  "the  initiation  of 
the  bomber  offensive,  and  even  nieasures  in  preparation  therefor, 
[would]  tremendously  stimulate  Chinese  morale  and  unify  the  Chi- 
nese people  under  the  leadership  of  Chiang  Kai-shek,"*®  The  latter's 
support  of  Chennault's  proposals  at  TRIDENT  might  have  seemed 
to  justify  such  a  hope. 

At  any  rate,  the  AAF  proposed  to  build  a  chain  of  airfields  along  a 
400-mile  axis  north  and  south  of  Changsha.  Within  a  radius  of  1,500 

•  See  below,  pp.  26-27. 
+  See  Vol.  I,  438-^,  493. 


17 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

miles  from  these  fields—that  is,  within  reach  of  the  B-29  with  a  theo- 
retical ten-ton  bomb  load— lay  most  of  Japan's  industries.  With  groups 
performing  5  missions  a  month  at  50  per  cent  strength,  168  group- 
months  would  suffice  to  destroy  the  designated  targets  and  that  ef- 
fort could  be  applied  within  the  12  months  allowed.  Unwilling  to 
await  the  recapture  of  Hong  Kong,  the  air  planners  expected  to  oper- 
ate without  benefit  of  an  east  China  port.^^  Logistical  support  must 
come  via  India,  and  without  prejudice  to  other  operations.  Defense 
forces— a  U.S.-trained  Chinese  army  and  the  Tenth  and  Fourteenth 
Air  Forces— would  tax  present  and  projected  supply  lines.  For  the 
bomber  offensive  all  supplies  were  to  go  by  air,  Calcutta  to  Kunming 
to  Changsha.  In  this  task  B-24's  released  by  victory  in  Europe  and 
converted  into  transports  (C-87's)  were  to  be  used  at  the  rate  of  200 
per  B-29  group— that  is,  2,000  by  October  1944,  4,000  by  May  1945. 
Port  facilities  were  thought  adequate  for  the  estimated  requirements 
of  596,000  tons  per  month. 

The  Combined  Chiefs  referred  this  ambitious  design,  coded  SET- 
TING SUN,  to  their  own  planners  for  a  report  by  15  September.^° 
Meanwhile,  queries  as  to  the  practicability  of  some  of  the  proposed 
measures  elicited  from  the  CBI  commander  a  detailed  and  unfavor- 
able critique:  Stilwell  cited  logistical  difficulties  (including  the  lim- 
ited port  capacity  of  Calcutta)  and  thought  the  time  schedule  entirely 
too  optimistic.^^  On  request  from  Washington,  Stilwell  offered  an  al- 
ternative plan,  coded  TWILIGHT." 

This  called  for  the  use  of  several  airfields  along  the  Kweilin-Chang- 
sha  railroad  (Liuchow,  Kweilin,  Suichwan,  Hengyang),  but  as  ad- 
vanced rather  than  as  permanent  bases.  For  security  arid  better  main- 
tenance facilities,  the  B-29's  would  be  stationed  in  the  Calcutta  area. 
Much  of  the  fuel  required  for  a  mission  to  Japan  could  be  carried  by 
the  combat  planes.  Extra  fuel,  bombs,  and  other  supplies  would  be 
hauled  by  45  ''converted  B-24's"  and  367  C-54's  or  C-87's  direct  from 
Calcutta  to  Kweilin.  By  April  1945  these  transports  could  sustain  10 
B-29  groups  flying  500  sorties  per  month.  Calcutta  could  handle  the 
58,000  tons  monthly  of  dry  cargo  and  the  POL  (petrol,  oil,  and  lubri- 
cants) for  this  program.  Installations  could  be  built  on  time  with  U.S. 
aid.  Later  B-29  groups  might  be  stationed  in  the  Mandalay  area. 

TWILIGHT  bore  the  stamp  of  CBI.  Drafted  by  men  who  knew 
from  bitter  experience  the  difficulty  of  meeting  commitments  in  that 
theater,  the  plan  called  for  more  time,  a  smaller  effort,  and  less  logis- 

18 


THE  VLR  PROJECT 

tical  support  than  that  outlined  by  AAF  Headquarters.  Only  in  the 
matter  of  security  forces  was  the  theater  lavish.  Stilwell  had  argued  at 
TRIDENT— and  Doolittle's  Tokyo  raid  seemed  to  bear  him  out— that 
the  Japanese  would  react  sharply  against  a  bomber  offensive  with 
large-scale  air  and  ground  campaigns  in  China.^^  Now  Stilwell  insisted 
on  fifty  U.S.-trained  and  -equipped  Chinese  divisions  for  ground  pro- 
tection of  the  airfields,  and  for  air  defense  a  reinforced  Fourteenth  Air 
Force  plus  five  fighter  groups  attached  to  the  B-29's.  With  those 
forces  China  might  have  become  an  active  theater  regardless  of  the 
performance  of  the  VHB  groups,  and  it  is  difficult  to  avoid  the  con- 
clusion that  theater  commanders  had  that  purpose  in  mind. 

Having  outlined  his  proposals  in  a  long  radio  message  on  1 1  Sep- 
tember, Stilwell  immediately  sent  Brig.  Gen.  Robert  C.  Oliver  of 
India-Burma  Sector,  AAF  to  give  a  more  detailed  description  in  Wash- 
ington. There  Oliver  found  the  CPS  ready  to  consider  TWILIGHT, 
but  desirous  also  of  examining  any  proposed  B-29  operations  in  the 
whole  context  of  the  accelerated  strategy."  In  accord  with  this  latter 
attitude.  General  Kuter's  office  prepared  a  new  outline  plan  which 
was  sent  to  the  Joint  Planning  Staff  on  16  September.^  This  in- 
dorsed the  general  concept  of  TWILIGHT,  but  set  an  earlier  target 
date.  Without  ruling  out  the  possible  use  of  the  Mandalay-Rangoon 
area  for  the  second  contingent  of  ten  B-29  g^^^pS)  ^he  AAF  planner 
went  on  to  consider  other  base  areas.  In  so  doing  he  gave  an  entirely 
new  twist  to  U.S.  strategy. 

At  QUADRANT  the  JCS  had  evinced  some  interest  in  seizing  the 
Marianas,  perhaps  in  early  1946,  as  a  site  for  a  naval  base.**  The  AAF 
later  suggested,  on  10  September,  that  D-day  be  advanced  to  mid- 
1944  by  neutralizing  and  bypassing,  rather  than  capturing,  certain 
Pacific  islands;  the  "basic  mission"  of  the  Marianas  operation  would 
be  to  provide  VHB  bases."  The  Air  Staff  planned  to  station  eight 
B-29  groups  in  the  Marshalls-Carolines  area  and  stage  them  through 
the  Marianas  to  strike  at  Japan— beginning  by  March  1945  or  earlier. °® 

Directed  by  General  Arnold,  a  special  board  reviewed  this  outline 
plan  and  on  20  September  recommended  the  immediate  elaboration  of 
a  modified  TWILIGHT  plan.°®  This  was  without  prejudice  to  the  de- 
sign for  later  use  of  the  Marianas,  but  for  a  year  China  would  remain 
the  sole  area  from  which  the  B-29  could  reach  Japan.  That  argunient, 
perhaps  sufficient  alone  to  have  outweighed  the  obvious  logistical 
handicaps  of  the  CBI,  was  supported  powerfully  by  the  political  fac- 


19 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN  WORLD   WAR  II 


tor,  the  need  to  strengthen  China's  morale.  Accepting  the  board's  re- 
port, Arnold  called  in  Brig.  Gen.  Kenneth  B.  Wolfe  and  asked  him  to 
prepare  an  operational  plan  calculated  "to  initiate  strategic  bombard- 
ment of  Japan  with  the  maximum  of  available  B-29's  at  the  earliest 
possible  date."^  The  choice  of  Wolfe,  like  the  directive,  indicated 
that  planning  had  reached  a  more  urgent  phase. 

At  Wright  Field,  Wolfe  had  earlier  been  responsible  for  the  B-29 
production  program.  In  April  1943  General  Arnold  had  set  up  a  B-29 
Special  Project  with  Wolfe  as  chief  ;  his  task  now  included  organizing, 
equipping,  arid  training  B-29  units  for  combat.  With  production 
schedules  promising  150  B-29's  early  in  1944— enough  to  provide  for 
4  VHB  groups— Wolfe  had  organized  the  58th  Bombardment 
Wing  (H)  and  in  September  was  training  his  combat  groups  in  air- 
fields near  his  headquarters  at  Salina,  Kansas.*  By  24  September  he 
had  sketched  in  the  main  outlines  of  his  plan,  basing  it  on  TWI- 
LIGHT but  advancing  D-day  for  the  first  mission  to  i  June  1944  by 
making  several  important  changes.  He  proposed  to  make  his  project 
virtually  self-supporting  by  transporting  supplies  for  100  B-29's  based 
in  the  Kweilin  area  with  150  other  B-29's  working  out  from  fields 
near  Calcutta.^^  Since  June  was  too  late  to  comply  with  the  President's 
desire  for  an  immediate  show  of  force  in  China,  Wolfe  revised  his 
plan,  making  some  considerable  alterations  and  adding  details  on  logis- 
tics, organization,  and  operations.  This  he  submitted  to  Arnold  on 
II  October.®^ 

Wolfe  expected  to  have  a  force  of  150  aircraft  and  300  crews  by 
I  March  1944,  300  planes  and  450  crews  by  i  September— plus  normal 
replacements.  These  he  proposed  to  organize  into  a  bomber  command 
with  two  wings  of  four  combat  groups  each.  Stilwell  was  to  provide 
bases  in  India  and  China  and  to  improve  certain  transportation  facili- 
ties—air, ground,  and  water.  All  B-29's  were  to  base  iii  the  Calcutta 
ai'ea,  staging  through  advanced  fields  around  Kweilin.  Operations 
would  begin  about  i  April  1944  ^^^^  arrival  of  the  first  wing. 
After  3  closely  spaced  ioo-sortie  missions,  the  weight  of  attack 
would  be  maintained  at  200  sorties  per  month  uritil  September  when 
the  arrival  of  the  second  wing  would  support  300.  Supply  would  be 
by  the  B-29's  themselves,  aided,  until  an  initial  stockpile  had  been  ac- 
cumulated, by  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force's  308th  Bombardment  Group 
(H)  reinforced  by  twenty  C-87's.  The  Superforts  would  be  utilized 

*  See  below,  pp.  53-54. 

20 


THE   VLR  PROJECT 


for  transport  and  combat  in  the  ratio  of  three  to  two,  but  without 
modification  so  that  any  plane  could  serve  in  either  capacity.  After 
the  first  three  missions,  the  B-29's  would  maintain  operations  at  the 
rate  of  three  Calcutta-Kweilin  transport  sorties  for  each  combat  sortie 
with  double  crews  supporting  this  constant  activity.  No  additional 
ground  defense  was  called  for.  Air  defense  would  be  furnished  by 
Chennault's  air  force,  strengthened  by  two  fighter  groups  supplied  by 
increased  ATC  tonnage  and  the  reinforced  308th  Group. 

Wolfe  pointed  out  certain  weaknesses  in  his  plan— its  logistical  in- 
efficiency and  the  vulnerability  of  advanced  airfields  and  of  supply 
lines— but  thought  it  acceptable  as  a  calculated  risk.®^  Discussion  with 
AC/ AS,  Plans  on  12  October  turned  largely  on  the  site  of  the  ad- 
vanced bases.  Col.  G.  C.  Carey  of  that  office,  pointing  out  StilwelFs 
insistence  that  fifty  first-class  Chinese  divisions  would  be  needed  to 
defend  Kweilin,  suggested  that  Chengtu  in  Szechwan  province  be 
used  instead.  Anxious  to  get  an  immediate  approval  of  such  general 
features  of  the  plan  as  were  necessary  for  initiating  action,  Wolfe  ac- 
cepted this  change  and  temporarily  reserved  judgment  on  other  "min- 
utiae which  may  be  controversial  at  the  moment."^ 

On  1 3  October  General  Arnold  approved  in  principle  the  "Wolfe 
project,"  indorsing  it  in  his  own  hand;  "I  have  told  the  President  that 
this  will  be  started  (in  China  to  Japan)  on  March  i.  See  that  it  is  done. 
H.  H.  A."^*  Even  this  further  advance  in  the  target  date  did  not  sat- 
isfy President  Roosevelt.  He  wrote  to  General  Marshall  on  the  1 5th, 
somewhat  querulously: 

I  am  still  pretty  thoroughly  disgusted  with  the  India-China  matters*  The  last 
straw  was  the  report  from  Arnold  that  he  could  not  get  the  B-29's  operating 
out  of  China  until  March  or  April  of  next  year.  Everything  seems  to  go  wrong. 
But  the  worst  thing  is  that  we  are  falling  down  on  our  promises  every  single 
time.  We  have  not  fulfilled  one  of  them  yet.  I  do  not  see  why  we  have  to  use 
B-29's.  We  have  several  other  types  of  bombing  planes.®* 

At  Marshall's  request,  Arnold  prepared  a  reply  explaining  that  the  dif- 
ficulties always  encountered  in  getting  a  new  plane  into  combat  had 
been  complicated  by  labor  difficulties  in  a  Wright  engine  factory;  he 
offered  to  divert  B-24's  to  China  but  reminded  the  President  that  only 
B-29's  could  hit  directly  at  Japan.*^  His  offer  was  not  accepted  and 
the  March-April  target  date  held. 

Asked  to  compare  the  meiits  of  TWILIGHT  and  the  Wolfe  proj- 
ect, Stilwell  rated  the  latter  as  more  immediately  feasible  in  view  of 

21 


THE   ARMY   AIR    FORCES    IN    WORLD    WAR  II 

the  lighter  defense  forces  required  at  Chengtu— only  two  fighter 
groups  and  no  extra  ground  troops.  He  did  not  think  it  possible  to  de- 
liver a  knockout  blow  from  Chengtu  (nor  did  Washington!)  but  ac- 
cepted the  plan,  asking  for  an  early  decision  since  he  needed  four  to 
six  months  to  prepare  the  airfields.*'^  Thus  assured,  Air  Staff  personnel 
continued  to  refine  and  elaborate  the  Wolfe  project  until  9  November 
when  they  presented  to  the  JPS  the  finished  plan,  called  "Early  Sus- 
tained Bombing  of  Japan"**®  and  eventually  coded  MATTER- 
HORN.* 

The  timing  was  inconvenient.  Roosevelt  and  Churchill  had  sched- 
uled two  important  military  conferences  for  the  immediate  future: 
one  at  Cairo  (SEXTANT,  22-27  November;  2-7  December)  which 
Chiang  Kai-shek  would  attend,  the  other  with  Stalin  at  Tehran  (EU- 
REKA, 28-30  November).  MATTERHORN,  as  an  all- American 
show,  needed  the  approval  only  of  the  JCS  and  the  President.  Because 
it  must  be  fitted  into  any  over-all  strategy  adopted  at  the  conferences, 
however,  it  was  desirable  that  U.S.  authorities  be  agreed  on  MAT- 
TERHORN before  assembling  at  the  council  table.  Furthermore, 
preliminary  actions  must  begin  at  once  if  the  new  timetable  was  to 
be  met.  Because  of  the  CBFs  low  priority  in  shipping  and  service 
troops,  those  actions  would  require  much  shuffling  of  allocations,  and 
quick  decisions  were  difficult  during  the  general  exodus  of  Cairo- 
bound  staff  members.  What  with  lack  of  agreement  among  those 
officers  and  the  complicated  negotiations  which  transpired  at  SEX- 
TANT and  EUREKA,  it  was  only  after  four  weeks  that  MATTER- 
HORN  was  finally  approved.  For  four  months  thereafter  the  project 
was  subject  to  intermittent  attacks  by  opponents,  and  before  the  first 
B-29  mission  was  flown,  Wolfe's  original  plan  had  been  materially 
scaled  down. 

When  the  JPS  reviewed  the  plan  on  9  November,  objections  arose 
at  once:  from  the  Navy  member  because  of  overriding  priorities  de- 
manded for  B-29  production,  from  the  Army  member  because  of  the 
proposed  diversion  of  four  battalions  of  aviation  engineers  to  build 
the  Calcutta  bases.  Unable  to  reach  an  immediate  agreement,  the  JPS 
turned  the  paper  over  to  the  Joint  War  Plans  Committee,  asking  for  a 

•  TWILIGHT  had  been  used  in  Stil well's  cable  of  1 1  September  to  designate  the 
Kweilin  plan.  That  code  name  continued  to  be  used  loosely  for  any  plan  to  base  B-29's 
in  China  until  the  Cairo  conference  when  MATTERHORN  was  assigned  to  Chengtu, 
TWILIGHT  to  Kweilin.  Soon  thereafter,  TWILIGHT  was  changed  to  DRAKE.  To 
avoid  confusion,  the  terms  are  used  in  the  text  as  they  were  defined  at  Cairo. 


22 


THE   VLR  PROJECT 


report  at  SEXTANT  by  17  November.'^'  The  senior  members  of 
JWPC,  also  headed  for  Cairo,  delegated  this  task  to  their  "Home 
Team."  Meanwhile,  necessary  practical  measures  were  taken,  usually 
in  a  tentative  fashion.  The  Joint  Chiefs,  pending  advice  from  their 
planners,  agreed  to  support  preliminary  negotiations  for  obtaining  air- 
field sites  in  India  and  China/^  In  this  matter  Roosevelt  acted  more  di- 
rectly. Briefed  on  the  MATTERHORN  plan,  he  approved  it  in  prin- 
ciple and  on  10  November  apprised  Churchill  and  the  Generalissimo 
of  its  salient  features,  asking  for  aid  in  securing  the  airfields.  Both 
promised  the  needed  sites  and  aid  in  construction/*  Theater  com- 
manders, advised  of  these  negotiations,  turned  to  the  task  of  prepar- 
ing the  installations  against  an  early  D-day  .^'^ 

Other  actions  followed  rapidly.  Orders  went  out  for  the  activation 
of  XX  Bomber  Command,  Wolfe  commanding,  with  two  VHB 
wings,  the  58th  and  j^dJ""  At  Arnold's  request,  the  War  Department 
alerted  for  shipment  on  1 5  December  certain  designated  service  units 
for  building  the  Calcutta  installations."  Actual  assignment  of  the  units 
was  contingent  upon  favorable  decision  by  the  JCS,  but  that  was  ex- 
pected by  AAF  Headquarters  because  of  the  President's  attitude.^* 
The  Joint  Chiefs  continued  to  discuss  the  plan  on  board  the  loiva  en 
route  to  Cairo  and  in  the  preliminary  meetings  there;  they  confirmed 
earlier  provisional  allocation  of  service  troops  and  attempted  to  find 
the  necessary  shipping."  In  a  schedule  of  operations  for  1944  which 
they  drew  up  on  18  November  for  presentation  to  the  CCS,  they  sug- 
gested the  establishment  of  a  VHB  force  in  China,  but  without  desig- 
nating either  the  Chengtu  or  Kweilin  area.^®  Firm  commitment  still 
hinged  upon  the  general  trend  of  the  conference. 

The  report  of  JWPC's  Home  Team  came  in  a  series  of  four  radio 
messages,  beginning  on  19  November.  The  gist  of  the  earlier  mes- 
sages, based  on  ad  hoc  studies  made  by  the  Joint  Intelligence  Commit- 
tee, was  that  MATTERHORN  was  feasible  but  uneconomic;  current 
target  selection  (the  steel  industry's  coke  ovens)  did  not  promise  early 
decisive  results.^®  If  these  messages  implied  a  lukewarm  approval,  the 
fourth  radio  on  the  24th  was  a  sharp  negative.  Using  a  new  and  pessi- 
mistic estimate  of  the  B-29's  tactical  radius,  the  Home  Team  con- 
cluded that  few  of  the  proposed  targets  could  be  reached  from 
Chengtu.*"  They  advised,  therefore,  a  more  careful  study  of  MAT- 
TERHORN and  of  other  possible  base  areas,  notably  Calcutta,  Cey- 
lon, and  Australia.  Base  construction  in  the  CBI  might  proceed,  but 


23 


THE   ARMY   AIR    FORCES    IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

the  Wolfe  project  should  not  be  brought  before  the  Combined  Chiefs. 
The  quoted  range  data  was  challenged  by  the  AAF  (justly,  as  events 
were  to  prove)/^  but  on  25  November  the  JPS,  in  accord  with 
JWPC's  advice,  directed  the  Home  Team  to  prepare  a  new  study  on 
"Optimum  Use,  Timing  and  Deployment  of  VLR  Bombers  in  the 
War  against  Japan/'*^  Meanwhile,  the  practical  details  of  MATTER- 
HORN  were  submerged  in  general  debates  concerning  CBI. 

On  23  November  the  Chinese,  with  General  Stilwell  attending  as 
Chiang  Kai-shek's  chief  of  staff,  met  with  the  CCS  to  discuss  China's 
role  in  the  defeat  of  Japan.®^  To  become  an  effective  ally,  China 
needed  modern  equipment  and  training.  These  could  be  provided  in 
significant  quantities  only  by  improved  air  transport  facilities  and  a 
truck  road  from  India.  For  the  latter,  the  reconquest  of  northern 
Burma  (TARZAN)  was  a  prerequisite.  Anglo-American  leaders  ex- 
pected to  build  up  their  combined  air  forces  for  that  campaign,  and  to 
commit  a  strong  British  ground  force  plus  some  U.S.  units.  They 
asked  the  Chinese  to  cooperate  by  sending  two  columns,  the  Ameri- 
can-trained X  Force  from  India,  the  Yoke  Force  from  Yunnan.  The 
Chinese  held  out  for  a  large-scale  British  landing  in  south  Burma 
(BUCCANEER)  as  necessary  for  success  in  the  north,  and  for  10,000 
tons  of  Hump  air  freight  per  month.  Chiang  Kai-shek  carried  these 
demands  to  his  meeting  with  Roosevelt  and  Churchill  as  the  minimum 
price  of  Chinese  participation.**  Marshall,  after  lunching  with  the 
Generalissimo  on  the  24th,  reported  next  day  to  his  American  col- 
leagues that  he  "had  received  the  definite  impression  that  pressure 
would  be  brought  to  bear  on  the  President  to  make  some  contribution 
to  China  sufficiently  conspicuous  to  serve  as  a  fitting  conclusion  to  the 
Generalissimo's  visit  to  the  conference."^^  If  he  returned  with  only 
routine  concessions,  he  would  lose  face  in  China.  BUCCANEER 
would  be  a  "conspicuous"  contribution.  So  also  would  a  1 0,000-ton 
airlift  a  month,  and  the  lend-lease  it  would  provide.  And  so  also,  one 
might  guess,  would  be  MATTERHORN.  At  any  rate,  the  British 
agreed  to  BUCCANEER,  the  Americans  to  the  vast  increase  in  ATC 
tonnage,  and  Chiang  Kai-shek  left  for  Chungking  without  tarrying 
for  the  final  rounding  out  of  Allied  strategy.^® 

Then  on  27  November  Roosevelt,  Churchill,  and  their  staffs  went 
on  to  Tehran  to  meet  with  Stalin.  There  momentous  agreements  were 
made:  the  western  Allies  would  invade  Europe  in  the  spring  of  1944, 
both  in  Normandy  (OVERLORD)  and  on  the  Riviera  (ANVIL); 


24 


THE   VLR  PROJECT 

the  U.S.S.R.  would  enter  the  war  against  Japan  after  the  defeat  bi 
Germany."  These  agreements  promised  eventually  to  shorten  the  war 
in  the  Pacific,  but  they  snarled  up  plans  for  Burma.  Stalin's  insistence 
on  ANVIL  meant  that  landing  craft  must  be  diverted  from  the.  Indian 
Ocean  to  the  Mediterranean,  knocking  out  BUCCANEER;  the  Brit- 
ish said,  in  effect,  no  BUCCANEER,  ho  TARZAN.''  Chinese  reac- 
tion to  this  change  could  hardly  be  enthusiastic* 

Back  at  Cairo,  the  CCS  turned  again  to  the  Japanese  war.  On  6  De- 
cember they  adopted,  as  revised^  the  JCS  schedule  of  operations  for 
1944/*  rthey  also  accepted  for  further  study  an  over-all  plan  for  the 
defeat  of  Japan  whidh  took  cognizance  of  Stalin's  promise  of  cooper-, 
ation.®^  Summaries  of  both  papers  were  included  in  the  final  report  to 
the  President  and  the  Prime  Minister  and  were  approved  by  them  as 
the  conference  adjourned  on  the  yth.^^  Plans  for  China  stood  thus: 
the  Allies  agreed  to  postpone  (in  effect,  to  cancel)  BUCCANEER, 
and  to  follow  a  course  of  action  to  be  determined  on  advice  from 
Louis,  Lord  Mountbatten  (Supreme  Allied  Commander,  Southeast 
Asia)  and  Chiang  Kai-shek.  Either  they  would  mount  TARZAN, 
with  carrier  raids  and  land-based  bombing  attacks  substituted  for  the 
amphibious  assault  in  southern  Burma;  or  they  would  increase  Hump 
tonnage  materially  and  conduct  a  heavy  B-29  campaign  from  the 
Kweilin  area.  This  second  alternative  wis  the  CBFs  TWILIGHT 
plan— now  called  DRAKE— which  continued  to  enjoy  softie  support 
among  the  planning  agencies. 

But  the  reversal  of  commitments  made  to  the  Generalissimo  at  the 
earlier  Cairo  session  put  a  premium  on  a  more  immediate  assignment 
of  B-29's  to  China;  the  prestige  value  of  receiving  the  first  force  of  so 
impressive  a  plane  as  the  Superf  ort  might  salve  wounded  pride.  At  any 
rate,  the  Joint  Chiefs  on  returning  to  Caifo  had  included  MATTER- 
HORN  in  their  list  of  approved  ope^atioris,®^and  it  was  accepted  at 
the  governmental  level  The  wording  of  the  JCS  paper,  Nyith  an  indi- 
rect reference  to  Wolfe's  peculiar  logistical  system,  reflected  perhaps 
some  qualificatiotis  by  approving  "the  estMishing,  ^without  materially 
affecting  other  approved  operations  [italics  added],  of  a  very  long- 
range  strategic  bombing  force  at  Calcutta,  with  advanced  bases  at 
Chengtu  to  attack  vital  targets  in  the  Japanese  Inner  Zone,'  "  target 
date  I  May  1944.^^ 

This  commitment  to  MATTERHORN  confirmed  the  preliminary 

•  See  Vol.  IV,  495-97- 


25 


THE   ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 

measures  taken  for  its  implementation;  as  a  member  of  the  JPS  said 
later,  "Construction  of  airfields  in  the  Calcutta  and  Chengtu  areas  is 
already  under  way  and  ...  in  general  events  had  overtaken  the  re- 
port."'* But  MATTERHORN  vi^as  still  not  beyond  challenge.  The 
final  report  at  SEXTANT  had  approved  as  well  the  capture  of  the 
Marianas,  with  B-29  operations  from  those  islands  beginning  by  the 
end  of  December  1944;  interim  strikes  from  Ceylon  (after  20  July) 
at  POL  installations  in  the  Netherlands  East  Indies;  and  preparation 
of  bases  in  the  Aleutians  whence  to  hit  the  Kurils  and  Hokkaido.  The 
over-all  plan  for  defeat  of  Japan  suggested  other  possible  base  areas, 
but  delayed  further  recommendations  until  J WPC  should  complete  its 
study  on  optimum  use  of  VLR  bombers.  That  study  was  to  revive  the 
earlier  resistance  to  the  MATTERHORN  plan. 

After  SEXTANT 

JWPC's  Home  Team  had  begun  its  new  study  on  VLR  operations 
early  in  December.  The  AAF  had  contested  the  accuracy  of  some  of 
its  assumptions  and  particularly  had  complained  of  its  ignoring  the 
recent  report  of  the  Committee  of  Operations  Analysts  on  strategic 
targets  in  Japan.  Target  selection  in  MATTERHORN  had  followed 
preliminary  conclusions  of  the  CO  A,  and  now  the  Home  Team  was 
directed  to  utilize  the  COA's  final  report  of  1 1  November.^"  Because 
much  of  the  story  of  MATTERHORN  revolves  around  this  docu- 
ment, some  analysis  of  its  contents  may  be  given  here. 

The  CO  A  had  been  established  in  December  1942  as  an  agency  for 
the  study  of  strategic  bombardment  targets,'**  Its  membership  com- 
prised representatives  of  the  several  services  and  of  civilian  war  agen- 
cies, as  well  as  a  few  special  consultants.*  Reporting  directly  to 
General  Arnold,  the  committee  could  tap  military  and  governmental 
intelligence  sources  without  following  formal  channels.  The  inclusion 
of  distinguished  civilians  promised  to  provide  certain  funds  of  expe- 
rience not  to  be  found  in  military  circles,  and  incidentally  to  give  in- 
direct support  to  strategic  bombardment  policies.  The  first  COA 
study,  on  Germany,  had  profoundly  influenced  the  nature  of  the 

•  The  members  signing  the  report  of  11  November  were:  Brig.  Gen.  Byron  E.  Gates 
(Chiirman);  Maj.  Gen.  Clayton  Bissell  (AC/AS,  Intelligence);  Capt.  H.  C.  Wick, 
USN;  Cbl,  Thomas  G.  Lanphier  (G-2);  Col.  Malcolm  W.  Moss  (A-2);  CoL  Guido  R. 
Perera;  Col.  Moses  W.  Pettigrew  (G-2);  Comdr,  Francis  Bitter,  USNR;  Lt.  Col. 
W,  Barton  Leach;  Lt.  Comdr,  A.  E.  Hindmarsh,  USNR;  Fowler  Hamilton  (FEA); 
Edward  S.  Mason  (OSS) ;  Edward  M.  Earle,  Thomas  W.  Lamont,  Qark  H.  Minor, 
and  Elihu  Root,  Jr.  (special  consultants) . 

16 


THE   VLR  PROJECT 


Combined  Bomber  Offensive.*  On  23  March  1943  General  Arnold 
directed  the  committee  to  prepare  an  "analysis  of  strategic  targets  in 
Japan,"  the  destruction  of  which  would  knock  that  country  out  of  the 
war,^^  Intelligence  concerning  Japanese  industrial  and  military  objec- 
tives was  more  meager  than  that  for  Germany,  but  the  COA  brought 
to  its  task  a  rich  experience  and  a  tested  methodology.  They  brought 
also,  inevitably,  a  point  of  view.  In  two  respects  their  interpretation 
of  their  directive  was  significant.  First,  Arnold's  "strategic  targets" 
became  in  their  report  "economic  objectives"— industries  geared 
closely  to  the  war  effort— without  reference  to  purely  military  instal- 
lations. Second,  where  the  directive  referred  to  targets  located  in  Ja- 
pan, the  COA  accepted  this  to  include  production  and  processing 
areas  in  both  the  Inner  and  Outer  Zones,  and  the  sea  and  land  routes 
connecting  those  areas. 

Individual  industries  were  assigned  to  subcommittees,  which  worked 
through  spring  and  summer  of  1943.^^  Plans  for  early  use  of  the  B-29 
against  Japan  lent  point  to  their  studies  and  from  September  they 
were  in  touch  with  Wolfe  and  his  staff .^^  Both  Wolfe  and  Kuter's 
office  utilized  their  preliminary  findings;  MATTERHORN  followed 
their  recommendations  explicitly.  The  COA's  final  report  was  pre- 
sented to  Arnold  and  Kuter  on  11  November  as  they  headed  for 
SEXTANT,  and  copies  were  senti^ssji  tp  the  conference.^*'** 

In  this  report  the  COA  described^  thirteen  industries  which  did  not 
"now  appear  profitable  aviation  target  systems."^^^  They  listed  six 
other  preferred  target  systems:  i )  merchant  shipping^  in  harbors  and 
at  sea;  2)  steel  production^  to  be  attacked  through  coke  ovens;  3) 
urbm  industrial  areas ^  vulnerable  to  incendiary  attacks;  4)  aircraft 
plants;  5)  anti-friction  bearing  industry,  highly  concentrated  in  six 
main  factories;  6)  electronics  industry,  whose  interruption  would 
have  immediate  military  effects.^*''^  Japanese  industry  was  vulnerable 
in  general  as  well  as  in  the  stipulated  particulars  since  much  of  it  was 
war-born,  without  a  substantial  civilian  backlog  and  not  yet  at  peak 
production.  Any  of  the  chosen  industries  might  be  knocked  out  by  a 
heavy  initial  concentration  of  bomber  effort  and  a  follow-up  persist- 
ent enough  to  prevent  recuperation  or  substitution. 

The  COA  listed  target  systems  in  the  order  given  above  but  with- 
out intending  thereby  any  order  of  preference;  for  sake  of  security 
they  preferred  ambiguity  in  this  respect.  But  in  regard  to  the  steel  in- 

•  See  Vol.  n,  349-70. 


27 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 

dustry  their  judgment  had  been  strongly  registered:  "The  timing  of 
the  war  against  Japan  justifies  attack  upon  industries  lying  relatively 
deep  in  the  structure  of  war  production.  When  limitations  of  time  do 
not  require  exclusive  concentration  upon  immediate  military  effect, 
the  most  serious  long-term  damage  can  be  inflicted  by  disrupting  the 
production  of  basic  materials  like  steel."  Two-thirds  of  all  Japanese 
steel  was  produced  from  coke  coming  from  a  limited  number  of 
ovens,  highly  frangible  and  highly  concentrated  in  Kyushu,  Manchu- 
ria, and  Korea.  Hence  the  CO  A  had  said:  "Those  coke  ovens  are  the 
prime  economic  targets.  They  should  be  attacked  as  soon  as  the  forces 
necessary  to  destroy  them  in  rapid  succession  become  available,""^ 

From  Chengtu  the  B-29  could  not  reach  Tokyo  or  the  other  indus- 
trial cities  of  Honshu.  The  main  coke-oven  concentrations,  however, 
were  well  within  tactical  radius  and  hence  the  MATTERHORN 
planners,  committed  to  the  west  China  base,  had  found  in  this  implied 
priority  for  the  steel  industry  a  rationale  for  their  plan.  The  COA  had 
approached  their  problem  without  any  great  concern  for  the  time  ele- 
ment; the  subsequent  decision  of  the  CCS  to  speed  up  the  Japanese 
war  now  raised  questions  as  to  the  practical  value  of  such  a  long-term 
objective  as  steel. 

That  at  any  rate  was  the  judgment  of  JWPC,  charged  with  deter- 
mining the  best  timing  and  deployment,  as  well  as  employment,  of  the 
B-29.  ^h^s  task,  they  had  to  consider  military  as  well  as  economic 
targets,  and  the  tactical  problems  involved— bases,  base  defense,  logis- 
tics, aircraft  performance— which  the  COA  had  deliberatedly  ignored. 
Again  in  December,  as  in  the  previous  month,  JWPC  turned  to  the 
Joint  Intelligence  Committee  for  a  preliminary  study,  and  again  re- 
ceived a  report  unfavorable  to  MATTERHORN.'^'  The  JIC  de- 
clared against  any  long-term  economic  objectives  in  favor  of  anti- 
shipping  strikes  which  by  forcing  the  Japanese  to  retire  to  the  Inner 
Zone  would  affect  both  their  industrial  and  military  potentials.  After 
shipping,  the  steel  and  petroleum  Industries  (they  incorrectly  accused 
the  COA  of  neglecting  the  latter)  were  the  most  vital  economic  tar- 
gets. As  to  base  areas,  they  rated  Chengtu  the  worst,  the  Marianas  the 
best.  Until  those  islands  could  be  won  and  developed,  interim  opera- 
tions could  best  be  conducted  out  of  Darwin,  Broome,  and  Port 
Moresby  against  merchant  shipping  and  petroleum  refineries. 
Chengtu  might  be  used  later  if  supply  and  defense  difficulties  could 
be  overcome. 


28 


THE   VLR  PROJECT 

Following  this  report  in  the  main,  JWPC  on  24  January  recom- 
mended to  the  Joint  Planning  Staff  the  following  disposition  of  VHB 
groups:  the  first  four  groups  to  go  to  the  Southwest  Pacific;  then  four 
to  Chengtu;  then  twelve  groups  to  the  Marianas,  which  were  to  have 
an  overriding  priority  when  operational;  then  two  groups  to  the  Aleu- 
tians and  two  to  be  held  in  reserve.^*^^  Within  the  JPS,  opinion  was 
divided/^^  The  naval  member  was  inclined  to  support  the  JWPC  re- 
port, the  air  member— Brig.  Gen.  Haywood  S.  Hansell,  Jr.— to  oppose 
it.  Hansell  thought  JWPC  had  made  insufficient  use  of  the  COA  re- 
port and  had  neglected  to  consider  some  possible  base  areas  (Kweilin, 
Kunming,  Ceylon).  Performance  data  accepted  by  JWPC  did  not 
agree  with  that  furnished  by  B-29  project  officers.^^^  On  9  February 
the  JPS,  on  Hansell's  request,  sent  the  paper  to  JWPC  for  revision.^^^ 

The  paper  was  returned  on  1 5  February  without  significant  change 
in  tone.^°®  Balancing  all  factors,  JWPC  still  believed  that  the  best  use 
of  the  B-29  prior  to  deployment  in  the  Marianas  would  be  first  from 
Australia  bases  against  shipping  and  oil,  and  that  its  employment  from 
China  bases  against  coke  ovens  and  shipping  would  be  a  poor  second. 
Recognizing  the  priority  which  the  JCS  and  the  President  had  given 
to  Chengtu,  they  did  so  reluctantly  and  with  the  warning  *'that  it 
should  be  emphasized,  however,  that  the  implementation  of  MAT- 
TERHORN  first  is  not  in  consonance  with  conclusions  reached  from 
the  detailed  studies." 

The  Joint  Planners  adhered  more  closely  to  Hansell's  ideas  in  the 
report  they  sent  to  the  JCS  on  2  March.^^"  They  reversed  the  order  of 
preference  for  initial  target  systems,  listing  coke  ovens  before  POL 
installations.  Because  of  decisions  **at  highest  level,"  they  recom- 
mended that  M  ATTERHORN  get  the  first  eight  groups.  None  were 
to  be  deployed  in  the  Southwest  Pacific,  but  units  stationed  at  Cal- 
cutta were  to  stage  through  Ceylon  to  hit  refineries  in  Sumatra. 
Twelve  groups  would  be  assigned  to  the  Marianas;  then  perhaps  two 
to  the  Aleutians,  and  two  to  other  regions— Luzon,  Formosa,  or  Si- 
beria. 

Continued  resistance  to  MATTERHORN  within  inter-service  in- 
telligence and  planning  agencies  reflected  a  wider  current  of  opposi- 
tion. The  one  point  of  agreement  among  most  persons  concerned  was 
that  the  Marianas,  when  available,  would  provide  the  best  base  area. 
It  was  the  interim  use  of  B-29's  which  they  debated,  and  the  several 
proposals  made  represented  varying  opinions  as  to  the  broad  strategy 


29 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

of  the  Japanese  war.  JWPC,  in  holding  out  for  operations  from  Aus- 
tralia, reflected  what  was  essentially  a  Navy  point  of  view.  Attrition 
of  shipping  and  oil  supplies,  and  the  bombing  of  such  strongpoints  as 
Truk,  Yap,  and  Palau,  would  facilitate  the  Navy's  westward  move 
through  the  Central  Pacific.  Those  tactics  would  aid  as  well  Mac- 
Arthur's  drive  from  the  Southwest  Pacific—indeed,  they  resembled 
closely  the  plan  for  B-29  operations  which  Kenny  had  suggested  in 
October  1943.*  In  supporting  MATTERHORN,  AAF  Headquar- 
ters had  found  that  plan,  in  spite  of  its  admitted  flaws,  intrinsically 
preferable  to  alternative  proposals.  Shipping  they  recognized  as  a  vi- 
tally important  target,  but  not  as  a  proper  6-29  objective.  The  plane 
and  its  equipment  had  been  designed  for  high-altitude  bombardment. 
The  B-17  and  B-24  had  enjoyed  but  indifferent  success  in  high-level 
attacks  on  Pacific  shipping,  and  to  use  the  B-29  for  a  job  which  a  dive 
bomber  or  B-25  could  do  better  did  not  seem  economical.  AAF  doc- 
trines of  strategic  bombing  called  for  attacks  against  the  enemy's 
economy  at  home;  only  from  China  bases  could  that  be  done  in  early 
1944,  and  in  the  last  analysis  that  was  the  reason  for  the  AAF's  con- 
tinued support  of  MATTERHORN.  That  was  the  air  planners*  way 
of  winning  the  war,  and  they  were  content  to  leave  to  Nimitz  and 
MacArthur  blockade  and  island-hopping. 

At  the  end  of  January  the  Chief  of  the  Air  Staff  felt  there  was 
enough  evidence  of  **a  widespread  effort  to  discredit  MATTER- 
HORN"  to  warrant  a  "counter-offensive"  in  the  form  of  memos  to 
Roosevelt  and  Marshall."^  Diversion  of  B-29's  from  MATTER- 
HORN  would  require  presidiential  sanction,  but  in  early  1944  plans 
for  the  Japanese  war  were  still  in  a  state  of  flux.  The  schedule  of  oper- 
ations adopted  at  SEXTANT  had  been  kept  flexible  to  allow  for  pos- 
sible short  cuts.  The  assault  on  Saipan,  listed  for  October— after  Po- 
nape  and  Truk— might  be  stepped  up;  if  so,  B-29's  might  be  diverted 
from  CBI  to  help  in  winning  their  own  bases.  In  February  dissident 
views  on  Pacific  strategy  and  the  role  of  the  B-29  were  aired  in  con- 
ferences at  Washington,  at  Honolulu,  and  at  Brisbane. t  General  Mac- 
Arthur  wanted  all  currently  operational  B-29's  for  the  Southwest  Pa- 
cific and  was  inclined  to  question  the  wisdom  of  their  initial  use  from 
the  Marianas."*  Lt.  Gen.  Robert  C.  Richardson"^  in  Honolulu  be- 
lieved that  only  a  few  groups  could  be  stationed  on  those  islands.  The 

*See  above,  pp.  12-13. 
tSee  Vol.  IV,  550-53. 


30 


THE  VLR  PROJECT 

Navy  was  still  undecided  whether  to  turn  northward  to  the  Marianas 
or  go  on  directly  island  by  island  to  meet  MacArthur  at  Mindanao."* 
On  15  February  General  Hansell  presented  to  the  Joint  Chiefs  the 
AAF's  concept  of  the  Pacific  war,  stressing  the  importance  of  the 
Marianas  and  the  bomber  offensive  which  could  be  conducted  there- 
from."*^ Meanwhile,  the  role  of  the  B-29  was  discussed  in  a  conference 
at  the  White  House  on  the  i  ith,  and  again  on  the  ipth.^^® 

Finally  on  12  March  the  JCS  arrived  at  a  firm  decision  on  Pacific 
operations."^  Forces  in  the  Pacific  Ocean  Areas  (POA)  would  bypass 
Truk,  seize  the  Marianas,  and  advance  via  the  Carolines  and  Palaus 
to  join  SWPA  forces  in  an  assult  on  Mindanao  on  15  November. 
D"day  for  Saipan  in  the  Marianas  was  set  at  1 5  June.  This  schedule,  by 
advancing  sharply  the  operational  date  of  the  best  VHB  base,  offered 
a  final  solution  for  assignment  of  B-29  units.  MATTERHORN  stood, 
but  cumulative  delays  in  the  United  States  and  in  the  CBI  made  it 
clear  that  the  May  target  date  set  at  SEXTANT  could  not  be  met, 
and  with  Saipan  airfields  operational  by  early  autumn  the  problem  of 
"interim  employment"  shrank  in  importance.  When  Pacific  com- 
manders were  notified  of  changes  in  their  directives,  MacArthur 
(Nimitz  concurring)  reduced  his  previous  request  for  all  operational 
B-29's  to  a  mere  thirty-five  with  which  to  strike  oil  refineries  in  the 
NEI."^  That  request  too  was  refused;  instead,  Calcutta-based  B-29's 
would  stage  through  Ceylon  to  hit  Palembang,  Sumatra's  great  petro- 
leum center."® 

MATTERHORN  as  well  as  SOWESPAC  felt  the  impact  of  the 
new  strategy.  After  tinkering  with  the  JPS  paper  of  2  March,  the 
Joint  Chiefs  passed  it  to  the  Joint  Strategic  Survey  Committee  for  re- 
view. On  that  committee's  recommendation,  JPS  again  revised  their 
plan  to  fit  the  new  Pacific  schedule:  the  MATTERHORN  force 
should  be  cut  to  the  58th  Wing's  four  groups  (just  beginning  their 
flight  to  India);  the  second  wing  should  be  sent  to  the  Marianas, 
which  should  be  reinforced,  as  units  and  bases  became  available,  to  a 
total  of  ten  or  twelve  groups.  On  10  April  the  Joint  Chiefs  informally 
approved  the  plan.  This  time,  it  was  for  keeps.^^^ 

And  it  was  high  time.  A  full  year  had  passed  since  Arnold  had  set 
up  the  B-29  Special  Project  and  had  told  Wolfe  to  get  the  B-29  ready 
for  combat.  Already  the  first  B-29's  had  landed  in  India,  where  Wolfe 
had  long  preceded  them  to  ready  his  fields  and  gather  his  supplies 
against  the  first  mission.  The  diversion  of  his  second  wing  to  Saipan 


31 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

meant  of  course  that  his  plan  could  not  be  fully  implemented;  more- 
over, there  was  already  an  indication  that  the  58th  Wing  might  not  be 
permanently  stationed  in  the  CBI. 

With  these  last-minute  changes  in  plans  AAF  Headquarters  was 
well  content.  The  political  purpose,  always  an  important  factor  in 
MATTERHORN,  might  still  be  served  by  the  58th  Wing.  Missions 
out  of  China  would  test  the  B-29  and  the  organization  using  it  while 
hitting  something  of  a  blow  at  Japanese  economy.  By  fall,  Saipan 
bases,  easily  supplied  and  within  tactical  radius  of  Tokyo,  might  well 
supplant  Chengtu  completely.  The  reassignment  of  units  from  the 
CBI  theater  to  the  Pacific  Ocean  Areas  could  readily  be  effected  by 
means  of  the  unusual  command  structure  for  B-29  embodied  in 
the  Twentieth  Air  Force.  The  problem  of  control  of  the  B-29  force 
had  appeared,  explicitly  or  implicitly,  in  discussions  of  deployment, 
and  the  final  solution  bade  fair  to  eliminate  such  protracted  debates 
in  the  future. 


32 


CHAPTER  2 


THE  TWENTIETH  AIR  FORCE 

THE  plan  adopted  by  the  Joint  Chiefs  of  Staff  on  lo  April 
1944  was  to  remain,  in  spite  of  subsequent  modifications,  the 
basic  guide  for  the  strategic  bombardment  of  Japan.  It  is  a 
bulky  document,  about  as  long  with  its  appendixes  as  an  average  mys- 
tery novel  and  less  quickly  read.  Much  of  its  content  was  devoted  to 
problems  of  command  and  control.  The  Joint  Chiefs  hoped  to  pro- 
vide operational  control  by  establishing  the  Twentieth  Air  Force 
under  command  principles  radically  different  from  those  governing 
the  other  Army  air  forces.  Whether  the  method  would  prove  feasible, 
experience  only  would  show;  there  were  not  a  few  who  expressed 
grave  doubts.  Feasible  or  not,  the  special  command  system  was  to  af- 
fect the  history  of  the  VLR  force  so  importantly  in  both  its  opera- 
tional and  administrative  aspects  that  it  is  useful  to  describe  here  the 
processes  by  which  that  system  came  into  being.  For  convenience  the 
story  has  been  broken  into  three  parts.  The  first  deals  with  the  estab- 
lishment of  the  Twentieth  Air  Force.  The  second  tells  how  the  XX 
Bomber  Command  was  fitted  into  the  CBI  structure.  The  third  is  de- 
voted to  the  organization  and  training  of  the  58th  Bombardment 
Wing  (VH),  the  whole  of  the  bomber  command's  combat  force.  This 
order  exactly  reverses  that  of  the  dates  of  activation  of  the  organiza- 
tions, but  here  it  seems  better  to  follow  military  protocol  by  coming 
down  the  chain  of  command,  rather  than  the  chronological  sequence. 
Actually,  the  three  stories  are  so  interdependent  that  any  division  is 
artificial,  though  perhaps  helpful  in  the  exposition. 

The  Strategic  Air  Force 

During  the  first  two  years  of  the  war,  command  procedures  for 
Army  air  forces  in  the  several  theaters  had  taken  on  a  standardized 

33 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

pattern.  Under  prevailing  doctrines  of  unity  of  command,  air  units 
were  assigned  to  a  theater  commander  working  under  broad  direc- 
tives from  the  Joint  or  Combined  Chiefs  of  Staff.  Those  units  were 
organized  into  a  theater  air  force,  usually  bearing  a  numerical  desig- 
nation and  divided  into  the  conventional  commands— fighter,  bomber, 
air  service,  etc.  Though  the  theater  commander  enjoyed  control  of 
air  (as  of  ground)  forces  in  carrying  out  his  broad  mission  without 
interference  from  Washington,  he  usually  had  learned  to  delegate  to 
his  air  force  commander  a  wide  latitude  in  the  choice  of  means  by 
which  air  power  might  be  used.  The  system,  if  not  perfect,  had 
proved  eminently  satisfactory  in  tactical  air  operations.  Strategic  air 
operations  seemed  to  pose  certain  special  problems,  and  it  was  in  an 
attempt  to  solve  them  that  the  Twentieth  Air  Force  was  set  up. 

Neither  the  problems  nor  the  solution  were  wholly  novel.  The 
problems  indeed  were  inherent  in  the  very  nature  of  strategic  bom- 
bardment. Its  mission  might  be  relatively  detached  from  the  current 
campaign  on  the  ground;  diversion  of  forces  to  help  that  campaign 
would  interfere  with  the  mission.  Strategic  operations  were  usually  at 
long  range  and  theater  boundaries  might  cramp  the  flexibility  neces- 
sary for  such  a  program.  These  problems,  with  their  implications,  had 
been  recognized  by  the  British  during  World  War  I,  when  in  the 
spring  of  191 8  they  had  developed  the  first  articulated  program  for 
long-range  bombardment.  In  May  of  that  year  Sir  William  Weir,  Sec- 
retary of  State  for  the  RAF,  had  said: 

Long-  and  extreme-range  bombing  machines  for  operations  by  day  and  night, 
utilized  against  targets  outside  the  range  of  machines  designed  for  [tactical] 
functions,  involve  for  their  efficient  utilization  operational  considerations  of  a 
purely  aerial  character,  and  require  for  their  conception  and  execution  a  large 
measure  of  freedom  and  independence  from  other  military  schemes.^ 

The  practical  solution  was  the  Independent  Force,  RAF,  directly  re- 
sponsible to  the  Air  Ministry  and  wholly  outside  the  control  of  Field 
Marshal  Haig,  Commander  in  Chief  of  the  British  Armies  in  France. 
In  the  last  month  of  the  war  this  principle  had  been  extended  by  an 
agreement  to  form  an  Inter-Allied  Independent  Air  Force.* 

In  World  War  II  the  British  had  adopted  a  comparable  arrange- 
ment whereby  the  Chiefs  of  Staff  Committee  directed  the  RAF 
Bomber  Command's  campaign  against  German  industries.  When  the 
Eighth  Air  Force  joined  its  efforts  with  those  of  Bomber  Command, 

•  See  Vol.  I,  15-1(5,  37. 


34 


THE  TWENTIETH   AIR  FORCE 

it  had  fitted  naturally  into  this  system,  since  the  European  theater  was 
one  of  "prime  strategic  responsibility"  for  the  British.  This  arrange- 
ment was  formally  recognized  after  the  issuance  of  the  Casablanca 
Directive  on  21  January  1943,  which  put  the  Combined  Bomber  Of- 
fensive under  direct  control  of  the  CCS  with  Sir  Charles  Portal,  Chief 
of  Air  Staff,  as  its  executive  agent.* 

Had  the  earliest  B-29  units  been  assigned  to  the  ETO,  there  is  no 
reason  to  doubt  that  they  would  have  operated  under  the  same  com- 
mand structure  as  the  B-17  and  B-24  groups.  Instead,  the  B-29 
dedicated  entirely  to  the  war  against  Japan.  Neither  in  Asia  nor  the 
Pacific  was  there  unity  of  command.  Rivalries  within  the  CBI  and  be- 
tween Nimitz  and  MacArthur  would  make  it  difficult  to  shift  a  VHB 
force  from  one  command  to  another,  and  the  flexibility  of  the  B-29 
might  be  compromised  by  hemming  it  within  the  artificial  boundaries 
of  a  single  theater.  None  of  the  theater  commanders— Nimitz,  Mac- 
Arthur,  Stilwell— had  shown  himself  an  enthusiastic  advocate  of  the 
type  of  mission  for  which  the  B-29  was  being  prepared,  and  it  was  not 
unnatural  that  the  AAF  should  be  reluctant  to  assign  permanently  to 
those  leaders  its  most  potent  bomber. 

In  his  postwar  memoirs  General  Arnold  stated  that  during  his  tour 
of  the  Pacific  in  the  autumn  of  1942  he  decided  to  retain  command  of 
the  B-29,  but  reluctantly:  "There  was  nothing  else  I  could  do,  with 
no  unity  of  command  in  the  Pacific."  "It  was,"  he  continued,  "some- 
thing I  did  not  want  to  do."^  With  the  heavy  pressure  of  his  various 
offices,  Arnold  may  well  have  been  loath  to  take  on  another  heavy  re- 
sponsibility. Yet  there  was  another  side  of  the  picture.  In  World 
War  I,  in  spite  of  strenuous  efforts  to  get  an  overseas  assignment, 
Arnold  had  been  held  to  an  administrative  post  in  Washington.  Now, 
in  the  second  war,  he  had  seen  contemporaries  and  the  younger  men 
he  had  raised  go  out  to  combat  commands,  and  he  would  have  been 
unlike  his  kind  if  he  had  no  regrets  in  commanding  the  world's  largest 
air  force  without  being  able  to  direct  a  single  bomber  mission.  A  head- 
quarters air  force  would  give  him  at  least  a  role  comparable  to  that  of 
his  British  opposite  number.  Portal,  and  one  might  suspect  that  his  re- 
luctance was  tempered  with  some  satisfaction.  At  any  rate,  the  formal 
papers  which  tell  of  the  Twentieth  Air  Force  bear  no  trace  of  demur 
on  Arnold's  part. 

If  Arnold  conceived  the  idea  of  the  headquarters  force  in  the  au- 

•  See  Vol.  I,  306-07. 


35 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


tumn  of  1942,  it  lay  dormant  for  nearly  a  year.  His  latest  air  plan 
(AWPD/42,  9  September  1942)  contemplated  using  the  B-29  in  the 
ETO  within  the  existing  command  structure.*  In  the  following  sum- 
mer, when  it  seemed  probable  that  the  earliest  VHB  units  would  be 
deployed  in  the  CBI,  plans  emanating  from  that  theater  and  from 
AAF  Headquarters  carried  no  hint  of  an  unusual  arrangement  for 
control.  It  was  only  when  Arnold's  planners  began  to  consider  future 
deployment  of  B-29's  in  the  Pacific  areas  as  well  as  in  the  CBI  that  the 
idea  of  an  independent  strategic  air  force  appeared  in  staff  discussions. 
In  a  plan  dated  16  September  1943  which  anticipated  the  use  of  VHB 
bases  in  the  CBI,  Marianas,  Aleutians,  Luzon,  and  Formosa,  the  Air 
Staff  advanced  what  was  to  become  the  standard  AAF  formula.  The 
simultaneous  use  of  widely  scattered  bases  would  demand  careful  co- 
ordination of  attacks,  and 

such  integration  of  timing  and  effort,  fully  capitalizing  upon  the  mobility  of 
aircraft,  requires  a  cohesive  overall  control  of  strategic  air  operations,  free  of 
the  direction  of  local  areas  and  subject  only  to  the  Joint  or  Combined  Chiefs 

ofStafiF.^ 

The  choice  between  the  Joint  and  Combined  Chiefs  was  not  an 
easy  one  to  make.  Precedent  for  the  latter  could  be  found  in  their  con- 
trol of  the  Combined  Bomber  Offensive  in  Europe.  The  VHB  force 
would  be  wholly  American,  and  in  Pacific  areas  administration,  sup- 
ply, and  defense  would  be  provided  wholly  by  U.S.  commanders  who 
reported  to  the  JCS.  But  for  units  based  in  the  CBI,  those  functions 
would  come  under  the  general  purview  of  British  commanders,  and 
the  British  members  of  the  CCS  would  have  therein  a  legitimate  inter- 
est. Further,  the  Combined  Chiefs  were  responsible  for  the  general 
strategy  of  the  war  and  for  allocation  of  forces  and  materiel,  so  that 
any  project  which  threatened  to  disrupt  existing  strategy  might  natu- 
rally come  under  their  administrative,  if  not  tactical,  controL  In  this 
dilemma,  the  AAF  early  favored  the  policy  of  keeping  the  VLR 
project  wholly  under  U.S.  control,  turning  to  the  CCS  only  for  direc- 
tives instructing  British  commanders  to  make  available  such  facilities 
and  services  as  were  needed.*  This  policy  the  JCS  accepted  in  prin- 
ciple, and  when  in  November  they  asked  their  British  counterparts 
for  aid  in  establishing  VHB  airfields  in  India,  there  was  no  suggestion 
of  CCS  control.* 

After  the  approval  of  MATTERHORN  at  Cairo,  the  Joint  Chiefs 
•See  above,  pp.  lo-ii. 

36 


THE   TWENTIETH   AIR  FORCE 

found  it  necessary  to  provide  some  machinery  whereby  it  might  ex- 
ercise direction  of  B-29  units  in  the  CBI  and  later  those  in  the  Pacific. 
The  AAF  staff  favored  the  establishment  of  a  "Headquarters  Strategic 
Air  Force."  This  would  be  not  unlike  the  GHQ  Air  Force  of  1935- 
41,*  with  the  JCS  substituted  for  General  Headquarters;  presumably, 
administrative  control  would  fall  to  the  AAF  member  of  the  Joint 
Chiefs.  Within  the  Washington  planning  agencies  this  idea  was  op- 
posed by  those  officers,  chiefly  from  the  Navy,  who  were  attempting 
to  block  the  MATTERHORN  project.^  The  issue  was  carried  to  the 
White  House.  There  in  conferences  on  1 1  and  19  February  it  was  de- 
cided, with  Roosevelt's  approval,  that  control  of  VLR  forces  would 
be  retained  in  Washington  under  the  JCS;  Arnold,  as  Commanding 
General,  AAF  would  exercise  "executive  direction"  for  the  commit- 
tee/ But  in  this  matter,  as  in  deployment,  formal  action  lagged  far  be- 
hind initial  approval  by  the  President. 

The  Joint  Planning  Staff,  engaged  in  mid-February  in  revising  its 
paper  on  optimum  use  of  VLR  bombers,  incorporated  in  that  plan  the 
suggested  control  by  the  Joint  Chiefs,  but  in  the  version  presented  on 
2  March  there  was  no  reference  to  Arnold's  executive  functions.^  Ar- 
nold suggested  the  addition  of  a  paragraph  defining  his  responsibilities 
according  to  the  White  House  agreement,  and  Admiral  King  pro- 
posed that  the  idea  of  "control"  might  be  rendered  more  precisely  by 
substituting  "strategic  deployment  and  the  designation  of  missions," 
with  the  theater  commander  being  vested  with  responsibility  for  local 
coordination.^  The  JPS  accepted  King's  amendment,  but  again  made 
no  reference  to  Arnold  as  executive  agent;  instead,  they  stated  merely 
that  he  should  be  authorized  "to  communicate  directly  with  VLR 
forces  in  the  field  for  purposes  of  coordinating  their  operations,"^^  a 
policy  dictated  by  a  current  issue  in  the  CBLt  This  redaction  of  the 
JPS  paper  the  Joint  Strategic  Survey  Committee  approved,  subject  to 
certain  addenda  including  one  requested  by  the  British  Chiefs  of  Staff 
—that  theater  commanders  might  in  an  emergency  divert  the  VHB's 
from  their  primary  mission." 

The  report  of  the  JSSC  came  before  the  Joint  Chiefs  on  28  March. 
Admiral  Leahy  recommended  its  approval,  but  General  Arnold  of- 
fered as  an  alternative  certain  proposals  made  by  Admiral  King.  King 
had  advocated,  he  said,  the  creation  of  "an  air  force,  known  as  the 

*  See  Vol.  I,  31-32,  48-51. 
t  See  below,  pp.  43-52. 


37 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


Joint  Chiefs  of  Staff  Air  Force,  to  be  commanded  by  thcCommand- 
ing  General,  Army  Air  Forces,  who  will  be  the  executive  agent  of  the 
Joint  Chiefs  of  Staff."  The  JCS  would  determine  the  employment  and 
deployment  of  the  force,  charging  their  agent  with  responsibility  for 
logistical  support,  administration,  and  transfers.  This  was  unequivocal. 
Arnold  would  command  the  force,  acting  under  specific  directives 
which  he,  as  a  member  of  the  JCS,  would  help  to  frame.  The  proposal 
was  accepted  informally  by  the  Joint  Chiefs,  who  asked  their  plaimers 
to  put  King's  ideas  into  proper  form."  Actually  it  was  AC/ AS,  Plans 
who  drew  up  the  statement  on  command  relations,  and  this  the  JPS 
included  in  its  final  revision."  In  view  of  the  Navy's  attitude  toward 
strategic  bombardment  in  general  and  the  MATTERHORN  project 
in  particular,  Admiral  King's  advocacy  of  the  AAF  view  in  this  issue 
is  difficult  to  explain;  but  the  record  is  as  precise  as  the  motives  are 
uncertain. 

Accepted  by  the  Joint  Chiefs  on  lo  April,  the  new  paper  on  com- 
mand constituted  the  formal  charter  under  which  the  Twentieth  Air 
Force  operated.  These  were,  in  essence,  its  terms:  i)  a  strategic 
Army  air  force,  designated  the  Twentieth,  was  to  be  established,  to 
operate  directly  under  the  JCS  with  the  Commanding  General,  AAF 
as  executive  agent  to  implement  their  directives  for  the  employment 
of  VLR  bombers;  2)  major  decisions  concerning  deployment,  mis- 
sions, and  target  objectives  were  to  be  made  by  the  JCS  and  executed 
by  the  Commanding  General,  AAF;  3)  should  a  strategic  or  tactical 
emergency  arise,  theater  or  area  commanders  might  utilize  VLR 
bombers  for  purposes  other  than  the  primary  mission,  immediately  in- 
forming the  JCS;  4)  responsibility  for  providing  suitable  bases  and 
base  defense  would  rest  with  theater  or  area  commanders  as  directed 
by  the  JCS;  5)  to  obviate  confusion  in  the  field,  the  JCS  would  vest 
theater  or  area  commanders  with  logistical  obligations  for  Twentieth 
Air  Force  units  operating  from  their  commands,  with  the  responsibil- 
ity of  establishing  equitable  and  uniform  administrative  policies,  and 
with  the  duty  of  providing  local  coordination  to  avoid  conflicts  be- 
tween theater  forces  operating  under  general  directives  of  the  JCS  ahd 
VLR  forces  operating  under  their  special  directives;  6)  JCS  direc- 
tives for  VLR  operations  would  be  so  framed  as  to  minimize  possible 
friction  within  theaters;  and  7)  Arnold  was  to  have  direct  commu- 
nication with  VLR  leaders  in  the  field,  advising  appropriate  theater 
commanders  of  communications  thus  exchanged.^* 

38 


THE  TWENTIETH  AIR  FORCE 


Already  the  AAF  had  begun  to  fill  in  the  details  of  the  proposed 
plan.  Early  in  March  AC/AS,  Plans  had  set  up  in  the  Pentagon  an 
Operations  Section,  U.S.  Strategic  Air  Force;  like  other  offices  con- 
nected with  the  B-29  project,  it  was  on  a  secret  basis.^^  The  director 
was  Col.  Cecil  E.  Combs,  a  heavy  bombardment  officer  who  had 
fought  against  the  Japanese  in  the  Philippines,  the  Southwest  Pacific, 
and  the  CBL  After  the  JCS  action  of  28  March,  the  Air  Staff  rapidly 
worked  out  a  more  formal  organization.  On  4  April  the  Twentieth 
Air  Force  was  constituted  and  ordered  activated  in  Washington.^®  Ar- 
nold was  named  commander,  and  each  member  of  his  staff  was  desig- 
nated to  perform  his  normal  role  for  the  Twentieth  as  well  as  for  the 
Army  Air  Forces. 

Obviously  neither  Arnold  nor  his  staff  members  could  devote  to  the 
new  organization  the  requisite  amount  of  time  and  energy.  The  ac- 
tual working  staff  of  the  new  air  force  was  made  up  of  a  group  of 
deputies.  As  chief  of  staff  Arnold  named  Brig.  Gen.  H.  S.  Hansell,  Jr., 
currently  Deputy  Chief  of  Air  Staff  and  Acting  AC/ AS,  Plans.  Han- 
sell had  served  a  tour  as  commander  of  the  ist  Bombardment  Wing  in 
England  but  was  best  known  as  a  planner  and  as  one  of  the  most  artic- 
ulate exponents  of  strategic  bombardment  in  the  AAF.  He  had  con- 
tributed importantly  to  the  series  of  over-all  air  plans,  which  began 
with  AWPD/i,  and  had  served  on  joint  and  combined  planning  staffs 
in  the  ETO  and  in  Washington.*  He  had  played  an  important  part  in 
shaping  the  MATTERHORN  plan  and  in  steering  it  through  the 
joint  agencies,  and  his  choice  was  indicative  of  the  sort  of  operations 
which  Arnold  had  in  mind  for  the  B-29's.  Hansell  held  his  first  staff 
meeting  on  1 2  April  and  began  the  difficult  task,  with  the  help  of  the 
AAF's  Management  Control,  of  developing  an  organization  for  which 
no  exact  precedent  could  be  found.  Liaison  was  established  immedi- 
ately with  the  two  other  services  through  representatives  of  OPD  and 
the  Navy  in  recognition  of  the  Joint  Chiefs'  over-all  control."  But  it 
was  Hansell  (with  Combs  as  his  deputy  for  operations)  who  would 
run  the  show— Hansell,  vice  Arnold,  vice  the  JCS.  The  new  air  force 
would  retain  a  secret  classification  until  the  public  announcement  of 
the  first  attack  on  Japan  on  1 5  June. 

Whether  the  device  of  a  headquarters  air  force  would  work  re- 
mained to  be  seen.  Certainly  the  tangled  command  system  in  the  CBI 

•  On  his  earlier  career,  see  Vols.  I  and  II,  passim. 


39 


THE  ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  H 

—where  the  first  B-29  had  landed  on  2  April— would  provide  an  acid 
test  for  the  remote-control  system.  Some  features  of  the  system  had, 
in  fact,  been  dictated  by  practical  issues  which  had  already  arisen  be- 
tween U.S.  and  British  leaders  in  India,*  and  it  was  from  the  CBI  that 
the  wisdom  of  the  new  arrangement  was  first  challenged.  The  issue 
turned  on  Joint  Chiefs'  control  rather  than  on  the  idea  of  a  headquar- 
ters force.  In  the  early  negotiations  the  British  seem  to  have  accepted 
without  demur  the  propriety  of  JCS  control  of  VHB  operations. 
After  the  establishment  of  the  Twentieth  Air  Force,  however,  British 
policy  changed.  Current  difficulty  in  fitting  the  B-29  force  into  SEAC 
command  channels  may  have  justified  some  anxiety  on  the  part  of  the 
British;  more  important  were  Mountbatten's  views  on  strategy  in  Asia 
and  the  concern  of  the  British  Chiefs  of  Staff  with  future  plans  for 
strategic  bombardment  of  Japan. 

The  JCS  advised  Stilwell  on  3  April  of  the  decision  to  establish  the 
Twentieth  Air  Force.^*  On  the  19th  they  described  its  peculiar  com- 
mand system  to  the  CCS  and  offered  a  draft  message  for  the  British 
members  to  dispatch  to  SACSEA.^®  A  month  later  the  British  chiefs 
replied,  raising  certain  questions  relative  to  control  of  VHB  units 
within  British  theaters  of  responsibility.  Because  of  problems  cur- 
rently involved  and  because  of  their  intention  to  assign  RAF  units  to 
the  bomber  offensive  against  Japan  after  V-E  Day,  they  proposed 
modification  of  the  new  command  system:  Arnold  would  still  control 
all  VLR  aircraft  (including  eventually  those  of  the  RAF)  but  under 
CCS  rather  than  JCS  directives.  His  role  would  thus  be  analogous  to 
that  of  Portal  in  respect  to  the  Combined  Bomber  Offensive  against 
Germany.^ 

Asked  to  report  on  this  proposal,  the  Joint  Planning  Staff  found  it 
not  to  their  liking.  Conditions  in  the  war  against  Japan  differed  from 
those  in  Europe,  where  the  RAF  had  long  borne  the  brunt  of  the 
bomber  offensive  and  where  even  yet  their  forces  were  comparable  to 
those  of  the  AAF.  Current  plans  called  for  the  deployment  in  the 
CBI  of  only  four  VHB  groups.  All  others— about  twenty-five  groups 
by  summer  1945  and  forty-nine  eventually— would  go  to  areas  con- 
trolled solely  by  U.S.  commanders.  The  British  would  not  allocate 
RAF  units  for  the  strategic  bombardment  of  Japan  until  mid- 1945, 
and  not  possessing  a  bomber  with  VLR  characteristics,  they  could  not 
reach  the  Inner  Zone  from  bases  now  in  prospect.  If  they  turned  to- 

*  See  below,  pp.  43-52. 


40 


THE   TWENTIETH  AIR  FORCE 

ward  Malaya  and  Singapore,  as  seemed  likely,  strategic  bombardment 
in  the  Far  East  might  never  be  "combined"  in  the  sense  understood  in 
the  ETO/^ 

Following  this  negative  report,  the  Joint  Chiefs  on  3 1  May  declined 
the  British  proposal.  With  the  four  6-29  groups  in  India  already  fitted 
into  the  CBI  organization  and  all  subsequent  units  designated  for  the 
Pacific,  no  early  change  seemed  necessary.  The  JCS,  in  short,  thought 
that  command  of  VLR  units  should  be  left  to  them  "until  such  time 
as  British  VLR  forces  are  in  fact  allocated  for  employment  against 
Japan,  at  which  time  this  question  of  control  of  the  Strategic  Air 
Force  (VLR)  should  again  be  examined."^^  There  the  matter  rested, 
to  be  revived  only  as  the  war  against  Germany  dragged  to  a  close;  ac- 
tually, this  decision  was  to  insure  U.S.  control  of  all  VLR  operations 
until  the  Japanese  surrender. 

XX  Bomber  Command  and  the  CBI 

The  XX  Bomber  Command  was  activated  at  Salina,  Kansas,  on  27 
November  1943.  At  Cairo  the  MATTERHORN  plan  was  then  under 
consideration;  its  previous  indorsement  by  Roosevelt  augured  ap- 
proval, which  meant  that  the  new  command  would  go  to  the  CBI. 
The  internal  organization  of  the  command  had  been  determined  in 
part  by  that  probability,  involving  as  it  did  combat  operations  by  a 
complex  and  untried  bomber  in  a  theater  where  logistical  conditions 
were  exceedingly  difficult.  By  the  time  the  Twentieth  Air  Force  was 
established,  XX  Bomber  Command  had  been  mortised  into  the  CBI 
organization,  but  only  after  long  debates.  Foreseen  in  part,  the  diffi- 
culties in  adjustment  had  helped  determine  the  command  principles 
under  which  the  headquarters  air  force  would  work.  Earlier  agree- 
ment was  made  difficult  by  the  tactical  concept  of  MATTERHORN 
and  by  conditions  in  the  CBI.  The  China-Burma-India  theater  was 
huge,  great  in  land  mass  and  housing  the  largest  civilian  population  of 
any  theater.  Distances  were  formidable,  communications  slow.  Armed 
forces  of  three  Allies  were  fighting  a  common  foe  but  with  inade- 
quate forces  and  indifferent  success.  Material  weakness  was  aggra- 
vated by  radical  differences  between  the  several  Allies  in  war  aims,  in 
temperament,  and  in  the  make-up  of  forces;  principles  of  unity  of 
command  and  of  integral  national  forces,  commonly  accepted  in  other 
theaters,  were  hard  to  apply. 

According  to  MATTERHORN,  B-29  units  would  base  in  India, 

41 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

bomb  from  China.  A  foundation  for  such  an  arrangement  existed  al- 
ready in  an  American  command  in  China-Burma-India  under  Lt.  Gen, 
Joseph  W.  StilwelL  Like  most  commanders  in  the  theater  Stilwell  held 
several  offices.  He  was  chief  of  staff  to  Generalissimo  Chiang  Kai- 
shek,  Supreme  Commander  in  China,  and  deputy  to  Louis,  Lord 
Mountbatten,  Supreme  Allied  Commander,  Southeast  Asia,  As  Com- 
manding General,  U.S.  Army  Forces  in  CBI,  Stilwell  had  to  bridge  a 
psychological  barrier  between  his  two  allies  as  formidable  as  the  physi- 
cal barrier  of  the  Himalayas. 

The  Chinese  were  without  representation  in  the  CCS;  the  General- 
issimo tried  to  make  good  that  deficiency  by  approaching  Roosevelt 
directly  with  scant  regard  for  military  channels.  Chiang  Kai-shek's 
obvious  military  objective  was  to  drive  the  Japanese  out  of  China,  but 
that  task  was  complicated  by  concern  with  maintaining  his  political 
party  in  power  and  by  fear  of  Communists  in  the  north.  The  British 
were  interested  only  incidentally  in  China's  efforts  to  expel  the  en- 
emy. Their  chief  objectives  were  to  protect  India  from  Japanese  in- 
vasion and  from  civil  discord  among  the  natives,  to  reconquer  Burma 
and  Malaya,  and  to  regain  in  the  Far  East  prestige  lost  through  suc- 
cessive defeats  by  the  Japanese.  British  operations  in  1942-43  had 
lacked  aggressiveness;  improvement  was  hindered  by  the  non-cooper- 
ation of  native  India  and  a  complicated  chain  of  command  dividing 
forces  between  British  Army  Headquarters,  India,  and  SACSEA. 
Little  love  was  lost  between  the  Chinese,  suspicious  of  Britain's  polit- 
ical aims,  and  the  British  in  India  with  their  traditional  contempt  for 
a  "native"  army. 

Stilwell's  mission  was  to  keep  China  in  the  war  as  an  active  ally  and 
as  a  potential  base  for  future  large-scale  operations  against  the  Japa- 
nese homeland.  This  involved  equipping,  supplying,  and  training  the 
Chinese  army  rather  than  committing  large  U.S.  combat  forces.  After 
the  Japanese  cut  the  Burma  Road,  China  could  be  supplied  only  by  an 
LOC  stretching  from  Calcutta  to  Kunming.  In  1943  supply  over  the 
last  link  in  this  route,  Assam  to  China,  was  entirely  by  air  transport, 
and  protection  of  the  airlift  was  the  prime  function  of  AAF  units  in 
the  CBL  As  an  auxiliary,  the  Ledo  Road  was  being  pushed  with  high 
priorities,  and  ground  operations  planned  for  northern  Burma  were  to 
serve  both  the  air  and  the  ground  route.  Hence  it  was  that  Stilwell,  by 
training  and  temperament  an  exponent  of  ground  warfare,  headed  an 
American  command  consisting  largely  of  air  and  service  forces.  His 
primary  mission  lay  in  China;  India  was  for  him  only  a  terminus  for 


42 


THE  TWENTIETH  AIR  FORCE 


his  LOG,  Burma  the  site  of  its  route.  Yet  his  chief  personal  interest 
seemed  to  be  in  the  reconquest  of  Burma. 

The  theater's  two  Army  air  forces— the  Tenth  in  India  and  the 
Fourteenth  in  China—had  as  a  common  mission  defense  of  the  air  route 
to  China  and  of  the  bases  at  either  end.  Together  their  meager  forces 
were  hardly  sufficient  for  even  an  average  air  force,  but  separation  had 
been  dictated  by  different  policies  followed  in  China  and  in  India. 
Stilwell  as  the  Generalissimo's  chief  of  staff  commanded  Chinese 
troops  as  well  as  U.S.  forces.  Chennault  commanded  the  Fourteenth 
Air  Force  under  Stilwell  but  was  air  adviser  to  Chiang  Kai-shek  and 
commander  of  the  Chinese  Air  Force.  Relations  between  the  two 
Americans  were  more  often  strained  than  cordial;  Stilwell  was  suspi- 
cious of  the  close  rapport,  fruit  of  Chennault's  long  service  with  the 
Chungking  government,  between  his  air  general  and  the  Generalis- 
simo. In  Washington,  AAF  Headquarters  was  loath  unreservedly  to 
commit  a  VHB  force  to  Stilwell  with  his  preoccupation  with  the 
Ledo  Road,  or  to  Chennault  because  of  his  special  position  vis-Jl-vis 
Chiang  Kai-shek. 

The  situation  in  India  was  no  happier.  Southeast  Asia  Command, 
created  at  the  QUADRANT  conference  in  August  1943,  was  sup- 
posedly modeled  after  the  Allied  command  structure  which  had 
proved  so  successful  in  the  Mediterranean.  Mountbatten,  as  Supreme 
Allied  Commander,  had  an  American  (Stilwell)  as  deputy  and  in  the 
subordinate  combined  commands  (air,  ground,  naval)  a  comparable 
alternation  of  British  and  U.S.  commanders  was  followed.  In  spite  of 
the  fact  that  U.S.  air  forces  were  more  active  in  SEAC  than  the  RAF 
and  were  destined  to  become  more  numerous,  Mountbatten  had 
named  as  his  air  commander  Air  Chief  Marshal  Sir  Richard  Peirse. 
Because  the  mission  of  the  AAF  in  India  differed  so  sharply  from  that 
of  the  RAF,  Mountbatten's  control,  through  Peirse,  of  all  air  opera- 
tions was  not  wholly  satisfactory  to  the  Americans. 

The  creation  of  SEAC  had  brought  a  reorganization  of  Army  air 
forces  in  Asia.  On  20  August  1943,  the  AAF  India-Burma  Sector 
(IBS),  CBI  was  activated  at  New  Delhi  under  Maj.  Gen.  George  E. 
Stratemeyer,  senior  AAF  officer  in  the  theater.  By  virtue  of  this  of- 
fice Stratemeyer  controlled  directly  (but  under  Mountbatten  and 
Peirse)  the  Tenth  Air  Force  and  X  Air  Service  Command.  As  air  ad- 
viser to  Stilwell,  Stratemeyer  had  certain  responsibilities  which  lay 
outside  SACSEA's  jurisdiction:  supply  and  maintenance  for  the  Four- 
teenth Air  Force,  training  of  Chinese  pilots  at  Karachi,  coordinating 


43 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


activities  of  the  ATC's  India-China  Wing  (whose  command  channels 
ran  straight  to  Washington),  and  protecting  the  wing's  over-the- 
Hump  haul.  In  spite  of  valiant  efforts  on  the  part  of  Stratemeyer 
(known  throughout  the  AAF  as  a  skilled  diplomat),  the  new  scheme 
had  not  worked  smoothly.  Now  the  proposal  to  base  VHB's  in  India 
and  operate  them  from  China  threatened  further  to  confuse  a  com- 
mand setup  which  Arnold,  in  a  rare  bit  of  understatement,  had  de- 
scribed to  Stratemeyer  as  "somewhat  complicated."^^  Stratemeyer, 
learning  that  MATTERHORN's  needs  would  be  subordinated  to 
scheduled  operations  in  Burma,  was  anxious  that  the  CCS  should  es- 
tablish some  definite  policy  which  would  insure  sound  logistical  sup- 
port for  the  B-29's,  whatever  might  be  done  about  their  operational 
control.^^  It  is  only  when  viewed  against  this  background  of  tangled 
commands  and  divided  interests  that  the  difficulties  involved  in  estab- 
lishing the  XX  Bomber  Command  in  the  CBI  can  be  appreciated. 

The  MATTERHORN  plan  had  stipulated  that  administrative  con- 
trol of  B-29  units  should  be  vested  in  the  Commanding  General,  AAF 
IBS  (Stratemeyer),  and  that  operational  control  and  security  of  ad- 
vanced bases  should  devolve  upon  the  Commanding  General,  Four- 
teenth Air  Force  (Chennault).^^  Whether  the  omission  of  any  refer- 
ence to  Stratemeyer's  relation  to  SACSEA  was  deliberate  or  not,  it 
accorded  with  AAF  Headquarters  sentiment  and  reflected  Strate- 
meyer's  concern  lest  MATTERHORN  suffer  from  SACSEA's  other 
interests.'^  MATTERHORN's  approval  had  been  qualified  by  the 
provision  that  it  not  interfere  with  "planned  operations,"  which 
would  include  those  in  Mountbatten's  area.  At  SEXTANT  the  inter- 
ested leaders  (Marshall,  Arnold,  Portal,  Mountbatten)  attempted  to 
clarify  the  air  command  in  SEAC,  and  on  his  return  to  India  Mount- 
batten  established  the  Eastern  Air  Command.  This  gave  Stratemeyer 
command  over  an  integrated  AAF-RAF  operational  force  (Tenth 
Air  Force  and  Bengal  Air  Command),  but  his  channels  still  ran 
through  Peirse  to  Mountbatten.^^ 

In  describing  this  latest  reorganization  to  the  Chief  of  Air  Staff 
(Maj.  Gen.  Barney  McK.  Giles),  Stratemeyer  wrote  on  15  December: 

We  are  most  anxious  to  know  what  decisions  were  finally  made  [at  SEX- 
TANT] as  to  who  will  control  Twilight  [MATTERHORN].  Lord  Louis 
naturally  takes  the  position  that  any  operations  based  in  India  must  come  under 
his  Command.  1  am  still  hoping,  however,  that  General  Arnold  can  sustain  the 
position  that  Twilight  should  be  an  all  American  show.^* 

44 


THE   TWENTIETH   AIR  FORCE 

Mountbatten  must  have  realized  after  SEXTANT,  if  not  before,  that 
he  would  have  no  operational  control  over  the  B-29's.  His  concern 
rather  was  with  administration  and  with  coordinating  VLR  operations 
with  those  of  his  own  air  forces.  The  establishment  of  Eastern  Air 
Command  did  little  to  clarify  the  picture.  Stratemeyer  held  that  the 
planning  and  executing  of  VLR  missions  fell  outside  the  purview  of 
Mountbatten's  air  commander,  Peirse.  Peirse  agreed,  so  far  as  missions 
from  China  were  concerned,  but  insisted  that  "the  actual  building  up, 
expansion  and  operation  of  any  Air  Force  within  the  South  East  Asia 
area  must  initially,  under  our  Allied  Air  Command,  fall  to  be  my  re- 
sponsibility."^^ A  normal  assumption  under  existing  command  prin- 
ciples, Peirse's  declaration  was  negated  by  decisions  made  outside  the 
CBI. 

At  Cairo  the  command  system  advocated  in  the  original  MAT- 
TERHORN  plan  had  not  been  acceptable.  By  that  time  the  utility 
of  maintaining  control  of  all  VHB  units  under  the  JCS  had  become 
apparent,  and  on  5  January  Marshall  advised  Stilwell  of  a  new  arrange- 
ment currently  under  consideration.^"  Because  VLR  operations  would 
involve  both  SEAC  and  China,  XX  Bomber  Command  would  not  be 
assigned  to  either—in  fact,  it  would  not  be  assigned  permanently  to 
any  theater.  The  force  would  operate  under  general  direction  of  the 
JCS,  and  Stilwell  would  exercise  direct  command  and  control,  utiliz- 
ing facilities  of  the  Tenth  and  Fourteenth  Air  Forces  in  fulfilling  his 
directives. 

After  consulting  with  Stratemeyer,  Chennault,  and  his  own  deputy, 
Maj.  Gen.  Daniel  L  Sultan,  Stilwell  reported  that  the  scheme  was 
feasible  if  difficult.  He  proposed  to  delegate  direct  command  and 
control  to  his  air  adviser,  Stratemeyer,  and  to  charge  Chennault, 
through  Stratemeyer,  with  responsibility  for  fighter  defense  of  stag- 
ing areas,  for  fighter  escort  on  China-based  missions,  and  for  airdrome 
construction  and  supply  in  China.  For  missions  in  SEAC,  Stratemeyer 
would  furnish  escort  by  Tenth  Air  Force  fighters.^^  With  Stilwell's 
concurrence  thus  registered,  the  JCS  on  18  January  informally  ac- 
cepted the  proposed  command  system;  Marshall's  cable  of  5  January 
became,  in  effect,  Stilwell's  directive.^^ 

On  13  January  Brig.  Gen.  Kenneth  B.  Wolfe  arrived  at  New  Delhi 
with  the  advanced  echelon  of  his  XX  Bomber  Command  staff.  After 
he  had  conferred  there  with  Stratemeyer  but  before  he  had  seen  Stil- 
well, Rear  Echelon  Headquarters,  USAF  CBI  issued  over  the  latter's 


45 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


name  General  Order  No.  13,  30  January  1944,  describing  the  com- 
mand setup  for  XX  Bomber  Command:  under  general  directives  of 
the  JCS,  Stilwell  would  enjoy  direct  command  and  control,  but  would 
delegate  his  authority  to  Stratemeyer  as  air  adviser.^^  Stratemeyer  was 
authorized  to  make  needed  arrangements  with  the  appropriate  head- 
quarters, and  he  immediately  issued  a  directive  to  Chennault  regarding 
the  initial  B-29  missions  and  the  methods  of  administration  and  supply 
to  be  followed^* 

Stratemeyer  wrote  Arnold  on  3  February  that  "entirely  satisfac- 
tory" meetings  between  Wolfe,  Chennault,  Stilwell,  and  himself  had 
resulted  in  a  complete  mutual  understanding  of  their  respective  re- 
sponsibilities for  the  VHB  force.^®  Chennault,  however,  was  not  en- 
tirely satisfied.  He  had  written  on  26  January  to  Arnold,  "as  a  member 
of  the  JCS,"  an  unfavorable  critique  of  MATTERHORN;  the 
proper  coordination  of  tactical  (Fourteenth  Air  Force)  and  strategic 
(XX  Bomber  Command)  operations  and  logistics  could  be  assured, 
he  said,  only  by  establishing  a  "unified  air  command  to  consist  of  all 
Air  Forces  and  supporting  services  operating  in  China.  Chennault 
neglected  to  nominate  a  commander,  but  the  inference  was  obvious. 

General  Arnold  liked  neither  the  idea  nor  the  approach,  which  had 
skipped  a  couple  of  echelons  in  the  normal  channel  of  communications 
and  which  was  bolstered  apparently  by  an  appeal  via  the  Generalis- 
simo. Arnold  indorsed  the  letter  in  his  own  hand:  "Gen.  Kuter.  This 
looks  like  another  one  of  Chennault's  independent  thoughts  and  ideas 
—with  no  coordination  with  Hdqr.  He  has  already  expressed  these 
sentiments  to  CKS  who  sent  them  here.  H.H.A."  But  before  Wash- 
ington could  answer  Chennault,  his  relations  to  XX  Bomber  Com- 
mand were  re-stated  in  the  theater. 

On  1 1  February  Wolfe  arrived  at  StilwelPs  advanced  headquarters 
in  the  north  Burma  jungles.  There,  on  the  following  day,  Stilwell 
rescinded  the  directive  of  30  January  issued  without  his  approval,  sub- 
stituting instead  General  Order  No.  16,  which  was  flown  out  by 
Wolfe  and  promulgated  at  New  Delhi  on  15  February.*^  In  the  new 
directive,  Stilwell  charged  Stratemeyer,  as  Commanding  General, 
AAF  IBS,  with  responsibility  for  logistics  and  administration  of  XX 
Bomber  Command;  after  consulting  Wolfe,  he  was  to  make  recom- 
mendations for  VLR  missions  in  SEAC.  Chennault  had  responsibility 
for  fighter  defense  of  B-29  bases  in  China  and  for  complete  support 
of  XX  Bomber  Command  there;  after  consulting  Wolfe,  Chennault 

46 


THE  TWENTIETH  AIR  FORCE 

was  to  make  recommendations  to  Stilwell  through  Stratemeyer  (this 
time  as  air  adviser)  for  B-29  missions  from  China.  In  essence,  Stilwell, 
not  Stratemeyer,  would  exercise  operational  control  and  would  co- 
ordinate the  activities  of  the  two  theater  sectors.  Washington  was 
apprised  of  the  new  arrangement  and  apparently  found  it  accept- 
able/® No  notice  was  sent  to  Mountbatten. 

Mountbatten  had  left  Cairo  before  the  final  action  on  MATTER- 
HORN  was  taken.  When  the  Tehran  decisions  had  negated  earlier 
SEXTANT  agreements  concerning  the  CBI,  alternative  suggestions 
had  been  debated:  whether  to  continue  large-scale  operations  in 
Burma  without  BUCCANEER,  or  to  concentrate  on  augmenting 
Hump  tonnage  to  the  end  that  a  major  air  effort,  particularly  by 
B-29's,  might  be  made  from  China  bases.  A  choice  between  those  al- 
ternatives had  been  deferred  pending  opinions  from  SACSEA  and 
Chungking,^^  Mountbatten  was  inclined  toward  the  latter  plan,  wish- 
ing to  curtail  north  Burma  operations  and  to  carry  the  Ledo  Road 
("out  of  step  with  global  strategy")  only  to  Myitkyina.  For  1944  he 
favored  putting  all  possible  resources  at  the  disposal  of  the  Fourteenth 
and  of  MATTERHORN;  later  he  would  move  southeastward  to- 
ward Sumatra,  utilizing  B-29's  in  the  campaign.*^  For  reasons  not  perti- 
nent here,  these  suggestions  could  not  be  accepted  in  full;  what  is  of 
immediate  concern  is  Mountbatten's  interest  in  the  B-29's. 

At  New  Delhi,  in  conference  with  Wolfe  and  Stratemeyer,  he  had 
suggested  that  XX  Bomber  Command  perform  long-range  reconnais- 
sance in  SEAC  and  strike  missions  against  Bangkok.^^  Such  operations 
were  not  mentioned  in  Marshall's  radio  of  5  January— in  fact,  despite 
the  obvious  interest  of  Mountbatten  and  Peirse  in  the  B-29  force, 
there  was  no  mention  of  SACSEA  in  that  message,  in  Stilwell's  reply 
of  9  January,  or  in  the  two  general  orders  emanating  from  the  latter's 
headquarters.  Nor  had  any  of  those  documents  been  formally  pre- 
sented to  SACSEA.  The  desire  to  keep  MATTERHORN  "an  all 
American  show"  was  natural;  failure  to  consult  the  Supreme  Allied 
Commander  was  impolitic. 

Receiving  belatedly— on  26  February— a  copy  of  General  Order 
No.  1 6,  Lord  Mountbatten  was  disgruntled  at  not  having  been 
consulted  before  its  issue  and  perturbed  at  its  silence  concerning 
SACSEA.  In  a  signal  to  the  British  Chiefs  of  Staff  he  quoted  the  order 
in  full,  deplored  Stilwell's  neglect,  and  suggested  certain  modifica- 
tions.*^ He  argued  that  the  JCS,  commanding  all  VHB  units,  should 


47 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


issue  mission  directives  simultaneously  to  the  theater  commander  of 
the  B-29's  (Stilwell)  and  the  commanders  (currently,  Chiang  Kai- 
shek  and  Mountbatten)  of  those  theaters  in  which  they  would  base, 
over  which  they  would  fly,  and  in  which  they  would  bomb.  Stilwell 
would  coordinate  and  issue  mission  orders.  Local  fighter  defense 
would  fall  to  the  pertinent  theater  commander;  in  SEAC  this  would 
be  delegated  to  the  Commanding  General,  EAC  (Stratemeyer) 
through  Peirse.  Since  Stratemeyer  was  Stilwell's  air  adviser,  this 
would  leave  operational  control  of  B-29's  in  SEAC  in  one  hand. 

The  average  civilian,  American  or  British,  might  have  found  this  a 
little  confusing;  the  military  did  not.  Marshall  was  informed  by  the 
theater  of  the  contents  of  this  cable  on  the  same  day  and  two  days 
later,  on  28  February,  the  British  Chiefs  of  Staff  referred  the  message, 
with  their  indorsement,  to  the  CCS.^^  Sir  Charles  Portal  seconded  the 
formal  statement  with  a  personal  plea  to  General  Arnold,  who  gave 
assurance  of  the  AAF's  desire  "to  arrange  for  smooth  coordination."^^ 
On  the  heels  of  Portal's  message  came  a  radio  from  General  Kuter 
who,  momentarily  in  New  Delhi,  had  talked  with  Mountbatten  and 
Stratemeyer.^^  Kuter  referred  to  the  serious  oversight  of  the  JCS  in 
not  having  provided  SACSEA  with  a  copy  of  their  5  January  direc- 
tive to  Stilwell  and  suggested  an  apology;  in  the  future,  Mountbatten 
would  be  satisfied  with  information  copies  of  all  directives  and  orders 
to  XX  Bomber  Command.  Pending  formal  action  by  his  associates  in 
the  JCS,  Arnold  radioed  Stilwell  on  6  March,  expressing  regrets  for 
the  oversight  and  promising  for  Mountbatten  copies  of  future  action 
papers.^^  He  added,  though,  that  the  JCS  were  currently  revising  their 
directive  to  Stilwell  and  gave  the  resume  of  its  contents. 

These  incidents,  recorded  in  a  matter-of-fact  manner  and  read  liter- 
ally, may  give  the  impression  of  a  squabble  over  protocol.  Certainly 
protocol  was  involved,  but  to  planners  in  Washington  the  misunder- 
standings had  a  graver  significance:  they  pointed  up  the  difficulty  of 
coordinating  B-29  operations  in  the  CBI  under  the  existing  command 
structure  and  with  the  personalities  involved.  Thus  recent  experiences 
in  that  theater  seemed  to  confirm  the  decision  made  at  the  White 
House  in  mid-February  and  must  have  influenced  the  Joint  Planners, 
when  on  2  March  they  recommended  that  control  of  VHB  units  "be 
retained  directly  under  the  Joint  Chiefs  of  Stafi"."*^  This  proposal 
differed  sharply  from  the  5  January  cable  which  recited  that  XX 
Bomber  Command  should  operate  under  the  general  directives  of  the 
JCS  and  the  direct  command  and  control  of  Stilwell. 

48 


THE  TWENTIETH  AIR  FORGE 

The  new  directive  for  Stilwell,  of  which  he  was  advised  tentatively 
on  6  March,  had  been  framed  by  the  AAF  in  consonance  with  the 
new  JPS  paper.  Stilwell  would  command  the  U.S.  Strategic  Air 
Forces  (VLR)  in  his  theater,  running  missions  under  the  operational 
control  of  the  JCS.  He  would  coordinate  operations  in  China  with 
Chennault,  operations  in  or  from  SEAC  with  Mountbatten.  In  case 
of  unresolvable  conflicts,  Stilwell  and  Mountbatten  would  appeal  to 
the  U.S.  and  British  Chiefs  of  Staff  respectively.  Defense  responsibili- 
ties would  devolve  upon  Stilwell  in  China,  upon  Mountbatten  in 
SEAC,  and  the  former  would  render  maximum  logistical  support  to 
the  VLR  project.  The  final  warning:  the  JCS  might  move  B-29  units 
from  the  theater  at  any  time.  With  old-world  courtesy,  the  AAF  in- 
cluded a  draft  apology  to  Louis,  Lord  Mountbatten.*^  The  JCS  ap- 
proved the  directive  on  7  March,  passing  it  on  to  the  Combined  Chiefs 
and  to  Stilwell.''^  This  time  he  was  requested  to  "have  Stratemeyer 
keep  Mountbatten  informed."*^^  Once  bitten,  twice  shy.  With  minor 
revisions  the  CCS  approved  the  new  directive  on  25  March,  and  Stil- 
well—and  Mountbatten— were  so  informed.^^  Mountbatten  received 
the  new  arrangement  apparently  with  little  enthusiasm.  Both  he  and 
Peirse  considered  the  "command  and  control  set-up  for  VLR  bomb- 
ers unusual"  (as  did  the  JCS);  they  asked  for  information  copies  on 
all  important  decisions  (which  had  been  promised);  and  they  re- 
quested, through  Sultan,  that  Arnold  "not  send  instructions  to  Wolfe 
direct"  (which  ran  counter  to  current  plans)  .^^ 

The  directive  to  Stilwell  was  again  short-lived.  The  decision  of  the 
JCS  on  28  March  to  set  up  a  headquarters  air  force  with  Arnold  as 
commander  lessened  the  responsibilities  of  the  theater  commanders. 
After  the  Twentieth  Air  Force  had  been  established,  the  Joint  Chiefs 
on  19  April  dispatched  to  Stilwell  a  new  directive.^^  The  XX  Bomber 
Command  was  assigned  to  the  Twentieth  Air  Force  (and  not  to  the 
CBI).  All  major  decisions  as  to  deployment,  missions,  and  target  ob- 
jectives would  be  made  by  the  JCS  and  executed  by  Arnold.  Stilwell 
would  coordinate  B-29  missions  with  other  operations  in  the  CBI,  con- 
sult with  Mountbatten  on  missions  affecting  SEAC,  and  inform 
Chiang  Kai-shek  (to  the  extent  that  security  would  permit)  of  mis- 
sions planned  from  China  bases.  Mountbatten  would  provide  and  de- 
fend bases  in  SEAC,  Stilwell  in  China;  the  latter  was  responsible  for 
logistic  support  in  both  sectors.  In  a  tactical  or  strategic  emergency, 
Stilwell  might  divert  the  B-29's  from  their  primary  mission,  immedi- 
ately informmg  the  Joint  Chiefs.  As  an  afterthought,  the  office  of 


49 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

Commander  in  Chief,  India  was  added  to  that  of  SACSEA  in  ap- 
propriate passages.^ 

The  directive  thus  included  some  provisions  suggested  by  the  Brit- 
ish on  28  February  but  it  disregarded  Mountbatten's  protest  over 
channels  of  communication  with  Wolfe.  Direct  communications  be- 
tween Arnold  and  Wolfe  were  specifically  authorized.  The  JCS  in- 
formed their  British  counterparts  of  the  new  arrangement  and  asked 
that  SACSEA  and  Commander  in  Chief,  India  be  instructed  to  fulfill 
obligations  stipulated  for  them.^*  It  was  this  announcement  which  pro- 
voked the  unsuccessful  attempt  of  the  British  to  shift  control  of  the 
VHB's  from  the  JCS  to  the  CCS.  The  Joint  Chiefs  stood  pat:  the 
command  system  outlined  in  the  radio  of  19  April  was  that  under 
which  XX  Bomber  Command  would  begin  its  operations  in  June. 
The  inclusion  of  Chiang  Kai-shek  among  the  "coordinators'*  reflected 
perhaps  an  effort  by  him  which  seemed  to  give  further  justification 
to  the  idea  of  the  headquarters  air  force. 

From  purely  military  considerations  there  had  been  ample  reason 
for  Mountbatten's  desire  for  a  clear  understanding  of  his  responsi- 
bilities for  logistics,  coordination,  and  base  defense:  port  and  trans- 
portation priorities  for  the  B-29  project  would  impinge  on  those  for 
other  planned  operations,  and  as  events  had  recently  showed,  Calcutta 
was  not  immune  to  Japanese  air  attack.  But  it  seems  probable  that 
considerations  of  prestige  were  not  wholly  absent.  The  British  had 
lost  face  in  the  oriental  world,  and  if  they  were  to  regain  their  former 
ascendancy  in  southeast  Asia,  their  efforts  should  not  be  overshad- 
owed by  that  of  the  Americans.  Command  prerogatives  were  of  more 
than  military  importance.  This  was  true  in  China  too.  The  choice  of 
China  as  a  staging  area  for  the  B-29's,  it  has  been  suggested,*  was  de- 
termined in  part  by  the  need  of  shoring-up  the  Chungking  govern- 
ment. Chiang  Kai-shek  had  accepted  Roosevelt's  offer  to  send  the 
Superforts  to  China  and  was  cooperating— at  no  financial  loss,  to  put 
it  conservatively— in  providing  the  required  bases.  He  had  supported 
Chennault's  effort  to  have  the  B-29's  put  under  a  "unified  air  com- 
mand" in  China.  Now  in  April  pressure  from  the  Japanese  in  east 
China  led  Chennault  to  suggest  to  Stilwell  that  MATTERHORN's 
air  transport  allocation  be  temporarily  diverted  to  the  Fourteenth  and, 
in  an  emergency,  the  diversion  of  "all  MATTERHORN's  resources 
to  tactical  rather  than  strategic  purposes.'*  The  B-29's  would  hit  en- 
emy bases  in  China,  not  industry  in  the  home  islands." 

•See  above,  pp.  13-15,  17,  24-25. 


50 


THE  TWENTIETH  AIR  FORCE 


A  few  days  later,  Stilwell  advised  Marshall  that  the  Generalissimo 
was  insisting  that  he  himself  command  the  VLR  project  in  China,  just 
as  he  commanded  (as  Supreme  Commander  in  China)  the  Fourteenth 
Air  Force.  Stilwell  believed  that  this  demand  was  motivated  by- 
Chiang  Kai-shek's  concern  over  face  and  that  it  might  be  countered 
by  an  explanation  of  the  peculiar  nature  of  the  JCS  air  force.  Marshall 
passed  this  information  on  to  Roosevelt,  who  cabled  Chiang  Kai-shek 
on  12  April:  the  President  would  command  the  force  from  Wash- 
ington; the  Generalissimo  would  have  the  responsibility  for  coordinat- 
ing VLR  missions  with  other  operations  in  the  theater  in  which  he 
was  Supreme  Commander,  and  would  accordingly  be  informed  of  the 
pertinent  directives  from  Washington.  This  removed  any  possible 
slight  by  placing  Chiang  Kai-shek  on  the  same  plane  as  Mounthatten, 
and  apparently  mollified  the  Generalissimo.  There  is  no  reason  to 
suppose,  however,  that  the  remote-control  system  was  liked  by  Chiang 
Kai-shek  and  his  air  adviser— or  for  that  matter  by  most  of  the  ranking 
officers  in  the  theater.  They  might  have  asked,  as  the  French  general 
had  in  191 8  when  told  of  the  plans  for  an  independent  bomber  force, 
"Independent  of  whom— of  God?"  The  Twentieth's  chain  of  com- 
mand did  not  run  that  high,  but  it  had  jumped  some  important  brass 
in  a  theater  where  personalities  counted  heavily. 

There  were,  of  course,  wholly  impersonal  reasons  for  suspecting  the 
new  system.  What  may  be  called  the  theater  point  of  view  had 
changed  little  since  the  invention  of  the  telegraph  had  allowed  distant 
headquarters  (or  governments)  to  interfere  directly  with  the  details 
of  a  military  campaign.  The  Crimean  War  of  1854-56  was  the  first 
war  fought  under  such  circumstances,  and  an  American  military  ob- 
server thus  reported  the  results: 

The  electric  telegraph  was  another  novelty  in  the  art  of  war,  first  used  in  this 
memorable  siege  [of  Sevastopol].  It  was  used  for  communicating  the  wants  of 
the  armies  to  their  respective  governments  and  was  so  far  useful.  For  conveying 
the  orders  of  the  governments  to  their  respective  commanders  (if  I  attach  any 
weight  to  the  opinion  of  officers  at  the  seat  of  war),  its  advantage  was  some- 
what questionable.  By  it  orders  were  sometimes  given  that  more  circumstancial 
information,  only  to  be  gained  in  sight  of  the  enemy,  would  have  shown  to  be 
highly  inexpedient."* 

This,  roughly,  was  the  theater  point  of  view.  The  JCS  had  built  an 
unusually  fine  record  of  commanding  through  general  directives,  leav- 
ing the  theater  commander  to  work  out  the  details.  The  headquarters 
air  force  would  depart  from  that  practice:  in  the  crucial  details  of 


51 


THE  ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 

target  selectiori  and  mission  directives  full  control  would  remain  in 
Washington.  Only  the  emergency  clause  in  Stilwell's  general  direc- 
tive left  to  him  any  chance  of  operational  control  over  a  bombardment 
force  for  which  he  had  administrative  and  logistical  responsibility. 
The  tactical  situation  in  China  promised  to  provide  soon  an  emer- 
gency which  would  threaten  the  whole  MATTERHORN  plan. 

XX  Bomber  Command  and  the  $8th 
Bombardment  Wing  (VH) 

As  plans  for  the  employment  and  control  of  the  VHB's  were  de- 
bated by  the  Allied  leaders,  the  combat  force  which  was  to  carry  the 
air  war  to  the  Inner  Empire  slowly  assumed  form.  By  the  time  the 
Twentieth  Air  Force  was  established  on  4  April  1944,  its  striking 
force,  XX  Bomber  Command,  had  been  organized,  trained,  and  dis- 
patched overseas— its  units  then  being  strung  out  in  either  direction 
betweien  Salina  in  Kanisas  and  Chengtu  in  China.  MATTERHORN 
planners  had  originally  conceived  of  two  B-29  combat  wings,  the 
first  to  begin  operations  from  the  Calcutta  area  in  spring  1944, 
the  second  in  September.  The  Joint  Chiefs  on  10  April  diverted  the 
latter,  in  anticipation,  to  the  Marianas,  and  the  combat  story  of 
MATTERHORN  becomes  thereafter  the  story  of  the  58th  Bom- 
bardment Wing  (VH),  whose  first  B-29  had  landed  at  Kharagpur 
only  a  few  days  before.  At  that  time  the  B-29  project  which  had 
fostered  the  58th  was  about  a  year  old,  and  one  year— to  the  day- 
elapsed  between  the  establishment  of  the  wing  at  Marietta,  Georgia, 
on  15  June  1943  and  its  first  strike  at  the  Japanese  homeland.  Suc- 
cessive delays  in  production  and  modification,  natural  enough  with  a 
new  and  complex  airplane,  had  caused  cumulative  delays  in  training 
and  deployment.  Like  many  another  AAF  force,  XX  Bomber  Com- 
mand had  to  complete  its  training  and  weld  its  organization  in  the 
theater  of  operations. 

In  an  earlier  passage  it  has  been  shown  how  the  need  for  a  VLR 
bomber  had  encouraged  the  AAF  to  adopt  the  unusual  procedure  of 
ordering  large  numbers  of  B-29's  before  the  plane  had  ever  flowii.* 
By  combining  the  resources  of  Boeing,  Bell,  Fisher  Body,  Martin, 
Wright,  and  other  firms,  production  experts  had  worked  out  a  sched- 
ule which  promised  to  deliver  150  B-29's  during  1943.  The  fatal  crash 
of  18  February  1943  threatened  to  retard  the  schedule  seriously,  but 

•  See  above,  pp.  6-7. 


52 


THE  TWENTIETH  AIR  FORCE 


General  Arnold  immediately  established  on  an  exempt  status  the  B-29 
Special  Project,  naming  Brig.  Gen.  Kenneth  B.  Wolfe,  B-29  expert 
from  Wright  Field,  as  its  head  and  directing  him  simply  to  "take  nec- 
essary action  to  commit  the  B-29  airplane  to  combat  without  delay."^^ 
This  was  an  order  to  build  a  strategic  bombing  force  around  an  air- 
plane then  represented  by  two  experimental  models  powered  by  a 
new  and  untried  engine. 

Current  schedules  suggested  that  B-29's  would  not  be  available  for 
training  purposes  before  late  summer.^°  Wolfe  thought  that  if  produc- 
tion held  up  it  would  be  possible  to  build  his  organization  and  conduct 
training  and  service  testing  concurrently.  This  would  be  a  gamble— a 
"calculated  risk"  in  more  formal  military  parlance— but  of  a  piece 
with  the  whole  B-29  program.  Arnold  had  given  the  project  high 
priorities,  including  what  amounted  to  a  carte  blanche  for  personnel 
needs.  Wolfe  stripped  his  office  at  Wright  Field  of  key  officers  to  man 
his  technical  staff,  taking  along  as  his  deputy  his  leading  B-29  expert, 
Col.  Leonard  F.  Harman.  To  direct  the  training  program,  he  secured 
as  A-3  Brig.  Gen.  La  Verne  G.  ("Blondie")  Saunders,  who  had  com- 
manded the  I  ith  Bombardment  Group  in  the  battle  for  Guadalcanal.^^ 
Part  of  the  technical  staff  went  out  to  Seattle  to  test  the  XB-29.^^  By 
7  May  Wolfe  had  evolved  and  Washington  had  accepted  a  tentative 
organization  to  utilize  the  first  150  planes.  His  scheme  called  for  a 
bombardment  wing  which  would  include  four  combat  groups  and  a 
fifth  group  to  remain  behind  as  an  OTU  when  the  others  moved  out. 
Of  452  combat  crews  to  be  trained,  262  would  be  assigned  to  this 
original  wing  (providing  double  crews  for  each  plane  and  initial  re- 
serves) and  190  would  be  used  for  replacements  and  OTU's.^^  To 
implement  the  plan,  the  AAF  directed  the  Second  Air  Force  to  assign 
certain  designated  units.***  During  May,  Wolfe  consulted  with  the 
Second  Air  Force,  the  Technical  Training  Command,  and  other  agen- 
cies in  an  effort  to  determine  training  needs  and  methods  for  B-29 
specialists.^ 

On  I  June  1943  the  58th  Bombardment  Wing  (VH)  was  activated; 
on  the  1 5th  it  was  established  at  Marietta  Army  Air  Field  (near  Bell's 
B-29  factory),  where  General  Wolfe  assumed  command  on  the  21st.*® 
The  Second  Air  Force  provided  four  training  fields  in  the  general 
vicinity  of  Salina,  Kansas— in  the  heart  of  a  flat,  rich  wheat  country 
and  close  to  Boeing's  Wichita  factory,  whence  would  come  most  of 
the  1943  Superforts.  Wing  headquarters  was  transferred  from  Mari- 


53 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

etta  to  Salina  on  15  September,  some  of  the  groups  having  already 
moved  into  the  Kansas  area,  and  within  a  few  weeks  the  58th  Wing 
had  taken  on  a  definite,  if  imperfect,  form.  It  was  not  an  orderly 
process.  Delay  in  adopting  tables  of  organization  added  somewhat  to 
the  confusion  caused  by  the  frequent  assignment  and  reassignment  of 
units  and  individuals  and  by  housing  shortages.®^ 

Originally  under  control  of  AAF  Headquarters  at  Washington, 
the  58th  Wing  was  reassigned  on  1 1  October  to  the  Second  Air  Force, 
which  had  supplied  much  of  the  wing's  combat  personnel  and  which 
was  to  continue  the  B-29  unit  training  program  after  the  58th  went 
overseas,®®  The  last  important  change  in  organization  grew  out  of 
Wolfe's  operational  plan  and  its  variant,  MATTERHORN,  based 
on  the  deployment  of  two  VHB  wings  in  the  CBI.  On  27  November 
XX  Bomber  Command  was  activated  at  Salina  with  Wolfe  as  com- 
mander.^ He  carried  over  into  his  new  headquarters  part  of  his  staff, 
leaving  his  deputy,  Colonel  Harman,  to  command  the  58th— now 
called,  as  were  all  the  combat  units.  Very  Heavy  instead  of  Heavy. 
At  the  same  time  the  73d  Bombardment  Wing  (VH)  with  four  con- 
stituent groups  was  activated.*  The  73  d,  designed  to  absorb  the  sec- 
ond increment  of  150  B-29's,  grew  slowly;  diverted  in  April  from 


Ufdt 

CovtffUiftdcT 

Location 

XX  Bomber  Command 

58th  Bombardment  Wing 

(VH) 
468th  Bombardment 

Group  (VH) 
47  2d  Bombardment 

Group  (VH)t 
40th  Bombardment 

Group  (VH) 
444th  Bombardment 

Group  (VH) 
46zd  Bombardment 

Group  (VH) 
73d  Bombardment  Wing 

(VH) 

497th,  498th,  499th,  500th 
Bombardment  Groups 
(VH) 

tTo  remain  behind  as 
an  OTU. 

Brig.  Gen.  Kenneth  B. 

Wolfe 
Col,  Leonard  F.  Harman 

Col.  Howard  £.  Engler 

Col.  Lewis  R.  Parkes 

Col.  Alva  L.  Harvey 

Col.  Richard  H.  Carmi- 
chael 

Col.  Thomas  H.  Chap- 
man 

In  process  of  acdvadon 

Smoky  Hill  Army  Air  Field, 

Salina,  Kansas 
Smoky  Hill  Army  Air  Field, 

Salina,  Kansas 
Smoky  Hill  Army  Air  Field, 

Salina,  Kansas 
Smoky  Hill  Army  Air  Field, 

Salina,  Kansas 
Pratt  Army  Air  Field,  Pratt, 

Kansas 

Great  Bend  Army  Air  Field, 
Great  Bend,  Kansas 

Walker  Army  Air  Field,  Vic- 
toria, Kansas 

Smoky  Hill  Army  Air  Field, 
Salina,  Kansas 

54 


THE  TWENTIETH  AIR  FORCE 


MATTERHORN  to  a  force  intended  for  the  Marianas,  that  wing 
passes  out  of  the  present  story 

By  1 3  January  the  tables  of  organization  for  the  combat  units  had 
finally  been  authorized.  The  aim  had  been  to  make  the  command  as 
nearly  independent  of  outside  agencies  as  possible,  a  sort  of  air  task 
force  which  could  operate  under  relatively  primitive  conditions  with 
a  minimum  of  help  from  the  theater.  The  force  would  consist  of  a 
bomber  command  headquarters,  a  wing  headquarters,  and  four  groups 
each  containing  four  bombardment  and  four  maintenance  squadrons 
—the  latter  comprising  the  ground  echelons  of  the  combat  squadrons 
organized  separately  for  greater  elasticity.  The  assignment  of  double 
crews  with  members  capable  of  performing  first  and  second  echelon 
maintenance  was  to  comply  with  the  system  of  rear  and  advanced 
bases  called  for  in  MATTERHORN.  The  composition  of  the  crew 
was  long  under  discussion  with  various  suggested  teams  ranging  from 
ten  to  fourteen  men,  eleven  finally  being  adopted:  pilot-commander, 
co-pilot,  two  navigator-bombardiers,  flight  engineer  (all  officers); 
engine  mechanic,  electrical  specialist,  power-plant  specialist,  central 
fire-control  specialist  (these  last  four  trained  in  gunnery) ;  radio  and 
radar  operators.  Command  headquarters  and  each  group  had  a  photo- 
laboratory.  Aircraft  were  assigned  at  the  rate  of  7  per  squadron,  28 
per  group,  a  total  of  ii 2  for  the  wing.  The  use  of  double  crews  with 
5  officers  each  gave  the  wing  an  unusually  high  percentage  of  com- 
missioned personnel— 3,045  officers  with  8  warrant  officers  and  8,099 
enlisted  men.^^  Because  of  the  desire  to  make  the  command  as  self- 
sufficient  as  possible,  there  was  need  to  provide  service  units  to  per- 
form third  and  fourth  echelon  maintenance  and  housekeeping  services. 
These,  with  the  aviation  engineer  units  temporarily  assigned  for 
construction  of  the  India  airfields,  brought  XX  Bomber  Command 
on  its  arrival  overseas  to  something  over  20,000  officers  and  men. 

While  the  B-29  force  was  thus  rounding  out  its  organization,  train- 
ing had  been  carried  out  under  difficulties  stemming  from  the  novelty 
of  the  project  and  the  emphasis  on  haste.  For  some  types  of  ground 
units,  standard  AAF  training  procedures  were  satisfactory,  but  for 
all  B-29  specialties,  courses  had  to  be  cut  to  pattern.  Scheduled  to  go 
out  to  India  by  water  in  a  two-month  voyage,  ground  echelons  had 
to  leave  early  in  the  new  year,  but  as  late  as  2 1  December  there  was  a 
shortage  of  40  per  cent  in  authorized  maintenance  personnel.  While 
the  numerical  deficiencies  were  rapidly  made  good,  current  tasks  and 


55 


THE  ARMY   AIR  FORCES  IN   WORLD  WAR  11 

preparations  for  overseas  movement  interfered  with  programs  to  the 
degree  that  training  vv^ould  have  to  continue  on  shipboard  and  in  In- 

dia;^ 

For  flight  echelons  the  problem  was  more  complex.  Instructors  had 
to  be  trained  before  they  in  turn  could  initiate  crews  into  the  intri- 
cacies of  the  B-29.  As  a  nucleus  for  his  training  staff  Wolfe  was  au- 
thorized to  procure  twenty-five  pilots  and  twenty-five  navigators 
with  high  qualifications  and  with  experience  in  long  over-water  flights 
in  four-engine  planesJ'  The  chief  difficulty  lay  in  the  dearth  of 
planes.  The  first  XB-29  was  turned  over  to  the  AAF  just  as  the  58th 
Wing  was  activated,  and  it  was  August  before  the  first  production 
model  flew  into  Marietta  for  modification.  Service  testing  was  con- 
ducted in  Kansas  during  September  as  the  combat  groups  settled  into 
place;  by  7  October  flight  characteristics  of  the  B-29  had  been  ap- 
proved by  Wolfe's  experts,  and  a  number  of  key  pilots  had  been 
checked  out.'*  Meanwhile,  training  directives  had  been  prepared  and 
crews  had  begun  their  transition  work— but  not  in  B-29's.  First  some 
fifty  B-26's  were  used,  then  B-i7's,  a  better  substitute  for  the  larger 
Boeing  plane."  Delays  in  production  of  aircraft  and  engines,  which 
had  held  up  deliveries  of  the  Superforts,  had  practically  disappeared 
by  the  end  of  1943,  but  modifications  were  numerous  and  time-con- 
suming (especially  installation  of  a  four-gun  turret).  For  want  of 
trained  maintenance  personnel,  an  unusually  high  percentage  of  planes 
remained  out  of  service.  When  XX  Bomber  Command  was  established 
on  27  November,  there  was  only  one  B-29  ^^^^  twelve  crews; 
a  month  later  the  crews  had  flown  only  an  average  of  eighteen  B-29 
hours  and  half  an  hour  in  B-29  formations.  Only  sixty-seven  first 
pilots  had  then  been  checked  out.^^  In  recognition  of  these  conditions, 
the  number  of  crews  to  be  trained  was  cut  back  to  240  and  the  date 
of  completion  was  advanced  from  i  February  to  i  March.^^  During 
January  there  was  some  improvement;  practically  all  the  ground 
school  work  was  completed  and  most  of  the  scheduled  flying  in 
B-17's.  But  by  the  end  of  the  month,  when  by  the  original  plan  the 
program  should  have  been  completed,  no  more  than  half  the  required 
B-29  flyii^g  had  been  done,  and  in  certain  phases—high-altitude  forma- 
tion flying,  long-range  simulated  missions,  gunnery  and  central  fire- 
control  practice— the  wing's  accomplishments  were  negligible.^^ 

The  delays  in  production  and  modification  which  hampered  flight 
training  also  made  it  impossible  to  ship  out  at  the  expected  time.  By 

56 


THE   TWENTIETH  AIR  FORCE 


mid-February  the  situation  at  Salina  had  become  critical,  and  General 
Arnold  sent  out  from  Washington  a  "PQ  Project"  team  to  get  the 
B-29's  ready  for  overseas  flight  and  combat.  Eventually  Maj.  Gen. 
Bennett  E.  Meyers,  whose  personal  conduct  was  later  to  bring 
embarrassment  to  the  AAF  but  who  was  then  an  effective  trouble- 
shooter,  assumed  charge  of  the  task  force  of  representatives  from  vari- 
ous contracting  firms  and  AAF  agencies  and  GI  and  civilian  mechan- 
ics. The  project,  carried  out  during  the  tail-end  of  a  hard  winter,  was 
known  locally  as  "the  Kansas  Blitz";  it  was  a  fitting  send-off  for  men 
headed  for  Bengal's  heat.  With  this  unavoidable  extension  of  the  stay 
in  Kansas,  ambitious  training  requirements  were  readjusted  to  suit  the 
needs  of  individual  groups  and,  as  modified,  were  achieved  by  the  be- 
ginning of  March.  Partly  modified  aircraft  were  delivered  to  the 
squadrons  during  February,  and  the  squadrons  themselves  spent  much 
time  in  effecting  engine  changes  and  certain  modifications.  To  secure 
the  other  modifications  needed  for  combat,  regular  crews  ferried  their 
planes  from  one  center  to  another,  thus  piling  up  flying  time.^°  At 
the  time  of  their  belated  departure  for  India  the  combat  units  still  had 
much  to  learn  about  their  untried  plane,  but  even  so  they  had  an  ex- 
perience level  higher  than  that  of  the  average  group  shipping  over- 
seas. And,  for  reasons  which  lay  outside  the  ken  of  XX  Bomber  Com- 
mand, there  would  be  no  little  time  for  training  in  the  theater  before 
the  first  mission  was  run. 


57 


CHAPTER  3 


MATTERHORN  LOGISTICS 

THE  MATTERHORN  plan  reflected  the  predominant  inter- 
est in  strategic  bombardment  that  existed  in  AAF  Headquar- 
ters. Essentially  it  was  an  effort  to  introduce  into  the  Japanese 
war  the  objectives  and  techniques  of  the  Combined  Bomber  Of- 
fensive in  Europe:  so  to  batter  the  industrial  fabric  of  an  enemy  nation 
by  long-range  bombardment  that  armed  resistance  would  be  enfee- 
bled. The  circumstances  under  which  the  new  campaign  would  be 
conducted,  however,  contrasted  sharply  with  those  in  Europe. 

In  the  ETO  the  heavy  bombers  of  the  Eighth  and  Fifteenth  Air 
Forces  were  opposed  by  a  determined  and  relentless  enemy,  but  they 
operated  under  material  conditions  that  were,  for  wartime,  quite  fa- 
vorable. In  the  United  Kingdom  the  Eighth's  bases  had  been  built  by 
the  British— of  materials,  by  methods,  and  to  standards  comparable  to 
those  of  the  AAF.  Supply  and  maintenance  depots  were  large  and 
lavishly  equipped.  Supply  routes,  both  within  the  British  Isles  and 
from  the  United  States,  were  as  highly  developed  as  any  in  the  world. 
True,  submarines  menaced  the  sea  lanes,  port  facilities  still  bore  the 
marks  of  the  Luftwaffe's  blitz,  railways  were  choked  with  munitions, 
materials  and  civilian  labor  were  short;  but  the  communications  net- 
work was  a  going  concern,  and  the  CEO  enjoyed  a  high  priority  in 
most  logistical  matters.  There  was  no  serious  shortage  of  fuel,  few 
long-term  shortages  on  any  items  in  production,  and  bases  were  by 
field  standards  luxurious.  In  Italy  base  development  did  not  begin  un- 
til autumn  1943,  but  the  use  of  Italian  Air  Force  facilities  sped  the 
task.  And  in  Italy,  as  in  England,  Army  air  forces  enjoyed  the  inesti- 
mable advantages  of  working  in  an  industrialized  community. 
In  the  CBI  most  of  these  advantages  were  lacking.  Bases  had  to  be 

58 


MATTERHORN  LOGISTICS 

made  to  order  for  the  B-29's.  Ideally,  they  should  have  been  built  from 
locally  available  materials  and  by  native  manpower,  but  in  India  both 
U.S.  Army  engineers  and  U.S.  materials  had  to  be  used  to  supplement 
local  resources.  Supply  and  maintenance  installations  were  under- 
stocked and  overworked;  there  was  little  industrial  organization  upon 
which  the  AAF  could  draw.  Supply  lines  to  the  United  States  and 
United  Kingdom  were  excessively  long,  the  CBFs  shipping  priorities 
low,  and  supply  lines  within  the  theater  were  unequal  to  current  de- 
mands and  incapable  of  rapid  expansion.  All  in  all,  it  did  not  seem  the 
ideal  theater,  logistically,  in  which  to  shake  down  an  untried,  com- 
plex, and  gluttonous  bomber. 

Those  difficulties  were  realized  by  the  Washington  planners 
(though  not  as  keenly  as  by  officers  in  the  theater)  and  had  deliber- 
ately been  accepted  for  want  of  a  better  base  area  within  reach  of  the 
Japanese  homeland  and  because  of  Roosevelt's  desire  to  bolster  Chi- 
nese morale.  The  President's  concermplaced  an  emphasis  on  speed,  but 
as  delays,  many  unavoidable  or  unpredictable,  pyramided,  the  time 
schedule  formulated  in  the  autumn  of  1943  was  not  even  approxi- 
mated. By  June  1944  the  bases  and  essential  installations  were  in  oper- 
ation, the  supply  system  was  functioning  in  its  own  complicated  way, 
and  XX  Bomber  Command  was  ready  for  its  first  mission.  But  this 
belated  readiness  had  been  accomplished  only  by  scrapping  some  oi 
the  essential  features  of  the  MATTERHORN  logistics  plan,  and  it 
was  already  evident  that  further  compromises  would  be  necessary  to 
support  a  sustained  bombardment  campaign. 

The  Bases 

Theater  officers  had  begun  in  August  1943  an  on-the-spot  investi- 
gation of  potential  base  sites  in  India  and  China.  Their  tentative 
choices  and  their  estimates  of  CBI  capabilities  in  airfield  construction 
served  as  practical  guides  for  the  Washington  planners.  Basic  assump- 
tions were:  i )  that  airfields  could  be  built  in  China  without  recourse 
to  American  aid  other  than  financial  support  and  technical  advice; 
2)  that  in  India  it  would  be  profitable  to  bring  up  to  B-29  specifica- 
tions airdromes  already  in  existence  or  being  built;  and  3)  that  the 
India  bases  could  be  built  on  schedule  only  by  importing  certain  ma- 
terials and  using  U.S.  Army  construction  units  with  their  organiza- 
tional equipment,  as  well  as  local  labor.  Under  these  conditions,  it 
would  require  one  U.S.  aviation  engineer  battalion  four  months  to 


59 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


complete  each  India  base;  the  Chinese  could  build  two  fields  in  two 
months,  four  in  four  months,  five  in  six  months.^ 

Because  of  Roosevelt's  desire  for  an  early  D-day,  preliminary  ar- 
rangements were  initiated  and  completed  before  the  CCS  had  given 
their  belated  sanction  to  the  VLR  project  in  the  final  report  at  the 
Cairo  conference.  On  lo  November,  one  day  after  he  had  informally 
approved  MATTERHORN,  the  President  informed  Churchill  and 
Chiang  Kai-shek  of  the  plan  and  asked  for  aid  in  securing  the  neces- 
sary airfields.  Both  leaders  responded  promptly  and  favorably.^ 

Responsibility  for  construction  fell  to  General  Stilwell,  as  U.S. 
commander  in  the  CBI,  and  under  him,  to  his  ranking  Services  of  Sup- 
ply ofEcer,  Ma).  Gen.  W.  E.  R.  Covell.  To  supervise  the  task  in  both 
theater  sectors,  the  Air  Engineer,  Brig.  Gen.  S.  C.  Godfrey,  was  sent 
out  from  the  States.  Actual  construction  work  was  directed  in  India 
by  Col.  L.  E.  Seeman,  in  China  by  Lt.  Col.  W.  1.  Kennerson.'  It  was 
characteristic  of  CBI  operations  in  general  that  in  spite  of  the  unified 
command  provided  by  Covell's  office,  the  two  base  areas  were  de- 
veloped separately  and  by  methods  which  differed  sharply. 

Southern  Bengal  had  been  chosen  as  the  rear  base  area  for  reasons 
acceptable  to  all:  its  position  vis-a-vis  China^  relative  security  from 
attack,  the  port  facilities  of  Calcutta,  and  rail  and  road  communica- 
tions that  were  good  by  Indian  standards.  In  the  territory  surrounding 
Midnapore,  some  seventy  miles  west  of  Calcutta  and  on  the  edge  of 
the  rolling  alluvial  plain  of  the  Ganges,  Eastern  Air  Command  had 
laid  out  twenty-seven  airdromes  and  twenty-three  satellite  strips,  each 
designed  to  accommodate  two  squadrons  of  B-24's;  by  extending  and 
strengthening  the  6,000-foot  runways  of  some  of  these  fields,  CBI 
engineers  hoped  to  make  them  serviceable  for  B-29's.*  A  TWI- 
LIGHT Committee  headed  by  Brig.  Gen.  Robert  C.  Oliver  of  ASC 
made  a  preliminary  survey  of  the  EAC  dromes  and  on  17  November 
tentatively  designated  for  early  development  as  B-29  fields  the  follow- 
ing: Bishnupur,  Piardoba,  Kharagpur,  Kalaikuiida,  and  Chakulia.  This 
choice  was  approved  by  an  advance  party  of  XX  Bomber  Command 
staff,  except  that  Dudhkundi  was  substituted  for  Bishnupur."  General 
Wolfe  inspected  the  sites  in  mid-December  and  picked  Kharagpur 
as  his  headquarters.  Some  sixty-five  miles  out  of  Calcutta  on  the  main- 
line Bengal-Nagpur  railway,  Kharagpur  was  an  important  junction 
point,  with  a  branch  line  that  served  most  of  the  other  proposed  air 
base  sites.  The  deciding  factor  was  the  existence  at  the  adjacent  village 

60 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

of  Hijili  of  a  large  new  building  (the  CoUectorate,  designed  as  a  po- 
litical prison)  which  would  house  the  bomber  command's  headquar- 
ters.* 

Original  plans,  with  an  assumed  deployment  of  two  combat  wings, 
had  called  for  eight  fields  housing  one  B-29  group  each  and  a  ninth 
for  transport  planes.  In  January  1944  it  was  decided  instead  to  build 
four  fields  with  two-group  capacity  (fifty-six  hardstands)  at  least  as 
a  temporary  measure/  The  decision  in  April  to  divert  the  second 
B-29  wing  to  the  Marianas  obviated  the  necessity  of  completing  the 
additional  fields.  Meanwhile,  delays  in  the  building  program  had  made 
it  necessary  to  utilize  temporarily  one  other  B-24  airfield,  Charra, 
where  the  existing  runway  was  extended  by  two  900-foot  steel  mats. 
The  permanent  fields  developed  were  Kharagpur,  Chakulia,  Piardoba, 
Dudhkundi,  and  Kalaikunda— the  last  as  a  transport  base.^ 

General  Godfrey  in  early  November  had  set  the  requirements  for 
U.S.  construction  units  which  had  been  written  into  the  MATTER- 
HORN  plan:  one  aviation  engineer  regiment  (less  three  battalions) 
for  administration,  four  regular  and  one  airborne  aviation  engineer 
battalions,  four  dump-truck  companies,  and  two  petroleum  distribu- 
tion companies.®  To  meet  the  i  April  target  date  which  AAF  planners 
had  set  in  answer  to  the  President's  urgency,  those  units  should  have 
been  in  place  by  the  beginning  of  December.  Since  they  had  to  go 
out  from  the  United  States,  that  was  obviously  impossible;  even  to 
have  the  fields  operational  by  i  May,  the  date  finally  accepted  at 
SEXTANT,  would  require  rapid  action  and  some  good  fortune.  On 
13  November  General  Arnold  recommended  that  the  War  Depart- 
ment divert  certain  designated  construction  units  from  previous  as- 
signments and  ship  them  out  on  the  15  December  convoy The  JCS, 
en  route  to  Cairo,  approved  Arnold's  requisition  for  the  units  on  17 
November,  but  added  limitations  which  would  scale  down  by  about 
half  the  troops  to  be  dispatched  on  15  December."  On  request,  Stil- 
well  reluctantly  granted  the  necessary  shipping  priorities;  the  first 
increment  of  troops  sailed  on  schedule,  transshipped  in  North  Africa 
in  early  January,  and  arrived  in  India  in  mid-February.^^  This  was 
two  months  later  than  the  original  ideal  estimate  and  a  month  later 
than  had  been  hoped  in  November,  and  it  was  but  half  the  required 
force. 

Late  in  November  responsible  officers  had  begun  preliminary  work 
on  the  Bengal  fields,  with  AAF  casuals  driving  some  500  trucks  bor- 

62 


MATTERHORN  LOGISTICS 


rowed  from  the  China  Defense  Service  and  the  Ledo  Road."  General 
Stratemeyer  proposed  that  two  engineer  battalions  be  borrowed  from 
the  Ledo  Road  until  the  expected  units  arrived  from  the  States;  about 
Christmas,  however,  he  learned  that  these  units  would  not  arrive  until 
February."  At  SEXTANT,  the  provision  that  the  B-29  project  be 
conducted  "without  materially  affecting  other  approved  operations" 
had  been  interpreted  to  allow  the  temporary  diversion  of  certain  "re- 
sources" from  the  Ledo  Road.  These  included  the  trucks  but  not  engi- 
neer units.  Stilwell,  committed  to  the  road-building  both  by  his  in- 
terpretation of  his  directive  and  by  conviction,  refused  Stratemeyer's 
request  but  was  willing  to  refer  it  to  Washington."  General  Marshall 
backed  Stilwell's  view,  but  when  apprised  of  the  CBFs  pessimistic 
estimate  of  the  construction  schedule,  was  willing  to  indorse  the  the- 
ater's suggestion  (acceptable  to  Stilwell  and  Mountbatten)  that  engi- 
neers assigned  to  July  amphibious  operations  in  SEAC  be  loaned  to 
MATTERHORN.  Marshall  accordingly  assigned  to  the  latter  on 
13  January  the  1888th  Engineer  Aviation  Battalion,  on  orders  to  sail 
from  the  west  coast  early  in  February  and  due  in  India  in  April." 

This  move  offered  no  early  relief;  the  JCS  on  1 5  January  had  to  in- 
form their  British  counterparts  of  the  lag  in  the  schedule,  and  the  AAF 
considered  postponing  the  target  date  for  the  operation  to  30  June." 
In  this  emergency  Stilwell  reversed  his  earlier  stand.  On  16  January 
he  consented  to  lend  from  the  Ledo  Road  the  382d  Engineer  Con- 
struction Battalion  (Separate),  and  the  unit  was  moved  by  air  to 
Kharagpur.  Further,  when  the  853d  Engineer  Aviation  Battalion  ar- 
rived in  India  on  i  February,  it  also  was  reassigned  to  the  B-29  project 
and  sent  to  Chakulia.  With  this  reinforcement,  the  project  officers 
could  hope  to  have  two  fields  barely  operational  by  15  March;  by 
using  two  auxiliary  fields  temporarily,  they  could  accommodate  the 
B-29's  as  they  arrived."  When  the  units  from  the  15  December  con- 
voy came  in  during  mid-February,  they  were  assigned  to  the  several 
fields:  the  skeletonized  930th  Engineer  Regiment  to  Kalaikunda; 
1875th  and  1877th  Engineer  Aviation  Battalions  to  Dudhkundi  and 
Chakulia,  respectively;  879th  Engineer  Battalion  (Airborne)  to  Piar- 
doba."  That  last  unit,  with  its  light  equipment,  was  unsuited  for  heavy 
concrete  work  and  was  later  reassigned,  as  were  the  two  units  on  loan 
from  Stilwell.^ 

In  all,  construction  forces  numbered  some  6,000  U.S.  troops  and 
27,000  Indian  civilians,^^  the  latter  working  under  India's  Central  Pub- 

<53 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


lie  Works  Department  by  contract.  A  complicated  system  of  requisi- 
tioning and  the  traditional  slowness  of  native  methods  required  much 
"expediting"  by  the  Americans,  and  until  the  U.S.  engineers  arrived, 
Colonel  Seeman  was  essentially  a  liaison  officer  with  the  Anglo-Indian 
organization.  There  was  some  overlapping  of  tasks,  but  in  general 
the  natives  did  those  jobs  which  could  be  accomplished  by  hand  labor, 
the  U.S.  troops  those  requiring  skilled  labor  and  heavy  machinery. 

The  first  large  task  completed  was  installation  of  the  pipeline  sys- 
tem. This  called  for  a  six-inch  line  from  Budge-Budge  on  the  Hooghly 
River  to  Dudhkundi,  with  four-inch  pipes  to  the  four  other  fields  and 
internal  lines  and  steel  tank  storage  for  each.  Light-weight  "invasion" 
type  pipe  was  used,  but  it  was  buried  to  avoid  injury  from  accident 
or  native  curiosity.  Four  petroleum  distribution  companies  did  the 
work— the  700th,  707th,  708th,  and  709th.  Beginning  the  job  on  15 
January,  those  companies  by  1 5  March  had  fuel  flowing  to  the  three 
fields  then  approximately  ready  to  receive  B-29's,  and  later  they  com- 
pleted the  whole  circuit.^^ 

Runway  construction  was  a  more  considerable  task.  Grading  for 
the  strips  accounted  for  more  than  half  of  the  total  of  1,700,000  cubic 
yards  of  earth  moved  on  the  project.  In  spite  of  urgent  requests  from 
the  CBI,  most  units  arrived  without  the  heavy  machinery  needed  for 
earth  moving;  some  machinery  was  borrowed  from  the  British  and 
kept  in  service  even  after  the  unit  equipment  came.'*^  Specifications 
called  for  extending  the  B-29  strips  to  7,500  feet  instead  of  the  8,500 
feet  designated  by  Washington,^*  New  concrete  pavement  was  ten 
inches  thick,  and  old  pavement  had  an  additional  seven  inches  poured 
on.  Both  chevron-  and  horseshoe-type  hardstands  were  used,  and  even- 
tually rectangular  parking  areas  were  paved.  The  British  system  of 
dispersal  was  abandoned  in  favor  of  a  more  concentrated  layout.^^ 

Ideally,  the  fields  should  have  been  built  of  local  materials.  Sand 
was  available  in  streams  near  each  field  and  coarse  aggregate  (gravel 
and  crushed  basalt)  was  found  in  the  immediate  neighborhood.  In- 
dian cement,  however,  was  both  scarce  and  inferior,  and  much  im- 
ported U.S.  cement  had  to  be  used.  Concrete  was  produced  locally  by 
means  varying  in  efficiency  according  to  equipment  on  hand.  On  all 
the  fields  save  Kalaikunda,  which  was  paved  in  July  after  all  heavy 
machinery  arrived,  concrete  was  spread  by  hand  by  native  workers.^® 

Buildings  on  the  several  bases  showed  no  little  variety.  The  Col- 
lectorate,  prize  structure  of  the  rear  area,  required  extensive  modifica- 

64 


MATTERHORN  LOGISTICS 


tion.  Troops  were  under  tents  at  first,  but  eventually  were  housed  in 
hutments  of  native  "basha"  construction— hard  earth  or  concrete 
floors,  bamboo  and  plaster  \yalls,  thatch  roofs.  Administrative  and 
technical  buildings  included  basha^  U.S.  plywood  prefabs,  Nissens 
borrowed  from  the  British,  and  some  ex-Italian  prefabs  imported  from 
Eritrea,  bullet-marked  and  somewhat  shopworn.  MacComber  shops 
with  overhead  traveling  cranes  and  Butler  hangars  with  steel  frames 
and  canvas  covers  proved  useful  but  difficult  to  erect  because  of  dam- 
age and  loss  of  steel  parts.  Most  of  the  utilities— water  and  electric 
systems— were  installed  by  U.S.  engineers." 

Fortnightly  reports  to  Washington  after  February  were  apt  to  read 
"work  progressing  on  schedule,"  a  schedule,  of  course,  far  in  arrears 
of  early  plans.  Actually,  the  fields  were  not  completed  until  Septem- 
ber.^® But,  by  using  the  B-24  field  at  Charra  (until  July),  General 
Wolfe  found  it  possible  to  receive  and  house  his  four  combat  groups 
as  they  flew  in  with  their  Superf orts  in  April  and  May.  The  cost  of 
the  five  bases  is  difficult  to  determine  because  of  the  several  agencies 
involved;  Colonel  Seeman  considered  $20,000,000  an  approximate 
estimate.^* 

That  figure  was  modest  in  comparison  with  the  cost  of  the  fields  in 
China,  where  indeed,  finances  proved  the  chief  headache  for  the 
Americans.  The  advanced  B-29  bases  were  situated  in  the  neighbor- 
hood of  Chengtu.  Chennault  had  preferred  Kweilin  which  was  closer 
to  industrial  Japan,  but  Stilwell  had  estimated  that  fifty  Chinese  di- 
visions would  be  needed  for  ground  defense  and  Washington  had 
named  Chengtu  because  of  its  greater  security**  Chengtu,  capital  of 
the  province  of  Szechwan,  was  located  about  200  miles  northwest  of 
Chungking  and  400  miles  from  the  Hump  terminal  at  Kunming.  An 
ancient  city,  a  seat  of  commerce  and  of  culture,  Chengtu  lay  in  the 
valley  of  the  Min  River.  About  2,200  years  ago  a  semimythological 
engineer,  one  Li  Ping,  had  harnessed  the  river  as  it  burst  from  the 
mountains  northwest  of  the  city  and  had  diverted  it  into  several  large 
canals  and  a  myriad  of  smaller  ones.  His  ingenious  irrigation  system, 
still  operated  with  due  respects  to  beneficent  deities,  had  made  of  the 
Min  valley  a  sort  of  artificial  delta  of  extraordinary  fertility.  The  delta 
or  plain,  no  more  than  70  miles  long  and  some  1,700  square  miles  in 
extent,  supported  a  population  of  about  2,200  persons  to  the  square 
mile.  In  many  respects  Chengtu  was  admirably  suited  for  a  base  area. 

*iSee  above,  p.  21. 


<5j 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

There  were  rugged  mountains  to  the  north  and  west,  but  the  immedi- 
ate vicinity  was  level  enough,  and  weather  was  reasonably  good  for 
flying.  But  the  fertility  of  the  valley  and  its  teeming  population  meant 
that  airfields  could  be  built  only  at  the  expense  of  some  economic  and 
social  dislocation,  and  there  were  serious  political  irtiplications  as 
well.'° 

After  Chiang  Kai-shek  had  agreed  to  Roosevelt's  proposal  to  build 
B-29  bases  in  China,  engineers  of  General  Oliver's  TWILIGHT 
Committee  surveyed  the  region  and  by  28  November  had  tentatively 
selected  sites  for  five  VHB  fields.^^  These  the  Generalissimo  approved 
provisionally  on  16  December;  he  also  approved,  in  principle,  other 
sites  which  would  lessen  Chennault's  objections  to  Chengtu:  Niu- 
chang,  near  Kunming,  as  a  ferrying  base  and  Kweilin  and  Suichwan 
in  the  east  as  staging  fields.  Within  a  fortnight  the  list  for  Chengtu 
had  been  modified  somewhat  to  include  Hsinching,  Kiunglai,  Kwang- 
han,  Pengshan,  Chungchingchow.  Except  for  Kwanghan  these  sites 
had  strips  already.  Availability  of  materials  and  labor  and  the  relative 
amount  of  interference  with  the  irrigation  system  were  deciding  f ac- 
tors.^^  In  January  XX  Bomber  Command  staff  officers,  then  Wolfe 
himself,  approved  the  sites;  later  Chungchingchow  was  stricken  from 
the  list.^^ 

Chennault,  responsible  for  air  defense,  located  the  fighter  fields  at 
Fenghuangshan,  Shwangliu,  Pengchiachiang,  and  Kwanghan  (at  the 
bomber  base)  in  the  immediate  neighborhood,  and  an  outer  arc  of 
strips  at  Mienyang,  Kienyang,  and  Suining.^^  Chennault  pressed  for 
the  staging  fields  in  the  east  in  a  letter  written  directly  to  Arnold  who 
referred  him  back  to  Stilwell.**®  At  Stilwell's  request,  Chiang  finally 
consented  to  improve  a  number  of  B-24  fields  for  Superfort  use: 
Chengkung  and  Luliang  near  Kunming;  Kweilin,  Li-Chia-Tsun,  and 
Liuchow  in  Kwangsi  province;  Hsincheng  and  Suichwan  in  Kiangsi.^^ 
These  plans  were  later  interrupted  by  changes  in  the  tactical  situation; 
by  November,  only  Luliang  (usable)  and  Hsincheng  (under  con- 
struction) were  still  on  the  active  list.^^  VHB  operations  were  con- 
ducted, as  had  been  planned  in  MATTERHORN,  from  Chengtu. 

Chennault  did  not  have  enough  engineers  to  furnish  the  supervision 
called  for  in  the  agreement  with  Chiang  Kai-shek,  but  the  AAF  fur- 
nished the  needed  personnel  on  requisition— a  few  specialists  who  flew 
out  with  General  Godfrey  early  in  December  and  a  larger  party 
which  arrived  at  the  end  of  the  month.  Over-all  supervision  fell  to 

66 


MATTERHORN  LOGISTICS 


Chennault's  chief  engineer,  Col.  H,  A.  Byroade.  One  of  Godfrey's 
party^  Lt.  Col.  W.  1.  Kennerson,  was  in  charge  of  U.S.  engineers  at 
Chengtu.^*  The  Americans  did  the  planning  and  supervision  while 
Chinese  engineers  directed  actual  construction/Airfield  construction 
in  China  was  a  responsibility  of  the  Minister  of  Conlmunications, 
American-educated  Dr.  Tseng  Yang-fu,  who  delegated  most  of  his 
task  to  the  Deputy  Commissioner  of  Engineering  and  to  the  Chief  En- 


gineer. A  Chengtu  office  of  the  Chiniese  Engineering  Office  handled 
administrative  and  financial  matters.  Dr.  Tseng  Yang-fu  selected  the 
executive  engineers,  one  for  the  whole  project  and  one  for  each  field. 
They  came  up  from  Kunming  early  in  January,  each  bringing  his  own 
staff,  some  300  in  all.  Few  of  them  were  experienced  in  airfield  con- 
struction, but  after  briefing  by  Colonel  Kennerson  they  were  ready 
to  take  pver.°® 

The  labor  problem  was  handled  f  orthrightly  and  with  little  concern 
for  the  laborer.  China's  greatest  source  of  strength  lay  in  her  inex- 
haustible reservoir  of  manpower— unskilled  by  western  standards  and 
wholly  devoid  of  modem  machinery  but  patient  and  sturdy  and 
bound  by  a  social  organization  that  could  be  transferred  directly  to 

67 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


the  new  task.  This  great  reservoir  the  Chungking  government  pro- 
posed to  tap  by  the  custom-hallowed  process  of  conscripting  farmers 
from  the  Min  valley  for  the  heavy  construction  work;  housing  was  to 
be  erected  by  more  skilled  contract  labor.  The  project  was  to  chal- 
lenge credulity  by  the  magnitude  of  the  force  involved.  Western  wit- 
nesses sought  analogies  in  the  building  of  the  Great  Wall  of  China  or 
in  Herodotus'  account  of  the  building  of  the  great  pyramid  of  Cheops. 
Tools  and  methods  employed  at  Chengtu  were  not  dissimilar  from 
those  used  in  the  ancient  works,  but  the  time  schedule  was  character- 
istically American.*^ 

In  early  January  the  Chinese  directors  and  Colonel  Kennerson  es- 
timated the  labor  force  required,  setting  the  figure  at  240,000.*^  The 
Governor  of  Szechwan  drafted  the  men  for  1 1  January;  two  weeks 
later  something  like  200,000  had  appeared  and  work  had  begun  on 
most  fields/^  In  mid-February  the  governor  agreed  to  draft  60,000 
more  men  in  an  effort  to  catch  up  with  the  schedule,  and  in  March 
30,000  more  for  the  fighter  fields.  To  these  330,000  conscripts  must 
be  added  75,000  contract  workers.  Reports  from  various  U.S.  sources 
vary  as  to  the  total  number  of  men  who  actually  appeared^  and  it  is 
doubtful  that  Chinese  statistics  were  meticulously  accurate,  but  with 
the  inevitable  turnover  there  may  have  been  well  more  than  a  third  of 
a  million  men  on  the  job.*^  The  story  of  Chengtu,  wrote  a  correspond- 
ent, was  "a  saga  of  the  nameless  little  people  of  China,"  for  the  fields 
were  built  by  the  "hand,  muscle  and  goodwill  .  .  ,  of  300,000 
to  500,000  farmers."^*  They  came  from  villages  within  a  radius  of  150 
miles  from  Chengtu  on  the  basis  of  50  workers  from  each  100  house- 
holds. On  the  job  the  coolies  were  organized  into  units  of  200,  still 
preserving  soniething  of  the  village  structure;  local  ofEcials  kept  the 
payrolls." 

An  enterprise  of  such  magnitude  could  hardly  fail  to  effect  a  sharp 
economic  and  social  reaction.  Chengtu's  geographical  remoteness 
from  the  war  was  favorable,  but  there  was  as  well  psychological  and 
political  remoteness.  Szechwan  has  been  compared,  whether  accu- 
rately or  not,  with  our  own  pre-Pearl  Harbor  midwest.  Seemingly 
immune  to  Japanese  attack,  the  province  was  isolationist,  apathetic  to- 
ward the  war,  and  potentially  antiforeign.  Powerful  local  warlords 
looked  on  the  MATTERHORN  project  as  a  scheme  whereby  the 
Chungking  government  could  encroach  upon  their  quasi-autonomy. 
Men  of  property  feared,  needlessly,  that  their  lands  would  be  confis- 

68 


MATTERHORN  LOGISTICS 


cated  without  recompense  and,  with  more  justification,  that  the 
project  would  aggravate  the  current  inflation.  Men  of  whatever  class 
feared  that  the  establishment  of  the  airfields  would  bring  Japanese 
bombers  to  Chengtu  and  that  U.S.  soldiers  would  be  disorderly.  The 
conscripts  also  knew  that  they  were  being  torn  away  from  home  in 
the  New  Year  holiday  season  and  feared  that  they  would  not  get  back 
in  time  for  the  rice  planting.  Only  the  Chungking  government,  the 
politicians,  and  the  contractors  could  hope  to  profit  from  the  project.** 

To  most  American  officials,  the  attitude  of  the  Chungking  govern- 
ment did  not  seem  too  generous.  The  President  had  assured  the  Gen- 
eralissimo on  10  November  of  American  financial  aid  through  lend- 
lease,  but  in  the  early  negotiations  no  specific  terms  were  suggested.  In 
mid-December  Chiang  Kai-shek  set  the  total  cost  of  the  fields  at  "over 
$2,000,000,000''  Chinese  National  (CN)  currency  and  asked  Roose- 
velt for  a  guarantee  of  that  amount.*^  This  guarantee  the  President 
was  willing  to  make,  but  his  administration  was  interested  in  the  rate 
of  exchange.  The  current  open  (black  market)  rate  was  about  $100 
CN  for  $1  U.S.  The  Chinese  government,  as  an  anti-inflationary  de- 
vice, had  set  the  rate  arbitrarily  at  twenty  to  one.  At  the  open  rate, 
the  cost  of  the  fields  would  have  been  high,  but  "not  unreasonable"; 
at  the  official  rate,  the  cost  would  have  been  exorbitant.*^  Negotiation 
dragged  on  for  several  months.  The  U.S.  Treasury  and  State  Depart- 
ments, interested  in  the  broader  problem  of  U.S.-Chinese  financial 
relations,  wished  to  adhere  to  the  open  rate.  The  War  Department, 
though  anxious  to  secure  the  fields  at  a  reasonable  cost,  felt  the  pres- 
sure of  time  more  keenly  and  was  willing  to  compromise  by  accepting 
the  twenty-to-one  ratio  but  requiring  the  Chungking  government  to 
deposit  $80  CN  for  each  $20  CN  advanced  by  the  United  States.*^ 
Chiang  Kai-shek  refused  to  compromise;  holding  fast  to  his  demands, 
he  began  to  point  out  that  failure  to  agree  to  terms  would  delay  con- 
struction.'^^  To  keep  the  project  going,  Stilwell  had  to  guarantee  pay- 
ment of  the  sum  demanded  at  a  rate  which  was  to  be  decided  by  sub- 
sequent negotiations." 

Negotiations  were  complicated  by  a  number  of  factors.  Funds  in 
China  were  frozen,  making  it  difficult  to  meet  obligations  at  Chengtu. 
The  Chinese  Minister  of  Finance,  Dr.  H.  H.  Kung,  insisted  that  there 
was  an  actual  shortage  of  CN  notes,  and  although  U.S.  officials 
thought  there  was  a  reserve  of  $10,000,000,000,  it  became  necessary 
for  ATC  to  fly  in  from  India  a  supply  of  notes  for  immediate  needs 

69 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORGES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


in  Chengtu.**  Two  hundred  million  dollars  in  small  bills  bulks  up; 
hauling  Chinese  money  became,  as  one  observer  remarked,  ''definitely 
a  factor  in  the  tonnage  operation  over  the  Hump."^^  There  was  too 
the  matter  of  financing  the  extra  fighter  defense  fields  chosen  by 
Chennault  and  the  proposed  B-29  fields  in  the  east  and  near  Kunming. 
The  War  Department  was  willing  to  pay  for  the  former  out  of 
MATTERHORN  funds,  not  for  the  latter/'  Finally,  there  was  the 
matter  of  Chiang's  demand  at  Cairo  for  a  loan  of  one  billion  dollars 
CN.  Stilwell  ascribed  the  request  to  a  desire  for  prestige  and  the  Gen- 
eralissimo's postwar  plans  rather  than  current  needs,  but  refusal  to 
grant  it  complicated  the  MATTERHORN  deal.^^  Negotiations  con- 
tinued through  the  winter  months  and  into  the  spring.  The  Chengtu 
project  was  kept  going  by  occasional  advances  of  currency  without 
agreement  as  to  ratio,  but  at  times  construction  was  handicapped  by 
lack  of  ready  f unds.^^  By  early  March,  estimates  for  the  Chengtu  fields 
(bomber  and  fighter)  had  risen  to  $4,450,000,000  CN,  and  the  final 
figures  were  not  far  from  this  sum.^^  Final  settlement  was  not  reached 
until  after  conferences  in  July  between  Dr.  Kung  and  Secretary  of  the 
Treasury  Henry  J.  Morgenthau,  Jr.  A  lump  sum  of  $2 10,000,000  U.S. 
was  finally  paid  to  China,  but  this  included  other  items  as  well  as  the 
Chengtu  fields  and  an  accurate  breakdown  is  impossible  to  achieve.**® 

In  spite  of  the  tremendous  cost,  many  Chinese  suffered.  Landown- 
ers did  receive  compensation  for  their  fields,  but  not  promptly  and  not 
at  a  favorable  price.  Inflation  was  increased  by  the  project  and  with 
the  depreciation  of  currency  those  who  had  to  sell  land  at  government 
prices  lost.^®  The  Governor  of  Szechwan  set  ceiling  prices  on  materials 
used  by  the  contract  builders  (some  $400,000,000  CN  were  in- 
volved), but  with  only  partial  success.^^  The  conscript  workers  suf- 
fered most— from  the  squeeze  and  from  low  pay.  Paid  on  a  piecework 
basis,  they  averaged  perhaps  about  $25  CN  per  day,  which  with  rising 
prices  (by  September  the  black  market  rate  had  risen  to  $270  CN  for 
$1  U.S.)  hardly  sufficed  for  food,  so  that  many  workers  had  to  be 
partly  supported  by  their  families.^'  Even  with  these  difficulties  the 
disorders  feared  by  some  did  not  occur.  There  was  much  grumbling 
and  a  few  small  riots,  occasioned  when  overeager  U.S.  engineers 
moved  in  before  the  land  had  actually  been  purchased.  But  there  was 
no  general  resistance  on  the  part  of  the  Szechwan  citizens,  and  eventu- 
ally they  came  to  take  some  proprietary  pride  in  the  B-29  pjt^oject.®^ 

The  four  bomber  strips  were  built  to  a  length  of  about  8,500  feet 


70 


MATTERHORN  LOGISTICS 


and  a  thickness  of  about  19  inches,  with  52  hardstands  each.  The 
fighter  strips  were  approximately  4,000  by  150  feet,  with  a  thickness 
varying  from  8  to  12  inches  and  having  4  to  8  hardstands.  The  base 
course  consisted  of  rounded  rocks  from  streams  set  with  gravel  and 
sand,  wet  and  rolled.  The  wearing  course  was  a  sort  of  native  concrete 
called  "slurry,"  a  mixture  of  crushed  rock,  sand,  clay,  and  water. 
Rolled  and  finished,  this  gave  a  texture  and  tensile  strength  not  unlike 
adobe.  The  fields  were  literally  "handmade."  Materials  were  carried 
from  nearby  streams  in  buckets  or  baskets  slung  from  yokes,  in 
squeaky  wooden-wheeled  wheelbarrows,  or  infrequently  in  carts.  Ex- 
cavation was  by  hoes.  Crushed  rock  was  patiently  beat  out  with  little 
hammers  and  stones  were  laid  individually  by  hand.  Rollers  were 
drawn  by  man  (and  woman)  power,  the  slurry  puddled  in  pits  by 
barefoot  men  and  boys.^ 

Work  began  on  24  January,  when  the  first  rice  paddies  were 
drained.  At  that  time  it  was  thought  that  two  fields  would  be  opera- 
tionally complete  by  31  March,  two  others  by  30  April,^*  but  the  fi- 
nancial disputes  and  other  difiiculties  retarded  that  schedule.  On  24 
April,  three  months  to  the  day  after  the  first  paddy  wall  was  breached, 
General  La  Verne  G.  Saunders  set  down  the  first  B-29  at  Kwang- 
han.^  By  i  May  all  four  VHB  fields  were  open  to  B-29  traffic,^^  and 
by  10  May  all  runways  were  finished  and  some  fields  were  operation- 
ally complete.®^  The  fighter  fields  had  been  finished  somewhat  more 
nearly  on  schedule.^^  In  spite  of  the  delays,  the  whole  job  excited  the 
wonder  and  admiration  of  most  Americans  who  saw  it  in  process. 
And,  in  a  fashion  not  always  true  in  war,  it  was  the  man  at  the  bottom 
who  got  most  of  the  headlines,  the  man  with  the  hoe  and  the  com- 
plaining wheelbarrow.  The  historian  of  XX  Bomber  Command 
wrote:  "The  Chinese  coolies— the  John  Q.  Public  of  the  Chengtu 
Plain— demonstrated  effectively  the  best  features  of  their  nation."**® 

There  was  a  third  base  area  from  which  the  B-29's  were  to  operate, 
but  there  XX  Bomber  Command  had  no  permanent  installations.  As  a 
compromise  with  those  strategists  who  had  wanted  to  base  the  Super- 
forts  in  Australia  and  bomb  petroleum  targets  in  the  Netherlands  East 
Indies,  MATTERHORN  planners  had  suggested  that  VLR  missions 
could  be  staged  out  of  Bengal  against  Palembang,  Sumatra's  chief  oil 
center,  by  refueling  in  Ceylon.  This  suggestion  was  accepted  at  SEX- 
TANT and  the  target  date  set  at  20  July  1944/^  At  the  conference 
the  British  reported  on  the  airfield  situation  in  Ceylon.  Conventional 


71 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


fields  existed  at  Sigiriya,  China  Bay  (Trincomalee),  and  Ratmalana; 
two  others  (at  undesignated  locations)  under  construction  might  be 
extended  to  B-29  specifications/^  Only  part  of  the  large  island  of  Cey- 


lon lay  within  B-29  range  of  Palembang,  and  none  of  the  fields  named 
had  been  situated  with  that  target  in  mind.  Poor  internal  communica- 
tions would  make  it  difficult  to  build  fields  in  the  southeast,  the  area 


7^ 


BUILDING  THE  CHENGTU  AIRFIELDS 


Abovt;  Befors  tbe  Yawata  Mission     BNSrai.*  Attack  on  Min«muw>n  Cantonment  Area,  Rangoon 


Ab&t;€:  The  First  Ridgb  qn  thb  Hvmp  Ruk  BdW;  IjOadino  Gasoline  Drums 


THE  LEDO  ROAD 


MATTERHORN  LOGISTICS 

best  oriented  toward  Sumatra,  and,  indeed,  the  leisurely  pace  of  con- 
struction normal  in  Ceylon  discouraged  the  selection  of  any  virgin 
site. 

Construction  of  the  fields  would  be  a  responsibility  of  Mountbatten 
as  SACSEA.  He  had  known  of  the  MATTERHORN  project  at 
Cairo  but  had  left  before  its  final  approval.  He  hoped  to  use  the  B-29's 
in  a  drive  southeastward  toward  Singapore  but  had  received  no  defi- 
nite order  to  provide  the  VHB  fields  in  Ceylon.  On  5  March  General 
Kuter,  then  in  New  Delhi  on  a  mission  for  AAF  Headquarters,  re- 
ceived Lord  Mountbatten's  promise  to  build  the  B-29  fields  when  re- 
quested." The  request  came  soon  through  Stilwell,  whose  directive 
of  6  March  specifically  called  for  staging  fields  in  Ceylon."  En  route 
to  Australia,  Kuter  stopped  off  at  Colombo  and  conferred  there  with 
SEAC  officers.  He  learned  that  the  British  were  currently  working 
on  two  bomber  fields  with  long  strips,  apparently  the  ones  referred 
to  at  Cairo.  They  were  located  at  Kankesanturai,  near  Jaffna  at  the 
north  end  of  the  island,  and  Katunayake,  in  the  west  near  Negombo; 
neither  was  favorably  oriented,  and  completion  dates  were  scheduled 
for  late  1944  or  1945.  As  alternates  the  British  suggested  Minneriya 
and  China  Bay.  Kuter  preferred  Matara  in  the  extreme  south,  but  that 
was  vetoed  because  of  its  inaccessibility.^*  Finally  the  four  sites  named 
by  the  British  were  accepted;  China  Bay  and  Minneriya,  with  high  pri- 
orities, were  scheduled  for  completion  in  July.^^  In  April  it  appeared 
that  the  date  could  not  be  met  and,  with  JCS  permission,  work  at 
Minneriya  was  temporarily  suspended.  Engineers  from  XX  Bomber 
Command  and  AAF  IBS  worked  with  the  British  at  China  Bay  in  an 
effort  to  meet  minimum  requirements.  Accommodations  there  were 
increased  to  handle  two  B-29  groups  (fifty-six  planes),  and  by  con- 
centrating on  the  one  field  SEAC  was  able  to  approximate  the  sched- 
ule. Some  equipment,  including  a  fifty-six-point  fueling  system,  was 
sent  in  by  XX  Bomber  Command.  By  mid-July,  a  7,200-foot  runway, 
the  hardstands,  and  the  fuel  distribution  system  were  complete,  and 
when  the  first  mission  was  run,  belatedly,  on  10  August,  the  field  was 
fully  operational.''* 

Movement  Overseas 

In  January  1944  the  Joint  Intelligence  Committee,  considering  the 
various  base  areas  under  consideration  for  use  by  the  B-29's,  rated 
Chengtu  as  the  locality  offering  the  greatest  logistical  difficulties." 


73 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

Few  persons  in  the  MATTERHORN  planning  staff  would  have 
challenged  that  judgment.  Referring  to  air  operations  in  China,  Gen- 
eral Arnold  had  recently  said  for  public  information  that  "to  supply 
our  growing  air  strength  in  that  country  has  been  perhaps  the  greatest 
single  challenge  to  the  efficiency  of  the  Air  Force."^^  The  B-29  project 
promised  to  aggravate  an  already  complex  situation.  The  most  obvious 
difficulty  lay  in  the  lack  of  an  adequate  system  of  communications 
within  the  CBI,  and  the  problems  arising  therefrom  will  be  described 
in  the  next  section  of  this  chapter.  Even  to  get  the  necessary  men  and 
supplies  to  India,  however,  taxed  the  ingenuity  of  officers  in  Washing* 
ton  and  the  CBI.  Three  factors,  especially,  handicapped  their  efforts: 
the  inordinate  distance  from  the  United  States  to  India;  the  low  pri- 
ority accorded  the  CBI  in  the  allotment  of  shipping;  and  the  insistence 
on  an  early  commitment  of  the  B-29,  which  left  little  time  for  read- 
justing existing  transportation  schedules. 

The  B-29's  could  be  flown  out  by  their  own  combat  crews,  a  mere 
matter  of  11,500  miles  by  the  route  chosen.  Highest-priority  passen- 
gers and  freight  could  go  out  by  ATC's  planes  via  Natal,  Khartoum, 
and  Karachi,  a  trip  which  might  be  made  in  six  days  with  luck  but 
which  for  some  XX  Bomber  Command  personnel  took  more  than  a 
month.  Eventually  a  special  *'blend''  service  was  installed— by  surface 
ship  from  Newark  to  Casablanca  and  thence  to  Calcutta  by  ATC 
transport— which  required  four  to  five  weeks  for  passage.  But  the 
great  bulk  of  troops  and  supplies  had  to  be  moved  by  water.  Some 
units  proceeded  eastward  via  North  Africa,  where  they  transshipped 
in  British  vessels  and  went  on  through  the  Mediterranean  and  Suez. 
Other  units  and  most  supplies  went  westward  from  the  States,  around 
Australia,  whence  supply  ships  went  up  through  the  Bay  of  Bengal  to 
Calcutta,  and  troop  ships  sailed  to  Bombay  where  the  soldiers  en- 
trained for  an  uncomfortable  week  of  travel  to  Kharagpur.  One  lucky 
contingent  made  it  from  Los  Angeles  to  Bombay  in  thirty-four  days, 
but  most  units  were  eight  to  ten  weeks  in  passage  from  American 
ports  of  embarkation  to  their  Bengal  stations.  A  Liberty  cargo  ship 
could  make  a  trip  out  in  sixty  days  and  accomplish  two  tum-arounds 
in  a  year.  Ports  in  India  were  few,  overtaxed,  and  inefficiently  oper- 
ated; even  Calcutta  was  rated  by  a  XX  Bomber  Command  officer  as 
"a  good  port  with  bad  habits." 

MATTERHORN  was  not,  by  standards  of  the  ETO,  a  tremendous 
undertaking.  The  logistics  tables  used  at  SEXTANT  called  for  bot- 


74 


MATTERHORN  LOGISTICS 

toms  to  accommodate  20,000  troop  spaces  and  200,000  tons  of  dry- 
cargo  between  i  January  and  30  June,  and  something  more  than  20,000 
tons  of  POL  per  month  after  r  April/*  Bottoms  were  hard  to  find 
(a  SEXTANT  cable  declared  succinctly,  "shipping  is  bottleneck") 
but  sinkings  by  submarines  in  the  last  quarter  of  1943  were  fewer  than 
had  been  anticipated  and  tonnage  and  troop  spaces  might  be  had  by 
ingenious  juggling  of  schedules  and  by  accepting  some  delays.  Troop 
transports  were  harder  to  find  than  cargo  ships.®"  To  secure  either 
type  it  was  necessary  to  interpret  liberally  the  proviso  with  which 
MATTERHORN  was  accepted--that  it  be  mounted  "without  mate- 
rially affecting  other  approved  operations." 

The  first  units  dispatched,  the  engineers  who  went  out  on  the 
15  December  convoy,  were  provided  for  out  of  trooplift  regularly 
assigned  to  the  CBL^^  Stilwell  had  agreed  to  this  but  with  the  under- 
standing that  extra  shipping  would  be  allocated  for  other  MATTER- 
HORN  needs.  At  SEXTANT  additional  lift  for  3,000  troops  was 
allotted  to  the  CBI  and  was  earmarked  for  two  service  groups,  an  air 
depot  group,  and  various  smaller  units.®^  By  Christmas  shipping  had 
been  found  for  all  troops  and  supplies  scheduled  for  XX  Bomber 
Command  through  July.^^  Allocation  did  not  insure  prompt  delivery. 
It  was  important  that  initial  organizational  equipment  go  out  with  the 
units.  In  this  category,  Air  Service  Command  items  were  dispatched 
with  some  promptness,  but  not  so  Army  Service  Forces  items.  It  was 
necessary  to  set  up  special  priorities  for  the  latter  in  February,  and  by 
the  19th  some  52,000  tons  had  been  shipped,  leaving  a  backlog  in  U.S. 
ports  of  only  4,000  tons.^*  The  late  start  was  reflected  in  the  need,  al- 
ready described,  of  borrowing  heavy  construction  equipment  in  In- 
dia. 

Before  the  end  of  February  most  of  the  troop  transports  were  at 
sea.^  One  large  contingent  of  men,  including  seven  bomb  mainte- 
nance squadrons,  sailed  from  Newport  News  on  12  February  in  a 
convoy  of  Liberty  ships  bound  for  Oran,  transshipped  in  the  British- 
operated  Champolliony  and  reached  Bombay  on  i  April.  Other  units, 
sailing  on  22  February  via  Casablanca,  went  on  from  there  in  the 
Vollendam,  arriving  at  Bombay  on  25  April.  More  fortunate  were 
those  units,  including  eight  bomb  maintenance  squadrons,  which 
sailed  from  Los  Angeles  in  the  Mt.  Vernon  on  27  February  and  ar- 
rived at  Bombay  on  3 1  March.^®  Other  troops  arrived  in  Bombay  dur- 
ing April  and  went  on  to  Bengal  by  rail.  A  station  list  of  10  May 


75 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


showed  2 1,930  men  on  hand.  This  included  some  CBI  and  a  few  Brit- 
ish troops  attached  to  the  command  and  those  MATTERHORN 
personnel  who  had  come  out  by  air.  But  in  all,  something  like  20,000 
men,  most  of  whom  had  come  by  sea,  had  arrived  in  India  in  March 
and  April,  and  had  been  processed  and  put  to  work.®^ 

Because  of  the  pressure  of  time,  air  transport  was  of  great  impor- 
tance in  moving  out  personnel  and  high-priority  freight.  Small  ad- 
vance parties  went  out  by  regular  ATC  service.  The  first  important 
movement  was  that  of  the  twenty  C-87's  assigned  to  the  command. 
Led  by  General  Wolfe,  those  planes  left  Morrison  Field  on  5  January, 
carrying  key  personnel  and  some  equipment,  and  arrived  at  New 
Delhi  on  the  i-^th.^  The  original  plan  of  ferrying  out  all  combat 
crews,  regular  and  extra,  and  some  other  passengers  in  the  B-29's  was 
scrapped.  With  the  R-3350  engine  still  untried,  it  was  considered  nec- 
essary to  have  more  than  the  usual  number  of  spares,  and  it  was  de- 
cided to  haul  one  engine  in  each  B-29  in  lieu  of  passengers.  Even  so, 
ATC  would  have  to  help.  AAF  Headquarters  estimated  requirements 
from  that  service  as:  February,  90  tons;  March,  130  tons;  April,  240 
tons;  May,  230  tons;^®  passenger  total,  1,252.  Stilwell  agreed  to  under- 
write these  amounts  from  his  allotments.^*^  The  movement  of  person- 
nel from  the  various  headquarters  (command,  wing,  groups,  and 
squadrons)  began  on  20  February.  Priorities  were  low  and  there  was 
the  usual  amount  of  "bumping"  in  favor  of  VlP's;  some  men  were  as 
long  as  thirty-five  days  en  route,  a  little  longer  than  those  on  board  the 
Mt.  Vernon.  They  arrived  in  India  with  some  recently  acquired  geo- 
graphical lore,  souvenirs  picked  up  in  three  continents,  and  loud 
gripes  about  ATC.^^ 

Meanwhile,  it  had  become  obvious  that  the  AAF's  estimate  of  needs 
was  too  low  and  that  some  additional  airlift  must  be  provided  tem- 
porarily, especially  for  the  R-3350  spares.^^  A  special  surface-air  trans- 
port service  was  established,  with  passengers  and  freight  going  to 
Casablanca  by  ship  and  thence  to  Calcutta  by  ATC.  For  this,  twenty- 
five  C-54's  were  assigned  to  ATC's  North  African  Wing.®^  The  shut- 
tle service,  known  as  "Mission  10,"  lasted  from  8  April  to  i  June, 
hauling  about  250  engines  and  1,225  passengers.  Time  in  passage  from 
the  States  was  three  to  four  weeks.^* 

This  was  only  a  stopgap  for  the  crucial  months  of  April  and  May. 
In  mid-March  Arnold  had  informed  Wolfe  of  the  intention  of  pro- 
viding him  with  three  "bomber  support"  squadrons  with  initial  unit 

76 


MATTERHORN  LOGISTICS 


equipment  of  eighteen  C~46's  each.  Arnold's  idea  was  that  the  first 
squadron  riiight  be  used  to  augment  the  command's  Hump  tonnage 
and  the  second  and  third  to  operate  on  the  Casablanca-Calcutta  shut- 
tle until  October."^  The  first  squadron  arrived  in  April,  a  month  later 
than  had  been  promised,  and  was  put  on  the  Hump  run.  The  other 
units,  now  designated  ist  and  2d  Air  Transport  Squadrons  (Mobile), 
were  assigned  to  ATC's  North  African  Wing  and  began  the  so-called 
"Crescent  Blend"  service  on  6  June.  This  guaranteed  to  XX  Bomber 
Command  333  tons  per  month  (including  about  225  engines)  in  June 
and  July,  slightly  more  thereafter.®^  The  service  was  something  of  a 
chore  to  ATC.  The  lacked  the  range  of  the  C-54's  normally  used 
on  the  Casablanca-Calcutta  run,  and  a  new  operational  procedure  had 
to  be  set  up.  The  mobile  squadrons  had  no  service  personnel  attached; 
they  had  to  "^ive  oil  the  land"  and  the  land  in  this  case  was  ATC.®^ 
But  the  Blend  was  a  valuable  service  for  XX  Bomber  Command  at  a 
tinie  when  engine  spares  were  essential  to  operations.  In  addition,  a 
fifty-ton  allotment  of  all-air  delivery  from  the  United  States  to  India 
was  assigned  to  Wolfe's  command  out  of  ATC's  "Fireball"  service.^® 
The  overseas  movements  of  the  B-29's  justified  the  expectation  that 
R-3350  spares  would  be  needed  in  substantial  quantities.  That  move- 
ment had  been  postponed  repeatedly,  in  anticipation,  by  delays  in  pro- 
duction and  modifications  of  the  B-29's  and  in  the  construction  of  the 
Bengal  fields.  By  the  end  of  January  it  appeared  that  most  of  the  initial 
complement  of  150  B-29's  would  be  ready  early  in  March  and  that 
by  using  various  temporary  expedients  provision  could  be  made  for 
receiving  them  in  India.  Thus  early  March  became  the  target  date  for 
dispatch.®* 

According  to  a  plan  worked  out  in  Salina  and  Washington  and  co- 
ordinated with  Eighth  Air  Force  Headquarters,  the  first  B-29  went 
to  England  via  Natal  and  Marrakech.^*^  In  part,  this  initial  flight  was 
to  test  the  new  bomber  in  long  over- water  flights,  as  well  as  to  serve 
as  a  cover  plan.  The  B-29,  a  hard  plane  to  hide  under  a  bushel,  had 
been  publicly  announced  by  Arnold  as  ready  for  combat  in  1944.^°^ 
The  Japanese  were  aware  of  the  existence  of  the  abnormally  long  run- 
ways near  Calcutta  and  Chengtu,  and  when  the  Superf orts  arrived  in 
the  CBI,  it  would  take  no  mastermind  to  deduce  their  probable  target, 
The  cover  plan  called  for  controlled  leaks  to  create  the  impression 
that  the  B-29  would  be  used  in  the  ETO  for  combat  but  that  because 
its  range  had  not  lived  up  to  expectations  the  bomber  would  be  used 


77 


THE   ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 


in  the  CBI  only  as  an  armed  transport.^^^  Stilwell  gave  "news"  releases 
to  that  effect  in  his  theater.^^^  CoL  Frank  Cook  flew  the  B-29  to  Eng- 
land early  in  March  and  exhibited  his  plane  as  directed.^^*  Flight  data 
transmitted  to  Salina  indicated  no  serious  variations  from  previous 
experience/^^  Cook  went  on  to  Kharagpur,  arriving  on  6  April;^°^  his 
B-29  was  the  second  to  reach  the  goal.  On  i  March  General  Arnold 
had  informed  the  CBI  of  the  flight  schedule  for  the  58th  Wing/°^  The 
planes  would  go  out  in  daily  increments  of  nine  or  ten  planes,  begin- 
ning on  10  March;  with  a  five-day  trip  planned,  this  would  put  all  the 
B-29's  at  their  stations  by  the  3  ist.  The  designated  route  was: 


Salina  to  Gander  Lake   2,580  miles 

Gander  Lake  to  Marrakech   2,700  miles 

Marrakech  to  Cairo  ,  •   2,350  miles 

Cairo  to  Karachi     2,400  miles 

Karachi  to  Calcutta   1,500  miles 

Total  1 1,530  miles 


By  10  March  it  was  necessary  to  retard  the  initial  flight  and  each 
subsequent  increment  by  a  fortnight;  according  to  the  new  schedule, 
ail  the  B-29's  would  arrive  between  i  and  15  April.^**^  The  lead  plane 
almost  made  it  in  on  time.  Very  much  impressed  with  the  "historic" 
significance  of  this  first  arrival,  public  relations  oflicers  staged  an  elab- 
orate welcome,  with  a  fighter  escort  aloft  and  a  plentiful  supply  of 
brass,  sound  film  trucks,  and  reporters  on  the  ground.  After  several 
false  alerts  and  eleventh-hour  changes  in  the  ETA,  the  audience  had 
lost  something  of  the  sense  of  drama  when  Col.  L.  F.  Harman  eased 
his  Superf  ort  onto  the  runway  at  Chakulia  on  2  A.priL^°® 

By  15  April  only  thirty-two  planes  were  at  their  stations.  Save  for 
one  forced  landing  at  Presque  Isle,  the  B-29's  had  made  the  ocean  pas- 
sage without  trouble,  but  then  misfortune  set  in.  First  came  a  total 
wreck  at  Marrakech  on  1 3  April,  then  a  partial  one  at  Cairo  on  the 
loth,  and  then,  in  rapid  succession,  five  serious  accidents  including 
two  planes  completely  lost  at  Karachi.  All  planes  along  the  route  were 
grounded  from  21  to  29  April.  Investigation  proved  that  most  acci- 
dents had  occurred  from  engine  failures,  some  of  which  could  be 
blamed  on  inexperienced  crews.^^^  When  flight  was  resumed  the  fer- 
rying went  more  rapidly.  On  8  May,  148  of  the  1 50  planes  had  reached 
Marrakech  and  1 30  had  arrived  at  their  home  fields/"  The  movement 
was  under  control  of  ATC  and  both  that  organization  and  XX 
Bomber  Command  profited  by  experience.  This;  is  shown  by  the 

78 


MATTERHORN  LOGISTICS 

safety  record.  Of  the  original  150  planes,  5  were  lost  and  4  seriously 
damaged;  yet  by  March  1945  when  the  movement  of  B-29's  to  India 
ceased,  405  planes  had  been  ferried  out  with  only  8  total  losses— that 
is,  3  out  of  the  last  255."^ 

The  elaborate  cover  plan  seems  to  have  fooled  ho  one— at  least  not 
Japanese  intelligence.  There  is  a  report  to  the  effect  that  Colonel  Hiar- 
man's  arrival  at  Chakulia  was  greeted  by  an  enemy  radio  broadcast 
which  identified  the  B-29,  and  Japanese  announcers  continued  to 
comment  on  the  VHB  fields  near  Calcutta  and  Chengtu.^^^  XX  Bomber 
Command  and  ATC  made  mutual  accusations  of  security  breaches 
along  the  feriy  route,  arid  in  both  India  and  China  the  Japanese  had 
many  agents."^  Whatever  the  source  of  the  leak,  when  the  enemy  had 
a  brief  test  of  the  B-29*s  armament  in  an  interception  of  an  over-the- 
Hump  run  on  26  April,  he  seems  to  have  had  no  illusion  that  he  had 
tangled  with  the  long-range  armed  "supertransport"  of  the  news  re- 
leases.'"' 

The  several  units  settled  into  their  Bengal  bases:  XX  Bomber  Com- 
mand Headquarters  and  468th  Group,  Kharagpur;  58th  Wing  Head- 
quarters and  40th  Group,  Chakulia;  462d  Group,  Piardoba;  and  444th 
Group,  Charra  (temporarily)."^  Neither  the  India  nor  the  China  bases 
were  operationally  complete,  but  the  successive  delays  in  arrival  of 
the  B-29's  made  that  of  less  importance  than  it  had  appeared.  On  26 
April  Arnold  wrote  to  Wolfe:  "The  airplanes  and  crews  got  off  to  a 
bad  start  due  to  late  production  schedules,  difficult  modifications,  in- 
clement weather,  and  the  sheer  pressure  of  time  necessary  to  meet  the 
early  commitment  date.'""  Perhaps  the  last  was  the  most  important 
element,  for  from  November  1943  on  it  had  made  impossible  any 
close  articulation  of  the  various  stages  in  the  deployment  plan.  Thus 
in  early  May,  with  his  combat  elements  on  hand  or  momentarily  ex- 
pected, Wolfe  was  still  faced  with  the  task  of  building  up  a  stockpile 
before  he  could  launch  his  first  mission,  already  overdue  by  the  Cairo 
schedule  of  operations.  Both  stockpiling  and  the  B-29's  themselves 
were  endangered,  now  that  the  MATTERHORN  designs  could  be 
sensed  by  the  Japanese,  by  the  late  arrival  of  the  fighter  defense  forces 
for  Chengtu. 

Air  defense  of  the  B-29's  in  China  was  Chennault's  responsibility. 
In  September  1943  he  had  stated  his  requirements  as  "at  least  i  Gp  of 
fighters  (150  P-51's  recommended)";"^  the  MATTERHORN  plan 
had  called  iFor  two  fighter  groups.  At  Cairo  the  CCS  decided  to  trans- 


79 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

fer  two  P-40  groups  from  Italy,  re-equipping  them  with 
Stratemeyer  asked  that  the  P-47's  be  sent  from  the  United  States  to 
Karachi  in  January  and  February,  and  that  the  pilots  arrive  in  time  to 
complete  transitional  training  there/^^  The  units  could  not  be  released, 
however,  until  after  the  initial  phase  of  the  Anzio  operation  (D-day, 
22  January),  and  by  ordinary  surface  shipment  the  P-47's  could  not 
get  to  Karachi  before  i  May.  At  the  AAF's  request,  the  Navy  agreed 
to  ferry  out  1 00  P-47's  on  the  CVE's  Mission  Bay  and  Wake  Island;  the 
other  50  would  go  by  tegular  transport.^^^  The  units  selected  were  the 
33d  and  8 1  St  Fighter  Groups,  veterans  of  the  North  African,  Sicilian, 
and  Italian  campaigns.  The  ground  echelons  sailed  from  Taranto  and 
arrived  at  Bombay  on  20  March;  the  flight  echelons  proceeded  by  air 
in  mid-February.^^^  The  two  CVE's  brought  the  P-47's  into  Karachi 
on  30  March  and  two  weeks  later  transitional  training  was  begun."^ 

To  provide  for  proper  control  of  the  fighters,  the  Fourteenth  Air 
Force  on  13  March  activated  the  312th  Fighter  Wing,  of  which  Brig. 
Gen.  A.  H.  Gilkeson,  just  arrived  from  the  States,  assumed  command 
on  25  March.^^^  When  the  first  B-29  landed  at  Chakulia  on  2  April, 
the,  wing  was  still  only  a  skeleton  organization,  inadequately  staffed, 
with  its  personnel  scattered  from  Karachi  to  Chengtu,  and  with  only 
a  few  P-40's  available  for  immediate  combat.  The  situation  caused 
some  justifiable  alarm.  There  was  little  fear  for  the  Bengal  fields,  for 
though  Calcutta  had  been  bombed  during  Christmas  week,  the  B-29 
bases  lay  farther  west,  at  extreme  bomber  range  for  the  Japanese,  and 
RAF  and  Tenth  Air  Force  fighters  were  considered  adequate  protec- 
tion. The  dangers  in  China  were  much  more  apparent,  and  Chennault 
grew  progressively  more  pessimistic  in  his  analyses  of  enemy  capabil- 
ities."^  He  attempted  to  get  additional  fighters  to  guard  the  Assam- 
China  air  route  and  to  hasten  the  delivery  of  two  squadrons  of  P-61 
night  fighters  promised  for  July.  He  wished  also  to  increase  the  num- 
ber of  fighters  allotted  to  Chengtu,  and  to  re-equip  his  new  units  with 
P-51's,  much  more  economical  of  fuel  than  the  P-47's,  though  he  had 
accepted  the  latter  planes  under  the  assumption  that  they  would  be 
supplied  by  XX  Bomber  Command  transports.^^^ 

Stilwell  shared  Chennault's  anxiety  and  early  in  March  had  sug- 
gested that  the  target  date  for  B-29  operations  be  postponed  a  month 
to  allow  the  defense  forces  to  be  readied,^^^  When  this  request  was 
refused,  it  was  decided  to  send  one  squadron  of  the  new  wing  on  to 
Chengtu  with  their  old  P-40's,  and  allow  the  other  five  squadrons  to 

80 


MATTERHORN  LOGISTICS 


follow  as  they  were  re-equipped  with  P-47's/^^  The  59th  Squadron 
flew  into  Szechwan  province  with  its  P-40's  and  was  the  only  local 
fighter  defense  when  the  B-29's  began  their  transport  activities  late  in 
April.  The  other  two  squadrons  of  the  33d  Group  (58th  and  60th) 
followed  with  their  P-47's  in  May.  On  15  May,  the  92 d  Squadron  of 
the  8ist  Group  arrived  at  Kwanghan,  but  it  was  two  months  later  be- 
fore the  other  two  squadrons  (the  91st  and  93d)  came.^^^  Japanese  at- 
tacks on  the  Chengtu  fields  were  to  prove  less  intensive  than  had  been 
feared,  and  the  late  arrival  of  the  fighters  should  have  eased  somewhat 
the  task  of  stockpiling  fuel  for  B-29  missions.  That  task  became  the 
chief  concern  of  XX  Bomber  Command  and  the  needs  of  the  312th 
Wing  continued  to  be  an  important  part  thereof. 

Transport  Within  the  CBI 

The  MATTERHORN  logistics  plan  was  a  long  document,  but  its 
essence  was  compressed  into  a  single  sentence  by  an  early  emissary  of 
XX  Bomber  Command  in  the  CBI.  "Remember  too/'  he  wrote  to  a 
friend  at  Salina,  ''that  every  single  goddam  thing  that  we  send  into 
China  has  to  be  flown  in."  There  was  little  opportunity  to  forget  that 
fact. 

MATTERHORN  transportation  difficulties  began  at  factories  and 
depots,  at  air  bases  and  seaports  in  the  United  States,  and  dogged  each 
ton  and  passenger  along  the  slow  trip  to  India.  Yet  it  had  been  possible 
to  move  out  XX  Bomber  Command  and  its  equipment  without  dis- 
rupting too  seriously  existing  shipping  schedules;  resupply  would  be 
comparatively  simple.  The  rear  area  bases  were  well  located,  with  rail 
and  motor  road  connections  with  Calcutta  and  the  facilities  grouped 
around  the  city— the  port,  the  ATC  terminus  and  the  Bengal  (28th) 
Air  Depot  at  Barrackpore,  and  ASC's  installations  at  the  Alipore  air- 
port. Surface  transportation  routes  in  the  region,  good  by  India's 
standards,  proved  unequal  to  the  new  demands  and  the  command  had 
to  rely  in  part  on  an  inter-base  air-shuttle  service  in  Bengal.  But  this 
was  a  minor  evil;  the  crucial  stage  in  the  MATTERHORN  supply 
route  was  the  Calcutta- Assam-Chengtu  haul,  with  the  fabulous  Hump 
as  its  midrijff. 

The  distance,  while  great,  was  not  prohibitive:  a  B-29  with  cargo 
could  easily  make  the  1,200  miles  or  so  from  Kharagpur  to  Hsinching 
in  five  to  five  and  one-half  hours.  The  movement  of  goods  along  exist- 
ing theater  channels  was  much  slower:  ordinarily  a  shipment  would 

81 


MATTERHORN  LOGISTICS 


proceed  from  Calcutta  to  Assam  by  river  barge  and  rail,  and  thence 
via  Kunming  to  Hsinching  by  ATC  plane,  taking  several  weeks  in 
transit.  That  mode  of  transport  did  not  figure  originally  in  the  MAT- 
TERHORN plan.  The  India-China  Wing  (ICW)  of  ATC  had  ma- 
terially improved  its  Hump  tonnage  during  the  autumn  months  of 
1943.  In  December  12,594  were  delivered  in  China,  more  in  Jan- 
uary and  February,  and  though  the  totals  fell  off  in  each  of  the  spring 
months  of  1944,  there  would  be  a  marked  increase  from  June  on.  But 
that  tonnage  was  jealously  regarded  by  the  several  using  agencies,  of 
which  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  was  chief.  The  various  CBI  com- 
mands had  accepted  the  MATTERHORN  plan  without  enthusiasm 
and  with  a  clear  understanding  that  the  VLR  project  would  not  im- 
pinge upon  current  allocations  for  transport.  Approval  at  Cairo  had 
carried  the  same  proviso.  The  key  feature  of  MATTERHORN  was 
that  XX  Bomber  Command  would  supply  its  own  staging  bases,  using 
its  B-29's  and  its  twenty  C-87's. 

Unable  from  the  beginning  to  sustain  itself,  the  command  had  to 
turn  to  ATC  for  aid.  This  antagonized  other  theater  agencies  and, 
when  the  aid  proved  insufficient,  led  to  mutual  recriminations  be- 
tween them  and  the  VHB  command.  The  latter  tended  to  blame  ATC, 
while  ATC  and  the  Fourteenth  looked  on  the  bomber  command  as 
an  interloper  with  specious  claims  of  independence  and  a  habit  of 
sponging  on  the  strained  services  of  ICW.  This  lack  of  understanding 
is  reflected  in  the  several  accounts,  which  differ  sharply  according  to 
provenience,  of  some  of  the  important  agreements.  Even  more  dis- 
concerting is  the  wide  variation  among  the  statistical  records,  which 
make  it  impossible  to  establish  exactly  the  tonnages  allotted,  onloaded, 
or  actually  delivered  to  MATTERHORN  users.  Some  inaccuracies 
were  unavoidable  under  the  circumstances— the  ICW's  historian  wrote 
of  the  Chengtu  area:  "Records  of  tonnage  allocations  and  deliveries 
were  not  kept  primarily  because  no  personnel  were  on  hand  to  keep 
such  records  for  ATC.  The  personnel  at  Hsinching  were,  for  the  most 
part,  mechanics."  But  figures  emanating  from  better-staffed  headquar- 
ters have  to  be  used  with  caution,  and  it  is  rare  that  perfect  agreement 
can  be  found  among  several  sources.* 

Fundamentally  the  MATTERHORN  supply  plan  was  uneconom- 
ical, as  must  be  any  based  on  long  hauls  by  air  with  fuel  available  at 

*  The  figures  which  XX  Bomber  Command  gives  on  its  own  transport  activities 
can  be  checked  against  the  daily  record  sheets;  diey  are  quite  accurate.  But  in 

83 


THE   ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


only  one  terminus.  This  Washington  had  always  granted.  Probably 
the  transport  resources  added  to  MATTERHORN  in  successive  in- 
crements might  have  yielded  more  tonnage  had  they  been  assigned  to 
ATC,  but  the  Twentieth  Air  Force  feared  to  lose  control  of  transport 
aircraft  without  a  firmer  guarantee  than  could  be  had.  Given  time, 
Wolfe  might  have  been  able  to  approximate  his  original  design.  But 
he  worked  always  with  an  impracticable  target  date,  and  delays  origi- 
nating in  the  United  States  became  cumulative  in  the  CBI— delays  in 
the  arrival  of  troops,  equipment,  and  aircraft,  in  the  preparation  of 
fields  and  installations.  Tactical  emergencies  in  the  CBI  interfered  too 
with  stockpiling  for  the  ifirst  missions,  so  that  the  initial  strike  against 
Japan  was  repeatedly  postponed,  and  when  finally  launched,  its 
weight  was  well  below  earlier  plans. 

Wolfe  had  to  establish  his  forward  area  base,  move  up  the  requisite 
equipment  and  personnel,  nourish  the  latter  (the  312th  Fighter  Wing 
and  the  3 15th  Service  Group),  and  build  a  stockpile  for  his  initial  mis- 
sions. For  these  transport  tasks  he  had  counted  on  the  tactical  B-29's 
and  the  twenty  C-87's  assigned  his  command.  Wolfe  brought  the 
C-87's  out  to  India  in  mid-January  (losing  one  en  route)  with  ATC 
crews  on  ninety-day  temporary  duty  but  with  no  organizational  or 
maintenance  personnel.  AAF  Headquarters  had  intended  that  the 
308th  Bombardment  Group  (H)  should  operate  the  planes  for 
Wolfe's  benefit.^^^  General  Stratemeyer  objected  to  this  additional 
burden  for  the  308th  and  won  Wolfe's  approval  of  another  arrange-' 
ment."^  The  nineteen  C-87's  would  be  turned  over  to  the  ICW  in  re- 
turn for  a  guaranteed  monthly  tonnage;  on  15  April  the  ATC  crews 
would  return  to  the  States,  and  XX  Bomber  Command  would  resume 
operation  of  the  transports. 

This  arrangement  constituted  a  slight  but  real  departure  from  the 

regard  to  ATC*s  contribution,  XX  Bomber  Command  estimates  vary  widely  from 
those  of  ICW. 


HUMP  TONNAGE  FOR  XX  BOMBER  COMMAND 


1944 

Feb. 

March 

Apr, 

May 

June 

July 

Aug, 

Sept, 

XX  BC  C-46's  . . 
Tactical  B-29*s  . 
Tanker  B-29's  . 

117 

280 

1,162 

798 

707 

27 

518 

404 

1,083 

504 

22 

396 

753 

1,106 

814 

C-io9*s  

415 

Total  XX  BC  . 

41 

657 

1,080 

2,998 

1,904 

2440 

ATC  

427 

2,608 
2,608 

i»399 

1,293 

308 

976 

M78 

2,141 

..427 

1,950 

1,388 

3,974 

3,382 

4,581 

84 


MATTERHORN  LOGISTICS 


doctrine  of  self-sufficiency.  For  February,  ICW  promised  Wolfe 
1,650  tons  from  the  first  10,250  flown  over  the  Hump,  and  half  of  all 
surplus  up  to  1 1,500— a  possible  total  of  2,275.  This  seemed  more  than 
the  C-87's  would  haul,  and  the  theater  proposed  to  make  good  the 
deficit  out  of  the  allowance  for  the  Burma-China  pipeline.^^^  ATC 
made  12,920  tons  that  month,  but  XX  Bomber  Command  profited  lit- 
tle: Wolfe  released  to  Chennault  1,534  ^^"^  (of  the  basic  1,650)  to  be 
repaid  later  and  Chengtu  got  only  about  400  tons.^^^ 

March  was  a  bad  month  for  ICW;  with  a  gas  shortage  in  Assam  and 
a  serious  diversion  of  C-46's  in  favor  of  Burma  ground  operations. 
Hump  tonnage  fell  to  9,587."*  Yet  1,997  ^^^s  were  allocated  to  MAT- 
TERHORN, and  ICW  reported  that  it  carried  for  the  project  3,603 
tons,  the  guarantee  plus  1,606  tons  to  repay  the  February  loan  to 
Chennault.^^^  Wolfe's  version  of  the  transportation  was  different.  Of 
the  3,603  tons  onloaded  in  Assam  for  MATTERHORN,  682  had 
been  diverted  to  "other  activities"  and  only  2,921  delivered  at 
Chengtu.  Of  this  amount,  Chennault,  who  was  badly  squeezed  by  the 
light  haul  in  March,  claimed  800  for  April  delivery— the  3 1 2th  Fighter 
Wing  had  to  be  set  up  at  Chengtu."^  By  either  reckoning,  stockpiling 
was  badly  in  retard.  Stilwell's  directive  of  5  March  called  for  the 
B-29's  to  stage  one  shakedown  mission  from  Calcutta  and  one  regular 
mission  from  Chengtu  in  April,  three  in  May.  With  the  late  arrival  of 
the  B-29's  and  the  slow  build-up  of  supplies  in  China,  that  directive 
had  to  be  scrapped. 

In  this  crisis,  Washington  resorted  to  an  expedient  suggested  earlier 
by  the  CBI— assignment  of  additional  transports  to  MATTER- 
HORN."^  These  were  the  C-46  bomber  support  squadrons  men- 
tioned in  a  previous  passage,  of  which  the  first  contingent  reached 
Bengal  on  10  April."®  Some  of  the  C-46's  were  put  on  the  inter-base 
shuttle  in  Bengal;  others,  based  in  the  Kharagpur  area,  began  the 
Hump  run,  but  during  April  hauled  only  fourteen  toils  into  China."® 
The  self-service  B-29's  did  little  better:  by  i  May,  once  looked  on  as 
D-day,  they  had  laid  down  in  China  twenty-seven  tons,  just  enough 
to  support  one  combat  sortie.^*°  The  main  burden  in  April  was  still  on 
ATC.  Wolfe  claimed  an  allotment  of  2,000  tons  but  received  only 
1,399,  the  other  600  going  to  Stilwell's  Yoke  Force  on  what  Wolfe 
thought  was  a  loan*^*^  In  all,  i  ,440  tons  went  forward  in  May. 

Using  a  planning  factor  of  23  tons  per  B-29  combat  sortie  from 
Chengtu,  Wolfe  had  hoped  to  have  by  i  May  a  6,000-ton  stockpile  to 

85 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


support  two  loo-plane  strikes.  According  to  his  figures,  he  had  re- 
ceived less  than  4,800  of  which  800  were  claimed  by  Chennault;  much 
of  the  balance  went  for  uses  other  than  the  stockpile.  High-octane 
gasoline  was  particularly  short,  with  only  380,000  gallons  in  storage 
instead  of  an  anticipated  660,000.  With  the  transport  capabilities  of 
the  B-29  appearing  less  impressive  in  practice  than  in  anticipation  and 
with  a  fixed  charge  for  support  of  the  3 1 2th  Fighter  Wing  now  fac- 
ing him,  Wolfe  felt  that  he  might  have  to  scale  down  the  weight  of 
attacks  against  Japan."^  Additional  transport  equipment  would  see 
him  through  the  present  emergency,  and  Wolfe  hoped  to  secure  that 
help  in  the  form  of  the  C-46  squadrons  assigned  to  the  Crescent  Shut- 
tle for  his  support.  Control  of  those  squadrons  (and  of  the  C-87's) 
became  then  a  matter  of  grave  importance,  much  discussion,  and  sev- 
eral short-lived  agreements  between  XX  Bomber  Command  and  ATC 
during  April  and  May.  None  of  these  agreements  was  wholly  satis- 
factory, nor  was  the  arrangement  worked  out  in  a  Washington  con- 
ference on  1 2  May  between  representatives  of  AAF  Headquarters  and 
ATC."^  A  week  later  Stratemeyer  had  engineered  another  com- 
promise between  Wolfe  and  Brig.  Gen.  T.  O.  Hardin  of  ICW.  The 
remaining  C-87's  and  thirty-six  C-46's  would  be  assigned  to  Hardin, 
and  the  ist  Air  Transport  Squadron  (Mobile)  to  Wolfe.  ICW  would 
lay  down  1,500  tons  monthly  at  Chengtu,  of  which  1,000  tons  would 
be  carried  from  Calcutta  to  Jorhat  by  Wolfe's  planes,  500  by  ICW.^** 

All  this  shuffling  of  units— some  of  which  had  not  even  arrived— 
effected  no  great  improvement  in  May  deliveries.  Wolfe  hoped  to  get 
from  ATC  his  1,500-ton  guarantee,  plus  the  600-ton  "loan"  to  the 
Yoke  Force.  The  latter,  however,  had  been  written  off  by  Chung- 
king, and  only  1,293  wert  offloaded  in  the  Chengtu  area."^  The 
C-46's  operated  by  the  command,  still  new  on  the  Hump  run,  carried 
107  tons;^^^  the  tactical  B-29's  delivered  540  tons  in  141  sorties,  far  less 
than  the  early  estimates  and  about  one-third  of  Wolfe's  revised  fig- 
ures.^*^  That  record  would  be  bettered  as  the  full  complement  of 
planes  swung  into  the  job  and  as  crews  and  ground  organizations  im- 
proved. But  Wolfe  had  come  to  feel  that  the  "use  of  B-29  ^  ^  cargo 
carrier  has  definite  limitations  and  any  large  scale  operations  should  be 
dependent  upon  regular  cargo-type  aircraft  for  supplies."  He  also 
pointed  to  the  obvious  fact  that  regular  use  of  the  B-29  ^  transport 
would  shorten  its  combat  lif  e.^*® 

This  attitude  was  a  negation  of  the  very  essence  of  the  MATTER- 

86 


MATTERHORN  LOGISTICS 


HORN  plan,  Wolfe  and  the  Washington  planners  must  have  realized 
from  the  first  that  it  would  have  been  more  economical  to  supply  the 
B-29's  by  regular  cargo  planes  than  by  the  Superforts'  own  efforts; 
but  lack  of  cargo  planes  in  sufficient  numbers,  pressure  of  time,  and 
perhaps  fondness  for  the  AAF  concept  of  the  bomber  unit  as  a  self- 
contained  entity  had  led  to  the  adoption  of  a  logistical  system  which 
had  already  been  modified  and  which  was  facing  collapse.  The  one 
hopeful  statistic  was  too  small  to  be  appreciated  yet— the  twenty-two 
tons  hauled  in  May  by  B-29  "tankers."  Wolfe  had  stripped  some 
planes  of  all  combat  equipment  except  tail  guns  and  a  minimum  of 
radar,  and  thus  was  able  to  haul  seven  tons  of  aviation  gasoline  (avgas) 
per  trip  as  against  three  in  a  tactical  plane.  This  stripping  was  ques- 
tioned in  Washington,  but  planes  could  be  combat-readied  in  a  week, 
and  until  the  stockpile  grew,  there  could  be  no  combat  missions/*^ 

At  mid-May,  Woffe  calculated  that  his  first  two  missions  (100  sor- 
ties each)  would  require  4,600  tons  plus  what  the  tactical  B-29's  car- 
ried.^^°  This  he  could  riot  transport  rapidly  with  resources  presently 
available;  by  26  May  he  estimated  that,  by  reaching  a  total  of  4,840 
tons  in  June,  he  could  stage  his  first  strike  about  the  20th  and  a  second 
in  July.^^^  This  schedule  the  enemy  spoiled.  At  the  end  of  May  the 
Japanese  pushed  off  in  their  long-anticipated  drive  for  the  Canton- 
Changsha  railroad.  On  4  June  Stilwell  diverted  to  the  Fourteenth  ton- 
nage previously  guaranteed  to  MATTERHORN,  The  JCS  sanctioned 
this,  but  they  refused  Chiang  Kai-Shek's  request,  forwarded  by  Stil- 
well without  indorsement,  that  the  MATTERHORN  stockpile  be 
turned  over  to  Chennault  in  the  emergency/"  Aftier  questioning 
Wolfe  as  to  his  immediate  capabilities,  the  JCS  on  8  June  ordered  him 
to  put  at  least  seventy  B-29's  over  Japan  on  the  ijth—this  to  relieve 
pressure  in  east  China  and  to  coordinate  with  the  landing  on  Saipan.^^^ 
Even  a  strike  of  this  reduced  weight  could  be  achieved  only  by  in- 
creasingly drastic  economies  in  the  forward  area. 

Since  the  war,  General  Chennault  has  stated  publicly  that  such 
economies  were  not  effected: 

The  Twentieth  Air  Force  refused  to  face  the  realities  of  the  China  supply  situa- 
tion. Even  when  gas  was  so  low  at  Chengtu  that  their  defending  fighters  could 
not  fly  local  interceptions,  the  Twentieth  refused  to  live  off  tiie  land  and  op- 
erate on  skeleton  tables  of  organization.  They  continued  to  fly  in  thousands  of 
tons  of  American  food  and  excess  personnel  into  Isic}  China  at  the  expense  of 
gas  and  bombs.  .  .  .  They  always  retained  indelible  recollections  of  the 
Pentagon  standard  of  living."* 


87 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


A  diiferent  version  of  the  story  came  from  XX  Bomber  Command. 
In  1944,  while  the  supply  problem  was  still  a  very  live  issue,  the  com- 
mand's historian  wrote: 

Faced  with  the  necessity  of  executing  a  combat  mission  on  the  directed  date, 
despite  its  reduced  transport  capacity,  the  command  had  only  one  alternative: 
to  reduce  the  delivery  of  equipment,  supplies  and  personnel  to  all  units  in  the 
forward  area  to  the  bare  essentials  required  to  sustain  life  and  permit  the  air- 
planes to  take  off  for  the  target.  These  instructions  were  50  stringent  that  all 
surface  transportation  to  [sic]  the  forward  area  ceased  with  the  exception  of 
oiie  vehicle  per  base.  No  supplementary  rations  were  supplied  to  the  garrisons 
in  the  area.  All  supplies  of  PX  rations  were  eliminated.  There  was  no  shipment 
of  clothing,  less  than  25  percent  of  the  mail.  No  hospital  rations  and  no  addi- 
tional personal  or  organizational  equipment  were  supplied*  Indeed,  insofar  as 
supply  was  concerned,  personnel  in  the  forward  area  were  isolated  and  limited 
as  if  they  had  been  on  a  desert  island.  Full  colonels  walked  two  miles  to  their 
airplanes."" 

This  passage  is,  for  the  period  concerned,  an  almost  point-by-point 
denial—five  years  in  advance— of  Chennault's  blanket  charges.  The  de- 
tail of  the  walking  colonels  may  tax  the  credulity  of  some  readers,  but 
during  the  emergency  of  late  May  and  June  there  does  not  seem  to 
have  been  much  "Pentagon  standard  of  living"  at  Gherigtu. 

Unfortunately  for  intra-theater  amity,  the  economies  begun  in  May 
had  been  applied  to  the  Chengtu  organizations  belonging  to  the  Four- 
teenth Air  Force.  By  agreement  between  Wolfe  and  Chennault,  the 
312th  Fighter  Wing  and  the  service  forces  were  to  get  1,500  toiis  per 
month— half  of  the  figure  originally  demanded.  In  May  this  allotment 
was  reduced  to  1,000  tons,  apparently  without  consultitig  Chennault 
and  certainly  without  full  coordination  with  the  3  i2th."^  For  want  of 
a  priority  list  from  the  fighter  units,  XX  Bomber  Command  deter- 
mined what  goods  should  go  forward  as  well  as  total  tonnage.  In  the 
June  emergency  the  312th  fared  even  worse;  Chennault  claimed  the 
wing  got  "practically  nothing,"  while  XX  Bomber  Command  statis- 
tics said  600  tons."^  When  the  command  flew  its  first  combat  mission 
from  Chengtu,  Gilkeson  had  enough  gasoline  to  fly  only  four  two- 
hour  sorties  with  60  per  cent  of  his  fighters;  not  unnaturally  he  was 
alarmed."' 

The  pinch  was  felt  by  others  as  well.  In  spite  of  economies  and 
strenuous  elforts  to  increase  net  tonnage,  XX  Bomber  Command  on 
15  June  could  hardly  support  at  Chengtu  the  minimum  demand  for  a 
seventy-sortie  mission.  This  effort  so  bled  the  forward  fuel  stocks  that 

88 


MATTERHORN  LOGISTICS 


some  planes  could  not  return  immediately  to  Calcutta.^^®  ATC's  de- 
liveries, cut  off  on  5  June,  amounted  in  the  month  only  to  something 
over  300  tons;  XX  Bomber  Command  had  done  somewhat  better  for 
itself  than  in  May,  with  280  tons  by  C-46's  and  800  tons  divided  about 
equally  between  B-29  tactical  planes  and  tankers.  The  two  combat 
missions,  the  shakedown  on  5  June  and  the  trip  to  Japan  on  the  15th, 
had  interfered  sharply,  and  the  month's  total  of  1,388  tons  was  the 
lowest  since  February 

To  make  up  the  deficit  caused  by  the  diversion  of  ATC  tonnage, 
Arnold  reassigned  to  XX  Bomber  Command  the  2d  and  3d  Air  Trans- 
port Squadrons  (Mobile),  then  working  on  the  Crescent  Blend.  The 
2d  was  on  the  Hump  run  before  the  end  of  June,  the  3d  by  8  July."^®^ 
By  the  latter  date  Wolfe  had  some  60  C-46's  and  his  B-29's  to  meet 
requirements  for  his  July  target  directive:  a  15-sortie  mission  early  in 
the  month,  a  loo-sortie  effort  during  the  last  10  days/®^  To  insure  a 
build-up,  he  again  cut  back  the  3 1 2th  Wing,  this  time  to  850  tons.  By 
his  staff's  calculation,  this  should  give  the  fighter  groups  ten  hours'  fly- 
ing time  per  pilot  and  a  small  reserve.^^  Admittedly  it  was  a  slim  mar- 
gin, and  though  more  than  June  deliveries,  850  tons  fell  far  short  of 
the  original  agreement  and  of  the  3i2th's  idea  of  a  safe  minimum. 
(Ironically,  XX  Bomber  Command  returned  Chennault's  charges  of 
exaggerated  standards  of  living,  saying  that  the  33d  and  8ist  Fighter 
Groups,  accustomed  to  the  luxurious  life  of  the  MTO,  could  not  ad- 
just to  the  scarcity  economy  of  China.)"* 

Chennault  on  25  June  informed  Arnold  of  the  ^'deplorable  condi- 
tions" and  stated  flatly  that  "under  existing  conditions  I  cannot  be 
held  responsible  for  defense  of  Chengtu/'^^^  Settlement  of  the  imme- 
diate problem  fell  to  Stratemeyer  who  had  logistical  responsibilities 
for  both  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  and  XX  Bomber  Command.'^^  The 
correspondence  from  the  generals  concerned  which  passed  over 
Stratemeyer's  desk  during  the  next  week  was  acrimonious  in  the  ex- 
treme. Chennault  accused  Wolfe  of  cutting  back  fuel  deliveries  to  the 
312th  beyond  the  safety  line  and  of  determining  cargo  priorities  arbi- 
trarily ("Gilkeson  has  no  idea  as  to  what  he  will  receive  and  is  en- 
tirely at  the  mercy  of  Wolfe  who  controls  the  purse  strings.  .  .  .")."^ 
Wolfe  denied  the  accuracy  of  Chennault's  figures  on  fuel  deliveries 
and  affirmed  that  the  amounts  scheduled  had  been  agreed  to  by  Gil- 
keson.^® On  3  July  Wolfe  had  to  accede  to  Chennault's  demand  that 
the  previous  guarantee  of  1,500  tons  monthly  for  the  312th  be  re- 


89 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 


Stored,  with  the  further  concession  that  Chennault  determine  the 
breakdown  of  the  tonnage.^^^  Four  days  later  the  arrangement  was 
modified  somewhat  by  mutual  agreement.  Wolfe  turned  over  to 
Chennault,  effective  20  July,  XX  Bomber  Command's  claim  to  1,500 
tons  monthly  from  ATC  and  was  relieved  thereby  of  all  logistical  re- 
sponsibility toward  the  3 1 2th  and  its  service  organizations.  This  was 
an  excellent  deal  for  the  command,  ending  a  long  and  bitter  dispute, 
and  cutting  down  on  staff  work."° 

Furthermore,  the  total  lift  for  July  set  a  record.  The  ATC  allot- 
ment, restored  during  the  first  20  days  of  the  month,  amounted  to  976 
tons,  just  enough  to  meet  the  3i2th's  quota.  The  bomber  command's 
enlarged  fleet  of  C-46's  hauled  1,162  tons,  the  B-29  tankers  753,  the 
tactical  B-29's  1,083.  The  latter  record  was  accomplished  in  spite  of  a 
halt  for  the  two  designated  missions  which  were  run  off  as  scheduled 
with  a  combined  total  of  115  sorties.^^^  The  improvement  came  as  the 
command  learned  more  about  the  B-29  C-46,  and  more  about  the 
air  transport  business.  Lt.  Col.  Robert  S.  McNamara's  Statistical  Sec- 
tion practically  ran  the  show,  watching  carefully  the  variable  factors: 
aircraft  in  tactical  use,  aircraft  out  of  commission,  turn-around  time, 
gross  load,  and  net  offload.*  The  first  factor  was  of  course  out  of  their 
control,  but  in  the  others  careful  study  brought  marked  improvement. 
Thus,  between  May  and  the  end  of  July  the  average  gasoline  con- 
sumption on  a  round  trip  was  reduced  from  6,3 1 2  to  5,65 1  gallons;  the 
net  ofHoad  rose  in  the  same  period  from  495  to  1,326  gallons,  and  at 
the  end  of  July  tankers  were  laying  down  2,496  gallons  net."'^  At  ei- 
ther period  it  was  expensive,  but  at  worst  it  meant  burning  twelve  gal- 
lons of  gasoline  to  put  down  one  in  Chengtu,  at  best  two  for  one;  the 
margin  was  the  measure  of  the  command's  adjustment  to  the  transport 
task. 

FACTORS  AFFECTING  HUMP  TONNAGE  DELIVERED 
BY  XX  BOMBER  COMMAND 


i9H 

April 

May 

June 

July 

Aug, 

Sept. 

7 

238 

i54 

237 

116 

206 

B-29's  in  commission  (for 

58 

150 

419 

368 

265 

transport  or  operations)  . . 

38% 

37.5^^ 

41.3^^ 

41.1% 

50% 

,  ,  18.2% 

14.7% 

18.1% 

11.5% 

7.5*%' 

9% 

B-29  turn-around  time  in 

2 

1.8 

14 

1-5 

1-5 

B-29  average  net  offload 

2.25 

4.87 

7.66 

9-53 

640 

90 


MATTERHORN  LOGISTICS 


The  flight  by  a  B-29  was  a  ''through"  trip  via  the  Assam  valley  and 
over  the  Hump  without  making  Kunming.  In  the  early  months  fear 
of  enemy  interception  sent  the  planes  along  a  northern  or  southern 
route,  according  to  which  had  weather  dangerously  clear  or  overcast 
enough  to  render  interception  difficult;  later  each  group  had  its  own 
route.  But  Japanese  fighters  caused  little  trouble:  there  had  been  six 
or  seven  contacts  by  the  end  of  July  but  no  determined  attacks."^  The 
route  was  a  dangerous  one,  nonetheless,  with  its  jagged  ranges  and 
uncertain  weather  and  communications,  so  that  combat  time  was  al- 
lowed for  all  transport  trips.  In  the  same  period  an  even  dozen  B-29's 
were  lost,  mainly  from  engine  failures,  as  against  six  C-46's  by  Sep- 
tember."* Most  of  the  crews  were  saved.  Some  bailed  out  over  friendly 
territory  and  received  hospitable  treatment  from  the  Chinese.  Others 
fared  less  well,  coming  down  in  the  dread  Lolo  country.  Their  walk- 
out reports  and  the  report  of  Capt.  Frank  Mullen  of  Air  Ground  Aid 
Service,  who  penetrated  the  Lolo  land  on  a  rescue  mission,  portray  a 
wild  country  and  a  people  as  untouched  by  western  civilization  as  in 
the  days  of  Marco  Polo."^ 

In  July  for  the  first  time  XX  Bomber  Command  approached  its 
ideal  of  self-sufficiency;  the  3,000  tons  hauled  forward  by  its  own 
planes  just  about  supported  the  115  sorties.  But  this  was  the  peak  of 
performance  by  the  B-29's  and  the  weight  of  attack  against  Japan  was 
but  half  what  had  been  anticipated  earlier.  If  the  resources  already 
poured  Into  MATTERHORN  were  to  be  more  fully  realized,  the 
supply  system  must  be  revamped.  The  changes  were  to  come  in  late 
summer  when  a  change  in  strategic  plans  in  the  Pacific  called  for  a 
more  intensive  air  effort  in  China. 


91 


CHAPTER  4 
*********** 


XX  BOMBER  COMMAND  AGAINST  JAPAN 

FOR  its  program  of  strategic  bombardment  XX  Bomber  Com- 
mand borrowed  from  the  Eighth  Air  Force  many  of  its  basic 
concepts  and  operational  techniques.  This  was  not  unnatural: 
the  Eighth  had  a  richer  experience  in  that  mode  of  warfare  than  any- 
other  U.S.  air  force,  and  because  many  key  figures  in  the  Twentieth 
Air  Force  and  its  commands  had  served  with  the  Eighth,  that  expe- 
rience was  easily  available.  A  case  in  point  is  the  method  of  combat 
reporting:  XX  Bomber  Command's  tactical  mission  reports  were  pat- 
terned directly  after  those  issued  by  VIII  Bomber  Command.  Com- 
piled at  Kharagpur  within  a  few  weeks  after  each  mission,  the  reports 
consolidated  combat  and  technical  information  drawn  from  the  lesser 
combat  units  and  the  various  service  and  technical  agencies  concerned. 
Damage  assessments  were  brought  down  to  the  date  of  issue  but  must, 
of  course,  be  subject  to  constant  reappraisal  as  new  information  be- 
comes available,  and  certain  types  of  statistics— notably  on  losses  in- 
flicted on  enemy  fighters— must  be  used  with  caution;  but  for  much 
of  the  information  given  there  is  no  need  to  go  to  the  records  of  the 
subordinate  imits.  The  reports  were  made  for  command  and  staff  per- 
sonnel who  needed  a  more  precise  record  than  that  provided  by  spot 
intelligence  summaries,  but  they  have  later  proved  valuable  enough  to 
the  historian  to  warrant  more  than  a  passing  word  of  thanks  to  the 
compilers.  A  complete  file  of  the  reports  (numbered  serially  accord- 
ing to  the  missions)  forms  the  basic  source  for  MATTERHORN 
operations. 

Much  as  these  useful  (if  somewhat  dessicated)  battle  reports  re- 
semble those  of  the  Eighth  Air  Force  in  form,  however,  a  view  of  the 
whole  series  and  of  the  voluminous  Washington-Kharagpur  corre- 


92 


XX   BOMBER   COMMAND  AGAINST  JAPAN 

spondence  reveals  two  important  differences  between  the  MATTER- 
HORN  program  and  that  of  the  Combined  Bomber  Offensive  in 
Europe. 

There  was  first  the  obvious  difference  in  intensity.  This  was  espe- 
cially noticeable  if  the  comparison  be  made  as  of  the  summer  and  fall 
of  1944  when  the  Eighth  had  reached  its  full  strength.  It  was  true  also 
even  if  the  figures  of  the  Eighth's  early  days  are  taken.  For  nearly  10 
months  (6  June  1944  to  31  March  1945)  XX  Bomber  Command  op- 
erated in  the  CBI,  running  49  missions  with  a  total  of  3,058  sorties. 
During  a  like  period  at  the  beginning  of  its  career  (17  August  1942  to 
1 1  June  1943)  the  Eighth  Air  Force  had  run  62  missions  with  5,353 
sorties  in  spite  of  a  slow  start.^  The  difference  came  not  so  much  from 
the  size  of  the  respective  forces— it  was  only  on  its  fourteenth  mission 
that  the  Eighth  was  able  to  equal  the  98  bombers  airborne  on  XX 
Bomber  Command's  maiden  effort.  It  resulted  rather  from  MAT- 
TERHORN's  peculiar  logistics  system,  which  required  a  long  inter- 
val of  transport  operations  to  build  up  a  fuel  stock  for  each  strike. 

The  second  difference  is  to  be  found  in  the  peculiar  control  system 
for  MATTERHORN  which  left  to  a  Washington  headquarters  the 
choice  of  targets  and  target  dates  (within  the  limits  of  possibility), 
and  a  great  influence  over  tactical  means  employed.  The  far  remove 
of  this  headquarters  from  its  combat  units  and  from  the  harsh  realities 
of  the  theater  made  for  an  extensive,  often  protracted,  correspondence 
by  radio  message,  teletype  conference,  and  courier  over  each  separate 
mission.  Those  communications  and  the  rarity  of  the  strikes  give  to 
each  mission  a  flavor  of  distinctiveness  rare  in  the  ETO  and  later  in 
B-29  operations  from  the  Marianas.  The  narrative  which  follows  may 
reflect  this  flavor  rather  than  the  intrinsic  importance  of  the  strikes, 
which  were  seldom  decisive. 

The  MATTERHORN  plan  as  approved  by  the  JCS  early  in  April 
had  derived  its  target  objectives  from  a  study  submitted  by  the  CO  A 
on  II  November  1943,*  giving  preference  to  six  target  systems,  of 
which  two— anti-friction  bearings  and  electronics  industry— were 
passed  over  by  the  AAF  planners;  to  the  other  four— aircraft  industry, 
coke  and  steel,  shipping  in  harbors,  and  urban  areas— was  added  the 
refineries  at  Palembang  as  a  compromise  with  those  who  supported 
POL  targets.  The  COA  had  refrained  from  giving  relative  priorities 
but  had  showed  a  marked  bias  in  favor  of  steel  and  coke,  and  this 

•  See  above,  pp.  26-28. 


93 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORGES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

Twentieth  Air  Force  planners  were  willing,  from  operational  consid- 
erations, to  accept  as  the  target  system  to  be  hit  first.  Thus,  in  a  revi- 
sion of  the  air  estimate  and  plan  on  i  April  1944,  they  calculated  the 
capabilities  of  the  force  for  the  first  phase  of  operations  (April  to  Sep- 
tember) at  750  successful  sorties  out  of  China  bases;  of  these,  576  were 
to  be  directed  against  coke  ovens,  74  against  shipping  in  harbors,  and 
100  against  urban  areas.  Palembang  was  to  be  hit  by  staging  through 
Ceylon  and  the  aircraft  industry  to  be  saved  for  a  second  phase  of 
operations.^ 

This  estimate  was  grossly  optimistic,  but  in  general  the  objectives 
held  up  with  something  like  the  relative  importance  indicated  in  spite 
of  serious  changes  in  the  tactical  situation  in  the  CBI.  Save  for  the  at- 
tack on  Palembang  and  small  efforts  against  shipping  and  urban  areas, 
it  was  steel— through  coke  ovens— which  absorbed  the  bomber  com- 
mand's efforts  through  September.  But  before  the  campaign  against 
the  Inner  Empire  opened  there  was  need  for  a  trial  run. 

First  Phase 

By  many  at  AAF  Headquarters  the  whole  MATTERHORN  proj- 
ect was  considered  a  shakedown  operation,  one  which  would  remove 
the  kinks  from  the  B-29  and  its  using  organization  before  intensive  op- 
erations were  launched  from  the  Marianas.  But  MATTERHORN 
had  its  own  shakedown.  XX  Bomber  Command's  staff  thought  of  this 
process  as  involving  three  stages:  the  mass  flight  to  the  theater,  the 
long  weeks  of  hauling  supplies  over  the  Hump,  and  the  first  combat 
mission,  staged  against  Bangkok  on  5  June.  The  Bangkok  raid  was  run 
without  fanfare,  its  slight  achievements  being  falsely  credited  for  the 
moment  to  EAC's  B-24's.  The  command  called  it  a  practice  mission 
but  it  was  more  than  practice,  more  than  dress  rehearsal;  it  was  rather 
the  New  Haven  tryout  before  the  Broadway  opening. 

From  the  fly-out  to  India  and  from  the  Hump  operations,  crews 
had  learned  much  about  the  B-29  and  its  R-3350  engine  under  varying 
climatic  conditions.  But  the  transport  Job  had  curtailed  the  more  for- 
mal aspects  of  training,  had  absorbed  indeed  so  much  of  the  com- 
mand's energies  that  men  had  all  but  lost  sight  of  the  real  mission,  and 
a  soldier  could  propose  a  toast  in  tepid  mess-hall  water  to  "the  XX 
Bomber  Command,  a  goddam  trucking  outfit."^  The  late  delivery  of 
B-29's  to  the  58th  Wing  in  its  Salina  period  had  left  serious  gaps  in  its 
training  program  for  which  no  amount  of  gas-trucking  would  sub- 


94 


XX   BOMBER   COMMAND   AGAINST  JAPAN 

stitute:  notably  in  high-altitude  formation  flying,  rendezvous,  gun- 
nery, and  bombing,  visual  and  radar.*  Because  of  these  deficiencies. 
General  Wolfe  decided  to  have  his  first  go  at  the  enemy  at  night,  with 
planes  bombing  individually. 

Wolfe  signed  the  first  field  order  on  1 7  May,  with  D-day  slated  for 
the  27th/  This  plan  Washington  vetoed  on  19  May,  General  Arnold 
insisting  that  only  a  daylight  precision  attempt  would  provide  the 
practice  needed  for  the  type  of  operations  contemplated/  By  that  date 
the  command  had  piled  up  in  the  theater  a  total  of  2,867  B-29  flying 
hours,  of  which  2,378  were  on  transport  service,  50  on  miscellaneous 
jobs,  and  only  439  in  training  activities,  giving  an  average  of  less  than 
2  hours  apiece  for  the  240  crews  on  hand.^  Wolfe  postponed  the 
strike  and  instituted  a  short,  intensive  training  program.  Bombard- 
ment runs  were  made  at  a  range  on  Halliday  Island,  made  available  by 
the  British;  crews  were  given  some  training  in  formation  flying;  and 
even  on  the  Hump  run,  B-29's  flew  in  battle  formation  in  an  uneco- 
nomical effort  to  make  up  for  past  deficiencies.^ 

The  primary  target  assigned  for  the  mission  was  the  Makasan  rail- 
way shops  at  Bangkok.  These  had  been  rendered  especially  important 
by  recent  damage  to  the  shops  at  Insein  and  the  related  campaign 
against  rail  communications;  destruction  of  the  Bangkok  shops  would 
hurt  Japanese  efforts  in  north  Burma.  But  the  deciding  factors  were 
operational  rather  than  strategic:  the  mission,  staged  from  the  Kharag- 
pur  area,  would  not  cut  into  Chengtu  fuel  stores;  the  2,000-mile  round 
trip  and  the  Japanese  defenses  at  Bangkok  would  give  a  real  but  not 
too  severe  test.  Secondary  targets  included  the  Malagan  railyards  and 
the  Central  Station  at  Rangoon.^ 

The  AAF  Proving  Ground  at  Eglin  Field  ran  off  a  simulated 
"Bangkok  mission"  and  forwarded  the  test  results  to  Kharagpur. 
Where  operational  details  suggested  on  the  basis  of  the  test  ran  coun- 
ter to  experience  in  the  CBI,  Wolfe's  staff  disregarded  them.  Bomb 
loads  were  lighter,  fuel  loads  heavier  than  recommended:  5  tons  of 
bombs  (500-pound  GP's  in  three  of  the  groups,  500-pound  M18  in- 
cendiaries in  the  fourth)  and  6,846  gallons  of  fuel  for  each  B-29.  The 
resulting  gross  take-off  load  of  134,000  pounds  was  too  heavy  for  the 
makeshift  runway  at  Charra,  so  that  the  444th  Group  had  to  stage,  in 
equal  elements,  from  the  three  other  bomber  fields.®  Maintenance 
crews,  working  feverishly,  had  112  B-29's  ready  to  go  by  D  minus  i. 

•  See  above,  pp.  52,  56-57. 


95 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

Take-off  time  was  set  at  0545*— dawn— to  avoid  high  ground  tem- 
peratures so  dangerous  for  the  R~335o  and  to  crowd  the  whole  round 
trip  into  the  daylight  hours.  Preliminary  briefing  was  held  on  4  June, 
the  final  briefing  in  the  early  hours  of  the  next  morning.^^ 

The  attack  was  launched  approximately  as  planned  in  spite  of  an 
early  ground  mist.  With  planes  leaving  each  base  at  one-minute  inter- 
vals, ninety-eight  were  airborne  within  sixty-three  minutes.  At  Cha- 
kulia,  Maj.  John  B.  Keller's  B-29  crashed  immediately  after  take-off, 
killing  all  crewmen  save  one.  Fourteen  bombers  aborted,  and  a  few 
others  failed  to  reach  target,^^  The  field  order  called  for  an  assembly 
and  flight  of  four-plane  elements  in  diamond  formation/^  Low  clouds 
and  haze  interfered;  some  planes  joined  the  wrong  elements  and  as 
weather  thickened  others  broke  formation  and  went  on  singly.  The 
route  out,  a  dog-leg  which  crossed  the  Malay  Peninsula  to  come  at  the 
initial  point  (IP)  from  the  Gulf  of  Thailand,  was  maintained  with 
some  help  from  radar.  Approaching  Bangkok,  the  B-29's  climbed 
from  5,000  feet  to  the  stipulated  bombing  heights  of  from  23,000  to 
25,000  feet." 

The  first  plane  was  over  target  at  1052,  the  last  at  1232.  The  inter- 
vening 100  minutes  one  navigator  described  as  "Saturday  night  in 
Harlem."^*  It  was  not  an  orderly  affair.  Heavy  overcast  obscured 
the  target  and  forty-eight  of  seventy-seven  planes  bombing  did  so  by 
radar,  and  since  few  crews  had  received  instruction  in  radar  bombing, 
"learning  by  doing"  proved  a  hard  way.  No  effort  was  made  to  main- 
tain designated  formations,  and  bombs  were  dropped  from  as  high  as 
27,300  feet  and  as  low  as  17,000,  sometimes  after  repeated  runs.^^  For- 
tunately, Japanese  opposition  was  too  feeble  to  add  much  to  the 
confusion.  Heavy  flak  was  barely  moderate  in  quantity  and  was  inaccu- 
rate, scoring  only  a  holed  rudder.  To  aid  the  mission,  EAC  had  sched- 
uled a  dawn  raid  by  B-24's  against  Bangkok's  Don  Muang  airdrome 
but  had  scratched  the  attack  because  of  weather.  This  failure  hurt  lit- 
tle. Fighter  opposition  hardly  gave  the  B-29  gunners  a  decent 
workout:  nine  Japanese  fighters  made  a  round  dozen  of  half-hearted 
passes  while  others  coyly  loafed  along  out  of  range.  U.S.  claims  were 
correspondingly  light— one  probable,  two  damaged.^^ 

The  trip  home  was  far  more  hazardous  than  the  time  over  Bangkok, 
with  the  weather  (it  was  the  eve  of  the  monsoon)  and  mechanical 
troubles  proving  more  formidable  than  the  Japanese.  Maj.  B.  G.  Ma- 

•  Time,  unless  otherwise  indicated,  is  local. 


96 


XX   BOMBER   COMMAND   AGAINST  JAPAN 

lone's  B-29,  after  some  engine  trouble,  was  short  of  gasoline  leaving 
the  target.  Malone  set  a  course  for  Kunming,  nearest  friendly  base, 
but  his  tanks  ran  dry  near  Yu-Chi,  sixty  miles  short  of  his  goaL  Ten  of 
the  crew  parachuted  safely  and,  after  receiving  good  treatment  from 
the  Chinese,  were  fetched  in  by  Capt.  Frank  Mullen  of  Air  Ground 
Aid  Service,  Kunming.  Another  plane  crashed  at  Dum  Dum  in  a 
forced  landing;  others  landed  away  from  home— twelve  at  wrong 
B-29  bases,  thirty  at  fields  outside  the  command."  Two  planes  ditched 
in  the  Bay  of  Bengal.  One  B-29  was  headed  for  an  emergency  landing 
at  Chittagong  when  its  engines  sputtered  out.  Capt.  J.  N.  Sanders  put 
the  plane  down  into  a  smooth  sea.  A  few  minutes  later  Spitfires  of  Air 
Sea  Rescue  were  hovering  overhead  and  within  forty-five  minutes 
motor  launches  picked  up  nine  survivors  from  rafts.  Desperate 
searches  by  Sanders  and  his  flight  engineer  failed  to  locate  the  other 
two  crewmen  nor  were  they  found  when  the  B-29  floated— repeat, 
floated— ashore  next  day.^^ 

During  the  return  another  B-29  of  the  40th  Group  experienced 
continued  malfunctioning  of  its  fuel-transfer  system,  a  common  ail- 
ment of  the  Superfort  at  that  period.  The  pilot  and  radio  operator 
were  killed  when  the  plane  was  set  down  in  a  rugged  job  of  ditching, 
but  ten  men  (there  was  a  deadhead  passenger  aboard)  crawled  out  or 
were  blown  free  by  an  explosion,  suffering  injuries  of  varying  degrees 
of  severity.  Eight  of  these  rode  out  the  night  in  two  rafts  and  near 
noon  picked  up  their  two  fellows,  still  afloat  with  no  more  aid  than 
their  Mae  Wests  and  an  empty  oxygen  bottle.  Both  were  badly 
wounded,  one  incredibly  so,  and  badly  chewed  by  crabs.  One,  Sgt. 
W.  W.  Wiseman,  had  kept  his  weakened  and  delirious  comrade,  who 
could  not  swim,  alive  through  a  night  of  squalls  only  by  most  heroic 
and  unselfish  action.  After  another  day  and  night  of  suffering  the  ten 
men  were  washed  ashore  near  the  mouth  of  the  Hooghly  River  before 
dawn  on  the  7th.  Two  crewmen  eventually  contacted  natives  and 
through  them  the  British,  and  an  Air  Sea  Rescue  PBY  picked  up  the 
whole  party.  All  hands  credited  the  recovery  of  the  wounded  to  a 
home-made  survival  vest  designed  by  Lt.  Louis  M.  Jones,  squadron 
S-2,  and  worn  by  the  flight  engineer.  Carrying  essential  supplies  and 
drugs  (the  latter  safely  waterproofed  in  rubber  contraceptives),  the 
experimental  vest  had  proved  more  practical  than  the  standard  E-3 
kits.  The  whole  story  as  it  appears  in  the  interrogations  has  much  of 
the  tone  of  a  Nordoff  and  Hall  sea  saga.^® 


97 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


The  command  assessed  the  mission  as  an  "operational  success";  that 
is,  it  considered  the  loss  of  five  B-29's,  with  fifteen  crewmen  dead  and 
two  missing,  as  more  than  offset  by  the  experience  gained  by  the  crews 
and  the  data  obtained  on  B-29's  flying  under  combat  conditions.  Stra- 
tegic results  were  less  gratifying:  bombing  had  been  spotty.  Photo 
reconnaissance  on  8  June  showed  that  some  sixteen  or  eighteen  GP's 
had  fallen  within  the  target  area,  a  few  smack  on  the  aiming  point,  the 
erecting  and  boiler  shops.  Four  other  bomb  plots  appeared  at  distances 
of  7,000  to  10,000  feet.  The  damage,  to  quote  the  tactical  mission  re- 
port, would  cause  "no  noticeable  decrease  in  the  flow  of  troops  and 
military  supplies  into  Burma.'"^  But  XX  Bomber  Command  had  come 
out  of  its  first  test  not  too  badly,  and  there  was  little  time  for  holding 
post-mortems  on  the  Bangkok  shakedown. 

On  6  June,  before  all  the  errant  B-29's  had  been  rounded  up,  Wolfe 
received  an  urgent  message  from  Arnold:  the  JCS  wanted  an  attack 
on  Japan  proper  to  relieve  pressure  in  east  China,  where  the  Changsha 
drive  was  threatening  Chennault's  forward  airfields,  and  to  assist  an 
"important  operation"  in  the  Pacific.  A  maximum  effort  was  needed: 
how  many  bombers  could  Wolfe  lay  on  by  15  June?  by  20  June?^^ 
Previous  policy  had  been  to  delay  the  first  strike,  and  each  subsequent 
"maximum  effort,"  until  the  Chengtu  stockpile  could  support  a  hun- 
dred sorties,  and  Wolfe  had  tentatively  set  D-day  at  23  June.^^  Ar- 
nold's message  indicated  an  emergency  compromise  and  perhaps  some 
impatience,  and  it  caught  XX  Bomber  Command  at  an  embarrassing 
time.  Stockpiling  had  lagged  behind  schedule  from  the  start.  The 
Bangkok  mission  had  interrupted  freighting  by  the  tactical  B-29's,  and 
on  4  June  General  Stilwell,  invoking  emergency  powers  vested  in  him 
by  the  JCS,  had  diverted  from  MATTERHORN  to  Chennault  the 
Hump  tonnage  (1,500  tons  per  month)  guaranteed  by  ATC;  Chiang 
Kai-shek  had  even  wished  Stilwell  to  take  over  the  existing  stockpile.* 

In  view  of  these  circumstances,  Wolfe  replied  that  he  could  put 
fifty  planes  over  the  target  by  15  June,  fifty-five  by  the  20th.^^  Those 
figures  did  not  satisfy  Arnold,  who  insisted  on  a  minimum  of  seventy 
B-29's  for  the  earlier  date  and  called  for  more  intensive  transport  ef- 
forts.^* But  it  was  not  only  a  matter  of  laying  down  fuel  at  Chengtu; 
Kharagpur  could  equip  only  eighty-six  Superforts  with  the  bomb-bay 
tanks  needed  for  the  long  flight  to  Japan,  and  of  that  number  some 
twenty-odd,  on  past  performance,  would  fail  to  leave  the  forward 

•  See  above,  p.  87. 

98 


XX  BOMBER   COMMAND   AGAINST  JAPAN 

area,  others  fail  to  bomb.^^  Wolfe  nevertheless  pushed  his  crews  on 
the  Hump  line,  cut  down  fuel  consumption  in  the  forward  area,  and 
put  the  312th  Fighter  Wing  on  a  dangerously  meager  ration  of  gas.* 
Meanwhile,  maintenance  units  and  crews  worked  overtime  to  condi- 
tion as  many  B-29's  as  possible.^^ 

Staging  to  the  forward  area  began  on  1 3  June  and  was  completed 
only  shortly  before  H-hour  on  the  15th.  Of  ninety-two  B-29's  leaving 
Bengal,  seventy-nine  reached  the  China  bases;  one  plane  with  crew 
was  lost  en  route.  With  four  bombers  already  forward,  this  gave 
Wolfe  a  potential  striking  force  of  eighty-three.  Staging  bases  were 
assigned  as  follows:  40th  Group,  Hsinching;  444th,  Kwanghan;  462d, 
Chiung-Lai;  468th,  Pengshan.^^ 

The  mission  directive,  dated  7  June,  had  designated  as  primary  tar- 
get the  Imperial  Iron  and  Steel  Works  at  Yawata.  This  plant,  most 
important  single  objective  within  Japan's  steel  industry,  had  long  held 
top  priority  for  the  first  strike,  and  although  Hansell  preferred  An- 
shan,  in  Manchuria,  as  more  vulnerable,  the  existing  priority  held.^® 
This  choice,  as  well  as  the  timing,  was  influenced  by  the  "important 
operation"  in  the  Pacific,  which  turned  out  to  be  the  assault  on  Saipan. 
It  was  fitting  that  the  B-29's  give  indirect  help  in  the  capture  of  a  base 
area  earmarked  for  their  use,  and  a  blow  at  a  target  on  the  island  of 
Kyushu  should  prove  more  effective  in  that  respect  than  one  against 
the  Manchurian  city.  But  Yawata  was  important  enough  without  tac- 
tical considerations.  Target  folders  estimated  Imperial's  annual  pro- 
duction at  2,250,000  metric  tons  of  rolled  steel— 24  per  cent  of  Japan's 
total.  This  output  was  dependent  upon  three  coke  plants,  of  which 
the  largest  (the  Minato-Machi  with  a  capacity  of  1,784,000  metric 
tons  a  year)  was  designated  aiming  point.  The  secondary  target  was 
Laoyao  harbor,  outlet  for  much  coking  coal,  manganese,  and  phos- 
phates.^® 

The  B-29's  left  Bengal  battle-loaded,  requiring  only  refueling  in 
China.  Each  plane  carried  two  tons  of  500-pound  GP's,  considered 
powerful  enough  to  disrupt  the  fragile  coke  ovens  by  direct  hit  or 
blast.  Washington,  believing  the  B-29's  lacked  range  for  a  formation 
flight  to  Yawata  and  back,  about  3,200  statute  miles,  had  ordered  a 
night  mission  with  planes  bombing  individually.^^  Bombing  was  to  be 
done  from  two  levels,  8,000  to  10,000  feet  and  14,000  to  18,000  feet, 
and  each  group  was  to  send  out  a  few  minutes  in  advance  of  the  main 

•  See  above,  pp.  88-89. 


99 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


flight  two  Pathfinder  planes  to  light  up  the  target.  Take-off  time  was 
set  at  1630  which  would  put  the  planes  over  enemy-held  territory 
only  during  darkness.^^ 

Everyone  who  could  get  orders  cut  and  thumb  a  ride  headed  for 
China.  Stringent  regulations  imposed  by  the  gas  shortage  prevented  a 
wholesale  exodus  from  Kharagpur,  but  many  a  staff  officer  found  ur- 
gent business  in  the  Chengtu  area  and  eight  general  officers  had  gath- 
ered there  by  D-day.  Hitchhiking  on  to  Yawata  was  harder,  Wolfe, 
himself  grounded  for  the  mission  by  Washington  but  with  full  power 
otherwise  over  the  passenger  list,  was  chary  with  passes  for  the  big 
brass:  "Blondie"  Saunders,  in  command  of  his  wing's  first  mission,  was 
the  only  general  to  make  the  grade.  Eight  correspondents  and  three 
news  photographers  went  along,  briefed  on  Yawata  and  well  primed 
with  "background"  after  Bangkok." 

Take-off  began  a  few  minutes  early,  at  16 16.  Two  groups  approxi- 
mated the  scheduled  two-minute  intervals  between  departures,  but  the 
other  two  were  quite  slow  in  getting  off.  Seventy -five  B-29's  were 
dispatched,  sixty-eight  airborne.  One  crashed  immediately  but  with 
no  casualties,  and  four  were  forced  back  by  mechanical  failures.  Indi- 
vidual planes  had  little  trouble  in  following  the  outward  course,  a  long 
straight  haul  with  only  a  single  turn  near  the  IP,  Okino  Island,  which 
was  readily  identified  on  the  radar  scope.^^ 

At  2338  (China  time)  the  first  B-29  over  the  target  gave  the  signal 
"Betty,"  meaning  "bombs  away  with  less  than  5/10  cloud,"  but  Ya- 
wata was  perfectly  blacked  out  and  haze  or  smoke  helped  obscure  the 
city.  Only  fifteen  planes  bombed  visually  while  thirty-two  sighted  by 
radar.  Crewmen  saw  explosions  but  could  not  locate  them  in  refer- 
ence to  the  aiming  point.^*  The  enemy  was  alerted  long  before  the  first 
Superfort  arrived.  Returning  correspondents  gave  vivid  firsthand  de- 
scriptions of  the  battle  over  Yawata,  but  it  was  not  a  vicious  fight.^' 
Sixteen  enemy  fighters  were  counted  by  crewmen  but  only  three  fired 
at  the  bombers,  and  they  scored  no  hits.  The  Japanese  put  up  heavy 
flak  and  automatic-weapons  fire,  both  inaccurate,  to  give  minor  injury 
to  six  B-29's.  Searchlights,  though  spectacular  and  bothersome,  gave 
little  help  to  AA  gunners.^® 

Forty-seven  Superforts  over  Yawata  jibed  pretty  well  with  Wolfe's 
original  estimate  of  fifty,  and  the  rest  of  the  sixty-eight  airborne  could 
be  accounted  for  by  the  sort  of  operational  calculus  he  had  used.  Be- 
sides the  four  aborting  and  the  crack-up  at  Pengshan,  there  had  been 

100 


XX   BOMBER   COMMAND   AGAINST  JAPAN 


a  crash  near  Kiangyu,  cause  unknown,  which  wiped  out  the  whole 
crew.  Six  other  planes  had  jettisoned  their  bombs  because  of  mechani- 
cal difficulties,  two  had  bombed  the  secondary  target  at  Laoyao,  and 
five  had  bombed  targets  of  opportunity."  Two  planes  of  the  468th 
Group  were  listed  missing  but  were  later  tracked  down  with  great 
difficulty  by  search  parties  led  by  Capt.  H.  M.  Berry.  Both  had 
crashed,  killing  all  on  board  including  Robert  Schenkel,  a  Newsiveek 
correspondent.^® 

The  only  known  combat  loss  occurred  during  the  return  flight: 
Capt.  Robert  Root's  B-29  developed  engine  trouble,  and  about  dawn 
he  put  the  plane  down  at  Neihsiang,  a  friendly  Chinese  airfield  near 
the  battle  lines.  He  called  in  the  clear  for  U.S.  fighter  cover  and  with 
Chinese  aid  tried  to  get  his  bomber  ready  for  flight  again.  His  message 
brought  no  Americans  but  more  than  enough  Japs.  Within  half  an 
hour  their  fighters  appeared,  then  their  bombers,  and  after  a  few  un- 
hurried passes  they  left  Root's  plane  a  smoldering  ruin.  The  crew,  two 
of  them  wounded,  were  rescued  by  a  B-25  from  Hsinching.  Harry 
Zinder  of  Time^  who  had  ridden  with  them  to  Yawata  and  had  been 
reported  missing  along  with  Schenkel,  arrived  with  the  crew  in  time 
to  file  a  delayed  story,^^  One  other  loss,  not  officially  charged  to  the 
mission,  was  a  B-29  reconnaissance  plane  which  crashed  when  going 
out  to  photograph  bomb  damage.  In  all,  the  command  had  lost  seven 
planes  and  fifty-five  men  without  much  enemy  activity.*" 

A  diversionary  raid  against  enemy  airfields  by  the  Fourteenth  had 
been  scheduled  but  was  thwarted  by  weather."*^  In  spite  of  earlier  fears, 
the  Japanese  made  no  retaliatory  attack  on  the  Chengtu  fields.  This 
was  fortunate.  Wolfe  had  elected  to  cut  back  gas  deliveries  to  the 
3 1 2th  Wing  in  order  to  stage  his  maximum-effort  mission,  and  in  or- 
der to  get  all  his  planes  back  to  India  he  had  to  borrow  1 5 ,000  gallons 
from  the  fighters'  limited  supply,*^  On  the  ground  for  several  days, 
the  B-29's  offered  a  fat  target,  but  the  enemy's  lethargy  justified  the 
gamble. 

Photos  made  by  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  on  18  June  indicated  that 
bomb  damage  at  Yawata  had  been  unimportant.  Only  one  hit  had 
been  registered  on  Imperial's  sprawling  shops  and  that  was  on  a  power 
house  3,700  feet  from  the  coke  ovens.  Some  damage  had  been  done  to 
Kokura  Arsenal,  to  miscellaneous  industrial  buildings,  and  to  business- 
industrial  areas,  which  were  referred  to  as  "hospitals  and  schools"  in 
the  Japanese  reports.  The  steel  industry,  prime  strategic  target,  was 

lOI 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

Still  unhurt.*^  Indirect  results,  the  intangibles  of  war,  were  certainly- 
more  considerable,  if  incalculable.  Timed  with  the  Saipan  assault,  the 
first  appearance  of  U.S.  planes  over  Japan  since  the  Doolittle  raid 
brought  home  to  ill-informed  Japanese  citizens  something  of  the  real- 
ities of  the  war.  Enemy  radio  reaction  was  sharp  enough  to  indicate 
deep  concern.  The  size  of  the  attacking  force  was  minimized  and 
claims  of  B-29's  (and  B-24's!)  shot  down  were  headlined.  There  was 
one  curious  report,  a  broadcast  claiming  the  destruction  of  a  B-29  and 
capture  of  its  crew  consisting  of  six  lieutenant  colonels  and  a  major— 
a  lot  of  rank  even  for  a  Superfortress!  Names,  ranks,  and  hometowns 
were  given  accurately,  the  only  error  being  that  none  of  the  alleged 
POW's  had  been  on  the  mission.  It  took  a  lot  of  hasty  telegraphing  in 
the  States  to  reassure  next-of-kin.** 

In  the  United  States  interest  was  more  nearly  consonant  with  the 
"firstness"  of  the  mission  than  with  its  intrinsic  importance.  Once  the 
bombs-away  signal  had  been  flashed,  Washington  headquarters  had 
received  a  blow-by-blow  account  of  the  mission  in  a  long  series  of 
cables  which  were  relayed  to  Arnold,  then  in  London.^^  Next  day, 
still  1 5  June  by  U.S.  time,  the  Yawata  strike  and  the  public  announce- 
ment of  the  existence  of  the  Twentieth  Air  Force  competed  with 
news  of  the  Normandy  beachhead  in  the  headlines.  If  reports  of  this 
and  other  early  B-29  strikes  sometimes  gave  an  overly  optimistic  im- 
pression, the  fault  did  not  lie  with  the  Twentieth's  public  relations 
officers.  The  peculiar  command  system  had  dictated  a  policy  of  simul- 
taneous releases  by  the  Washington  headquarters  and  by  Kharagpur, 
through  Stilwell,  and  there  was  inevitably  some  friction  in  its  applica- 
tion.*** But  in  respect  to  tone  the  Twentieth  had  profited  again  by 
early  experience  of  the  Eighth  Air  Force,  whose  glowing  headlines 
had  sometimes  backfired.  Communiques  were  factual  and  XX 
Bomber  Command  PRO's  were  cautioned  to  hew  to  the  line  in  re- 
leases to  the  press.  Background  materials  should  stress  JCS  control  of 
the  B-29  ^he  importance  of  the  air-ground-sea  team,  rather  than 
individuals,  in  ultimate  victory.  All  concerned  should  use  "extreme 
care"  against  overemphasis  of  B-29  accomplishments,  recognizing  that 
the  plane  and  its  organization  were  still  in  an  experimental  stage,  and 
extravagances  such  as  **the  Wolfe  pack"  and  "the  dodo  bird  becoming 
an  eagle"  were  to  be  eschewed.*^  Unfortunately,  this  sound  policy  had 
little  effect  on  headline  writers  stateside,  and  conscientious  reporters 
in  the  field  often  found  their  factual  stories  blown  up  by  rewrite  men 

102 


XX   BOMBER   COMMAND   AGAINST  JAPAN 

at  home.  But,  for  15  June  there  was  news  enough  without  inflation. 
Yawata  (ADMEASURE  I  to  the  encoders)  was  no  great  blow  but 
was  an  earnest  of  what  was  to  come. 

Two  days  after  the  Yawata  show  General  Arnold  informed  Wolfe 
that,  despite  the  depleted  fuel  stocks  in  China,  it  was  "essential"  to  in- 
crease pressure  against  Japan.  Immediate  objectives  were:  a  major 
daylight  attack  on  Anshan,  small  harassing  raids  against  the  home  is- 
lands, and  a  strike  against  Palembang  from  Ceylon.  When  Arnold 
asked  for  an  estimate  of  the  command's  capabilities,  Wolfe's  reply  was 
none  too  hopeful.^^  With  low  storage  tanks  at  Chengtu  (on  2 1  June 
XX  Bornber  Command  had  there  only  5,000  gallons)  he  could  not 
with  his  own  resources  build  up  for  an  all-out  mission  to  Anshan  be- 
fore 10  August;  if  ATC  would  deliver  1,500  tons  for  the  command  in 
July,  he  could  mount  the  mission  by  20  August.  Ceylon  fields  would 
not  be  ready  before  1 5  July,  and  either  the  Palembang  mission  or  the 
night  raids  would  delay  the  Anshan  attack.*^ 

In  spite  of  Wolfe's  cautious  estimate,  Arnold  on  27  June  issued  a 
new  target  directive  calling  for  a  15 -plane  night  raid  over  Japan 
between  i  and  10  July,  a  minimum  of  100  planes  against  An- 
shan between  20  and  30  July,  and  a  50-plane  mission  to  Palembang 
as  soon  as  Ceylon  airfields  were  ready.  To  meet  this  schedule,  Wolfe 
was  admonished  to  improve  radically  the  operations  of  C-46's  and 
B-29's  on  the  Hump  run.^°  Washington's  judgment  of  maintenance 
and  operations  standards  was  based  on  records  of  the  Second  Air 
Force  in  the  United  States  which  Wolfe  did  not  think  realistic.  He 
outlined  conditions  necessary  for  fulfilling  the  directive:  build-up  of 
his  B-29  force  and  a  flat  guarantee  of  ATC  Hump  tonnage."  Even 
when  it  was  decided  that  the  command  would  get  back  its  1,500  tons 
for  July,  Wolfe's  operational  plan  of  30  June  set  up  the  Anshan  mis- 
sion for  50  to  60  B-29's,  not  loo." 

Arnold  received  this  plan  on  i  July.^^  On  the  4th  General  Wolfe 
was  ordered  to  proceed  immediately  to  Washington  to  take  over  an 
"important  command  assignment,"  and  two  days  later  he  departed, 
leaving  General  Saunders  temporarily  in  command  at  Kharagpur.^* 
Coming  as  it  did  after  repeated  delays  in  getting  the  B-29  ^^^^  J^P^n 
and  at  a  time  when  Wolfe's  estimates  were  consistently  under  those 
entertained  by  the  Twentieth  Air  Force  staff,  this  transfer  had  some- 
thing of  the  appearance  of  a  kick  upstairs.  Wolfe,  with  no  combat  ex- 
perience but  with  an  excellent  engineering  background  and  a  thor- 

103 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


ough  knowledge  of  the  B-29,  had  been  a  natural  selection  for  the  job 
of  shaking  down  the  plane.  Now  that  a  high-level  reorganization  was 
in  process  at  Wright  Field,  he  was  going  back  to  head  the  Materiel 
Command,  which  would  carry  two  stars;  his  experience  with  the  B-29 
under  combat  conditions  would  be  invaluable  in  his  new  primary  mis- 
sion of  expediting  production  and  improvements  of  that  plane.  Ar- 
nold's own  opinion  may  be  best  found  in  a  letter  to  Spaatz  some 
months  later:  "With  all  due  respect  to  Wolfe  he  did  his  best,  and  he 
did  a  grand  job,  but  LeMay's  operations  make  Wolfe's  very  arqa- 
teurish/'^'^ 

The  change  in  command  had  no  effect  on  the  first  July  mission,  the 
small  night  raid  ordered  by  Arnold.  D-day,  7  July,  marked  the  sev- 
enth anniversary  of  the  Sino- Japanese  "incident"  and  Chinese  consid- 
ered the  choice  of  that  day  a  courteous  gesture.  In  truth,  however,  it 
had  been  determined  by  moon  phase,  weather,  and  modification  of 
camera-carrying  B-29's,  not  inter- Allied  comity.*^  Because  the  main 
intent  was  to  impress  the  enemy  with  an  early  follow-up  on  the  Ya- 
wata  strike,  the  small  force  of  B-29's  was  to  be  split  over  Kyushu: 
primary  targets  included  the  naval  dockyards  and  arsenal  at  Sasebo, 
the  Akunoura  Engine  Works  at  Nagasaki,  the  aircraft  factory  at 
Omura,  and  steel  works  in  the  Yawata-Tobata  area;  Laoyao  harbor, 
as  before,  was  last  resort  target.  Two  B-29's  were  assigned  the  task  of 
photographing  the  Miike  Dyestuffs  Plant  at  Omuta  and  all  other 
planes  carried  nine  photo-flash  bombs  in  addition  to  their  eight  500- 
pound  CP's." 

Between  5  and  7  July  twenty-four  B-29's  assembled  at  the  forward 
bases,  and  eighteen  took  off  from  Chma  on  the  afternoon  of  the  7th, 
One  aborted  with  engine  trouble,  but  seventeen  |Dombed  some  target. 
Eleven  planes  dropped  in  the  general  area  of  Sasebo,  but  a  twelfth.  Its 
radar  dead,  was  oS  by  fifteen  miles.  Single  planes  struck  at  Omura- 
Omuta  and  at  Tobata,  while  the  B-29  sent  at  Yawata  bombed  instead 
the  secondary  target  at  Laoyao.  Two  others,  with  fuel-transfer  trou- 
ble, turned  back  to  bomb  Hankow,  one  missing  it  by  twenty  miles. 
Crewmen  saw  explosions  in  all  the  areas  bombed,  but  because  of  un- 
dercast  and  defective  photo-flash  bombs,  intelligence  officers  could 
learn  little  about  damage  from  the  strike  photos/®  Certainly  the  mis- 
sion achieved  no  great  amount  of  destruction,  but  it  may  have  accom- 
plished its  main  objective  by  demonstrating  to  the  Japanese  the  vul- 
nerability of  Kyushu.  In  any  event,  the  mission  was  cheap:  no  plane 

104 


XX    BOMBER   COMMAND   AGAINST  JAPAN 

was  hit  by  flak  and  only  one  received  minor  damage  from  eight  Os- 
cars and  Tonys  which  attacked  over  occupied  China.  All  seventeen 
effective  sorties  got  back  to  the  Chengtu  bases  safely  and,  thereafter, 
to  Bengal/*' 

This  was  fortunate,  for  every  plane  would  be  needed  for  the  **max- 
imum  effort"  against  Anshan.  Arnold  on  5  July  had  issued  a  supple- 
ment to  the  July  target  directive,  specifically  in  regard  to  the  Anshan 
and  Palembang  missions.^  Saunders  would  have  preferred  a  night  go 
at  Anshan,  but  on  the  7th  Washington  reiterated  the  demand  for  a 
loo-plane  precision  daylight  attack,  which  must  be  done  in  July.^^ 
Saunders,  who  based  his  estimates  on  "a  realistic  analysis  of  condi- 
tions," thought  he  could  squeeze  in  the  Anshan  strike  on  the  30th  by 
postponing  Palembang  until  mid- August;  Ceylon  fields  would  hardly 
be  ready  in  July  anyhow.^^ 

One  group  commander  described  the  command's  alternation  of 
transport  and  combat  operations  as  "getting  money  in  the  bank  and 
then  having  our  spree. "^'^  This  time  the  bank  would  support  a  real  Sat- 
urday night  bust,  for  July  was  to  prove  a  banner  month  for  Hump 
tonnage.  The  bomber  command  got  976  tons  from  ATC  and  itself 
hauled  1,162  in  C-46^s,  1,063  in  tactical  B-29's,  and  753  in  6-29  tankers, 
for  a  total  of  3,954  tons.^^  The  real  shortage  was  in  planes,  not  in  fuel. 
Washington  was  promising  substantial  reinforcements,  but  with  some 
B-29's  converted  into  tankers,  Saunders  would  have  on  D-day  only 
127  combat  planes  in  the  theater.*^^  To  get  enough  of  these  into  com- 
mission and  at  the  forward  bases  to  launch  a  i  oo-plane  attack  would 
tax  his  maintenance  facilities.  He  proposed  to  knock  off  Hump  oper- 
ations ten  days  before  D-day  (instead  of  seven  days  as  for  Yawata) 
and  to  start  staging  forward  on  D  minus  5,  giving  time  for  aborts  from 
Bengal  bases  to  be  repaired  and  redispatched,  and  for  adequate  main- 
tenance in  China.  This  procedure,  and  his  suggestion  to  stage  back 
more  leisurely  than  before,  increased  the  danger  of  Japanese  counter- 
attacks on  the  Chengtu  fields  but  Washington  indorsed  his  plan.^^  The 
scheme  paid  off,  and  without  drawing  the  retaliatory  raids  which 
Chennault  feared.  The  B-29's  started  moving  forward  on  25  July,  and 
by  the  29th,  106  had  landed  at  the  China  bases.  One  plane  had 
crashed  near  Midnapore,  killing  8  crewmen — but  only  4  of  the  1 1 1 
bombers  dispatched  from  the  rear  area  had  been  stopped  short  of 
China  by  mechanical  troubles  and  107  were  available  for  the  strike.®^ 

Primary  target  was  the  Showa  Steel  Works  at  Anshan  in  Manchu- 


105 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


ria— specifically,  the  company's  Anshan  Coke  Plant,  producing  annu- 
ally 3,793,000  metric  tons  of  metallurgical  coke,  approximately  one- 
third  of  the  Empire's  total.  About  half  of  this  was  used  by  Showa's 
own  steel  works,  second  in  size  only  to  Imperial's,  and  the  rest  for 
various  industrial  purposes  in  Manchuria,  Korea,  and  Japan.  Alternate 
targets  tied  in.  The  secondary  was  Chinwangtao  harbor  whence  cok- 
ing coal  from  the  great  Kailan  mines  was  exported  to  Japan.  Tertiary 
target  was  Taku  harbor  near  Tientsin,  which  handled  coal,  iron  ore, 
and  pig  iron.  As  last  resort,  bombers  were  to  hit  the  railroad  yards  at 
Chenghsien,  a  possible  bottleneck  along  a  Japanese  supply  route.  Aim- 
ing point  at  Anshan,  as  at  Yawata,  was  to  be  a  battery  of  coke  pvens^ 
and  again  the  bomb  load  was  set  at  eight  500-pound  GFs  per  pl^e.^^ 

With  a  change  in  weather  threatened,  D-day  was  moved  up  to  29 
July.  Rain  during  the  previous  night  mired  the  runway  at  Kwanghan 
and  the  444th  Group  was  unable  to  get  off  the  ground  at  H-hour,  but 
the  other  three  groups  got  seventy-two  planes  up  out  of  seventy-nine 
dispatched.  One  B-29  fell  a  few  minutes  later,  killing  eight  crewmen. 
Mechanical  difficulties  prevented  eleven  bombers  from  reaching 
Anshan,  of  which  one  bombed  Chinwangtao,  two  Chenghsien,  four 
targets  of  opportunity,  and  four  failed  to  bomb.^  Sixty  B-29's,  flying 
high  over  enemy-held  territory,  got  over  Anshan.  Most  of  them  were 
able  to  hold  the  tight  four-plane  diamond  formation  and  to  bomb 
from  altitudes  reasonably  close  to  the  designated  25,000  feet.  Bomb- 
ing conditions  as  they  went  in  were  nearly  ideal,  with  clear  skies  and 
still  air,  but  the  first  wave  messed  things  up  by  dropping  a  stick  of 
bombs  on  a  by-products  plant  just  off  the  aiming  point,  which  was 
thereafter  shrouded  with  a  thick  pall  of  smoke."^**  Despite  Anshan's  im- 
portance, enemy  opposition  was  not  too  rugged.  Heavy  flak  caused 
but  minor  damage  to  a  few  B-29's  and  fighters  scored  only  two  un- 
important hits.  The  Superfort's  speed  in  the  bomb  run,  182  to  212 
m.p.h.  indicated,  made  it  hard  for  fighters  to  jockey  into  position  for 
a  shot,  and  there  was  no  determined  boring  in.  The  B-29  gunners 
claimed  three  probables  and  four  damaged.^^ 

The  only  combat  loss  occurred  near  the  last  resort  target.  Capt. 
Robert  T.  Mills'  B-29,  losing  power  in  its  No.  2  engine  on  the  way 
out,  shook  out  its  bomb  load  over  Chenghsien.  Wounded  there  by 
heavy  flak,  the  plane  was  jjumped  by  five  enemy  fighters,  including  a 
P-40  with  a  Chinese-AmeHcan  Composite  Wing  (CACW)  insignia, 
which  shot  out  another  en^e.  Mills  gave  the  "abandon  plane"  com- 

106 


XX  BOMBER  COMMAND  AGAINST  JAPAN 

mand.  Eight  men  (not  including  Mills)  parachuted  into  occupied 
China  and  with  the  aid  of  Chinese  guerrillas  walked  out,  reaching 
Chengtu  a  month  later Chinese  also  helped  save  another  B-29  which, 
after  bombing  Chinwangtao,  had  made  a  forced  landing  at  a  CACW 
field  near  Ankang.  The  plane  was  on  the  ground  for  five  days  while 
an  engine,  spare  parts,  tools,  and  mechanics  came  in  by  C-46  from 
Hsinching  to  ejff ect  an  engine  change  and  other  repairs.  Air  cover  was 
furnished  by  Fourteenth  Air  Force  fighters,  who  shot  down  a  Lily 
bomber  during  a  night  attack.  With  full  assistance  from  the  Chinese 
and  American  garrisons  at  Ankang,  the  B-29  took  off  on  3  August  and 
returned  to  Chiung-Lai/^ 

On  D-day  the  wet  strip  at  Kwanghan  had  dried  enough  by  ten 
o'clock  for  the  444th  to  get  twenty-four  planes  up.  Nearly  five  hours 
behind  schedule,  the  group  was  too  late  for  Anshan  and  so  headed  for 
Taku.  Sixteen  planes  bombed  there  without  any  interference  from 
the  enemy;  three  bombed  Chenghsien.'* 

The  day's  work,  if  not  perfectly  executed,  was  at  least  heartening 
to  the  command.  Ninety-six  B-29's  had  been  airborne  in  a  close  ap- 
proximation of  the  loo-sortie  mission  directed.  Eighty  planes  had 
reached  target  areas,  and  though  mechanical  and  personnel  failures 
had  kept  the  weight  of  bombs  dropped  to  73  per  cent  of  that  dis- 
patched, the  bombing  looked  good.  A  comparison  of  strike  photos 
and  photographs  taken  by  Fourteenth  Air  Force  planes  on  4  August 
seemed  to  indicate  a  substantial  amount  of  damage  at  Anshan,  includ- 
ing hits  and  near  misses  on  several  coke-oven  batteries,  other  related 
installations,  and  the  by-products  plant.  Damage  at  Taku  and  Cheng- 
hsien  too  seemed  substantial.  The  command  had  learned  much  about 
running  a  daylight  mission,  and  all  in  all,  the  loss  of  five  B-29's  (three 
in  China,  two  between  India  and  China)  seemed  not  exorbitant,^® 

The  fifth  and  sixth  MATTERHORN  missions  were  run  on  the 
night  of  10/ 1 1  August  in  a  double-barreled  strike  at  Palembang  in 
Sumatra  and  Nagasaki  in  Kyushu,  3,000  miles  apart.  Palembang  had 
been  accepted  as  a  target  by  the  CCS  at  Cairo,  and  in  the  schedule  of 
operations  adopted  by  the  Joint  Chiefs  in  April  it  had  enjoyed  high 
priority  as  the  only  important  POL  target  named.*  Because  of  the 
extreme  range  of  the  target  and  the  necessity  of  staging  through  an 
RAF  base  at  Ceylon,  the  mission  involved  more  planning  and  pre- 
liminary activities  (save  in  the  matter  of  fuel,  which  was  furnished  by 

*  See  above,  pp.  29-31. 


107 


THE   ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 

the  British)  than  any  flown  by  the  command,  and  in  execution  the 
operational  success  outweighed  the  strategic  results  obtained. 

According  to  target  information  available  in  early  spring,  the  Plad- 
joe  refinery  at  Palembang  had  seemed  to  be  of  highest  strategic  im- 
portance. With  a  reputed  annual  capacity  of  20,460,000  barrels  of 
crude  oil,  it  was  supposed  to  produce  22  per  cent  of  Japan's  fuel  oil 
and  78  per  cent  of  its  aviation  gasoline.  Shortage  of  tankers  limited  the 
amount  of  avgas  that  could  be  delivered  to  active  fronts  and  pre- 
vented export  of  any  of  the  motor  gas  produced  concomitantly,  but 
destruction  of  Pladjoe  would  put  a  serious  crimp  in  Japanese  military 
and  naval  operations.^^  By  mid-June  some  agencies  had  revised  that 
appraisal.  In  Washington  AC/ AS,  Intelligence  and  the  COA,  neither 
eager  about  the  target  earlier,  thought  that  the  changing  tactical  sit- 
uation in  the  Pacific  and  the  increasing  shortage  of  enemy  bottoms 
had  robbed  Pladjoe  of  its  paramount  importance.  XX  Bomber  Com- 
mand would  have  been  quite  happy  to  scratch  a  nasty  mission  which 
promised  to  hamper  the  prime  effort  against  coke  and  steel  objectives, 
but  the  JCS  held  firm:  Arnold  included  Palembang  in  the  target  di- 
rective for  July,  ordering  that  the  mission  be  flown  as  soon  as  the  Cey- 
lon fields  were  ready," 

Active  planning  for  the  mission,  begun  in  May,  had  been  compli- 
cated by  those  delays  in  airfield  construction  which  have  already  been 
described.*  During  June  and  July,  officers  from  XX  Bomber  Com- 
mand, from  AAF  IBS,  and  from  the  CBI  staff  worked  with  the  Brit- 
ish in  Ceylon  to  perfect  arrangements.  Earlier  plans  to  use  four,  then 
two,  staging  fields  were  abandoned  as  construction  lagged;  it  was  fi- 
nally decided  to  complete  only  one  field,  China  Bay,  and  to  run  the 
whole  mission  through  it.  This  involved  extending  facilities  to  two- 
group  standards,  with  a  fifty-six-point  fueling  system  (brought  in  on 
loan  from  the  CBI),  fifty-six  hardstands,  and  extra  taxiways.  Succes- 
sive delays  in  this  additional  construction  kept  Palembang  off  the  July 
schedule,  but  with  completion  assured  by  4  August  Arnold  set  a  15 
August  deadline  and  the  loth  was  finally  named  as  D-day.^® 

Washington  had  stipulated  a  daylight  precision  attack  at  the  com- 
mand's nominal  strength,  112  aircraft.  With  only  one  field  available, 
this  would  have  meant  staging  in  waves,  a  very  ticklish  job  where  mi- 
nor variations  from  a  tight  schedule  could  spell  disaster.  Warned  of 
probable  high  losses,  Twentieth  Air  Force  Headquarters  had  relented 

•See  above,  pp.  71-73. 

108 


XX   BOMBER   COMMAND   AGAINST  JAPAN 

and  on  27  June  directed  a  dawn  or  dusk  strike  by  at  least  fifty  planes/^ 
Further  negotiations  by  XX  Bomber  Command  effected  other 
changes  in  the  directive  so  that  the  operational  plan  finally  adopted 
called  for  a  night  radar  attack/^  Part  of  the  force,  briefed  by  a  USN 
expert,  was  to  mine  the  Moesi  River,  through  which  all  Palembang's 
exports  were  shipped;  secondary  target  was  the  Pangkalan  refinery 
and  last  resort  target  was  the  Indarung  Cement  Plant  at  Parang,  both 
in  Sumatra/^  Field  orders  to  effect  these  plans  were  completed  on 
I  August,  and  final  preparations  were  rushed  through  with  the 
friendly  cooperation  of  the  British.  Fuel  for  the  mission  and  construc- 
tion costs  might  be  charged  on  reverse  lend-lease  accounts,  but  the 
RAF  went  far  beyond  the  bare  essentials,  virtually  giving  over  the 
base  to  the  Americans,  with  housing,  messes,  transportation,  and  with 
available  whiskey  rations  and  best  wishes  thrown  in.^^ 

On  the  afternoon  of  9  August  fifty-six  B-29's  landed  on  China  Bay's 
7,200-foot  strip  and  wheeled  onto  allotted  hardstands,  directed  in 
without  radio  and  without  an  error  by  a  control  team  recruited  from 
XX  Bomber  Command.  Next  afternoon  at  1645  a  plane  from  the  46 2d 
Group  pulled  up  off  the  runway,  and  within  eighty-four  minutes 
fifty-four  B-29's  were  airborne  with  only  one  washout,  a  remarkable 
bit  of  flying  on  a  strange  and  crowded  field.  Forty  minutes  later  Capt. 
I.  V.  Matthews'  B-29  returned  with  a  leaky  engine,  got  patched  up, 
and  was  again  winging  for  Sumatra  within  a  couple  of  hours.®^ 

The  bombers,  proceeding  individually,  flew  a  straight  track  to  Si- 
beroet  Island  just  below  the  equator,  then  bore  eastward  across  Su- 
matra. A  dozen  planes  failed,  for  various  reasons,  to  reach  a  target,  but 
two  bombed  Pangkalanbrandan,  one  an  airdrome  at  Djambi,  and 
thirty-nine  reached  their  goal.**  Palembang  had  no  lights  and  some 
undercast,  and  the  one  B-29  equipped  with  flares  miscarried,  but 
thirty-one  planes  bombed  either  by  radar  or  visually  through  patch 
clouds.  Crewmen  later  reported  having  seen  explosions  and  fires 
through  breaks  in  the  undercast,  but  their  fleeting  observations  were 
none  too  precise  and  the  strike  photos  were  too  poor  to  be  of  much 
service.®^  Eight  planes  of  the  462d  Group  found  clear  flying  over  the 
Moesi  by  dipping  under  a  1,000-foot  ceiling  and  laid  16  mines  in  a 
good  pattern  with  "excellent  results."®^  The  B-29's  met  antiaircraft 
fire  in  various  places  and,  for  the  first  time,  ground-to-air  rockets. 
Crewmen  reported  seeing  37  enemy  planes,  some  of  which  followed 
them  back  for  350  miles,  but  not  a  B-29  was  scratched." 


109 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

Nor  were  operational  losses  as  bad  as  had  been  feared.  The  mission 
had  been  coded  BOOMERANG,  perhaps  in  pious  hope  that  the 
planes  would  come  back  from  the  long  round  trip  of  3,855  air  miles  to 
Palembang,  4,030  to  the  Moesi.  Because  of  the  extreme  range  the  com- 
mand had  lightened  the  useful  load  to  a  single  ton  of  bombs  or  mines 
and  had  filled  gas  tanks  to  capacity;  even  so,  the  loss  of  some  planes 
on  the  return  trip  was  expected.  In  anticipation  the  British  had  set  up 
an  elaborate  air-sea  rescue  force  comprising  submarines,  a  cruiser,  de- 
stroyers, lighter  vessels,  and  various  aircraft  types.  Several  Superforts 
turned  back  without  bombing  because  of  threatened  fuel  shortages, 
but  only  one  went  down  at  sea,  and  there  rescue  precautions  paid  oS. 
The  B-29  sent  out  an  SOS  giving  its  position  ninety  miles  out  of 
China  Bay  and  somewhat  oiT  the  return  track.  An  intensive  search  was 
finally  successful  when  planes  and  HMS  Redoubt  homed  in  on  a 
"Gibson  girl"  signal  from  a  life  raft  on  the  morning  of  the  12th.  One 
gunner  had  been  killed  in  the  ditching  but  the  other  crewmen  were 
picked  up.^ 

Operationally  the  mission  had  been  very  successful;  the  skill  with 
which  it  had  been  planned  and  executed  was  indicative  of  what  XX 
Bomber  Command  had  learned  since  the  over-water  flight  to  Bangkok. 
The  command  had  never  been  keen  on  the  assignment,  and  Washing- 
ton's insistence  on  a  mission  which  under  existing  conditions  had  little 
chance  of  decisive  results  seems  now  to  indicate  a  lack  of  flexibility  in 
target  priorities.  The  attack  did  little  to  speed  the  war.  Photo  recon- 
naissance was  not  flown  until  19  September,  by  which  time  it  was  dif- 
ficult to  assess  bomb  damage  accurately,  but  it  appeared  that  in  spite 
of  earlier  impressionistic  reports  of  large  fires,  only  one  small  building 
destroyed  could  definitely  be  credited  to  the  strike.  That  and  several 
probables  were  small  returns  for  the  eif ort.®® 

This  disparity  between  eifort  and  results  XX  Bomber  Command 
realized,  and  on  24  August,  long  before  damage  assessment  had  been 
made,  the  command  recommended  the  abandonment  of  China  Bay  as 
a  staging  base.  Eventually  convinced,  Washington  on  3  October  gave 
permission  for  the  command  to  remove  all  its  own  equipment,  leaving 
behind  for  possible  future  use  the  fuel-service  system  which  belonged 
to  AAF  IBS.  But  the  B-29's  staged  no  other  raids  through  Ceylon. 
The  cost  of  developing  China  Bay  into  a  VHB  base  for  a  single  fruit- 
less mission,  whether  figured  in  terms  of  eff cart  and  materiel  or  funds, 
is  a  glaring  example  of  the  extravagance  of  war.®" 

no 


XX   BOMBER   COMMAND   AGAINST  JAPAN 

The  reduction  of  BOOMERANG  from  a  1 12-  to  a  56-sortie  mis^ 
sion  left  aircraft  available  for  a  strike  elsewhere.  Saunders  had  learned 
on  21  July  that  he  would  get  an  additional  1,500  tons  laid  down  in 
China  by  ATC  and  next  day  informed  Arnold  of  his  capabilities  for 
August:  a  small  night  incendiary  attack  on  Nagasaki  early  in  the 
month,  a  saturation  incendiary  attack  on  the  Yawata-Tobata  area  on 
the  20th,  and  a  daylight  strike  at  Anshan  on  the  30th— these  in  addi- 
tion to  Palembang.  Yawata-Tobata  and  Anshan  would  be  "major" 
efforts,  calculated  each  at  sixty-eight  planes  dispatched,  fifty-five  over 
target.  Washington  found  the  sortie  rate  ''gratifying"  but  the  effort 
too  diffuse,  and  was  willing  to  scratch  Nagasaki  to  add  weight  to  the 
other  missions.  This  Saunders  opposed,  and  on  28  July  Twentieth  Air 
Force  Headquarters  approved  his  schedule,  but  demanded  eighty 
planes  dispatched  on  the  major  strikes  instead  of  sixty-eight.^^ 

For  psychological  reasons  the  small  night  raid  was  synchronized 
with  the  Palembang  mission.  Nagasaki  was  to  be  chosen  as  target  for 
the  second  atom  bomb  (9  August  1945)  because  that  city  had  previ- 
ously suffered  little  from  air  attacks.  Yet  in  the  summer  of  1944  Naga- 
saki, with  its  crowded  shipyards,  docks,  and  military  installations,  car- 
ried high  priority  among  urban  industrial  area  objectives.  Because  of 
the  reputed  vulnerability  of  Japanese  cities  to  fires,  Twentieth  Air 
Force  planners  had  expected  to  combine  saturation  incendiary  at- 
tacks, delivered  by  night,  with  precision  bombing.  Somewhat  to  the 
concern  of  Washington,  the  bomber  command  had  so  far  relied 
wholly  upon  high-explosive  bombs;  now  Saunders  proposed  to  use  fire 
bombs  oil  Nagasaki,  which  Washington  earlier  estimated  could  be 
"saturated"  with  seventy-six  tons.^^  The  Point  Island  military  storage 
area  at  Shanghai  was  named  as  secondary  target  in  spite  of  the  possi- 
bility of  criticism  should  strays  hit  in  Chinese  residential  districts  or 
POW  camps  nearby,®^  The  Hankow  docks  were  chosen  as  last  resort 
target.  This  was  a  gesture  to  Chennault,  who  had  earlier  asked  that  the 
B-29's  hit  key  positions  in  the  Japanese  supply  line,  and  who  was  to 
repeat  his  request  before  the  Nagasaki  mission  was  run.* 

Staging  for  Nagasaki,  as  for  Palembang,  reflected  increasing  opera- 
tional skill  and  resulted  in  a  stronger  effort  than  the  twenty-five  sor- 
ties promised.  Of  thirty-three  bombers  leaving  Bengal,  thirty-one  ar- 
rived at  forward  bases;  one  was  lost  en  route  with  two  crewmen 
killed.  Bomb  load  was  heavier  too,  with  5,816  pounds  of  incendiaries 

•See  below,  pp.  11 1-13. 


Ill 


THE   ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 

and  frags  per  plane.®*  Twenty-nine  planes  got  off  in  thirty-six  min- 
utes, of  which  two  returned  early^  three  bombed  targets  of  opportu- 
nity, and  the  other  twenty-four,  flying  out  individually,  released  their 
bombs  over  Nagasaki.  The  city,  blacked  out  and  under  light  cloud 
cover  when  the  first  plane  arrived,  became  progressively  harder  to  see 
so  that  only  eight  planes  bombed  visually.^^  As  on  other  night  mis- 
sions, results  could  not  be  accurately  estimated,  but  later  intelligence 
was  to  show  them  not  too  significant.  Enemy  resistance,  both  by  flak 
and  by  interceptors,  was  weak  and  not  a  single  B-29  was  scratched. 
Yet  the  air  battle  was  memorable  for  one  reason.  T/Sgt.  H.  C.  Ed- 
wards knocked  off  a  Jap  fighter  at  600  yards  with  the  first  burst  from 
his  stern  chaser  20-mm.;  the  fighter  was  seen  to  crash  in  flames  and 
Edwards  was  credited  with  the  command's  first  official  kill.®^ 

On  the  way  home  Capt.  Stanley  Brown's  B-29  became  lost  after 
sortie  mechanical  trouble  and  early  next  morning,  almost  out  of  gas, 
landed  at  Hwaning,  held  by  the  Chinese  but  within  easy  reach  of  three 
enemy  fields.  The  plane  bogged  down  in  mud  at  the  end  of  the  short 
strip,  and  Japanese  strafers  knocked  out  two  engines.  But  the  312th 
Wing  sent  out  a  fighter  cover  which  shot  down  three  enemy  planes 
and  scored  heavily  on  Jap  fighters  parked  on  one  of  the  adjacent 
fields.  Fuel,  parts,  and  mechanics  were  flown  in,  and  the  B-29 
paired  and  stripped  to  its  bones.  Meanwhile,  the  Chinese  had  jacked  it 
out  of  the  mud  and  slowly  inched  it  down  the  strip,  building  a  short 
runway  by  sinking  4,500  railroad  ties  in  the  soft  spots.  On  23  August 
the  plane  with  only  four  crewmen  aboard  lifted  off  the  ground  and 
flew  into  Chiung-Lai  to  complete  a  most  extraordinary  job  of  salvage.**^ 

The  build-up  for  the  seventh  mission  had  begun  well  before  the 
combined  Palembang-Nagasaki  strikes,  and  by  i  August  Saunders  had 
hopes  of  meeting  Arnold's  demand  for  eighty  sorties.^®  The  tactical 
situation  in  China  threatened  for  a  time  to  interfere.  And,  after 
vainly  attempting  earlier  to  have  the  B-29's  sent  against  Hankow's 
waterfront,^®  Chennault  was  now  asking  for  300  sorties  against  Han- 
kow and  Wuchang.^****  Saunders,  consulted  by  Arnold,  declined  to  pass 
judgment  on  the  strategic  worth  of  Chennault's  plan  but  reported  that 
such  diversion  of  effort  would  make  it  impossible  to  comply  with  the 
bomber  command's  current  directive.^°^  When  his  second  request  was 
refused,  Chennault  on  10  August,  proposed  that  the  command  be 
shifted  from  current  attacks  on  steel  to  a  counter-air  campaign  or  be 

112 


XX   BOMBER    COMMAND   AGAINST  JAPAN 

withdrawn  from  China.'''^  Arnold's  staff  was  interested  in  the  aircraft 
industry  and  on  5  August  had  asked  Saunders'  opinion  about  substi- 
tuting the  Omura  Aircraft  Plant  for  Anshan  for  the  eighth  mission. 
This  Saunders  was  loath  to  do,  preferring  to  finish  off  the  Showa 
works,  Yawata,  and  Penchihu  before  turning  to  the  admittedly  im- 
portant airplane  factory.  Washington  abided  by  this  decision,  perhaps 
a  little  suspicious  of  Chennault's  motive:  Stratemeyer,  after  a  visit  to 
the  Fourteenth's  headquarters,  expressed  to  Arnold  the  opinion  "that 
Chennault's  repeated  requests  for  B-29  missions  against  Hankow  are 
for  use  of  those  airplanes  primarily  from  consideration  of  their  own 
supplies  being  available  in  China.  At  any  rate,  Saunders'  immediate 
objectives  stood. 

He  had  originally  planned  his  seventh  mission  as  a  night  incendiary 
attack  on  the  Yawata-Tobata  urban  area.  Within  his  staff  a  number  of 
officers,  perhaps  the  majority,  had  come  to  favor  the  employment  of 
the  Superfort  exclusively  as  a  night  bomber.  So  far,  crews  had  not 
been  able  to  deliver  rated  bomb  loads  on  lengthy  missions  flown  by 
day  in  formation,  and  these  staff  officers  believed  a  moderate  bomb 
load  dropped  by  radar  at  night  was  more  effective  than  a  minimum 
load  carried  by  day.  Some  even  wished  to  increase  the  weight  of  effort 
by  converting  more  B-29's  into  tankers,  and  with  larger  fuel  supplies 
in  China  to  send  the  whole  force  out  more  frequently,  tankers  sand- 
wiched in  with  the  tactical  planes  in  night  saturation  attacks.^^*  Pre- 
liminary appraisal  of  photographs  of  Anshan  taken  after  the  29  July 
strike  seemed  to  strengthen  the  case  for  precision  daylight  bombing 
(though  from  the  same  pictures  Chennault  concluded  that  the  bomb- 
ing of  the  Showa  works  was  futile),  and  on  4  August  the  command 
asked  for  permission  to  run  the  Yawata  mission  as  a  daylight  attack 
on  the  Imperial  Iron  and  Steel  Works.  The  Twentieth  acquiesced, 
"delighted  with  the  change.'"^^ 

Flying  in  formation  in  a  high-altitude  approach  through  enemy 
territory  and  bombing  from  25,000  feet,  the  B-29's  could  carry  only 
a  light  load.  To  avoid  setting  a  standard  load  determined  by  the  poor- 
est crew's  performance,  Saunders  inaugurated  a  new  policy  by  pre- 
scribing a  one-ton  minimum  and  allowing  group  commanders  to  set 
the  loading  according  to  the  known  efficiency  of  each  plane  and  crew. 
This  varied  considerably— on  the  Yawata  mission  individual  B-29's 
would  burn  as  little  as  6,100  gallons  of  fuel,  as  much  as  7,600— and  the 


»»3 


THE   ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 


flexible  loading  scheme  allowed  the  bombers  to  carry  an  average  bur- 
den of  6.3  X  500-pound  GP  bombs.^^^ 

By  D-day,  20  August,  ninety-eight  B-29's  had  gathered  in  the  for- 
ward area  with  one  lost  en  route  from  India.  At  take-off,  three  groups 
got  away  without  accident,  but  the  eighth  plane  of  the  462  d  Group 
smashed  up,  blocking  the  south  end  of  the  runway.  By  afternoon  it 
was  possible,  by  lightening  loads,  to  get  eight  more  planes  up  over  the 
wreckage  and,  joined  by  five  aborts  from  other  groups,  they  went  on 
to  Yawata  for  a  night  attack.  With  seventy-five  B-29's  airborne  for 
the  day  mission  and  thirteen  for  the  night,  the  command  had  more 
than  met  requirements.^"^ 

On  the  daylight  run,  sixty-one  planes  dropped  ninety-six  tons  of 
high  explosives  on  the  target  area;  six  others  hit  the  secondary 
(Laoyao)  or  last  resort  (Kaifeng)  or  random  targets.  Intense  heavy 
flak  over  Yawata  knocked  down  one  B-29  with  a  direct  hit  and  dam- 
aged eight.  Fighter  opposition  was  rated  "moderate"  but  got  three 
more  Superforts,  one  with  a  combination  of  aerial  bombing  and  gun- 
fire and  two  in  the  first  case  of  ramming  experienced  by  the  command. 
A  Nick  came  in  level  from  twelve  o'clock,  banked  sharply,  and  drove 
its  wing  vertically  into  the  outboard  wing  section  of  a  B-29  Ay^^g" 
wing  position.  Both  planes  disintegrated  and  the  flying  debris  caught 
the  No.  4  plane  in  that  formation  and  sent  it  spinning  down.  Observers 
were  uncertain  but  thought  the  ramming  intentional.  B-29  gunners 
claimed  seventeen  kills,  thirteen  probables,  and  twelve  damaged 

That  night  ten  more  B-29's  got  over  Yawata  to  drop  an  additional 
fifteen  tons  of  bombs  without  being  harmed  by  the  enemy.  Strike 
photos  taken  by  the  daylight  formations  seemed  to  show  hits  on  two 
coke  ovens,  but  according  to  Japanese  records  the  damage  was  not 
serious.^°^  Losses,  on  the  other  hand,  were  heavy:  besides  the  four 
B-29's  destroyed  over  Yawata,  ten  were  lost  to  other  causes  and 
ninety-five  airmen  were  dead  or  missing.  Later  it  was  learned  that  one 
crew  had  bailed  out  east  of  Khabarovsk.  The  U.S.  embassy  at  Mos- 
cow had  reported  an  earlier  instance  in  which  a  wounded  Superfort 
had  been  forced  down  near  Vladivostok  by  Soviet  fighters,  and  by 
the  end  of  1944  two  others  (including  the  much-publicized  Gen. 
H.  H.  Arnold)  had  landed  at  that  city.  The  Soviets,  at  peace  with 
Japan,  followed  international  law  in  interning  the  crews  and  planes. 


114 


XX   BOMBER   COMMAND   AGAINST  JAPAN 

but  their  subsequent  conduct  was  not  wholly  consistent:  they  allowed 
the  flyers  to  "escape"  via  Tehran,  but  kept  the  B-29's,  which  after 
the  war  were  to  serve  as  models  for  a  Red  Air  Force  bomber,  usually 
identified  as  the 

After  the  hasty  reappraisal  of  MATTERHORN  target  objectives 
provoked  by  Chennault's  proposals,  Saunders  continued  his  plan  for  a 
return  to  Anshan."^  Scheduled  for  30  August,  D-day  was  twice  post- 
poned, once  because  of  Chennault's  concern  for  possible  Japanese  at- 
tacks on  Chengtu  bases,  once  because  of  weather;  final  choice  was 
8  September."^  Plans  for  the  strike  were  approved  by  Washington  on 
29  August.^"  On  that  day  Maj.  Gen.  Curtis  E.  LeMay  assumed  com- 
mand of  XX  Bomber  Command.^^^  LeMay,  who  had  had  an  imposing 
record  as  a  heavy  bombardment  officer  in  the  ETO,  had  been  slated 
for  a  B-29  job  earlier,  but  had  stayed  on  in  Washington  to  work  on 
the  long-heralded  reorganization  of  the  command."*  His  arrival  did 
nothing  to  change  plans  for  the  Anshan  show. 

Saunders,  in  answer  to  Washington's  needling  about  his  aircraft- 
over-target  rate  had  announced  a  policy  of  dispatching  every  B-29 
fit  to  fly."®  That  policy,  and  improved  maintenance,  were  reflected  in 
Anshan  II.  By  8  September,  115  B-29's  had  gathered  in  the  forward 
area  and  108  got  off  the  runways.  Of  these,  95  reached  Anshan  to  find 
good  weather,  90  dropped  206.5  tons  of  GP's  at  the  Showa  works,  3 
bombed  other  installations,  5  hit  at  the  Sinsiang  Railroad  Yards,  and  3 
others  at  various  targets  of  opportunity."^  Enemy  flak  over  Anshan 
was  ineffective  and  Japanese  fighters  less  aggressive  than  those  en- 
countered over  Kyushu.  Total  losses  for  the  mission  were  four:  a 
crack-up  near  Dudhkundi  on  the  way  up;  two  forced  landings  in 
China,  one  destroyed  on  the  ground  by  enemy  planes  and  one  partly 
salvaged;  and  a  plane  listed  as  missing.  The  crew  of  this  last  plane 
later  walked  out  with  the  loss  of  only  one  man,  In  return,  B-29  crews, 
their  central  fire-control  (CFC)  system  working  smoothly,  claimed 
8/9/10."* 

A  B-29  photo  plane  got  some  excellent  shots  on  D  plus  i  which 
showed  a  considerable  amount  of  damage  to  the  Showa  plant.  Of  the 
sixteen  batteries  of  coke  ovens,  three  were  thought  to  have  been  de- 
commissioned for  a  year  (one  on  29  July,  two  on  8  September),  and 
three  for  six  months.  Others  would  be  hurt  by  damage  to  related  in- 
stallations, and  the  by-products  plant  had  been  hit  hard.  All  in  all. 


"5 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 


command  intelligence  officers  computed  that  the  two  attacks  had  cost 
Showa  35.2  per  cent  of  its  coking  output,  which  would  depreciate 
total  Japanese  rolled  steel  production  by  9.3  per  cent.^^^ 

Whatever  the  eventual  results  of  the  mission,  its  most  immediate 
effect  was  to  bring  out  the  Japs  in  their  first  counterattack  on  the  com- 
mand's forward  bases.  Both  in  Washington  and  the  CBI  there  had 
been  anxiety  since  the  initial  planning  days  that  the  enemy  might  hit 
those  bases  while  they  were  crowded  with  B-29's.  The  3 12th  Fighter 
Wing  with  its  two  groups  (33d  and  8ist)  seemed  capable  of  turning 
back  any  daylight  raid  but  as  yet  had  no  night  fighters.  Shortly  after 
midnight  following  the  Anshan  attack,  Japanese  bombers  came  over 
Hsinching  and  attacked  Forward  Echelon  Headquarters,  storage  areas, 
and  the  parked  B-29's.  Aided  apparently  by  ground  signals,  the  in- 
truders made  four  runs,  dropping  frags  and  HE  bombs  to  inflict  minor 
damage  on  one  Superfort  and  a  C-46  and  to  wound  two  soldiers.  No 
contacts  were  made  by  U.S.  fighters.*^*' 

General  LeMay  had  gone  along  on  Anshan  II,  an  interested  ob- 
server of  the  crews  and  planes  he  commanded  and  of  the  enemy  he 
faced.  If  what  he  saw  was  encouraging,  it  did  not  deflect  him  from 
his  stated  purpose  of  revising  XX  Bomber  Command's  tactical  doc- 
trines and  of  instituting  a  thorough  training  program.  Specifically, 
he  intended  to  substitute  for  the  current  four-plane  diamond  forma- 
tion a  twelve-plane  formation  similar  to  one  he  had  used  with  his 
heavies  in  the  ETO.  He  proposed  further  to  follow  Eighth  Air  Force 
practice  by  subordinating  night  missions,  so  far  numbering  four  of 
the  command's  eight  strikes,  to  daylight  precision  attacks.  This  would 
not  mean  the  abandonment  of  radar  bombing,  so  vital  in  variable 
weather.  LeMay's  doctrine  called  for  "synchronous  bombing"  in 
which  both  the  bombardier  and  radar  operator  followed  the  bomb 
run  in,  with  visibility  determining  who  would  control  the  plane  dur- 
ing the  crucial  seconds  before  release."^ 

Precision  bombing  required  training  more  sustained  than  the  spo- 
radic sessions  which  the  command's  crews  had  undergone,  and  for- 
tunately new  arrangements  for  nourishing  strikes  out  of  China  would 
release  B-29's  and  their  crews  from  much  of  the  Hump  transport  duty 
which  had  handicapped  training.  On  5  September  LeMay  had  ordered 
each  group  to  select  six  lead  crews  (later  increased  to  eight)  upon 
which  other  crews  in  a  formation  would  drop.  A  week  later  a  school 
was  set  up  at  Dudhkundi,  occupied  since  early  July  by  the  444th 

116 


XX   BOMBER   COMMAND   AGAINST  JAPAN 

Group,  with  instructors  drawn  from  the  command's  staff  and  from 
specialists  brought  out  to  the  theater  on  TDY.  Ground  training  and 
a  simulated  mission  and  critique  on  each  of  ten  successive  days  made 
the  eleven-day  course  at  '*Dudhkundi  Tech"  both  strenuous  and  valu- 
able. Meanwhile,  the  other  crews  of  the  four  combat  groups  had  been 
working  with  the  twelve-plane  formation  and  had  made  some  progress 
when  training  was  interrupted  for  the  ninth  mission."^ 

When  LeMay  took  over  at  Kharagpur,  the  weight  and  target  of 
that  mission  had  not  been  determined.  By  the  time  Anshan  II  was  run, 
he  had  decided  that  he  could  make  only  one  other  major  strike  in 
September,  between  the  25th  and  27th.  Headquarters,  Twentieth  Air 
Force,  was  engaged  in  revising  target  priorities  and,  anticipating  an 
early  report  from  the  CO  A,  asked  LeMay  to  consider  shifting  from 
coke  ovens  to  aircraft  factories.  Two  days  later,  on  15  September, 
Washington  temporarily  tabled  this  suggestion  by  forwarding  to 
Kharagpur  a  COA  recommendation  that  the  next  mission  be  directed 
against  coke  ovens  at  Anshan  and  Penchihu."^  LeMay  elected  to  finish 
off  Anshan,  still  an  important  target  and  one  well  suited  to  an  eco- 
nomical trial  of  the  new  bombing  techniques. 

LeMay  had  promised  a  loo-plane  strike.  On  D-day,  26  September, 
he  had  117  B-29's  forward,  plus  i  photo  plane,  and  counting  a  few 
late  stragglers,  109  bombers  were  airborne  that  morning.  Both  figures 
represented  improvements  over  Anshan  II;  not  so  the  mission  as  a 
whole.  Weathermen  had  predicted  no  worse  than  4/10  undercast 
over  Anshan,  but  a  cold  front  moved  in  and  blanketed  the  target, 
making  it  difliicult  for  the  bombers  to  maintain  the  new  formation. 
Eighty-eight  planes  got  over  Anshan  but  only  seventy-three  bombed 
the  Showa  works,  all  by  radar.  Subsequent  photographic  coverage 
indicated  absolutely  no  new  damage/^*  Two  planes  bombed  Dairen, 
four  Sinsiang,  and  nine  bombed  various  targets  of  opportunity.^^' 
Enemy  planes  over  Anshan  were  very  active  but  ineffective;  not  a 
single  B-29  was  lost  from  any  cause  on  the  mission  and  this  was  some 
solace  for  the  bootless  strike.^^** 

Even  so  the  enemy  had  the  last  word:  that  night  a  few  bombers 
swept  into  the  Chengtu  area  to  drop  three  strings  of  bombs  and  dam- 
age five  Superf orts,  two  of  them  seriously.  The  Chinese  warning  net 
had  tracked  the  Japanese  planes  in  from  Hankow  airfields  and  the 
317th  Fighter  Control  Squadron  at  Chengtu  had  ample  time  to  alert 
command  personnel.  But  the  one  P-47  up  could  not  make  contact."^ 


117 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  H 


The  312th  Wing  had  suffered  with  other  China-based  units  from 
lack  of  supplies,  and  in  the  interest  of  economy  of  fuel  one  of  its  P-47 
groups  had  been  exchanged  for  the  311th  Fighter  Group^  equipped 
with  P-5iB's.  Chennault,  reluctant  to  tie  down  two  full  groups  for 
the  static  defense  of  Chengtu,  had  disposed  part  of  the  wing  forward 
where  the  planes  could  take  a  more  active  part  in  the  war,  and  events 
were  to  prove  that  this  policy  constituted  no  serious  danger  to  the 
B-29  fields.  The  night  raids  of  8/9  and  26/27  September  set  the  pat- 
tern for  later  Japanese  raids,  which  usually  followed  B-29  missions. 
To  guard  against  such  sneak  tactics,  LeMay  pressed  for  night  fighters 
and  40-mm.  AA  guns.  On  6  October  (the  eve  of  a  third  enemy  raid), 
the  first  P-6i's  of  the  42  6th  Night  Fighter  Squadron  came  to  Chengtu, 
but  it  was  mid-November  before  the  843d  AAA  Battalion  arrived  to 
rouiid  out  an  integrated  defense  force.  Japanese  attacks  were  to  con- 
tinue tintil  19  December,  but  on  the  same  light  scale:  in  ten  raids  only 
forty-^three  enemy  planes  were  counted  and  the  damage  done  was 
more  annoying  than  serious.^^^ 

Anshan  III  marked  the  end  of  the  first  phase  of  MATTERHORN 
operations.  That  fact  is  clearer  in  retrospect  than  it  was  in  late  Sep- 
tember 1944,  but  even  then  there  were  indications  of  impending 
changes:  a  reorganization  of  the  command,  an  improved  logistics  sys- 
tem, a  shift  in  target  priorities,  and  a  closer  coordination  with  opera- 
tions in  the  Pacific.  Had  the  command  paused  to  take  stock,  it  could 
have  found  little  gratification  in  its  strategic  accomplishments.  Ac- 
cording to  schedules  hopefully  concocted  in  Washington  in  April, 
coke  and  steel  targets  should  have  been  destroyed.  Only  two  missions 
had  been  really  successful,  Anshan  I  and  II,  and  there  had  been  no 
important  dislocation  of  the  Japanese  steel  industry.  Yet,  the  com- 
mand had  learned  much,  as  the  operational  record  (as  opposed  to 
strategic  results)  of  the  later  missions  had  shown.  The  shakedown  was 
over,  and  with  a  revamped  organization  XX  Bomber  Command  would 
in  succeeding  months  more  nearly  approximate  in  the  weight  of  its 
strikes  the  expectations  of  the  original  MATTERHORN  planners. 

Reorganization 

From  its  inception  the  B-29  project  had  been  an  experimental  or- 
ganization, and  this  characteristic  XX  Bomber  Command  inherited 
along  with  part  of  the  project's  personnel.  AAF  Headquarters  looked 
on  the  command  as  a  prototype  for  the  XXI,  XXII,  and  subsequent 

118 


XX  BOMBER   COMMAND  AGAINST  JAPAN 

VHB  commands.  At  Salina  and  Kharagpur  this  attitude  was  as  deeply- 
ingrained  as  at  Washington;  XX  Bomber  Command's  historian  re- 
flected a  widely  held  view  when  he  referred  to  the  command  as  "a 
great  combat  testing  laboratory. It  was  z  crude  sort  of  lab,  where 
trial-and-error  methods  were  more  common  than  the  scientist's  un- 
hurried precision,  but  the  essential  spirit  of  testing  results  by  such 
measurements  as  were  available  was  not  lacking.  Combat  testing  in- 
volved two  closely  related  problenis,  one  tactical  and  one  administra- 
tive. A  new  weapon,  the  B-29,  had  to  be  proved  and  modified,  and  a 
tactical  doctrine  formulated  and  refined;  something  of  the  command's 
efforts  in  these  respects  has  been  told  in  the  story  of  the  first  nine 
missions.  Less  spectacular  but  hardly  less  important  to  the  success  of 
combat  operations  were  parallel  efforts  to  perfect  the  administrative 
structure  which  supported  the  B-29  strikes.  This  process  wias  a  con- 
tinuing one,  but  three  distinct  stages  may  be  noted:  the  establishment 
of  the  58th  Wing  in  June  1943,  the  organization  of  XX  Bomber  Com- 
mand in  November,  and  a  thorough  reorganization  which  dragged 
through  the  following  summer.  At  the  end  of  September  1944^  the 
date  chosen  to  mark  the  end  of  the  first  phase  of  operations,  tliat  reor- 
ganization had  been  substantially  effected,  though  another  month  or 
so  was  required  to  complete  the  task. 

When  staff  officers  in  Washington  and  Salina  had  worked  out  the 
command's  original  structure  in  the  totumn  of  1943,  they  had  no 
exact  precedents  to  follow.  They  started  with  T/O's  borrowed  from 
heavy  bomber  units  and  tried  to  expand  them  to  fit  anticipated  needs 
of  the  B-29.  practice,  these  T/O's  proved  less  than  perfect,  in  some 
particulars  overmanned,  in  others  undermanned.  Remedial  action  was 
slow;  here  the  fault  seems  more  often  attributable  to  AAF  Headquar- 
ters than  to  the  command.  Inadequacies  in  maintenance  and  service 
units  in  particular  were  responsible  for  delays  in  combat  operations. 
The  need  to  step  up  the  weight  of  attack  spurred  Washington  to  a 
belated  correction  of  deficiencies  which  had  been  recognized  in  the 
Salina  training  period  and  had  become  more  painfully  obvious  in  India. 

Two  ideas  had  profoundly  affected  the  original  structure  of  XX 
Bomber  Command:  i)  it  should  be  organized  as  a  self-contained, 
independent  force  of  great  striking  power,  mobility,  and  flexibility, 
more  akin  to  an  overseas  air  force  than  to  a  conventional  bomber  com- 
mand; and  2)  it  was  to  operate  in  a  "primitive"  theater.*  These  guid- 

•  See  above,  pp.  41  flF. 


119 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 

ing  ideas  had  made  for  important  differences  in  the  command  head- 
quarters, in  the  internal  structure  of  the  bombardment  groups,  and  in 
the  functions  and  composition  of  the  service  groups.  In  each  case, 
however,  modifications  made  by  the  end  of  October  1944  tended  to 
revert  to  more  normal  patterns.  Changes  in  plans  for  deployment, 
which  limited  the  command  to  a  single  wing  and  designated  subse- 
quent VHB  units  for  the  Marianas,  made  some  consolidation  of  wing 
and  command  headquarters  seem  logical;  here  reorganization  was  a 
relatively  simple  task  of  compression.  But  in  respect  to  the  bombard- 
ment and  service  groups,  where  the  command  sought  inflation  rather 
than  deflation,  the  increasing  shortage  of  manpower  in  the  United 
States  imposed  a  formidable  barrier.  Reorganization  Was  not  accom- 
plished in  one  sweeping  act^  so  that  it  becomes  convenient  to  treat 
separately  of  the  service  groups,  the  bombardment  groups,  and  com- 
mand headquarters,  in  that  order,  and  of  the  transport  system  which 
had  important  bearings  on  ail  phases  of  the  command's  administration. 

In  respect  to  its  flight  echelon,  the  58th  Wing  was  normal  enough, 
with  four  bombardment  groups  of  four  squadrons  each.  Seven  B-29's 
per  squadron  gave  the  wing  1 12  UE  aircraft  and  50  per  cent  reserves 
brought  the  total  up  to  168  planes.  Double  crews  and  a  crew  of  eleven, 
including  five  officers,  made  for  a  large  number  of  rated  officers,  but 
this  was  a  difference  of  degree,  riot  of  kind,  from  the  standard  B-17 
or  B-24  unit.  It  was  in  the  maintenance  and  service  elements  that  the 
innovations  arid  the  grief  appeared. 

Conventionally,  first  and  second  echelon  maintenance,  service,  and 
supply  were  performed  by  the  ground  personnel  of  bombardment 
squadrons,  third  and  fourth  by  service  groups  assigned  to  an  air  serv- 
ice rather  than  bomber  command.  In  the  interest  of  flexibility,  mo- 
bility, and  independence  of  theater  support,  this  pattern  had  been 
discarded  in  XX  Bomber  Command.  Each  crewman  was  trained  in 
some  specialty  other  than  his  primary  job  in  order  to  provide  some 
constant  maintenance  of  the  plane.  The  ground  personnel  were  sepa- 
rated from  the  flight  echelort  of  the  bombardinent  squadrons  and 
formed  into  maintenance  squadrons  (sixteen  in  all)  which  could  be 
moved  about  as  needed  to  work  on  any  B-29's  in  the  wing.  For  more 
advanced  service,  mairitenance,  and  supply,  there  was  to  be  for  each 
VHB  group  a  service  group  (special),  presumably  to  be  attached  to 
the  command  rather  than  to  a  theater  air  service  command;  in  addition 

120 


XX   BOMBER  COMMAND   AGAINST  JAPAN 


to  its  normal  functions,  this  unit  would  perform  housekeeping  duties 
for  the  B-29  base. 

At  Salina  there  was  no  questioning  of  the  basic  concept  of  these 
experimental  units,  though  experience  had  soon  indicated  that  the 
composition  of  the  maintenance  squadrons  would  have  to  be  modi- 
fied. Two  regular  service  groups,  the  25  th  and  28  th,  were  assigned  to 
the  command  but  were  shipped  out  before  they  could  be  reorganized 
according  to  the  new  T/O's.  The  tables  had  been  based  on  tests  made 
at  the  AAF  Tactical  Center  at  Orlando  in  February  1944;  tentative 
copies  sent  to  Salina  for  comments  had  elicited  some  suggestions  for 
change,  but  Washington  did  little  in  the  way  of  revision.  It  was  ex- 
pected that  the  two  service  groups  would  be  split  into  four  service 
groups  (special),  using  as  fillers  personnel  released  by  the  contem- 
plated reorganization  of  the  maintenance  squadrons."" 

The  25th  and  28th  Service  Groups,  shipped  early  to  set  up  house 
for  the  combat  groups,  were  delayed  en  route  by  engine  trouble  on 
their  transport  and  arrived  in  Bengal  in  May,  six  weeks  late,'^'  only  to 
be  assigned  to  Stratemeyer's  ASC.  This  was  not  according  to  Arnold's 
plan,  and  an  appeal  from  Wolfe  brought  an  answer  specifically  dele- 
gating to  XX  Bomber  Command  responsibility  for  third  echelon  serv- 
ice, maintenance,  and  supply,  and  inferentially  control  of  the  service 
groups.  This  policy  was  later  described  in  detail  in  Stilwell's  GO  No. 
55,  7  June  1944,  which  gave  the  theater  ASC  responsibility  only  for 
fourth  and  fifth  echelon  functions."^ 

The  T/0  approved  for  the  service  group  (special)  on  15  April 
called  for  an  organization  of  710  officers  and  men,"^  To  create  four 
such  units  from  the  25th  and  28th  groups  would  require  additional 
personnel.  A  delay  in  authorization  for  reorganization  of  the  main- 
tenance squadrons  blocked  that  expected  source  of  manpower,  and  on 
9  May  Wolfe  asked  Washington  for  some  97  officers  and  453  men 
and  a  directive."*  AAF  Headquarters  refused  to  supply  the  personnel, 
save  for  central  fire  control  and  radar  specialists,  and  funneled  the 
directive  through  theater  headquarters  where  it  was  delayed  for 
weeks.""  Final  authority  for  the  changes  was  given  by  Stratemeyer  on 
23  June;  Wolfe's  order  went  out  on  the  30th  and  was  rapidly  ac- 
complished."* 

Four  service  groups  (special)  were  formed  (25th,  28th,  80th,  87th), 
one  for  each  VHB  base.  The  internal  structure  of  the  group  was 

121 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


Streamlined  by  regrouping  the  dozen  or  so  existing  units  into  three 
flexible  squadrons— headquarters  and  base  service,  engineer,  and  ma- 
teriel. No  doubt  the  consolidation  of  units  squeezed  out  fat  which 
could  be  spared,  but  the  bomber  command  considered  that  the  new 
group  was  inadequate  to  its  task  of  administration,  if  not  of  main- 
tenance and  supply.  Actually,  its  tasks  combined  those  of  a  service  and 
of  an  air  base  group,  including  administration,  mess,  personnel  classi- 
fication, PX,  special  services,  chaplains,  etc."^  To  man  the  new  units 
from  bulk  allotments  without  specially  requisitioned  fillers  required 
much  ingenious  juggling  of  personnel,  but  by  reassignment  within 
the  command,  reclassification,  detached  service,  in-service  training, 
and  exchange  with  AAF  IBS,  the  new  tables  were  filled  and  the 
Bengal  bases  settled  into  a  more  orderly  life.  To  provide  for  the  four 
advanced  bases,  Washington  allocated  to  each  a  bulk  assignment  of 
1 50  ofiicers  and  men."® 

The  reorganization  of  the  bombardment  groups  went  more  slowly, 
though  the  composition  of  the  maintenance  squadrons  had  been  chal- 
lenged before  they  left  Salina.^^*  The  number  of  specialists  in  various 
MOS  categories  had  proved  unequal  to  the  task  of  maintaining  a  com- 
plex and  untried  bomber;  shortages  of  maintenance  personnel  had 
impeded  the  flight  training  program  with  an  excessive  planes-out-of- 
commission  rate  and  remedial  action  was  recognized  as  a  "must." 
Rather  than  interrupt  the  overseas  movement,  the  command  shipped 
out  with  the  16  maintenance  squadrons  unchanged  but  with  a 
promise  from  Washington  that  a  new  T/0  and  about  550  additional 
personnel  would  be  supplied  when  the  command  reached  India.  Men 
rendered  surplus  by  the  changes  would  supposedly  be  used  as  fillers 
in  the  new  service  groups.^'*^ 

In  India,  command  personnel  officers  found  that  though  they  had 
enough  men  to  eflFect  the  desired  augmentation  of  maintenance  squad- 
rons, they  were  still  short  in  certain  MOS  categories,  notably  in  me- 
chanics for  the  temperamental  R-3350.  Washington,  requested  to  fill 
the  vacancies,  replied  that  a  radical  revision  of  the  VHB  group  was 
slated  for  July  and  that  in  the  meanwhile  alleviation  would  be  pro- 
vided only  in  the  case  of  a  few  specialties,  not  including  power  plant 
mechanics."^  The  "radical  revision,"  calling  for  a  group  of  three  VHB 
squadrons  with  ten  UE  aircraft  each  and  for  a  merging  of  the  main- 
tenance and  bombardment  squadrons,  had  been  approved  by  AAF 
Headquarters  in  a  new  T/O&E  dated  1 7  April.  It  was  the  end  of  June 

122 


XX  BOMBER  COMMAND  AGAINST  JAPAN 

before  Wolfe  received  a  copy  of  these  tables  and  even  then  he  had  no 
directive  to  adopt  them.  The  bomber  command  had  to  struggle  along 
v^^ith  maintenance  squadrons  rendered  "lame  duck"  by  impending 
changes,  their  mechanics  overworked  as  India's  hottest  season  played 
havoc  v^ith  the  R- 3  3  50  engine.^^^ 

The  new  T/O&E  provided  for  thirty  aircraft  for  three  squadrons 
instead  of  twenty-eight  for  four,  and  would  thus  increase  striking 
power  and  cut  down  on  overhead  personnel;  here  there  could  be  no 
justifiable  complaint.  But  the  new  squadron  of  615  officers  and  men 
had  a  ground  echelon  of  only  349  as  opposed  to  the  maintenance 
squadron's  390,  long  recognized  as  inadequate.  Group  commanders, 
asked  for  comments,  uniformly  recommended  substantially  larger 
ground  echelons.  Some  alleviation  was  promised  in  a  change  in  the 
tables  approved  on  3  August,  which  authorized  a  squadron  of  644 
with  a  gain  of  nearly  30  ground  personnel.^*^ 

The  long  delay  in  agreeing  on  and  instituting  the  projected  general 
reorganization  stemmed  in  part  from  the  distance  between  Wash- 
ington and  Kharagpur  and  from  changes  in  the  command's  leadership. 
The  outlines  of  the  reorganization  had  been  worked  out  during 
Wolfe's  incumbency,  and  when  he  returned  to  Washington  early  in 
July,  he  was  able  to  present  the  field  point  of  view  and  to  report  back 
to  Saunders  the  improvements  contemplated.  Later  in  the  month 
Arnold  sent  his  chief  of  staff.  General  Giles,  to  India  to  make  detailed 
arrangements,  and  by  i  August  an  acceptable  plan  had  been  drawn 
up.  In  return,  two  of  Saunders'  personnel  officers  went  on  TDY  to 
Washington,  but  final  action  was  still  held  up  pending  Saunders'  re- 
lief by  General  LeMay.^**  LeMay  arrived  on  29  August  but  it  took 
several  radios  to  pry  a  final  commitment  out  of  AAF  Headquarters."" 
On  20  September  he  was  directed  to  effect  the  following  changes: 
reorganization  of  the  headquarters  of  the  four  VHB  groups  (40th, 
444th,  462d,  468th)  according  to  the  T/O&E  of  29  June  1944  with 
certain  augmentations;  the  disbanding  of  the  sixteen  maintenance 
squadrons  and  of  four  VHB  squadrons  (395th,  679th,  771st,  and 
795th);  and  the  reorganization  of  the  other  twelve  VHB  squadrons 
according  to  the  tables  described  above,  as  amended  on  3  August.^^ 

The  changes  were  put  through  as  rapidly  as  possible,  not  without 
some  feeling  that  the  command  had  too  few  maintenance  personnel. 
The  return  to  the  standard-type  bombardment  squadron  marked  an 
abandonment  of  the  concept  of  "flexible"  maintenance  now  rendered 


123 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

obsolete  for  the  VHB  program  in  general  by  the  elaborate  permanent 
installations  being  built  in  the  Marianas.  The  new  tables  did  away  also 
with  the  doubly  trained  crews,  capable  of  performing  first  and  second 
echelon  maintenance  as  well  as  fighting  their  plane.  That  training  had 
shown  up  well  in  the  Palembang  mission  and  in  cases  where  planes 
made  emergency  landings  in  China,  but  the  extra  cost  in  training  (for 
example,  forty  weeks  for  an  electrical  specialist-gunner  as  opposed  to 
five  weeks  for  a  gunner)  was  too  great  for  mass  production  of  VHB 
crews."^ 

To  make  most  efficient  use  of  the  streamlined  units  LeMay  issued 
on  lo  October  a  new  formula  for  the  operation  of  the  four  VHB 
bases  in  India,^**  a  formula  which  owed  much  to  his  previous  experi- 
ence in  the  ETO.  Each  of  the  fields  housed  a  bombardment  group,  a 
service  group,  a  weather  detachment,  and  an  AACS  detachment.  The 
VHB  group  commander  was  in  charge  of  the  base,  with  the  air  execu- 
tive, normally  the  deputy  of  the  group,  as  second  in  command.  The 
ground  executive  was  usually  the  service  group  commander.  Personnel 
on  the  base  were  regrouped  functionally  without  loss  of  unit  in- 
tegrity: for  example,  the  ground  echelons  of  VHB  squadrons  and  the 
engineer  squadrons  of  the  service  groups  were  integrated  to  perform 
maintenance  and  service  for  B-29's  assigned  to  the  base.  Designed  to 
spread  the  work  more  evenly,  this  system  worked  well;  its  success  was 
indicated  in  the  increasing  weight  of  attacks  and  the  decreasing  rate  of 
planes  out  of  commission/*^ 

Meanwhile,  command  headquarters  had  undergone  extensive 
changes  in  structure  and  personnel.  When  Saunders  succeeded  Wolfe 
as  commanding  general  of  XX  Bomber  Command,  no  replacement 
was  provided  for  the  former's  previous  job  as  commander  of  the  58th 
Wing.  With  Washington's  consent,  Saunders  on  1 3  July  amalgamated 
the  two  headquarters,  attaching  personnel  from  the  58  th  to  appropri- 
ate sections  of  the  command's  staff.  This  marked  the  de  factOy  though 
not  the  formal  demise  of  the  58th  Wing.^°°  By  a  directive  of  6  August, 
XX  Bomber  Command's  headquarters  experienced  a  "functional  re- 
alignment" to  conform  more  closely  with  the  current  pattern  fol- 
lowed in  the  conventional  air  force.  This  was  in  recognition  of  the 
fact  that  though  possessing  only  four  combat  groups,  the  command 
performed  some  air  force  functions.  The  older  staff  system  with  four 
"A*s"  reporting  directly  to  a  chief  of  staff  was  discarded;  staff  sections 
were  regrouped  under  three  deputy  chiefs  of  staff  (for  administration; 


124 


XX  BOMBER  COMMAND  AGAINST  JAPAN 

operations;  and  maintenance,  supply,  and  services),  with  some  sec- 
tions reporting  directly  to  the  chief  of  staff  or  commanding  general."^ 
During  the  next  two  months  authorized  strength  of  the  headquarters 
and  headquarters  squadron  was  set  at  183  officers  and  417  men.  This 
showed  a  decrease  of  about  250  from  the  combined  strength  of  the 
headquarters  of  XX  Bomber  Command  and  the  58th  Wing  (now 
formally  deactivated),  but  it  was  still  a  numerous  body,  identical  in 
size  with  that  of  the  3 -wing  XXI  Bomber  Command  and  justified 
only  because  of  the  XX's  ASC  duties  and  of  the  necessity  of  main- 
taining a  forward  area  headquarters/^^ 

Changes  in  structure  had  been  accompanied  by  a  considerable  turn- 
over in  personnel.  The  command  had  been  fortunate  in  long  maintain- 
ing a  remarkable  degree  of  homogeneity  among  its  key  personnel,  but 
beginning  in  August  many  of  Wolfe's  hand-picked  officers  went  back 
to  the  States,  presumably  to  be  fed  into  new  B-29  units,  and  their  re- 
placements took  over.  Saunders  stayed  on  at  Kharagpur  for  several 
weeks  after  LeMay's  arrival,  though  the  elimination  of  the  58th  Wing 
rendered  him  surplus.  On  18  September  Saunders  was  seriously  in- 
jured in  the  crash  of  a  B-25  during  an  administrative  flight  and  was 
evacuated  to  the  United  States  only  after  a  slow  recovery.^'^^  Mean- 
while, Hansell  had  left  the  Washington  headquarters  to  take  XXI 
Bomber  Command  out  to  Saipan  and  Brig.  Gen.  Lauris  Norstad  had 
succeeded  him  as  chief  of  staff  of  the  Twentieth  Air  Force.  In  spite 
of  the  numerous  changes  in  organization  which  have  been  recorded 
above,  there  were  throughout  only  minor  fluctuations  in  the  com- 
mand's total  authorized  and  assigned  strength,  as  the  following  figures 
show:"* 

50  June   1944  5/  October  1^44 

O  EM  O  EM 

Authorized  strength  2,214         12*798  2,193  12,940 

Assigned  strength   2,212         12,865  2,250  13,237 

When  LeMay  informed  Washington  on  2  November  that  the  reor- 
ganization of  XX  Bomber  Command  was  "now  practically  complete," 
he  reported  75  officers  and  484  men  surplus  and  eligible  for  reassign- 
ment,^®^ but  he  was  then  negotiating  for  the  exchange  of  surplus  B-29 
crews  for  a  bulk  allotment  of  about  900  men  for  air  transport  duty 
which  would  further  modify  the  strength  of  his  command. 
The  reorganization  of  XX  Bomber  Command,  like  its  every  other 

125 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

activity,  had  been  compKcated  by  the  necessity  of  operating  a  trans- 
port service  to  support  strikes  out  of  China.  The  original  MATTER- 
HORN  logistics  plan  had  failed,  in  part,  as  Wolfe  insisted,  because 
diversion  of  the  73d  Wing  to  Saipan  had  left  him  with  too  few  B-29's 
for  self-support/^^  Operations  had  been  made  possible  only  by  the 
assignment  to  XX  Bomber  Command  of  three  air  transport  squadrons 
(mobile)  equipped  with  C-46's.  At  the  end  of  July,  the  situation  was 
something  like  this:  the  command  had  turned  over  to  the  312th 
Fighter  Wing  a  monthly  allocation  of  1,500  tons,  guaranteed  by  ATC 
in  exchange  for  18  C-87's,  and  was  quit  of  further  responsibility  to 
the  wing;  the  command  was  operating  both  tactical  and  tanker  B-29's 
in  transport  flights  direct  from  Kalaikunda  to  Chengtu;  and  it  was 
operating  3  C-46  squadrons  over  the  regular  Hump  route  via 
Assam  and  Chengtu.*  By  these  means  the  bomber  command  had 
hauled  in  July  2,978  tons,  enough  to  support  only  135  combat  sorties 
according  to  current  estimates  of  22  tons  per  sortie.  Deliveries  could 
be  stepped  up  as  the  command  learned  more  about  the  transport  busi- 
ness, but  only  by  moderate  degrees,  and  certainly  not  enough  to  al- 
low the  225  sorties  per  month  which  the  Twentieth  Air  Force  had 
set  as  its  minimum  goal.  In  spite  of  the  heavy  investments  already 
expended  in  the  CBI,  Arnold  was  considering  the  possibility  of  mov- 
ing the  B-29's  to  another  theater  if  the  weight  of  attack  could  riot 
be  increased."^ 

Unable  to  find  supplies  for  its  regular  monthly  quota  of  missions, 
XX  Bomber  Command  was  committed  also  to  a  short-term  campaign 
of  air  support  for  certain  Pacific  operations  to  be  conducted  by  Mac- 
Arthur  and  Nimitz  in  the  autumn,  t  Stilwell,  informed  early  in  May 
of  the  support  desired  from  the  bomber  command  and  the  Fourteenth 
Air  Force,  had  insisted  he  could  build  up  the  requisite  stockpile  in 
China  only  by  increasing  the  lift  potential  of  ATC's  India-China  Di- 
vision (ICD).t"^  The  emergency  created  by  the  Japanese  push  in 
east  China  accentuated  the  need  for  more  Hump  tonnage  and  the 
build-up  of  ICD  became  a  matter  of  urgency.  If  accompanied  by  a 
firm  guarantee  of  tonnage  for  regular  missions  and  PAC-AID,  as  the 
support  for  the  Pacific  operations  was  coded,  it  would  have  solved 
the  command's  supply  problem. 

*  See  above,  pp.  77,  86,  89. 
tSee  below,  pp.  275-88. 

tOn  I  August  1944  ATC's  India-China  Wing  became  the  India-China  Division. 


126 


XX  BOMBER  COMMAND  AGAINST  JAPAN 

Neither  Wolfe  nor  Saunders  enjoyed  the  task  of  running  a  separate 
air  transport  line,  and  their  control  of  the  C-46  squadrons,  originally 
a  temporary  expedient,  inefficient,  and  in  flat  contradiction  to  the 
basic  concept  of  ATC,  had  resulted  from  a  conflict  in  principles  of 
command.  Stilwell,  as  theater  commander,  had  the  responsibility  for 
allocating  Hump  tonnage,  and  the  Joint  Chiefs  were  reluctant  to  inter- 
fere by  stipulating  a  flat  guarantee  for  MATTERHORN.  But  Ar- 
nold, as  commander  of  the  Twentieth  Air  Force,  feared  that  without 
a  firm  commitment  XX  Bomber  Command  would  be  squeezed  by 
the  more  immediate  tactical  needs  of  the  Fourteenth.  In  this  dilemma, 
Arnold  explored  the  two  obvious  possibilities,  build-up  of  ICD  with 
a  firm  monthly  quota  for  MATTERHORN  and  the  assignment  of 
more  transport  planes  to  XX  Bomber  Command.  It  was  only  in  No- 
vember that  a  solution  was  reached. 

The  alternatives  had  been  clearly  delineated  by  Wolfe  just  before 
his  recall  to  the  States.  Admonished  sharply  to  improve  his  transport 
operations  to  allow  for  at  least  two  maximum  missions  a  month,  Wolfe 
on  29  June  listed  three  possible  means  of  achieving  his  directive:  by 
building  the  command's  strength  to  180  B-29's,  128  for  combat,  52 
for  tankers;  or  by  assigning  150  B-29's  plus  80  B-17  or  B-24  tankers; 
or  by  having  the  JCS  secure  a  firm  allocation  of  2,000  tons  monthly 
from  ATC.^^®  Under  any  plan,  XX  Bomber  Command  would  retain 
its  C~46's.  Back  in  Washington,  Wolfe  went  over  these  proposals  with 
LeMay  and  Arnold's  staff. ^^'^  The  180  B-29's  were  already  provided 
on  paper  in  the  imminent  reorganization  of  the  58th  Wing.  On  7  July 
Arnold  proposed  to  the  JCS  an  increase  of  the  Hump  lift  to  31,000 
tons  in  December  by  adding  to  ICD's  resources;^^^  a  week  later  he 
made  the  correlative  recommendation  that  the  Joint  Chiefs  guarantee 
to  the  bomber  command  enough  of  the  increased  tonnage  to  insure 
the  designated  225  sorties  per  month.^®^  With  the  command's  own 
efforts,  this  amount  was  variously  calculated  at  from  2,000  to  2,500 
tons,  exclusive  of  the  needs  of  the  312th  Fighter  Wing.^^^  Both  sug- 
gestions were  referred  to  appropriate  agencies  for  study,  which  meant 
no  immediate  action,  but  the  matter  of  the  B-17  ^"^4  tankers  could 
be  handled  within  the  AAF. 

Saunders  was  informed  of  the  proposals  under  consideration  by  the 
JCS  and  of  the  possibility  that  he  might  receive  eighty  B-17  tankers; 
Arnold  wanted  to  know  if  he  could  furnish  flight  crews  and  main- 
tenance for  them/^*  As  to  maintenance  personnel,  the  command  was 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


already  shorthanded  and  eighty  more  transports  would  impose  a 
heavy  additional  strain.  Of  flight  personnel,  however,  there  was  no 
shortage.  Original  T/O's  had  called  for  2  combat  crews  per  UE 
B-29,  or  224  for  the  wing,  but  actually  the  58th  had  come  out  with 
240.  Wolfe,  and  later  Saunders,  had  complained  of  this  plethora  which 
made  it  impossible  for  all  crews  to  get  enough  flying  time  to  main- 
tain efiiciency  and  morale.  Saunders  wished  to  reduce  the  assignment 
to  I  ^  or  I  ^  crews  per  plane  ( 1 60  or  1 80  for  the  wing  under  the  new 
T/O)  and  send  home  the  surplus  crews.^^^  Arnold  proposed  to  use 
excess  crews  to  operate  the  additional  tankers,  which  Saunders  con- 
sidered a  waste  of  highly  trained  B-29  crews.  He  would  have  pre- 
ferred to  assign  the  tankers  to  ATC  in  return  for  a  flat  guarantee  of 
perhaps  2,700  tons  per  month.^^^ 

General  Giles  went  to  the  CBI  in  mid-July  and  there,  at  Arnold's 
request,  he  held  a  conference  of  interested  commanders  to  arrive  at 
some  agreement  on  the  allocation  of  Hump  tonnage  for  current  needs 
and  for  P AC- AID.  Calculating  the  total  Hump  lift  with  the  expected 
augmentation  of  facilities  at  21,320  tons,  Giles  on  2  August  proposed 
that  the  JCS  might  allocate  that  sum  as  follows:  to  the  Fourteenth  Air 
Force,  10,000  tons;  to  other  CBI  agencies,  3,200;  to  XX  Bomber  Com- 
mand, 6,300  firm  including  1,550  tons  for  the  312th  Wing;  for  PAC- 
AID  stockpiling,  1,820.  Of  its  4,750  tons  net,  the  bomber  command 
would  haul  1,600  tons  in  B-29's  and  in  40  C-46's;  the  other  C-46's  (i 
squadron  of  20  planes)  and  the  promised  heavy  bomber  tankers  would 
be  operated  by  ATC.^^^  This  plan  was  essentially  what  Saunders  had 
earlier  suggested  but  was  not  wholly  acceptable  to  Arnold,  who  ex- 
pected XX  Bomber  Command  to  operate  the  tankers  (now  designated 
as  seventy  C-109's,  B-24's  converted  as  tankers)  and  who  repeated  a 
sentiment  recently  expressed,  that  he  would  not  tolerate  the  continued 
use  of  B-29's  as  transports  after  the  arrival  of  the  C-109's.^^ 

Giles'  message  seemed  to  indicate  some  willingness  on  Stilwell's  part 
to  receive  "additional  guidance"  from  the  JCS  in  regard  to  tonnage 
allocation.  When  asked  by  Marshall  on  10  August,  Stilwell  thought 
it  possible  to  maintain  6,300  tons  for  XX  Bomber  Command  if  ATC 
were  expanded  according  to  schedule;  rather  than  a  directive  to  that 
effect,  however,  he  preferred  that  the  JCS  give  him  a  statement  of  the 
relative  importance  of  the  several  activities  dependent  upon  the  Hump 
lift.^^®  On  25  August  the  Joint  Chiefs  approved  the  increase  in  ICD's 
potential  as  proposed  by  Arnold  and  provided  a  statement  to  guide 

128 


XX   BOMBER   COMMAND  AGAINST  JAPAN 

the  allocation  of  tonnage."**  This  went  to  Stilwell  next  day  in  a  radio- 
gram which  suggested  the  following  order  of  priorities:  i)  main- 
taining the  air  link  to  China  to  insure  operations  and  defense  of  bases 
needed  for  PAC-AID  (supply  of  Fourteenth  Air  Force  and  stock- 
piling for  PAC-AID);  2)  implementing  MATTERHORN  at  the 
rate  of  225  sorties  a  month;  and  3)  requirements  of  Chinese  air  and 
ground  forces."^ 

According  to  Arnold's  office,  the  intent  of  the  JCS  had  been  to 
insure  for  XX  Bomber  Command  support  for  225  sorties  per  month."^ 
The  command,  however,  put  little  reliance  in  a  directive  that  gave  so 
low  a  priority  to  MATTERHORN  strategic  missions.  When  LeMay 
assumed  command  on  29  August,  it  seemed  obvious  that  he  would 
have  to  increase,  not  abandon,  transport  activities;  there  was  no  longer 
any  thought  of  assigning  the  C-109's  to  ATC,  but  rather  of  getting 
them  to  Kalaikunda  and  at  work  as  soon  as  possible."^  A  plan  for 
operating  the  C-109's  had  been  approved  on  25  August.  A  small  cadre 
of  administrative  and  maintenance  personnel  plus  244  enlisted  train- 
ees would  be  assigned  to  the  *'C-io9  provisional  unit"  at  Kalaikunda. 
The  B-29  crews,  less  one  bombardier-navigator  and  one  radar  opera- 
tor each,  to  a  total  of  seventy-two  would  be  rotated  on  sixty-day 
TDY,  To  each  C-109  would  be  assigned  a  flight  crew  of  five  and  a 
ground  crew  of  eight,  drawn  from  the  cadre  mechanic  trainees  and 
surplus  members  of  the  B-29  crews."*  The  provisional  unit  became 
a  reality  early  in  September  when  B-29  crews,  ground  personnel,  and 
the  first  C-io9's  arrived  at  Kalaikunda.  Later,  with  the  reorganization 
of  the  command,  some  39  officers  and  460  men  were  authorized  for 
"cargo  service  units.""* 

These  arrangements  did  not  bring  immediate  relief  to  the  pressing 
need  for  more  tonnage  at  Chengtu.  Exclusive  of  requirements  for 
fighter  defense,  the  command  needed  some  4,950  tons  for  225  mis- 
sions, plus  about  500  for  overhead.  According  to  their  own  figures,* 
XX  Bomber  Command  in  August  had  received  at  Chengtu  1,478  tons 
from  ATC  and  had  hauled  798  tons  in  C-46's,  1,106  in  B-29  tankers. 
At  Arnold's  repeated  insistance,  the  tactical  B-29's  had  been  with- 
drawn from  the  wearing  transport  job,  so  that  the  over-all  total  was 
only  3,382  tons,  nearly  600  short  of  the  July  haul.  In  September,  with 
an  early  promise  of  3,200  tons  from  ATC,"®  the  command  received 
2,141;  with  the  tactical  B-29's  back  on  the  job  and  some  help  from 

*  See  above,  pp.  83  7^-84  n. 


129 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 

such  C-109's  as  arrived  during  the  month,  a  total  of  4,581  tons  was 
brought  in  to  the  forward  bases.  Deliveries  for  October  and  Novem- 
ber, when  PAC-AID  missions  would  be  run,  must  be  much  heavier, 
but  for  those  missions  XX  Bomber  Command  could  draw  upon  Stil- 
well's  stockpile.  LeMay's  estimate  of  10,685  tons  for  October  was 
almost  exactly  met  with  a  total  delivery  of  10,830,  of  which  7,301 
were  by  ATC  planes/"  The  C-109's  were  slow  in  arriving — only 
thirty-three  had  been  received  by  5  October  when  deployment  should 
have  been  almost  completed — and  in  spite  of  valiant  efforts  at  Kalai- 
kunda  it  was  still  acknowledged  by  the  bomber  command  that  both 
C-109's  and  C-46's  could  be  operated  more  efficiently  by  ICD  "® 

By  mid-October,  Arnold's  staff  had  come  around  to  that  point  of 
view,  concurring  in  a  ''feeler"  sent  out  to  Sultan  by  ATC  at  Wash- 
ington to  the  effect  that  ICD  take  over  on  detached  service  one  of  the 
XX  Bomber  Commandos  C-46  squadrons  and  twenty  to  thirty  of  the 
C-109's.  "We  all  agree,"  LeMay  was  informed  on  the  17th,  "that  it 
would  be  desirable  to  get  you  out  of  the  transport  business  but  the 
main  requirement  is  .  .  .  the  insurance  of  ample  tonnage."^'®  Such 
an  arrangement  did  not  have  to  involve  even  temporary  transfer  of 
B-29  crews  to  ATC  control,  since  the  Twentieth  Air  Force  had  al- 
ready proposed  to  cut  down  authorization  of  such  crews  from  2  to 
1.3  per  UE  aircraft  and  to  exchange  for  those  rendered  surplus  a  bulk 
allotment  of  924  flight  and  maintenance  personnel/™ 

Conferences  in  the  CBI  indicated  that  Stilwell  was  not  averse  to 
such  an  arrangement  and  that  he  would  give  a  reasonably  firm  guar- 
antee if  the  exchange  were  made.^^^  At  LeMay's  suggestion,  the  details 
of  the  trade  were  modified  to  include  all  of  the  C-109's  and  two 
squadrons  of  C-46's,  leaving  him  one  squadron  for  hauling  dry  cargo. 
Permission  to  make  the  described  reassignment  was  granted  by  the 
end  of  October,  and  the  new  arrangement  was  reflected  in  the  trans- 
port records  of  November  and  December."^  B-29  tactical  planes  were 
taken  off  the  Hump  run  in  November,  B-29  tankers  in  the  following 
month,  and  deliveries  were  predominantly  by  courtesy  of  ICD.  There 
would  still  be  disagreement  over  each  monthly  allocation,  but  XX 
Bomber  Command  had  been  relieved  of  a  task  which  had  long  ab- 
sorbed much  of  its  energies.  The  theory  of  the  self-supporting  bomber 
unit  had  been  broken  by  the  harsh  realities  of  China-Burma-India. 


130 


CHAPTER  5 


EXIT  MATTERHORN 

XX  BOMBER  COMMAND  flew  its  ninth  mission,  an  attack 
against  Anshan's  coke  ovens,  on  26  September  1944,  its  tenth, 
a  strike  against  Okayama  on  Formosa,  on  14  October.  The 
interim,  a  decisive  period  in  the  reorganization  of  the  command, 
marked  also  a  turning  point  in  its  operational  story.  With  an  increase 
in  supplies  available  at  the  forward  bases  LeMay  quickened  the  tempo 
of  the  attack:  never  again  would  there  be  so  long  a  rest  for  the  B-29's 
as  this  eighteen-day  pause,  and  subsequent  missions  would  be  on  aver- 
age of  greater  weight  and  greater  effectiveness.  For  these  new  efforts 
new  objectives  were  chosen,  involving  a  radical  shift  in  the  strategic 
target  system  and  a  closer  integration  with  the  operations  of  other 
commands. 

As  preparations  advanced  for  a  sustained  bomber  offensive  against 
Honshu  by  Marianas-based  B-29's,  the  strategic  importance  of  the 
Chengtu  fields  waned— indeed,  by  September  Arnold  was  considering 
seriously  what  had  always  been  implicit  in  the  MATTERHORN 
concept,  transfer  of  XX  Bomber  Command  to  a  more  profitable  site. 
The  move  was  to  come  by  stages.  Because  of  the  desperate  tactical 
situation  in  China,  the  command  pulled  out  of  its  Chengtu  fields  dur- 
ing the  last  week  of  January  1945,  but  it  continued  to  fly  missions 
from  India  until  30  March.  Soon  thereafter  the  combat  groups  and 
their  supporting  units  moved  to  the  Marianas,  and  XX  Bomber  Com- 
mand, a  headquarters  with  grandiose  prospects  but  no  bombers, 
moved  out  to  Okinawa  only  to  be  dissolved  and  absorbed  by  the 
Eighth  Air  Force  in  July. 

During  its  last  six  months  of  combat  in  the  CBI  the  command  ex- 
pended a  far  greater  share  of  its  effort  than  had  been  anticipated 
against  tactical  objectives  in  China  and  southeast  Asia.  Strikes  in  sup- 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

port  of  MacArthur's  campaign  in  the  Philippines;  attacks  against 
shipping,  docks,  rail  communications,  and  ammunition  dumps  on  be- 
half of  Mountbatten;  aerial  mining  and  VLR  reconnaissance— these 
activities  lent  variety  to  the  command's  program  and  overshadowed 
its  original  strategic  mission,  represented  during  this  period  chiefly  by 
seven  attacks  against  aircraft  industry  targets.  The  shift  in  priority 
from  coke  ovens  to  aircraft  factories  did  not  constitute  a  radical  re- 
vision in  plans,  having  long  been  considered  a  possibility,  but  the 
abandonment  of  the  Chengtu  fields  did.  That  move,  in  fact,  marked 
the  end  of  the  MATTERHORN  strategic  concept,  and  although  it 
came  just  as  XX  Bomber  Command  was  reaching  its  peak  of  perform- 
ance, operations  thereafter  bore  an  air  of  anticlimax  as  the  command 
awaited  with  such  patience  as  could  be  mustered  the  expected  move 
into  a  more  decisive  theater. 

Thus  the  history  of  XX  Bomber  Command  after  September  1944 
divides  itself  naturally  into  three  phases,  that  of  China-based  missions, 
of  India-based  missions,  and  of  withdrawal  to  the  Pacific.  There  is 
some  overlapping,  for  missions  were  staged  from  the  Kharagpur  area 
during  the  first  as  well  as  second  phase,  but  at  the  risk  of  confusing 
the  chronology  of  the  forty  missions  flown  between  October  and 
April,  this  is  the  pattern  which  will  be  followed  in  the  present  chap- 
ter. 

Missions  from  China 

In  October  1944  and  January  1945  XX  Bomber  Command  flew  a 
number  of  missions  in  direct  support  of  operations  in  the  Pacific.  This 
effort,  referred  to  tersely  as  PAC-AID,  had  been  under  consideration 
since  before  the  initial  strike  against  Bangkok,  but  plans  had  remained 
fluid  as  Pacific  strategy  developed.  The  objectives  eventually  chosen 
for  PAC-AID  tied  in  closely  with  the  command's  newly  designated 
target  system,  the  Japanese  aircraft  industry,  and  it  is  convenient  here 
to  explain  that  choice  of  targets. 

During  the  summer,  opinion  at  Twentieth  Air  Force  Headquarters 
had  veered  from  coke  toward  the  aircraft  industry  as  the  top-priority 
objective,  and  by  early  September  staff  planners  had  about  decided j:o 
modify  the  bomber  command's  target  directive.  Arnold,  then  pre- 
paring for  the  OCTAGON  conference  at  Quebec,  would  make  no 
immediate  decision,  but  on  the  8th  directed  the  Committee  of  Opera- 
tions Analysts  to  revise  its  report  of  1 1  November  1943  on  economic 


132 


EXIT  MATTERHORN 


targets  in  the  Far  East,  now  completely  outmoded  by  the  accelerated 
pace  of  the  war  and  the  early  prospect  of  XXI  Bomber  Command 
operations  from  the  Marianas.  In  spite  of  Arnold's  impatience,  such 
a  revision  could  not  be  produced  overnight,  but  in  the  meanwhile  his 
staff  informed  LeMay  of  a  possible  shift  in  objectives  which  would 
give  top  priority  to  aircraft  plants  at  Omura,  Mukden,  Watanabe 
(near  Fukuoka) ,  and  Okayama.  These  were  not  the  most  important 
Japanese  airplane  plants,  but  they  were  the  best  within  range  of  B-29's 
at  Chengtu.  This  message  was  dispatched  on  1 3  September,^  and  within 
a  few  days  Okayama  was  scheduled  as  target  for  the  command's  next 
mission.^ 

The  CO  A  report  was  finished  on  10  October.^  At  Arnold's  request 

it  consisted  of  two  parts  based  on  alternative  assumptions:  that  Japan 
might  be  defeated  by  sea-  and  air-blockade  alone,  or  by  those  means 
plus  an  invasion  of  the  home  islands.  The  two  lists  of  target  objectives 
differed  in  order  and  emphasis  rather  than  in  substance.  On  the  first 
premise  the  CO  A  recommended  i )  a  general  campaign  against  ship- 
ping, including  extensive  VLR  mining  operations,  2)  an  attack  on  the 
aircraft  industry,  and  3)  saturation  bombing  of  six  specified  urban  in- 
dustrial areas.  Mining  and  precision  bombing  of  aircraft  factories 
could  be  done  simultaneously,  but  the  area  attacks  were  to  be  post- 
poned until  they  could  be  made  in  heavy  force.  Thereafter  a  fresh 
study  should  be  made  to  determine  whether  other  suitable  targets 
existed.  If  plans  should  contemplate  the  invasion  of  Japan,  the  B-29's 
ought  to  engage  ''generally"  in  attacks  on  the  aircraft  industry  and 
urban  industrial  areas,  and  to  intensify  the  antishipping  campaign.  De- 
tailed studies  of  the  offensive  against  the  aircraft  industry  and  the  six 
city  areas  had  already  been  prepared  and  that  on  VLR  mining  was 
shaping  up;  all  these  were  to  be  used  as  guides.* 

The  main  concern  of  the  CO  A  was  properly  with  B-29's  based  in 
the  Marianas  and  in  other  Pacific  islands  to  be  captured  later.  VHB 
forces  in  those  areas  would  dwarf  the  one  wing  in  the  CBI,  and  with 
the  prospect  of  mining  Shimonoseki  Strait,  it  was  thought  that  no  stra- 
tegic targets  of  great  importance  would  exist  within  range  of  Chengtu. 
The  COA  report  of  1 1  November  1943  had  been  concerned  with  an 
expanding  Japanese  industry  which  might  be  slowly  crippled  by  at- 
tacks on  steel  (via  coke  ovens)  and  on  shipping.  This  theory  had  lent 
importance  to  Chengtu,  within  B-29  range  of  most  of  Japan's  coking 
plants  in  Kyushu,  Manchuria,  and  Korea.  Since  that  report,  however. 


133 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

shipping  losses  had  curtailed  Japanese  industrial  expansion;  the  ina- 
bility to  move  iron  ore  from  the  Philippines,  Hainan,  and  the  Asiatic 
mainland  to  prqcessing  plants  in  Japan  was  now  thought  to  be  the  true 


limiting  factor.  Since  there  was  apparently  a  surplus  of  coke  in  Japan 
and  merely  a  balance  (as  against  an  earlier  surplus  wiped  out  by  XX 
Bomber  Command)  on  the  continent,  Anshan,  Penchihu,  and  a  shale- 
oil  plant  at  Fushun  remained  profitable  targets  only  if  XX  Bomber 

^34 


EXIT  MATTERHORN 


Command  remained  at  Chengtu  and  if  it  were  not  fully  employed 
against  tactical  targets.  The  only  tactical  target  named,  however,  was 
Okayama  in  Formosa,  an  aircraft  repair  and  modification  center  near 
Takao  and  the  principal  staging  center  for  Japanese  planes  en  route  to 
the  South  or  Central  Pacific/  The  implied  possibility  of  leaving 
Chengtu  and  of  turning  to  tactical  bombardment  was  prophetic;  so 
was  the  choice  of  Okayama  as  the  only  aircraft  target,  for  Halsey's 
carriers  were  scheduled  to  hit  Formosa  on  1 2  October— just  two  days 
after  the  CO  A  report  was  submitted— and  XX  Bomber  Command 
would  attack  Okayama  as  its  first  job  in  P AC- AID.* 

PAC-AID  had  been  long  in  the  making,  its  details  changing  with 
each  revision  of  strategic  plans  for  the  Pacific.  Those  plans  are  de- 
scribed more  appropriately  in  a  later  chapter;t  here  it  suffices  to  point 
out  the  strategic  significance  of  the  Luzon-Formosa-China  coast  area. 
Control  of  all  or  parts  of  that  triangle  was  recognized  in  Washington 
and  the  Pacific  theaters  as  a  prerequisite  for  the  final  assault  on  the 
home  islands,  but  there  were  long  debates  over  rival  plans  advanced 
by  Nimitz  and  MacArthur  for  achieving  that  control.  On  12  March 
1944  the  JCS  had  decided  that  there  should  be  not  one  Dut  two  axes 
of  approach:  Nimitz  and  his  POA  forces  moving  via  the  Marianas- 
Carolines-Palaus,  MacArthur  advancing  from  New  Guinea  to  Min- 
danao, prepared  to  take  Luzon  if  necessary.  Target  dates  were:  Min- 
danao, 15  November;  Formosa,  15  February  1945,  or,  should  the 
Luzon  operation  prove  necessary  before  Formosa,  Luzon  should  be 
invaded  on  the  latter  date.^ 

In  any  event  it  was  a  Pacific  plan  and  one  which  relegated  the  CBI 
to  a  secondary  role.  The  Joint  Strategic  Survey  Committee  (JSSC) 
stated  the  case  bluntly:  "Having  decided  on  our  strategy  in  the  Pacific 
and  accepted  it  as  the  basic  and  primary  strategy  against  Japan,  our 
Asiatic  strategy  should  be  planned  primarily  on  the  basis  of  how  it 
can  most  promptly  and  effectively  be  integrated  with  Pacific  strat- 
egy."^ The  approach  to  the  Philippines  and  Formosa  could  be  aided 
by  China-based  planes,  Chennault's  working  out  of  east  China  fields 
and  the  B-29's  from  Chengtu.  This  was  the  logic  which  underlay  the 
JCS  message  of  2  May  directing  Stilwell  to  commit  XX  Bomber  Com- 
mand to  support  of  the  Mindanao  operation  in  November,  the  For- 
mosa assault  in  February.® 

The  Joint  Chiefs  suggested  that  Stilwell  begin  stockpiling  for  PAC- 

•  For  map  of  Formosa,  see  below,  p.  472. 
+  See  below,  pp.  275-88. 


135 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

AID  at  once.  This  he  could  hardly  do  with  his  airlift  to  China  more 
than  strained  by  Chennault's  needs  in  the  face  of  the  Japanese  offen- 
sive and  with  the  XX  Bomber  Command  levy  against  ATC;^  PAC- 
AID  thus  was  a  potent  factor  in  the  July  decision  to  augment  ATC's 
Hump  potential.*  The  directive  of  2  May  specified  that  XX  Bomber 
Command  support  of  Pacific  campaigns  should  not  prejudice  MAT- 
TERHORN  operations,  but  the  guide  submitted  by  the  JCS  to  Stil- 
well  on  26  August  to  govern  allocation  of  Hump  tonnage  accorded 
a  higher  priority  to  PAC-AID  than  to  strategic  operations.^^  With  Pa- 
cific strategy  firming  but  slowly,  XX  Bomber  Command  learned  little 
during  the  summer,  and  as  late  as  4  September  Washington  had  to  re- 
port PAC-AID  plans  still  tentative.^^  Within  a  fortnight,  however, 
they  began  to  jell,  but  in  unexpected  form. 

When  the  OCTAGON  conference  opened  at  Quebec  on  8  Sep- 
tember, the  schedule  for  Pacific  operation  stood  thus:  Morotai 
(SWPA)  and  the  Palaus  (PGA),  15  September;  Yap  and  Ulithi 
(POA),  5  October;  Talauds  (SWPA),  15  October;  Mindanao 
(SWPA),  15  November;  Leyte  (SWPA),  20  December;  Formosa- 
Amoy,  I  March  1945,  or  Luzon,  20  February In  preparation  for  the 
first  of  these  invasions,  Halsey  in  early  September  sent  Mitscher's  fast 
carriers  in  a  series  of  strikes  in  the  western  Carolines  and  Philippines. 
In  attacks  on  Mindanao,  Task  Force  38  met  little  opposition;  accord- 
ing to  Halsey,  Mitscher  found  that  "the  Fifth  Air  Force  had  already 
flattened  the  enemy's  installations  and  that  only  a  feeble  few  planes 
rose  to  meet  him."  Halsey  accordingly  ordered  a  three-day  strike 
against  the  central  Philippines  beginning  1 2  September."  On  Leyte 
enemy  air  opposition  again  proved  weak,  so  weak  that  on  the  13  th 
Halsey  suggested  to  Nimitz  that  the  timetable  be  set  forward— spe- 
cifically that  the  Talauds,  Yap,  and  the  Palaus  be  bypassed  and  with 
forces  thus  made  available  Mac  Arthur  should  go  on  directly  to  Leyte, 
skipping  Mindanao.  It  was  too  latje  to  cancel  the  Palaus,  but  Nimitz 
indorsed  the  rest  of  the  recommendation  and  sent  it  on  to  Admiral 
King,  then  sitting  with  the  CCS  at  Quebec.^*  With  remarkable  dis- 
patch the  Joint  Chiefs  got  the  concurrence  of  Mac  Arthur's  GHQ  and 
on  15  September  set  up  the  Leyte  operation  for  20  October.^^ 

This  decision  advanced  D-day  for  the  initial  PAC-AID  mission  by 
some  four  weeks  and  thus  complicated  the  already  difficult  problem 
of  supplies  in  the  forward  area.  Earlier  plans  were  scrapped,  and  in  a 

*  See  above,  pp.  126-30. 

136 


EXIT  MATTERHORN 


new  estimate  LeMay  figured  his  October  potential  at  225  MATTER- 
HORN  and  125  PAC-AID  sorties,  an  effort  he  could  increase  by- 
monthly  increments  of  25  sorties  till  he  reached  a  maximum  of  425  in 
January— provided  he  had  fuel  in  China.  Advised  of  this  by  a  new 
directive  of  29  September,  Stilwell  guaranteed  tonnage  to  support  the 
3  50  October  sorties.^^ 

On  22  September  the  JCS  submitted  to  the  several  theater  com- 
manders concerned  an  outline  plan  for  the  bomber  command's  effort 
in  support  of  the  Leyte  show,  two  closely  spaced  maximum  missions 
(170  sorties  in  all)  against  Okayama,  plus  VLR  reconnaissance*  on 
request  from  Pacific  commanders."  Though  MacArthur  suggested  hit- 
ting airfields  on  Luzon,  and  Chennault,  deploring  the  "incongruity  of 
the  present  situation,"  offered  an  alternative  plan,^®  Nimitz  found  the 
JCS  plan  acceptable  and  it  held."^®  The  B-29  missions  were  to  be  co- 
ordinated with  strikes  by  Mitscher's  fast  carriers,  scheduled  to  attack 
Okinawa  on  10  October  and  Formosa  on  the  12  th  and  13th.  The  com- 
bination of  carrier  and  VHB  attacks  on  air  installations  was  designed 
to  minimize  air  reinforcement  of  the  Philippines  as  MacArthur  closed 
on  Leyte.  At  CINCPOA's  request,  Mitscher  was  to  go  it  alone  on  the 
two  days  of  his  sweep;  Arnold  ordered  the  B-29's  to  attack  on  the 
I  ith  and  14th,  but  when  10  October  weather  forecasts  were  pessimis- 
tic, these  strike  dates  were  postponed  to  the  14th  and  i6th.'^**  The 
Twentieth  Air  Force  reserved  the  right  to  direct  PAC-AID  opera- 
tions as  it  did  strategic  missions,  leaving  local  coordination  to  theater 
commanders;  this  required  a  vast  amount  of  radio  traffic  but  the  com- 
plex operation  went  off  without  a  serious  slip.^^ 

On  10  October  Task  Force  38  struck  along  a  300-mile  arc  center- 
ing on  the  Ryukyus,  feinted  with  a  fighter  sweep  over  Luzon  on  the 
nth,  then  turned  on  Formosa.  The  wide-ranging  2 -day  attack  on 
the  island  failed  to  surprise  the  Japanese,  who  reacted  vigorously,  but 
it  was  highly  successful:  Halsey's  later  claims  ran  to  the  staggering 
total  of  520  enemy  planes  destroyed,  37  ships  sunk,  and  74  probably 
sunk.'^^  This  might  seem  to  have  left  poor  gleaning  for  LeMay  but  his 
targets  had  not  been  spoiled.  Mitscher's  planes  had  damaged  Okayama, 
but  not  critically.  The  aircraft  repair  and  assembly  plant,  with  its  ad- 
jacent air  base,  needed  a  more  thorough  working  over  to  deny  its  use 
as  a  staging  field  to  the  Philippines.'^^ 

The  B-29's  began  moving  up  to  Chengtu  on  9  October,  and  5 

*  VLR  reconnaissance  operations  are  discussed  below,  pp.  163HS5, 


137 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

days  later  130  of  them  got  off  without  incident,  though  carrying  an 
average  of  6,8  tons  each  of  500-pound  GP's  and  incendiaries.  During 
the  noon  hour  104  bombers  dropped  about  650  tons  on  Okayama. 
Weather  was  good  and  so  was  the  bombing,  though  late  arrivals  were 
hampered  by  smoke.  Task  Force  38  had  destroyed  or  cowed  the  is- 
land's defenders:  the  few  fighters  sighted  offered  no  resistance  and 
flak  was  meager. Five  B-29's  bombed  Swatow,  two  the  Japanese-held 
airfield  at  Hengyang  (named  last  resort  target  at  Chennault's  request) 
and  six  bombed  targets  of  opportunity.  A  dozen  planes  made  emer- 
gency landings  at  friendly  fields  in  China,  one  crashed  near  Changteh 
whence  its  crew  walked  out,  and  one  was  listed  as  missing.  This  was 
a  cheap  price  to  pay  for  very  severe  damage  done  to  Okayama  instal- 
lations.^' 

Indeed,  that  damage  appeared  so  heavy  that  LeMay  considered  it 
unnecessary  to  send  back  all  of  the  available  planes  for  the  mop-up  on 
the  1 6th.  Halsey,  with  a  couple  of  wounded  cruisers  for  bait,  was  try- 
ing to  lure  the  Japs  into  a  fleet  action  and  Formosa  needed  policing, 
but  at  Washington's  suggestion,  LeMay  divided  his  forces:  the  444th 
and  462d  Groups  were  to  return  to  Okayama  on  16  October  while  the 
468th  hit  Heito,  an  air  base  and  staging  field  located  just  east  of  Takao, 
where  there  was  an  air  arsenal  that  performed  repair  and  final  as- 
sembly of  fighters.  Next  day  the  40th  Group  was  to  bomb  Einansho 
Air  Depot  near  Tainan.^*  The  twin  mission  went  off  less  smoothly 
than  that  of  the  14th,  Of  forty-nine  planes  airborne  against  Okayama, 
only  twenty-eight  bombed  there,  but  they  were  aided  by  five  strag- 
glers from  the  468th  Group.  To  even  things  up,  a  formation  of  eleven 
planes  from  the  444th  flew  calmly  by  its  Okayama  target  and  struck 
at  Heito  through  an  error  by  the  lead  bombardier.  Other  B-29's 
bombed  alternate  or  chance  targets  at  Takao,  Toshien,  Swatow,  and 
Sintien  harbors;  at  Hengyang;  and  at  several  airdromes,  including 
Taichu  on  Formosa.^^ 

Damage  assessment  at  Okayama  made  on  the  basis  of  photo  recon- 
naissance confirmed  enthusiastic  reports  by  aircrews.  Lead  aircraft  on 
14  October  had  made  photos  revealing  Navy  damage  which  included 
four  buildings  destroyed  and  nine  damaged  out  of  eighty  at  the  as- 
sembly plant,  and  five  hangars  destroyed  at  the  air  base.  XX  Bomber 
Command  had  added  vastly  to  the  havoc,  especially  on  the  first  mis- 
sion. After  16  October  only  six  small  buildings  at  the  assembly  plant 
remained  intact;  nine  had  been  damaged,  sixty-five  destroyed.  At  the 

138 


EXIT  MATTERHORN 


air  base  the  B-29's  had  destroyed  two  hangars  and  sixteen  buildings 
(out  of  thirty-two)  and  damaged  nine.  A  total  of  116  aircraft  had 
been  hit  in  the  2  areas  by  Navy  and  XX  Bomber  Command  planes. 
Damage  assessment  at  Heito  and  Einansho  was  less  specific  for  want 
of  good  photos  and  was  less  spectacular.  Elsewhere  a  number  of  other 
targets  had  been  hit  accurately  but  with  little  weight.^^ 

But  the  important  target  had  been  the  plant  at  Okayama,  and 
LeMay's  intelligence  officers  estimated  that  it  would  require  from  four 
to  six  months'  work  to  be  restored  to  full  operations.  Their  estimate 
proved  an  accurate  one:  after  the  war  the  Japanese  Historical  Group's 
description  of  the  raids  and  their  assessment  of  damage  tallied  gener- 
ally with  the  intelligence  reports  (save  that  the  Japanese  patriotically 
but  erroneously  claimed  that  three  B-29's  were  shot  down  on  the 
17th).  Little  damage  was  done,  they  said,  on  the  i6th  and  17th,  but  at 
Okayama  the 

majority  of  the  buildings  of  the  61  Air  Depot  were  destroyed  and  burned  and 
the  air  depot  was  rendered  useless  with  little  hope  of  rebuilding.  Most  of  the 
buildings  of  the  Tainan  and  Takao  Air  Bases  were  burned.  This  was  the  first 
case  of  major  damages  suffered  by  land  installations  in  Japan  proper  as  a  result 
of  B-29  attacks.^^ 

As  to  the  effects  of  the  strikes  on  the  Leyte  operations,  the  Japanese 
historians  were  less  reassuring.  "Intercepting  land-based  aircraft," 
they  said,  were  deployed  in  Kyushu,  Okinawa,  and  northern  For- 
mosa, and  hence  the  Okayama  attacks  "had  no  direct  effect  on  the 
defense  of  the  Philippines."  But  because  the  Okayama  air  depot  per- 
formed maintenance  for  aircraft  used  for  training,  its  destruction 
caused  "a  considerable  hindrance  ...  to  training  of  airmen."  And 
so,  ironically,  PAC-AID  brought  little  aid  to  Pacific  forces  but  ac- 
complished a  minor  strategic  job  with  admirable  thoroughness.  The 
same  could  not  be  said  about  all  subsequent  strategic  missions. 

On  1 1  October  Washington  had  informed  LeMay  definitively  of 
the  long-expected  change  in  target  systems  which  gave  first  priority 
to  the  aircraft  industry Primary  target  within  range  of  Chengtu  was 
the  Omura  Aircraft  Factory,  which  manufactured  Petes,  Zekes,  and 
a  new  carrier  attack  plane  called  Grace,  and  repaired  Zekes  and  Jakes. 
Omura,  on  Kyushu,  had  been  hit  by  a  single  B-29  ^^e  night  of 
7/8  July  and  had  been  suggested  as  a  possible  target  in  August.  Now 
it  was  to  absorb  a  major  share  of  XX  Bomber  Command's  efforts  in 
five  missions  run  before  the  withdrawal  from  China. 


139 


THE   ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


LeMay's  attacks  on  Formosa,  involving  302  sorties,  had  strained  his 
resources;  his  best  plan,  accepted  by  Washington,  envisaged  a  maxi- 
mum strike  about  25  October  (which  would  make  his  monthly  total 
exceed  the  350  sorties  Stilwell  had  promised  to  sponsor)  and  2 
closely  spaced  attacks  after  10  November—all  against  Omura."  He 
got  103  B-29's  north  to  Chengtu  but  only  78  managed  to  get  up  on  a 
predawn  take-off  on  25  October.  Over  Omura,  59  planes  dropped 
156  tons  of  GP's  and  incendiaries  while  1 1  more  were  hitting  various 
other  targets.  Enemy  opposition  was  rated  as  moderate,  but  one  B-29 
was  crippled  and  crashed  after  most  of  its  crew  had  jumped  safely  into 
China.  One  plane,  with  crew,  was  listed  as  an  operational  loss.  Strike 
photos  and  later  reconnaissance  on  6  November  indicated  a  consid- 
erable amount  of  damage,  particularly  in  the  area  devoted  to  alumi- 
num fabrication.^^ 

Out  of  India  XX  Bomber  Command  ran  two  strikes,  a  "training" 
mission  against  Rangoon  on  3  November  and  a  spectacular  attack  at 
Singapore  on  the  5th,*  and  then  turned  back  on  Omura,  His  Hump 
allotment  cut  500  tons  after  the  expensive  month  of  October,  LeMay 
had  to  readjust  his  November  schedule  to  a  120-sortie  strike  on 
12  November  and  110  sorties  about  the  2  7th.'^^ 

The  first  of  these  missions  was  moved  up  a  day  on  the  basis  of 
weather  forecasts,  and  early  on  the  iith  ninety-six  B-29's  were  air- 
borne for  Omura.  Last-minute  reports  indicated  cloud  and  turbulence 
at  Omura  (aftermath  of  a  typhoon  and  harbinger  of  Kyushu's  winter) 
and  aircraft  already  en  route  were  ordered  to  hit  the  last  resort  target 
at  Nanking.  Fewer  than  half  of  them  heard  the  order.  High  wind  and 
cloud  played  havoc  with  formations  and  fifteen  planes  bombed  indi- 
vidually various  targets  of  opportunity.  At  Nanking  twenty-four 
B-29's  were  able  to  bomb  visually,  but  the  twenty-nine  aircraft  that 
went  on  to  Omura  encountered  weather  too  heavy  to  sight  the  target 
and  so  rough  that  radar  bombing  was  difficult.  Enemy  opposition  was 
weak,  but  the  weather  so  increased  the  normal  hazards  of  flying  that 
five  B-29's  were  listed  as  lost  or  missing  from  operational  causes.** 
Very  good  photos  shot  on  1 7  November  showed  no  new  damage  in 
the  aircraft  factory  at  Omura,  though  some  neighboring  buildings  had 
been  hit.  At  the  factory  debris  from  the  25  October  raid  was  being 
cleared  but  no  major  repair  work  had  been  begun.  At  Nanking  dam- 
age was  noted  but  none  of  great  military  significance.*'* 

*  See  below,  pp.  154-56, 
140 


EXIT  MATTE^RHORN 

The  second  November  strike  at  Omura  proved  equally  costly  and 
futile.  Scheduled  for  27  November,  D-day  was  advanced  to  the  24th 
when  the  logistical  situation  momentarily  improved.  General  Arnold 
had  wanted  to  coordinate  the  mission  with  a  double-barreled  blast  at 
Honshu— a  carrier  sweep  (HOTFOOT)  and  his  favorite  project, 
XXI  Bomber  Command's  first  strike  at  Tokyo  (SAN  ANTONIO  I). 
After  successive  delays  in  the  Pacific  this  plain  failed  to  come  off,  and 
with  a  favorable  forecast  for  2 1  November,  LeMay  selected  that  date, 
three  days  before  Hansell  hit  Tokyo. 

LeMay  had  promised  a  no-plane  mission;  actually  109  got  off  the 
ground  in  the  early  hours  of  the  21st,  though  i  crashed  just  off  the 
runway  killing  all  but  i  crewman.  Again  foul  weather  caused  many 
deviations  from  the  prescribed  course.  Of  the  wanderers,  thirteen 
bombed  the  secondary  target  at  Sh^inghai  with  fair  success,  and  ten 
dropped  on  various  other  targets.  Among  these  were  five  B-29's  whose 
bombardiers  were  led  astray  by  a  radar  operator  who  mistook  Omuta 
for  Omura;  it  was  an  error  in  reading  his  scope,  not  the  name  of  the 
target.  At  the  primary  target,  Omura,  sixty-one  planes  bombed  by 
radar  and  in  some  confusion,  with  two  formations  badly  broken  in  an 
attempt  to  change  lead  planes  for  the  bomb  run.  Strike  photos  showed 
no  additional  damage  in  the  factory  area."  Flak  was  inaccurate,  and 
enemy  air  opposition  was  rated  "moderate  to  strong"  at  Omura  where 
Japanese  fighters  proved  more  aggressive  than  usual,  pressing  attacks 
at  times  to  within  less  than  100  yards  of  the  Superforts.  Two  new 
fighters  were  identified  by  B-29  crewmen  for  the  first  time,  Frank 
and  Jack  II,  the  latter  knocking  off  one  B-29.  In  all,  five  bombers  were 
lost  to  enemy  action,  six  including  the  crack-up  at  Ghengtu;  fifty-one 
crewmen  were  dead  or  missing.  B-29  crews  claimed  twenty-seven 
destroyed,  nineteen  probables,  and  twenty-four  damaged.^^  This  was 
high  for  XX  Bomber  Command,  whose  scores  were  more  modest  than 
those  announced  by  heavy  bomber  units  in  the  ETO,  perhaps  because 
intelligence  officers  had  learned  from  the  bitter  experiences  of  VIII 
Bomber  Command  the  necessity  for  careful  screening  of  individual 
claims  and  certainly  because  fewer  fighters  rose  to  meet  them  over 
Kyushu  and  China  than  over  Germany. 

After  another  training  mission  to  Bangkok  on  27  November,  XX 
Bomber  Command  returned  to  its  aircraft  campaign  in  an  attack 
against  the  Manchuria  Airplane  Manufacturing  Company  at  Mukden 
on  7  December.  This  was  a  medium-sized  plant,  apparently  engaged 

141 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


in  the  assembly  of  advanced  trainers,  which  the  Twentieth  Air  Force 
had  made  a  priority  target  for  December  and  January,  but  of  less  im- 
portance than  Omura,  Watanabe,  and  Tachiarai.  A  mission  against 
Omura  had  been  set  for  3  December,  but  when  the  B-29's  came  up  to 
Chengtu,  they  found  the  weather  cold  there  and,  according  to  reports, 
it  was  worse  at  Omura.  Day  after  day,  as  aircrews  and  staff  waited  in 
impatient  discomfort,  weather  reports  brought  further  postponement. 
Since  his  Superforts  were  spread  out  at  Chengtu  like  sitting  ducks 
for  enemy  hecklers  and  since  he  got  no  encouragement  from  his 
weathermen,  LeMay  on  6  December  requested  permission  to  try 
Mukden;  Washington's  consent  came  only  a  few  hours  before  take- 
off time  on  the  yth.^® 

Field  orders  had  already  been  cut,  and  108  aircraft  got  off  on  sched- 
ule and  without  incident.  With  less  difficulty  on  the  way  out  than  in 
the  Omura  missions,  ninety-one  bombers  reached  the  Mukden  area 
to  find  ceiling  and  visibility  unlimited— that  is,  outside  the  planes,  for 
intense  cold  had  frosted  the  windows  to  the  great  handicap  of  pilots, 
bombardiers,  and  gunners.  Ten  planes  in  one  formation  bombed  early 
in  the  run-in,  hitting  a  rail  yard  nine  miles  short  of  the  target.  Eighty 
planes  attacked  more  accurately,  scattering  262  tons  of  bombs  in  the 
target  area  to  cause  some  damage  in  the  factory  complex  and  more  in 
the  adjacent  arsenal.  Nine  planes  bombed  in  other  areas.***  Japanese  de- 
fenders again  were  aggressive,  making  in  all  247  individual  attacks  on 
the  Superforts.  Three  collisions  were  reported:  one,  unintentional,  de- 
stroyed the  Japanese  fighter  but  merely  bent  a  propeller  on  the  B-29; 
another,  unintentional,  destroyed  both  planes;  and  in  one  a  damaged 
fighter  took  down  a  Superfort  in  what  looked  like  a  deliberate  ram- 
ming. Air-to-air  bombing,  a  frequent  Japanese  tactic,  scored  a  limited 
success  when  a  phosphorus  bomb  hit  on  a  B-29  wing  and  rode  piggy- 
back all  the  way  home,  burning  but  without  doing  serious  harm.*^ 

Again  there  was  an  interlude  in  the  strategic  campaign  as  the  com- 
mand ran  a  third  training  mission  to  Bangkok  on  14  December  and  an 
incendiary  attack  on  Hankow  on  the  1 8th.  Since  June,  Chennault  had 
been  trying  to  get  XX  Bomber  Command  to  hit  the  latter  target,  the 
greatest  supply  base  for  the  Japanese  armies  in  China.  Arnold,  how- 
ever, had  refused  Chennault's  request  on  the  grounds  that  Hankow 
was  within  range  of  Fourteenth  Air  Force  planes  and  that  such  a  mis- 
sion would  interfere  with  the  B-29's  strategic  offensive.  Several  times 

142 


EXIT  MATTERHORN 

Hankow  had  been  named  as  last  resort  target  and  twice  a  few  B-29's 
had  bombed  there,  but  these  were  feeble  efforts.*'* 

In  November  the  Japanese  opened  a  drive  from  Liuchow,  aimed  at 
Kweiyang  and  with  Kunming,  terminus  of  the  Hump  airway,  as  a 
possible  ultimate  goal.  Stilwell  had  given  little  more  than  formal  con- 
currence to  Chennault's  pleas  for  6-29  support,  but  Lt.  Gen.  Al- 
bert  C.  Wedemeyer,  who  had  replaced  Stilwell  in  China  on  18  Oc- 
tober, strongly  indorsed  the  idea  of  a  mass  attack  on  Hankow.  The 
threat  to  Kunming,  key  to  all  American  efforts  in  China,  would  cer- 
tainly seenl  to  have  been  one  of  those  emergencies  foreseen  by  the 
JCS  in  April  when  they  gave  theater  commanders  the  right  to  divert 
B-29's  from  strategic  to  tactical  uses  should  the  occasion  demand.* 
Wedemeyer  proposed  that  XX  Bomber  Command  run  100  sorties 
against  Hankow.  LeMay,  with  a  full  docket  for  December,  hesitated 
to  consent,  and  since  Wedemeyer  commanded  only  in  China  and  the 
B-29's  were  based  in  the  India-Burma  Theater,  he  raised  the  question 
of  Wedemeyer's  authority,  which  Washington  upheld.  The  mission 
was  scheduled.*^ 

After  LeMay  had  conferred  with  Wedemeyer  at  Chungking  and 
Chennault  at  Kunming,  operational  plans  were  drawn  which  called 
for  a  coordinated  strike  by  XX  Bomber  Command  and  the  Fourteenth 
Air  Force,  the  latter  to  work  over  airfields  in  the  Hankow  vicinity  an 
hour  after  the  B-29's  had  hit  the  city  in  a  daylight  incendiary  raid  and 
presumably  while  interceptors  were  refueling.  Target  for  Superforts 
Was  the  extensive  dock  and  storage  area  along  the  Yangtze  River. 
With  a  northerly  wind  predicted,  operational  officers  attempted  to 
avoid  the  obscuring  effects  of  smoke  by  an  elaborate  scheme  of  bomb- 
ing in  prescribed  sequence  from  south  to  north  with  four  formations, 
each  with  a  separate  bombing  area  and  a  different  type  of  incendiary. 

D-day,  set  for  15  December,  was  changed  to  the  i8th.  LeMay,  who 
was  withdrawing  from  combat  B-29's  with  unmodified  engines,  ini- 
tially promised  only  sixty  sorties  but  later  reversed  his  decision  and 
mixed  in  some  older  models  to  get  ninety-four  VHB's  airborne  from 
the  forward  fields.  Of  these,  eighty-four  shook  out  their  fire-bombs 
over  Hankow.  The  complicated  bombing  plan  miscarried.  A  few 
hours  before  take-off  Chennault  had  requested  that  the  planes  be  dis- 
patched forty-five  minutes  earlier  than  scheduled,  but  through  a  fail- 

•  See  above,  p.  38. 


143 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


ure  in  communications  the  40th  Group  did  not  receive  the  message, 
so  that  it  was  out  of  order  in  approaching  the  target.  Elements  in  three 
formations  released  their  bombs  in  wrong  sequence  and  smoke  bil- 
lowed up  to  hide  targets  from  the  other  planes.  As  a  result,  only 
thirty-three  planes  in  the  first  three  formations  and  a  few  individual 
planes  later  were  on  target;  some  others  dropped  in  areas  inhabited  by 
Chinese  civilians.  Even  so,  the  military  damage  was  great.  The  com- 
mand's intelligence  officers  estimated  that  40  to  50  per  cent  of  the  tar- 
get area  had  been  destroyed  by  38  per  Cent  of  the  weight  of  attack.** 
General  Chennault  later  said  that  the  raid  "destroyed  Hankow  as  a 
major  base." 

Chennault's  postwar  comments,  in  fact,  are  worth  quoting  at 
greater  length: 

The  December  18  attack  of  the  Superforts  was  the  first  mass  fire-bomb  raid 
they  attempted.  LeMay  was  thoroughly  impressed  by  the  results  of  this  weapon 
against  an  Asiatic  city.  When  he  rrioved  on  to  command  the  entire  B-29  attack 
on  Japan  from  the  Marianas,  LeMay  switched  from  high-altitude  daylight 
attacks  with  high  explosives  to  the  devastating  mass  fire-bomb  night  raids  that 
burned  the  guts  out  of  Japan. 

If  the  inference  here  is  that  the  Hankow  raid  which  Chennault  had 
inspired  and  helped  plan  was  the  root  of  later  XXI  Bomber  Command 
tactics,  the  passage  does  less  than  justice  to  the  "Pentagon  planners" 
for  whom  Chennault  entertained  small  respect,  or  to  the  staff  of  XX 
Bomber  Command.  Long  before  the  command's  first  mission  the  AAF 
had  conducted  studies  and  experiments  on  the  effects  of  mass  incen- 
diary attacks  on  the  inflammable  cities  of  Japan.  A  small  night  incen- 
diary raid  against  Nagaski  had  been  staged  in  August  and  Washington 
had  urged  more.  Both  there  and  at  Kharagpur  there  had  been  senti- 
ment in  favor  of  stripping  the  B-29's  and  using  them  exclusively  for 
low-altitude  fire  bombing  at  night,  the  tactic  which  LeMay  was  later 
to  use.*  In  September  the  CO  A  had  made  further  extensive  studies  on 
saturation  incendiary  attacks  on  six  key  Japanese  cities,  and  in  No- 
vember both  LeMay's  staff  and  Arnold's  had  drawn  up  operational 
plans  for  such  an  attack  on  Nagasaki.  PAC-AID  and  the  early  with- 
drawal from  China  negated  these  plans,  but,  in  the  context  of  these 
facts,  Hankow  can  hardly  be  regarded  as  the  ultimate  source  of 
LeMay 's  policy  and  tactics  in  March  1945/^ 

The  diversion  to  Mukden  on  7  December  left  LeMay  with  a  maxi- 

*  See  below,  chap.  20. 

144 


EXIT  MATTERHORN 


mum  strike  at  Omura  still  to  run,  but  when  the  mission  did  get  off, 
on  the  day  after  the  big  fire  at  Hankow,  it  was  only  at  half -strength. 
Next  to  fuel  in  China,  XX  Bomber  Command's  chief  logistical  prob- 
lem was  the  R-3350  engine.  It  had  been  untried  when  the  command 
arrived  in  the  CBI,  and  the  wide  range  of  temperatures  there  had 
aggravated  the  ills  usually  attendant  upon  breaking  in  a  new  airplane 
motor.  Engine  changes  (and  failures)  had  been  frequent,  and  the  task 
of  maintaining  an  adequate  supply  of  spares  had  taxed  the  resources  of 
A-4's  in  Kharagpur  and  Washington,  as  the  tone  of  urgency  in  the 
voluminous  radio  correspondence  shows.  The  Bengal  Air  Depot  did  a 
competent  job  of  overhaul,  but  since  its  capacity  was  small,  the  bulk  of 
used  engines  had  to  be  sent  back  to  the  States  to  be  worked  over;  over- 
hauled engines  were  returned  to  CBI  with  new  shipments  which  came 
out  by  the  fast  freighter-air  shuttle  until  that  closed  down  at  the  end 
of  November,  and  thereafter  by  ship  or  ATC.*^  Although  Col.  Sol 
Rosenblatt,  Deputy  A-4  for  the  Twentieth,  had  made  a  trip  to  the 
CBI  in  October  and  had  effected  some  improvements  in  the  supply 
system,  with  an  increase  in  the  number  of  UE  B-29's  and  the 
stepped-up  tempo  of  operations  the  demand  for  spares  mounted.** 
XX  Bomber  Command  had  consumed  more  than  the  240  engines  req- 
uisitioned for  October,  had  found  its  allotment  of  270  for  November 
not  too  generous,  and  was  asking  for  360  for  future  months.*®  Various 
modifications  had  been  made  on  the  R-3350  through  collaboration 
between  command  engineers  and  Wright  Field,  and  by  November 
more  than  100  separate  changes  had  been  made.  Now  on  the  eve 
of  the  Omura  mission  (as  before  the  Hankow  raid),  LeMay  de- 
cided to  send  only  those  Superforts  equipped  with  fully  modified 
engines.  This  was  not  excessive  caution:  on  the  three  Formosa  strikes 
all  aborts  and  three  operational  losses  had  been  chalked  up  to  engine 
or  propeller  troubles.'^** 

In  spite  of  his  decision,  LeMay  again  had  to  use  B-29's  with  old- 
model  engines  to  round  out  his  twelve-plane  formations.  The  bombers 
had  stayed  in  China  for  maintenance  after  the  Hankow  mission,  but 
only  thirty-six  got  off  for  Omura  on  the  19th.  Seventeen  bombed  the 
primary  target  through  heavy  clouds,  apparently  with  little  success, 
while  at  Shanghai,  the  secondary  target,  thirteen  B-29's  scored  hits  on 
the  docks,  warehouses,  and  shipping.  Light  enemy  opposition  caused 
little  trouble,  but  two  planes  crashed  (with  no  casualties)  from  opera- 
tional causes." 


145 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

Plans  called  for  a  quick  strike  at  Mukden  on  the  next  day,  before 
the  return  to  Bengal,  but  weather  held  the  mission  back  another  day. 
On  21  December  forty-nine  B-29's  were  airborne  and  forty  reached 
the  Mukden  area.  Two  formations  toggled  their  bombs  prematurely 
in  gross  errors  of  from  four  to  nine  miles—again  frosted  windows 
made  it  hard  to  watch  the  lead  bombardier's  release.  The  enemy  had  a 
dense  smoke  screen  billowing  up,  hiding  the  aircraft  factory  from  the 
nineteen  planes  which  loosed  at  that  target  by  offset,  or  radar-point, 
technique.  No  damage  was  done  to  the  target  proper,  though  the 
arsenal  and  rail  yards  were  slightly  damaged.  Enemy  fighters  were  up 
in  force  and  in  earnest.  Two  collisions  occurred,  one  bringing  down 
both  B-29  and  Jap  fighter,  the  other  destroying  the  fighter  alone  when 
he  failed  to  pull  over  a  B-29  wing  after  a  split-second  change  of  inten- 
tion. Another  bomber  was  lost  when  hit  by  an  air-to-air  phosphorus 
bomb." 

XX  Bomber  Command  ushered  in  the  New  Year,  a  trifle  tardily, 
with  a  training  mission  to  Bangkok  on  3  January,  then  returned  to 
China  for  more  PAC-AID  strikes.  Plans  for  support  of  Pacific  opera- 
tions  had  again  been  reconsidered  in  the  light  of  changing  strategy. 
The  long  Formosa-Luzon  debate  had  finally  been  resolved  as  first 
Nimitz,  then  King,  abandoned  arguments  for  a  Formosa  campaign  in 
favor  of  operations  in  the  Bonins  (Iwo  Jima)  and  Ryukyus  (Oki- 
nawa), which  were  to  be  assaulted  only  after  Luzon  had  been  se- 
cured.* The  schedule  approved  on  3  October  was:  Mindoro  (5  De- 
cember) and  Luzon  (20  December)  by  SWPA,  Iwo  (20  January) 
and  Okinawa  (i  March)  by  POA  forces.  In  all  assaults  the  Twentieth 
and  Fourteenth  Air  Forces  were  to  lend  support.*" 

To  arrange  for  the  supporting  operations,  representatives  from  the 
interested  commands  met  at  MacArthur's  Hollandia  headquarters  in 
early  November  in  the  FIVESOME  conference.  The  final  decisions, 
incorporated  in  a  letter  of  5  November,  included  provisions  for  strikes 
by  the  Fourteenth  against  Hong  Kong  and  by  XX  Bomber  Command 
against  Formosa  as  MacArthur  moved  northward  from  Leyte;  as  in 
October,  VLR  reconnaissance  planes  were  to  serve  at  request.  Some 
estimate  of  the  proper  allocation  of  supplies  available  in  China  stock- 
piles was  made.^*  The  FIVESOME  agreements  were  accepted  by  the 
several  commands  concerned  with  some  reservations,  particularly  by 
Wedemeyer,  LeMay,  and  Arnold.  The  exceptions  stemmed  generally 

•  See  below,  pp.  390-^$. 
146 


EXIT  MATTERHORN 


from  the  critical  tactical  and  logistical  situation  in  China,  where 
Wedemeyer  had  to  move  large  Chinese  ground  forces  by  airlift. 
Wedemeyer  proposed  on  22  November  to  cut  back  XX  Bomber 
Command's  allocation  of  Hump  tonnage  to  an  amount  sufficient  for 
276  sorties  (instead  of  350)  in  December  and  375  (instead  of  425)  for 
January.  The  JCS  upheld  this  revision,  and  LeMay,  who  had  gone 
over  his  allotment  in  the  October  PAC-AID  strikes,  was  forced  to 
change  his  operational  plans.'^'^ 

In  constant  touch  with  Washington  and  the  two  Pacific  headquar- 
ters, LeMay  during  November  expected  to  give  some  support  to  the 
Mindoro  operation  and  a  more  considerable  effort  to  Luzon.  His 
estimate  of  28  November  had  hardly  reached  Washington  when 
MacArthur,  behind  schedule  both  in  operational  phasing  and  airfield 
construction  on  Leyte,  set  back  the  clock  for  the  imminent  move 
northward:  Mindoro  was  rescheduled  for  1 5  December,  Lingayen  for 
9  January.*  LeMay  was  directed  to  hit  Omura,  already  set  up  for  a 
normal  strategic  mission,  on  15  December;  weather  interfered  and 
though  a  small  force  bombed  Omura  on  the  19th,  none  of  the  287  sor- 
ties which  XX  Bomber  Command  expended  in  China  missions  during 
December  could  really  be  charged  to  PAC-AID.  Mindoro  had  been 
easy  but  Luzon  was  a  major  operation,  and  in  mid-December  the  JCS 
directed  Wedemeyer  to  allot  to  XX  Bomber  Command  enough  ton- 
nage for  250  January  sorties  in  support  of  the  landing  at  Lingayen. 
According  to  the  Hollandia  agreement,  LeMay  was  to  send  out  a  dou- 
ble strike  between  S  minus  3  and  S  minus  i  directed  against  the  Shin- 
chiku  and  Taihoku  aircraft  installations  in  northern  Formosa.  Al- 
though accepted  originally  by  Twentieth  Air  Force  Headquarters, 
these  targets  on  further  study  appeared  unsuitable  for  B-29's,  and 
LeMay  set  up  his  mission  for  6  January  with  the  Tachiarai  Machine 
Works,  an  aircraft  assembly  and  repair  plant  in  Kyushu,  as  primary 
visual  target  and  the  familiar  Omura  factory  as  primary  radar  target.*® 

Weathermen  accurately  forecast  cloudy  weather  over  targets.  Of 
forty-nine  B-29's  airborne  from  Chengtu  bases,  twenty-eight  radar- 
bombed  Omura,  eleven  bombed  the  secondary  target  at  Nanking  vis- 
ually, and  six  dropped  at  targets  of  opportunity.  Nine  of  the  planes  at 
Omura  missed  the  target  by  six  miles,  but  inconclusive  evidence  from 
strike  photos  seemed  to  indicate  that  one  formation  got  on  target.  The 
cost  was  one  B-29  shot  down.**' 

•  See  below,  pp.  394-95- 


147 


THE   ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


Whatever  the  damage  at  Omura,  the  attack  seems  to  have  afforded 
little  diversion  in  favor  of  MacArthur's  forces.  As  the  invasion  fleet 
moved  into  Lingayen  Gulf,  Japanese  aircraft  attacked  viciously,  with 
the  kamikaze  boys  taking  especially  heavy  toll  on  the  6th.  In  the  be- 
lief that  they  were  coming  down  from  Formosa,  MacArthur  again 
asked  that  the  XX  Bomber  Command  hit  airfields  there.  Both  Arnold 
and  LeMay  acceded  and  two  strikes  were  scheduled  in  spite  of  earlier 
doubts  about  finding  a  target/"*®  Weather  and  supplies  forward  pre- 
sented grave  difficulties;  the  latter  could  be  solved  in  some  fashion  but 
the  weathermen  had  no  control  over  the  clouds.  LeMay  had  figured 
that  his  stockpiles  could  handle  125  sorties  in  early  January,  50  of 
which  had  been  expended  on  the  6th.  An  urgent  appeal  to  Wede- 
meyer  brought  promise  of  substantial  aid;  Brig.  Gen.  William  H. 
Tunner  of  ATCs  India-China  Division  was  called  in,  and  he  essayed 
to  deliver  at  Chengtu  by  16  January  2,700  tons  of  gasoline.  To  Le- 
May's  gratification  the  emergency  efforts  succeeded.  Stockpiles  at 
Kunming  were  levied  upon,  and  ATC  and  XX  Bomber  Command 
transports  worked  overtime  to  replenish  fuel  stores,  hauling  in  Janu- 
ary (a  short  month  operationally)  6,775  ^99  ^ons,  respectively. 
The  total  of  7,474  tons  was  second  only  to  October's  record  of 
10,830/' 

After  labeling  the  Shinchiku-Taihoku  area  (decided  upon  in  the 
HoUandia  agreement)  as  an  unprofitable  target,  LeMay  substituted 
Kiirun  harbor  for  attack  on  S  minus  i  (8  January).  With  renewed 
concern  over  aircraft  staging  through  Formosa  to  Luzon,  however,  he 
again  switched  targets,  naming  the  once-worked-over  air  base  at 
Heito  as  primary  visual,  Shinchiku  as  secondary,  and  Kiirun  as  pri- 
mary radar  targets.  Weather  held  the  planes  down  on  8  January  and 
forecasts  for  the  9th  gave  promise  of  better  skies  toward  the  south 
(Heito)  than  in  the  north  (Kiirun,  Shinchiku)  end  of  the  island,  but 
it  was  any  weatherman's  guess.  On  the  9th  a  B-29  weather  scout  was 
sent  out  one  hour  in  advance  of  the  bombers,  and  on  the  basis  of  spot 
checks  a  wing  commander  named  for  the  day  elected  to  try  Kiirun. 
Forty-six  B-29's  got  up,  6  bombed  last  resort  targets  along  the  China 
coast,  and  at  Kiirun  39  dropped  by  radar  293  tons  of  GP's  and  incen- 
diaries with  unobserved  results.  There  was  neither  flak  nor  fighter 
opposition  at  Kiirun,  to  the  alleged  disgust  of  one  crewman  who  com- 
plained that  in  the  absence  of  the  customary  reception  he  was  in  doubt 
as  to  whether  he  had  ever  got  over  cloud-covered  Formosa.*** 

148 


EXIT  MATTERHORN 


After  the  Kiirun  mission  such  planes  as  were  in  condition  returned 
to  India  via  Kunming  for  a  strike  at  Singapore  from  the  Kharagpur 
bases.*  That  job  completed,  LeMay  sent  all  fully  modified  planes  back 
to  Chengtu  for  a  double-barreled  blow  at  Formosa  air  installations. 
By  14  January  enough  fuel  had  been  accumulated  to  get  eighty-two 
bombers  up.  To  avoid,  or  make  the  most  of,  blind  bombing,  opera- 
tional planners  set  an  elaborate  pattern  of  targets:  the  primary  in- 
cluded Shinchiku  (visual  or  radar),  Kagi  and  Heito  (alternate  visual), 
and  Takao  (alternate  radar).  As  on  the  9th  a  wing  commander  made 
the  last-minute  decision  on  the  basis  of  reports  from  a  weather  scout. 
He  chose  Kagi,  and  fifty-four  planes,  finding  visibility  good,  laid  a 
fine  concentration  of  GP  and  frag  bombs  in  the  target  area.  Subse- 
quent reconnaissance  showed  that  20  per  cent  of  the  building  area  had 
been  destroyed,  46  per  cent  damaged,  and  16  planes  on  the  field  had 
been  hit.  Twenty-one  B-29's  bombed  other  targets,  most  important 
damage  being  that  done  to  Taichu  airdrome  by  thirteen  planes.®^ 

After  a  day's  delay  because  of  weather,  the  command  let  go  with 
the  other  barrel.  Again  elaborate  precautions  were  taken  to  insure  a 
choice  of  targets  for  any  weather,  but  on  this  day  the  primary  vis- 
ual target,  Shinchiku,  was  clear  so  that  the  79  planes  which  got 
over  target  (92  had  taken  off)  could  visually  drop  their  mixed 
load  of  397  tons  of  frags,  incendiaries,  and  GP's.  Again  there  was 
no  fighter  opposition  (one  plane  was  lost  on  take-off)  and  this  may 
have  been  a  measure  of  the  recent  pounding  of  Formosa  airfields.  As 
in  October,  XX  Bomber  Command's  missions  had  been  mixed  in  with 
sweeps  over  the  island  by  planes  from  Task  Force  38,  which  struck  on 
3,  9,  15,  and  2 1  January;  at  Shinchiku  the  B-29  and  carrier-based  raids 
together  destroyed  or  damaged  an  estimated  70  per  cent  of  the  build- 
ing area,  and  hit  sixteen  planes  on  the  field.^^  Though  enemy  planes 
which  had  apparently  slipped  down  from  Formosat  made  occasional 
antishipping  strikes  between  the  12th  and  the  i8th  in  the  Lingayen 
Gulf,  there  was  nothing  like  the  concentrated  attack  which  Mac- 
Arthur  had  been  led  to  fear  by  his  experiences  on  6  January.  How- 
ever much  the  command  may  have  felt  its  B-29's  miscast  when  sent 
against  airfields,  there  was  some  satisfaction  in  the  realization  that  its 
bombers  and  reconnaissance  planes  had  helped  keep  down  losses  off 
the  Luzon  beachheads. 

•  See  below,  p.  157. 
t  See  below,  p.  413. 


149 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

The  strike  against  Shinchiku  was  the  end  of  PAC-AID  for  XX 
Bomber  Command  and  the  last  mission  to  be  staged  out  of  the 
Chengtu  bases.  At  those  fields  arrangements  for  evacuation  had  been 
carried  on  a  standby  basis  for  weeks  and  the  move  now  came  abruptly. 
This  scratched  commitments  to  PAC-AID  for  Okinawa.  It  marked, 
too,  the  passing  of  MATTERHORN,  and  one  might  have  found  it 
difficult  to  round  up  a  decent  showing  of  mourners  for  the  interment 
of  that  plan. 

Missions  from  India 

If  there  had  been  anything  immutable  in  the  MATTERHORN 
plan,  it  was  the  understanding  that  XX  Bomber  Command  might  be 
transferred  from  the  CBI  when  more  convenient  bases  were  available. 
The  early  diversion  of  the  73d  Wing  to  Saipan  and  Arnold's  threats 
to  withdraw  the  58th  because  of  its  slow  rate  of  operations  during  the 
summer  of  1944  served  to  remind  members  of  the  command  of  the 
mobility  clauses  carefully  included  in  the  JCS  control  system.  During 
September  LeMay  had  raised  with  the  Twentieth,  apropos  the  need 
for  resurfacing  the  Chengtu  strips,  the  question  of  permanence  in  the 
CBI.  He  was  assured  that  he  could  count  on  nine  more  months  in  the 
theater— in  fact,  he  was  asked  in  an  exploratory  fashion  if  he  could  use 
more  B-29  units  in  India.  LeMay 's  answer,  if  not  unique  in  AAF  an- 
nals, was  unusual;  he  flatly  declined  the  implied  offer  on  logistical 
grounds,  observing  that  his  whole  operating  scheme  was  "basically 
unsound"  and  justified  only  by  the  lack  of  other  bases.  Washington 
agreed  with  this  judgment  and  expressed  hopes  of  moving  the  com- 
mand, presumably  at  an  earlier  date  than  had  been  suggested  before. 
On  12  November  Chennault  again  asked  for  a  decision  on  the 
Chengtu  runways,  which  badly  needed  repairs  before  the  rains  set 
in.^^  But  by  that  time  it  had  begun  to  appear  that  the  B-29's  would 
never  see  another  rainy  season  in  China. 

The  November  drive  of  the  Japanese  which  overran  Liuchow  on  the 
I  ith  and  Nanning  on  the  23d  threatened  to  curtail  LeMay 's  December 
operations  out  of  Chengtu,  since  Hump  tonnage  would  have  to  be  di- 
verted to  fly  in  Chinese  ground  forces  needed  to  block  the  threat  to 
Kunming.*  The  Implications  for  XX  Bomber  Command  of  an  emer- 
gency which  promised  to  become  permanent  were  clear  in  Washing- 
ton, and  on  tiie  assumption  that  he  might  have  to  withdraw  from 

•  See  below,  pp.  253-56. 

150 


EXIT  MATTERHORN 


China  "before  bases  in  POA  are  ready,"  LeMay  was  asked  on  2 1  No- 
vember to  look  for  other  staging  bases,  particularly  at  Myitkyina. 
After  an  examination  of  that  area  and  others,  LeMay  and  Sultan,  com- 
manding in  India-Burma,  advised  against  the  development  of  Myitkyina 
for  VHB  nsc,^  But  the  suggestion  had  served  to  alert  the  command. 

On  4  December,  after  conferring  with  senior  officers  of  the  China 
Theater,  Wedemeyer  sent  Marshall  a  detailed  appreciation  of  the  tacti- 
cal situation,  pessimistic— or  realistic— in  its  estimate  of  Chinese  capa- 
bilities. To  improve  the  logistical  situation  for  the  Fourteenth  Air 
Force  and  the  Chinese  Army,  he  recommended  that  XX  Bomber  Com- 
mand *'be  removed  from  this  area  as  early  as  possible  after  15  Janu- 
ary," that  is,  immediately  after  PAC-AID  for  Luzon.  When  enjoined 
by  the  JCS  to  support  LeMay  for  250  PAC-AID  sorties  in  January, 
Wedemeyer  so  agreed  in  a  message  of  16  December  in  which  he  again 
reviewed  the  situation  in  China,  now  somewhat  eased.  In  the  light  of 
StilwelFs  recall  and  of  bitter  postwar  debates  over  our  policies  toward 
the  Nationalist  government  and  its  armed  forces,  it  is  interesting  to 
note  that  in  his  messages  of  4  and  16  December  Wedemeyer  attrib- 
uted to  the  Generalissimo,  his  subordinates,  and  his  armies  pretty  much 
the  same  faults  that  Stilwell  had  long  decried/^  Wedemeyer's  language 
was  more  formal  and  less  pungent  A^n  " Vinegar  Joe's,"  but  his  pic- 
ture of  political  corruption,  false  p^^te^apathy,  and  military  ineptness 
differed  little  from  that  of  his  predecessor.  The  Nationalists  were 
showing  little  will  to  resist,  and  the  enemy's  halt  in  December,  caused 
by  weather  and  extended  supply  lines  rather  than  by  Chinese  counter- 
attacks as  Chinese  sources  and  stateside  papers  claimed,  was  no  incen- 
tive for  Wedemeyer  to  alter  his  views  about  XX  Bomber  Command. 
Again  on  12  January  he  addressed  to  Marshall  and  Arnold  a  strong 
plea  to  remove  the  command  from  China  by  the  first  week  in  Febru- 
ary. This  would  allow  him  Hump  tonnage  to  increase  supplies  for 
Chinese  forces  and  for  the  Fourteenth  (to  be  augmented  by  units  from 
India);*  it  would  also  make  the  Chengtu  fields  available  for  B-24  use 
and  release  the  312th  Fighter  Wing  from  the  inactivity  of  its  defen- 
sive mission."® 

Since  Wedemeyer's  earlier  messages  the  JCS  had  been  considering 
his  request  in  the  context  of  the  general  problem  of  VHB  deploy- 
ment, and  on  15  January,  at  Arnold's  suggestion,  they  coricurred  in 
his  request.  XX  Bomber  Command  was  to  withdraw  from  China  im- 

*  See  below,  pp.  267-69. 

151 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 

mediately  and  was  to  conduct  limited  operations  from  India— bomb- 
ing, mining,  reconnaissance,  and  such  tasks  for  Mountbatten's  SEAC 
as  were  at  that  time  performed  by  the  yth  Bombardment  Group  (H), 
now  to  be  transferred  to  China.  The  312th  Fighter  Wing  was  to  be 
temporarily  assigned  to  the  Fourteenth,  subject  to  later  recall  by  XX 
Bomber  Command,  which  was  to  prepare  to  move  into  the  Marianas 
(thus  causing  some  readjustment  in  deployment  schedules  for  the 
3 15th  and  3 1 6th  Bombardment  Wings)  beginning  before  i  April.  XX 
Bomber  Command  was  to  retain  its  headquarters  organization  and  re- 
vive the  58th  Wing;  in  the  Marianas,  the  XX  would  operate  under 
XXI  Bomber  Command,  but  when  subsequent  VHB  units  were  sta- 
tioned in  the  Philippines  or  Ryukyus,  XX  Bomber  Command  would 
take  over  their  control,  leaving  the  58th  Wing  in  the  Marianas  as  a 
part  of  the  XXI.^^ 

LeMay  had  been  informed  of  the  contents  of  Wedemeyer's  mes- 
sages, and  there  was  little  surprise  at  Kharagpur  when  an  information 
copy  of  the  JCS  directive  arrived  on  18  January.  According  to  the 
command  historian,  the  message  "didn't  catch  the  men  of  XX  Bomber 
Command  with  their  plans  down."  Planning  for  evacuation  of  the 
China  bases  had  begun  at  the  group  level  late  in  November,  and  on  15 
December  the  necessary  field  orders  were  written.  After  these  were 
now  approved  with  minor  revisions  on  20  January,  the  transfer  to 
India  began  immediately.  By  the  27th  the  forward  detachments  of  the 
four  groups  had  pulled  out,  leaving  only  a  photo-reconnaissance  team 
whose  China  mission  had  not  been  completed.  The  rapidity  of  this 
move  was  a  belated  reminder  of  the  mobility  factor  which  had  figured 
so  prominently  in  the  original  MATTERHORN  concept,  but  the 
more  difficult  transfer  to  Pacific  bases  was  to  be  a  protracted  affair.^ 

Meanwhile,  XX  Bomber  Command  settled  down  to  its  "limited  op- 
erations" from  India,  which  followed  the  pattern  prescribed  in  the 
JCS  directive  of  1 5  January.  Because  the  command  had  begun  in  No- 
vember to  interfoliate  India-staged  missions  between  its  China  strikes, 
it  is  necessary  here  to  backtrack. 

LeMay,  a  driver  and  a  perfectionist  in  bombardment  tiechniques, 
had  been  satisfied  with  neither  the  slow  pace  of  MATTERHORN 
operations,  inexorably  limited  by  the  calculus  of  Hump  tonnage,  nor 
the  performance  of  his  crews  on  their  infrequent  missions.  The  brief 
schooling  at  Dudhkundi  in  September*  had  helped  lead  crews  some, 

•  See  above,  pp.  1 16-17. 


THE   ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

but  he  wished  to  supplement  that  program  with  a  series  of  combat 
missions  in  which  the  command  would  experience  conditions  less  rig- 
orous than  those  encountered  over  Kyushu  and  Manchuria  and  yet 
master  LeMay's  own  doctrines— especially  those  relating  to  the 
twelve-plane  formation  and  "synchronous"  (visual-radar)  bombing. 
At  Kharagpur  there  was  no  shortage  of  fuel  or  bombs,  and  within 
moderate  range  there  were  targets  where  enemy  defenses  were  not 
too  rugged.  In  choosing  these  targets  LeMay  had  more  independence 
than  in  strategic  missions,  and  if  there  were  few  whose  intrinsic  im- 
portance warranted  a  full-scale  VHB  attack,  he  might  still  agree  with 
his  intelligence  section  that  "any  target  is  still  a  target  for  training 
purposes."^^ 

The  first  training  mission  had  been  scheduled  for  Moulmein  for 
4  October,  but  the  Formosa  attacks  had  interfered;  by  3  November, 
when  the  strike  was  made,  Rangoon,  its  Malagan  railroad  yards  an 
important  element  in  Burma's  hard-hit  rail  system,  appeared  a  more 
profitable  target.  Operational  plans  called  for  a  coordinated  attack  by 
XX  Bomber  Command,  EACs  Strategic  Air  Force,  and  Third  Tac- 
tical Air  Force/°  Early  on  the  3d  each  VHB  group  put  up  a  standard 
1 2 -plane  formation,  the  planes  carrying  a  maximum  bomb  load— the 
B-29's  theoretical  capacity  of  10  tons  in  some  cases  and  an  over-all  av- 
erage of  9.6.  Forty-four  planes  got  over  target  in  good  formations, 
and  in  the  short  space  of  eleven  minutes  shook  out  their  bombs,  three 
formations  visually  and  one  by  offset  radar  technique.  Results  were 
excellent.  The  roundhouse,  aiming  point  for  the  bombardiers,  was  ob- 
literated, other  buildings  were  destroyed,  and  much  damage  was  done 
to  rolling  stock  and  trackage.  No  combat  loss  was  incurred  though 
one  B-29  had  to  ditch  going  out:  its  crew,  except  for  the  tailgunner, 
floated  around  in  life  rafts  for  thirty-six  hours  before  being  rescued  by 
a  Royal  Indian  Navy  launch.^^ 

This  was  in  most  respects  an  ideal  training  mission— even  LeMay, 
little  given  to  indiscriminate  praise,  called  it  the  command's  "first  job 
of  precision  bombing"— and  the  next  was  about  as  good.  At  Strate- 
meyer's  request,  the  command  went  out  on  27  November  to  get  the 
Bang  Soe  marshalling  yards  at  Bangkok,  where  trains  coming  over- 
land from  French  Indo-China  were  split  up  for  branch  lines  to  the 
Burma  front,  north  Thailand,  and  Singapore.  Fifty-five  B-29's  (their 
crews  briefed  especially  to  correct  the  ragged  formations  flown  on 
recent  Omura  missions)  got  over  the  target  to  drop  382  tons  of  GP's 


154 


EXIT  MATTERHORN 


with  excellent  results.  Photo  reconnaissance  later  showed  they  had  de- 
stroyed the  two  aiming  points  (buildings  at  the  north  and  the  south 
bottlenecks),  had  cut  every  track,  and  had  messed  up  rolling  stock  and 
other  buildings.  The  cost  was  one  B-29  wounded  by  an  enemy  fighter 
and  lost  on  the  way  home.*^^ 

The  command  went  back  to  Bangkok  on  14  December  to  get  the 
Rama  VI  railroad  bridge,  a  i,456-'foot  steel  structure  over  the  Chao 
Phraya  River.  This  was  a  vital  link  in  the  Burma  rail  system  but  cer- 
tainly no  appropriate  target  for  high-flying  B-29's.  One  formation 
found  Bangkok  clouded  over  and  went  on  to  bomb  the  Central  Rail- 
road Station  at  Rangoon  with  excellent  results.  This  formation,  from 
the  40th  Group,  suffered  an  unusual  (though  not  unique)  accident 
when  two  instantaneously  fuzed  bombs  collided  in  a  salvo;  four 
B-29's  were  blown  up  and  a  fifth  was  a  total  loss  when  it  came  in  for 
an  emergency  landing  at  Cox's  Bazar.  The  thirty-three  planes  that 
dropped  at  the  bridge  achieved  a  neat  bomb  pattern  but  no  hits.*'^  This 
failure  confirmed  earlier  skepticism  about  bridge-busting  with  Super- 
forts  but  it  brought  no  relief;  back  the  command  went  on  3  January 
for  another  try  at  Rama  VL 

This  second  attempt  was  not  long  premeditated.  On  30  December  a 
B-29  reconnaissance  plane  had  spotted  a  fat  target  at  Cape  St,  Jacques 
in  Indo-China,  a  Jap  task  force  built  around  two  battleships  and  a  sea- 
plane tender.  LeMay  had  hurriedly  ordered  forty-nine  B-29's  to  be 
loaded  with  eight  1,000-pound  bombs  each  and  had  them  on  the  line 
when  the  Navy  signaled  that  the  ships  had  pulled  out.  The  Ywataung 
railroad  yards  near  Mandalay  seemed  a  logical  second  choice,  but  be- 
fore the  B-29's  got  off  the  weather  over  Mandalay  turned  sour. 
Rather  than  unload  and  turn  northward  for  the  PAC-AID  strikes, 
LeMay  changed  the  fuzing  on  the  1,000-pounders  and  sent  his  planes 
back  to  the  Bangkok  bridge  on  3  January.  This  time  luck  was  better: 
with  excellent  weather  and  almost  no  enemy  resistance,  forty-four 
B-29's  got  over  the  target  to  score  a  direct  hit  and  several  near  misses 
on  Rama  VI  and  a  number  of  hits  on  the  abutments,  putting  the  bridge 
out  of  service  for  the  time  being.^* 

These  four  attacks  had  served  their  purpose  of  giving  practice  un- 
der relatively  easy  combat  conditions,  though  airmen  of  the  462 d  de- 
clared that  "Rangoon  is  not  a  training  mission"  and  the  losses  on  14 
December  were  heavy  for  a  milk  run."  During  the  same  period  the 
command  made  two  attacks  on  Singapore  which  by  no  standards 


155 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


could  be  called  training.  Actually  they  were  in  indirect  support  of 
Pacific  operations  though  they  were  not  designated  PAC-AID,  that 
being  an  artificial  label  that  had  pertinence  chiefly  to  allocation  of 
Hump  tonnage. 

At  Singapore  the  British  naval  base  had  been  taken  over  intact  by 
the  Japanese  in  February  1942  and,  subsequently  improved  by  them, 
it  was  their  finest  station  outside  the  home  islands.  On  27  October 
General  Arnold  suggested  that  extensive  damage  done  the  enemy's 
fleet  in  the  battles  for  Leyte  had  enhanced  Singapore's  importance, 
and  he  asked  LeMay  for  an  estimate  of  XX  Bomber  Command's  capa- 
bilities. A  VLR  reconnaissance  plane  secured  good  photos  on  30  Oc- 
tober—Singapore had  been  virtually  blacked  out  to  Allied  intelligence 
—but  LeMay's  operational  officers  thought  little  of  the  chances  of  suc- 
cess in  a  daylight  mission  involving  a  round  trip  of  almost  4,000  miles. 
In  spite  of  this  lack  of  enthusiasm  Washington  ordered  a  strike,  and 
on  5  November  the  command  got  seventy-six  Superforts  airborne.^^ 
Field  orders  were  tailored  to  fit  the  extreme  range:  planes  were  loaded 
with  a  minimum  of  two  1,000-pound  bombs,  bombing  heights  were 
lowered  to  20,000  feet,  and  elaborate  jockeying  into  formation  was 
dispensed  with. 

Primary  target  was  the  King  George  VI  Graving  Dock,  largest  of 
several  dry  docks  at  Singapore  and  one  of  the  world's  best.  The  first 
of  53  Superforts  attacking  was  over  target  at  0644,  and  the  bom- 
bardier, Lt.  Frank  McKinney,  put  a  1,000-pound  bomb  into  the 
target  within  50  feet  of  the  aiming  point,  the  caisson  gate;  Lt.  Bolish 
Mclntyre,  2  planes  back,  laid  another  alongside.  This  was  the  sort 
of  pickle-barrel  bombing  the  Air  Corps  had  talked  about  before  the 
war.  Strike  photos  showed  a  rush  of  water  into  the  dock,  presumptive 
evidence  that  the  gate  had  been  strained,  and  subsequent  reconnais- 
sance photos  indicated  that  the  dock  was  out  of  use  (A-2's  estimate  of 
three  months  of  unserviceability  was  to  prove  quite  accurate).  There 
were  other  hits  on  the  dock,  on  a  465-foot  freighter  in  it,  and  on  ad- 
jacent shops.  For  "baksheesh,"  as  the  boys  had  learned  to  say  in  India, 
seven  B-29's  bombed  the  secondary  target,  Pangkalanbrandan  re- 
finery in  Sumatra,  and  reported  direct  hits  on  the  cracking  plant.  The 
Japanese,  evidently  relying  on  the  inaccessibility  of  Singapore,  put  up 
a  feeble  defense,  but  the  long  trip  took  a  toll  of  two  planes  and  twelve 
crewmen,  including  Col.  Ted  L.  Faulkner,  commander  of  the  468th 
Group.^^ 

156 


EXIT  MATTERHORN 


Arnold  in  his  message  of  congratulation  spoke  of  an  early  return  to 
Singapore,  but  it  was  two  months  before  the  command  went  back.  In 
January,  as  in  October,  battles  in  the  Philippines  sent  Japanese  naval 
vessels  scurrying,  or  limping,  toward  SEAC.  VLR  reconnaissance 
planes  found  a  naval  force  at  Cape  St.  Jacques,  which  moved  out  be- 
fore the  B-29's  could  get  after  them,  and  other  warships  were  re- 
ported at  Singapore.  But  in  the  crippled  condition  of  the  Japanese  fleets, 
repair  facilities  were  more  important  than  ships  and  hence  two  Singa- 
pore docks— the  Admiralty  IX  Floating  Dock  and  the  King's  Dock- 
were  chosen  as  primary  targets.  Forty-seven  B-29's  left  about  mid- 
night, and  the  first  arrival  was  over  Singapore  at  0820  on  11  January. 
Twenty-seven  planes  divided  their  loads  between  the  two  docks  with- 
out scoring;  twenty-one  planes  bombed  elsewhere,  at  Penang,  Mergui, 
and  various  targets  of  opportunity.  Such  was  the  day's  luck  that  nine 
planes  at  Penang  laid  a  beautiful  pattern  on  their  difficult  and  rela- 
tively unimportant  aiming  point  while  the  docks  went  untouched. 
Again  two  planes  were  lost.''® 

These  missions  from  India  had  been  subordinated  to  strategic  and 
PAC-AID  strikes  from  the  China  bases.  The  abandonment  of  those 
bases  changed  the  whole  character  of  the  VLR  program.  The  com- 
mand continued  to  go  out  against  the  same,  and  other  similar,  targets 
in  SEAC,  but  when  these  became  the  sole  rather  than  subsidiary  ob- 
jectives, the  aircrews,  being  realistic,  understood  that  they  were  no 
longer  in  the  big  leagues.  Thus,  though  the  rate  of  operations  picked 
up  rather  than  declined— twenty  missions  were  flown  in  two  months 
against  twenty-nine  in  the  previous  seven— there  was  at  Kharagpur  an 
atmosphere  of  expectancy  as  the  various  units  awaited  the  move  to 
the  Pacific. 

That  move  had  been  foreshadowed  by  the  transfer  of  LeMay  who, 
without  waiting  for  the  withdrawal  from  China,  had  flown  to  the 
Marianas  on  1 8  January  to  assume  command  of  XXI  Bomber  Com- 
mand. He  had  taken  with  him  a  handful  of  key  personnel;  in  exchange, 
some  officers  came  from  Saipan  to  Kharagpur.  LeMay's  successor, 
XX  Bomber  Command's  fourth  commanding  general  within  a  year, 
was  Brig.  Gen.  Roger  M.  Ramey,  an  experienced  bombardment  offi- 
cer who  had  once  led  V  Bomber  Command  and  had  more  recently 
served  as  chief  of  staff  for  Hansell  in  XXI  Bomber  Command.  Brig. 
Gen.  Joseph  Smith  replaced  Brig.  Gen.  John  E.  Upston  as  chief  of 
staff  at  Kharagpur.^^  It  would  be  Ramey's  task  to  move  the  command 


157 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


to  the  Pacific,  but  meanwhile  he  would  continue  bombardment  oper- 
ations against  such  objectives  as  were  available. 

Industrial  targets  within  range  of  Kharagpur  were  few,  and  ship- 
ping in  harbors,  a  priority  objective  in  the  CO  A  report  of  1 1  Novem- 
ber 1943,  seemed  the  best  alternative  target  system,  especially  when 
tied  in  with  shipping  in  navigable  rivers,  with  naval  bases,  and  with 
rail  installations  closely  linked  with  water  traffic.  The  bombardment 
program  initiated  late  in  January  involved,  then,  a  return  to  such  fa- 
miliar places  as  Rangoon,  Bangkok,  and  Singapore;  it  included  as  well 
new  targets:  Saigon,  a  convoy  point  for  shipping  between  Japan  and 
Singapore;  Camranh  Bay,  a  harbor  used  by  naval  and  merchant  ves- 
sels; Phnom  Penh,  river  port  up  the  Mekong  from  Saigon  where  goods 
brought  up  by  water  were  transshipped  by  rail  to  Bangkok;  Penang, 
Malaya's  second  harbor;  and  lesser  places  such  as  Koh  Sichang  an- 
chorage below  Bangkok,  the  Pakchan  River,  and  Mergui  and  Tavoy, 
ports  on  the  Burma  coast.®"  These  targets  were  attacked  both  in  con- 
ventional bombardment  missions  and  in  mine-laying  operations,  but 
there  was  no  tightly  calculated  campaign;  more  than  one  mission  had 
the  flavor  of  a  task  thought  up  chiefly  to  keep  the  boys  busy,  and  only 
Singapore  was  suited,  by  its  distance  from  Allied  bases  and  its  strategic 
importance,  for  B-29  attacks.  And  Singapore  was  not  always  ''on  lim- 
its" for  XX  Bomber  Command.  Consequently,  a  number  of  the  strikes 
might  have  been  classified,  after  LeMay's  fashion,  as  training  missions; 
there  were  new  crews  to  indoctrinate  and  new  techniques  to  be 
learned,  but  the  training  was  oriented  toward  the  type  of  operations 
expected  in  the  Pacific,  not  in  SEAC. 

During  the  MATTERHORN  period  XX  Bomber  Command  had 
conducted  only  one  mine-laying  mission,  an  operation  coordinated 
with  the  Palembang  strike  on  the  night  of  10/ 11  August.  More  re- 
cently. Eastern  Air  Command  had  mined  various  harbors  within  range 
of  its  heavies,  thus  throwing  more  of  a  burden  on  ports  farther  to  the 
east  and  south  but  still  within  radius  of  B-29's  at  Kharagpur.  This  fact, 
plus  the  influx  into  SEAC  waters  of  enemy  warships  hurt  in  the  Phil- 
ippines, persuaded  Ramey  to  inaugurate  a  limited  mining  campaign 
during  the  full-moon  phase  of  23-30  January. 

The  first  effort  was  a  double  mission  on  the  night  of  25/26  January, 
totaling  seventy-six  sorties.  The  468th  and  444th  Groups  put  forty- 
one  aircraft  over  Singapore  to  lay  six  mine  fields  among  the  several 
approaches  to  the  harbor,  while  the  462d  divided  its  force,  sending 

158 


EXIT  MATTERHORN 


nineteen  planes  to  Saigon  and  six  to  Camranh  Bay.  These  were  pri- 
mary targets;  six  more  B-29's  mined  other  waters— the  Pakchan  River, 
Penang  harbor,  the  Koh  Sichang  channel,  and  Phanrang  Bay.  Drops 
were  made,  from  skies  clear  of  cloud  and  of  enemy  fighters,  at  alti- 
tudes ranging  from  2,000  to  6,000  feet.  The  total  load  was  404  mines, 
armed  in  various  fashions  as  local  conditions  suggested.  Only  one  mine 
chute  was  known  to  have  failed,  and  aircrews  were  pleased  with  the 
accuracy  of  their  drops,  as  were  Navy  observers  who  had  gone  along 
for  the  ride  after  assisting  in  the  technical  details  of  the  mission.®^ 

During  the  next  full  moon,  on  27  February,  twelve  B-29's  returned 
to  Singapore  to  mine  again  the  Johore  Strait  which  the  Japanese  had 
swept  so  industriously  that  they  had  been  able  to  resume  traffic  within 
a  fortnight.  Ten  B-29's  sowed  fifty-five  mines  and  one  lone  bomber 
dropped  at  Penang.  Again  the  job  seemed  well  done  and,  as  before, 
there  were  no  losses.^^ 

Next  day,  at  Chennault's  request,  twelve  B-29's  moved  up  to  China 
to  mine  the  Yangtze  River,  a  main  supply  route  for  the  enemy.  Using 
Luliang  instead  of  Chengtu  as  a  staging  field,  the  bombers  were  weath- 
ered in  until  4/5  March,  when  they  got  off  with  a  load  of  six  tons 
each.  Eleven  B-29's  mined  the  two  primary  target  areas— the  conflu- 
ence of  the  Hwangpoo  and  Yangtze  at  Shanghai  and  the  Tai-hsing 
Reach,  a  narrows  in  the  Yangtze  between  Shanghai  and  Nanking— 
and  a  twelfth  dropped  at  Tungting  Lalce.  In  all  areas  the  results  were 
accounted  excellent.^^  A  moon  later,  on  28/29  March,  ten  Superforts 
came  back  to  mine  the  Hwangpoo  mouth  again  and  also  the  south 
channel  of  the  Yangtze  at  Shanghai."  On  the  same  night  two  mining 
missions  went  southeastward,  sixteen  B-29's  reseeding  fields  at  Saigon 
and  Camranh  Bay  and  thirty-two  returning  to  Singapore  waters.^^ 

No  B-29  was  lost  on  any  mining  expedition.  Malfunctioning  of 
mines  was  encouragingly  negligible,  and  in  each  subsequent  mission, 
as  in  the  first,  aircrews  and  Navy  observers  reported  accurate  drops. 
Mine  loads  were  substantial  but  the  campaign  was  too  brief  for  deci- 
sive results:  there  was  some  hindrance  to  enemy  shipping  but  it  was 
not  choked  off  entirely.  The  combat  experience  gained  in  SE AC  was 
to  prove  a  valuable  background  for  the  313th  Wing,  trained  as  a  spe- 
cialized mining  unit  and  destined  to  wreak  havoc  in  the  Inland  Sea  of 
Japan.* 

During  the  monthly  intervals  between  these  missions  the  command 
•  See  below,  pp.  662-74. 

«59 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


had  run  some  thirteen  conventional  bombing  missions.  They  had  be- 
gun on  27  January  when  the  40th  Group  had  followed  up  the  mining 
attack  against  Saigon  two  nights  before.  Ramey  had  hoped  the  mining 
would  cause  a  traffic  jam  in  shipping,  but  since  this  failed  to  material- 
ize, the  twenty-two  B-29's  that  got  over  Saigon  radar-bombed  the 
navy  yard  and  arsenal.  No  damage  was  inflicted  on  the  target.^^ 

On  I  February  the  command  sent  out  a  maximum  effort  against 
Singapore:  112  Superfortresses,  carrying  at  least  four  1,000-pound 
bombs  each,  were  airborne.  Of  the  eighty-eight  over  Singapore,  sixty- 
seven  bombed  the  primary  target,  the  Admiralty  IX  Floating  Dry- 
dock  at  the  navy  yard,  scoring  a  number  of  hits  and  near  misses  on 
the  dock  and  on  a  460-foot  ship  berthed  in  it.  The  ship  burned  and 
sank,  and  a  series  of  later  reconnaissance  photos  showed  the  dock  down 
at  one  end  and  sinking  slowly  until  it  leveled  off,  apparently  on  the 
harbor's  bottom.  Twenty-one  B-29's  bombed  the  West  Wall  area  of 
the  naval  base,  destroying  many  buildings  and  some  valuable  heavy 
equipment,  while  twenty  other  planes  deviated  from  the  prescribed 
course  to  bomb  other  designated  targets  at  Penang  and  Martaban.^^ 
Enemy  fighters  had  got  one  B-29  and  so  crippled  another  that  it 
cracked  up  on  landing,  but  this  was  accounted  a  cheap  price  for  the 
second  highly  successful  attack  on  Singapore;  the  command  was 
keyed  up  for  return  visits  which  might  render  the  city  useless  as  a  port 
and  naval  base. 

Plans  were  being  made  for  an  attack  on  6  February  when,  on  the 
3d,  Stratemeyer  informed  Ramey  that  Lord  Mountbatten  had  di- 
rected that  XX  Bomber  Command  not  attack  naval  installations  at 
Singapore  and  Penang.  This  saving  of  valuable  facilities  that  might 
later  come  into  Allied  hands  may  have  been  a  sound  long-term  policy, 
but  at  the  time  it  puzzled  the  command.  Ramey  asked  Washington  for 
guidance  and  was  told  to  turn  to  other  targets  while  the  Navy  inves- 
tigated. Through  Stratemeyer  a  request  for  clarification  was  also  ad- 
dressed to  SACSEA,  and  Ramey  flew  down  to  Kandy  to  confer  on 
possible  targets.  There  Mountbatten  gave  him  as  first  priority  several 
targets  in  the  Kuala  Lumpur  area.  Second  priority  consisted  of  certain 
targets  at  Singapore,  carefully  zoned,  however,  to  exclude  the  King 
George  VI  Graving  Dock,  a  number  of  other  docks,  and  areas  includ- 
ing heavy  rnachinery.  The  West  Wall  area,  naval  oil  dumps,  and  com- 
mercial port  facilities  might  be  attacked  if  without  danger  to  the  pro- 
scribed installations,  Saigon,  in  third  priority,  was  similarly  divided 

160 


EXIT  MATTERHORN 


into  restricted  (naval  base  and  port  areas)  and  nonrestricted  zones. 
Fourth  priority  consisted  of  certain  other  oil  storage  dumps  on  islands 
in  Singapore  waters.®® 

With  its  target  selection  thus  straitly  hedged  about,  the  command 
divided  its  forces  on  7  February  in  attacks  on  Saigon  and  Bangkok. 
The  primary  target  at  Saigon  was  the  navy  yard  and  arsenal,  which 
the  next  day  were  to  be  added,  as  an  afterthought,  to  the  off-limits 
areas.  With  the  command  now  possessing  its  full  quota  of  1 80  aircraft 
(30  UE  and  15  reserve  per  group),  the  444th  and  46 2d  Groups  put  up 
67  B-29's.  At  Saigon,  forty-four  planes  found  clouds  heavy  enough  to 
necessitate  radar  bombing;  eleven  planes  dropped  prematurely  on  an 
accidental  release  and  thirty-three  dropped  in  the  residential  section. 
Nineteen  planes,  diverted  to  Phnom  Penh,  bombed  visually  and  did 
some  damage  to  jetties  and  to  buildings  in  town.®^ 

The  40th  and  468th  Groups  did  better  at  Bangkok  when  they  at- 
tacked the  Rama  VI  bridge,  twice  visited  before  and  still  unservice- 
able. The  command's  operations  analysts  had  made  an  intensive  study 
of  the  bridge  as  a  target,  and  as  a  practical  compromise  of  the  various 
recommendations  offered,  Ramey  loaded  the  B-29's  with  1,000-pound 
bombs  fuzed  at  one-tenth  of  a  second,  nose  and  tail,  and  chose  the  cen- 
ter of  the  bridge  as  aiming  point.  Fifty-eight  B-29's  (out  of  sixty-four 
airborne)  bombed  the  bridge  in  small  formations.  At  least  four  direct 
hits  and  many  damaging  near  misses  severed  two  top  chord  members, 
collapsed  65  per  cent  of  the  central  span,  and  destroyed  the  northeast 
approach.  There  had  been  much  speculation  as  to  the  significance  of 
the  name  of  the  bridge  and  one  flyer  had  insisted  that  the  VI  meant  it 
would  take  six  attacks  to  cripple  it.  But  Rama  VI  was  definitely  out 
on  the  third  strike.^° 

On  1 1  February,  at  the  request  of  EAC's  Strategic  Air  Force,  the 
command  initiated  a  series  of  attacks  on  storage  dumps  in  the  Rangoon 
area.  These  were  variously  estimated  as  housing  from  50  to  75  per  cent 
of  military  stores  in  Burma,  and  since  the  successful  air  campaign 
against  transportation  made  difficult  the  replenishing  of  stores,  any 
considerable  destruction  to  those  dumps  might  have  early  and  serious 
effects  on  front-line  operations.  Four  groups  got  56  planes  over 
Dump  F,  the  primary  target,  expending  413  tons  of  frags  and  incen- 
diaries. Photos  later  showed  much  destruction,  but  it  was  impossible 
accurately  to  divide  credit  between  the  B-29's  and  the  seventy-nine 
B-24's  sent  out  by  Strategic  on  the  same  day.®^  A  month  later,  on  17 

161 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 


March,  XX  Bomber  Command  again  joined  Strategic  in  a  similar  at- 
tack, going  at  Dump  B  while  the  B-24's  hit  Dump  A.  With  future 
missions  from  Saipan  to  Honshu  in  mind,  Ramey  had  the  field  orders 
call  for  a  rendezvous  over  water  (to  be  accomplished  by  the  use  of 
smoke  bombs)  and  a  high-altitude  attack.  Seventy  B-29's  got  over 
Dump  B  to  drop  591  tons  of  bombs  at  heights  ranging  from  27,000  to 
30,000  feet.  In  spite  of  the  altitude,  the  bombardiers  achieved  a  well- 
concentrated  bomb  pattern,  destroying  173  abutments— a  majority  of 
those  in  the  dump— and  damaging  others.®^  The  command  sent  two 
groups  out  on  22  March;  39  planes  divided  130  tons  between 
Dumps  C  and  E,  destroying  most  of  the  buildings  in  the  former 
and  some  in  the  latter.  On  the  same  day  37  B-29's  bombed  the 
Mingaladon  cantonment  area  near  Bangkok,  causing  much  destruc- 
tion among  the  buildings  with  1 14  tons  of  frags.^^  It  was  something  of 
a  come-down  for  the  VHB's  to  go  back  repeatedly  to  blow  up  ammu- 
nition dumps  or  peck  away  at  Japanese  soldiers  in  barracks,  though 
the  crews  could  take  some  comfort  in  the  fact  that  their  bombing  was 
good  and  that  the  casualty  lists  read,  in  spite  of  heavy  concentrations 
of  AA  guns,  "negative  report." 

In  the  meantime,  XX  Bomber  Command  had  struck  at  other  targets, 
drawn  from  Mountbatten's  priority  list.  On  19  February  the  444th 
and  468th  Groups  put  49  B-29's  over  Kuala  Lumpur  where,  on  a 
decision  by  the  day's  wing  commander,  they  went  as  low  as  11,000 
feet  to  get  below  the  clouds  and  bomb  the  Central  Railroad  Repair 
Shops.  They  damaged  67  per  cent  of  the  buildings  and  much  track- 
age and  rolling  stock.^*  Since  th^ere  was  no  flak  and  very  little  in 
the  way  of  fighter  opposition  when  the  468th  Group  went  back 
to  Kuala  Lumpur  on  10  March,  the  26  B-29's  that  bombed  went 
in  as  low  as  8,700  feet.  Again  their  marksmanship  was  good;  they 
severely  damaged  the  aiming  point,  a  roundhouse,  and  destroyed 
buildings  and  railroad  equipment.^^ 

The  rest  of  the  missions  in  February  and  March  were  directed 
against  Singapore*  On  24  February  the  command,  on  the  eve  of  the 
departure  of  some  service  units,  got  off  its  last  maximum  strike  when 
116  B-29's  went  out  to  hit  the  Empire  Dock  area,  a  commercial  target 
not  denied  by  Mountbatten's  directive  and  ranked  by  operational 
planners  as  ''the  only  suitable  primary  target  free  of  stipulations  left 
in  this  theater."  In  an  all-incendiary  attack,  105  B-29's  dropped  231 
tons  (the  last  formations  by  radar  because  of  smoke)  to  burn  out  39 

162 


EXIT  MATTERHORN 


per  cent  of  the  warehouse  area.^^  One  plane,  with  all  the  crew,  was 
lost  when  it  ran  out  of  fuel  on  the  way  back. 

In  China,  Chennault  had  requested  aid  from  XX  Bomber  Command 
which  the  command  had  wished  to  limit  to  mining  missions.  In  the 
absence  of  proper  targets  in  SEAC,  however,  Ramey  scheduled  a  mis- 
sion for  Hong  Kong.  This  he  canceled  at  Chennault's  request  (on 
logistical  grounds)  and  on  2  March  sent  sixty-four  B-29's  (about  all 
that  could  be  supported  with  the  service  personnel  on  hand)  back  to 
Singapore.  The  target,  cleared  by  SACSEA  only  on  promise  not  to 
hit  the  King  George  VI  Dock,  comprised  the  shop  and  warehouse 
area  in  the  naval  base.  There  were  many  deviations  from  the  briefed 
course,  but  49  planes  dropped  500-pound  GP's  in  the  target  area  add- 
ing considerably  to  the  damage  done  in  previous  raids.  Two  B-29's 
were  lost  to  flak.^^ 

Two  missions  were  directed  at  oil  storage  concentrations  at  Singa- 
pore. On  12  March  each  of  three  areas  (on  Bukum,  Samboe,  and 
Sebarok  islands)  was  assigned  to  a  B-29  group  and  the  forty-four 
planes  over  the  target  dropped  ninety-three  tons  of  GP's  and  incen- 
diaries with  poor  results.®*  In  its  forty-ninth  and  last  mission,  XX 
Bomber  Command  sent  twenty-nine  B-29's  back  to  Bukum  Island  in  a 
night  attack  on  29/30  March.  At  best,  destruction  of  the  target  would 
cause  the  enemy  only  "some  inconvenience,"  but  it  was  time  the  boys 
of  the  58th  Wing  learned  something  of  the  tactics  LeMay  was  using 
against  the  home  islands.  So  the  planes  went  in  low,  at  5,000  to  7,000 
feet,  to  bomb  individually.  Out  of  forty-nine  tanks  in  the  farm,  they 
destroyed  seven,  damaged  three,  and  fired  several  others.®*  And  that 
was  all  for  XX  Bomber  Command,  though  not  for  the  four  groups 
which  were  to  bomb  again  from  the  Marianas. 

The  combat  story  of  the  command  would  not  be  complete,  how- 
ever, without  a  brief  summary  of  photo-reconnaissance  missions,  to 
which  occasional  reference  has  been  made.  Here,  as  in  bombing  and 
mining,  XX  Bomber  Command  was  the  pioneer  whose  experience 
would  be  reflected  in  the  activities  of  other  VHB  units.  VLR  photo- 
graphic planes  served  a  variety  of  purposes:  they  secured  information 
for  target  folders  in  advance  of  missions  and  for  damage  assessment 
afterward;  they  mapped  large  areas  on  continental  Asia  and  in  the  ad- 
jacent islands;  they  located  defense  installations  and  airdromes;  they 
performed  surveillance  and  search  at  sea.  Nor  was  the  weight  of  their 
efforts  negligible;  when  bombing  missions  ceased  at  the  end  of  March, 

163 


THE   ARMY   AIR  FORCES  IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


the  command  had  flown  244  photo  sorties,  about  7.4  per  cent  of  the 
total  of  combat  sorties,  and  they  were  to  continue  to  work  in  April.^''^ 

In  the  frenzied  rush  to  get  XX  Bomber  Command  overseas,  no 
preparations  had  been  made  for  VLR  photo  reconnaissance.  Prelimi- 
nary coverage  of  target  areas  was  badly  needed  by  intelligence  officers 
whose  visual  data  on  Japanese  industrial  establishments  was  meager: 
for  the  first  Yawata  attack  they  had  to  brief  crews  on  the  basis  of  a 
1928  ground  plan,  a  ground  photo  of  that  year  and  one  of  1932,  and  a 
f^w  undated  pictures.  General  Wolfe  solicited  and  obtained  some  help 
from  Chennault  and  Stratemeyer,  but  since  many  targets  lay  out  of 
range  of  other  aircraft,  he  modified  a  few  B-29's  as  photo-reconnais- 
sance planes.  At  home  the  AAF  was  working  on  a  photo-reconnais- 
sance model  of  the  B-29  called  the  F-13,  and  the  engineers  at  Wright 
Field  were  anxious  to  profit  by  the  experience  of  those  planes  modi- 
fied in  the  theater.^**^ 

The  record  of  those  planes  was  a  rugged  one.  The  first  model 
crashed  on  the  first  Yawata  mission,  but  another,  after  being  turned 
back  from  Anshan  on  29  July,  covered  the  second  Anshan  mission, 
made  some  sorties  into  north  China,  and  then  the  long  trip  to  Palem- 
bang.  These  missions  were  for  the  command  itself,  but  on  request 
from  Washington  the  converted  B-29's  during  the  summer  of  1944 
photographed  possible  airfield  sites  on  Okinawa  and  again  covered  the 
island  in  September  and  October  as  a  preliminary  to  Halsey's  carrier 
strikes.  In  the  latter  month  the  command  at  MacArthur's  request  and 
Arnold's  directive  ran  photographic  missions  over  northern  Luzon, 
losing  two  planes  in  the  effort  but  flying  prints  out  to  MacArthur 
with  the  developer  solution  on  them  hardly  dry.^^^ 

All  this  was  accomplished  by  the  home-made  jobs.  Late  in  Novem- 
ber, after  much  delay,  the  F-13's  began  to  arrive,  and  in  December, 
with  seven  on  hand,  the  command  set  up  Flight  C,  ist  Squadron,  3 1  ith 
Photo  Reconnaissance  Wing,  After  shakedown  missions  to  Penang, 
Bangkok,  and  Saigon  in  late  December,  the  unit  went  up  to  Hsinching 
where,  with  a  strength  of  49  officers  and  252  enlisted  men,  it  received 
authorization  for  only  40  officers  and  140  men  and  had  to  hold  its  or- 
ganization together  by  liberal  use  of  temporary  duty  assignments.^*^^ 
The  flight's  first  directive  called  for  daily  coverage  of  Kyushu  in  an- 
ticipation of  the  Luzon  operation;  between  25  December  and  5  Janu- 
ary twenty  sorties  by  F-13's  and  stripped  B-29's  were  flown  in  spite 
of  bad  weather.  The  command  sent  out  other  sorties  after  the  Luzon 

164 


EXIT  MATTERHORN 


D-day  at  the  request  of  Pacific  commanders;  when  the  forward  de- 
tachments withdrew  from  Chengtu  fields  late  in  January,  the  photo- 
reconnaissance  flight  stayed  on  at  Hsinching  to  complete  a  large  as- 
signment—mapping a  great  area  in  Manchuria,  Korea,  and  north 
China,^^^  XX  Bomber  Command  had  been  relieved  of  PAC-AID  com- 
mitments for  the  invasion  of  Okinawa,  but  after  some  debate  was  as- 
signed photographic  duties  in  support  of  that  operation  which  were 
performed  during  March  and  early  April.  Meanwhile,  in  SEAC,  photo 
planes  had  been  even  busier,  performing  normal  duties  for  XX 
Bomber  Command  and  in  February  flying  thirty-fivie  sorties  at 
Mountbatten's  request.  The  composite  record  for  January,  February, 
and  March  showed:  from  Hsinching,  thirty-one,  fifteen,  and  eighteen 
sorties;  from  Kharagpur,  nineteen,  sixty,  and  twenty-five  sorties- 
more  than  twice  as  many  as  had  been  sent  out  in  1944.^^°  These  mis- 
sions were  tedious,  averaging  as  high  as  fifteen  hours  per  sortie  in 
SEAC,  and  they  were  hazardous.  But  of  the  value  of  their  work  there 
could  be  little  doubt. 

XX  Bomber  Command:  Exodus 

During  the  ten  weeks  after  LeMay's  departure,  XX  Bomber  Com- 
mand had  continued  combat  operations  at  a  normal  rate— indeed,  with 
Hump  tonnage  no  longer  a  limiting  factor,  had  maintained  a  mission 
and  sortie  rate  better  than  that  of  the  Chengtu  period.  But  Ramey  and 
his  staffs  and  the  aircrews  who  went  out  over  SEAC  realized  that  for 
the  time  the  command  had  become  a  quasi-tactical  force  without  a 
vital  mission,  striking  at  such  targets  as  Mountbatten  would  permit  or 
Stratemeyer  suggest.  Thus  preparations  for  the  move  to  POA  bases, 
though  they  interfered  somewhat  with  combat  missions,  were  not 
wholly  unwelcome.  For  that  move  the  outline  redeployment  plan  pro- 
vided by  the  JCS  held,  with  minor  modifications,  insofar  as  the  58th 
Wing  was  concerned.  The  bomber  command  was  less  fortunate;  its 
anticipated  role  changed  with  successive  shifts  in  Pacific  strategy,  and 
on  the  eve  of  victory  over  Japan  the  organization,  once  Arnold's  pride 
but  now  stripped  of  its  combat  units,  died  quietly  like  an  old  man  who 
had  outlived  his  usefulness  and  his  friends. 

The  stripping  had  begun  on  8  February  in  a  transfer  which  simpli- 
fied the  proposed  redeployment  when,  at  Wedemeyer's  request,  the 
3 1 2th  Fighter  Wing  was  assigned  to  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force;  the  or- 
ders read  until  the  end  of  July  but  in  effect  this  meant  permanently.''^® 

165 


THE  ARMY   AIR  FORCES  IN   WORLD  WAR  II 


On  the  same  day  Ramey  reactivated  the  58th  Bombardment  Wing 
(VH),  manning  it  with  personnel  drawn  from  within  the  command.^°^ 
Until  its  transfer  to  a  Pacific  base  the  wing  headquarters  would  have 
no  essential  function. 

Detailed  orders  for  redeployment  were  provided  in  a  War  Depart- 
ment directive  of  6  February  addressed  to  General  Sultan,  who  was  to 
provide  transportation  for  personnel  and  equipment.  The  first  water 
echelon  would  consist  of  shipments  of  2,275  and  2,864  men,  to  sail 
from  Calcutta  about  22  February  for  Tinian  and  Guam  respectively, 
A  second  water  echelon  would  embark  at  Calcutta  in  April.  Two  air 
echelons,  each  comprising  90  B-29's  and  miscellaneous  aircraft  and 
carrying  1,330  and  1,620  airmen,  were  to  arrive  at  Tinian  and  Guam 
on  I  April  and  i  May  respectively.  No  movement  dates  were  given 
for  the  rest  of  the  command  (Headquarters  and  Headquarters  Squad- 
ron, 2 2d  Air  Depot,  ist  Air  Transport  Squadron  [Mobile],  and  vari- 
ous other  units),  but  they  were  to  be  prepared  to  move  by  i  June, 
before  which  time  further  orders  were  to  be  issued.  Ramey  had  al- 
ready been  informed  of  the  general  contents  of  this  directive  and  dur- 
ing February  preparations  for  departure  were  made."® 

The  first  water  echelon  shipped  out  of  Calcutta,  substantially  as 
ordered,  on  27  February.  An  advanced  echelon  of  the  58th  Wing  flew 
out  via  Luliang  on  20  March.  Four  cargo  vessels  loaded  with  equip- 
ment sailed  between  25  March  and  4  April.  Late  arrival  of  the  first 
water  shipment  necessitated  a  rescheduling  of  departure  dates  for  the 
air  echelons  (to  20  April  and  i  May)  and  for  the  last  water  echelon 
of  3,459  men  (to  6  May).  When  that  last  shipment  arrived  in  the 
Marianas  on  6  June,  the  transfer  of  the  58th  Wing  had  been  com- 
pleted without  loss  of  a  single  life  or  plane.  The  Joint  Chiefs  had  in- 
tended the  use  of  the  Tinian  base  as  a  temporary  measure  until  the 
whole  wing  could  be  accommodated  on  Guam,  so  that  the  delays  en 
route  cut  short  the  58th's  stay  on  the  former  island.^^ 

Ramey  went  along  with  the  58th  as  wing  commander.  General 
Smith  taking  over  XX  Bomber  Command  on  25  April  and  continuing 
preparations  for  the  move  in  June  to  a  site  not  as  yet  designated.  In 
January  the  JCS  had  merely  stated  that  XX  Bomber  Command  would 
be  stationed  in  the  Philippines-Ryukyus  area,  and  at  Kharagpur  there 
was  much  speculation  as  to  the  future  home.  In  Washington  and  the 
Pacific  theaters  there  was  some  sentiment  in  favor  of  Luzon,  but  a 
JCS  plan  developed  in  March  and  approved  in  April  stipulated  that 

166 


EXIT  MATTERHORN 


XX  Bomber  Command  should  go  to  Okinawa  to  provide  control  for 
the  316th  and  other  VHB  wings  to  be  deployed  on  that  island.  In  ac- 
cordance with  this  design,  the  War  Department  on  4  May  furnished 
General  Smith  with  a  schedule  for  the  movement  of  the  remaining 
echelons,  to  begin  on  2  June."° 

The  task  of  Smith's  A-i  section  in  assembling  all  command  person- 
nel in  Okinawa  was  complicated  by  the  threat  of  a  wholesale  dispersal, 
as  officers  and  men  became  eligible  for  rotation  according  to  theater 
rules.  This  was  less  true  of  aircrews  than  of  ground  personnel.  After 
long  study  by  his  staff,  Ramey  had  announced  on  26  January  a  policy 
on  combat  crew  replacement.  Rotation  was  to  be  governed  by  the  de- 
sire to  maintain  groups  at  fifty-one  B-29  crews  each  (1.7  crews  per 
UE  aircraft)  and  by  the  flow  of  crews  from  the  States.  No  firm  prom- 
ise was  to  be  made  to  ship  crews  home  after  completing  a  designated 
number  of  combat  missions  or  hours.  Instead,  crewmen  were  to  be  re- 
turned when  their  '^operating  effectiveness"  was  considered  to  be 
jeopardized  by  continued  combat  duty.  A  more  rigid  policy  was  an- 
nounced for  transport  pilots— return  after  1,000  hours  of  flight  or  18 
months  in  the  theater.  These  rulings  allowed  but  small  turnover:  in 
February,  for  example,  with  only  nineteen  B-29  crews  arriving  as  re- 
placements, twenty-four  were  returned  to  the  States,  and  three  lead 
crews  were  sent  to  Guam  on  loan.^^^ 

To  prevent  a  serious  loss  of  experienced  personnel  not  subject  to 
these  policies,  A-i  sent  officers  and  men  to  rest  camps  at  Darjeeling, 
Madras,  and  Ranikhet,  and  was  liberal  in  granting  forty-five  days'  tem- 
porary duty  for  rest  and  rehabilitation  stateside— but  with  orders  care- 
fully phrased  to  insure  return  to  duty  with  XX  Bomber  Command. 
A  number  of  officers  and  men  were  allowed  to  go  on  temporary  duty 
with  other  commands  or  with  service  schools  in  the  United  States;  in 
all,  several  hundred  airmen  were  spared  the  tedious  wait  in  Bengal. 
For  those  staff  sections  drawing  up  administrative  and  logistical  plans 
for  the  Okinawa  bases  the  time  was  fully  occupied,  but  fpr  many 
there  was  little  to  do  but  pack  and  wait."^ 

The  period  of  waiting  was  prolonged  by  changes  in  the  pattern  for 
air  command  in  the  Pacific*  In  mid-June  General  Smith  was  called  to 
Washington  and  informed  of  the  latest  plans  for  the  disposition  of  his 
command.  The  Eighth  Air  Force,  without  a  mission  since  V-E  Day, 
would  be  converted  to  a  VHB  organization  with  headquarters  at  Oki- 
*  See  below,  pp.  686-89. 


167 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


nawa  and,  with  the  Twentieth  Air  Force,  would  comprise  United 
States  Army  Strategic  Air  Forces  (USASTAF).  Thus  supplanted  by 
the  Eighth  in  its  function  of  directing  the  new  VHB  wings,  XX 
Bomber  Command  would  be  inactivated;  its  personnel  was  to  form  the 
nucleus  of  the  Eighth's  headquarters  and  might  remain  or  apply  for 
transfer  when  eligible,^" 

Back  in  Kharagpur  about  27  June,  General  Smith  completed  ar- 
rangements for  the  move.  During  February  and  March  the  383d  Air 
Service  Group  had  moved  into  the  four  tactical  airdromes  around 
Kharagpur  to  take  over  the  bases  and  surplus  property  left  behind. 
Now,  beginning  on  3  July,  the  air  echelon  left  for  Okinawa,  staging 
through  Bhamo,  Luliang,  Clark  Field,  and  Guam.  The  rest  of  the 
command  sailed,  in  two  lots,  on  1 2  July  and  4  August,  leaving  only  a 
few  small  detachments  in  India-Burma. 

Smith  left  with  the  flight  echelon.  Preceded  by  an  advanced  party 
and  carrying  a  considerable  amount  of  housekeeping  equipment, 
members  of  that  echelon  soon  established  headquarters  under  the 
primitive  conditions  of  an  island  just  secured  from  the  enemy.  On  16 
July  Lt.  Gen.  James  H.  Doolittle  appeared  at  Okinawa  with  his  party 
to  take  over.  Even  that  ceremony,  which  marked  the  passing  of  XX 
Bomber  Command,  lacked  the  clean,  sharp  finality  which  the  once- 
proud  organization  might  have  wished.  USASTAF  had  directed  *'the 
inactivation  of  the  Headquarters  and  Headquarters  Squadron,  XX 
Bomber  Command,  with  transfer  of  personnel  and  equipment  made 
prior  thereto  to  the  Headquarters  and  Headquarters  Squadron,  Eighth 
Air  Force.  The  effective  date  of  inactivation  to  be  0001  K,  16  July 
1945."  But  the  radio  carrying  this  general  order,  delayed  in  transmit- 
tal, arrived  on  the  17th  and  it  was  the  i8th  before  it  could  be  put  into 
effect."^"^*  This  was  the  end  of  XX  Bomber  Command. 

In  concluding  his  very  able  job  of  field  reporting  the  command  his- 
torian expressed  a  hope  that  some  later  writer  might  "ascertain  defi- 
nitely the  accomplishments  and  the  contributions  of  XX  Bomber 
Command  to  the  air  offensive  against  Japan."^^^  One  would  be  bold 
indeed  to  pretend  to  satisfy  that  hope  "definitely."  From  its  inception, 
MATTERHORN  was  a  controversial  project,  and  questions  as  to  its 
wisdom  were  not  stilled  by  the  command's  experiences  in  CBI.  An 
evaluation  board  reviewing  the  record  in  the  autumn  of  1944  ^^^^^ 
balance  the  as  yet  inconsiderable  combat  effort  against  the  levy  on 
Hump  tonnage  which  might  have  been  employed  in  operations  of 

168 


EXIT  MATTERHORN 


more  immediate  utility.  The  board's  tentative  judgment  was  most  cau- 
tiously phrased:  *'There  is  no  question  but  that  strategic  bombing  pays 
big  dividends  and  perhaps  the  diversion  of  such  [logistical]  effort  to 
the  XX  Bomber  Command  is  more  than  Justified  in  the  big  picture,  all 
of  which  can  not  be  seen  from  this  theater."^^^  Some  individuals  have 
been  less  equivocal  and  less  charitable  in  their  statements.  No  one  has 
ventured  to  indorse  the  venture  enthusiastically.  The  United  States 
Strategic  Bombing  Survey  studied  various  aspects  of  the  command's 
operations;  most  of  the  resulting  appraisals,  appearing  in  several  pub- 
lished reports,  are  unfavorable,  but  there  is  one,  curiously  inconsistent 
with  the  general  tone,  which  makes  something  of  a  case  for  the  MAT- 
TERHORN project.* 

One  statement  may  be  made  without  fear  of  successful  contradic- 
tion—that the  strategic  results  of  VHB  operations  from  Chengtu  were 
not  a  decisive  factor  in  the  Japanese  surrender.  This  is  the  most  impor- 
tant fact  in  the  story  of  XX  Bomber  Command's  air  war,  and  there  is 
no  intention  here,  as  there  has  been  none  in  the  preceding  narrative, 
to  inflate  the  accomplishments  of  the  command.  But  it  may  be  useful 
here  to  set  the  command's  record  against  its  envisaged  purpose,  and  to 
speculate  as  to  what  better  use  might  have  been  made  of  available 
resources. 

Arnold's  staff,  thoroughly  imbued  with  AAF  doctrines  of  strategic 
bombardment,  saw  in  the  B-Z9  a  weapon  with  which  the  Japanese 
homeland  could  be  hit.  In  the  autumn  of  1943  no  base  area  within 
striking  distance  of  the  Inner  Empire  was  available  save  in  China,  and 
for  want  of  a  better  site  the  staging  fields  were  located  at  Chengtu. 
Difficulties  in  the  supply  system  were  recognized  if  not  thoroughly 
appreciated  and  a  plausible  logistical  system  was  devised,  not  without 
some  general  interest  in  the  possibility  of  making  the  B-29  a  self-suffi- 
cient weapon.  On  the  best  advice  obtainable  from  civilian  and  military 
experts,  a  target  system  was  chosen— the  steel  industry— which  seemed 
to  offer  important  long-term  possibilities.  The  planners  did  not  expect 
to  win  the  war  by  strikes  from  Chengtu;  the  early  diversion  of  the 
73d  Wing  td'Saipan  was  a  token  of  their  preference  for  other  base 
areas  and  a  critical  factor  in  the  failure  of  the  logistical  system  to  meet 
the  original  expectations.  By  this  diversion  MATTERHORN  was 
doomed  to  failure  before  the  first  mission.  In  addition  to  blows  at  Jap- 
anese industry,  rated  as  important  but  not  decisive,  Arnold's  staff 

•  See  below,  pp.  171-75. 

169 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

hoped  to  achieve  certain  subsidiary  ends:  to  bolster  Chinese  morale; 
to  take  the  war  home  to  the  Japanese  people,  badly  misinformed  by 
their  officials,  in  raids  which  might  tie  down  in  the  main  islands  fighter 
planes  needed  elsewhere;  and  to  combat-test  a  new  plane  and  a  new 
type  of  bombardment  organization. 

As  for  the  immediate  combat  achievement,  that  is  easily  told.  In  49 
VHB  missions  involving  3,058  sorties,  XX  Bomber  Command 
dropped  1 1,477  bombs;  it  also  dispatched  more  than  250  pho- 

tographic sorties.  If  the  original  complement  of  150  B-29's  may  serve 
as  a  rough  index  of  planes  on  hand,  this  would  give  an  average  of 
about  2  combat  sorties  per  plane  per  month,  certainly  not  an  envi- 
able record.  Only  a  small  fraction  of  this  effort  was  directed  against 
industrial  targets  within  the  Inner  Empire.  Some  5,200  tons,  roughly 
45  per  cent  of  the  total  load,  were  carried  by  planes  flying  out  of 
China  bases,  and  of  that  weight  more  than  half  was  expended  in  the 
PAC-AID  strikes  or  against  other  nonindustrial  targets."^ 

During  the  first  four  months  of  operations  five  missions  were  sent 
out  against  steel  plants.  In  2  strikes  221  tons  were  loosed  over  Ya- 
wata,  but  because  of  unused  plant  capacity  (not  then  known  to  U.S. 
intelligence  agencies),  the  raids  caused  "only  a  negligible  drop  in  pro- 
duction." At  Anshan  the  bombing  was  effective— in  fact,  postwar  ex- 
amination of  the  plant  showed  damage  more  severe  and  more  lasting 
than  had  been  appreciated  by  the  command's  staff  working  from  pho- 
tographic evidence.  Three  raids  in  which  550  tons  of  bombs  were 
dropped  caused  a  loss  in  production  of  approximately  200,000  tons  of 
pig  iron,  136,000  tons  of  ingot  steel,  and  93,000  tons  of  rolled  steel. 
Because  of  the  tight  shipping  situation  the  main  incidence  of  this  loss 
fell  on  Manchurian  user  industries  rather  than  on  those  in  Japan,  and 
though  success  at  Anshan  verified  an  early  belief  in  the  vulnerability 
of  steel  plants,  strategic  planners  realized  by  mid- 1944  that  the  quick- 
ened tempo  of  the  war  had  rendered  obsolete  the  reasoning  which  had 
led  to  the  choice  of  that  target  system.*" 

When  in  October  the  aircraft  industry  was  named  as  first-priority 
objective,  Omura  became  the  principal  target,  receiving  about  500 
tons  in  5  attacks.  Only  one  mission,  that  of  25  October,  paid  off; 
almost  half  of  the  building  area  was  destroyed  or  damaged  and  very 
heavy  casualties  were  inflicted.  The  loss  in  production  amounted  to 
5.7  months*  work.^®  But  Omura  was  not  one  of  the  most  important 
aircraft  factories. 


170 


EXIT  MATTERHORN 


None  of  the  other  missions  against  cities  in  Japan  proper— there 
were  only  nine  in  all— was  significant,  nor  were  random  strikes 
against  alternate  targets  on  the  continent.  The  successful  attacks 
against  Formosa  and  Hankow  do  not  fit  into  the  MATTERHORN 
picture;  neither  do  the  many  missions  conducted  in  SEAC.  The  stra- 
tegic campaign  may  be  summed  up  in  terms  of  Yawata,  Anshan,  and 
Omura  and  here  one  may  speak  with  some  assurance:  the  direct  re- 
sults obtained  in  the  ten  missions  against  those  targets  did  little  to  has- 
ten the  Japanese  surrender  or  to  justifiy  the  lavish  expenditures  poured 
out  in  their  behalf. 

The  indirect  results  of  the  campaign  are  more  difficult  to  assay. 
Arnold's  staff  had  been  optimistic  as  to  the  psychological  effects  of 
the  VLR  bombing  of  Japanese  cities.  Such  an  offensive  delivered  from 
bases  in  China,  they  believed,  would  encourage  that  nation  to  resist, 
while  the  unveiling  in  China  of  so  powerful  a  weapon  as  the  B-29 
would  restore  prestige  to  Chiang  Kai-shek's  government  and  reduce 
the  damage  caused  by  unfulfilled  promises  of  aid.  Those  views  were 
shared  by  Roosevelt,  a  fact  which  accounts  for  his  continued  support 
of  the  project.  The  USSBS  report  Air  Operations  in  China^  Burma^ 
IndtUy  World  War  II  is  emphatic  in  the  opinion  that  these  results  did 
accrue:  that  B-29  operations  constituted  "a  tremendous  shot  in  the 
arm  to  the  Chinese  people,"  and  that  XX  Bomber  Command  should 
share  credit  with  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  for  preventing  an  utter 
collapse  of  the  Chinese  will  to  resist."^ 

The  news  that  the  Superforts  were  raining  destruction  upon  Japa- 
nese cities  was  widely  disseminated  in  China  and  enthusiastically  re- 
ceived; their  activities  were  praised  by  Chiang  Kai-shek  in  his  most 
important  public  address  of  1944.  In  the  province  of  Szechwan  the 
Chinese  seemed  to  take  a  personal  interest  in  the  B-29  project;  their 
friendliness  was  attested  by  unit  historians  at  each  echelon,  and 
throughout  China  the  friendly  spirit  was  manifested  in  a  very  prac- 
tical way  by  aid  rendered  under  most  dangerous  circumstances  to 
crewmen  who  had  bailed  out  of  B-29's  stricken  over  enemy  territory. 
The  record  of  the  Chinese  armies  during  the  MATTERHORN  pe- 
riod was  not  a  distinguished  one,  but  at  least  the  Nationalist  govern- 
ment did  not  withdraw  from  the  war  as  had  been  freely  predicted  in 
the  spring  of  1944.  How  much  the  B-29's  contributed  to  that  survival 
and  whether  the  same  end  might  have  been  achieved  by  less  spectacu- 
lar and  less  expensive  means  will  remain  debatable.  To  the  USSBS  re- 


171 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

porters  the  contribution  seemed  great,  to  "be  appreciated  fully  only 
by  those  who  were  working  with  the  Chinese  in  China  at  the  time." 
Men  of  the  XX  Bomber  Command  tended  to  agree  with  this  judg- 
ment; Chennault  thought  the  command  a  liability  rather  than  an  asset 
in  China."^ 

In  Japan  the  attacks  from  Chengtu  caused  no  such  surprise  among 
official  circles  as  had  the  Doolittle  raid.  Long  before  1 5  June  the  mis- 
sion of  the  B-29's  had  been  accurately  diagnosed  from  their  presence 
in  India  and  the  specifications  of  the  Chengtu  fields.  But  after  the  first 
Yawata  mission  the  Imperial  government  was  faced  with  the  problem 
of  explaining  to  a  populace  deluded  with  false  reports  of  the  war's 
progress  the  undeniable  presence  of  the  U.S.  bombers  over  Japan.  The 
concern  of  official  propagandists  is  indicated  by  the  tone  of  their 
broadcasts  and  news  stories,  which  tended  to  depreciate  the  impor- 
tance of  the  raids  and  to  exaggerate  unreasonably  the  success  of  de- 
fensive measures.  Postwar  interrogations  have  shown  that  among 
some  Japanese  it  was  the  early  B-29  raids  that  first  brought  doubts  as 
to  ultimate  victory.  However,  the  intensity  and  scope  of  the  XX 
Bomber  Command  campaign,  limited  to  a  few  strikes  at  Kyushu  cities, 
were  not  great  and  as  a  morale  factor  that  campaign  was  not  nearly  so 
important  as  the  mass  raids  by  XXI  Bomber  Command  in  1945.^^^ 

In  their  aim  of  tying  down  fighter  strength  in  the  home  islands  the 
planners  were  moderately  successful.  When  the  B-29  threat  was  rec- 
ognized in  the  spring  of  1 944,  the  Japanese  reorganized  General  De- 
fense Headquarters  at  Tokyo.  The  three  air  brigades  attached  to  army 
districts  were  raised  to  divisional  status;  an  effort,  none  too  successful, 
was  made  to  coordinate  army  and  navy  interceptor  forces;  and  the 
First  Air  Army,  an  emergency  reserve  drawn  from  the  training  estab- 
lishment, was  set  up  at  Tokyo.  The  number  of  fighter  planes  assigned 
to  General  Defense  Headquarters,  which  stood  at  260  in  June  1944, 
was  increased  by  several  increments:  in  October  the  order  of  battle 
showed  375,  and  this  strength  was  maintained  pretty  constantly  until 
the  fire  raids  of  March  1945  led  to  further  reinforcement.  XX  Bomber 
Command  can  be  credited,  therefore,  with  having  caused  the  Japanese 
to  withdraw  or  withhold  from  active  theaters  about  115  fighters  or 
about  4.5  per  cent  of  the  total  number  in  service."^ 

In  regard  to  combat-testing  the  B-29  ^^^^  command's  achievements 
were  substantial.  The  bomber,  rushed  through  the  various  stages  of 
development  in  record  time,  had  been  deliberately  committed  to  com- 


172 


EXIT  MATTERHORN 


bat  after  a  brief  service  testing  in  hopes  that  field  conditions  would 
quickly  uncover  remediable  weaknesses.  The  difficult  flying  condi- 
tions in  the  CBI  made  that  test  a  strenuous  one,  and  XX  Bomber  Com- 
mand met  the  challenge  ably,  as  the  preceding  narrative  has  shown. 
Through  the  command's  endeavors  and  those  of  the  Materiel  Com- 
mand at  home,  the  complex  mechanism  of  the  great  bomber  was 
smoothed  out,  and  corrections  and  improvements  that  derived  frorn 
experience  in  the  CBI  were  incorporated  into  planes  destined  for  the 
Marianas. 

Equally  important,  crews  learned  to  recognize  the  B-29  for  the  su- 
perb plane  it  was.  This  lesson  came  hard.  Pilots  and  co-pilots  of  the 
58th  Wing  had  been  hand-picked  B-17  or  B-24  men  with  many  hours 
of  four-engine  flying  time  either  in  combat  or  as  instructors  in  Train- 
ing Command  schools.  After  the  fashion  of  flyers  they  entertained 
marked  preferences  for  the  Flying  Fortresses  or  the  Liberators  they 
had  flown,  and  they  looked  askance  at  the  Superfort,  reported  to  be  a 
"hot"  plane  to  handle  and  certainly  an  unknown  quantity.  Late  deliv- 
eries cut  training  in  Kansas  to  a  minimum— an  average  of  about  thirty 
hours  per  man.  Mechanical  difficulties,  especially  with  the  R-3350  en- 
gine, were  frequent  enough  in  the  early  days  in  the  theater  to  nourish 
the  pilots'  reserve  toward  the  Superfort.  It  was  only  gradually  that 
that  attitude  changed  to  one  of  confidence  and  aff^ection.  The  conver- 
sion, in  the  words  of  the  command  historian,  "was  born  of  fact,  fancy, 
pride,  legend— but  most  important,  of  actual  performance  under  com- 
bat conditions."  News  of  unusual  feats  spread  rapidly  to  dispel  earlier 
doubts:  news  of  how  one  pilot  brought  his  overloaded  B-29  through  a 
power  failure  at  take-off;  of  how  another  made  a  dead-stick  landing 
when  his  B-29  ran  dry  of  fuel  while  approaching  its  home  base;  or 
how  a  crew  would  stay  with  a  plane  when  the  prop  on  a  burnt-out 
engine  would  not  feather,  and  return  safely.  Such  stories  were  well 
authenticated;  there  were  others  not  officially  verified  but  fully  as 
heartening,  such  as  the  widely  bruited  tale  of  an  eager  pilot  who  in 
returning  from  an  Omura  mission  brought  his  65 -ton  Superfort  down 
on  the  deck  to  strafe  an  enemy  freight  train  in  approved  fighter 
style.^^^ 

Crewmen  learned  more  about  the  intricate  equipment  of  the  plane: 
they  found  the  central  fire-control  system  accurate  and  dependable; 
they  improved,  without  perfecting,  their  knowledge  of  the  radar 
equipment;  they  learned  the  real  significance  of  flight  control  And 


173 


THE   ARMY   AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

these  lessons  were  reflected  in  improved  performance:  in  fewer  aborts, 
fewer  accidents,  greater  bomb  loads,  and  better  bomb  patterns.  Much 
of  this  calculus  of  bombardment  can  be  read  in  the  impressive  charts 
and  graphs  prepared  by  the  statistical  section  of  the  command's  staff, 
which  show  in  most  categories  a  marked  if  not  an  even-paced  im- 
provement. Staff  work,  highly  rated  in  the  early  days  in  the  theater, 
became  even  better.  By  any  reasonable  standards  the  58th  Wing  was 
Avhen  it  moved  to  Saipan  a  most  effective  combat  organization.^^* 

No  critic  has  challenged  the  utility  or  success  of  the  command's 
shakedown  process.  The  USSBS  Summary  Report  pays  tribute  to  the 
fashion  in  which  the  job  was  accomplished  but  suggests  that  the  "nec- 
essary training  and  combat  experience  with  B-29S  provided  by  this 
operation  might  have  been  secured  through  attacks  on  Outer  Zone 
targets,  from  bases  more  easily  supplied."^^^  The  two  implications  in 
this  criticism,  the  one  operational  and  the  other  logistical,  are  stated 
more  explicitly  elsewhere  in  the  report. 

In  a  section  entitled  ^^Hindsight"  the  USSBS  committee  expressed 
the  view  that  the  XX  Bomber  Command  B-29's  "could  have  been 
more  effectively  used  in  coordination  with  submarines  for  search, 
low-level  attacks  and  mining  in  accelerating  the  destruction  of  Japa- 
nese shipping,  or  in  destroying  oil  and  metal  plants  in  the  southern 
area.''^^^  This  view  was  not  wholly  hindsight.  Both  target  systems  had 
been  suggested  in  the  COA  report  of  11  November  1943;  both  had 
received  support  from  Navy  strategists  in  Washington  and  from  Mac- 
Arthur  and  Kenny  in  the  Southwest  Pacific.  In  view  of  the  incon- 
siderable results  obtained  in  the  Inner  Zone  it  seems  possible  that  a 
greater  contribution  might  have  been  made  by  the  B-29's  operating  in 
the  fashion  suggested.  But  since  early  1943  those  in  Arnold^s  staff  who 
had  to  do  with  the  B-29  project  had  their  eyes  fixed  on  Japan;  expe- 
rience in  the  ETO  by  the  time  of  the  first  Yawata  mission  and  the 
subsequent  accomplishment  of  XXI  Bomber  Command  prove  that  the 
AAF's  doctrine  of  striking  at  the  central  core  of  an  enemy's  industrial 
power  was  eminently  sound.  Only  by  staunch  adherence  to  that  con- 
cept of  strategic  bombardment  in  the  face  of  efforts  at  diversion  had 
the  AAF  been  able  to  achieve  its  primary  mission  in  Europe,  and  it 
was  not  a  mark  of  stubborn  inflexibility  that  Arnold  and  his  staff  held 
resolutely  to  the  same  policy  in  the  war  against  Japan.  And  whether 
with  justification  or  not,  this  determination  was  colored  throughout 
by  the  fear  of  losing  control  of  the  VHB's  to  commanders  who  would 


174 


EXIT  MATtERHORN 

continue  to  nibble  at  the  fringes  of  Japan's  power  or  use  the  B-29  as  a 
Navy  auxiliary  against  shipping. 

The  logistical  argument,  that  "aviation  gasoline  and  supplies  used 
by  the  B-29S  might  have  been  more  profitably  allocated  to  an  expan- 
sion of  the  tactical  and  antishipping  operations  of  the  Fourteenth  Air 
Force,"  has  been  elaborated  by  other  critics,  most  vehemently  perhaps 
by  Ghennault/^^  Curiously  enough,  the  USSBS  report  on  CBI  cited 
above  is  in  marked  disagreement  with  this  opinion,  and  it  is  perhaps 
not  without  significance  that  the  whole  of  the  survey  board  was  made 
up  of  AAF  personnel.  In  the  opinion  of  that  board,  other  observers 
had  "overemphasized  the  logistical  support  taken  from  the  Fourteenth 
Air  Force  in  favor  of  the  B-29  operations."  The  figures  cited  show  the 
failure  of  the  original  self-support  plan:  of  41,733  tons  delivered  at 
Chengtu,  27,216  tons  were  hauled  by  ATC,  only  14,517  by  the  com- 
mand's own  planes.  Presumably  the  27,216  tons  would  have  been 
added  to  the  121,565  allocated  to  the  Fourteenth  but  for  the  presence 
of  the  B-29's  in  China  (though  the  needs  of  the  XX  seem  to  have 
helped  ATC's  India-China  Division  secure  the  reinforcements  which 
allowed  them  to  step  up  deliveries).  The  board  stated  that  by  its 
strikes  at  Formosa  and  Hankow  XX  Bomber  Command  did  aid  in  the 
fight  for  China,  whereas  the  69,066  tons  delivered  to  Chinese  ground 
forces  weiit  to  units  which  "never  engaged  in  any  significant  action 
during  the  course  of  the  war."^^®  This  is  at  best  a  negative  argument 
and  one  may  readily  suppose  that  the  Fourteenth  might  have  accom- 
plished more  but  for  the  diversions  of  transport  potential  to  XX 
Bomber  Command.  Although  it  might  have  had  important  effects  on 
postwar  China,  it  is  doubtful  that  an  earlier  victory  would  have  been 
achieved  in  World  War  II,  which  was  won  in  Japan,  not  on  the  Asi- 
atic continent. 

Even  if  one  qualify  some  of  the  adverse  criticisms,  the  record  of  XX 
Bomber  Command  was  not  a  successful  one.  The  title  for  the  MAT- 
TERHORN plan  was  "Early  Sustained  Bombing  of  Japan."  The 
bombing  was  neither  early  nor  sustained.  It  achieved  no  significant 
results  of  a  tangible  sort  and  the  intangible  effects  were  obtained  at  a 
dear  price.  This  failure  should  not  be  charged  to  XX  Bomber  Com- 
mand, whose  men  showed  courage,  determination,  and  skill.  They  lost 
to  an  impossible  logistics  system,  riot  to  the  Japanese.  And  though  the 
command  was  dissolved,  its  combat  units  in  the  58th  Wing  were  to  go 
on  with  the  war  under  more  favorable  conditions  in  the  Marianas. 


175 


SECTION  II 
*********** 


AID  TO  CHINA:  THE  THEATER 
AIR  FORCES  IN  CBI 


CHAPTER  6 

^11^  '^f^  "^f^  ""^t^  '^f^ 


TF^7S  MEANS 

THE  CBI  logistics  problem  has  been  touched  upon  more  than 
once  in  dealing  with  B-29  operations.  The  principal  difficul- 
ties arose  from  the  great  distance  separating  the  theater  from 
the  United  States,  the  prior  claims  of  other  areas  of  combat,  and  the 
lack  of  distribution  facilities  over  the  vast  reaches  of  the  theater  itself. 
Until  1944  these  difficulties  imposed  inescapable  limitations  on  air  ac- 
tivity in  all  parts  of  the  theater,  and  even  after  that  time  prevented  the 
build-up  of  adequate  strength  in  China,  where  the  barrier  of  the  Hi- 
malayas had  the  effect  of  lengthening  and  exhausting  the  supply  line. 

In  Burma  four  principal  factors  contributed  to  the  Allies'  final  mus- 
tering of  sufficient  strength  to  drive  the  Japanese  out.  One  of  these 
was  the  progress  of  Allied  military  operations  in  the  Pacific,  which  by 
1945  brought  heavy  pressure  upon  the  Japanese  from  several  different 
directions  at  one  time,  and  which,  with  the  passage  of  each  week,  in- 
creased the  supply  problem  for  the  Japanese  in  their  most  inaccessible 
theater— Burma.  The  second  factor  was  the  development  in  east  and 
northeast  India,  as  well  as  on  the  Burma  fighting  front,  of  strong  Al- 
lied forces,  given  tremendous  flexibility  and  striking  power  by  Allied 
air  supremacy.  The  third  factor  was  the  "miracle  of  production,"  both 
in  Britain  and  the  United  States,  which  brought  into  CBI  on  an  un- 
precedented scale  the  supplies  and  equipment  needed  to  press  the 
advantages  already  established.  And  the  fourth  was  the  successful 
build-up  within  India,  as  well  as  in  parts  of  Burma  and  China,  of  an 
extensive  and  well-coordinated  service  of  air  supply  and  maintenance. 

The  India  Base 

Beginning  in  1942  India  served  as  the  base  for  all  AAF  operations 
against  the  enemy  in  Burma  and  for  all  aid,  of  whatever  sort,  for- 


179 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

warded  to  China.  Since  the  ports  of  Bombay  and  Karachi  on  the  west 
were  the  only  ones  of  any  size  free  of  enemy  attack  in  1942,  American 
forces  were  compelled  to  depend  upon  them',  and  thus  upon  the  ex- 
traordinarily inadequate  trans-India  transport  facilities.  Not  until  1943 
did  Allied  air  superiority  over  the  Bay  of  Bengal  make  it  possible  to 
use  the  full  port  facilities  of  Calcutta,  which,  though  separated  from 
the  forward  bases  by  cumbersome  communications,  at  least  had  the 
advantage  of  being  relatively  close  to  the  centers  of  military  opera- 
tions. Assam  bases  of  northeastern  India  served  as  take-off  points  for 
planes  flying  the  Hump  into  China,  and  as  important  supply  and  main- 
tenance bases  for  tactical  air  operations  in  Burma.  In  the  provinces  of 
Bengal  and  Assam,  therefore,  the  major  installations  of  the  CBI  Air 
Service  Command  came  to  be  situated. 

The  CBI  Air  Service  Command  came  into  existence  on  20  August 
1943  as  the  successor  to  X  Air  Force  Service  Command.^  The  estab- 
lishment of  a  separate  air  force  in  China  the  preceding  March  had 
been  followed  by  activation  of  a  separate  XIV  Air  Force  Service 
Command  in  May  under  Brig.  Gen.  Julian  B.  Haddon.  That  organi- 
zation, however,  never  attained  anything  more  than  a  tentative  status, 
although  General  Haddon  put  forth  every  effort  to  save  it  from  fail- 
ure. The  difficulty  lay  in  the  fact  that  heavy  repair  and  overhaul  still 
had  to  be  done  in  India  and  in  the  fact  that  all  supplies  had  to  come 
into  China  by  way  of  India.  Furthermore,  aircraft  of  the  Air  Transport 
Command,  which  carried  supplies  to  General  Chennault's  forces  from 
the  Assam  valley,  continued  to  be  serviced  by  the  X  Air  Force  Serv- 
ice Command.  The  plan  of  a  separate  service  command  for  the  Four- 
teenth Air  Force  might  have  succeeded  had  the  Fourteenth  set  up  its 
own  air  depots  and  service  groups  on  the  Indian  side  of  the  Himalayas 
and  been  wholly  responsible  for  their  operation;  but  this  would  have 
led  to  a  duplication  of  facilities  impossible  to  justify  with  the  prevail- 
ing shortages  of  personnel  and  equipment.  Accordingly,  it  was  de- 
cided to  activate  the  China-Burma-India  Air  Service  Command  with 
responsibility  for  both  China  and  India-Burma.  Brig.  Gen.  Robert  C. 
Oliver  assumed  command  on  the  same  day  that  Maj.  Gen.  George  E. 
Stratemeyer  took  over  the  newly  activated  Headquarters,  Army  Air 
Forces,  India-Burma  Sector,  China-Burma-India  Theater.^  General 
Oliver  became  chief  of  staff  for  maintenance  and  supply  on  Strate- 
meyer's  staff;  as  commanding  general  of  the  Air  Service  Command  he 

180 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


was  responsible  for  the  supply  and  maintenance  of  all  American  air 
forces  in  China,  Burma,  and  India. 

To  allow  for  the  maximum  decentralization  consistent  with  unified 
control,  the  new  command  established  area  commands  in  each  of  the 
main  centers  of  service  activity:  China,  Assam,  and  Calcutta.  The 
5308th  Air  Service  Area  Command  (Provisional)  was  activated  at 
Kunming  on  30  October  1943  under  Col.  Reuben  C.  Hood;^  its  pro- 
visional character  was  changed  on  20  July  1944,  when  it  was  redesig- 
nated the  China  Air  Service  Area  Command.^  The  5309th  Air  Service 
Area  Command  (Provisional),  organized  at  Chabua  on  19  November 
1943  with  Col.  Daniel  F.  Callahan  commanding,^  was  redesignated  the 
Northern  Air  Service  Area  Command  on  20  July  1944.^  In  the  Cal- 
cutta area,  the  28th,  47th,  and  83d  Air  Depot  Groups,  all  operating 
within  a  few  miles  of  each  other  and  collectively  known  as  the  Bengal 
Air  Depot,  were  provided  with  a  supervising  headquarters  on  4  De- 
cember 1943,  designated  the  5317th  Air  Depot  Headquarters  (Provi- 
sional).'' In  addition,  the  headquarters  of  CBI  Air  Service  Command, 
which  moved  to  Hastings  Mill  near  Calcutta  in  the  spring  of  1944,* 
exercised  direct  control  over  other  installations  in  that  area.  In  May, 
Maj.  Gen.  Thomas  J.  Hanley,  Jr.  replaced  General  Oliver.® 

Besides  the  area  commands,  there  were  several  air  depot  and  service 
groups  located  at  strategic  points  for  the  big  build-up  that  reached  its 
peak  in  April  1945*  Of  special  interest  among  these  was  the  Bangalore 
Air  Depot,  later  redesignated  the  Southern  India  Air  Depot,  which 
was  a  supervising  headquarters  for  the  Hindustan  Aircraft  Factory. 
The  factory,  which  was  owned  by  the  governments  of  India  and  My- 
sore, had  been  promoted  in  1942  as  a  repair  base  for  air  force  opera- 
tions by  American  interests  headed  by  Mr.  W.  D.  Pawley.  To  facili- 
tate negotiations,  the  Indian  government  acquired  the  rights  of 
Mysore  for  the  duration  of  the  war  and  retained  the  services  of  the 
American  promoters  to  operate  the  plant.  Early  arrangements  to  serv- 
ice AAF  units  on  a  job  basis  proved  unsatisfactory,  with  complaints  of 
both  cost  and  inefficiency.  Through  a  series  of  agreements  with  the 
Indian  government,  the  first  made  in  July  1942  and  the  last  in  Septem- 
ber 1943,  Tenth  Air  Force  representatives  acquired  the  right  to  direct 
the  factory's  operations,  the  Pawley  interests  meanwhile  having  been 

•  At  Hastings  Mill,  fifteen  miles  from  the  center  of  Calcutta,  were  also  located  the 
headquarters  of  Eastern  Air  Command,  the  Indiai-China  Wing,  ATC,  and  the  AAF 
India-Burma  Sector,  CBI. 


182 


WAYS  AND  MEANS 


bought  out.®  Thereafter,  the  CBI  Air  Service  Command  ran  the  plant 
as  managing  agent;  the  84th  Air  Depot  Group  which  had  been  acti- 
vated at  Bangalore  on  21  July  1943  and  later  the  Bangalore  Air  Depot 
—manned  by  the  84th—was  in  charge  of  its  operatioti.^^ 

By  the  beginning  of  February  1944  the  strength  of  the  CBI  Air 
Service  Command  reached  12,087  and  in  that  month  jumped  to  17,- 
442.  in  March  an  increase  of  another  5,000  was  made.  Then  leveling 
ofF,  the  command  showed  only  gradual  increases  until  December 
when  it  reached  26,500,  a  thousand  more  than  its  strength  in  Novem- 
ber, In  April  1945,  at  the  peak  of  the  war  in  Burma,  the  India-Burma 
Air  Service  Command*  had  a  complement  of  35,148,  a  gain  of  8,000 
over  March  this  increase,  however,  included  engineer  units  assigned 
from  the  Tenth  Air  Force.^^  The  strength  of  the  India-Burma  Air 
Service  Command  in  April  1945  was  the  largest  of  any  command  in 
both  sectors  or  theaters  throughout  the  entire  war.  In  addition,  at  this 
time  there  were  7,530  air  service  troops  in  the  China  Air  Service 
Command. 

In  spite  of  the  numbers  being  assigned  to  the  CBI  Air  Service  Com- 
mand in  1944,  there  were  pefSoi^nel  shortages  in  India,  aiid  greater 
ones  in  China.  New  tactical  units  were  going  into  operation  more  rap- 
idly than  servicing  organizations  could  be  received  and  trained  for 
places  in  the  field,  even  though  nine  air  service  groups  and  one  air 
depot  group  had  been  brought  into  the  theater  between  January  and 
August  1944.  General  Stratemeyer  summarized  the  situation  in  mid- 
July  when  he  asked  Washington  to  advance  shipping  dates  for  needed 
service  units."  He  pointed  out  that  service  groups,  spread  extremely 
thin,  were  extended  to  the  point  where  they  could  not  adequately 
provide  for  additional  combat  units.  The  3d  Combat  Cargo  Group, 
for  instance,  was  already  in  full  operation,  though  inadequately  sup- 
ported, and  since  the  1st  Combat  Cargo  Group  was  expected  to  be 
put  into  operation  as  soon  as  it  arrived  in  the  theater,  more  service 
groups  were  obviously  needed.  At  the  same  time,  General  Stilwell 
sent  a  radiogram  to  Washington  offering  to  waive  unit  and  combined 
training  of  four  special  airdrome  squadrons,  two  special  service 
groups,  and  one  air  depot  group,  provided  readiness  dates  could  be 
advanced.  He  also  asked  that  the  6ist  Air  Service  Group  be  sent  be- 

•  See  below,  p.  198,  for  the  sjjlitting  of  CBI  Air  Service  Command  into  the  India- 
Burma  Air  Service  Command  and  the  China  Air  Service  Command,  effective  12  De- 
cember 1944. 


183 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 

fore  its  scheduled  date  of  September,"  In  August  General  Strate- 
meyer,  seeking  additional  fighter  squadrons  for  the  tst  Air  Commando 
Group,  again  pointed  out  the  need  for  service  troops,  stating  that  the 
theater  was  short  two  standard  service  groups  and  three  service  squad- 
rotts  provided  for  in  the  standard  troop  basis.  This  was  in  addition  to 
the  shortage  of  special  service  groups  for  the  combat  cargo  groups.^^ 
By  the  end  of  February  1945,  however,  the  personnel  needs  of  the 
India-Burma  Air  Service  Command  were  almost  satisfied:  three  stand- 
ard and  three  special  air  service  groups  had  arrived  in  the  theater  after 
October,  and  the  14th  Air  Depot  Group  was  due  at  Ranaghat  early 
in  March.  Only  in  certain  categories  of  specialized  training  did  critical 
shortages  still  exist. 

Shortages  of  military  personnel  in  India  were  in  some  measure  over- 
come by  the  employment  of  civilians,  most  of  whom  were  Indians.  At 
the  Hindustan  Aircraft  Factory  several  thousands  were  hired,  and 
shortly  after  the  establishment  of  the  3d  Air  Depot  in  June  1942,  ci- 
vilians were  employed  at  that  station  to  work  in  the  messes,  perform 
guard  duties,  serve  as  clerks  and  typists,  load  and  unload  supplies,  and 
assume  other  responsibilities  for  which  they  were  qualified.  As  other 
installations  were  built,  the  policy  of  employing  civilians  was  ex- 
tended. They  were  used  in  all  capacities  for  which  the  use  of  military 
personnel  was  not  mandatory.  Most  of  them  were  employed  in  so- 
called  housekeeping  duties,  but  many  thousands  were  employed  as 
technicians  and  skilled  workmen;  by  simplifying  thie  tasks  and  intro- 
ducing production-line  techniques,  it  became  possible,  under  the  su- 
pervision of  American  technicians,  to  use  civilians  without  particular 
training  in  work  that  would  have  required  great  skill  if  done  by  single 
workmen.  At  the  beginning  of  1944  over  10,000  civilians  were  em- 
ployed by  the  command,  exclusive  of  those  at  Hindustan  Aircraft.  By 
June  1944  over  20,000  were  employed,  at  the  end  of  the  war  in  Burma 
over  37,000,  and  by  the  end  of  July  1945  there  were  more  than 
45,000.  Most  of  these  employees  were  at  the  Bengal  Air  Depot:  some 
8,390  civilians  were  employed  there  in  June  1944,  and  this  figure  rose 
sharply  in  succeeding  months  until  a  peak  was  reached  in  July  1945 
with  19,283  employed;  of  these,  15,236  were  semiskilled  or  unskilled 
workers.  Among  air  service  groups,  the  305th  at  Ondal  employed  the 
greatest  number  of  civilians,  1,500  in  May  1944  and  almost  3,000  in 
April  1945.  About  2,500  of  these  were  semiskilled  or  unskilled." 

The  cost  of  civilian  employment  was  charged  to  reverse  lend-lease, 

184 


WAYS   AND  MEANS 


except  for  clerical  help  during  the  eariy  months,  which  was  paid  for 
directly  by  Army  finance  officers  until  August  1944  when  it  too  was 
transferred  to  the  reverse  lend-lease  account.  Total  wages  ran  to  less 
than  $500,000  a  month  during  1944,  and  in  July  1945  costs  ran  to  only 
$787,268.92  when  employment  stood  at  45,408.  Thus,  the  average 
wage  in  July  was  about  $17.33  ^^^^  worker,  the  low  figure  some- 
times being  explained  by  the  predominance  of  unskilled  labor  and  the 
fact  that  some  workers  did  not  work  the  entire  month;  comparison 
with  other  months,  however,  indicates  that  that  figure  was  little  less 
than  average  for  a  full  month's  work.  Many  skilled  workers  were  paid 
considerably  more  than  the  average  wage.^^ 

The  growing  strength  of  the  CBI  Air  Service  Command  was  pre- 
paratory to  expanding  operations,  which  were  reflected  in  the  opening 
of  the  Calcutta  port.  Because  air  force  units  were  the  principal  users 
of  all  supplies  in  CBI,  the  air  service  command  was  called  upon  for 
close  coordination  of  plans  with  other  responsible  agencies,  especially 
since  the  responsibility  for  the  movement  of  gasoline,  quartermaster 
supplies,  and  other  common-user  items  belonged  to  the  Army  Service 
Forces.  The  arrival  of  troops  and  supplies  at  Indian  ports  had  to  be 
prepared  for  by  making  every  effort  to  set  up  in  advance  the  facilities 
that  would  be  needed  to  handle  their  movement.  Sometimes  extra  la- 
bor was  required  while  at  other  times  special  machinery  had  to  be 
constructed;  and  storage  space  on  the  docks  always  had  to  be  arranged 
for  until  movements  to  interior  depots  could  be  accomplished.  If  rapid 
delivery  were  required,  air  transport,  or  an  equally  expeditious  substi- 
tute, had  to  be  provided,  for  which  a  Movements  Control  Section,  set 
up  in  the  fall  of  1943  by  the  CBI  Air  Service  Command,  bore  the  chief 
responsibility.^^ 

Typical  of  the  problems  falling  to  the  Movements  Control  Section 
was  speeding  up  transportation  of  critical  Air  Corps  supplies  within 
the  theater.  Previous  dependence  on  air  transport  and  slow  freight 
trains  had  failed  to  meet  the  demands  of  operating  units,  either  because 
of  the  prior  claims  of  forward  areas  on  aircraft  or  because  of  the  in- 
adequacies of  normal  rail  service.  For  example,  rail  shipments  from 
Calcutta  to  the  54th  Air  Service  Group  at  Tezgaon  had  been  requiring 
from  10  to  15  days,  even  though  the  distance  was  less  than  300 
miles  by  air.  To  step  up  deliveries,  in  1944  an  "express  wagon  service" 
was  successfully  tested  on  the  Calcutta-Tezgaon  run.^^  In  July  the 
54th  Air  Service  Group  stationed  a  four-man  detachment  with  its 

185 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 

own  trucks  at  Barrackpore  to  load  a  car  each  day  and  attach  it  to  a 
parcel  train.  The  loaded  car  moved  by  broad  gauge  to  Goalundo 
Ghat,  where  another  detachment  of  one  officer  and  six  enlisted  men 
transferred  the  goods  to  a  river  steamer  for  movement  down  the 
Ganges  to  Narayanganj.  At  this  point,  another  detachment  shifted  the 
cargo  again,  and  movement  was  made  by  truck  to  Tezgaon.  The  route 
was  much  more  direct  than  that  used  by  regular  freight,  and  despite 
the  time  consumed  in  shifting  cargo,  time  in  transit  was  reduced  to  ap- 
proximately thirty-six  hours,  a  saving  of  eight  to  thirteen  days.  The 
cargo  carried  on  the  express-wagon  service  fell  in  the  category  of 
third  or  fourth  air  priority;  by  the  end  of  July  only  one  air  transport 
flight  a  day  was  needed  to  carry  all  other  priority  material  from  the 
Bengal  Air  Depot  to  the  54th  Group. 

Negotiations  begun  on  1 8  July  among  representatives  of  the  Move- 
ments Control  Section,  the  Army  Service  Forces,  the  British  Deputy 
Director  of  Movements,  and  the  Indian  railways  resulted  in  an  an- 
nouncement on  3 1  July  of  plans  to  begin  a  daily  express-wagon  serv- 
ice on  10  August  for  the  Calcutta-Chabua  and  Chabua-Jorhat  runs. 
Wagons  at  Sealdah  yards,  Calcutta,  were  closed  for  loading  at  1730. 
Five  hours  later,  they  left  Calcutta  on  a  parcel-goods  train.  Going  by 
way  of  Parbatipur,  Amingaon,  and  Pandu  (via  ferry),  the  goods  ar- 
rived at  Mariani  for  Jorhat  at  night  on  the  fourth  day,  and  at  Tinsukia 
for  Chabua  on  the  morning  of  the  fifth  day.  Another  express  service 
was  worked  out  for  the  Calcutta-Bangalore  run,  and  on  10  August  it 
was  announced  that  triweekly  service  would  start  immediately.  The 
schedule  called  for  one  railway  car  to  leave  Calcutta  every  Tuesday, 
Thursday,  and  Saturday.  On  the  same  days,  a  car  left  Bangalore 
for  Calcutta.  Although  regular  rail  transportation  continued  to  take 
eighteen  days,  the  express  cars  got  through  in  six;  this  was  further  re- 
duced to  four  days  in  September  when  the  express  cars  were  attached 
to  passenger  trains  instead  of  the  parcel  trains.^"  Both  of  these  express 
services  resulted  in  a  saving  that  in  September,  with  over  853  tons  car- 
ried by  the  new  service,  amounted  to  some  256  plane  lifts,  if  measured 
by  a  3%-ton  net  load  per  airplane.  Over  half  of  this  was  on  the  Cal- 
cutta-Chabua run. 

No  less  representative  of  the  way  in  which  the  CBI  Air  Service 
Command  contributed  to  improvement  of  operating  conditions  was  its 
successful  effort  to  provide  a  better  system  of  stock  control.  War 
reaches  perhaps  its  dullest  level  in  the  bookkeeping  which  controls  the 

186 


WAYS  AND  MEANS 


requisition  and  distribution  of  supplies,  but  when  the  system  of  control 
is  at  fault,  planes  which  otherwise  would  fly  are  grounded.  In  the  sup- 
plies delivered  from  the  United  States,  the  theater  was  by  1944  much 
more  fortunate  than  it  had  been  earlier,  but  the  very  size  of  the  theater 
exposed  it  to  the  special  risk  of  idle  surpluses  in  one  place  and  shortages 
in  another.  To  guard  against  this  danger,  two  main  centers  of  stockage 
were  established,  one  in  Bengal  and  one  in  Assam.^^  All  units,  accord- 
ing to  their  geographical  location,  made  requisitions  on  one  of  these 
two  centers.  At  the  same  time,  specialized  depots  for  certain  technical 
supplies  prevented  the  danger  of  overcentralization  at  the  Bengal  Air 
Depot,  which  served  as  the  main  center  of  stockage.  The  Central  India 
Air  Depot  at  Agra  became  the  supply  point  for  Curtiss  aircraft;  the 
Eastern  India  Air  Depot  at  Panagarh  specialized  in  aircraft  combat 
materials;  and  the  Delta  Air  Depot  at  Ranaghat  handled  tires  and 
tubes,  night-flying  equipment,  prefabricated  hangars,  shop  and  ma- 
chine tools,  aerial-delivery  equipment,  cordage,  fabrics,  leather,  belly 
tanks,  and  wing  assemblies.  Moreover,  local  procurement  under  lend- 
lease  agreements  was  used  to  the  fullest  in  order  to  lighten  the  burden 
upon  the  requisitioning  channels.'*^ 

To  achieve  maximum  utilization  of  supplies  under  the  new  control 
system,  frequent  inventory  reports  were  required.  To  distribute  the 
work  load  at  service  command  headquarters,  the  dates  for  regular  re- 
ports from  subordinate  units  were  staggered  throughout  the  month, 
and  by  the  spring  of  1945  electrical  accounting  machines  had  been  in- 
stalled for  handling  stock-balance  and  consumption  reports.  The  re- 
ports which  came  in  from  seventeen  air  depot  and  air  service  groups  in 
the  India-Burma  Theater,  and  from  five  groups  in  the  China  Theater, 
were  processed  by  the  machines  so  as  to  produce  a  complete  inventory 
of  all  stock  on  hand  in  both  theaters  approximately  eight  days  after 
receipt  of  reports.  Some  163,532  different  items  bearing  stock  or  part 
numbers  were  covered,  which  represented  a  consolidation  of  over 
435,000  field  stock-record  cards.^®  As  before,  use  of  local  manufacture 
for  a  long  list  of  items— among  others,  tires  and  tubes,  supply-drop- 
ping parachutes,  alcohol,  lumber,  oxygen,  paint,  cordage,  turpentine, 
paper,  wax,  and  ink— served  to  relieve  the  pressure  on  facilities  for 
shipment  from  the  United  States. 

In  order  to  prevent  excessive  stocks  of  any  one  item  from  accumu- 
lating at  one  place,  over-all  responsibility  at  CBI  Air  Service  Com- 
mand Headquarters  was  divided  between  two  main  sections:  the  Air- 

187 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


craft  Section  kept  check  on  planes,  engines,  accessories,  and  hardware; 
the  Equipment  Section  on  other  equipment.  By  a  strict  check  of  ac- 
tivity on  both  a  30-day  and  a  120-day  basis,  these  sections  established 
more  accurate  estimates  on  consumption  rates  and  managed  to  put  in- 
active stocks  into  useful  channels  or  to  relieve  the  pressure  on  storage 
facilities  by  shipping  home  some  surplus  inventories. 

Bombs,  Fuel,  Aircraft 

The  supply  of  ammunition  was  at  no  time  critical  during  the  last 
two  years  of  the  war.  Measured  by  the  usual  standard  set  up  to  test  the 
size  of  an  adequate  reserve,  that  is,  six  times  the  normal  expenditure, 
reserves  were  actually  too  high  until  full-scale  operations  in  the  Burma 
offensive  altered  the  picture  in  November  1944.  In  March  1944,  when 
reserve  stocks  were  at  their  highest,  100,000,000  rounds  of  .50-caliber 
ammunition,*  for  instance,  were  on  hand,  with  expenditures  running 
to  only  730,000  rounds  for  that  month.  During  months  of  greatest 
expenditure,  rounds  on  hand  for  all  types  of  ammunition  exceeded 
rounds  expended  by  several  times:  nine  times  for  .50-caliber  ammuni- 
tion in  May  1945;  thirty-nine  times  for  20-mm.  in  April  1945;  and 
twenty  times  for  75-mm.  in  January  1945.  In  June  1945,  with  only  12 
rounds  of  75-mm.  ammunition  expended,  69,747  rounds  were  on 
hand.  So  plentiful  were  the  reserves  that  excess  quantities  were  sent  to 
the  Pacific  Ocean  Areas  in  the  last  few  months  of  the  war.^* 

As  in  other  theaters,  however,  serious  shortages  were  experienced  in 
the  supply  of  bombs. t  Some  supply  officers  in  CBI  showed  a  natural 
inclination  to  attribute  their  difficulties  to  failure  of  American  produc- 
tion, but  this  has  been  vigorously  denied  by  Donald  Nelson,  who 
claimed  that  after  1^42  no  American  soldier  at  the  front  went  without 
munitions  because  of  a  production  failure.^^  He  attributed  the  diffi- 
culty to  the  shortcomings  of  intra-theater  organization.  The  widely 
separated  operational  bases  in  CBI  forced  stockage  of  bombs  at  many 
different  and  distant  points,  and  the  cost  of  any  attempt  at  redistribu- 
tion tended  to  make  bomb  supplies  expendable  only  at  those  bases 
which  originally  received  them.  As  a  result,  some  stocks  remained  in- 
active while  operational  demands  at  other  points  in  the  theater  created 

•  The  ammunition  most  used  by  the  AAF  in  India,  Burma,  and  China.  Expenditures 
and  losses  of  .50-caliber  ran  to  64,244,000  rounds  during  1944  and  1945,  as  compared 
with  411,000  rounds  of  20-mm.  and  22,955  rounds  of  75-mm.  ammunition.  Expenditure 
of  other  types  was  negligible. 

tFor  the  problem  in  ETO,  see  Vol.  Ill,  581-82. 

188 


WAYS   AND  MEANS 


critical  shortages  of  the  desired  type  of  b8mb.  This  situation  was  in 
part  a  penalty  imposed  by  the  great  distances  and  the  marked  inade- 
quacies of  transportation  in  CBI,  but  the  trouble  must  also  be  attrib- 
uted to  a  failure  at  top  planning  levels  to  make  adequate  allowance  for 
the  unavoidable  difEculties. 

At  no  time  in  1944,  and  not  until  June  1945,  did  adequate  reserves 
exist  for  the  100-pound,  250-pound,  and  500-pound  general-purpose 
bombs.^®  The  greatest  reserve  stock  of  100-pound  GP  bombs  was  in 
July  1944:  1 18,388  of  them,  with  expenditures  running  to  only  6,395. 
In  succeeding  months  expenditures  increased  and  reserves  fell  almost 
by  the  amounts  expended,  while  resupply  of  this  type  bomb  from  the 
United  States  was  negligible  after  July  1944.  In  May  1945  only  36,377 
bombs  of  the  100-pound  GP  class  remained  to  cushion  an  expenditure 
of  over  1 1,000  a  month,  and  the  situation  in  respect  to  this  type  might 
have  been  worse  had  not  eiiemy  personnel  become  so  imjportant  a 
target  during  the  last  ten  months  of  the  Burma  war  as  to  permit  free 
use  of  plentiful  stocks  of  100-  and  260-pound  fragmentation  bombs. 
Stocks  of  the  500-pourid,  as  well  as  the  250-  and  1,000-pound  bombs, 
declined  throughout  the  latter  part  of  1944,  and  the  reserves  of  them 
were  never  adequate  to  support  abnormal  expenditures.  The  1,000- 
pounders  almost  disappeared  in  1945  at  an  average  of  2,700  bombs  a 
month.  Replenishments  were  meager.  Azon  bombs,  used  in  B-24's  by 
the  493d  Bombardment  Squadron  of  the  7th  Group  and  after  April 
1945  in  P-38's  equipped  with  bombardier  noses,  were  supplied  in 
quantities  equal  to  the  need.^'  The  number  of  incendiary  bombs  was 
also  sufficient,  although  authorized  stock  levels  were  riot  maintained 
except  for  the  quick-opening  clusters  using  the  M50  and  M69.  Ex- 
penditures, however,  never  ran  high,  and  reserves  were  always  about 
twelve  times  the  current  expenditures. 

Not  until  June  1944  did  the  CBI  Air  Service  Command  assume  any 
responsibility  for  the  handling  of  aviation  gasoline  and  lubricants;  be- 
fore that  time  the  Army  Service  Forces  was  charged  with  deliveries 
to  the  theater,  British  agencies  attended  to  allocations,  General  Strate- 
meyer  allocated  fuel  among  AAF  units,  Army  engineers  had  charge 
of  pipeline  construction,  and  ATC  controlled  storage  in  the  Assam 
region.^^  Complaints  from  using  agencies  were  frequent,  and  the  Four- 
teenth Air  Force  objected  especially  to  the  policy  of  having  ATC  in 
the  dual  position  of  distributor  and  consumer.^^  A  proposal  to  meet 
this  objection  and  put  the  CBI  Air  Service  Command  in  control  of 

189 


THE   ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 

Assam  stocks  met  with  opposition  from  ATQ  which  did  not  relish 
surrendering  personnel  to  the  service  command  in  transferring  the  re- 
sponsibility. The  CBI  Air  Service  Command,  however,  took  over  in 
Assam  early  in  June/^ 

Improvement  in  the  stockage  and  delivery  of  fuel  to  consuming 
units  owed  much  to  6-inch  and  4-inch  pipelines  from  Chittagong  to 
Tinsukia,  and  to  the  6-inch  pipelines  running  from  Calcutta  to  Kha- 
ragpur  and  to  Tinsukia,  all  of  which  had  been  completed  before  the 
service  command  assumed  its  new  responsibility.  From  Tinsukia  a 
4-inch  line  reached  Myitkyina  in  December  1944.  Despite  these  facili- 
ties, it  was  still  necessary,  however,  to  rely  at  many  places  on  tank 
cars,  barges,  and  trucks.®^  Tank  wagons  operated  from  the  ports,  and 
at  transshipment  points  were  drained  into  storage  tanks,  from  which 
other  tank  wagons  were  filled.  Barges  operated  up  the  Hooghly  and 
Brahmaputra.  Gasoline  emptied  from  damaged  drums  augmented  the 
supplies  of  bulk  gasoline,  which  were  generally  sufficient  for  opera- 
tions from  Assam  into  China  by  the  Air  Transport  Command.  Drum 
gasoline  was  used  in  China. 

During  the  last  half  of  1944  gasoline  supplies  were  gradually  im- 
proved for  all  operational  units.  By  November  supplies  at  Chabua, 
Dinjan,  Mohanbari,  Sookerating,  Misamari,  Tezpur,  and  Jorhat  were, 
for  the  most  part,  adequate.  Because  of  diversions,  acute  shortages  ex- 
isted at  Jorhat  and  Sookerating  in  early  December,  but  after  the  20th 
of  that  month  stocks  on  hand  (that  is,  exclusive  of  the  reserves  that  all 
fields  maintained  for  emergency  evacuation)  never  dropped  below  a 
day's  consumption  rate  at  any  of  these  several  fields.  Stocks  were  es- 
tablished at  Myitkyina  in  mid-December,  but  so  great  was  the  con- 
sumption rate  that  stocks  were  never  large:  in  June  1945  they  declined 
to  less  than  a  day's  supply.  In  the  preceding  December  and  January 
Dergaon  was  also  used  as  a  gasoline  supply  field,  and  early  in  January 
Kurmitola-Tezgaon  began  operations  as  a  supply  field.^^ 

Consumption  in  October  1944  had  risen  to  about  400,000  imperial 
gallons  a  day  for  all  fields.  This  rate  was  increased  rapidly  as  the  war 
in  Burma  reached  a  climax.  In  the  first  week  of  May  1945  consump- 
tion at  all  fields  was  over  700,000  imperial  gallons  a  day.  Then,  as  soon 
as  the  Burma  war  machine  could  be  stopped  and  redirected  toward 
aiding  China,  the  rate  again  rose— this  time  to  the  highest  figures:  on  25 
July  the  consumption  rate  reached  almost  900,000  imperial  gallons 
(about  1,080,865  standard  American  gallons)  a  day.  It  was  during  this 

190 


IN  BURMA 


RAIL  BRIDOK  IN  BURMA  MSTROYED  BY  THE  7TH  BOMBARDMENT  GROUP 


BOMB  DAMAGE  AT  MYITKYINA 


AIR  SUPPLY 


WAYS  AND  MEANS 


month  that  the  Air  Transport  Command  broke  all  records  in  carrying 
tonnage  into  China.  Consumption  during  1945  was  greatest  at  the 
Kurmitola-Tezgaon  station,  where  it  reached  over  262,000  imperial 
gallons  in  the  first  part  of  May.  This  reflected  activity  on  the  part  of 
the  Aix  Transport  Command,  of  the  combat  cargo  groups,  and  of  tac- 
tical units  operating  in  Burma. 

At  the  beginning  of  1944  AAF  units  in  CBI  had  about  1,500  air- 
planes, of  which  approximately  900  were  in  commission.  At  the  end  of 
the  year  there  were  over  4,000  with  2,500  in  commission.  During  the 
critical  months  of  March,  April,  and  May  1944,  when  the  Allied 
forces  gained  air  superiority  in  Burma,  American  aircraft  strength  in 
India,  Burma,  and  China  ranged  between  1,700  and  2,500.  In  1945  the 
number  of  aircraft  varied  as  indicated  by  the  following  table 

SI  Jan,       SI  Mar.     so  Apr.      so  June     S' July     s^  ^ug. 


Fighters   1,238  1,254  1,236  1,316  1,410  1,356 

Bombers  (M)              387  387  386  389  431  419 

Bombers  (H)               158  184  189  182  156  133 

Reconnaissflnce             160  209  204  206  171  167 

Transports   1,213  i*30i  1,325  1436  iy444  i»475 

Training  and 

Liaison                     536  540  538  513  487  485 

Gliders                      367  3'o  211  121  79   57 

TOTAL                4,059  4,185  4,089  4,163  4,178  4.092 


As  these  figures  and  those  in  table  below  emphasize,  fighter  and  trans- 
port aircraft  played  the  most  important  roles  in  CBI.*^* 

Among  fighters,  the  old  P-40  gave  way  to  P-38's,  P-47's,  and  es- 
pecially to  P-51's.  There  had  been  44  P-38's  assigned  to  the  theater  at 
the  beginning  of  1944;  in  March  of  that  year  the  first  P-47's,  100  of 
them,  reached  Karachi  by  water;  and  to  the  60  P-51's  already  in  the 


*  AIRCRAFT  STRENGTH  BY  TYPES  IN  CBI,  DECEMBER  1944-JULY  1945 


Dec, 

Jan. 

Feb. 

Mar. 

Apr. 

May 

June 

July 

P-40 

205 

182 

171 

134 

109 

95 

76 

62 

p-38 

91 

109 

140 

205 

190 

225 

280 

231 

P-47 

405 

379 

394 

372 

350 

336 

326 

296 

P-51 

417 

492 

510 

482 

527 

518 

556 

753 

P-61 

33 

32 

33 

32 

36 

33 

53 

53 

B-24 

163 

157 

170 

180 

185 

180 

171 

147 

B-25 

397 

382 

379 

386 

388 

418 

373 

345 

C-46 

350 

408 

431 

472 

466 

592 

614 

611 

C-47 

500 

503 

500 

493 

505 

501 

488 

479 

C-54 

23 

43 

52 

74 

99 

100 

107 

132 

L-5 

349 

3<S9 

385 

377 

382 

355 

378 

361 

191 


THE   ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


theater  at  the  close  of  1943,  over  500  more  in  1944  and  669  in  1945 
were  added  to  make  this  type  the  most  numerous  in  both  theaters. 
With  the  P-5 1  and  P~47  capable  of  carrying  fragmentation  bombs  and 
strafing,  it  was  considered  advisable  to  concentrate  upon  these  types 
rather  than  to  maintain  an  excessive  number  of  bombers. 

In  all,  there  were  over  forty  types  of  aircraft  assigned  to  the  India- 
Burma  and  China  Theaters  in  the  last  months  of  the  war.*  The  fol- 
lowing table  shows  the  distribution  of  aircraft  types  among  the  princi- 
pal commands  of  the  theaters  during  1945: 


€-46 

C-47 

C'S4 

B'24 

B-2S 

A-26  P'BS 

P-5' 

L-5 

AAF  IBT 

...  93 

134 

I 

37 

3 

97 

40 

192 

...  99 

138 

I 

40 

3 

2 

no 

.35 

204 

31  July   

...  171 

71 

54 

35 

2 

41 

6 

ATC 

...255 

160 

43 

14 

II 

6 

...333 

142 

74 

8 

10 

7 

31  July   

...330 

167 

132 

I 

33 

10 

Tenth  AF 

...  5 

149 

60 

106 

47 

3 

140 

97 

. .  6 

140 

58 

114 

87 

2 

132 

100 

31  July   

62 

2 

54 

38 

103 

2 

73 

82 

167 

Fourteenth  AF 

35 

51 

56 

20 

47 

51 

324 

54 

38 

73 

61 

30 

32 

55 

317 

41 

31  July   

76 

51 

72 

2Z 

19 

13 

59 

228 

125 

The  C-46  and  C-47  bore  the  brunt  of  transport  operations,  but  the 

C-54,  first  assigned  to  the  theater  late  in  1944,  was  of  growing  impor- 
tance through  the  last  months  of  ATCs  operations,  being  used  on  the 
Trojan  Run  from  Calcutta  to  Kunming,  The  Fourteenth  and  Tenth 
Air  Forces  used  the  C-47  niainly  for  supplying  their  units  in  the 
forward  areas,  and  combat  cargo  and  air  commando  groups  also  de- 
pended chiefly  on  the  C-47,  though  they  also  had  many  C-46's.  Of  the 
600  C-46's  in  the  theater  in  July  1945,  330  were  assigned  to  the  Air 
Transport  Command.  The  C-87  and  C-109  were  also  used  by  ATC 
during  1944  and  1945,  but  their  numbers  never  reached  100  for  either 
type.  Transport  aircraft,  like  the  C-46  and  C-47,  were  needed  in  such 
numbers  that  any  diversion  of  manpower  from  their  maintenance 
would  have  seriously  reduced  the  efficiency  of  the  cargo-carrying 
units.  Of  the  medium  bombers  in  May  1945,  44  were  assigned  to  units 

•  The  glider  CG-4  was  introduced  into  the  theater  in  large  numbers  during  1944 
and  was  used  in  the  second  Wingate  expedition  in  the  spring.  At  the  end  of  the  year 
over  300  of  this  type  aircraft  remained  in  the  theater,  but  their  numbers  were  de- 
creased in  1945.  At  the  end  of  July  there  were  but  twenty-nine  left. 


192 


WAYS  AND  MEANS 


under  the  theater  headquarters,  82  to  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force,  and 
100  to  the  Tenth  Air  Force.  The  A-26's,  introduced  into  the  theater  in 
June  1945  to  replace  the  B-25,  were  assigned  to  the  Fourteenth  and 
Tenth  Air  Forces  for  use  in  China. 

Because  of  the  jungle-type  warfare  expected  by  Allied  com- 
manders, it  was  anticipated  that  a  great  demand  would  develop  for 
supply-dropping  equipment.  The  CBI  Air  Service  Command  had  the 
responsibility  after  August  1944  for  procuring  the  parachute  and  its 
harness,  leaving  the  procurement  of  the  container  to  the  Army  Service 
Forces.  In  meeting  this  responsibility,  the  command  made  full  use  of 
Indian  manufacturing  facilities,  and  cut  down  on  shipping  require- 
ments from  the  United  States.  Although  the  parachutes  made  in  India 
were  not  as  well  packaged  as  the  American-made  ones,  they  were  en- 
tirely satisfactory  for  their  purpose.  In  August  1944  some  52,506 
Indian-made  parachutes  were  consumed  in  the  India-Burma  Theater, 
with  9,485  more  in  China,  compared  to  4,169  American-made  para- 
chutes consumed;  in  November  of  the  same  year  over  78,000  Indian- 
made  parachutes  were  used,  as  against  4,911  American-made.  No 
American-made  parachutes  were  used  in  China.  By  January  1945  the 
demand  for  supply-dropping  parachutes  decreased  sharply,  since  a 
larger  number  of  serviceable  airstrips  had  been  overrun  in  Burma,  per- 
mitting transport-plane  landings.^®  At  the  end  of  the  Burma  campaign 
over  a  half  million  supply  parachutes  were  on  hand. 

Many  other  items  of  supply  could  be  mentioned  in  a  longer  account 
than  the  present  one.  For  instance.  Signal  Corps  supplies  were  a  special 
problem,  often  failing  to  function  properly  in  the  CBI  theaters:  pack- 
ing agencies  In  the  United  States  did  not  provide  protection  against 
the  damaging  effects  of  moisture  and  fungus.^^  Motor  vehicles  for  air 
force  use  were  also  a  problem,  always  being  provided  in  numbers  less 
than  those  authorized.  When  the  Burma  Road  was  opened  in  March 
1945,  the  air  forces  suffered  a  sharp  reduction  even  in  their  authorized 
number  of  vehicles. 

Maintenance 

Maintenance  in  CBI  suffered  from  a  variety  of  difficulties— among 
others,  the  extreme  heat,  the  high  humidity,  the  great  distances— but 
especially  from  shortages  of  spare  engines  and  parts.  Though  improve- 
ment of  conditions  came  only  slowly  until  the  last  year  of  the  war,  a 
change  at  that  time  marked  a  decisive  turn  for  the  better,  as  the  fol- 

193 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


lowing  table  of  engine  supply  (excluding  the  B-29's  R-3350)  from 
August  1944  to  the  end  of  the  war  clearly  shows:" 

Period                       Total  Total  Total 

Ending                    Engines  Installed  Spares  Serviceables  Repairables 

31  August                    9,774  5»i3i  4463  2,650  1,993 

30  September  9,439  5,395  4,044  1,944  2,100 

31  October                   9,838  5,604  4,234  2,061  2,173 

30  November   10,794  6,124  4,670  2,056  2,614 

31  December   10,765  6,218  4,547  2,167  2,380 

31  January   x  1,100  6,398  4,702  2,469  2,233 

28  February   11,732  6,718  5,014  2,797  2,217 

31  March   14,271  6,901  7,370  4,428  2,942 

30  April   14,261  6,960  7,301  4,432  2,869 

31  May   16,506  7,231  9,275  5,581  3,694 

30  June   17,090  7,307  9,783  5,981  3,802 

31  July   16,330  7,305  9,025  5,947  3,078 

20  August   15,956  7,291  8,665  5,654  3,011 


At  no  time  after  March  1945  did  the  number  of  installed  engines  ex- 
ceed the  number  of  spares.  Of  still  greater  importance  was  the  fact  that 
about  two-thirds  of  the  spare  engines  were  kept  serviceable,  which 
gave  the  tactical  and  transport  units  a  type  of  support  that  allowed  for 
more  risks  than  could  ordinarily  have  been  taken  in  the  early  stages  of 
the  war.  In  some  instances,  stocks  fell  below  the  ninety-day  consump- 
tion standard,  but  with  maintenance  as  steady  as  it  had  become  by 
1945,  operations  were  not  affected.^^ 

Experience  had  demonstrated  that  about  4  per  cent  of  all  types  of 
aircraft  in  India-Burma  and  China  could  normally  be  expected  to  be 
out  of  commission  for  lack  of  spare  parts  (AOCP)  because  of 
the  normal  difficulties  in  distributing  supplies  over  the  long  dis- 
tances, but  when  the  figure  rose  above  4  per  cent,  it  was  considered  a 
matter  of  critical  scarcity  rather  than  a  problem  of  distribution.  By 
this  standard,  there  were  not  enough  spare  parts  until  January  1945. 
The  average  for  the  nine  months  preceding  this  showed  5.3  per  cent 
of  the  aircraft  in  India,  Burma,  and  China  out  of  commission  for 
lack  of  parts;  in  April,  May,  and  July  1944  this  figure  was  over  6  per 
cent,  but  in  September  and  October,  it  fell  to  4  per  cent.  In  the  first 
three  months  of  1945  the  figure  stood  at  less  than  4  per  cent,  and  at  no 
time  during  the  remaining  months  of  the  war  did  it  rise  to  5  per  cent, 
counting  India-Burma  and  China  together.  For  India-Burma  alone,  the 
AOCP  rate  varied  from  2.8  to  3.2  per  cent  throughout  1945,  but  in 
China,  it  rose  from  5  per  cent  to  9.3  per  cent  in  1945.^* 


194 


WAYS  AND  MEANS 


If  the  supply  of  spare  parts  from  the  United  States  had  much  to  do 
with  the  improvement  of  air  service  during  the  last  year  of  the  war,  it 
is  also  true  that  the  resources  and  ingenuity  of  air  service  command 
personnel  in  India,  Burma,  and  China  had  much  to  do  with  the  im- 
provement, too.  The  Bangalore  factory,  once  it  was  equipped,  manu- 
factured many  of  the  required  tools  and  instruments.  One  of  the  best 
examples  of  improvising  equipment  came  at  the  end  of  the  Burma  war, 
when  the  7th  and  308th  Bombardment  Groups  were  placed  under  the 
operational  control  of  the  India-China  Division  of  the  Air  Transport 
Command  to  haul  gasoline  into  China.  To  convert  B-24's  into  gaso- 
line-carrying aircraft,  kits  to  install  droppable  bomb-bay  tanks  were 
made  up  under  the  supervision  of  the  Southern  India  Air  Depot.  A 
standard  piping  manifold  was  designed  to  allow  withdrawal  of  gaso- 
line from  the  bomb-bay  tanks  through  two  outlets  at  the  same  time, 
and  to  facilitate  emergency  use  of  bomb-bay  gasoline  during  flight 
through  a  connection  with  the  engines.  By  means  of  the  manifold, 
gasoline  could  also  be  drained  from  the  auxiliary  wing  tanks  into  the 
bomb-bay.  Maximum  safety  in  flight  was  thus  achieved,  and  rapid  un- 
loading with  the  maximum  delivery  of  gasoline  to  China  was  made 
possible.*^  Another  example  of  conversion  was  the  modification  ef- 
fected in  the  P-38  to  make  it  serviceable  for  Azon  bombing,  ''Droop- 
snoots,"  or  bombardier  noses,  were  built  into  ten  P-38's  during  a 
period  of  fifty-one  days  in  the  spring  of  1945.  The  standard  M9 
bombsight,  the  Azon  Bomb  Directional  Control,  and  the  automatic 
radio-bomb-release  transmitting  equipment  were  installed.^^ 

The  command's  basic  maintenance  problem,  however,  was  meeting 
the  normal  requirements  of  operational  units.  Although  production- 
line  methods  had  been  employed  to  some  extent  even  in  the  earliest 
days  of  the  command,  efficiency  had  been  hampered  by  inadequate 
planning,  decentralized  scheduling,  improper  supervision,  inadequate 
training,  and  the  lack  of  physical  facilities  for  full-scale  operations. 
Now,  skilful  employment  of  unskilled  native  labor,  an  in-service  train- 
ing program,  and  a  plan  for  specialization  by  key  installations  in  the 
theater  all  combined  to  solve  the  problem.  Thus,  the  Bengal  Air  Depot 
specialized  in  the  repair  of  engines,  including  the  R-3350  for  the 
B-29's.  Although  the  R-1830-43/65  and  the  R-1830-92  were  repaired 
at  both  Agra  and  Bangalore  during  1944,  near  the  end  of  the  war  even 
these  engines  were  scheduled  for  repair  only  at  the  Bengal  depot.  This 
brought  all  supply  and  training  problems  for  engine  repair  into  a  sin- 


195 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


gle  area,  and  resulted  in  economy  of  effort.  The  Bengal  Air  Depot 
also  came  to  do  most  of  the  repair  on  generators,  starters,  carburetors, 
turbosupercharges,  magnetos,  cooler  assemblies,  and  gyro  instru- 
ments. At  Bangalore  the  air  depot  or  factory  overhauled  the  B-24, 
C-87,  C-109,  C-47,  and  in  1944  the  B-25.  It  also  repaired  various  ac- 
cessories for  these  aircraft,  manufactured  tools,  repaired  gyro  instru- 
ments until  the  Bengal  Air  Depot  took  over  these  functions,  repaired 
other  instruments,  and  overhauled  the  R- 1830-43/65  engine  for  the 
B-24  until  near  the  end  of  the  war.  In  1944  the  R-2600  engine  for  use 
in  the  B-25  was  also  repaired  there.  The  air  depot  at  Panagarh  special- 
ized on  major  overhaul  of  the  B-25,  P'S^,  P-47»  liaison  aircraft, 
and,  in  June  1945,  of  the  A-26;  it  also  repaired  accessories  for  these  air- 
craft, tested  aircraft  assembled  at  the  Bengal  Air  Depot,  and  at  the  end 
of  the  war  was  ready  for  overhaul  of  Curtiss  propellers.  The  air  depot 
at  Agra  specialized  on  the  C-46  and  its  accessories,  and  in  1944  re- 
paired the  Pratt  &  Whitney  R-1830-92  for  use  in  the  C-47.  It  also 
did  overflow  work  on  C-47  aircraft. 

The  achievement  is  indicated  by  the  percentage  of  planes  kept  op- 
erational: for  both  India-Burma  and  China  in  January  1944,  58  per 
cent  of  the  aircraft  were  in  this  category;  in  June,  69  per  cent;  in  Sep- 
tember, 52  per  cent;  in  November,  57  per  cent;  in  December,  62  per 
cent;  in  March  1945,  70  per  cent;  in  May,  72  per  cent;  and  in  July,  64 
per  cent.  This  covered  all  types,  including  gliders.  At  no  time  after 
June  1944  did  the  percentage  of  aircraft  in  commission  in  operational 
units  fall  below  73  per  cent,  and  for  the  most  part  in  1944  and  early 
1945,  it  was  around  78  per  cent.  In  May  1945,  when  the  India-Burma 
Air  Service  Command  was  no  longer  responsible  for  third  echelon 
maintenance  in  the  China  Theater,  the  percentage  reached  83  per 
cent.  Aircraft  in  commission  assigned  to  American  units  of  the  Eastern 
Air  Command  averaged  more  than  83.6  per  cent  for  1944  and  1945**^ 
And  these  figures  should  be  read  in  the  light  of  the  very  great  increase 
in  the  number  of  planes  assigned  to  CBI,  one  for  which  there  was  no 
parallel  increase  of  service  command  strength. 

The  task  of  airfield  construction  was  not  a  direct  responsibility  of 
the  CBI  Air  Service  Command;  that  job  belonged  to  the  engineers, 
working  under  planning  operations  of  the  air  service  command.  The 
construction  of  B-29  bases  has  been  recounted  earlier,*  and  so  it  is 
necessary  here  to  give  notice  only  to  the  work  of  the  engineers  in  sup- 

•  Sec  above,  pp.  59-73. 

196 


WAYS  AND  MEANS 


port  of  the  advance  into  Burma.  The  Burma  offensive  had  been 
launched  with  air  support  from  bases  developed  in  1942  and  1943  in 
Bengal  and  Assam.  After  Myitkyina  South  airfield  was  captured  in 
May  1944,  it  was  converted  into  an  all-weather  field  by  the  879th 
Engineer  Aviation  Battalion.  Although  the  siege  of  Myitkyina  fore- 
stalled other  airfield  construction  for  some  months,  in  September,  after 
Myitkyina  had  fallen,  a  fair-weather  field  was  built  at  Sahmaw.  By 
November  the  Japanese  were  in  retreat,  and  airfields  sprang  up  in 
quick  succession,  all  constructed  by  engineers  assigned  to  the  Tenth 
Air  Force.  Col.  Manuel  J.  Asensio,  Tenth  Air  Force  engineer,  worked 
under  the  theater  air  engineer,  Brig.  Gen.  S.  C.  Godfrey.  Fair-weather 
fields  were  built  at  Mawlu  and  Momauk  in  November;  at  Bhamo,  In- 
daw  West,  and  Katha  in  December;  at  Panghkam,  Bahe,  and  Yanbo 
in  January;  at  Mu-se  and  Kutkai  in  February;  at  Mong  Mit,  Lashio, 
Mong  Long,  and  Hsipaw  in  March;  and  at  Namsa^y  in  April.  All- 
weather  fields  were  completed  at  Sahmaw  and  Myitkyina  North  in 
November;  at  Myitkyina  East  in  December;  at  Namponmao  in  Janu- 
ary; and  at  Bhamo  in  April.^^  All  of  this  construction  was  completed 
under  actual  combat  conditions. 

On  duty  with  the  American  air  forces  in  the  India-Burma  Theater 
were  some  fifteen  engineer  units.  Some  of  these  were  assigned  to  road 
construction  or  maintenance,  as  the  823d  Engineer  Battalion  or  the 
1905th  Engineer  Battalion  were  on  the  Ledo  Road;  others  were  as- 
signed to  crash-fire  protection,  like  the  2o85tb  Engineer  Fire-Fighting 
Platoon;  and  others  were  assigned  to  airfield  construction,  the  853d, 
879th,  930th,  1877th,  and  the  1888th  Engineer  Battalions. 

The  China  Base 
Supply  and  maintenance  for  the  air  forces  in  China  were  always 
tenuous  and  uncertain.  In  1942  only  a  single  base  unit  had  been  set  up 
in  Kunming/*  This,  together  with  a  Chinese  factory,  constituted  the 
only  air  service  available  to  Chennault's  forces  at  that  time.  Fourth 
echelon  repair,  when  it  was  done,  had  to  be  accomplished  at  Indian 
bases  under  jurisdictional  control  of  the  Tenth  Air  Force.  The  estab- 
lishment on  19  May  1943  of  the  XIV  Air  Force  Service  Command^^ 
offered  no  real  solution  to  the  problem,  as  Chennault  had  predicted,*^ 
and  in  August  of  that  year  its  place  was  taken  by  the  5308th  Air  Serv- 
ice Area  Command  (Provisional),  an  organization  which  functioned 
as  a  part  of  the  newly  established  CBI  Air  Service  Command.  This 


197 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

set-up  successfully  removed  controls  from  the  Tenth  Air  Force,  but, 
despite  efforts  to  improve  the  services  in  China,  the  handicaps  imposed 
by  shortage  of  fuel  and  the  local  need  for  fourth  echelon  repair  con- 
tinued to  affect  China  air  operations. 

Not  until  February  1944  did  the  China  Theater  obtain  two  full- 
fledged  air  service  groups,  the  12  th  at  Kweilin,  the  68th  at  Kunming. 
In  April  the  3 1 5th  Air  Service  Group  was  set  up  at  Hsinching,  and  in 
January  1945  the  14th  Air  Service  Group  was  brought  together  in  the 
Chanyi  area.  By  December  1944,  after  a  long  struggle,  CBI  Air  Serv- 
ice Command  strength  in  China  reached  almost  5,000  enlisted  men 
and  officers.  Together  with  the  manpower  from  Chinese  sources  for 
supply  and  maintenance,  this  encouraged  air  force  commanders  in 
China  to  organize,  for  a  second  time,  an  independent  air  service  com- 
mand: on  12  December  1944  the  CBI  Air  Service  Command  was  di- 
vided into  two  parts,  the  China  Air  Service  Command  and  the  India- 
Burma  Air  Service  Command.*^  This  move  did  not  relieve  the  air 
forces  in  China  of  dependence  upon  fourth  echelon  repair  in  India  nor 
upon  the  gasoline  supplies  coming  through  India,  but  it  did  provide 
a  measure  of  self-reliance  and  flexibility  never  before  attained. 

With  the  war  in  3unna  coming  to  art  end,  added  service  personnel 
were  sent  to  China.  In  May  1945  some  8,445  enlisted  men  and  officers 
engaged  in  service  activities  were  in  the  China  Theater,  just  short  of 
the  air  service  strength  in  India  back  in  September  1943;  in  the  same 
month,  the  China  Theater  received  its  first  and  only  air  depot  group, 
the  301st.  In  July  the  382d  Air  Service  Group  (Special)  was  moved 
from  its  Indian  bases  into  the  Luliang  area,  and  in  September  the  381st 
Air  Service  Group  (Special)  followed  it  to  China.^  These  movements 
were  a  part  of  the  effort,  beginning  in  the  summer  of  1945,  to  push 
forward  into  China  the  main  strength  of  the  AAF  in  CBL*  By  that 
time  the  Ledo  Road  had  been  opened  and  the  India-China  airlift  had 
reached  totals  which  exceeded  the  expectations  of  Allied  leaders  in 
the  earlier  days  of  the  war,t  but  all  this  had  come  too  late  to  alter 
materially  the  record  of  air  operations  in  China. 

It  was  in  Burma  rather  than  in  China  that  CBI  forces  scored  their 
major  victory— a  victory  that  was  peculiarly  dependent  upon  the 
varied  services  rendered  by  the  Allied  air  forces.  This  does  not  gainsay 
the  role  played  by  ground  troops;  it  simply  points  out  how  Allied 

•  See  below,  pp.  267-72. 
tSee  below,  pp.  257-58. 

198 


WAYS   AND  MEANS 


commanders,  without  roads,  railways,  or  other  surface  routes,  were 
able  to  carry  the  battle  to  the  enemy  across  the  jungles.  One  Japanese 
officer,  writing  in  his  diary  on  i  June  1944,  showed,  in  an  entry  typical 
of  enemy  testimony,  how  his  own  machine-gun  company  had  been 
reached: 

Enemy  aircraft  are  over  continuously  in  all  weather.  We  can  do  nothing  but 
look  at  them.  If  we  only  had  air  power!  Even  one  or  two  planes  would  be 
something.  Superiority  in  the  air  is  the  decisive  factor  in  victory.  .  •  .  But  only 
with  economic  and  manpower  resources,  can  one  have  superior  air  power. 

Behind  the  air  victory  in  Burma  and  behind  the  magnificent  effort  of 
Arnerican  airmen  in  China,  there  lay  the  longest  supply  line  in  military 
history.  The  credit  for  putting  aircraft,  gasoline,  bombs,  and  ammuni- 
tion into  the  hands  of  operational  commanders  rested  in  no  small  way 
with  the  service  personnel  who,  without  much  glory,  worked  in  shops, 
supply  rooms,  and  at  desks. 


199 


CHAPTER  7 
**********  * 


DELAY  IN  BURMA,  DISASTER  IN  CHINA 

WHEN  the  B-29's  launched  their  offensive  against  Japan 
midway  in  1944,  the  military  situation  along  the  widely 
separated  fronts  of  the  Ghina-Burma-India  theater  was 
anything  but  hopeful.  In  April  the  Japanese  had  inaugurated  a  general 
offensive  in  northeast  Qiina  which  by  summer  threatened  to  overrun 
all  Allied  airfields  east  of  Kunming,  with  most  disastrous  consequences 
to  the  Allied  cause  in  China.  In  May  Stilwell's  off  ensive  in  Burma  had 
been  halted  just  short  of  Myitkyina.*  Though  his  combined  American 
and  Chinese  forces  had  seized  the  nearby  airfield,  the  town  itself  re- 
mained under  enemy  control  and  was  reduced  only  after  a  three- 
month  siege.  The  Burma  bulge,  which  since  1942  had  served  the 
enemy's  purpose  of  cutting  off  ground  communications  between 
China  and  her  allies,  still  remained  a  bar  to  all  save  the  most  expensive 
and  hazardous  of  air  communications. 

It  was  perhaps  inevitable  that  long-standirtg  conflicts  of  personality 
and  policy,  which  had  formed  so  large  a  part  of  the  previous  history  of 
CBI,t  should  now  make  difficult  united  action  even  in  the  face  of  grave 
emergency.  Lt,  Gen.  Joseph  W.  Stilwell,  who  combined  the  com- 
mand of  all  U.S.  forces  in  CBI  with  the  duties  of  chief  of  staff  to 
Chiang  Kai-shek  in  the  latter's  capacity  as  the  Allied  Commander  in 
China,t  was  dedicated  to  the  proposition  that  China  could  be  saved 
only  by  reopening  a  land  route  of  supply  through  Burma.  Accord^ 
ingly,  since  the  preceding  December  when  he  had  taken  active  com- 
mand of  the  Chinese  and  American  forces  in  their  advance  southward 
from  Ledo  toward  Myitkyina,  he  had  been  absent  both  from  his  head- 

•See  Vol.  IV,  498-517. 

tSee  especially  Vol.  IV,  435-43. 

t  Actually,  no  such  staff  was  ever  established. 


200 


DELAY   IN   BURMA,   DISASTER  IN  CHINA 

quarters  at  Delhi  and  from  the  advanced  echelon  of  that  headquarters 
at  Chungking.  At  heart  a  field  soldier,  Stilwell  at  times  seems  to  have 
forgotten  that  his  assignment  was  basically  diplomatic  and  that  lo- 
gistics and  actual  combat  strength  largely  restricted  operations  in  his 
theater  to  very  limited  air  power.  For  Chiang,  Stilwell  had  developed, 
as  his  published  papers  amply  demonstrate,^  an  outspoken  contempt. 
Although  he  had  unqualified  confidence  in  the  Chinese  soldier,  if 
properly  trained  and  equipped,  he  doubted  the  willingness  of  the 
Chinese  government  to  fight.  Stilwell  was  also  suspicious  of  Chen- 
nault,  who  had  the  full  confidence  of  Chiang  and  thereby  enjoyed  a 
direct  line  of  communication  with  the  White  House, 

General  Chennault,  in  turn,  had  no  faith  in  the  Ledo  Road  as  a 
means  of  saving  China.  He  long  had  argued  that  available  resources 
should  be  concentrated  on  the  build-up  of  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force, 
which,  in  his  view,  could  strike  effectively  against  the  extended  enemy 
positions  along  the  China  coast  and,  at  the  same  time,  against  Japanese 
communications  in  the  South  China  Sea.  The  rapidly  accelerating 
drives  of  Mac  Arthur  in  the  southwest  Pacific  and  of  Nimitz  across  the 
central  Pacific  lent  new  support  to  Chennault's  argument,  at  least  to 
the  extent  of  re-emphasizing  the  importance  of  China-based  air  opera- 
tions. Moreover,  American  success  in  the  Pacific  strengthened  the  be- 
lief that  even  the  most  expeditious  completion  of  the  Ledo  Road 
would  come  too  late  to  assist  the  Allies  in  defeating  Japan. 

By  the  spring  of  1944  it  had  been  determined  that  Nimitz,  follow- 
ing his  occupation  of  the  Marianas,  would  move  into  the  Palaus  on  or 
about  1 5  September,  and  that  MacArthur,  whose  New  Guinea  opera- 
tions should  be  completed  by  the  close  of  July,  would  land  on  Minda- 
nao in  mid-November  with  plans  either  for  a  jump  to  Luzon,  15 
February  1945,  or  for  support  of  Nimitz  in  the  occupation  of  For- 
mosa.* Whether  the  final  decision  favored  reoccupation  of  Luzon  or 
the  seizure  of  Formosa,  the  need  for  supporting  operations  over  the 
South  China  Sea  by  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  remained  unaffected. 
Likewise,  the  acceleration  of  Pacific  operations,  together  with  plans 
for  bringing  large  B-29  forces  within  effective  range  of  the  Japanese 
islands,  promised  an  earlier  and  perhaps  more  direct  approach  to  Japan 
than  at  first  had  been  considered  feasible.  By  the  summer  of  1944,  the 
possibility  that  China  might  be  wholly  bypassed  in  a  direct  attack  on 

•  For  full  discussion  of  this  and  subsequent  developments  in  Pacific  strategy,  see 
below,  pp.  275-88,  390-92. 


201 


DELAY   IN   BURMA,   DISASTER   IN  CHINA 

Japan  itself  had  been  discussed,*  but  the  chance  that  some  lodgment 
on  the  China  coast  might  be  needed  had  not  been  dismissed. 

In  February  1944  the  JCS  had  outlined  a  strategy  depending  upon  a 
sea  approach  to  Japan  with  China  serving  chiefly  as  a  supporting  air 
base,*  and  during  March  Stratemeyer's  staff  developed  plans  to  push 
forward  the  main  weight  of  AAF  forces  in  CBI  for  cooperation  with 
Pacific-based  moves  into  Luzon  or  Formosa.  The  resulting  plan,  coded 
ENTERPRIZE,  called  for  stocking  5,000  tons  per  month  from  the 
Hump  airlift  through  the  remainder  of  1944  to  permit  full  employ- 
ment of  a  force  in  China  which  by  January  1945  would  include  thir- 
teen A-26,  three  P-51,  and  three  P-63  groups.^  It  ^vas  specifically 
stated  that  the  project  would  enjoy  priority  over  the  Ledo  Road.  Lord 
Mountbatten,  who  had  been  instructed  to  press  for  an  early  clearance 
of  upper  Burma  with  a  view  to  strengthening  the  air  support  that 
would  be  available  for  the  Luzon  or  Formosa  operations  early  in 
1945/  believed  that  even  the  earliest  possible  opening  of  the  Ledo 
Road  would  come  too  late  to  be  of  assistance  to  U.S.  forces  in  the  Pa- 
cific. He  agreed,  moreover,  with  the  basic  principle  that  all  effort 
should  be  concentrated  on  the  immediate  end  of  strengthening  the  air 
link  with  China.  His  Southeast  Asia  Command,  he  felt,  could  best  as- 
sist the  Pacific  advance  by  seizing  Rangoon  in  order  to  force  a  Japa- 
nese withdrawal  from  upper  Burma.* 

Freed  from  the  pressure  of  an  active  compaign  in  upper  Burma 
after  reaching  Myitkyina,  Stilwell  sought  from  Washington  on 
24  May  some  clarification  of  his  mission.  Complaining  that  there  had 
been  a  bewildering  succession  of  plans,  proposals,  arid  counterpro- 
posals, he  requested  of  Marshall  new  instructions  "in  case  I  am  off  the 
beam."  Stilwell  stated  his  own  view  with  customary  flatness.  "I  con- 
tend/' he  declared^  "that  ultimately  the  Jap  Army  must  be  fought  on 
the  mainland  of  Asia;"  If  Marshall  held  ia  different  view,  it  would  par- 
haps  be  proper  "to  cut  our  effort  here"  to  support  of  ATC  and  "what- 
ever Air  Force  you  consider  suitable  in  China."  The  original  mission 
of  CBI  to  increase  the  effectiveness  of  the  Chinese  Army  was  still  fea- 
sible, but  only  "when  we  get  on  a  realistic  basis"  with  Chiang  "or 
whatever  passes  for  authority  in  China."* 

General  Marshall's  reply  three  days  later  pointed  out  that  decisions 
by  the  Combined  Chiefs  in  the  preceding  year  had  assigned  to  opera- 
tions in  CBI  the  primary  purpose  of  support  for  the  Pacific  forces.  He 

•  See  below,  p.  276. 


203 


THE   ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

advanced  the  view  that  Japan  could  be  defeated  without  a  major  cam- 
paign against  her  army  on  the  mainland  of  Asia.  The  "paramount  mis- 
sion in  the  China  Theater"  was  to  '^support  the  main  effort  directed 
against  the  enemy  by  forces  in  the  Pacific*"  In  the  future,  Stilwell 
should  devote  his  chief  effort  "to  the  Hump  lift  and  its  security/'  in 
order  to  develop  the  maximum  effectiveness  of  the  Fourteenth  Air 
Force  consistent  with  "maximum  requirements  for  support  of  all  other 
activities  in  China."^  This  directive  made  it  clear  that  Stilwell's  original 
mission  had  been  modified,*  although  he  was  still  to  be  prepared  "to 
exploit  the  development  of  overland  communications  to  Ghini."® 

The  change  in  mission,  however,  had  little  effect  on  immediate  op- 
erations. For  the  security  of  the  air  route  to  China  no  less  than  for  the 
advance  oiF  the  Ledo  Road,  a  project  to  which  Stilwell  continued  to 
be  devoted,  Myitkyina  had  to  be  cleared  of  enemy  forces.  So,  it  was 
to  that  task  General  Stilwell  gave  his  close  attention  through  most  of 
the  summer  of  1944. 

Reorganization  of  EAC 

The  Eastern  Air  Command,  which  under  Stratemeyer's  leadership 
had  carried  the  burden  of  air  operations  throughout  the  1944  Burma 
campaign,  had  been  organized  in  December  1943  as  an  "integrated" 
Anglo-American  command  combining  the  U.S.  Tenth  Air  Force  and 
the  RAF  Bengal  Command.*  This  integration  reflected  Mountbatten's 
enthusiasm,  and  to  a  lesser  extent  Stratemeyer's,  for  the  highly  suc- 
cessful coordination  of  British  and  American  strength  in  the  North- 
west African  Air  Forces.^^  The  complex  situation  in  CBI,  however, 
had  presented  in  practice  problems  quite  different  from  those  of  Ei- 
senhower's combined  command  in  the  Mediterranean.  Consequently^ 
by  the  summer  of  1944  it  was  agreed  that  reorganization  was  neces- 
sary. 

Indeed,  the  Americans  had  accepted  the  principle  of  integration  in 
the  first  instance  with  reservations,  and  because  at  the  time  it  was  as- 
sumed that  all  forces  would  soon  concentrate  on  a  major  effort  to 
drive  the  Japanese  from  Burma  in  1944.^^  After  decisions  at  the  Te- 
hran conference  of  late  1943  resulted  in  withholding  resources  nec- 
essary for  a  major  amphibious  venture  in  Burma,  discussions  of  CBI 

*  See  Vol.  IV,  458-59.  Under  EAC,  British  and  American  units  were  combined 
in  four  subordinate  commands:  a  strategic  air  force,  a  tactical  air  force  (Third  TAF), 
a  troop  carrier  command,  and  a  photographic  reconnaissance  force  (PRF).  The  Tenth 
Air  Force  and  Bengal  Command  retained  their  separate  entities  for  purposes  of  admin- 
istrative control  of  their  respective  units. 

204 


1 


DELAY  IN   BURMA,   DISASTER  IN  CHINA 

Strategy  had  served  to  re-emphasize  the  conflicting  interests  of  the 
British,  the  Americans,  and  the  Chinese*  and  this  strengthened  doubt 
among  American  leaders  as  to  the  wisdom  of  an  integrated  air  com- 
mand. The  British  appeared  to  be  interested  primarily  in  the  liberation 
of  Singapore,  whereas  the  Americans  were  chiefly  concerned  for  the 
support  of  China.  It  was  perhaps  only  because  the  decision  in  favor  of 
integration  already  had  been  widely  publicized  that  the  War  Depart- 
ment took  no  action  to  withdraw  from  EAC  in  December  1943."^^  In- 
stead, Washington  apparently  warned  Mountbatten  that  American 
commitments  to  China  might  require  further  consideration  of  integra- 
tion by  the  Combined  Chiefs  of  Staff .^^  Thus  scarcely  had  EAC  come 
into  existence  before  one  of  the  partners  regretted  the  decision.** 

Under  these  circumstances,  it  is  a  tribute  to  the  American  and  Brit- 
ish commanders  within  SEAC  and  EAC  that  integration  worked  so 
well.^^  Despite  many  differences  of  opinion,  patience  and  understand- 
ing at  the  top  set  a  pattern  for  all  elements  of  the  command.*®  As  a  re- 
sult of  the  common  sense  shown  by  both  Allies,  EAC  endured  as  long 
as  the  Japanese  remained  in  Burma,  and  it  was  not  until  Rangoon  was 
occupied  in  May  1945  that  integration  was  altogether  abandoned. 
Meantime,  June  1944  brought  adjustments  within  EAC  which  repre- 
sented a  partial  departure  from  the  original  concept. 

The  change  came  as  part  of  a  general  reshuffling  at  top  level.  Delhi 
was  crowded,  far  away  from  battle  fronts,  and  not  even  located 
within  the  confines  of  Southeast  Asia  Command.  Admiral  Mount- 
batten  therefore  moved  his  headquarters  to  Kandy  on  Ceylon,  which 
was  at  least  in  his  own  territory.  Stratemeyer-  transferred  EAC  to 
Hastings  Mill,  twenty  miles  north  of  Calcutta  on  the  Hooghly  River, 
where  the  jute  mills  provided  ample  space  for  offices  and  quarters.  At 
the  same  time  he  directed  his  staff  to  study  the  advisability  of  dividing 
the  Photographic  Reconnaissance  Force  and  splitting  the  Third  Tac- 
tical Air  Force  (TAF)  into  two  task  forces,  one  for  operation  on  the 
northern  part  of  the  Burma  front  and  the  other  for  the  south.  His  pro- 
posal suggested  assignment  of  all  types  of  aircraft  to  both  task  forces, 
except  that  heavy  bombers  would  remain  in  SAF." 

There  was  little  difficulty  in  reaching  agreement  within  the  staff, 
which  itself  included  both  American  and  British  officers,  on  the  need 
for  some  reorganization  in  the  interest  of  a  closer  coordination  of  air 
and  ground  efforts."  Despite  Stilwell's  practical  independence,  the 
British  Fourteenth  Army  was  theoreticdly  in  command  in  Burma, 

•See  Vol.  IV,  497- 


205 


THE   ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


but  the  commander  of  the  Third  Tactical  Air  Force  did  not  have  a 
corresponding  responsibility  for  all  units  in  his  immediate  area,  which 
extended  from  Assam  to  Arakan.  The  arrangement  caused  confusion. 
At  a  fully  attended  meeting  on  28  April  1944,  the  EAC  staff  agreed 
that  the  Troop  Carrier  Command  should  be  disbanded  and  its  units 
placed  under  the  Third  TAF,  the  latter  remaining  as  constituted  at  the 
headquarters  level  but  possibly  divided  into  two  or  three  tactical  com- 
mands at  the  operational  level.  It  was  also  agreed  that  both  the  Strate- 
gic Air  Force  and  the  Photographic  Reconnaissance  Force  should  be 
continued  in  their  existing  form,  but  that  every  precaution  should  be 
taken  to  safeguard  the  integrity  of  the  Tenth  Air  Force/®  Stratemeyer 
hastened  to  begin  the  work.  His  first  move  was  to  place  the  Troop 
Carrier  Command  (TCC)  temporarily  under  the  Third  TAF,  as  of 
2  May.  The  men  of  TCC,  knowing  they  had  done  a  remarkably  fine 
job,  regarded  the  change  as  a  penalty  for  making  the  maximum  effort  in 
carrying  through  a  difficult  mission,^^  and  it  took  all  of  Stratemeyer's 
diplomacy  to  ease  the  hurt  feelings.^^  A  month  later,  4  June,  Troop 
Carrier  Command  was  abolished,  and  its  units  came  under  the  direct 
control  of  the  Third  TAF.''* 

On  20  June  EAC  was  reorganized  into  six  components:  Strategic 
Air  Force,  Third  Tactical  Air  Force,  Photographic  Reconnaissance 
Force,  Tenth  Air  Force,  293  Wing,  and  an  air  task  force.  The  Strate- 
gic Air  Force,  under  Air  Cdre.  Sir  Francis  Mellersh,  remained 
an  integrated  organization  composed  of  the  AAF  7th  Bombardment 
Group  (H)  and  the  RAF  231  Bombardment  Group.*  The  Photo- 
graphic Reconnaissance  Force  was  composed  of  171  Wing  and  the 
87th  Photographic  Group.  Third  TAF  kept  the  RAF  221  and  224 
Groups,  the  12th  Bombardment  Group  (M),  and  the  3d  Combat 
Cargo  Group.  The  Tenth  Air  Force,  restored  as  a  combat  command 
under  Maj.  Gen.  Howard  C.  Davidson,  had  the  80th  Fighter  Group, 
the  311th  Fighter-Bomber  Group,  the  443  d  Troop  Carrier  Group, 
and  the  i  ith  Combat  Cargo  Squadron  attached,  with  additional  signal, 
fighter-control,  air  warning,  and  antiaircraft  units.  An  air  task  force, 
whose  responsibilities  were  not  yet  defined,  consisted  only  of  Air 
Commando  Unit  No.  i  and  the  3d  Combat  Cargo  Group.t 

•The  AAF  9th,  43^t]\,  ^gid,  and  493d  Squadrons  and  three  RAF  wings— 175,  184, 
and  185— were  included  in  SAF.  The  292  Squadron,  Air  Sea  Rescue  was  controlled  by 
231  Group  but  was  not  part  of  SAF. 

t  Of  these  units  only  the  first  was  in  the  theater.  The  other  was  being  set  up  in  the 
U.S.  for  CBI,  but  see  below,  p.  2o8n.  The  task  force  was  never  brought  into  existence. 

206 


DELAY   IN   BURMA,   DISASTER  IN  CHINA 

With  the  June  reorganization  complete,  Davidson  established  his 
Tenth  Air  Force  Headquarters  in  the  upper  Assam  valley,  a  situation 
favorable  to  his  new  operational  responsibilities,^^  which  included  de- 
fense of  the  Assam-Myitkyina  area,  protection  for  the  air  route  to 
China,  and  the  provision  of  air  support  and  supply  for  Allied  forces 
still  at  Myitkyina.  In  effect,  the  reorganization  kept  the  central  prin- 
ciple of  an  integrated  command  over  British  and  American  air  forces, 
thus  providing  assurance  of  flexible  employment  of  all  resources  in 
the  event  of  an  emergency,  and  maintained  unified  direction  for  stra- 
tegic and  reconnaissance  operations.  The  units  directly  engaged  in 
the  support  of  ground  forces,  however,  were  operating  along  national 
lines.  It  was  a  decision  justified  by  many  considerations,  but  like  many 
other  decisions  in  CBI,  it  did  nothing  to  simplify  an  already  complex 
command  structure. 

The  Siege  of  Myitkyina 

On  17  May  1944  Stilwell  had  seemed  to  have  Myitkyina,  chief  en- 
emy base  in  northern  Burma,  within  his  grasp,  but  after  seizing  the 
airstrip  west  of  the  town,  his  forces  failed  to  take  the  town  itself.  The 
inexperience  of  some  of  his  troops,  the  exhaustion  and  low  morale  of 
others,  and  a  misunderstanding  in  the  execution  of  plans  for  his  rein- 
forcement by  air  combined  to  cost  Stilwell  a  great  victory.*  The  en- 
emy, now  forewarned,  had  time  to  dig  in,  and  Stilwell  faced  the  ne- 
cessity for  a  long  siege. 

Reinforcements  were  flown  in  as  quickly  as  possible,  and  by  June 
the  Allied  lines  were  tightening  around  the  strongly  entrenched  en- 
emy. On  the  north  two  battalions  of  Merrill's  Marauders  had  their  left 
flank  on  the  Irrawaddy  and  their  right  flank  on  the  Sumprabum  road. 
The  U.S.  209th  and  236th  Combat  Engineer  Battalions,  recently  flown 
in,  were  south  of  the  road.  The  Chinese  30th  Division  occupied  posi- 
tions west  of  the  town,  and  the  Chinese  50th  Division  was  on  the  south 
with  lines  extending  to  the  Irrawaddy.^*  A  small  column  of  the  Win- 
gate  Forcet  had  worked  its  way  northward  along  the  line  of  the  Irra- 
waddy to  complete  the  encirclement  of  Myitkyina  by  taking  up 

•See  Vol.  IV,  516-17. 

tBrig.  Orde  Wingate  the  preceding  year  had  organized  with  British  imperial 
troops  a  long-range  penetration  force  which  in  March  1944  had  been  air-landed  in  the 
interior  of  Burma  and  supported  entirely  by  air  in  its  operations  around  Indaw.  (See 
Vol.  IV,  503-7.)  Though  Wingate  himself  had  been  killed  on  25  March,  his  Special 
Force  continued  to  be  known  as  the  Wingate  Force. 


207 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


positions  east  of  the  city.  By  14  June  there  were  as  many  as  12,000 
troops  besieging  Myitkyina,  but  their  morale  was  low.^^  The  Ameri- 
can engineers  had  no  experience  in  combat,  and  some  of  them  ap- 
peared to  lack  the  most  fundamental  training  in  self-defense.  The 
Marauders,  whose  numbers  had  been  sadly  depleted  by  casualties  and 
sickness,  were  especially  depressed.  Not  until  the  fourth  week  in  June 
could  Stilwell  report  that  his  forces  had  ''snapped  into  it."^^  During 
four  critical  weeks  the  Japanese  might  have  counterattacked  with  suc- 
cess had  they  not  believed  that  the  Allied  forces  numbered  30,000  men 
or  more.^^ 

As  the  siege  began,  Stilwell's  greatest  fear  was  that  air  supply,  upon 
which  he  was  highly  dependent,  might  fail  to  meet  his  needs.  Not  only 
were  the  daily  landings  of  transport  aircraft  at  the  west  strip  limited 
through  the  first  days  after  its  capture  to  twenty-five  or  less,  but 
clouds  above  the  mountains  foretold  the  early  coming  of  the  monsoon. 
Happily,  Stilwell's  fears  proved  to  be  ill  founded.  The  techniques  of 
air  supply  had  been  developed  to  an  amazing  point  of  perfection  in 
CBI,  where  unusual  requirements  encouraged  a  wide  variety  of  experi- 
mentation in  the  whole  field  of  air  support  for  ground  operations.  The 
most  interesting  of  the  experiments  was  embodied  in  Col.  Philip  G. 
Cochran's  air  commando  group,  a  self-sufficient  air  task  force 
equipped  to  deliver  the  Wingate-type  of  ground  force  far  behind  the 
enemy  lines,  to  keep  it  supplied,  to  render  tactical  air  support  for  its 
operations,  and,  if  need  be,  to  accomplish  its  withdrawal.  Actually,  the 
main  responsibility  for  air  supply  during  the  Burma  offensive  had 
fallen  to  the  Troop  Carrier  Command,  and  it  too  had  proved  to  be 
both  ingenious  and  effective  in  the  execution  of  its  difficult  tasks.*  By 
late  July  as  many  as  551  planes  had  landed  and  taken  off  from  the  west 
strip  on  a  single  day,  and  the  supplies  delivered  by  air  transport  more 

*  See  Vol.  IV,  503-7.  The  early  enthusiasm  for  the  air  commandos  led  Washington 
to  overestimate  the  need  for  this  type  of  unit  in  Burma,  By  summer  the  AAF  was  in 
the  process  of  establishing  four  special  air  units  shaped  by  the  experience  in  Burma: 
two  air  commando  groups  (each  with  two  squadrons  of  twenty-five  P-51's,  one  troop 
carrier  squadron  of  sixteen  C-47*s  and  thirty-two  CG-4A  gliders,  and  three  liaison 
squadrons  having  in  each  instance  thirty-two  L-5's  and  a  small  complement  of 
UC-64*s)  and  two  combat  cargo  groups  (each  with  four  squadrons  of  twenty-five 
C-47's— later  changed  to  C-46's).  Mountbatten,  whose  plans  emphasized  amphibious 
operations  rather  than  a  further  development  of  long-range  penetration  groups,  ques- 
tioned the  need  for  these  special  air  units  in  Burma.  As  a  result,  the  units  were  divided 
ultimately  with  SWPA  (see  below,  pp.  334~35).  In  EAC  on  14  September  1944  the 
Combat  Cargo  Task  Force,  in  lieu  of  the  air  task  force  of  20  June  (see  above,  p.  206) 
was  activated  to  include  the  ist  Air  Commando  Group,  the  ist  Combat  Cargo  Group, 
and  RAF  177  Transport  Wing.  Brig.  Gen.  Frederick  W.  Evans  was  its  commander. 

208 


DELAY  IN  BURMA,   DISASTER  IN  CHINA 

than  met  the  need  through  the  preceding  two  months."^^  The  fact  that 
the  deliveries  were  made  through  the  rainy  season  to  a  strip  only  50 
feet  wide  and  4,200  feet  long  added  greatly  to  the  significance  of  this 
achievement. 

Equally  important  in  the  final  victory  of  Stilwell's  troops  was  the 
close-in  ground  support  provided  by  the  Tenth  Air  Force.  Though 
the  Myitkyina  Task  Force  Corps  Artillery  was  invaluable  to  the  be- 
sieging infantry,  its  equipment  consisted  only  of  two  155-mm.,  two 
105-mm.,  and  eight  75-mm.  howitzers,^^  and  thus  the  Tenth  Air  Force 
had  to  supply  a  substantial  deficiency  in  supporting  fire  power. 

Fortunately,  experience  provided  the  necessary  organization  and 
effective  techniques.  When  Stilwell  first  began  his  advance  from 
Shingbwiyang  up  the  Hukawtig  Valley  in  the  aututnn  of  1943,  it  had 
been  anticipated  that  heavy  demands  would  be  made  on  the  Tenth 
Air  Force  for  close-in  ground  support.  At  that  time,  the  AAF  fighter 
iinits  in  Assam  consisted  of  the  80th  Fighter  Group  (three  squadrons 
of  P-40's)  and  the  3 1  ith  Fighter-Bomber  Group  (two  P-5 1  squadrons 
and  one  squadron  of  A-36's).  Since  the  personnel  of  these  tinits  had 
no  expfefience  in  close  support,  careful  preparations  were  made  iFor 
the  work  ahead.  The  first  move  was  to  establish  an  air-ground  support 
radio  team  in  the  ist  Tactical  Communication  Squadron  to  receive  all 
requests  for  air-ground  support,  to  screen  these  requests  and  eliminate 
those  not  suitable  for  air  attack,  and  to  convey  accepted  requirements 
to  air  headquarters  together  with  all  information  necessary  for  the 
execution  of  the  mission.  Also  liaison  had  to  be  established  with  G-2 
and  G-3  in  brder  to  keep  air  headquarters  constantly  apprised  of  the 
precise  positions  of  friendly  and  hostile  troops.^° 

In  the  advance  toward  Myitkyina,  it  had  been  agreed  at  first  that 
troops  asking  close  support  would  lay  out  a  panel  at  a  specified  dis- 
tance from  the  target  and  pointing  toward  it.  When  the  deep  jungle, 
however,  made  it  difficult  to  place  such  a  signal  and  even  more  diffi- 
cult for  the  pilots  to  spot  it,  smoke  shells  were  mortared  on  the  target 
according  to  a  predevised  code,  so  that  their  bursts  formed,  for  exam- 
ple, a  triangle  or  a  rectangle.  Still,  the  signal  pattern  was  frequently 
blurred  by  drift  or  other  causes,  including  diversionary  smoke  shells 
fired  by  the  enemy.  A  third  device  was  the  use  of  coordinates  super- 
imposed on  special  photographs  of  enemy-held  areas.  A  transparent 
grid  of  plastic  made  it  possible  to  divide  any  print  into  twenty-four 
squares  with  the  usual  horizontal  and  vertical  designations  by  number 


209 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 


and  letter.  With  copies  of  the  appropriate  print  in  the  hands  of  all  in- 
terested units  and  headquarters,  air  and  ground,  it  required  only  the 
specification  of  the  coordinates  to  pinpoint  the  desired  target/^  To  as- 
sure speedy  and  correct  coverage  of  target  areas,  as  early  as  November 
1943  a  detachrnent  of  the  9th  Photo  Reconnaissance  Squadron  and  the 
ijth  Photographic  Interpretation  Detachment  were  placed  at  the  dis- 
posal of  air  headquarters.  The  A-2  division  screened  requests  for  cov- 
erage, maintained  a  photographic  library,  placed  orders  for  anticipa- 
tory photographic  coverage,  and  briefed  the  pilots  for  missions.^^  The 
highest  efficiency  in  close  support  was  achieved  by  combining  the  use 
of  coordinates  with  ground-controlled  radio  guidance.  With  both  the 
target  and  friendly  troops  located  by  grid,  the  pilot  reached  his  desti- 
nation at  a  prearranged  time  and  contacted  by  radio  the  ground-air 
liaison  party.  A  dry  run  over  the  target  provided  a  further  check,  so 
that  errors  iii  flight  could  be  detected  and  corrected  before  the  actual 
bombing  was  undertaken.^' 

The  system  worked.  The  most  elaborately  hidden  Japanese  artillery 
positions,  dug-in  machine  guns,  slit  trenches,  road  blocks,  or  troop 
concentrations  were  hunted  and  destroyed.  Erroris  became  increas- 
ingly few  and  a  spirit  of  camaraderie  seldbm  met  with  elsewhere  grew 
up  between  the  ground  and  air  personnel.^*  The  airmen  did  not  strike 
with  that  detachment  which  so  often  marked  the  activities  of  bomber 
crews  operating  from  an  altitude  that  made  the  target  an  impersonal 
object  far  below. 

By  May  1944  air  strips  had  been  built  along  the  Hukawng  and 
Mogaung  valleys  that  were  suitable  for  use  by  fighters  and  transportis. 
The  88th  Fighter  Squadron,  equipped  with  P-40's,  was  based  at  Shing- 
bwiyang;  the  528th  Fighter  Squadron,  with  both  A-36's  and  P-51's, 
was  located  at  Tingkawk  Sakan,  as  was  also  a  flight  of  P-40's  of  the 
20th  Tactical  Reconnaissance  Squadron.  In  Assam  there  were  two 
more  squadrons  of  P-40's  and  two  of  P-5 1 's/^ 

As  the  siege  of  Myitkyina  began,  it  was  decided  to  base  a  flight  of  \ 
eight  P-40's  on  the  newly  captured  west  strip  in  order  to  assure  the  im- 
mediate availability  of  a  few  planes  for  supporting  operations.  These 
planes— the  number  was  later  raised  to  twelve— operated  from  a  base 
that  was  probably  closer  to  enemy  lines  than  ever  before  in  the  history 
of  aerial  warfare,  for  Japanese  machine  guns  were  only  1,000  yards 
away  and  fired  on  the  aircraft  at  every  take-off  and  landing.  Although 
the  first  line  of  the  hostile  emplacements  was  soon  destroyed  by  dive- 

210 


DELAY  IN  BURMA,   DISASTER  IN  CHINA 

bombing  attacks,  there  were  other  machine  guns  a  short  distance  to 
the  rear  which  were  a  constant  threat.^®  A  detachment  of  three  P-40's 
of  the  2oth  Tactical  Reconnaissance  Squadron  was  also  ordered  to 
Myitkyina,  along  with  a  small  field  laboratory,  which  could  produce 
required  prints  of  target  areas  with  a  minimum  loss  of  time. 

In  the  weeks  that  followed  the  opening  of  the  siege,  the  planes  sta- 
tioned on  the  Myitkyina  strip  carried  through  mbst  of  the  missions 
directed  against  the  town  and  its  immediate  defenses.  The  pilots  be- 
came so  proficient  that  they  were  called  upon  even  when  friendly 
troops  were  within  seventy-five  yards  of  the  target.  Other  planes  were 
called  in  from  Tingkawk  Sakan,  Shingbwiyang,  and  the  Assam  fields 
for  less  exacting  performance.  Since  most  of  these  were  naturally  not 
as  famiUar  with  the  sector  as  those  based  on  the  west  strip,  they  de- 
pended on  radio  direction  for  locating  the  target.  They  normally  did 
not  land  at  Myitkyina,  but  made  their  approaches  over  the  strip  for 
any  last-minute  instructions  from  the  local  ground-air  liaison  station.^^ 

The  intensity  of  the  supporting  effort  at  Myitkyina  was  in  itself 
remarkable.  There  were  days  when  pilots  flew  as  many  as  six  missions 
each,  and  it  was  by  no  means  unusiM  f or  a  flight  of  four  planes  to  ac- 
complish twenty  sorties  within  tweikiy^four  hours.  In  all,  the  fighters 
ran  a  total  of  2,515  sorties  between^^  May^  when  the  siege  began  and 
3  August  when  the  city  fell.  That  wSs  ain^erage  of  thirty-three  sor- 
ties per  day,  and  it  was  accomplished  during  the  r  ainy  monsoon,  when 
there  were  many  hours  in  which  wither  prohibited  flying.  Conse- 
quently, every  possible  advantage  had  to  be  taken  of  even  the  briefest 
breaks  in  the  rain  and  clouds,  which  meafflrtr  that  a  disproportionate 
burden  of  close  support  had  to  be  carried  by  aircraft  based  on  the 
strip.  All  too  frequently  clearing  weather  gave  way  again  to  rain  and 
low  ceilings  before  fighters  from  Tingkawk  Sakan,  though  only 
twenty  minutes  away,  could  reach  the  targets.^® 

In  performing  their  mission,  the  fighter  pilots  developed  their  own 
technique  of  dive  bombing  in  order  to  keep  the  bomb  strike  within 
fifteen  yards  of  the  target.  Using  a  45^  angle  of  dive,  usually  begun 
iat  5,000  feet  with  pull-but  at  1,000  feet,  and  sighting  between  the  sec- 
ond and  third  wing  guns,  they  could  detect  the  slightest  deviation.  On 
most  of  the  missions  the  bombs  were  250-pounders,  fuzed  for  one- 
tenth  of  a  second  delay  to  permit  penetration  and  narrow  the  area  of 
the  explosion.^® 

Meanwhile,  the  troops  of  the  Ledo  forces  were  daily  moving  closer 


THE  ARMY  AlR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

to  the  center  of  Myitkyina.  The  Japanese  were  slowly  edged  toward 
the  river,  on  the  other  side  of  which  the  British  were  advancing.  By 
I  August  it  was  evident  that  the  end  was  near  and  Burmese  civilians, 
allowed  to  escape  by  the  Japanese,  came  over  to  the  American  and 
Chinese  lines.  On  3  August  the  investing  armies  moved  forward  all 
along  the  line,  with  the  exception  of  the  Chinese  30th  Division.  The 
fighting  Was  heavy  in  the  morning,  but  lessened  with  the  passing 
hours.  By  midafternoon  the  city  was  completely  occupied,*^  but 
many  of  its  original  defenders  had  escaped. 

Simultaneously  with  the  siege  of  Myitkyina,  columns  of  the  Win- 
gate  Force  moved  in  from  the  south,  and  Chinese  forces  came  from 
the  north  to  join  hands  in  a  siege  of  Mogaung—an  important  town, 
some  thirty  miles  southwest  of  Myitkyina,  lying  astride  the  railroad 
and  the  roadway  leading  from  the  Irrawaddy  valley  to  the  Hukawng 
and  Mogaung  valleys.  The  town  was  captured  early  in  July,  with  the 
aid  of  423  supporting  air  sorties.^'  Following  the  capture  of  Mogaung, 
the  British  36  Division  drove  the  enemy  south  along  the  Burma  rail- 
road, the  mobile  warfare  making  impossible  the  contact  between  troop 
commanders  and  supporting  pilots  which  obtained  at  Myitkyina.  If 
the  problems  were  more  difficult,  however,  they  were  also  more  rep- 
resentative, and  the  system  employed  had  further  use  as  the  AUied 
troops  advanced  south  intp  Burma  during  the  remaining  months  of 
1 944  and  the  first  five  months  of  1 945 . 

Each  brigade  of  the  British  36  Division  was  divided  into  two  col- 
umns. The  72  Brigade  sent  one  column  south  along  the  railroad  and 
the  other  south  along  the  roadway,  with  brigade  headquarters  advanc- 
ing behind  the  columns  at  a  distance  of  one  to  five  miles.  The  problem 
before  the  Tenth  Air  Force  was  to  supply  adequate  close  support 
without  constantly  maintaining  fighters  over  the  moving  columns.  To 
meet  the  situation,  the  Tenth  Air  Force  installed  a  tactical  communi- 
cations network  within  the  brigade:  each  column  was  furnished  with 
a  voice  radio  and  a  four-man  team,  the  latter  consisting  of  an  air  offi- 
cer and  three  enlisted  airmen;  brigade  headquarters  was  supplied  with 
a  radio  for  voice  communication  and  another  radio  for  point-to-point 
transmissions,  together  with  the  necessary  operating  personnel.  When 
the  column  commander  desired  close  support^  he  called  the  chief  of 
the  radio  team  and  specified  the  location  of  the  enemy  strongpoint  by 
using  gridded  mosaics.  The  chief  of  the  radio  team  then  called  brigade 
headquarters  by  voice  to  describe  the  support  requested.  The  brigade 

212 


DELAY  IN  BURMA,   DISASTER  IN  CHINA 

commander,  assisted  by  an  air  force  representative,  decided  whether 
the  request  could  be  honored,  and  Forward  Echelon  Tenth  Air  Force 
at  Shaduzup  was  requested  in  the  clear  to  send  a  definite  number  of 
fighters  to  the  specified  coordinates  with  a  specified  bomb  load.  Tenth 
Air  Force  dispatched  the  aircraft  and  supplied  brigade  headquarters 
with  the  estimated  time  over  the  target.  As  at  Myitkyina  and  Mo- 
gaung,  the  liaison  between  air  and  ground  was  consistently  so  close 
during  the  course  of  attack  that  the  air  force  was  able  to  hit  a  pin- 
point target  at  the  front  lines  within  forty  minutes  after  the  initial  re- 
quest, using  aircraft  based  fifty  miles  to  the  rear."*^ 

After  3  August  victorious  troops  from  Myitkyina  joined  those  ad- 
vancing south  of  Mogaung.  A  week  later,  Taungni  fell  and  the  Allied 
ground  forces  prepared  to  establish  a  defensive  position  along  the 
Taungni-Kazu  line,  less  than  twenty  miles  south  of  Mogaung.  The 
Tenth  Air  Force,  disturbed  by  the  decision  to  halt  the  advance  so  near 
the  city  of  Myitkyina  and  its  airfields,''^  argued  that  the  front  line 
should  be  at  least  seventy  miles  from  the  city— that  is,  the  Katha- 
Bhamo  line— to  guarantee  proper  air  warnings.  Supporting  this  view 
was  the  apparent  fatigue  of  the  Japanese  troops  and  the  demonstrated 
ability  of  the  Tenth  Air  Force  to  maintain  both  supply  and  tactical 
support  despite  the  weather.  Nevertheless,  Stilwell  felt  that  his  troops 
were  in  need  of  rest  and  reorganization,  and  halted  his  advance  about 
lo  August  some  twenty  miles  below  Mogaung.  There  his  armies 
stayed  until  the  resumption  of  the  offensive  in  mid-October  1944. 

The  decision  by  Stilwell  to  halt  his  advance  on  the  Taungni-Kazu 
line  was  a  bitter  disappointment  to  Chiang  Kai-shek.  The  latter  had 
been  persuaded,  very  much  against  his  will,  to  commit  his  Yunnan 
Force  of  50,000  combat  troops,  commanded  by  Brig.  Gen.  Frank 
Dorn,  to  the  Burma  campaign  in  May  when  there  was  every  reason 
to  believe  that  Myitkyina  would  fall  without  trouble  and  that  contact 
would  be  established  soon  after  between  the  X  Force  advancing  from 
Ledo  and  the  Y  Force  advancing  from  the  Salween  valley.  Participa- 
tion in  the  Burma  campaign  involved  not  only  the  Yunnan  ground 
forces  but  also  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  which  was  expected  to  play 
the  same  role  in  the  battle  along  the  Chinese  frontier  which  the  Tenth 
Air  Force  performed  around  Myitkyina  and  Mogaung.**  Specifically, 
the  Fourteenth  was  called  upon  to  perform  the  following  functions: 
i)  air  supply  of  food  and  ordnance  to  Chinese  units  at  advanced 
points;  2)  close  tactical  air  support  by  bombing  and  strafing  targets  of 


213 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

immediate  tactical  importance;  and  3)  destruction  of  enemy  lines  of 
supply  in  an  effort  to  isolate  the  battlefields.  It  is  evident  that  the 
Salween  campaign  thus  demanded  the  employment  of  important  units 
of  the  Chinese  armies  and  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force,  and  it  so  hap- 
pened that  the  campaign  got  under  way  at  the  very  time  when  the 
need  became  critical  for  these  same  forces  in  east  China. 

In  preparing  for  the  campaign,  a  forward  echelon  of  the  69th  Com- 
posite Wing  was  set  up  on  2  May  with  Maj.  A.  B.  Black  in  com- 
mand.''*^ Air  support  for  the  Chinese  armies  was  assigned  to  the  25th 
Fighter  Squadron  and  the  22d  Bombardment  Squadron  (M).  In  addi- 
tion, there  were  the  B-24's  of  the  308th  Bombardment  Group  which 
were  employed  to  bomb  certain  targets— principally  Lung-ling,  Teng- 
chung,  Wanting,  and  Lashio— on  shuttle  trips  between  China  and  In- 
dia. Also,  the  27th  Troop  Carrier  Squadron  from  EAC  was  attached 
on  2 1  May  to  the  69th  Wing  for  the  purpose  of  supplying  the  Chinese 
armies,  otherwise  effectively  cut  off  by  lack  of  bridges  and  roads  as 
soon  as  they  crossed  the  Salween  and  began  to  move  against  the  almost 
impregnable  Japanese  positions  on  the  east  bank.* 

It  was  always  realized,  of  course,  that  the  Y  Force  alone,  advancing 
against  the  powerful  Japanese  positions  east  of  the  Salween,  could  ac- 
complish nothing.  The  point  of  the  campaign  was  to  take  Teng- 
chung.  Lung-ling,  Mang-shih,  and  Pingka  in  a  pincer  movement  with 
the  X  Force,  but  the  wisdom  of  committing  the  Y  Force  was  made 
questionable  by  the  long  siege  at  Myitkyina.  During  the  summer  of 
1944,  the  Y  Force  fought  doggedly  and  had  little  to  show  for  its  ef- 
forts except  dead  and  wounded.  The  Generalissimo,  therefore,  felt 
that  his  worst  fears  were  justified  when  victory  was  held  up  from 

•  The  extent  of  air  operations  devoted  to  the  Salween  campaign  during  the  summer 
of  1944  is  shown  by  the  following  table: 

i4C'4fs  of  Troop      Fighter  i^B-ifs 
Carrier  Squadron  Aircraft 


Month            Sorties  Tons  Dropped  Sorties  Sorties 

O944)  or  Landed 

May  —  —  481  144 

June   —  —  300  approx.  100  approx. 

July   376  711  222  120 

Aug  613  1,378  640  142 

Sept  601  1,225  4x9  118 

Oct  765  1,739  357  39 

Nov.  962  2,075  908  185 


214 


DELAY   IN   BURMA,   DISASTER  IN  CHINA 

17  May  until  3  August,  and  he  became  very  impatient  with  Stilwell 
when  the  latter  decided  to  halt  his  advance  on  10  August  a  short  dis- 
tance from  Mogaung.  From  the  Chinese  point  of  view,  the  Salween 
campaign  was  a  waste  of  men  and  materiel  from  the  moment  that  Stil- 
well failed  to  take  Myitkyina  until  15  October  when  the  advance  on 
Bhamo  was  resumed.  The  Y  Force  did  not  win  its  first  outstand- 
ing success  until  14  September  when  Teng-chung  fell. 

Loss  of  the  Kaifeng-Hanoi  Axis* 

Long  before  Myitkyina  fell  to  Stilwell's  besieging  forces,  the  Japa- 
nese Army  was  well  advanced  toward  the  completion  of  its  conquest 
of  the  Hengyang-Kweilin-Nanning  corridor.  Though  the  Japanese 
had  been  content  until  1944  to  occupy  only  such  points  along  the 
Chinese  coast  south  of  Shanghai  as  were  necessary  to  close  off  sea 
communications,  they  now  clearly  intended  to  cut  through  eastern 
China  a  land  axis  joining  the  northern  and  southern  portions  of  their 
empire.  In  addition  to  getting  interior  lines  of  communication,  they 
also  hoped  to  overrun  the  more  important  Allied  airfields  which  posed 
an  additional  threat  to  their  sea  communications  just  when  U.S.  Pacific 
forces  menaced  them  from  the  east.  Moreover,  it  was  hoped  China 
might  be  completely  knocked  out  of  the  war  before  U.S.  forces  were 
in  position  to  make  effective  use  of  the  Asiatic  mainland  either  as  an 
air  or  as  a  staging  base  in  an  assault  on  Japan. 

The  Japanese  offensive  had  opened  17  April  in  a  move  from  across 
the  Yellow  River  at  Kaifeng  down  the  railway  leading  to  the  Yangtze. 
Contact  was  made  with  the  Japanese  forces  at  Hankow  a  month  later. 
After  a  slight  pause  the  offensive  was  renewed  on  26  May  in  a  widen- 
ing drive  southward  from  the  line  of  the  Yangtze  toward  Changsha 
on  the  Hsiang  River.  This  drive,  which  left  little  doubt  as  to  the  seri- 
ous implications  of  enemy  plans,  forced  the  Chinese  armies  to  fight  on 
widely  scattered  fronts.  Two  American-trained  divisions,  the  30th 
and  50th,  were  committed  to  the  newly  inaugurated  siege  of  Myit- 
kyina; on  1 1  May  the  Yunnan  Force  (the  Chinese  87th  and  88th  Di- 
visions) launched  their  own  offensive  into  Burma  across  the  Salween 

•  It  is  customary  to  speak  of  the  "loss  of  the  east  China  airfields"  as  though  they  all 
fell  to  the  enemy  in  one  catastrophe.  That  is  incorrect.  Between  April  and  December 
1944,  the  Japanese  pushed  through  their  Kaifeng-Hanoi  axis,  and  took  the  airfields 
along  the  Hankow-Nanning  railway.  Then,  in  January  and  February  1945,  the  enemy 
occupied  the  remaining  east  China  airfields  between  the  Hsiang  River  and  the  coast. 


215 


DELAY   IN   BURMA,    DISASTER   IN  CHINA 

River  to  support  StilwelPs  attempt  to  clear  the  enemy  from  upper 
Burma.  In  eastern  China,  Marshal  Hsueh  Yo*  undertook  to  stem  the 
enemy  drive  with  a  force  of  about  150,000  men  of  the  regular  Chinese 
Army,  none  of  the  units  having  benefited  by  the  special  training  pro- 
gram undertaken  by  General  Stilwell,  and  all  of  them  sadly  deficient 
in  modern  equipment.  The  Japanese  had  committed  to  the  new  offen- 
sive approximately  a  quarter  of  a  million  men,  although  not  more 
than  60,000  were  front-line  combat  troops.  Their  greatly  superior 
equipment  and  trdning  gave  them  a  decided  advantage  over  their 
opponents,  and  fighters  and  dive  bombers,  apparently  drawn  from 
Formosa,  supported  the  advancing  ground  units. 

Chinese  hopes  of  stalling  the  enemy  offensive  depended  heavily 
upon  the  assistance  Chennault  could  provide.  He  had  taken  the  pre- 
caution early  in  April  of  ordering  to  forward  bases  four  fighter  squad- 
rons and  one  medium  bombardment  squadron  of  the  Chinese-Ameri- 
can Composite  Wing  (CACW).t  Although  delays  in  the  completion 
of  this  movement  left  the  Japanese  free  of  interference  from  the  air 
in  the  initi,  1  stage  of  their  advance,  B-24'is  of  the  308th  Group  and 
P-51's  of  the  23d  Group  had  been  moved  up  to  the  Chengtu  bases  in 
rim^  to  strike  che  first  blows  on  25  April.  By  May  the  CACW  units 
were  also  in  the  fight. 

Chennault  had  now  achieved  his  long  cherished  hope  for  ian  air 
force  of  500  planes,  of  which  approximately  400  were  in  operational 
conuition.  Instead  of  the  envisioned  air  offensive  against  Japanese 
communications  along  the  China  coast,  however,  he  found  himself 
almost  completely  committed  to  defensive  operations  under  most 
stringent  logistical  limitations.  The  25th  Fighter  Squadron,  the  2 2d 
Bombatdment  Squadron  (M),  and  the  27th  Troop  Carrier  Squadron 
were  tied  down  by  combat  along  the  Salween,  and  a  substantial  part 
of  the  Fourteenth's  recently  acquired  strength  had  been  provided  for 
the  specific  purpose  of  defending  the  B-29  bases  in  Chengtu.  The  33d 
arid  8ist  Fighter  Groups  of  the  newly  organized  312th  Wing  were 
still  in  the  process  of  going  northward  to  their  new  bases,  t  a  move- 
ment not  completed  until  July. 

For  support  of  the  hard  pressed  Chinese  Army,  Chennault  had  the 
P-5 1 's  of  the  veteran  23d  Fighter  Group,  the  B-24's  of  the  308th  Bom- 

*  Commander  of  the  9th  War  Zone.  His  name  is  sometimes  written  as  Hsueh  Yueh. 

t  See  Vol.  IV,  530,  54i-43- 

t  For  details,  see  above,  pp.  8a-8i. 


217 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 

bardment  Group,  the  B-25's  of  the  nth  and  491st  Bombardment 
Squadrons,  the  aircraft  of  the  1 1 8th  Tactieal  Reconnaissance  Squad- 
ron, and,  as  elements  of  the  CACW,  the  5th  Fighter  Group  (P~4o's) 
and  the  3d  aiid  4th  Bombardment  Squadrons  (B-25's).  These  units 
were  organized  as  a  special  task  force  under  the  command  of  Col. 
Clinton  D.  Vincent,  who  also  was  given  operational  control  of  the 
32 2d  Troop  Carrier  Squadron  and  the  21st  Photographic  Squadron. 
Instructions  given  Vincent  on  i  June  1944  assigned  the  following  tar- 
get priorities:  first,  enemy  airborne  aircraft  to  deplete  Japanese  air 
power;  second,  shipping  on  rivers  and  lakes  in  the  Hankow  region  to 
interdict  his  communications;  and  third,  troop  columns,  trains,  camps, 
motor  vehicles,  bridges,  and  river  crossings  to  impede  his  move- 
ments/^ Strikes  against  all  other  types  of  targets,  however  inviting, 
were  forbidden  in  order  to  conserve  fuel  for  the  most  vital  tasks. 

Although  not  all  of  Vincent's  units  were  in  condition  to  fight  at 
full  strength,  a  shortage  of  supply  rather  than  of  planes  proved  to  be 
the  critical  factor.  In  the  attempt  to  build  up  the  minimum  stockpile 
required  to  permit  the  inauguration  on  schedule  of  operations  by  XX 
Bomber  Command,  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  had  suffered,  especially 
in  the  month  of  March,  a  reduction  in  its  Hump  tonnage.*  As  a  result, 
fuel  reserves  were  low,  and  on  eastern  bases,  which  were  a  month's 
distance  from  Kunming  by  the  land  lines  of  communications  normally 
employed  in  China,  the  shortage  of  fuel  was  particularly  acute.  Chen- 
nault  had  vigorously  protested  the  priority  given  to  MATTER- 
HORN  and  warned  Stilwell  in  a  message  on  3 1  March  that  the  fate  of 
China  itself  might  be  at  stake.^^  Stilwell  advised  cutting  back  opera- 
tions as  much  as  necessary  to  build  up  reserves  for  an  emergency.*^  On 
8  April  Chennault  substituted  for  the  usual  radio  message  a  full  letter 
to  Stilwell,^^  which  the  latter  seems  to  have  interpreted  as  a  warning 
chiefly  that  the  Fourteenth  could  not  defend  Chengtu.^°  Just  after  the 
inauguration  of  the  Japanese  offensive,  Chennault  advised  Stilwell  that 
the  defense  of  Chengtu  would  be  "child's  play"  in  comparison  with 
**the  more  difficult  problems  of  the  moment,"  to  which  Stilwell  coun- 
tered with  an  expression  of  his  pleasure  in  knowing  that  *'the  defense 
of  Chengtu  is  child's  play."^^ 

Whatever  tone  Stilwell  intended  to  convey,  the  remark  was  unfor- 
tunate in  itself  and  symptomatic  of  the  lack  of  sympathy  and  under- 
standing between  the  two  commanders  at  this  critical  point.  Stilwell 

•  See  above,  pp.  83-85. 

218 


DELAY   IN   BURMA,   DISASTER   IN  CHINA 

seems  not  to  have  been  willing  to  accept  Chennault's  word  as  evi- 
dence of  the  impending  danger,  and  Chennault  perhaps  now  paid  a 
penalty  for  the  vigor  with  which  he  had  previously  pushed  the  claims 
of  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  and  of  China  in  competition  with  other 
interests  embraced  by  CBL  On  15  May  Chennault  complained  to  CBI 
headquarters  that  G-2  had  been  "unduly  cautious  and  conservative" 
in  its  reports  to  the  War  Department  on  the  Kaifeng  offensive/^  On 
I  June,  six  days  after  the  major  enemy  offensive  had  been  launched 
from  the  Yangtze  toward  Changsha,  Chennault  reported  to  Stilwell 
an  estimated  doubling  of  enemy  troops  in  the  Canton-Hong  Kong  area 
and  heavy  reinforcements  in  Indo-China,  asking  immediate  assistance 
toward  solving  low  stock  levels  in  eastern  China.'^  Although  the  Four- 
teenth Air  Force  share  in  Hump  deliveries  for  both  April  and  May 
had  been  above  6,000  tons,*  Chennault  warned  Stilwell  that  the  de- 
fense of  east  China  would  require  at  least  10,000  tons.  Admitting  that 
this  would  mean  conversion  of  existing  XX  Bomber  Command  stock- 
piles and  air  supply  facilities  to  support  of  the  Fourteenth,  he  insisted 
there  was  no  alternative  because  the  whole  effort  in  CBI  was  at  stake/^ 
He  got  the  10,000  tons,  and  more,  in  June  but  not  before  Stilwell  had 
asked  for  Mountbatten's  **opinion  on  a  Jap  move  south  from  Hankow 
and/or  north  from  Canton?"  Had  the  move  started?  Was  it  immi- 
nent? If  so,  when  was  it  expected?  "Or  is  this  just  a  cover  for  an  attack 
on  Kunming  from  Indo-China? 

With  the  renewal  of  the  Japanese  offensive  on  26  May,  Chiang  Kai- 
shek  requested  Stilwell  to  return  to  Chungking  for  a  conference.'^  It 
had  been  six  months  since  Stilwell  visited  China,  but  he  replied  that 
the  situation  at  the  front  made  a  trip  impossible.  Chiang  could  radio 
"what  is  wanted,"  or  he  could  "send  a  representative  to  see  me."^^  On 
Chennault's  advice  the  Generalissimo  on  3 1  May  appealed  to  President 
Roosevelt  in  an  aide-m6moire,  requesting  that  the  reserve  fuel,  air- 
craft, and  parts  at  Chengtu  be  turned  over  to  the  Fourteenth  Air 
Force  and  that  further  assistance  be  provided  for  the  strengthening  of 
the  Chinese  Air  Force  and  for  increase  of  the  fire  power  of  Chinese 
ground  forces.''^  In  the  War  Department  there  was  some  inclination  to 
discount  Chiang's  estimate  of  the  situation.^^ 

General  Stilwell,  however,  whether  persuaded  by  intelligence  re- 
ceived from  SEAC  or  by  other  influences,  now  recognized  the  dan- 
ger, at  least  in  part.  A  message  of  4  June  from  Brig.  Gen.  Haydon  L. 

•  See  table  below,  p.  220. 


219 


THE  ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


Boatner,  commander  of  Northern  Combat  Area  Command  (NCAC), 
urging  diversion  of  planes  and  supplies  from  other  air  projects  for  a 
defense  of  the  eastern  airfields,  has  scribbled  across  it  this  penciled  no- 
tation: "Tell  him  not  to  worry.  We  are  taking  suitable  measures. 
JWS."^°  The  reference,  presumably,  was  to  Stilwell's  action  that  day 
diverting  for  the  use  of  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  1,500  tons  of  ATC 
Hump  lift  previously  allotted  to  MATTERHORN  for  the  month  of 
June.^^  The  Generalissimo  having  again  summoned  him  to  Chung- 
king,^^ on  5  June  Stilwell  left  Burma  for  China.  Stilwell's  presence  in 
Chungking  served  to  eliminate  some  of  the  difficulties  occasioned  by 
wide  separation,  and  for  the  remainder  of  the  year  the  Fourteenth  Air 
Force  received  relatively  high  tonnage,  even  though  the  Joint  Chiefs 
of  Staff  refused  Chiang's  request  for  VLR  stockage  and  continued 
with  plans  for  B-29  operations  from  Chengtu.*  The  statistics  for  CBI 
are  often  conflicting  and  uncertain,  but  the  following  table  based  on 
ATC  records^^  serves  well  enough  to  reveal  the  improved  position  of 
the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  among  the  consignees  for  Hump  tonnage 


in  1944: 

Total  i4thAF  XX  BC       Other  US.  Chinese 

January   13.399  7,<5oi  1,177  4,<52i 

February  . . . . ,  12,920  7,017  383  1,640  j,88o 

March  9,587  4,379  3,603  940  665 

April  11,555  6,757  1,693  1,772  1,333 

May  11,383  6,231  1,532  1,826  1,794 

June....  15,845  12,537  350  1,033  1,925 

July  18,975  13,213  1,070  2,664  2,028 

August                     ...23,676  13,871  3,055  3,919  2*^31 

September  22,315  13,245  3452  2,686  2,932 

October   24,715  13,014  7,037  2,557  2,107 

November  34,914  14476  7,881  9,018  3,539 

December  ........... .31,935^  12.805  4,348  13,188  1,594 


This  increase  in  allocations  did  not  solve  Chennault's  problem,  for 
the  extra  fuel  was  not  given  in  time  to  meet  the  crisis.  Deliveries  made 
at  Kunming  in  June  could  not  begin  to  reach  the  combat  areas  for 
thirty  days  or  more.  True,  there  were  set  up  on  paper,  lines  of  air 
transportation  branching  out  from  Kunming  to  Chengtu,  Liangshan, 
Chihkiang,  Ling-ling,  Kweilin,  and  Liuchow,  but  the  Fourteenth  Air 
Force  had  neither  sufficient  transports  nor,  indeed,  sufficient  gas  to  fly 
what  transports  were  available.^*  The  experience  of  XX  Bomber  Com- 
mand amply  demonstrated  that  this  more  expeditious  mode  of  delivery 

*  For  discussion  of  details,  see  above,  p.  87. 


220 


DELAY   IN   BURMA,    DISASTER   IN  CHINA 

offered  only  limited  assistance.*  The  alternative  was  a  tedious  trip 
across  precarious  roads  or  inadequate  railways,  which  resulted  in  at 
least  a  month's  delay  between  the  unloading  of  supplies  at  Kunming 
and  their  delivery  in  east  China.  In  the  absence  of  a  previously  stocked 
reserve  in  east  China,  Vincent's  forces  continued  to  operate  under  se- 
rious limitations,  so  serious  in  fact  as  to  make  it  doubtful  that  a  larger 
force  could  have  been  effectively  employed. 

Vincent's  task  was  an  unenviable  one.  Even  under  the  most  favor- 
able circumstances  of  supply,  his  only  hope  of  stopping  a  determined 
drive  by  a  large  and  well-equipped  army  lay  in  the  possibility 
that  effective  air  support  might  fortify  the  morale  of  the  Chi- 
nese armies  enough  to  overcome  the  many  disadvantages  under  which 
they  fought.  The  enemy  moved  southward  on  a  broad  front,  bypassed 
fixed  defensive  positions,  and  employed  tactics  of  dispersal  that  cut 
down  the  effect  of  Vincent's  attacks.  Japanese  planes  rarely  accepted 
combat,  but  they  continued  to  find  opportunity  to  assist  the  advanc- 
ing ground  forces.  Vincent's  directive  did  not  provide  for  operations 
against  enemy  planes  on  the  ground,  and  second-priority  targets- 
communications  in  the  region  of  Hankow— tended  to  acquire  in  fact 
first  priority. 

Hankow  itself,  the  vital  center  of  the  Japanese  offensive,  was  an  in- 
viting target.  Fourteenth  Air  Force  leaders  hoped  that  General 
Wolfe's  B-29's  might  be  used  against  that  city,''  but  Arnold,  though 
insisting  upon  a  speed-up  of  their  first  strike  at  Japan,t  consistently 
refused  to  consider  any  diversion  from  the  strategic  mission  of  XX 
Bomber  Command.  In  any  event,  the  aid  that  could  have  been  pro- 
vided would  have  been  limited,  for  the  B-29's  also  operated  under  lo- 
gistical limitations.  Vincent  definitely  lacked  the  resources  to  under- 
take any  massive  assault.  His  bombers,  both  heavy  and  medium,  struck 
repeatedly  at  selected  targets  in  Hankow  during  early  June,  but  the 
heavier  consumption  of  fuel  by  the  bombers  restricted  their  use  at  any 
distance  from  their  bases.  Indeed,  before  the  month  was  gone,  the 
shortage  of  fuel  forced  Vincent  temporarily  to  withdraw  his  bombers 
even  from  short-range  attacks  on  the  enemy  front.^' 

Almost  from  the  first,  the  burden  fell  chiefly  on  the  fighter  planes. 
During  the  first  two  weeks  of  June  the  P-40's  based  at  Hengyang  av- 

*  See  above,  pp.  85-87. 
t  See  above,  p.  112, 


221 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


eraged  three  or  four  sorties  per  plane  each  day— a  rate  of  operation 
destructive  to  both  planes  and  pilots.^^  In  cooperation  with  the  Chinese 
troops  along  the  Yangtze,  Vincent  sent  his  planes  out  day  after  day  to 
strafe  and  bomb  the  Japanese  columns.  Although  the  Americans 
caused  small  pools  of  havoc  wherever  they  struck,  nowhere  did  the 
Chinese  infantry  prove  capable  of  capitalizing  upon  this  assistance  to 
the  extent  of  accomplishing  any  major  halt  in  the  enemy's  advance. 
Even  the  bad  weather  which  came  early  in  June  did  not  reduce  the 
pace  of  air  operations.  The  Fourteenth  Air  Force  history^^  records 
"strafing  and  dive  bombing  missions  through  such  foul  weather  that 
the  Mustangs  had  to  level-bomb  from  under  hundred  foot  ceilings" 
because  "they  could  not  get  enough  altitude  under  the  soup  to  dive- 
bomb."  Operations  and  operating  conditions  are  further  described  as 
follows: 

Forays  against  cavalry  and  bombing  of  supply  dumps  were  alternated  with 
sweeps  up  the  Siang  Siang  River  and  across  Tungting  Lake  to  catch  the  supply 
fleets.  Mechanics  worked  all  night  in  the  steamy  heat  to  repair  damage  from 
missions,  replace  worn  parts,  and  have  a  full  complement  of  planes  ready  for  a 
dawn  take  off.  As  fast  as  the  planes  returned  from  combat,  armorers  hung  new 
loads  of  demolition  and  frag  bombs  under  the  wings  and  reloaded  the  guns.  On 
many  a  mission  pilots  barely  had  time  to  dash  to  the  alert  shack,  report  on  the 
mission,  and  be  briefed  on  the  next  target  before  they  were  back  in  their  cock- 
pits on  a  new  mission.  As  a  result  of  the  dissolving  of  the  radio  net,  there  was 
little  weather  information  available,  and  they  flew  their  own  weather  recons  at 
dawn  every  day. 

These  efforts  were  indeed  heroic,  but  pitifully  inadequate  to  halt  the 
march  of  the  victorious  Japanese.  Changsha  fell  on  i8  June,  and 
within  another  ten  days,  after  encircling  Liuyang,  the  enemy  was  ap- 
proaching Hengyang.^^ 

Hengyang  was  of  vital  importance  to  both  sides,  for  the  city  con- 
trolled the  main  lines  of  communication  leading  from  Hankow  to 
Nanning.  Its  position,  moreover,  was  exceptionally  strong,  and  if  the 
Japanese  drive  could  be  halted  at  all,  it  was  there.  If  the  city  fell,  the 
southern  half  of  the  Hankow-Hanoi  axis  was  almost  certainly 
doomed.  Gen.  Fong  Hsien-chien,  who  had  accepted  responsibility 
for  the  defense  of  the  citadel,  was  determined  to  hold  out  as  long  as 
possible,  hoping  that  aid  might  reach  him  in  time  to  save  the  strong- 
hold. He  had  important  advantages.  For  instance,  terrain  forced  the 
Japanese  to  follow  a  narrow  avenue  of  approach,  and  made  difficult 
any  move  to  bypass  the  city. 

222 


DELAY  IN  BURMA,   DISASTER  IN  CHINA 

Hengyang  held  for  forty-nine  days.  During  the  first  week  in  July 
the  Fourteenth  Air  Force,  performing  superbly,  staggered  the  enemy 
despite  a  major  effort  by  Japanese  air  to  defend  its  army's  lines  of 
communication.  There  were  indications  that  the  enemy  was  prepar- 
ing to  withdraw,  and  the  streams  of  civilians  seeking  escape  to  the 
south  paused  in  their  flight.  Some  of  them  even  turned  back  toward 
Hengyang.  But  the  efforts  of  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  had  virtually 
used  up  its  fuel  at  the  forward  bases,  and  during  the  second  week  of 
July  no  resupply  came  in  from  the  western  bases.  On  1 2  July  the  491st 
Bombardment  Squadron,  fearful  of  capture,  withdrew  on  its  emer- 
gency gas  and  temporarily  left  Liuchow  for  the  Salween.  Air  opera- 
tions were  drastically  cut,  and  between  17  and  24  July  the  68th  Com- 
posite Wing  was  practically  grounded.^° 

On  8  August  Hengyang  fell  The  long-anticipated  Japanese  drive 
from  Canton  had  already  begun  in  July.  Heading  north  along  the 
Canton-Hankow  railway,  a  large  and  well-equipped  force  intended  to 
strike  Hengyang  from  the  rear,  but  the  early  capitulation  of  the  city 
simplified  the  enemy's  problem.  The  Canton  column  turned  west  to- 
ward Liuchow,  and  the  northern  force  late  in  August  headed  down 
the  railway  leading  through  Ling-ling  to  Kweilin.  It  soon  became  evi- 
dent that  in  only  a  few  weeks  east  China  would  be  completely  iso- 
lated. Already  the  air  warning  system,  so  painfully  built  up  in  earlier 
years,*  had  collapsed,  with  the  result  that  the  strips  at  Kweilin  and 
Liuchow,  chief  of  the  remaining  eastern  airfields,  were  badly  ex- 
posed.^^ 

Kweilin  was  so  immediately  endangered  by  the  fall  of  Hengyang, 
that  the  next  job  for  Vincent— who,  incidentally,  had  been  made  a 
brigadier  general  on  2  June  1944— was  the  defense  of  Liuchow.  If 
Vincent's  prospect  was  hopeless,  it  was  no  fault  of  the  air  task  force 
he  headed.  From  26  May  through  i  August  its  planes  had  flown  5,287 
sorties,  over  4,000  of  them  by  fighter  aircraft.  A  total  of  1,164  tons  of 
bombs  had  been  dropped,  and  more  than  a  million  rounds  of  ammuni- 
tion had  been  expended,  chiefly  in  strafing  attacks.  Out  of  an  over-all 
strength  of  approximately  150  aircraft,  43  had  been  lost  but  only  3  of 
that  number  were  credited  to  enemy  pilots.  It  was  estimated  that  the 
task  force  had  cost  the  enemy  595  trucks,  14  bridges,  some  1 3,000  cas- 
ualties, 1 14  aircraft,  and  more  than  1,000  small  boats.^^ 

Throughout  the  summer  Vincent  had  tried  desperately  to  meet  the 

•  See  Vol.  1, 424. 


223 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

needs  of  the  retreating  Chinese  troops.  During  July  he  was  able  to 
undertake  as  many  as  814  sorties  to  Hankow  and  its  neighborhood, 
chiefly  for  the  purpose  of  disrupting  the  enemy's  communications, 
but  the  total  fell  to  587  in  August/'  In  direct  support  of  the  receding 
battle  lines  the  Americans,  whose  tactics  heretofore  had  emphasized 
attacks  close  to  the  fight,  now  experimented  with  strafing  and  bomb- 
ing immediately  in  front  of  the  Chinese  soldiers.  Kweilin,  Ling-ling, 
and  Chihkiang  served  as  the  bases  from  which  operations  were 
launched.  Enemy  air  raids  became  more  frequent,  but  though  the 
Japanese  usually  enjoyed  the  advantage  of  surprise,  they  continued  to 
accomplish  little  damage/* 

It  was  indeed  ironical  that  the  increased  Hump  tonnage  assigned 
the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  in  June  did  not  really  make  its  effects  felt 
at  the  front  until  sometime  in  August  when  the  battle  for  the  axis  air- 
fields was  in  its  last  stage.  Nevertheless,  Vincent  was  able  to  raise  the 
tempo  of  his  activity:  in  September  his  pilots  logged  1,469  sorties."  It 
was  all  in  vain.  The  Chinese  troops  were  too  far  spent  in  physical 
stamina  and  morale  to  stage  a  comeback.  Ling-ling  fell  on  4  Septem- 
ber, and  on  26  September  enemy  forces  advancing  from  Canton  over- 
ran Tanchuk.  By  1 1  October  the  Kweilin  airstrip  faced  imminent  en- 
velopment.^® Sweeping  past  the  little  islands  of  Chinese  resistance,  the 
Japanese  went  on  to  take  Kweilin  on  10  November  and  Liuchow  on 
the  I  ith.  Only  Nanning  in  the  far  south  remained  in  the  hands  of  the 
Chinese  and  Americans,  and  even  that  city  was  obviously  doomed. 
Japan  had  all  but  completed  the  axial  corridor  between  Manchuria 
and  French  Indo-China. 

Under  the  circumstances,  a  complete  revision  of  strategy  was  de- 
manded of  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  if  it  was  to  survive— and  there 
were  some  who  thought  that  its  days  were  over.  Now,  particularly, 
Chennault  was  not  ready  to  quit,  with  unbelievably  greater  supplies 
coming  to  the  front  each  day,  and  week,  and  month  from  the  soaring 
totals  of  Hump  tonnage.  Determined  to  keep  part  of  the  Fourteenth 
in  the  east  China  provinces  between  the  corridor  and  the  sea  where 
the  fight  could  be  maintained  for  at  least  many  weeks  and  further  as- 
sistance could  be  given  to  the  troops  of  Marshal  Hsueh  Yo,"  Chen- 
nault placed  his  other  units  along  a  line  of  airfields,  some  of  them  re- 
cently constructed,  which  paralleled  the  corridor  Sian  to  Poseh.  The 
32  ist  Fighter  Wing  was  in  the  north;  the  Chinese- American  Compos- 
ite Wing  was  between  Laohokow  and  Chihkiang;  and  Vincent's  68th 


224 


DELAY   IN   BURMA,   DISASTER   IN  CHINA 

Wing,  commanded  now  by  Col.  Clayton  Claassen,  occupied  a  new  set 
of  fields  between  Kunming  and  the  axis,  following  the  Hengyang-Liu- 
chow  line.  Thus,  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  was  ready  to  continue  the 
fight,  and  in  some  ways  was  stronger  than  ever  before/® 

General  Stilwell,  however,  could  find  nothing  favorable  in  the  situ- 
ation. In  his  final  report  to  the  Chief  of  Staff,  USA,  covering  the  pe- 
riod 21  May  1942—24  October  1944,  he  spoke  feelingly  about  the  loss 
of  the  China  airfields,  built  at  a  cost  of  two  billion  Chinese  dollars  and 
intended  to  assist  in  the  fulfillment  of  American  strategy  in  the  Pacific. 
All  was  gone,  he  said— two  and  a  half  years  of  American  effort  had 
been  destroyed,  and  American  air  power  was  pushed  back  against  the 
base  at  Kunming.'^®  Stilwell  attributed  the  disaster  to  the  rejection  of 
his  advice  at  TRIDENT  in  the  spring  of  1 943  .* 

StipweWs  Recall 

The  loss  of  the  airfields  must  have  been  very  poignant  to  Stilwell, 
and  certainly  the  serious  reverses  suffered  in  east  China  aggravated  the 
unhappy  and  unfortunate  personal  relationship  between  the  General- 
issimo and  General  Stilwell.  To  recount  the  full  history  of  the  Chiang- 
Stilwell  misunderstanding  would  require  a  study  of  some  length,  more 
voluminous,  indeed,  than  The  Stilwell  Fapers^^  the  posthumously 
published  book  which  gives  only  one  side  of  the  question,  and  it 
would  go  far  beyond  the  range  of  air  force  interests.  Yet,  in  an  ac- 
count of  AAF  activities  on  the  continent  of  Asia,  it  is  impossible  to 
ignore  Stilwell's  recall  Stilwell's  command  of  CBI,  in  addition  to  its 
diplomatic  aspects,  was  primarily  one  of  an  air  theater,  and  his  depar- 
ture affected  a  variety  of  decisions  which  thereafter  governed  the  or- 
ganization and  operations  of  the  AAF  units  in  China,  Burma,  and 
India. 

Although  the  misunderstanding  between  Chiang  and  Stilwell  was 
old  and  deep-rooted,  the  relationship  between  the  two  men  had  be- 
come especially  critical  in  the  spring  of  1944.  Stilwell  had  long  en- 
joyed control  of  lend-lease  materials  intended  for  China,  a  fact  that 
probably  gave  affront  to  the  Oriental  dignity  of  the  head  of  the  Chi- 
nese state.  When,  after  the  Tehran  conference  of  December  1943, 
promises  made  to  Chiang  at  Cairo  were  revoked,t  the  Generalissimo 
found  confirmation  of  his  suspicion  that  the  British  were  unwilling  to 

*  See  VohlV,  442. 
t  See  Vol.  IV,  495^97. 


225 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

fight  for  anything  other  than  their  own  interests  in  CBL  The  Russian 
influence  on  the  reversal  of  commitments  made  at  Cairo  seems  to  have 
become  tied  up  in  his  mind  with  the  "fishing  agreement"  between 
Moscow  and  Tokyo  reached  in  1944.  And  soon  thereafter  came  sug- 
gestions through  the  American  embassy  at  Chungking,  with  backing 
from  CBI  headquarters,  that  an  American  mission  might  be  sent  to 
Yenan  *'to  contribute  to  the  friendly  and  harmonious  solution  of  diffi- 
culties" separating  the  Communists  under  Mao  Tse-tung  and  the  Kuo- 
mintang.^^  In  December  1943  Chiang  had  refused  to  commit  his  Yun- 
nan Force  to  projected  operations  in  the  Salween  region  of  Burma  un- 
less the  British  came  through  with  full-scale  supporting  amphibious 
operations  on  the  coast  of  Burma.  Stilwell  interpreted  this  refusal  as 
one  more  indication  of  Chiang's  unwillingness  to  fight,  and  determined 
to  force  his  hand.  On  7  April  1944  Stilwell  informed  Marshall  that 
since  "the  Generalissimo  won't  fight  in  spite  of  his  promises,"  it  was 
necessary  to  direct  all  "remaining  tonnage  allocated  by  this  head- 
quarters to  Chinese  agencies  for  April  to  Fourteenth  Air  Force."®^ 

Though  Chennault  was  the  immediate  beneficiary  of  this  decision, 
the  action  carried  its  own  warning,  and  the  Generalissimo  soon  agreed 
to  commit  the  Yunnan  Force  to  the  Salween  offensive  in  May.  This 
offensive,  thus  belatedly  started,  made  no  progress,  and  meanwhile  the 
Japanese  launched  their  successful  offensive  in  east  China.  Stilwell's 
delay  in  responding  to  the  summons  for  consultation  on  the  new 
emergency  undoubtedly  offended  the  Generalissimo  further,*  for 
Stilwell  was  not  only  the  ranking  U.S.  commander  but  chief  of  staff 
to  Chiang. 

When  the  Vice  President  of  the  United  States,  Henry  A.  Wallace, 
visited  Chungking  on  20  June  1944,  he  found  a  dangerous  situation. 
Reporting  to  Roosevelt  in  a  message  of  28  June,  Wallace  conveyed 
Chiang's  request  for  the  appointment  of  *'a  personal  representative" 
to  act  as  liaison  between  Roosevelt  and  himself  and  advised  the  Presi- 
dent that  "a  move  of  this  sort,  but  of  an  even  more  far-reaching  na- 
ture" seemed  to  be  indicated  by  the  political  and  military  situation  to 
China.  Chiang  had  bluntly  stated  that  Stilwell  no  longer  enjoyed  his 
confidence,  "because  of  his  alleged  inability  to  grasp  over-all  political 
considerations."  Wallace  doubted  that  any  American  officer  currently 
in  China  could  undertake  the  responsibility.  Chennault  had  Chiang's 
full  confidence  but  he  should  be  left  in  "his  present  effective  military 

*  See  above,  pp.  219-20. 

226 


DELAY   IN   BURMA,   DISASTER   IN  CHINA 

position."  What  was  needed  was  a  man  who  could  win  the  confidence 
of  Chiang  and  thus  influence  political  as  well  as  military  decisions,  and 
who,  commanding  all  American  forces  in  China,  could  "achieve  full 
coordination  between  the  American  and  Chinese  military  efforts." 
Since  Stilwell  could  not  abandon  his  responsibilities  in  Burma,  the  ap- 
pointment of  another  commander  for  China  seemed  to  Wallace  a  log- 
ical move.  Such  a  commander  might  be  Stilwell's  deputy  in  China, 
"with  a  large  measure  of  local  independence  and  the  right  to  deal  di- 
rectly with  the  White  House  on  political  questions,"  or  China  might 
be  separated  from  StilwelPs  command.  Lt.  Gen.  Albert  C.  Wede- 
meyer  had  been  strongly  recommended  to  Wallace  for  such  a  post. 
Wallace  expressed  regret  at  the  necessity  of  making  such  a  recom- 
mendation without  having  talked  with  Stilwell,  but  did  not  doubt  the 
need  for  the  action  recommended.  Time  was  a  vital  factor.  East  China 
seemed  to  be  imperiled,  and  its  loss  could  be  expected  to  produce  "a 
violent  political  and  economic  shock  to  the  already  weakened  Chungs 
king  regime."  But  the  right  man  might  be  able  to  persuade  Chiang  "to 
reform  his  regime  and  establish  at  least  the  semblance  of  a  united 
front,"  both  of  which  steps  Wallace  considered  necessary  to  the  res- 
toration of  Chinese  morale.*' 

In  Washington  the  Joint  Chiefs  of  Staff  on  4  July  1944  urged  the 
President  to  secure  Chiang's  agreement  to  the  placing  of  all  Chinese 
forces  under  Stilwell's  command,  and  recommended  the  latter's  pro- 
motion to  the  rank  of  full  general.  The  Joint  Chiefs  were  "fully  aware 
of  the  Generalissimo's  feelings  regarding  Stilwell,  particularly  from  a 
political  point  of  view,"  but  they  argued  that  he  had  "proved  his  case 
or  contentions  on  the  field  of  battle  in  opposition  to  the  highly  nega- 
tive attitudes  of  both  the  British  and  Chinese  authorities."  Had  Stil- 
well's advice  been  followed,  the  argument  continued,  "we  would  have 
cleared  the  Japanese  from  northeast  Burma  before  the  monsoon  and 
opened  the  way  to  effective  action  in  China  proper,"**  Two  days  later 
the  President  announced  to  Chiang  his  intention  to  promote  Stilwell 
and  recommended  that  he  be  placed  in  command  of  all  Chinese  and 
American  forces  directly  under  the  Generalissimo.*^ 

General  Marshall,  in  notifying  Stilwell  of  the  President's  action, 
spoke  with  unusual  frankness  of  the  offense  Stilwell  had  given  both 
Chiang  and  Roosevelt,  "usually  in  small  affairs,"  because  of  a  failure 
to  promote  "harmonious  relations."  While  acknowledging  the  gener- 
osity with  which  Stilwell  theretofore  had  accepted  his  "disagreeable 

227 


THE    ARMY   AIR   FORCES    IN    WORLD    WAR  II 

radios/'  the  Chief  of  Staff  urged  that  he  make  ''a  continuous  effort  to 
avoid  wrecking  your  and  our  plans  because  of  inconsequential  mat- 
ters or  disregard  of  conventional  courtesies."^^  On  9  July  Stilwell  re- 
plied to  this  unmistakably  plain  message,  promising  to  justify  the  con- 
fidence given  even  though  the  load  promised  to  be  heavy  "for  a 
country  boy.""  That  same  day  Chiang  gave  his  agreement,  though  he 
maintained  that  political  considerations  would  require  some  delay  in 
fulfilling  the  promise.'^  The  President  expressed  his  pleasure  that 
Chiang  had  agreed  in  principle,  but  urged  that  the  military  situation 
had  become  so  grave  as  to  warrant  immediate  action  without  reference 
to  political  factors.^® 

Though  Chiang  had  hedged  his  acceptance  of  the  proposal  with  an 
important  reservation,  the  American  government  had  given  Stilwell 
strong  backing,  and  in  mid-July  he  probably  had  within  his  reach  full 
command  of  the  armies  in  China.  But  the  deep-rooted  fears  and  prej- 
udices of  CBI  were  hard  to  bury.  In  Stilwell's  mind  the  Generalis- 
simo's delay  evidently  became  only  another  example  of  his  old  tend- 
ency to  "procrastinate."®^  When  on  20  July,  in  the  desperate  fight  for 
Hehgyang,  the  Chinese  appealed  through  Maj.  Gen.  Thomas  Hearn, 
Chief  of  Stafif,  USAF,  CBI,  for  additional  assistance  via  the  Hump  for 
Chinese  ground  forces,  Stilwell  in  reply  pointed  to  previous  CCS  de- 
cisions in  favor  of  Chennault's  strategy,  "I  do  not  see  how  we  can 
move,"  Stilwell  added,  "until  a  certain  big  decision  is  made."  He  was 
doing  the  best  he  could  meanwhile  "to  carry  out  plans  the  Gissimo 
insisted  upon."^^  When  on  19  August  Chennault  appealed  through 
Heam  for  airlift  from  India  of  1,000  tons  of  ground  force  supplies  to 
equip  a  Chinese  army  for  a  possible  attempt  to  retake  Hengyang,  Stil-- 
well  replied  that  the  "time  for  halfway  measures"  had  passed.  "Any 
more  free  gifts"  could  only  delay  "the  major  decision  and  play  into 
the  hands  of  the  gang."  The  cards  had  been  put  on  the  table  but  no 
answer  had  been  given.  "Until  it  is,  let  them  stew."^^  This  was  trans- 
lated by  Hearn  into  more  polite  language  for  transmission  to  Chen- 
nault, but  the  answer  remained  an  unmistakable  no.^ 

Meantime,  and  in  harmony  with  Wallace^s  recommendations  of  late 
June,  President  Roosevelt  had  selected  Brig.  Gen.  Patrick  Hurley  as 
his  personal  representative  to  the  Generalissimo.*  Hurley  reached 

•  Unfortunately,  Hurley  was  given  only  a  verbal  directive,  but  conversations  with 
General  Hurley,  plus  careful  study  of  his  personal  files,  indicate  a  three-fold  mission: 
to  facilitate  StilwelFs  assumption  of  command  over  the  Chinese  armies,  to  strengthen 
in  all  possible  ways  the  Nationalist  government  of  Chiang,  and  to  encourage  the  de- 
yelopment  of  a  united  front  of  Nationalist  and  Communist  against  the  common  enemy. 

228 


DELAY   IN    BURMA,   DISASTER   IN  CHINA 

China  by  way  of  Moscow  and  India.  He  met  Stilwell  in  Delhi  on 
4  September,  and  together  they  left  the  next  day  via  Chabua  for 
Chungking,  where  they  arrived  on  6  September.  Twenty-four  hours 
later  Hurley  informed  Roosevelt  the  Generalissimo  had  given  his  as- 
surance that  Stilwell  would  get  the  command  requested  by  Washing- 
ton.®^ Although  almost  two  months  had  passed  since  Chiang's  original 
promise  to  Roosevelt  had  been  made,  certain  details  remained  to  be 
worked  out:  Stilwell's  title,  the  preparation  of  a  written  commission 
(something  not  familiar  to  the  practices  of  the  Chinese  Army),  and 
the  drawing  of  organization  charts  fitting  Stilwell  into  a  Chinese  chain 
of  command.  These  details  might  easily  be  regarded  as  evidence  of  an 
inclination  to  further  delay,  but  Hurley  was  convinced  of  the  Gen- 
eralissimo's good  faith.  By  19  September  General  Hurley  felt  that  the 
issue  had  been  settled.^^ 

That  very  day,  however,  events  took  an  unexpected  turn.  Un- 
known to  Hurley,  Chiang  had  summoned  Stilwell  to  a  conference  on 
1 5  September  and  informed  him  of  a  purpose  to  withdraw  the  Yun- 
nan Force  to  the  east  bank  of  the  Salween  unless  Stilwell  got  his  forces 
moving  from  below  Myitkyina  toward  Bhamo  within  a  week.^^  This 
ultimatum,  however  great  may  have  seemed  its  justification  in  the 
mind  of  the  Generalissimo,  was  received  by  Stilwell  as  further  con- 
firmation of  old  suspicions.  In  a  message  to  Marshall,  of  which  neither 
Chiang  nor  Hurley  received  word  or  copy,  Stilwell  reported  the  con- 
versation. His  troops  were  not  ready  for  renewal  of  the  offensive;  the 
demand  could  mean  only  a  purpose  to  sabotage  the  Burma  effort  on 
the  part  of  Chiang,  who  would  "not  listen  to  reason,  merely  repeating 
a  lot  of  cockeyed  conceptions  of  his  own  invention.''^^ 

Stilwell's  message  reached  Marshall  during  the  closing  hours  of  the 
OCTAGON  conference  at  Quebec.  Marshall  reported  its  contents  to 
the  Combined  Chiefs  on  16  September  and  summarized  a  message  to 
be  sent  to  Chiang  by  President  Roosevelt.^  The  President's  message, 
dated  16  September,  spoke  "with  complete  frankness."  By  continued 
cooperation  in  Burma  the  Generalissimo  might  expect  a  land  route 
open  to  China  early  in  1945.  To  prevent  the  enemy  from  achieving  his 
objectives  in  China,  there  was  no  other  course  open  than  for  Chiang 
to  press  the  Salween  offensive  and  to  place  Stilwell  "in  unrestricted 
command"  of  all  his  forces.  This  action  would  strengthen  the  British 
and  American  decision  to  pursue  vigorously  their  purpose  to  open  a 
land  route  to  China.  Withdrawal  of  the  Salween  forces  would  doom 
this  hope  and  even  jeopardize  the  air  route  to  China — developments 


229 


THE   ARMY  AIR   FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

for  which  Chiang  must  be  prepared  "to  accept  the  consequences  and 
the  personal  responsibility."^  Thus,  in  reply  to  Chiang's  ultimatum, 
there  was  an  ultimatum  to  Chiang  from  the  President  of  the  United 
States,  to  be  delivered  by  Stilwell  who  was  the  Generalissimo's  chief 
of  staff. 

For  some  reason  this  message  was  not  received  in  Chungking  until 
the  morning  of  19  September,  and  it  came  to  Stilwell.  That  afternoon 
Hurley,  still  ignorant  of  the  President's  action,  went  from  Chungking 
to  the  Generalissimo's  summer  residence  in  the  hope  of  completing 
negotiations  for  StilwelPs  appointment  as  commanding  general  of  the 
Chinese  armies.  The  discussion  was  interrupted  by  Stilwell  bearing 
the  presidential  communication.  Chiang,  having  read  the  document, 
indicated  only  that  he  wished  to  be  alone.^**° 

Three  days  passed  with  no  action  taken,  and  then  on  23  September 
Stilwell  sent  a  memorandum  to  Hurley.^^^  The  first  three  paragraphs 
are  quoted  in  full: 

Something  must  be  done  to  break  this  stalemate,  and  it  is  up  to  us  to  do  it. 
CKS  is  sulking,  and  the  W.D.  expects  us  to  handle  him. 

It  is  obvious  that  CKS  is  listening  to  our  recommendations.  He  changed  his 
plans  at  Kweilin,  he  put  Pal  Chung  Psi  back  in,*  he  executed  the  93rd  Army 
Comdr.,  and  he  is  moving  six  divisions  down  from  the  N.W.t  Apparently  he  is 
ready  to  pass  the  command,  and  even  use  the  Reds,  if  they  will  acknowledge  the 
authority  of  the  C.G.* 

What  he  is  really  gagging  at  is  Lend-Lease,  and  it  is  a  serious  matter  of  face 
with  him  that  Stalin  and  the  British  can  handle  the  stuff  and  he  can't.  The  pros 
and  cons  are  well  known;  the  problem  remains  unsolved. 

This  introduction  was  followed  by  a  suggestion  that  Stilwell  and  Hur- 
ley lay  before  Chiang  two  propositions  as  a  basis  of  settlement:  first, 
that  Stilwell  be  sent  to  the  Chinese  Communists  with  proposals  to  ac- 
cept the  authority  of  the  Generalissimo  and  Stilwell's  command  of 
their  forces  in  return  for  a  promise  to  equip  five  divisions;  and  second, 
that  Chiang  be  given  control  of  Chinese  lend-lease  materials,  on  the 
understanding  that  the  "X  and  Y  forces,''  those  committed  in  Burma 
at  Ledo  and  the  Sal  ween,  enjoy  first  priority. 

Hurley  considered  Stilwell's  proposals  as  a  very  hopeful  move,  but 
when  he  went  to  Chiang  for  the  purpose  of  discussing  them  he  was 
promptly  told  that  Stilwell  would  have  to  go.^°^  Two  days  later,  25 
September,  Hurley  received  an  aide-memoire  from  Chiang  for  trans- 
mission to  Roosevelt  formally  requesting  Stilwell's  recall.^^  The  Gen- 

*  As  Deputy  Chief  of  Staff. 

t  All  these  moves  were  advocated  by  Stilwell. 

t  Central  Government. 


230 


DELAY   IN   BURMA,   DISASTER   IN  CHINA 

eralissimo  agreed  to  the  choice  of  an  American  general  officer  as 
"Commander-in-Chief  of  the  Chinese-American  forces  fighting 
against  Japan  in  China/'  to  his  appointment  as  "Chief  of  Staff  of  the 
Chinese  Theater,"  and  to  American  control  "of  the  Chinese  Service 
of  Supply."  But  he  asked  for  Stilwell's  resignation  "as  Chief  of  Staff 
of  the  China  Theater  and  his  relief  from  duty  in  this  area."  In  review- 
ing the  conversations  he  had  had  with  Hurley,  Chiang  expressed  the 
opinion  that  "we  were  indeed  on  the  eve  of  complete  agreement,"  but 
it  had  become  clear  that  Stilwell  "had  no  intention  of  cooperating 
with  me,  but  believed  that  he  was  in  fact  being  appointed  to  command 
me."  Any  other  American  officer  possessing  the  "spirit  of  genuine 
inter-allied  collaboration"  would  be  warmly  welcomed. 

On  5  October  Roosevelt  urged  Chiang  to  reconsider.^°*  In  a  second 
aide-memoire  of  9  October  to  Hurley  for  transmission  to  the  Presi- 
dent, the  Generalissimo  charged  that  Stilwell  had  sacrificed  east  China 
for  the  sake  of  his  campaign  in  Burma.  More  than  that,  he  had  "exhib- 
ited complete  indifference  to  the  outcome  in  East  China,"  having  re- 
fused even  to  consult  with  Chiang  on  the  situation  there  until  the  first 
week  of  June  1944.''°^  On  13  October  Hurley  advised  Roosevelt  "that 
if  you  sustain  Stilwell  in  this  controversy  you  will  lose  Chiang  Kai-shek 
and  possibly  China  with  him."^*^  The  President  replied  on  the  next  day 
with  a  request  for  Chiang's  choice  of  a  successor.^*^^  Eisenhower  had 
been  the  first  choice,  Hurley  informed  Roosevelt  on  1 5  October,  but 
since  this  was  out  of  the  question,  the  list  was  Patch,  Wedemeyer,  and 
Krueger,  with  preference  for  the  second  over  the  last  because  of 
age.^°^  On  18  October  Stilwell  received  orders  to  proceed  to  India  at 
once  and  thence  to  Washington."^  That  same  day  Roosevelt  informed 
Chiang  of  Stilwell's  recall  and  emphatically  protested  his  own,  rather 
than  StilwelFs,  responsibility  for  the  decision  to  concentrate  on  open- 
ing the  Ledo  Road.  He  did  not  intend  to  appoint  an  American  officer 
as  commander  in  chief  of  the  Chinese  armies,  but  Wedemeyer  had 
been  selected  for  appointment  as  the  Generalissimo's  chief  of  staff  for 
the  China  Theater.  CBI  was  now  to  be  divided  into  the  China  Theater, 
with  Wedemeyer  in  command  of  American  forces  there,  and  the 
India-Burma  Theater  with  Lt.  Gen.  Daniel  I.  Sultan  in  command.  The 
Generalissimo  was  requested  to  place  under  Sultan  the  Chinese  forces 
committed  to  the  Ledo  offensive."^ 

When  Sultan  assumed  command  of  U.S.  Army  Forces,  India-Burma 
Theater,  on  27  October  1944,  the  separation  of  CBI  into  two  theaters 
became  an  accomplished  f act.^^^  Wedemeyer  reached  China  on  3 1  Oc- 

231 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


tober  and  formally  assumed  command  of  U.S.  forces  in  the  China 
Theater  at  once.'^^^  The  change  pleased  Mountbatten/^^  who  had  had 
his  own  difficulties  with  Stilwell  regarding  proposals  for  reorganiza- 
tion within  SEAC.  Mountbatten  promptly  resumed  his  efforts  to  win 
support  for  his  plans.  First,  he  undertook  to  persuade  the  Americans 
to  redesignate  IBT  as  the  Southeast  Asia  Theater  because  of  the  ad- 
vantage such  a  designation  might  have  in  advertising  "to  the  world  at 
large"  the  Anglo-American  partnership  in  that  area."*  His  request  was 
refused  on  the  ground  that  a  large  part  of  Sultan's  forces,  being  in 
India,  were  not  within  the  boundaries  of  SEAC."°  Mountbatten  had 
better  luck  with  his  other  suggestions.  He  had  little  difficulty  in  win- 
ning American  approval  of  the  appointment  of  Gen.  Sir  Oliver  Leese 
as  the  Allied  Land  Forces  Commander-in-Chief,  a  new  post  in  the 
Southeast  Asia  Command,  made  effective  1 1  November.  There  was 
some  opposition,  soon  overruled,  by  Washington  and  EAC  to  the 
appointment  of  Sir  Trafford  Leigh-Mallory,  then  serving  under  Eisen- 
hower, as  the  successor  of  Sir  Richard  Peirse,  who  retired  as  Air 
Commander-in-Chief,  SEAC.  On  i6  November  Mountbatten  was  in- 
formed that  the  plane  bearing  Leigh-Mallory  had  been  lost,  and  the 
appointment  went  to  Air  Chief  Marshal  Sir  Keith  Park  on  i  De- 
cember. 

The  Eastern  Air  Command,  too,  underwent  a  final  reorganization 
early  in  December  1944.  In  planning  the  renewal  of  offensive  opera- 
tions in  Burma,  Mountbatten  desired  the  release  of  two  RAF  groups 
from  other  duties  for  direct  support  of  specified  ground  forces  based 
on  intimate  contact  between  air  and  ground  headquarters.  Conse- 
quently, Stratemeyer  inactivated  the  Third  TAF,  effective  21  No- 
vember, and  on  i  December,  by  a  general  order  effective  three  days 
later,  he  reorganized  EAC  as  follows: 

Component  Composition  Mission 

Tenth  Air  Force  AAF  Protection  of  ATC  and  NCAC 

Strategic  Air  Force  AAF  and  RAF     Strategic  offensives 

221  Group  RAF  Support  of  Fourteenth  Army 

224  Group  RAF  Support  of  15  Corps 

Combat  Cargo  Task  Force  AAF  and  RAF    Air  supply  for  Fourteenth 

Army 

Photo  Reconnaissance  Force  AAF  and  RAF  Photographic  missions  for  EAC 
Wing  Headquarters  (Baigachi)     RAF  Defense  of  Calcutta  area  and 

VHB  bases 

It  was  with  these  last-minute  changes  in  organization  that  SEAC  and 
EAC  faced  the  new  and  victorious  year  of  1945. 

232 


CHAPTER  8 


THE  LIBERATION  OF  BURMA 

AFTER  the  occupation  of  Myitkyina  on  3  August  1944,  more 
/\  than  two  months  elapsed  before  the  Allied  forces  were  ready 
/  V  to  renew  offensive  operations.  During  the  intervening  weeks, 
SEAC  strategists  produced  blueprints  for  three  coordinated  attacks: 
Operation  CAPITAL  for  the  liberation  of  north  Burma,  Operation 
ROMULUS  to  clear  the  Arakan  of  enemy  forces,  and  Operation 
TALON  for  capture  of  Akyab.  Of  these  operations,  the  first  was  by 
all  odds  the  most  important.  Phase  I  of  CAPITAL,  scheduled  to  be 
terminated  by  15  December  1944,  called  for  the  expulsion  of  the  en- 
emy from  all  points  in  Burma  north  of  a  line  drawn  slightly  south  of 
Indaw,  Kunchaung,  Sikaw,  and  Namhka;  Phase  II,  to  be  completed 
by  15  February  1945,  called  for  ejection  of  the  Japanese  from  the  en- 
tire region  north  of  a  line  Kalewa-Shwebo-Mogok-Lashio.  If  in  the 
execution  of  this  and  the  two  lesser  operations  large  numbers  of  en- 
emy forces  could  be  destroyed  north  of  Mandalay,  the  Allies  were  to 
be  committed  to  an  immediate  advance  on  Rangoon.  On  the  other 
hand,  if  the  Japanese  escaped  from  northern  Burma  without  crippling 
losses,  SEAC  intended  to  hold  the  Kalewa-Lashio  line  during  the 
months  of  bad  weather,  May  to  October.  An  amphibious  attack, 
coded  DRACULfA,  would  then  be  staged  against  Rangoon  in  the  au- 
tumn of  1945.^ 

When  plans  for  Operation  CAPITAL  were  completed  toward  the 
end  of  September  1944,  the  Allied  armies,  soon  to  come  under  the 
command  of  Gen.  Sir  Oliver  Leese,  were  deployed  along  three  fronts. 
Stilwell's  Northern  Combat  Area  Command  (NCAC),  which  would 
soon  be  placed  under  Lt.  Gen.  Daniel  1.  Sultan,  held  recently  occu- 
pied positions  south  of  Myitkyina.  In  northeastern  Burma  Brig.  Gen. 
Frank  Dorn's  Chinese  YOKE  Force  held  positions  along  the  line  of 


233 


THE   ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


the  Salween  River.  West  of  NCAC,  the  British  Fourteenth  Army  (4 
and  33  Corps)  under  Lt.  Gen.  Sir  William  Slim,  occupied  positions 
which  extended  southward  toward  the  Arakan,  where  the  British  had 
their  1 5  Corps  under  Lt.  Gen.  Sir  Montague  Stapf ord.^ 

Both  on  the  ground  and  in  the  air  the  Allies  possessed  an  over- 
whelming numerical  superiority.  Available  British  and  Indian  combat 
troops  numbered  628,000,  in  addition  to  58,000  Chinese,  32,000  Afri- 
cans, 10,000  Kachins,  and  7,000  Americans.  Some  275,000  "lines  of 
communications"  troops  brought  the  total  strength  to  better  than 
1,000,000  men.  Against  this  vast  army  the  Japanese  had  an  estimated 
220,000  soldiers  in  Burma,  with  approximately  190,000  others  sta- 
tioned in  Thailand,  Indo-China,  Malaya,  and  Sumatra.^  Eastern  Air 
Command  in  September  1944  had  nearly  900  aircraft,  and  this  number 
was  increased  to  almost  1,500  by  December.*  They  were  operated  and 
maintained  by  a  total  of  100,000  to  150,000  officers  and  enlisted  men."* 
In  contrast,  the  Japanese  were  estimated  to  have  only  160  planes  in 
October  and  approximately  300  in  December.^ 

Following  the  occupation  of  Myitkyina,  General  Stilwell  had  re- 
organized the  Chinese  forces  which  constituted  the  main  ground 
strength  of  NCAC:  the  Chinese  First  Army,  under  the  command  of 
Lt.  Gen.  Sun  Li-jen,  included  the  30th  and  38th  Divisions;  the  Chinese 
Sixth  Army,  under  Lt.  Gen.  Liao  Yao-hsiang,  was  composed  of  the 
14th,  22d,  and  50th  Divisions.  In  addition,  Stilwell  had  the  British  36 
Division,  a  composite  Chinese- American  force  (the  Mars  Brigade) 
composed  of  remnants  of  Merrill's  Marauders  and  some  inexperienced 
replacements  sent  for  that  organization,  a  Chinese  regiment,  a  Chinese 

AVERAGE  NUMBER  OF  AIRCRAFT  IN  EAC 
SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER  1944 

Heavy  Medium 
Fighters  Bombers       Bombers  Reconnaissance 


AAF 

RAF 

AAF 

RAF 

AAF 

AAF 

 144 

254 

55 

46 

72 

61 

3" 

56 

46 

83 

6x 

380 

52 

50 

97 

65 

 233 

524 

44 

60 

92 

60 

TOTAL 

TOTAL 

Transports 

Possessed 

Operational 

AAF 

RAF 

AAF 

RAF 

AAF 

RAF 

 199 

37 

531 

337 

432 

267 

40 

596 

407 

487 

340 

57 

697 

487 

577 

397 

94 

793 

678 

661 

582 

234 


THE  LIBERATION  OF  BURMA 

tank  brigade,  and  a  force  of  Kachins.  Under  the  over-all  control  of 
the  Eastern  Air  Command,*  the  U.S.  Tenth  Air  Force  supported  the 
Allied  forces  in  NCAC.  The  RAF  224  and  22 1  Groups  supported  the 
15  Corps  and  the  Fourteenth  Army  respectively,  while  the  Combat 
Cargo  Task  Force,  activated  in  September  under  the  command  of 
Brig.  Gen.  Frederick  W.  Evans  with  headquarters  at  Comiila,  pro- 
vided air  supply  for  the  latter.  The  Strategic  Air  Force  carried  on 
long-range  attacks  against  enemy  communications  in  south  Burma, 
Thailand,  and  Malaya.  In  preparation  for  the  fall  offensive  Tenth  Air 
Force  transferred  its  headquarters  from  Kanjikoah  to  Myitkyina,  221 
Group  went  to  Mon-ywa,  and  224  Group  located  its  headquarters  at 
Cox's  Bazar.® 

The  difficulty  for  the  Japanese,  who  had  to  make  every  effort  to 
hold  south  Burma  as  the  first  line  of  defense  for  Thailand  and  Malaya, 
was  increased  by  the  critical  situiation  in  the  Pacific.  With  the  rapidly 
developing  threat  to  their  position  in  the  Philippines  and  on  Formosa, 
it  was  difficult  for  them  to  secure  proper  reinforcements  in  men,  air- 
craft, and  equipment  for  southeast  Asia.  The  Japianese  command  chose 
essentially  the  same  defense  line  set  by  the  Allies  as  their  objective  dur- 
ing Phase  II  of  Operation  CAPITAL:  Lashio-Mandalay-Yenang- 
yaung-south  Arakan,  The  Japanese  well  understood  that  holding  this 
line  depended  upon  gaining  time  to  prepare  its  defenses;  that  time  they 
failed  to  win.^  The  enemy  already  had  lost  control  of  the  air  in  Burma 
and  was  destined  never  to  regain  it.  With  commitments  to  support  the 
armies  in  China  and  with  the  drain  imposed  by  the  heightening  battle 
in  the  Pacific,  the  enemy's  air  forces  in  southeast  Asia  could  muster 
only  feeble  efforts  to  disrupt  Hump  operations  to  China  and  occa- 
sional attacks  on  other  Allied  transport  planes.  Even  this  effort  lacked 
spirit.® 

Preparsitions  made  by  Eastern  Air  Command  guaranteed  that  Allied 
air  superiority  would  be  maintained.  With  its  units  moved  to  forward 
bases,  EAC  assigned  special  areas  of  responsibility  for  counter-air  ac- 
tivity in  a  systematic  attempt  to  keep  the  enemy  air  units  under  con- 
stant control.^  A  special  radio  net  supervised  by  EAC  would  serve  to 
alert  the  Tenth  Air  Force,  2  2 1  Group,  and  2  24  Group.  All  known  air- 
fields in  north  and  central  Burma  used  by  the  enemy  for  staging  pur- 
poses were  assigned  as  the  responsibility  of  the  nearest  Allied  force. 
When  it  became  known  that  enemy  aircraft  were  staging  in  the  for- 

•  See  above,  pp.  204-^. 


THE   ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

ward  regions/*'  or  that  an  enemy  attack  on  Allied  positions  was  in 
progress,  each  commander  was  to  order  his  planes  to  strike  the  as- 
signed enemy  fields,  preferably  at  the  expected  hour  of  Japanese  re- 
fueling. This  plan  coordinated  attacks  against  all  fields  which  the  en- 
emy was  likely  to  use,  minimized  the  chances  of  his  aircraft  escaping 
by  separating  into  small  groups,  and  hoped  to  attack  his  planes  at  the 
most  vulnerable  time.  The  method  was  so  effective  that  by  the  end  of 
1944  EAC  was  complete  master  of  the  Burma  air,  ittid  the  enemy  was 
made  incapable  of  any  serious  ofi^ensive  action."  The  Japanese  pulled 
more  and  more  of  their  platies  back  from  the  forward  area  in  Burma 
to  bases  in  Thailaiid.  These  moves  increased  the  distance  that  Allied 
aircraft  had  to  cover  in  order  to  continue  their  counter-air  effort,  but 
undeterred  by  long  flights,  the  Anglo-American  pilots  of  EAC  con- 
tinued to  punish  the  retreating  enemy.  In  the  later  stages  of  the  Burma 
campaign  an  increasing  part  of  the  burden  necessarily  fell  to  Strategic 
Air  Force. 

SAF  Operations 

Operational  directive  No.  14  of  EAC,  dated  19  September  1944, 
assigned  to  the  Strategic  Air  Force  special  responsibility  for  all  targets 
lying  south  of  the  2 2d  parallel  and  east  of  the  Salween  River— an  area 
of  responsibility  reaching  into  Malaya  and  Indo-China  and  including 
all  of  Thailand.  There  were  slight  modifications  made  in  the  bounda- 
ries by  directives  of  October  and  December,  and  in  February  1945  the 
line  was  moved  slightly  to  the  west  to  include  the  Rangoon  estuary 
and  was  restricted  at  the  same  time  in  the  east  by  the  frontier  between 
Thailand  arid  Indb-China.^^  Nevertheless,  between  October  1944  and 
April  1945  operations  of  the.  Strategic  Air  Force  were  generally  cur- 
tailed in  the  west  and  concentrated  in  the  east.  This  was  done  because 
of  the  advance  of  the  Allied  armies  and  also  because  it  was  noticed  that 
the  Japanese  were  improving  the  line  of  communication  from  Bang- 
kok north  through  Thailand  to  Bhamo  and  the  Yunnan  front.  Also 
the  Bangkok-Chiengniai  railway  had  been  strengthened,  and  the  road- 
ways leading  from  Thailand  to  the  Shan  States  had  been  repaired  and 
improved.  Japanese  communications  through  Thailand,  therefore, 
loomed  as  targets  of  prime  importance," 

EAC's  operational  directive  Nb;  16  of  18  October  1944  listed  the 
following  objectives  for  strategic  bombing:  the  mining  of  enemy-held 
poirts;  destruction  of  naval  and  merchant  vessels  as  targets  of  oppor- 

236 


THE  LIBERATION  OF  BURMA 

tunity;  and  disruption  of  communications  within  or  leading  into 
Burma,  with  special  attention  to  the  Bangkok-Pegu  railway  and  paral- 
lel roadway,  the  Chiengmai-Kentung  lines  of  communication,  and  the 
360-foot  Ban  Dara  bridge  of  the  Bangkok-Chiengmai  line.  In  addi- 
tion, bombing  attacks  were  ordered  on  locomotives  and  rolling  stock, 
air  force  installations,  ports  and  shipping  facilities,  military  depots  and 
dumps,  and  centers  of  Japanese  administration." 

The  practicability  of  mining  operations  had  been  already  estab- 
lished. On  12  September  1944  the  Pakchan  River  had  been  heavily 
seeded  and  the  flow  of  traffic  up  the  stream  disrupted.^^  After  Bang- 
kok, Koh  Sichang,  and  Tavoy  had  been  mined,  there  followed  in  Oc- 
tober a  remarkably  successful  mining  of  the  inner  approaches  to  Pe- 
nang  by  fifteen  Liberators,  each  of  which  laid  four  1,000-pound  mines 
"precisely  in  the  position  ordered,"^^  The  aircraft  flew  from  Kharag- 
pur  to  Penang  and  returned,  a  distance  of  3,000  miles,  without  mis- 
hap." Other  areas  mined  during  the  month  were  Mergui,  Ye,  and  the 
Pakchan  River.  In  November  there  were  fewer  mines  laid  though 
more  areas  were  visited.^^ 

With  the  beginning  of  October  1944,  antishipping  activities  were 
stepped  up  with  a  series  of  heavy  raids  directed  against  the  docks  and 
jetties  of  Moulmein.^^  In  November,  despite  a  reduction  in  operations 
of  about  50  per  cent  to  accommodate  special  training  in  formation  fly- 
ing, navigation,  gunnery,  and  aircraft  recognition,  the  Strategic  Air 
Force  flew  697  sorties  and  dropped  more  than  1,000  tons  of  bombs.^^ 
In  long-range  attacks  B-24's  wrecked  the  Ban  Dara  bridge  on  3  No- 
vember,^^  and  the  next  night  the  Liberators  Successfully  struck  in 
force  the  Makasan  workshops  at  Bangkok  and  the  Insein  works  at 
Rangoon.  At  both  points  the  targets  were  left  blazing.  As  the  month 
advanced,  attacks  continued  against  tunnels,  bridges,  and  railway  fa- 
cilities and  equipment.  On  15  November  the  Mergui  waterfront  was 
bombed  by  fifteen  Liberators  and  three  days  later  the  jetty  at  Marta- 
ban  was  fired.  On  22  November  the  port  of  Kao  Huakang,  which  the 
Japanese  had  built  north  of  Victoria  Point,  was  razed.^  On  26  No- 
vember Liberators  inflicted  severe  damage  on  the  Pyinmana  station 
and  sidings,  and  28  and  29  November  brought  heavy  attacks  on  the 
Mandalay  and  Bangkok  marshalling  yards,"  At  the  close  of  the  month 
Strategic  Air  Force  counted  a  total  of  3,078  tons  of  bombs  dropped 
in  1,513  sorties  flown  during  the  preceding  six  months. 

With  the  restoration  of  full  operating  strength  in  December,  fol- 


237 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

lowing  a  training  period,  the  heavy  bombers  during  the  ensuing  five 
months  were  to  break  the  record  set  during  the  period  i  January  to 
31  May  1944,  when  4,109  sorties  had  been  flown  and  6,859  tons  of 
bombs  had  been  delivered.  Between  i  December  1944  and  30  April 
1945,  the  air  force  flew  4,500  sorties,  but  of  even  greater  significance 
is  the  fact  that  the  13,000  tons  of  bombs  dropped  almost  doubled  the 
total  for  the  earlier  period  even  though  the  difference  in  the  number 
of  sorties  was  relatively  small."  This  extraordinary  achievement  spoke 
well  for  the  training  the  crews  had  been  put  through  during  Novem- 
ber, and  for  efforts  to  improve  the  equipment  used.  Early  in  1944  the 
1,000-mile  flight  to  Bangkok  had  been  close  to  the  extreme  radius  of  a 
B-24  carrying  a  3,000-pound  bomb  load.  By  the  end  of  the  year,  how- 
ever, a  variety  of  devices  for  conserving  fuel  and  increasing  the  bomb 
load  made  it  possible  for  a  Liberator  to  deliver  to  the  same  target  as 
much  as  8,000  pounds  of  bombs.^^  The  bombs  themselves,  moreover, 
had  been  rendered  more  effective.  A  simple  nose  spike,  inserted  to 
prevent  ricochet  when  a  bomb  was  dropped  on  railroad  tracks,  had 
been  employed  both  by  the  Germans  and  the  Allies  in  North  Africa, 
but  the  device  reached  its  full  development  in  the  India-Burma  The- 
ater. The  Azon  bomb,  a  more  intricate  mechanism  which  could  be 
radio-controlled  in  its  flight,  received  its  first  combat  test  by  the  Tenth 
Air  Force  in  a  mission  of  27  December  1944.  The  new  weapon  proved 
especially  helpful  in  the  interdiction  of  rail  lines,  and  its  use  reduced 
materially  the  number  of  aircraft  required  for  that  purpose. 

In  order  to  utilize  to  the  maximum  the  limited  technical  and  main- 
tenance personnel  available,  all  Azon  bombing  equipment  was  concen- 
trated in  the  493  d  Bombardment  Squadron  of  the  7th  Bombardment 
Group.  Best  results  were  obtained  by  dropping  bombs  singly  from  an 
altitude  of  8,000  to  10,000  feet.^^  Such  a  procedure  required  as  much 
time  as  possible  over  the  target,  and  the  success  with  which  the  new 
weapon  was  employed  in  Burma  owed  much  to  the  weakness  of  en- 
emy ground  defenses.^^  In  April  1945  Stratemeyer  wrote  Arnold: 
"The  7th  Bomb  Group's  Azon  bombing  continues  to  be  highly  suc- 
cessful, with  one  mission  getting  four  bridges  with  four  bombs,  and 
another  getting  6  direct  hits  on  two  bridges  with  6  bombs."'^®  To  the 
new  bombs  the  Strategic  Air  Force  added  a  psychological  weapon- 
leaflets  to  warn  the  natives  away  from  railroad  tracks  and  installations. 
With  more  effective  bombing  to  drive  home  the  warning,  trackmen, 
switchmen,  and  other  laborers  feigned  illness  or  without  excuse  van- 

238 


THE   LIBERATION   OF  BURMA 

ished  into  the  hills.  At  least  partly  because  of  this,  during  1945  the  en- 
emy suffered  a  critical  shortage  of  labor  for  his  railway  system.^** 

SAF's  operations  in  December  1944  centered  around  southern 
Burma,  with  special  attention  devoted  to  railway  communications 
with  Thailand,  and  these  areas  continued  to  receive  major  attention  as 
the  effort  to  choke  off  supplies  to  the  Japanese  Army  in  Burma  con- 
tinued into  1945.^^  Leaving  to  the  B-29's  of  XX  Bomber  Command 
such  distant  targets  as  Singapore  and  Kuala  Lumpur,*  Strategic  Air 
Force's  Liberators  carried  their  attacks  down  the  Malay  Peninsula  as  far 
as  Na  Nian,  some  150  miles  south  of  Chumphon/^  Bridges,  railways, 
roads,  and  canals  were  broken  more  rapidly  than  the  enemy  could  re- 
pair them  through  January,  February,  and  March.  In  April  supply 
dumps  in  the  Rangoon  area  were  attacked  five  times  by  formations  of 
bombers  varying  in  strength  between  twenty  and  sixty  aircraft.  Stores 
at  Moulmein  were  hit  on  7  April,  and  a  week  later  the  7th  Bombard- 
ment Group  knocked  out  the  Samsen  Power  Station  near  Bangkok. 
The  climax  was  reached  on  24  April  when  the  7th  Bombardment 
Group  sent  forty  planes  against  the  Bangkok-Rangoon  railway  line, 
claiming  on  this  one  day  thirty  bridges  smashed  and  eighteen  dam- 
aged between  Kanchanaburi  and  Thanbyuzayat.^^  These  more  distant 
attacks  were  supplemented  by  those  of  SAF's  medium  bombers  to 
deny  the  enemy  full  use  of  transportation  facilities  leading  northward 
from  the  major  depots  to  the  battle  lines. 

The  cost  paid  by  the  Strategic  Air  Force  was  surprisingly  low. 
Though  the  Japanese  defense  was  sometimes  ingenious,  it  was  seldom 
effective.  In  addition  to  the  usual  employment  of  AA,  land  mines  were 
exploded  by  remote  control  to  wreak  some  damage  on  aircraft  attack- 
ing railway  lines  and  bridges  at  low  altitudes.  Flat  cars  were  turned 
into  flak  wagons  armed  with  machine  guns  and  light  AA  including 
40-mm.  guns.  These  flak  wagons  sometimes  fought  back  from  fixed 
positions  on  sidings  and  sometimes  as  part  of  a  moving  train.  In  the 
course  of  the  first  five  months  of  1944,  SAF  had  lost  eight  heavy 
bombers,  six  of  them  American  and  two  British,  and  fourteen  medium 
bombers,  twelve  American  and  two  British.  Between  June  and  No- 
vember 1 944  the  British  paid  with  two  Wellingtons  and  fourteen  Lib- 
erators while  the  Americans  sustained  a  loss  of  four  B-24's.  Between 
December  1944  and  the  end  of  April  1945,  the  British  lost  fourteen 
more  Liberators  and  the  Americans  seven  B-24's.  In  all,  sixty-three 

•  See  above,  pp.  159-63. 


239 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  11 

EAC  aircraft  engaged  in  strategic  bombing  went  down  under  enemy 
fire,  thirty-four  British  and  twenty-nine  American.^^ 

Compensation  for  these  losses  was  the  cumulative  effect  of  the 
bombing.  As  early  as  September  1944,  it  was  learned  that  some  Japa- 
nese detachments  had  died  of  starvation.  By  December  of  that  year 
the  enemy  suffered  from  such  a  shortage  of  locomotives  that  the  effi- 
ciency of  his  railway  communications  was  drastically  cut.  Moreover, 
long  sections  of  railway  lines  were  unserviceable  for  weeks  at  a  time 
because  of  broken  bridges  and  tracks.  When  the  Japanese  turned  to 
the  use  of  roadways,  planes  of  shorter  range  made  devastating  attacks 
upon  motor  transports.  The  damage  to  port  facilities  and  to  shipping 
by  aerial  mining  added  to  the  enemy's  embarrassment.®*  It  is  impos- 
sible to  measure  exactly  SAP's  contribution  to  the  victory  in  Burma, 
but  there  can  be  no  doubt  of  the  substantial  assistance  rendered. 

The  Freeing  of  Northern  Burma 

NCACs  headquarters  had  been  moved  to  Myitkyina  on  i  October 
1944,  and  two  weeks  later  the  38th  Division  of  the  Chinese  First  Army 
struck  south  toward  Bhamo  to  initiate  the  ground  offensive  for  the 
liberation  of  northern  Burma.  Simultaneously,  the  Chinese  Sixth  Army 
moved  out  in  a  southwesterly  direction  and  soon  swept  through 
Shwegugale  and  Shwegu.  Along  the  Salween,  China's  Yunnan  forces 
fought  through  the  rain,  sleet,  snow,  and  mud  of  the  river  gorge  to 
capture  Teng-chung,  Lung-ling,  and  Mang-shih  and  then  moved  west 
toward  Wanting  in  an  offensive  that  brought  again  into  the  news 
place  names  not  included  since  the  spring  of  1942.  Two  months  to  the 
day  after  the  offensive  opened,  the  38th  Division  bypassed  Bhamo  and 
began,  in  conjunction  with  Dorn's  forces  advancing  west  of  besieged 
Wanting,  an  encircling  movement  of  Namhkam.  It  was  captured  in 
mid-January.  By  27  January  1945  ^he  trace  of  the  Ledo  Road  had 
been  cleared  all  the  way  from  Ledo  to  China,*  and  the  Allied  line  in 
eastern  Burma  was  firmly  fixed  from  the  point  where  it  crossed  the 
Salween  River,  thirty-five  miles  northwest  of  Kunlong,  along  a  line 

•  Throughout  the  summer  of  1944— during  the  siege  of  Myitkyina  and  during  the 
ause  in  the  offensive  from  August  to  mid-October— construction  on  the  Ledo  Road 
ad  continued.  Thereafter  the  engineers  remained  close  behind  the  infantry,  until 
Bhamo  fell  15  December.  From  that  point  an  old  road  swung  southward  like  a  crescent 
through  Namhkam  and  back  to  Wanting  where  it  joined  the  original  "Burma  Road'* 
and  crossed  into  China.  Therefore,  when  the  "trace*'  of  the  Ledo  Road  was  "cleared" 
in  late  January  1945,  the  way  was  immediately  open  for  traffic,  and  the  first  caravan 
passed  from  India  to  China  without  further  delay. 


240 


THE   LIBERATION   OF  BURMA 

which  ran  southwest  to  a  point  sixty-five  miles  south  of  Bhamo  and 
thence  almost  due  west  to  the  Irrawaddy  River/° 

At  the  Irrawaddy  a  juncture  was  made  with  the  Allied  forces  which 
had  advanced  down  the  rail  corridor  from  Mogaung  to  within  thirty 
miles  of  Mandalay.  These  forces  were  the  British  36  Division,  which 
remained  under  NCAC  until  i  April  1945,  and  the  Chinese  iid  Divi- 
sion. Having  launched  their  oflFensive  in  conjunction  with  that  of  the 
Chinese  38th  Division,  they  quickly  took  Mohnyin,  Mawhun,  and 


Mawlu»  where  the  2 2d  Division  turned  east  on  6  November.  The  36 
Division  took  Indaw  on  10  December  and  Katha  the  next  day.  Tig- 
yaing  was  occupied  on  23  December  and  Twinnge  on  24  January 
1945.  At  that  point  the  36  Division,  having  reached  the  southern  lim- 
its of  NCAC's  responsibility,  turned  sharply  to  the  east  toward 
Mogok.'* 

While  these  advances  were  occurring  in  the  area  assigned  to 
NCAC,  the  British  Fourteenth  Army  in  western  Burma  had  struck 
the  eriemy  with  full  force  in  a  four-proiiged  drive  radiating  outward 
from  the  general  area  of  Imphal  toward  Homalin  in  the  north,  toward 


241 


THE  ARMY  AlR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

Sittaung  from  Tamu;  directly  south  from  Tamu  toward  Tiddim,  and 
down  the  Manipur  valley  to  Tonzang.  Once  the  movement  gained 
momentum,  success  followed  quickly.  Tiddim  was  in  Allied  hands  by 
1 8  October  and  Kalemyo  fell  on  13  November.  By  15  December  the 
offensive  crossed  the  Ghindwin  River  at  Sittaung,  Mawlaik,  and  Ka- 
lewa.  Finding  themselves  suddenly  outflanked  in  the  west,  the  Japa- 
nese began  a  swift  retreat  toward  Wuntho,  and  before  Christmas  the 
Fourteenth  Army  was  working  in  conjunction  with  the  36  Division 
to  clear  the  enemy  out  of  the  Mogaung-Mandalay  rail  corridor.  By 
early  January  1945  Ye-u  was  captured.  From  that  point  a  sharp  salient 
was  driven  into  the  Japanese  lines;  Shwebo  fell  by  the  middle  of  the 
month;  and  thereafter  the  victorious  troops  met  little  opposition  until 
they  were  within  twelve  miles  of  Mandalay.  A  sudden  lurch  to  the 
south  carried  the  battle  line  slightly  west  of  Sagaing,  along  the  elbow 
of  the  Irrawaddy  westward  and  south  of  Mon-ywa,  to  Gangaw  on  the 
Myittha  River  and  the  frontier  of  the  Arakan.^^ 

in  the  Arakan,  the  far  western  sector  of  the  Burmese  battle  front, 
victory  remained  with  Allied  arms.  On  8  November  1944  Mount- 
batten  had  ordiered  the  execution  of  Operations  ROMULUS  (clear- 
ing the  Arakan)  and  TALON  (capture  of  Akyab).  The  advance 
down  the  Kaladan  and  Kalapanzin  valleys,  begun  on  12  December, 
was  almost  unopposed.  By  the  end  of  January  1945  the  Allied  line  had 
advanced  from  just  east  of  Maungdaw  to  the  outskirtis  of  Minbya,  a 
distance  of  sixty  air  miles;  the  distance,  however,  is  a  poor  measure  of 
the  accomplishment.  Following  the  sinuous  coast  line,  the  advancing 
armies  took  Akyab,  occupied  half  of  Ramree  Island,  and  at  Kangaw 
landed  behind  the  Japanese  positions  at  Minbya,  thus  threatening  to 
outflank  the  enemy  positions  between  the  coast  and  the  Chindwin 
River.  When  an  amphibious  landing  was  made  on  Akyab  Island  on 
3  January  1945,  it  was  found  that  the  enemy  had  already  left  in  his 
hasty  retreat  to  the  southeast.^^  At  the  close  of  January  the  battle  line 
ran  roughly  northeast  from  Minbya  to  the  Irrawaddy  just  above  Man- 
dalay, thence  sharply  north  for  more  than  ninety  miles  along  the  Irra- 
waddy and  then  approximately  eastward  to  Kunlong  on  the  Salween. 

On  the  eve  of  the  inauguration  of  the  offensive  in  October  1944, 
Lt.  Gen.  Sir  William  Slim  had  announced  to  his  Fourteenth  Army 
that  the  "whole  plan  of  battle"  was  based  on  Allied  air  support,^^  a 
statement  which  was  no  mere  gesture  of  courtesy.  Only  by  heavy  de- 
pendence upon  the  unique  assistance  that  could  be  given  by  air  had  it 


242 


THE  LIBERATION  OF  BURMA 

been  possible  to  undertake  and  execute  the  coordinated  movements 
on  the  ground  which  by  February  1945  rendered  the  expulsion  of  the 
Japanese  from  Burma  a  question  only  of  time. 

Among  the  varied  activities  of  Eastern  Air  Command,  none  was 
more  important  than  the  air  transport  provided  by  the  Tenth  Air 
Force  and  the  Combat  Cargo  Task  Force.  During  September  1944 
troop  carrier  and  combat  cargo  aircraft  operating  from  Assam  to 
northern  Burma  had  carried  18,170  tons  of  supplies  which  were  vital 
to  the  pre-offensive  build-up.  The  cargo  transported  was  principally 
food  and  ammunition,  but  such  essential  engineer  items  as  trucks,  bull- 
dozers, and  grading  equipment  were  flown  into  Myitkyina  to  expe- 
dite the  airdrome  construction  program  for  that  area.  Pipeline  equip- 
ment was  also  delivered  by  air  to  assist  SOS  engineers  in  their  efforts 
to  complete  a  pipe-laying  project  from  Tingkawk  Sakan  in.  the 
Hukawng  Valley  to  Myitkyina  by  i  October.  With  this  special  as- 
sistance, the  project  was  finished  on  28  September,^° 

With  the  coming  of  October,  preparation  for  the  heavier  responsi- 
bilities of  the  ensuing  months  went  forward  rapidly.*  The  Combat 
Cargo  Task  Force  had  been  intended  ,  at  .  first  to  support  both  NCAC 
and  the  Fourteenth  Army,  but  after  10  September  CCTF  was  obli- 
gated only  to  Fourteenth  Army.  At  Comilla  a  new  headquarters^  des- 
ignated the  Combined  Army-Air  Transport  Organization,  was  estabr 
lished  alongside  General  EvansV  headquarters  with  responsibility  for 
screening  daily  requests  and  establishing  priorities  for  delivery. 
Headed  by  the  air  supply  ofiicer  of  Fourteenth  Army  and  composed 
entirely  of  British  personnel,  this  organization  from  17  October  for- 
ward functioned  in  close  cooperation  with  CCTF/^  That  force  began 
its  heavy  operations  in  October  with  an  over-all  strength  of  163  trans- 
port aircraft  belonging  to  the  ist  Combat  Cargo  Group,  the  ist  Air 
Commando  Group,  and  the  RAF  177  Wing. 

The  growing  importance  of  air  transport  once  offensive  ground  op- 

*  In  October  the  3d  Combat  Cargo  Group  took  over  at  Djnjan  and  the  443d  Troop 
Carrier  Group  moved  forward  to  Ledo,  where  it  remained  until  May  1945.  The  ist 
Troop  Carrier  Squadron  continued  to  operate  out  of  Sookerating  until  April  1945, 
when  it  moved  forward  to  Warazup.  By  November  1944  the  2d  Squadron  moved  to 
Shingbwiyang,  where  it  operated  until  May  1945  and  then  moved  to  Dinjan.  At  the 
end  of  1944  the  9th  Combat  Cargo  Squadron  moved  forward  to  Warazup,  and  the  re- 
mainder of  the  squadrons  of  the  3cl  Combat  Cargo  Group  stayed  in  Assam,  except  for 
the  transfer  of  the  nth  Squadron  to  China  in  April  1945.  During  April  the  13th  Com- 
bat Cargo  Squadron  operated  from  Tulihal,  on  the  Imphal  Plain,  in  order  to  reduce 
flying  distance  to  the  36  Division  with  its  mounting  needs  for  air  supply. 


243 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


erations  had  begun  is  indicated  by  the  fact  that  at  the  close  of  the  cam- 
paign in  the  spring  of  1945  the  CCTF  included  two  combat  cargo 
groups,  two  air  commando  groups,  arid  three  RAF  wings.  By  March 
1945  the  task  force  had  a  total  strength  of  354  planes.  CCTF  units  had 
operated  at  first  from  fields  at  Sylhet  and  Tamu,  but  later  the  air  trans- 
ports flew  from  no  less  than  eleven  bases  along  the  coast  from  Comiila 
to  Akyab  and  inland  as  far  as  Meiktila  and  Toungoo.^^  The  transport 
planes  had  moved  forward  with  the  advancing  armies,  serving  as  the 
vital  link  with  rear  areas  upon  which  the  ground  advance  depended. 
There  were  landings  at  primitive  forward  strips  and  air  drops,  both  of 
men  and  supplies,  at  critical  points  along  the  battle  line.  On  the  return 
trips  thousands  of  casualties— the  victims  of  enemy  guns  or  of  disease- 
were  evacuated  to  points  behind  the  line  where  provision  had  been 
made  for  full  medical  care.  The  impressive  totals  for  all  types  of  cargo 
carried  by  the  CCTF  between  October  1944  and  May  1945  are  as  fol- 
lows: 

Supplies        Number  of     Number  of  Total 
Short  Tons         Persons        Casualties  Tonnage 


October    8,960.19  11*907  5»i9<5  10,841.52 

November    13,748.51  19,854  8,289  16,844.24 

December   23,738.07  3 5*196  10,980  28,817.43 

January    39»564.38  35*780  lOy^U  44,645.72 

February   54,327.26  40,610  11,578  60,045.94 

March    66,155.74  56,972  19,888  74,610.34 

April   66,388.61  77*026  16,801  76,709.58 

May    59>253.5<^  61,79^  ".297  67,293.35 

GRAND  TOTALS         332,136.32  339,137  94,243  379,808.12 


No  less  impressive,  in  view  of  the  difference  in  strength,  was  the 
record  compiled  by  the  troop  carrier  units  of  the  Tenth  Air  Force.* 
Unfortunately,  no  dependable  figures  are  available  on  the  evacuation 
of  casualties,  a  task  in  which  troop  carrier  planes  enjoyed  the  assist- 
ance of  ATC's  821st  Medical  Evacuation  Squadron.  But  the  scale  of 
evacuations,  considered  relative  to  strength,  was  comparable  to  that 
maintained  by  CCTF.  Most  of  the  evacuees  were  delivered  to  the  ex- 
tensive hospital  installations  at  Ledo,  and  the  peak  of  deliveries  was 
reached  in  February  1945,  when  Tenth  Air  Force  units  brought  out 
3,189  casualties."*^  The  tonnage  of  supplies  and  the  number  of  men  de- 
livered to  the  front  areas  by  Tenth  Air  Force  units  from  July  1944 
through  April  1945  are  indicated  by  the  following  table:** 

*  Although  the  CCTF  had  a  total  of  354  aircraft  by  March  1945,  troop  carrier  units 
of  the  Tenth  Air  Force  never  possessed  more  than  120  planes.  Much  of  CGTF*s 
strength,  however,  was  not  acquired  until  late  in  the  campaign. 

244 


THE   LIBERATION   OF  BURMA 
Number  of  Tonnage  of  Number  of 


Sorties  Cargo  Men 

July                                          4,919  J<5»i77  Ii,<5i6 

August                                 7,470  21,500  17,893 

September                             6,325  18,170  13,805 

October                                8,246  23,139  21,519 

November                            8,629  25,900  14,466 

December                             8,733  23,552  26,568 

January                                18,599  23,882  23,381 

February                             15479  21,137  24,277 

March                                 17,131  22,711  33,427 

April                                 13,355  15,434  38,432 

TOTAL                         108,886  211,602  225,384 


Air  transport,  though  perhaps  the  most  significant  support  rendered 
by  air  to  the  ground  forces,  represented  only  one  part  of  EAC's  activ- 
ity during  the  climactic  battle  for  Burma.  Tenth  Air  Force  P-47's  and 
B-25's  were  especially  active  during  October  and  November  as  the 
ground  offensive  moved  through  central  Burma.  In  types  of  activity 
and  in  the  techniques  employed  these  operations  foUov^ed  patterns  set 
during  the  months  preceding  the  occupation  of  Myitkyina.  Such  air 
opposition  as  the  enemy  w^as  able  to  put  up  caused  little  trouble,  and 
by  the  end  of  the  year  it  had  virtually  disappeared.  Fighters  and 
fighter-bombers  struck  at  enemy  defensive  positions,  troop  concen- 
trations and  movements,  and  at  supplies  on  the  road  or  in  dumps.  The 
medium  bombers  specialized  in  attacks  on  enemy  airfields  and  on 
transportation  targets,  supplementing  the  heavy  bomber  blows  against 
more  distant  rail  communications.  In  western  Burma,  RAF  units  pro- 
vided the  support  for  the  predominantly  British  ground  forces,  but 
the  1 2th  Bombardment  Group  occasionally  lent  the  assistance  of  its 
B-25's.  In  eastern  Burma,  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force's  25th  Fighter 
Squadron  and  the  2 2d  Bombardment  Squadron  assisted  General 
Dorn's  Yunnan  forces.* 

As  the  Allied  armies  advanced  farther  into  the  depths  of  Burma, 
they  met  fewer  organized  positions  than  at  first  so  that  there  was  much 
less  need  for  direct  support  of  the  troops.  Increasingly,  the  planes  de- 
voted their  attention  to  ammunition  dumps  and  enemy  communica- 
tions immediately  behind  the  fighting.*^  Motor  trucks  were  hunted 
with  special  vigor  and  fell  victim  to  tactical  aircraft  in  increasing  num- 
bers. Between  i  June  1944  and  2  May  1945  nearly  8,000  Japanese  ve- 
hicles were  claimed  as  destroyed.  As  the  upper  parts  of  the  Burmese 
railway  system  were  worked  over,  bridges,  junction  points,  water 

*  See  above,  p.  214. 


245 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

towers,  stations,  rolling  stock,  and  all  forms  of  waterway  transporta- 
tion were  subjected  to  repeated  attack/^  The  490th  Bombardment 
Squadron  (M)  of  the  Tenth  Air  Force,  known  as  the  Bridge  Busters,* 
claimed  thirteen  bridges  within  Burma  during  the  first  thirteen  days 
of  October/®  RAF  Hurribombers  and  Beaufighters  continued  to  har- 
ass shipping  along  the  coast  and  on  the  Chindwin  River.  So  skillful  did 
the  air  forces  become  in  their  attacks  on  enemy  communications  that 
some  ground  commanders,  sensing  the  promise  that  they  might 
quickly  overrun  all  of  Burma,  argued  for  a  curtailment  of  air  activity 
lest  continued  attacks  on  the  Japanese  lines  of  communications  cripple 
facilities  needed  by  the  advancing  Allied  ground  forces.  Stratemeyer 
objected  that  the  enemy  would  scuttle  whatever  might  be  left  by  the 
air  forces,  but  after  a  series  of  conferences  in  the  spring  of  1945  he 
agreed  to  a  more  selective  policy  of  bombing/® 

Capture  of  Rangoon 

When  Phase  II  of  Operation  CAPITAL  opened  in  February  1945, 
the  Allies  held  indisputable  superiority  in  the  air,  and  if  Allied  advan- 
tages on  the  ground  seemed  less  impressive  because  the  Japanese  ar- 
mies remained  intact,  the  intangibles  in  the  situation  all  favored  the 
Allies.  The  taste  of  a  long-delayed  victory  had  boosted  the  morale  of 
the  Anglo-American-Chinese  forces,  while  the  Japanese  faced  the  de- 
pressing prospect  of  additional  losses.  Moreover,  the  Allies  had  broken 
into  open  country  and  possessed  the  supplies  and  equipment  to  press 
their  advantage.  The  Japanese,  on  the  other  hand,  had  been  hurried 
back  against  a  line  they  once  had  hoped  to  turn  into  a  position  of  real 
strength,  but  the  time  and  the  means  to  accomplish  this  purpose  had 
been  denied  them.  Nor  could  their  confidence  be  bolstered  by  news 
from  the  Pacific.  By  February  the  Americans  had  won  their  gamble  at 
Leyte  and  could  look  forward  to  the  early  reconquest  of  all  the  Phil- 
ippine Islands.  After  Halsey's  Third  Fleet  had  swept  the  Indo-China 
coast  in  January,  Stratemeyer  informed  Arnold  that  the  Japanese  had 
pulled  east  so  much  of  their  already  limited  air  strength  in  Burma  as  to 
leave  Rangoon  virtually  undefended  and  to  remove  all  cause  for  fear 
concerning  the  safety  of  the  Hump  air  route.'° 

The  final  phase  of  the  Burma  offensive  began  with  skirmishes  east 
of  the  Irrawaddy  by  NCAC  and  with  important  gains  by  the  Four- 

•  See  Vol.  IV.  492. 

246 


THE   LIBERATION   OF  BURMA 


teenth  Army  between  Pauk  and  Pakokku.  At  first,  General  Slim  had 
hoped  to  force  the  enemy  to  accept  battle  in  the  Shwebo  plain,  north 
of  Mandalay  between  the  Irrawaddy  and  Chindwin  rivers.  But  Gen- 
eral Kimura  knew  better  than  to  be  caught  in  that  trap.  Chiefly  de- 
pendent upon  the  strength  of  his  Fifteenth  Army,  a  force  exhausted 
by  its  continuous  fighting  withdrawal  from  Imphal,  he  held  the 
Shwebo  plain  only  long  enough  to  cover  his  retreat  across  the  river  to 
the  high  and  wooded  banks  along  the  eastern  and  southern  shores  of 
the  Irrawaddy.  Since  General  Slim  lacked  the  strength  to  force  a 
crossing  against  strong  positions,  he  decided  upon  a  landing  some  dis- 
tance to  the  north  of  Mandalay  as  a  feint  to  draw  enemy  attention 
from  the  region  south  of  the  city  where  he  intended  to  make  the  main 
crossing." 

These  moves  were  carefully  prepared.  Headquarters  of  the  Four- 
teenth Army  and  of  the  221  Group  were  moved  in  January  from  Im- 
phal to  Kalemyo,  where  a  joint  army-air  headquarters  was  established 
to  insure  proper  coordination  between  the  ground  forces  and  sup- 
porting air  units.  Realizing  that  the  enemy  would  offer  every  resist- 
ance to  the  Allied  advance  across  the  Irrawaddy,  General  Slim  made 
special  arrangements  with  Stratemeyer  for  additional  air  support  by 
the  Tenth  Air  Force,  the  224  Group,  and  the  Strategic  Air  Force.^^ 

The  first  crossing  of  the  Irrawaddy  was  made  about  sixty-five  miles 
north  of  Mandalay  at  Thabeikkyin.  The  Japanese  nervously  began  to 
concentrate  forces  in  that  direction,  fearful  that  an  attack  might  be 
made  by  36  Division  coming  from  the  region  of  Mogok.  Meanwhile, 
with  2  Division  stationed  directly  opposite  Mandalay,  20  Division 
made  another  crossing  farther  to  the  west.  As  the  powerful  4  Corps 
prepared  for  the  showdown,  feints  were  made  by  the  Indian  7  Divi- 
sion and  the  28  Brigade  at  Pakokku  and  Chauk,  between  which  the 
Indian  7  and  17  Divisions,  the  main  force,  crossed  at  Nyaungu  be- 
tween 13  and  18  February.  After  a  few  days  devoted  to  consolidating 
positions  on  the  eastern  bank,  17  Division,  spearheaded  by  254  Tank 
Brigade  and  with  all  the  motor  transport  available,  struck  east  across 
Burma  for  the  region  of  Meiktila  and  the  rail  junction  of  Thazi.  On 
27  February  the  first  of  the  airfields  around  Meiktila  was  taken.  As 
soon  as  the  field  was  made  serviceable,  C-47's  of  the  ist  and  2d  Air 
Commando  Groups  flew  in  a  brigade  of  the  British  1 7  Division  from 
Palel.  The  move  virtually  surrounded  the  main  body  of  Japanese 


247 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

forces  in  the  Mandalay  area,  and  the  great  battle  which  the  Allies  had 
sought  and  the  Japanese  dreaded  was  opened  with  the  whole  of  south- 
ern Burma  as  the  prize/^ 

After  the  city  of  Meiktila  was  taken  on  4  March,  the  Allied  forces 
closed  in  on  Mandalay  from  all  sides.  By  9  March  the  city  was  sur- 
rounded and  the  siege  began.  It  was  expected  that  the  enemy  would 
hold  to  the  last  Mandalay  Hill,  the  dominant  feature  of  the  area.  The 
second  strongpoint  was  Fort  Dufferin,  an  old  fortress  of  the  classic 
type  with  extraordinarily  thick  walls  of  stone  and  earth.  The  resist- 
ance offered  by  the  Japanese  at  the  hill  was  less  than  expected,  and 
after  two  days  of  fierce  fighting  it  was  abandoned  to  the  AUies.  But  at 
Fort  Dufferin  the  Japanese  held  on  stubbornly.  On  1 1  March,  after 
5.5-inch  howitzers  breached  the  north  wall  with  concentrated  fire,  a 
battalion  tried  to  storm  the  opening.  Casualties  were  heavy  and  the  as- 
saulting troops  retired:  it  was  evident  that  a  frontal  attack  on  the  for- 
tress would  be  costly:  thus,  during  the  night  of  16/17  March  two 
battalions,  supported  by  two  machine-gun  companies,  struck  suddenly 
against  the  north  wall  in  an  attempt  to  take  the  stronghold  by  surprise. 
When  this  effort  also  failed,  it  became  apparent  that  since  the  avail- 
able artillery  fire  was  not  sufficient  to  breach  the  wall  and  previous  air 
bombing  had  failed  to  speed  the  fall  of  the  fort,  some  special  air  effort 
should  be  tried.'^'* 

On  15  March  10  Thunderbolts  dispatched  by  the  224  Group 
had  dropped  14  tons  of  bombs  on  the  northwest  corner  of  the  fort; 
the  next  day,  the  221  Group  knocked  3  gaps  in  the  southeast  cor- 
ner with  13  tons  of  bombs;  on  17  March  9  Thunderbolts  of  the 
221  Group  breached  the  north  wall;  and  2  days  later  B-25's  of 
1 2th  Bombardment  Group  breached  the  north  wall  again  with  2,000- 
pound  bombs.  On  20  March  the  final  aerial  assault  began.  Thirty-five 
B-25's  of  the  1 2th  Group  dropped  104  x  500-pound  and  262  fragmen- 
tation bombs,  followed  by  Hurricanes  of  221  Group  which  bombed 
and  strafed  the  entire  fort.  Thunderbolts,  each  carrying  two  500- 
pounders,  finished  off  the  job.  At  the  end  of  an  hour  130,000  pounds 
of  bombs  had  broken  the  walls  in  26  places.  Attacking  through 
the  smoke  and  dust  of  the  last  explosions,  the  ground  forces  took 
the  fort  without  difficulty,  and  the  way  was  open  for  the  occu- 
pation of  Mandalay.^**  The  fall  of  the  city  was  followed  by  the  rapid 
expulsion  of  all  enemy  forces  in  the  triangular  area  between  the  rail- 
way and  the  Irrawaddy  River.  Rangoon  was  the  next  objective. 

248 


OPERATION  GRUBWORM,  DECEMBER  1944 


FOURTEEmH  AIR  FORCE  BASES 
Abmx:  Runway  at  Liuchow  BAfO>:  ABANDONiNe  Hengyanc 


THE   LIBERATION   OF  BURMA 


On  2  2  March,  while  the  Japanese  were  still  withdrawing  from  the 
triangle,  Allied  leaders  met  at  Mon-ywa.  Despite  the  victory  at  Meik- 
tila  and  Mandalay,  General  Leese  pointed  out  that  his  armies  were  still 
so  far  behind  schedule  that  he  doubted  the  possibility  of  reaching  Ran- 
goon before  the  monsoon.  This  was  disturbing  news,  especially  to  the 
Americans  who  had  reckoned  with  confidence  upon  an  early  termina- 
tion of  the  Burma  campaign.^^  On  25  March  Leese  recommended  that 
plans  should  be  made  immediately  for  a  modification  of  the  amphibi- 
ous attack  on  Rangoon  as  the  only  means  of  guaranteeing  the  fall  of 
the  port  before  the  monsoon,^^ 

The  need  to  take  Rangoon  prior  to  the  monsoon  is  easily  under- 
stood if  one  appreciates  the  extent  to  which  the  Allied  forces,  with  an 
extended  line  of  communication,  depended  upon  air  supply.  During 
the  month  of  March  six  full  British  divisions,  two  tank  brigades,  and 
two  independent  infantry  brigades  on  the  Fourteenth  Army  front  in 
central  Burma,  and  three  Chinese  divisions,  one  British  division,  and 
an  American  brigade  on  the  NCAC  front  in  northeast  Burma  were 
maintained  in  offensive  action  almost  entirely  by  air  supply.  In  addi- 
tion to  these  divisional  troops,  three  corps  headquarters  and  one  army 
headquarters  with  attendant  army  and  corps  troops,  together  with 
most  of  the  Tenth  Air  Force  and  practically  all  of  the  2  2 1  Group  were 
also  on  air  supply.  Personnel  totaled  approximately  300,000  men,  and 
at  least  90  per  cent  of  their  supplies  and  equipment  was  flown  in  by 
C-46's  and  C-47's.  The  evacuation  of  wounded  was  handled  almost 
entirely  by  air  and  substantial  reinforcements  were  flown  in  daily. 
Total  airborne  tonnage  for  the  Fourteenth  Army  during  March 
reached  approximately  70,000  tons  and  another  26,000  tons  were 
brought  in  for  NCAC.  This  was  twice  the  ATC  Hump  lift  for  China 
during  the  same  period.  The  Fourteenth  Army  was  advised  about  the 
middle  of  March  that  as  it  advanced  to  the  south  and  away  from  exist- 
ing air  transport  bases,  the  tonnage  which  could  be  carried  to  the  for- 
ward area  would  necessarily  decrease.  Nevertheless,  the  Eastern  Air 
Command  committed  itself  to  maintain  an  average  daily  lift  of  2,000 
tons  until  the  fall  of  Rangoon,  on  the  understanding  that  the  seaport 
would  be  taken  prior  to  the  monsoon.^^  Admiral  Mountbatten  decreed 
that  an  amphibious  landing  should  be  made  in  the  vicinity  of  Rangoon 
to  make  contact  with  the  armies  coming  down  from  the  north  before 
the  outbreak  of  monsoon  storms,  and  D-day  for  DRACULA  was  set 
for  2  May/® 


249 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 

Actually  the  operation  consisted  of  three  parts:  the  continued  ad- 
vance of  the  armies  southward  from  Mandalay,  the  employment  of 
paratroopers,  and  the  use  of  a  strong  naval  force  in  a  supporting  am- 
phibious assault.  During  April  the  columns  of  the  Fourteenth  Army 
continued  to  advance  toward  Rangoon,  supported  as  always  by  air. 
Even  though  the  weather  began  to  turn  bad,  84,822  tons  of  supplies 
were  transported  into  or  within  Burma  by  all  air  agencies  during 
April.  By  i  May  the  army  spearheads  coming  down  the  Sittang  and 
the  Irrawaddy  valleys  were  at  Pegu  and  Prome,  the  first  40  miles  and 
the  second  150  miles  from  Rangoon.^°  Meanwhile,  British  naval  units 
assembled  at  Trincomalee  in  Ceylon.  A  covering  force  sailed  from 
there  for  the  Andaman  Sea  on  27  April  and  maneuvered  off  the  coast 
of  Malaya  for  a  week.  A  destroyer  force  sailed  the  same  day  for  the 
Gulf  of  Martaban.  A  carrier  force  had  left  Trincomalee  on  23  April 
for  rendezvous  with  the  Navy  transports  in  the  vicinity  of  Akyab  and 
Kyaukpyu,  and  together  they  sailed  on  30  April  for  the  estuary  of  the 
Rangoon  River.**^ 

In  preparation  for  the  air  phase  of  DRACULA,  the  317th  and 
319th  Troop  Carrier  Squadrons,  augmented  by  ten  aircraft  from  the 
U.S.  2d  and  4th  Combat  Cargo  Squadrons,  had  moved  to  Kalaikunda 
for  modifications  and  training  during  the  latter  half  of  April.^^  Be- 
tween 26  April  and  2  May  the  Strategic  Air  Force  delivered  pulveriz- 
ing attacks  on  gun  emplacements  and  troop  concentrations  within  the 
Rangoon  area,  especially  along  the  banks  of  the  Rangoon  River.^  On 
29  April  the  paratroop  force  of  800  Ghurkas  with  their  Canadian 
jumpmasters  was  flown  by  the  troop  carriers  to  Akyab,  whence  they 
would  take  oS  for  the  drop  at  Rangoon.  Plans  for  fighter  cover  by 
four  squadrons  of  the  two  air  commando  groups  having  been  com- 
pleted, at  0230  hours  on  2  May  1945  two  Pathfinder  aircraft  took  off 
for  a  final  check  on  the  weather.  Though  they  found  cloud  and  rain 
along  the  way,  the  target  was  clear.  A  thunderstorm  3wept  the  field  at 
Akyab  as  the  thirty-eight  transports  assembled  for  the  flight  to  Ran- 
goon, but  there  were  no  mishaps  and  the  jump  began  at  0633,  three 
minutes  behind  schedule.  The  paratroops  landed  at  Elephant  Point, 
about  twenty  miles  south  of  Rangoon,*  encountering  no  opposition 
and  reporting  only  eight  minor  injuries.  They  experienced  no  trouble 
in  their  advance  inland.  Reinforcements  and  supplies  were  delivered 
during  the  afternoon.  At  11 30  hours  Group  Captain  Grandy,  flying 

*  Not  to  be  confused  with  the  Elephant  Point  near  Akyab. 

250 


THE   LIBERATION   OF  BURMA 


over  the  city,  observed  a  sign  painted  by  Allied  POW's  on  the  roof  of 
the  Rangoon  jail:  "J^ps  gone."  He  landed  his  plane  at  Mingaladon  air- 
field and  entered  the  city  without  difficulty.®*  That  afternoon  the 
British  1 5  Corps  disembarked  from  landing  craft  of  the  British  Navy 
on  both  sides  of  the  Rangoon  River.  The  next  day,  3  May,  the  para- 
troopers and  15  Corps  occupied  Rangoon  and  advanced  north  to 
make  contact  with  the  army  column  marching  in  from  Pegu.  Al- 
though numerous  pockets  of  enemy  resistance  in  the  north  still  had  to 
be  cleaned  out,  for  all  practical  purposes  the  Burma  campaign  was 
over. 


CHAPTER  9 


VICTORY  IN  CHINA 

WHEN  Lt.  Gen,  Albert  C.  Wedemeyer  arrived  in  China  as 
Stilwell's  successor  on  31  October  1944,  he  immediately 
assumed  the  duties  of  chief  of  staff  to  the  Generalissimo 
and  of  Commanding  General,  United  States  Forces  in  the  China  The- 
ater* He  was  faced  with  many  grave  problems,  some  of  which  were 
long  standing,  while  others,  the  more  pressing  ones,  resulted  from  the 
Japanese  victories  of  the  preceding  summer  months.  As  Wedemeyer 
saw  it,  the  original  Japanese  strategy,  based  upon  the  maintenance  of 
an  outer  zone  of  defense  in  the  Pacific  by  naval  and  air  power,  had 
been  invalidated  by  the  MacArthur-Nimitz  advance,  and  an  alterna- 
tive plan,  which  called  for  an  inner  zone  of  communications  to  be  de- 
fended by  ground,  sea,  and  air  forces,  was  now  being  implemented. 
Within  this  zone,  the  Japanese  proposed  to  maintain  two  major  lines  of 
communication  between  the  home  islands  and  their  southern  posses- 
sions—an inland  corridor  of  rivers,  canals,  roads,  and  railways  on  the 
Asiatic  mainland  and,  of  secondary  importance,  a  coastal  waterway 
protected  by  naval  units  and  land-based  air  power.^ 

Wedemeyer  believed  that  the  enemy  in  his  summer  campaign,  by 
definitely  limiting  the  capacity  of  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  to  interfere, 
had  gone  far  toward  reaching  his  strategic  goal.^  The  Japanese  offen- 
sive driving  south  from  Hankow  had  taken  Kweilin  before  Wede- 
meyer's  arrival  in  the  theater.  On  1 1  November,  less  than  two  weeks 
after  he  had  assumed  his  new  duties,  Liuchow  fell,  and  the  Japanese 
forces  coming  from  the  north  were  clearly  moving  toward  a  junction 
with  the  troops  advancing  westward  toward  Nanning  from  Canton. 
On  24  November  the  Japanese  captured  Nanning,  and  this  success  was 
soon  followed  by  the  establishment  of  overland  communications  with 

252 


VICTORY  IN  CHINA 


Indo-China.  By  the  end  of  November,  therefore,  the  major  airfields  of 
the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  had  been  occupied  and  communications  be- 
tween Manchuria  and  southeast  Asia  had  been  established.  That  the 
enemy  would  defend  this  new  line  of  communications  with  utmost 
tenacity  was  not  questioned.  It  was  also  believed  that  he  would  not  re- 
main quiescent  in  his  ''mole's  tunnel"  between  Kaifeng  and  Hanoi,  but 
would  try  either  to  burrow  on  toward  Kunming  or  to  push  westward 
past  the  Yellow  River  bend  toward  Chengtu— it  was  even  possible  that 
the  enemy  might  attempt  both  of  these  drives  at  the  same  time.  Suc- 
cess in  either  of  the  moves  might  eliminate  China  from  the  war. 

General  Wedenieyer  felt  that  the  first  contingency,  the  drive 
against  Kunming,  was  the  more  likely  move,  and  he  made  his  plans  ac- 
cordingly.^ The  five  months  between  i  December  1944  and  30  April 
1945  were  to  be  dedicated  to  strategic  defensive  actions:  Chinese 
troops  were  to  be  returned  to  China  from  Burma,  additional  Chinese 
troops  in  China  were  to  be  trained  and  equipped  for  combat,  and  the 
Fourteenth  Air  Force  was  to  continue  its  counter-air  activity  and 
bombing  attacks  on  enemy  communications.  Beginning  on  or  about 

1  May  1945,  it  was  hoped  that  a  powerful  Chinese- American  offensive 
could  sweep  the  Japanese  back  toward  Manchuria,  sever  the  newly 
established  line  of  communications,  and  force  an  evacuation  of  south- 
east Asia.* 

Operation  GRUBWORM 

On  29  November  1944  Chiang  Kai-shek  and  Wedemeyer  informed 
the  Combined  Chiefs  of  Staff  and  the  Supreme  Allied  Commander, 
Southeast  Asia,  that  a  large  part  of  the  Chinese  troops  fighting  with  the 
Allied  forces  in  Burma  was  needed  in  China.^  With  the  consent  of  the 
CCS^  but  over  the  protest  of  Admiral  Mountbatten,  Wedemeyer  then 
called  for  the  transfer  from  Burma  to  China  of  the  Chinese  14th  and 

2  2d  Divisions.^  In  addition  to  the  two  Chinese  divisions,  which  South- 
east Asia  Command  finally  agreed  to  give  up,^  Chinese  Sixth  Army 
Headquarters,  one  heavy  mortar  company,  one  signal  company,  and 
two  portable  surgical  hospitals  were  eventually  included  in  the  move- 
ment, which  was  made  by  air.  The  operation,  coded  GRUBWORM, 
was  placed  under  the  direction  of  the  Tenth  Air  Force  with  that  or- 
ganization's deputy  chief  of  staff,  Col.  S.  D.  Grubbs,  in  charge.®  Al- 
though GRUBWORM  sometimes  seemed  like  an  operation  for  the 
movement  of  "an  unknown  amount  of  cargo,  with  an  indefinite  num- 


253 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  H 


ber  of  aircraft,  to  an  undetermined  number  of  air  bases/'^°  the  plans 
for  the  transfer  had  to  remain  unusually  flexible. 

It  was  essential  for  the  movement  to  be  executed  with  the  least  pos- 
sible interference  with  normal  transport  and  combat  operations  then 
developing  in  Burma.  Fortunately,  the  initial  success  which  attended 
the  Allied  drive  in  Burma  eliminated  any  necessity  for  the  provision 
of  fighter  escort.  Only  a  few  combat  aircraft  from  the  Tenth  Air 
Force  were  required  to  protect  the  fields  from  which  take-offs  were 
scheduled.  Eastern  Air  Command  transferred  the  317th  and  319th 
Troop  Carrier  Squadrons  of  the  air  commando  groups  to  Myit- 
kyina  North,  under  the  operational  control  of  the  Tenth  Air  Force 
for  the  duration  of  the  troop  movement,  and  the  Air  Transport  Com- 
mand furnished  an  additional  contingent  of  aircraft  to  assist  the  opera- 
tion. In  this  way  no  great  strain  was  placed  upon  the  Tenth  Air  Force, 
and  General  Davidson  was  enabled  to  continue  his  indispensable  airlift 
to  the  ground  forces  advancing  toward  Mandalay." 

Operation  GRUBWORM  was  carried  out  from  five  airfields  in 
Burma— Myitkyina  North,  Sahmaw,  Warazup,  Nansin,  and  Myit- 
kyina  South— and  from  Ledo  in  Assam.  Four  of  these  six  airfields  had 
been  constructed  only  within  the  previous  two  months  by  Tenth  Air 
Force  engineers,  working  directly  behind  the  retreating  enemy;  the 
fifth  field,  Nansin,  was  completed  the  day  before  GRUBWORM  be- 
gan. At  Nansin  the  transports  were  loaded  so  close  to  Japanese  artil- 
lery that  in  one  instance  the  take-off  of  a  battalion  was  delayed  while 
the  troops  searched  the  area  for  snipers.^^  The  whole  operation  was 
completed  in  a  surprisingly  short  time:  the  first  of  the  heavily  laden 
transports  rose  from  the  Burma  fields  and  headed  toward  China  on  the 
morning  of  5  December  1944,  and  the  last  of  the  transports  emptied 
its  cargo  on  Chinese  runways  on  5  January  1945— exactly  a  month 
after  the  beginning  of  the  operation.  Actually,  the  total  number  of  fly- 
ing days  was  twenty-four,  for  a  momentary  improvement  in  the  situa- 
tion on  the  Chinese  front  brought  a  suspension  of  the  operation  from 
1 6  through  22  December. 

To  provide  for  the  administrative  needs  of  GRUBWORM,  the 
Northern  Combat  Area  Command  stationed  a  small,  efficient  group 
of  personnel  at  each  of  the  fields  from  which  the  transports  were  to 
take  oflf.  These  officers  and  enlisted  men,  in  cooperation  with  regu- 
larly assigned  air  personnel,  followed  prescribed  methods  in  perform- 
ing the  chores  which  made  the  operation  function  smoothly.  When 
troops  arrived  for  transportation  to  China,  they  were  quartered  as  near 


^54 


VICTORY  IN  CHINA 


as  possible  to  the  take-off  field  and  were  provided  with  food,  water, 
and  shelter,  a  ministration  not  without  its  difficulties.  Every  twenty- 
four  hours  the  Tenth  Air  Force  reported  to  NCAC  Headquarters  the 
number  and  type  of  aircraft  that  would  be  available  at  each  field  for 
the  next  day's  haul,  and  this  information  was  passed  to  the  NCAC 
groups  at  the  five  fields.  The  encamped  Chinese  troops  were  then  di- 
vided into  planeloads  consistent  with  the  type  of  aircraft  in  which 
they  were  to  fly,  and  every  attempt  was  made  to  keep  the  rations, 
equipment,  and  ammunition  intact  with  the  proper  unit.  As  the  empty 
planes  were  made  ready,  they  were  loaded  by  ground  personnel,  al- 
though each  pilot  determined  the  load  he  would  carry  and  directed 
the  placement  of  the  cargo  within  the  plane.^^  Since  the  Chinese  equip- 
ment depended  upon  the  use  of  hundreds  of  draft  animals,  specially 
trained  personnel  were  needed  to  load  the  animals  aboard  the  planes. 
The  responsibility  for  flying  them  across  the  Hump  was  delegated  to 
the  commandos  who  had  a  constant  number  of  planes  available  each 
day." 

The  1348th  AAF  Base  Unit  of  ATC's  India-China  Division,  located 
at  Myitkyina  South  under  the  command  of  Lt.  CoL  Frank  Thorn- 
quest,  acted  as  the  coordinating  and  operational  center  for  all  ATC 
planes  and  for  the  China-based  combat  cargo  aircraft  flying  out  of 
Suyung.  To  transport  the  Chinese  14th  Division,  ATC  used 
C-46's  based  in  Assam  and  at  Luliang;  for  the  2 2d  Division,  ATC 
used  C-47's  based  at  Chanyi,  Kunming,  and  Chengkung,  as  well  as 
the  China-based  combat  cargo  C-47's.^'  Inasmuch  as  ATC  operated 
on  a  twenty-four-hour  schedule  with  planes  based  in  China  as  well  as 
in  Assam,  its  participation  in  GRUBWORM  was  more  complicated 
than  that  of  the  commandos  or  the  Tenth  Air  Force.  To  maintain  con- 
tinuous operations,  crews  were  changed  at  the  end  of  each  round  trip, 
and  since  some  of  the  pick-up  fields  were  not  operational  at  night, 
commando  and  Tenth  Air  Force  combat  cargo  planes,  assisted  by 
tr'oop  carrier  C-47's  when  required,  shuttled  the  troops  to  Myitkyina 
South  during  the  day  to  fill  the  complements  for  night  flights  to 
China.^^  Although  there  were  exceptions  to  the  rule,  ATC  proce- 
dures usually  followed  Tenth  Air  Force  instructions:  i )  cirews  already 
familiar  with  the  pickup  fields  were  selected  for  use  in  GRUB- 
WORM;  2)  crews  were  briefed  and  transports  gassed  at  Myitkyina 
South;  3)  the  planes  then  flew  to  the  designated  field  for  pickup; 
4)  once  loaded,  the  transports  returned  to  Myitkyina  South  for  re- 
fueling, unless  the  pickup  field  had  adequate  refueling  facilities;  5) 


255 


THE   ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


the  transports  took  off  for  China,  calling  the  ATC  tower  at  Myitkyina 

South  on  their  way  east;  and  6)  on  return  flights,  the  crews  of  the 
transports  contacted  the  Myitkyina  South  tower  again  for  instruc- 


tions/^ 


Altogether,  GRUB  WORM  required  1,328  transport  sorties,  of 
which  ATC  accounted  for  597,  the  air  commando  squadrons  for  488, 
and  Tenth  Air  Force  for  243.  At  the  close  of  the  operation,  which 
must  rank  as  one  of  the  major  transport  achievements  of  the  entire 
war,  a  total  of  25,095  Chinese  soldiers  had  been  moved  by  air  from 
Burma  to  China/^  In  addition,  the  lift  had  included  396  American 
soldiers,  1,596  animals,  42  ieeps,  48  x  75-mm.  howitzers,  48  x  4*2-mm. 
mortars,  and  48  A/T  guns.*  Throughout  the  operation  the  weather 
was  very  unfavorable,  and  in  many  cases  the  crews  were  new  to  the 
Hump  even  though  familiar  with  the  pickup  fields.  Nevertheless, 
only  three  planes  were  lost:  two  of  the  317th  Troop  Carrier  Squad- 
ron's transports  crashed  into  the  first  ridge  of  mountains  crossing  the 
route  from  Myitkyina  to  China,  and  one  aircraft  belonging  to  the  loth 
Combat  Cargo  Squadron  disappeared,  its  fate  unknown/®  AH  in  all, 
the  achievement  was  nothing  less  than  spectacular. 

On  their  arrival  in  China,  the  GRUBWORM  soldiers  became  the 
nucleus  of  a  larger  force  being  organized,  trained,  and  equipped  by 
Wedemeyer  during  the  winter  of  1944-45.  The  troops  were  located 
in  the  general  vicinity  of  Kunming,  where  they  were  meant  to  serve 
as  a  defense  force  in  case  this  Chinese  "port  of  entry"  were  threat- 
ened. Fortunately,  the  enemy  did  not  immediately  turn  his  attention 
to  the  west.  Instead,  he  determined  to  eradicate  the  last  strongholds 
of  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  in  east  China,  and  that  decision  gave 
Wedemeyer  an  opportunity  to  prepare  for  his  own  offensive. 

Fourteenth  Air  Force  Operations 

While  General  Wedemeyer  pushed  preparations  for  an  attempt 
to  seize  the  initiative  in  China,  the  immediate  combat  burden  fell 

*  The  breakdown  of  personnel  moved  is  as  follows: 

Vrdt  Chinese  Soldiers  American  Soldiers 

14th  Division   10,504  84 

22d  Division   12,122  119 

Sixth  Army                                         881  12 

I  St  Heavy  Mortar  Regiment  ..........  1,588  17 

45th  Post  Surgical  Hospital   30 

60th  Post  Surgical  Hospital   %% 

988th  Signal  Company   xo6 

256 


VICTORY  IN  CHINA 


heavily  on  the  planes  and  crews  of  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force.  This 
was  a  familiar  story  in  China,  but  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force,  except 
for  the  loss  of  its  key  bases  in  eastern  China,  now  enjoyed  the  ad- 
vantage of  unprecedented  and  growing  resources.  Whether  consid- 
ered in  terms  of  manpower,  planes,  supplies,  or  fuel,  Chennault's  force 
had  steadily  increased  in  strength  over  the  preceding  months  and 
was  still  growing. 

In  January  1944  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  had  a  total  personnel 
strength  of  5,758,  of  whom  1,520  were  officers  and  4,23.8  were  enlisted 
men.  Figures  for  the  period  from  October  1944  to  June  1945  are  as 
follows:'^ 


Month                            Officers  Enlisted  Men  Total 

October   2,958  13,229  16,187 

November  2,728  14,245  ^7r*73 

December  3495  14*726  18,221 

January  3,68<$  16,625  20,309 

February   3,781  17,650  ^lAiJ 

March   ...  .4,1 22  19,042  23^164 

ApHl  4.225  20,370  24,795 

May   ,  4,360  22,006  26,360 

June  .....3418  22,173  26,594 

In  January  1944  the  air  force  had  194  fighters,  38  medium  bombers, 
and  50  heavy  bombers;  for  the  9-month  period  beginning  ih  Oc- 
tober of  that  year,  the  totals  were: 

Month                           Fighters          Medium  Bombers  Heceuy  Bombers 

October  .457  105  45 

November  535  169  47 

December  510  105  56 

January  520  94  70 

February  521  92  56 

March  564  99  65 

April   ....525  103  69 

May   500  117  69 

June  483  127  65 

Deliveries  of  fuel  and  supplies  kept  pace  with  this  build-up,  as  the 
following  table  of  ATC  tonnage  deliyered  to  China  shows: 

Month                                   Total  Assigned  Fourteenth  Air  Force 

October   .....24,715  i3»oi4 

Noveiiiber  34»9i4  i4»792 

December   ...3i»935  16,578 

January  ...44,099  23,888 

FebJttiary                                 .40,677  i?i73o 

March   46*545  22,355 

April  ....44,254  21,095 

May   ....46,394  16,207 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 


After  the  reconquest  of  Burma  in  May  1945,  Hump  tonnage  rose  to 
the  unprecedented  totals  of  55,386  tons  in  June  and  71,042  in  July. 
Although  the  stream  of  supplies  to  China  during  the  last  few  months 
of  the  war  was  further  increased*  by  the  opening  of  the  Ledd  Road 
all  the  way  in  February  1945,  the  total  delivered  via  Ledo  Road 
through  May,  including  the  weight  of  trucks  not  returned  to  Burma, 
did  not  equal  the  tonnage  hauled  to  China  by  ATC  during  the  single 
month  of  June  1945.^^  Until  the  summer  of  1945  China  remained  pri- 
marily dependent  upon  air  transport  for  the  sustenance  of  military 
operations. 

In  November  1944  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  consisted  of  thirty- 
six  combat  squadrons,^*  grouped  under  the  68th  and  69th  Composite 
Wings,  the  Chinese- American  Composite  Wing,  and  the  312th 
Fighter  Wing.^^  The  69th  Composite  Wing  was  composed  of  the  5  ist 
Fighter  Group  (the  i6th,  25th,  26th,  and  449th  Fighter  Squadrons) 
and  the  341st  Bombardment  Group  (M),  consisting  of  the  i  ith,  22d, 
and  491st  Bombardment  Squadrons;  with  headquarters  at  Kunming, 
its  mission  was  the  defense  of  the  Hump  route  and  southwest  China. 
The  68th  Composite  Wing,  made  up  of  the  23d  Fighter  Group  (the 
74th,  75th,  and  76th  Fighter  Squadrons)  and  the  11 8th  Tactical  Re- 
connaissance Squadron,  was  given  the  job  of  supporting  the  Chinese 
ground  forces  along  the  Hankow-Canton  railway,  interdicting  enemy 
lines  of  communication  in  south  and  southeast  China,  and  maintaining 
a  counter-air  campaign.  The  Chinese- American  Composite  Wing  was 
composed  of  the  3d  Fighter  Group,  the  5th  Fighter  Group,  and  the 
I  St  Bombardment  Group  (M),  each  with  four  squadrons;  it  had  as  its 
combat  area  central  China,  especially  the  regions  south  of  the  Yellow 
River  and  immediately  west  of  the  Ping-Han  Railway,  and  as  far 
east  as  the  Nanking-Shanghai  area.  The  3 12th  Fighter  Wing,  made  up 
of  the  311th  Fighter  Group  (528th,  529th,  and  530th  Fighter  Squad- 
rons) and  the  8ist  Fighter  Group  (91st  and  92d  Fighter  Squadrons), 
had  once  been  limited  to  defense  of  the  Chengtu  airfields,!  but  by 

*  Short  tons  delivered  by  Ledo  Road  are  indicated  in  the  following  table: 


Month  Wt,  of  Trucks  Wt.  of  Supplies  Total 

February    4,120  1,111  5,231 

March    5,279  •         1,509  6,788 

April  11,249  4,198  15,447 

May  19^645  8,435  28,080 

TOTALS  40,293  15,253  55^5^6 


t  See  above,  p.  118. 

258 


VICTORY  IN  CHINA 


the  end  of  1944  its  mission  was  defined  as  the  interdiction  of  the 
Tungpu,  Ping-Han,  Lung-Hai,  Tsingpu,  and  Suiyuan-Peiping  rail- 
ways. In  order  to  carry  out  this  mission  more  effectively,  the  490th 
Bombardment  Squadron  (M)  was  later  placed  under  the  operational 
control  of  the  312th  Wing,  and  in  February  1945  three  squadrons  of 
Liberators  were  also  assigned  to  it.^^ 

In  a  way,  the  69th  Composite  Wing  was  somewhat  cut  off  from 
the  critical  operations  in  China  during  the  last  two  months  of  1944 
and  the  first  six  months  of  1945.  The  wing's  primary  mission  was  in 
French  Indo-China  and  that  part  of  Kwangsi  Province  which  lies 
south  of  the  24th  parallel  and  west  of  the  i  loth  meridian.  Since  it  was 
also  assigned  to  defend  the  Hump  route,  the  69th  Wing  supported  the 
British  in  the  last  phases  of  the  Salween  campaign  and  the  reoccupa- 
tion  of  central  Burma  by  sending  into  Burma  Mustangs  taking  off 
from  Salween  bases;  having  dropped  their  bombs,  the  planes  went 
on  to  Tingkawk  Sakan  where  they  reloaded  and  then  took  off  to 
bomb  another  target  in  central  Burma  on  their  way  back  to  China. 
After  the  occupation  of  central  Burma,  the  69th  Wing  devoted  most 
of  its  attention  to  interdiction  in  Indo-China,  giving  generous  support 
to  the  resisting  French  along  the  Yunnan  border.^^ 

Although  the  new  power  of  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  heightened 
the  tempo  of  combat  at  the  very  time  when  the  enemy  appeared  to 
be  victorious  everywhere  in  China,*  the  Allied  airmen  fought  at  a  de- 
cided disadvantage.  Not  only  had  the  enemy  extended  his  corridor 
southward  from  Hankow,  overrun  the  airfields  at  Hengyang,  Kweilin, 
Liuchow,  and  Nanning,  but  he  also  surrounded  and  besieged  the 
more  easterly  fields  at  Suichwan,  Kanchow,  Namyung,  and  Kukong, 
together  with  such  staging  strips  as  that  at  Kienow.  Within  that  area 
a  Chinese  army  of  some  150,000  poorly  equipped  troops  under  Mar- 
shal Hsueh  Yo  continued  to  fight.  For  their  assistance  and  in  the  hope 
of  holding  the  airfields  east  of  the  Japanese  corridor,  Chennault  in  No- 
vember organized  the  East  China  Air  Task  Force.  Under  a  plan  of 
operation  designated  STRONGPOINT,  he  divided  the  68th  Com- 

*  The  impetus  is  clearly  shown  in  the  following  table,  which  lists  the  number  of 
sorties  flown  by  aircraft  of  different  types: 

i944  '945 

Jan.  Oct.  Nov.  Dec.  Jan.  Feb.  Mar.  Apr.  May  June 

Fighters     537  4.054  3,^88  3,278  2^22  1^33  3,256  3,592  3,54<5  1,735 

Mediums   106  263  471  465  262      2  id  594  529  498  329 

Heavies     370  757  ^44  770  656      249  478  384  988  486 


THE   ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


posite  Wing:  the  75th  and  76th  Fighter  Squadrons  remained  west  of 
the  corridor,  while  the  74th  Fighter  Squadron  and  the  1 1 8th  Tactical 
Reconnaissance  Squadron  were  located  east  of  it.  These  two  squad- 
rons were  strengthened  by  a  detachment  of  Liberators  from  the  308th 
Bombardment  Group  (H),  the  21st  Photographic  Squadron,  and  a 
few  transports.  The  task  force  was  thus  a  small  but  versatile  and  ef- 
fective unit.^® 

As  always  in  China,  the  main  problem  of  the  task  force  was  sup- 
ply .^^  To  keep  the  transportation  requirements  as  low  as  possible, 
every  effort  was  made  to  cut  down  the  tonnage  used:  the  fighter  and 
reconnaissance  squadrons  were  allowed  less  than  100  men  each,  al- 
though their  T/O's  called  for  250,  and  the  B-24's  were  denied  the 
**luxury"  of  ground  crews.  In  this  way  it  was  estimated  that  the  task 
force  could  operate  on  as  little  as  1,100  tons  monthly,  and  it  was  hoped 
that  an  additional  i  ,000  tons  monthly  could  be  supplied  to  the  Chinese 
armies.  That  meant  that  a  total  of  at  least  2,100  tons  each  month  had  to 
be  flown  from  Chihkiang,  across  the  Japanese  corridor,  to  Suichwan 
and  Kanchow;  from  there  the  supplies  could  be  taken  by  motor  trans- 
port across  the  dry-weather  roads  to  Marshal  Hsueh's  troops  and  to 
airfields  within  the  enemy-surrounded  area.^^ 

On  12  November  1944  the  first  units  of  the  East  China  Air  Task 
Force  reached  Suichwan,  and  one  week  later  Operation  STRONG- 
POINT  began  when  two  B-24's  took  off  on  a  reconnaissance  flight.^^ 
Already  the  enemy  had  begun  to  concentrate  troops  near  Cha-ling 
and  An)  en,  eighty-five  miles  northwest  of  Suichwan,  and  this  move 
suggested  that  the  Japanese  planned  to  overrun  the  remaining  eastern 
airfields  before  venturing  westward  toward  Kunming  and  its  neigh- 
boring fields.  On  15  January  1945  the  Japanese  struck  along  the  Cha- 
ling-Lienhwa  road.  Meanwhile,  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  was  finding 
it  impossible  to  get  1,000  tons  of  ground  supplies  to  the  Chinese  troops 
every  month,  not  because  of  any  failure  on  the  part  of  transport  serv- 
ices, but  because  the  Chungking  government  obstinately  refused  to 
release  the  required  materiel  for  the  use  of  Hsueh  Yo.  This  provoked 
some  justifiably  harsh  comments  among  Fourteenth  Air  Force  per- 
sonnel concerning  the  real  intentions  of  the  Kuomintang.  Naturally, 
under  such  unfavorable  circumstances,  the  forces  of  Hsueh  Yo  had 
no  choice  but  to  retreat.  For  the  first  few  days  of  battle,  the  weather 
was  good,  and  the  task  force  gave  the  Chinese  infantry  sufficient  sup- 
port to  limit  the  Japanese  to  nightly  advances.  Then  the  weather 

260 


VICTORY  IN  CHINA 


changed  to  make  flying  practically  impossible  at  the  altitudes  needed 
for  ground  support,  and  the  enemy  took  up  his  march  in  earnest.  On 
27  January  Suichwan  was  occupied;  Kanchow  fell  on  7  February. 
Meanwhile,  a  Japanese  drive  northward  along  the  line  of  the  Canton- 
Hengyang  railway  met  only  crumbling  resistance  as  Kukong  and  then 
Namyung  were  lost.  By  mid-February  the  only  field  left  was  Chang- 
ting,  and  Operation  STRONGPOINT  was  over.'' 

Despite  this  early  disappointment,  the  East  China  Air  Task  Force 
had  made  a  valiant  effort.  Within  the  general  vicinity  of  the 
STRONGPOINT  operations,  the  enemy  had  been  conceded  to  have 
overwhelming  air  superiority—perhaps  as  many  as  160  bombers  and 
400  fighters.^^  These  enemy  planes  remained,  however,  remarkably 
inactive,  perhaps  because  the  Japanese  lacked  an  adequate  warning 
system.  Time  and  time  again  the  Americans  swept  over  their  airfields, 
strafing  planes  parked  wing  to  wing,  and  met  little  or  no  opposition. 
The  mission  strength  of  the  Americans  was  never  very  great,  usually 
half  of  the  planes  being  used  for  cover;  they  were  free  to  strafe  only 
after  the  initial  attack  had  been  delivered.  AH  told,  747  sorties  were 
flown  by  the  two  fighter  squadrons  and  no  tons  of  bombs  were 
dropped.  The  East  China  Air  Task  Force  claimed  that  as  many  as  3 1 2 
enemy  planes  had  been  destroyed  or  damaged.  AAF  units  lost  no  air- 
craft in  aerial  combat,  but  fifteen  Mustangs  were  shot  down  by 
ground  fire  and  thirteen  planes  were  lost  to  other  causes.^* 

These  counter-air  operations  by  the  East  China  Air  Task  Force, 
while  serving  the  immediate  end  of  protecting  the  Chinese  ground 
forces  from  interference  by  enemy  planes,  were  also  part  of  a  general 
effort  by  Fourteenth  Air  Force  units  to  keep  the  enemy  air  force 
pinned  down  throughout  China.  It  was  hoped  that  the  attempt  to  gain 
complete  aerial  supremacy  would  give  substantial  assistance  in  hold- 
ing the  Japanese  armies  within  their  established  lines,  and  that  the 
Fourteenth  Air  Force  at  the  same  time  could  thus  contribute  to  the 
Allied  effort  in  the  Pacific— an  effort  now  reaching  into  the  Philippine 
Islands.^*  All  of  Chennault's  command  in  some  measure  shared  in  the 
offensive,  but  the  3 12th  Fighter  Wing,  now  free  of  the  responsibility 
for  defense  of  the  B-29  bases  at  Chengtu,  played  an  especially  active 
part.  Situated  west  of  the  corridor  at  Sian,  under  the  command  of 
Brig.  Gen.  Russell  E.  Randall,  the  3i2th's  Mustangs  between  No- 
vember 1944  and  the  end  of  February  1945  raided,  among  others, 
enemy  fields  at  Puchou,  Yuncheng,  Linfen,  Sinsiang,  Anyang,  Shih- 

261 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


chia-chuang,  Tsinan,  Suchow,  Chuchiatai,  and  Peiping.'^^  The  missions 
often  involved  operational  hazards  for  the  Fourteenth's  airmen,  but 
the  Japanese  air  units  added  little  to  the  difficulty.  Whether  because 
the  better-trained  and  -equipped  enemy  units  were  committed  to  the 
hard  fighting  of  the  Pacific  area  or  for  some  other  reason,  Japanese 
reaction  in  the  air  was  largely  confined  to  night  attacks,  never  in  great 
strength,  against  Allied  airfields  within  the  east  China  pocket.  During 
November  and  December  the  Japanese  bombed  Suichwan  twelve 
times  with  a  grand  total  of  seventy-four  planes;  Kanchow  was  hit 
eight  times  by  a  total  of  thirty-four  planes.  The  bombings  brought 
serious  damage— 6  fighters,  3  B-24  tankers,  and  4,000  gallons  of 
fuel  were  destroyed— but  the  effect  on  East  China  Air  Task  Force 
operations  was  slight.^^ 

To  restrict  further  Japanese  expansion,  the  East  China  Air  Task 
Force  put  interdiction  of  enemy  communications  in  second  priority 
after  its  counter-air  activity.  Although  the  interdiction  strikes  were 
constant,  the  scale  of  operations  was  limited  by  the  small  size  of  the 
force— one  which  counted  as  a  "big  show"  the  sixteen  planes  sent 
against  Nanking  and  the  thirteen  against  Hankong  on  8  December 
1944.  Some  assistance  did  come  from  the  B-29's  when  on  18  Decem- 
ber they  delivered  a  devastating  attack  on  Hankow.*  Throughout 
January  1945  the  5th  Fighter  Group  of  CACW  staged  daily  raids 
against  the  ammunition  dumps  of  Hankow  and  Wuchang,  and  by 
February  the  enemy  air  force  was  so  well  in  hand  as  to  permit  a  con- 
centration by  most  Fourteenth  Air  Force  units  on  the  interdiction 
program.  The  purpose  was  to  cut  down  the  supplies  going  to  the 
Japanese  Army,  to  disrupt  its  administration  of  the  conquered  prov- 
inces, and  to  prevent  the  development  of  effective  overland  commun- 
ications with  the  southern  parts  of  the  Empire.^^  Consequently,  railway 
lines,  locomotives,  bridges,  rolling  stock,  highways,  canals,  rivers,  and 
motor  vehicles  became  the  chief  targets.  Thunderbolts  struck  bridges 
along  the  southern  Tungpu  and  swept  railroads  and  highways;  Mus- 
tangs went  against  the  Ping-Han  bridges  and,  their  range  extended  by 
wing  tanks,  carried  their  attacks  against  locomotives  along  the 
Tsingpu;  night  fighters  took  over  after  dark.^^  Within  a  month  in- 
telligence reported  that  142  locomotives  had  been  destroyed  and  37 
bridges  rendered  temporarily  unserviceable.*** 

•  See  above,  pp.  143-44. 

262 


VICTORY   IN  CHINA 


Intelligence  also  indicated  that  damaged  locomotives  had  been 
hauled  into  north  China  for  repair,  especially  at  the  repair  depots 
located  near  Shih-chia-chuang,  Anyang,  Sinsiang,  Tsinan,  and  Cheng- 
hsien.  Accordingly,  three  squadrons  of  the  308th  Bombardment 
Group's  Liberators  were  taken  ofF  coastal  sweeps  and  placed  under 
the  operational  control  of  the  3 1 2th  Fighter  Wing  for  strikes  against 
these  repair  centers."  On  9  March  1945  thirty-one  Liberators,  with 
a  fighter  escort  of  twelve  Mustangs  from  the  311th  Fighter  Group, 
took  off  from  Hsinching  and  Kwanghan  to  strike  Sinsiang.  Photo- 
graphs of  the  bomb  patterns  showed  that  the  tracks  leading  into  and 
from  the  marshalling  yards  had  been  buckled,  that  seventeen  ware- 
houses had  been  destroyed,  and  that  seven  locomotives  had  been  dam- 
aged and  possibly  destroyed.*^  A  similar  raid  against  Shih-chia-chuang, 
flown  on  16  March,  resulted  in  comparable  destruction/^  On  2^ 
March  28  Liberators,  escorted  by  16  Mustangs,  attacked  the  Tsinan 
yards  and  a  Yellow  River  bridge  which  ordinarily  carried  a  daily  sup- 
ply traffic  of  3,000  tons;  the  Tsinan  yards  and  shops  were  smashed 
and  the  bridge  seriously  damaged.** 

By  the  end  of  March,  however,  it  was  realized  that  the  heavies  were 
no  more  efficient  than  fighters  in  maintaining  the  interdiction  program 
and,  therefore,  that  the  greater  fuel  consumption  of  the  larger  planes 
was  not  justified.  Consequently,  in  April  the  heavy  bombers  of  the 
308th  Bombardment  Group  were  transferred  to  India  for  supply  op- 
erations over  the  Hunlp.*^  Even  so,  it  became  necessary  to  limit  the 
fighter  attacks,  too,  in  order  to  conserve  fuel.  As  a  compromise,  it  was 
decided  to  restrict  missions  to  the  Tsingpu  bridge  and  to  points  along 
the  railway  from  Shih-chia-chuang  to  Hankow.  To  keep  the  effici- 
ency of  interdiction  at  a  high  level,  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  drew 
up  a  list  of  bridges  within  the  assigned  area  of  responsibility  of  each 
wing  and  gave  an  order  to  keep  a  definite  number  impassable  at  all 
times.**  In  general,  the  fighters  of  the  312th  Fighter  Wing,  the  Chi- 
nese-American Composite  Wing,  and  the  68th  Composite  Wing  were 
used  against  the  bridges,  and  the  medium  bombers  were  used  only  for 
the  most  strongly  built  structures,  for  railway  marshalling  yards,  and 
locomotive  repair  facilities.*^  Meanwhile,  the  341st  Bombardment 
Group  and  the  51st  Fighter  Group  performed  similar  tasks  in  French 
Indo-China.  From  March  through  May  1945  the  damage  inflicted  was 
heavy  enough  to  interrupt  permanently  the  traffic  from  Vinh  to  the 

263 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


China  border.  By  June,  with  three  bridges  unusable  within  a  distance 
of  forty  miles,  the  Japanese  abandoned  rail  transportation  and  turned 
to  motor  vehicles.^^ 

Although  counter-air  activity  and  the  railway  interdiction  program 
claimed  the  first  attention  of  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force,  attacks  on 
Japanese  shipping  were  continued  in  so  far  as  resources  permitted.  Be- 
tween late  November  and  the  end  of  January  claims  of  enemy  ship- 
ping sunk  reached  a  total  of  73,850  tons,  but  this  would  appear  to  be 
an  overoptimistic  estimate,  for  the  antishipping  program  is  repre- 
sented by  only  37  heavy  bomber  sorties  and  25  medium  sorties.*^  At 
times  fighters  supplemented  the  bombers,  especially  in  attacks  di- 
rected against  targets  on  the  Yangtze,  in  Formosa  Strait,  and  at 
Shanghai  and  Hong  Kong.  These  and  other  operations  continued  to 
suffer  from  the  limiting  effect  of  fuel  shortages.  Although  deliveries 
over  the  Hump  reached  new  records  in  the  winter  of  1944-45, 
consumption  also  reached  new  peaks  and  problems  of  distribution 
from  Kunming  to  other  airfields  remained  difficult. For  example, 
at  the  end  of  the  first  week  in  January,  the  field  at  Kanchow  had 
only  400  gallons  on  hand  and  Suichow  only  950.®^ 

Despite  supply  difficulties  and  the  loss  of  the  east  China  airfields, 
the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  continued  to  punish  the  enemy.  With  the 
airfields  in  north  China  at  Sian,  Laohpkow,  Ankang,  Hanchung, 
and  Liangshan  expandied  and  strengthened,  Yangtze  River  targets  re- 
ceived such  close  attention  that  the  Japanese  on  21  March  struck 
southwest  from  Lushan  to  try  to  overrun  the  northern  airfields.  At 
the  same  time,  a  column  swept  north  along  the  Han  River  valley  to 
provide  a  pincer  movement  against  Laohokow.  Lacking  air  cover,  the 
enemy  columns  moved  by  night  against  only  slight  resistance  by  the 
defending  Chinese  ground  forces.  On  25  March  the  installations  at 
Laohokow  were  destroyed  by  the  Americans  and  all  personnel  were 
evacuated.^^  Sian  and  Ankang  were  next  in  line  for  Japanese  occu- 
pation, but  Chinese  resistance  stiffened  into  a  stubborn  defense,  and 
the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  provided  excellent  support.  Bomb-carrying 
fighters  from  Sian  and  Ankang  struck  repeatedly  against  bridges  and 
concentration  points  along  the  enemy's  route  of  march  and  kept  pa- 
trol over  the  enemy's  road  and  river  lines  of  communication.  The 
312th  Fighter  Wing  concentrated  its  attacks  north  of  the  Yellow 
River,  while  CACW  struck  on  the  south.  The  311th  Fighter  Group, 
the  8ist  Fighter  Group,  the  426th  Night  Fighter  Squadron,  and 

264 


VICTORY    IN  CHINA 

CACW's  3d  Fighter  Group  and  ist  and  2d  Bombardment  Squadrons 
went  all-out.  During  April  ground  controllers  directed  the  pilots  to 
their  targets  as  the  enemy  took  refuge  in  caves,  foxholes,  and  bunker 
positions  along  the  hills  and  in  the  villages.  Laohokow  was  the  last 
Chinese  field  to  be  surrendered.^^ 

Meanwhile,  on  10  April  the  enemy  began  another  offensive,  a  drive 
aimed  at  the  Ghihkiang  air  base,  which  controlled  the  vital  Hsiang  val- 
ley. Its  capture  would  lay  open  Kweiyang,  and  thus  the  approaches  to 
Kunming  dnd  Chungking.^^  The  Japanese  began  their  drive  from  Pao- 
ching,  with  three  flanking  movements  in  support.  The  first  was  from 
Yuankiang,  180  miles  northeast  of  Ghihkiang,  and  led  to  the  occu- 
pation of  Yiyang,  The  second  flank  movement,  toward  Sinhwa,  be- 
gan with  a  strong  show  of  force  but  within  five  days  dwindled  to 
unimportance.  The  third  came  from  Tunganhsieh  and  took  Sinning, 
at  which  point  the  offensive  split  into  two  columns— one  drove  al- 
most as  far  as  Wawutailg,  fifty-eight  miles  from  Ghihkiang,  and  the 
other  got  as  far  as  Tangchiafang.  The  two  columns  then  joined  the 
rnain  drive  west  from  Pao-ching.*^ 

The  Japanese  threw  into  this  new  offensive  approximately  60,000 
troops.  The  Ghinese  had  100,000,  a  numerical  advantage  which  here- 
tofore had  not  been  sufficient  to  offset  the  superior  equipment  and 
training  of  the  enemy.  But  this  time  the  eiiemy  found  himself  opposed 
by  forces  which  were  regrouping  and  re-equipping  in  accordance  with 
Wedemeyer's  plan  to  seize  the  initiative  in  China.  Of  chief  importance 
was  the  Ghinese  Sixth  Army,  trained  in  Burma  and  flown  back  to 
Ghina  the  previous  autumn.  For  air  support  there  were  the  5th  Fighter 
Group  and  the  3d  and  4th  Bombardment  Squadrons  (M)  of  CACW, 
and  preparations  for  improvement  of  air-ground  techniques  were  well 
advanced.  Eight  air-ground  liaison  teams,  though  some  of  them  had 
not  completed  their  training,  were  rushed  to  the  battle  area  on  20 
April.  Each  team  was  composed  of  one  officer  and  two  enlisted  men 
whose  duty  it' was  to  maintain  as  nearly  as  possible  uninterrupted  con- 
tact with  the  enemy;  with  the  aid  of  panels  and  radios  they  directed 
fighters  and  bombers  to  the  targets,  many  times  at  the  request  of  Ghi- 
nese commanders.  These  requests  were  relayed  to  a  central  control 
station  at  Ankang,  where  an  air  liaison  officer  filtered  the  information 
for  transmission  to  the  operating  air  units.  After  some  experience, 
most  of  the  requests  were  made  directly  from  front-line  air-ground 
stations  to  5th  Fighter  Group  Headquarters.*® 

165 


THfe   ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

The  ;5o-caliber  machine  gun  proved  to  be  the  most  important  single 
weapon  used  in  support  of  the  Chinese  ground  forces.  The  5th  Fighter 
Group  alone  fired  an  average  of  1,800,000  rounds  a  month  during  the 
nearly  2  months  of  battle.  For  the  most  part,  Japanese  forces  occu- 
pied hilltop  positions;  to  strafe  effectively,  the  fighters  fired  their 
guns  during  a  po"*  dive  and  did  not  begin  the  pull-out  until  a  relatively 
short  distance  froni  the  foxholes.  Napalm  bombs  were  especially  ef- 
fective as  antipersonnel  weapons,  since  they  not  only  penetrated  the 
foxholes  but  their  heat  drove  enemy  soldiers  from  neairby  positions 
to  expose  themselves  to  the  fire  of  the  Chinese  ground  soldier.^^  De- 
spite the  usual  limitations  imposed  by  inadequate  supplies,  the  56 
fighter  aircraft  flew  a  total  of  3,101  sorties  during  the  51  days  of 
the  campaign,  thus  averaging  somewhat  better  than  i  sortie  per 
plane  per  day.  Since  there  were  several  days  in  the  course  of  the  cam- 
paign when  weather  prevented  flying,  it  was  at  times  necessary  for 
each  pilot  to  fly  as  many  as  four  or  five  sorties  on  clear  days.  The 
medium  bombers  flew  183  sorties  with  an  average  bomb  Ibad  of  1,040 
pounds  per  sortie.^® 

As  a  result  of  the  new  spirit  among  the  Chinese  troops  and  the  close 
air  Support  given  the  Generalissimo's  forces  by  the  Fourteenth  Air 
Force,  the  Japanese  were  decisively  defeated  in  the  Chihkiang  cam- 
paign. By  15  May  the  Chinese  troops  were  so  definitely  masters  of  the 
situation  that  the  Japanese  were  in  full  retreat  along  the  Hsiang  Valley. 
And  this  was  the  turning  point  in  China.  Within  a  few  days  it  was 
also  evident  that  the  enemy  was  moving  back  toward  the  Indo-China 
border  and  that  preparations  were  being  milde  to  abandon  Liuchow.^® 
By  June  it  was  quite  certain  that  the  Japanese  would  not  try  to  re- 
deploy their  troops  south  of  the  Yellow  River,  and  before  the  end 
of  that  month  hitherto  strongly  held  coastal  positions  below  Shang- 
hai were  being  evacuated.  There  Were  even  signs  that  the  estimated 
100,000  troops  in  the  Canton  region  were  also  going  to  be  moved  out, 
and  by  the  end  of  July  central  China  and  the  China  coast  were  nearly 
free.  There  remained  the  possibility  of  a  tedious  fight  along  the  south- 
ern boundary  of  Marichtfria,  but  within  another  two  weeks  the  enemy 
government  had  surrendered.  With  that  surrender,  "the  China  inci- 
dent" was  dosed. 

There  is  no  evidence  to  suggest  that  the  failure  of  the  Chihkiang 
offensive  in  any  way  affected  the  Japanese  decision  to  surrender.  The 
American  victory  was  won  in  the  Pacific,  and  China  remained  at  the 

266 


VICTORY   IN  CHINA 


close  of  the  war,  as  she  had  since  the  attack  on  Pearl  Harbor,  outside 
the  main  theater  of  combat.  The  enemy's  decision  to  extend  his  grasp 
on  China  came  too  late  to  affect  the  ultimate  decision  and  served 
chiefly  to  deny  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force  the  opportunity  to  play  its 
anticipated  part  in  cutting  the  enemy's  lifeline  through  the  China  Sea. 
That  U.S.  Pacific  forces  were  able  to  move  speedily  to  the  accomplish- 
ment of  their  purposes  in  the  final  phases  of  the  war  without  substan- 
tial aid  from  China-based  air  forces  is  one  more  comment  on  the  frus- 
tration which  had  plagued  the  history  of  AAF  operations  in  China 
from  the  beginning  of  the  war.  For  the  men  of  the  Fourteenth  Air 
Force,  however,  there  was  the  satisfaction  of  a  fight  well  fought  and 
of  postwar  testimony  by  ranking  Japanese  officers  in  China  that,  but 
for  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force,  "we  could  have  gone  anywhere  we 
wished."^ 

A  Final  Reorganization 

At  the  end  of  the  war  Chennault  no  longer  commanded  in  China, 
and  plans  for  a  complete  reorganization  of  AAF  forces  on  the  Asiatic 
mainland  were  being  put  into  effect.  These  plans  had  their  origins 
earlier  in  1945  in  two  considerations:  the  prospect  of  an  early  libera- 
tion of  all  Burma,  and  the  desire  to  use  all  available  AAF  resources  in 
Asia  for  cooperation  with  U.S.  forces  in  the  Pacific  as  they  ap- 
proached the  mainland  of  China.  Termination  of  the  combined  Anglo- 
American  effort  to  expel  the  Japanese  from  Burma  would  re-emphasize 
the  contrasting  interests  of  the  United  States  and  Britain.  The  latter 
naturally  looked  southeastward  toward  the  reoccupation  of  Singa- 
pore, but,  on  the  other  hand,  the  United  States'  primary  aim  in  CBI 
had  from  the  first  been  to  help  China.  Strategic  plans  for  the  Pacific 
still  rested  to  some  extent  upon  the  assumption  that  an  amphibious 
landing  on  the  China  coast  might  be  a  necessary  preliminary  to  the 
final  assault  on  Japan;  such  a  landing  would  depend  in  great  measure 
for  its  success  on  an  enlarged  AAF  force  in  China.  Even  if  the  idea  of 
some  lodgment  on  the  China  coast  were  wholly  abandoned,  there 
would  be  work  enough  for  China-based  planes  in  operations  off  the 
China  coast  in  cooperation  with  Philippines-  or  Formosa-based  planes 
of  the  Pacific  air  forces. 

Before  the  inauguration  of  the  final  offensive  in  Burma,  General 
Stratemeyer  and  his  staff  had  looked  forward  to  the  dissolution  of  the 
Eastern  Air  Command  and  the  transfer  of  its  AAF  components  across 

267 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

the  Hump  to  China.^^  Such  a  plan  was  in  accord  with  AAF  thinking 
in  Washington,  and  by  January  1945  Stratemeyer's  planners  had 
drafted  specific  proposals  for  the  redeployment  of  AAF  units  from 
India  and  Burma  to  China  at  the  earliest  possible  time  after  the  libera- 
tion of  Burma.  These  proposals,  providing  for  an  AAF  headquarters  in 
China  to  command  both  the  Tenth  and  Fourteenth  Air  Forces,  re- 
ceived the  approval  of  Wedemeyer,  Stratemeyer,  and  Sultan  in  a  con- 
ference at  Myitkyina  on  15  January  1945.®^  After  further  considera- 
tion led  to  some  revision,  Wedemeyer  was  to  take  the  revised  version 
to  the  Pentagon  in  person  for  final  approval.  Chennault  was  outspoken 
against  the  plan,  and  when  Wedemeyer  went  to  Washington  in  March 
he  took  with  him  Col.  Howard  Means  as  Chennault's  personal  repre- 
sentative; Maj.  Gen.  Charles  B.  Stone  III,  Chief  of  Staff,  EAC,  and 
several  ATC  officers  also  accompanied  Wedemeyer.*^^^  In  Washington 
Colonel  Means'  chief  argument  against  a  great  build-up  of  AAF  forces 
in  China  was  that  the  increase  could  not  be  justified  in  terms  of  the 
available  logistical  support.^*  His  argument  was  countered  by  a  promise 
that  the  Hump  lift  would  be  augmented  by  the  allocation  of  many 
additional  C-54's,®®  and  the  reaction  to  the  proposed  plan  in  Wash- 
ington, where  preparations  for  an  early  concentration  against  Japan 
itself  were  being  pushed,  seemed  altogether  favorable. 

The  special  mission  left  Washington  with  no  written  directive,  but 
with  the  firm  conviction  that  the  War  Department  was  committed  to 
the  movement  to  China  of  Stratemeyer's  AAF  headquarters  and  the 
Tenth  Air  Force.  Before  a  conference  of  AAF  leaders  at  Hastings 
Mill,  India,  on  9  April  1945,  General  Stone  explained  that  a  plan 
aimed  at  the  liberation  of  a  China  port  and  establishment  of  direct 
contact  with  the  American  forces  in  the  Pacific  had  been  approved 
by  the  Joint  Planning  Staff  and  the  Joint  Chiefs  of  Staff.^^  The  air 
phase  of  the  plan,  which  was  based  upon  the  redeployment  to  China 
of  Stratemeyer*s  headquarters  and  the  Tenth  Air  Force,  was  then 
explained  in  detail. 

It  was  anticipated  that  by  July  1945,  * 'sufficient  tonnage  being 
available  and  the  United  States  Army  Air  Force  participation  in 
Southeast  Asia  Command  Operations  being  terminated,  air  units  of  the 
AAF  India-Burma  Theater  will  be  deployed  to  China  as  required."^^ 
The  Tenth  Air  Force,  already  organized  along  tactical  lines,  was  to 
be  based  south  and  west  of  Chihkiang  for  direct  support  of  the  Chi- 
nese ground  forces  and  for  isolation  of  "the  immediate  area  of  the 

268 


VICTORY   IN  CHINA 


battlefield  by  attacking  railway  and  road  lines  of  communication  from 
Hengyang  through  Hanoi  and  down  the  West  River  to  Canton- 
Hongkong."^  The  Fourteenth  Air  Force,  organized  as  a  bomber  com- 
mand and  based  along  the  Chengtu-Yellow  River  bend,  was  to  be 
charged  primarily  with  strategic  operations.  Coordination  of  opera- 
tions with  the  Far  East  Air  Forces  in  the  Philippines  was  to  be  worked 
out  by  a  new  headquarters,  the  Army  Air  Forces,  China  Theater.®* 
Stratemeyer,  who  would  head  the  new  organization,  was  to  locate 
his  headquarters  close  to  Wedemeyer's,^''  and  although  it  was  agreed 
that  Chinese  air  units  should  also  come  under  Stratemeyer's  direction, 
for  this  the  Generalissimo's  consent  was  still  to  be  secured  at  the  close 
of  April.^^ 

By  that  time  the  campaign  in  south  Burma  was  racing  toward  its 
triumphant  end,  with  the  occupation  of  Rangoon  a  matter  of  days. 
As  the  Allies  closed  in  on  the  great  port,  fewer  and  fewer  aircraft 
were  needed  to  pursue  the  broken  and  hiding  foe.  Accordingly,  plans 
were  made  for  an  early  move  of  some  Tenth  Air  Force  units— espe- 
cially ground  personnel— to  China,  and  on  5  May  1945  Wedemeyer 
gave  the  necessary  authorization."  But  almost  immediately  he  reversed 
his  decision  and  informed  Stratemeyer  that  a  further  study  of  Hump 
tonnage  indicated  the  impossibility  of  receiving  the  Tenth  Air  Force 
in  China  on  an  operational  basis.  Marshall  would  be  informed,  but 
Wedemeyer  wished  first  to  offer  Stratemeyer  the  over-all  command 
of  a  much  smaller  air  force  in  China  with  Chennault  and  Davidson 
dividing  the  command  under  him.  General  Wedemeyer  hoped  that 
the  force  in  time  might  be  built  up  to  a  strength  commensurate  with 
Stratemeyer's  rank.'""  The  latter  replied  frankly  that  he  did  not  want 
the  job;  were  the  need  genuine,  he  would  gladly  take  any  position  in 
China  that  might  assist  in  winning  the  war,  but  he  advised  Wede- 
meyer to  accept  Stone  as  air  force  commander  and  make  Chennault, 
Davidson,  and  "myself"  available  for  return  to  the  U.S.^^  On  1 3  May 
Wedemeyer  told  Stratemeyer  that  he  was  notifying  the  War  Depart- 
ment of  his  inability  to  receive  the  Tenth  Air  Force,  and  that  same 
day  Stratemeyer  in  a  letter  to  Arnold  explained  some  of  the  difficul- 
ties." It  appeared  that  the  original  estimates,  especially  for  ground 
force  requirements  in  China,  had  been  too  optimistic.  The  difficulties 
of  intra-theater  distribution  had  been  underestimated  and  recent  re- 
ports on  air  transport  requirements  for  the  deployment  of  forces  in 
Europe  indicated  that  fewer  C-54's  would  be  available  for  the  Hump 

269 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  tl 

run  than  had  been  anticipated.  After  deactivation  of  the  Eastern  Air 
Command  on  31  May  1945,  some  transport  planes  and  perhaps  one 
heavy  bombardment  group  would  be  assigned  to  the  Hump  route; 
other  cargo  planes,  together  with  one  fighter  group,  would  be  sent 
to  China  for  use  by  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force.  The  Tenth  Air  Force, 
presumably,  would  be  liquidated. 

The  decision  to  abandon  the  plan  to  transfer  the  Tenth  Air  Force 
to  China  had  hardly  been  made  when  the  situation  which  had  gov- 
erned the  decision  began  to  change.  On  1 6  May  Lt.  Gen.  Ira  C.  Eaker, 
Arnold's  deputy  in  Washington,  wrote  Wedemeyer  that  in  any  event 
Chennault  would  be  replaced  as  air  commander  in  China.^®  By  22  May 
a  report  that  the  promised  C-54's  were  actually  on  their  way  to  India 
revived  some  hope  at  Stratemeyer's  headquarters."  There  seems  to 
have  been  some  serious  failure  in  communications  between  China  and 
Washington,  for  the  War  Department  quite  evidently  assumed  that 
plans  for  the  transfer  of  Stratemeyer  and  the  Tenth  Air  Force  to 
China  would  go  forward.  Early  in  June  Arnold  left  the  United  States 
for  a  tour  of  the  Pacific,*  and  he  was  preceded  by  orders  for  Strate- 
meyer to  meet  him  in  Manila/®  At  that  conference,  held  on  16  June 
1945,^^  Arnold  expressed  surprise  that  Stratemeyer  had  not  yet  as- 
sumed command  in  China  and  informed  him  that  he  had  recently  been 
promoted  to  the  rank  of  lieutenant  general  for  that  specific  purpose.®" 

Arnold  was  obviously  also  resolved  to  avoid  any  complications  aris- 
ing from  the  presence  of  Chennault  in  China.®^  When  Stratemeyer  left 
for  China  on  17  June,  he  carried  a  letter  from  Arnold  to  Wedemeyer 
advising  him  of  the  need  in  China  for  "a  senior,  experienced  air  officer, 
in  whom  both  you  and  I  have  confidence."®^  In  view  of  his  recent 
experience  in  Burma,  Stratemeyer  was  proposed  as  one  especially  well 
qualified  for  leadership  in  ''a  war  of  movement,  aimed  at  isolating  the 
Jap  in  Indo-China  and  defeating  him  or  at  least  containing  a  substan- 
tial bulk  of  his  forces  in  Southern  China."  The  letter  continued: 

General  Chennault  has  been  in  China  for  a  long  period  of  time  fighting  a  de- 
fensive air  war  with  minimum  resources.  The  meagemess  of  supplies  and  the 
resulting  guerilla  type  of  warfare  must  change  to  a  modern  type  of  striking, 
offensive  air  power.  I  firmly  believe  that  the  quickest  and  most  effective  way  to 
change  air  warfare  in  your  Theater,  employing  modern  offensive  thought, 
tactics  and  techniques,  is  to  change  commanders.  I  would  appreciate  your  con* 
currence  in  General  Chennault's  early  withdrawal  from  the  China  Theater.  He 

•  See  below,  p.  687. 


270 


VICTORY  IN  CHINA 


should  take  advantage  of  the  retir,ement  privileges  now  available  to  physically 
disqualified  officers  that  make  their  pay  not  subject  to  Income  Tax.  Otherwise 
he  may  be  reduced  and  put  back  on  the  retired  list  at  his  permanent  rank. 

I  understand  that  the  tonnages  which  I  am  largely  responsible  for  making 
available  to  you  have  been  substantially  allocated  to  the  ground  forces,  thereby 
reducing  the  amount  of  tonnage  available  to  air.  This  has  resulted  in  your 
available  air  striking  power  being  dissipated  from  India-Burma  and  China  to 
other  theaters  and  to  the  United  States.  There  are  no  plaiis  which  I  know  of  for 
increasing  your  air  forces  at  a  later  date  and  I  therefore  recommend  that  you 
re-evaluate  your  present  situation  and  create  conditions  which  will  permit  the 
redeployment  to  China  of  essential  air  striking  power  now  available  in  India- 
Burma.  I  feel  that  if  you  can  do  this,  the  Joint  Chiefs  of  Staff  will  not  object  to 
the  additional  change  in  the  air  plans  which  will  permit  you  to  introduce  into 
China  these  units,  which  1  feel  should  be  the  bulk  of  those  of  the  Army  Air 
Forces,  India-Burma  Theater.  Any  units  of  the  Tenth  Air  Force  which  you 
can  program  for  employment  in  China  can  be  held  in  India;  the  others  will  be 
redeployed  as  soon  as  we  can  get  shipping. 

I  trust  that  in  line  with  my  comments  above  you  will  be  enabled  to  put  into 
effect  the  organization  which  you  recommended  to  the  War  Department  on 
your  recent  visit;  that  is,  that  you  have  a  Commanding  General,  Army  Air 
Forces,  China  Theater,  directing  the  employment  of  the  Tenth  and  Fourteenth 
Air  Forces*  one  of  these  forces  in  a  predominantly  tactical  cooperation  with 
ground  forces  role,  and  the  other  a  strategic  force. 

Arnold's  unmistakably  phrased  letter  had  been  preceded  by  a  mes- 
sage of  8  June  from  General  Marshall  expressing  surprise  that  Wede- 
meyer's  original  plan  had  been  dropped  and  that  Stratemeyer  had 
riot  yet  assumed  command,  Marshall  also  pointed  out  thkt  Strate- 
meyer's  promotion  had  been  put  through  for  the  purpose  of  using 
him  in  China  and  asked  to  be  brought  up  to  date  on  Wedemeyer's 
latest  plans.^  After  receiving  Arnold's  letter,  Wedemeyer  on  20  June 
informed  Marshall  of  his  full  concurrence  with  Arnold's  recommen- 
dations on  the  organization  of  his  air  forces:  Stratemeyer  would  com- 
mand the  "China  Theater  Air  Forces,"  and  under  him  Chenn^ult 
would  command  the  "Strategical  Air  Force"  and  Davidson  the  "Tac- 
tical Air  Force."®*  The  available  record  is  not  full  enough  to  explain 
the  decision  to  keep  Chennault;  perhaps  Wedemeyer  sought  only  to 
give  Chennault  time  to  offer  his  resignation.  At  any  rate,  six  days  later 
General  Chennault  entered  a  vigorous  protest  against  the  whole  plan,^^ 
and  not  until  6  July  1945  did  he  hand  in  his  request  for  retirement.®' 
Stratemeyer  promptly  approved  and  designated  Stone  as  Chennault's 
successor  in  command  of  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force.®^ 

During  June  a  number  of  officers  from  India  had  flown  to  Chung- 
king as  a  planning  staff  to  arrange  with  Wedemeyer  for  the  selection 
of  suitable  quarters  and  ofiice  space.  The  Tenth's  own  troop  carrier 


271 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORGES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

squadrons  undertook  the  necessary  lift  over  the  Hump,  with  some 
help  from  the  newly  arrived  C-54's.  On  4  July  a  group  of  officers 
from  Hastings  Mill  flew  to  Chungking  to  organize  a  Headquarters, 
Army  Air  Forces,  China  Theater.  General  Stratemeyer  left  for  China 
twelve  days  later/®  arid  on  2  j  July  the  Tenth  Air  Force  Headquarters 
opened  at  Kunming.  When  the  war  ended,  the  move  to  China  was  still 
in  process.  During  these  last  days  of  combat,  the  Fourteenth  Air  Force 
cairried  on  operations,  but  f dr  the  Tenth,  its  war  ended,  not  inappro- 
priately, with  the  problerris  of  one  more  major  reorganization  engross- 
ing the  attention  of  most  of  its  personnel. 


272 


SECTION  III 
*********** 


RETURN  TO  THE  PHILIPPINES 


CHAPTER  10 


PRELUDE  TO  INVASION 

THE  END  of  July  1944  MacArthur's  Southwest  Pacific  Area 
forces  had  landed  at  Noemf oor  and  Sansapor  to  end  their  long 
campaign  in  New  Guinea  while  Pacific  Ocean  Areas  troops 
under  Nimitz  consolidated  positions  they  had  seized  in  the  Marianas. 
The  time  had  come  for  a  final  decision  on  the  interim  strategic  objec- 
tive for  the  Pacific  war  specified  by  the  CCS  in  the  preceding  Decem- 
ber at  Cairo:  seizure  of  an  Allied  base  in  the  Formosa-Luzon-China 
coast  area  which  would  permit  the  establishment  of  a  direct  sea  route  to 
China  and  interdiction  of  Japanese  communications  with  the  Nether- 
lands East  Indies. 

Neither  MacArthur  nor  Nimitz  had  a  definite  commitment  pre- 
cisely placing  this  major  strategic  base.  The  JCS  on  12  March  1944 
had  preferred  to  indicate  that,  according  to  the  situation  on  1 5  Feb- 
ruary 1945,  either  Nimitz  would  be  expected  to  invade  Formosa  or 
MacArthur  would  be  directed  to  occupy  Luzon.  Meanwhile,  Mac- 
Arthur  would  complete  operations  along  the  New  Guinea  coast  de- 
signed to  support  a  POA  invasion  of  the  Palaus  on  15  September  and 
a  SWPA  assault  against  Mindanao  on  15  November.*  Nimitz,  having 
occupied  the  southern  Marianas  and  the  Palaus,  might  be  expected  to 
attack  Formosa  on  15  February  1945;  or,  if  Luzon  could  not  be  ef- 
fectively neutralized  by  SWPA's  land-based  aviation,  MacArthur's 
forces  might  be  required  to  move  northward  from  Mindanao  to  Luzon 
on  15  February  in  preparation  for  a  POA  assault  against  Formosa  at  a 
delayed  target  date,^  No  other  strategic  decision  of  the  Pacific  war 
would  be  discussed  at  greater  length  or  with  more  heat. 

Invasion  Plans 

Once  the  JCS  had  issued  the  directive  of  12  March  1944,  clarifica- 
tion of  its  tentative  strategy  necessarily  awaited  theater  action.  Busy 
•  For  full  discussion,  see  Vol.  IV,  549-55,  570-^4. 


275 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  11 

with  the  HoUandia  operation,  SWPA  undertook  no  immediate  revi- 
sion of  its  strategic  plans.  In  answer  to  a  request  for  information,  Mac- 
Arthur  told  the  JCS  on  8  May  that  he  intended  to  seize  an  airdrome 
site  on  the  coast  of  the  Vogelkop  about  i  August  and  then,  coordi- 
nating his  target  date  with  POA's  invasion  of  the  Palaus,  to  acquire 
an  airdrome  site  on  Halmahera  for  flank  protection  and  air  support 
of  the  invasion  of  southern  Mindanao.^  The  Joint  Planning  Staff  (JPS) 
in  Washington,  who  regarded  the  Palaus  as  the  supporting  base  for 
Mindanao,  saw  little  need  for  another  such  base  in  the  northern 
Moluccas,  of  which  Halmahera  and  Morotai  were  the  chief  islands. 
Moreover,  the  Joint  Strategic  Survey  Committee  (JSSC)  on  29  May 
initiated  an  investigation  of  possible  short  cuts  to  speed  up  the  Pacific 
war.  Noting  that  current  intelligence  indicated  the  Japanese  were 
building  up  strength  in  the  Philippines  at  the  expense  of  Formosa,  the 
JSSC  questioned  whether  it  might  not  be  wise  to  bypass  Mindanao 
and  attack  Formosa  directly.  Deterioration  of  the  Allied  situation  in 
China  seemed  to  argue  that  Formosa  should  be  captured  at  the  earliest 
possible  date.  Adding  this  suggestion  to  their  own  opinion  that  inva- 
sion of  the  northern  Moluccas  was  of  questionable  value,  the  JPS  per- 
suaded the  JCS  to  question  MacArthur  and  Nimitz  on  13  June  1944 
about  their  ability  to  speed  operations  by  omitting  steps  projected 
prior  to  Formosa,  by  accelerating  target  dates,  or  by  selecting  other 
objectives,  including  targets  in  Japan  proper.^ 

These  questions  reached  the  Pacific  theaters  at  an  inopportune  mo- 
ment. Only  ten  days  before,  Nimitz  had  issued  his  GRANITE  II  plan, 
which  set  target  dates  for  POA  operations  as  follows:  the  southern 
Marianas  (FORAGER),  15  June;  the  Palaus  (STALEMATE),  8 
September;  Mindanao  (INSURGENT),  15  November;  southern 
Formosa  and  Amoy  (CAUSEWAY),  15  February  1945,  or,  if  For- 
mosa proved  impracticable,  Luzon  (INDUCTION),  15  February 
1945.  Until  the  results  of  FORAGER  became  clear,  he  could  offer 
no  information  regarding  acceleration  of  later  operations.^ 

At  Brisbane,  SWPA  planners  were  just  completing  the  finished 
draft  of  RENO  V,  which  would  be  formally  issued  on  15  June.  This 
plan,  last  of  the  RENO  series,*  reflected  SWPA  successes  at  Wakde 
and  Biak.  Subsequent  campaigns  were  phased  as  follows:  i)  Estab- 
lishment of  an  air  base  in  the  Vogelkop  and  another  in  the  northern 
Moluccas,  with  a  contingent  operation  planned  for  the  Kai  and  Tan- 

*  For  the  origin  and  development  of  this  series,  see  index  to  Vol.  IV. 

276 


PRELUDE  TO  INVASION 


imbar  islands  if  a  Japanese  air  concentration  on  the  west  of  New 
Guinea  demanded  additional  left-flank  protection.  This  phase  would 


be  accomplished  between  July  and  October  1944,  with  the  target 
date  for  invasion  of  Morotai,  north  of  Halmahera,  timed  to  coincide 
with  POA^s  entry  into  the  Palaus.  Simultaneous  target  dates  would 


277 


THE  ARMY   AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

permit  the  Pacific  Fleet  to  cover  both  operations  at  one  time.  2)  Es- 
tablishment of  bases  in  Mindanao  to  support  air  operations  against 
Luzon  and  North  Borneo,  November-December  1944.  SWPA  forces 
would  seize  Sarangani  Bay,  on  the  coast  of  southern  Mindanao,  on  25 
October  and  establish  airfields  to  support  the  principal  effort  on  15 
November  against  northern  Mindanao  and  Leyte.  Parts  of  Samar 
would  be  added  to  the  holding,  and  a  major  air,  naval,  and  logistic 
base  built.  3)  Invasion  of  Luzon,  January-March  1945.  During  Jan- 
uary, a  major  amphibious  movement,  supported  by  airborne  troops 
from  Leyte,  would  seize  the  Bicol  area  of  southern  Luzon,  and  con- 
currently another  landing  operation  from  POA  bases  would  seize  air- 
drome facilities  in  the  Aparri  area  of  northeastern  Luzon.  During 
February  the  island  of  Mindoro,  lying  immediately  southwest  of  Lu- 
zon, would  be  occupied  by  an  airborne  invasion  from  Leyte.  With 
assistance  from  Filipino  troops,  SWPA  would  clean  out  the  Visayas 
between  December  1944  and  June  1945,  thus  ringing  Japanese  forces 
remaining  on  Luzon  with  Allied  air  bases.  In  addition  to  an  intensive 
bombardment  of  Luzon,  Allied  air  forces  would  begin  interdiction 
strikes  from  Mindanao  and  Sulu  bases  over  North  Borneo  and  the 
South  China  Sea.  4)  Reoccupation  of  Luzon,  April-June  1945.  A 
major  landing  force  would  seize  beachheads  in  the  Lingayen  Gulf 
area  of  the  west  coast  of  Luzon  on  i  April,  and,  with  an  armored 
division  and  strong  airborne  support,  the  main  attack  would  penetrate 
southward  to  occupy  Manila.  A  secondary  shore-to-shore  operation 
from  the  Bicol  Peninsula  would  seize  a  beachhead  on  the  eastern  coast 
of  Luzon  at  Baler  and  Atimonan  bays  and  force  its  way  through  the 
mountains  to  join  the  main  drive.  Reserve  forces  would  be  employed 
in  contingent  operations  to  outflank  the  Japanese  on  Luzon,  and,  as 
rapidly  as  possible,  air  bases  on  the  island  would  be  rushed  to  com- 
pletion to  broaden  the  strategic  air  effort  against  Japan.  SWPA  pre- 
sumed that  Pacific  Fleet  support  would  be  made  available  for  each 
phase  of  RENO  V;  by  the  time  of  the  last  phase,  it  expected  to  be 
using  an  equivalent  of  twenty-seven  divisions.* 

This  plan  was  subsequently  to  be  much  streamlined,  both  as  to 
timing  and  the  forces  scheduled  for  employment,  but  on  18  June  Mac- 
Arthur  answered  the  JCS  query  with  a  flat  negative:^  his  forces  would 
be  strained  to  the  utmost  to  meet  target  dates  already  specified.  To 
drop  operations  intermediate  to  the  landing  on  Formosa  was  a  radical 
departure  from  any  previous  Pacific  plan,  and  the  suggestion  that  the 

278 


PRELUDE  TO  INVASION 


attack  might  be  launched  from  the  central  Pacific  without  appreciable 
land-based  air  support  was  most  unsound.  MacArthur  believed  it 
would  be  necessary  at  least  for  SWPA  to  occupy  Luzon  and  establish 
air  bases  there.  Similarly,  the  proposal  to  bypass  all  objectives  and  in- 
vade. Japan  proper  was  utterly  unsound:  successes  won,  MacArthur 
cautioned,  however  great,  should  not  lead  to  suicidal  ventures.  In  ad- 
dition to  purely  military  reasons  for  retaking  the  Philippines,  he  urged 
that  the  United  States  owed  the  Filipinos  their  freedom.  If  serious 
Consideration  were  being  given  to  a  direct  invasion  of  Japan,  he  asked 
permission  to  come  to  Washington  to  express  his  views  in  person. 

Although  Marshall  replied  that  neither  of  the  two  propositions  was 
unsound  and  cautioned  MacArthur  not  to  let  personal  feelings  and 
Philippine  political  considerations  vitiate  any  plan  to  shorten  the  war 
against  Japan,^  it  was  obvious  in  Washington  that  SWPA  target  dates 
could  not  be  significantly  advanced  at  the  moment.  The  JPS  con- 
cluded that  deletion  of  an  invasion  of  Mindanao  would  hasten  the  For- 
mosa operation  by  no  more  than  one  month  because  of  a  lack  of  avail- 
able attack  transports  and  cargo  vessels.  In  addition,  weather 
conditions  would  prevent  an  attack  on  Japan  proper  prior  to  October 
or  November  1945.  The  JPS,  however,  considered  that  deletion  of  a 
Mindanao  operation  would  avoid  the  possibility  of  a  long  and  costly 
Philippines  campaign;  the  only  question  was  whether  Japanese  air 
strength  on  Luzon  could  be  neutralized  prior  to  Formosa  operations 
without  bases  in  the  southern  Philippines.® 

At  this  juncture  Nimitz,  whose  forces  were  being  delayed  in  the 
Marianas,  also  confessed  an  inability  to  accelerate  his  campaigns.  He 
had  planned  to  invade  the  Palaus  a  week  before  the  JCS  target  date 
of  1 5  September,  but  recent  estimates  indicated  that  the  Palaus  garri- 
sons were  being  increased  from  9,000  to  40,000  troops,  and  he  was 
doubtful  that  even  the  JCS  timing  could  be  met.  In  order  to  save  time 
he  proposed  to  limit  the  operation  to  seizure  of  only  two  islands  in  the 
Palaus— Angaur  and  Peleliu— and  to  secure  a  fleet  staging  point  at  Kos- 
sol  Passage.  He  would  take  Yap  and  Ulithi  either  simultaneously  or 
shortly  afterward.  Having  obtained  information  about  RENO  V 
from  a  SWPA-POA  staff  conference  at  Pearl  Harbor  on  3  July,  Nim- 
itz notified  Washington  that  he  considered  the  plan  of  campaign  to  be 
sound,  even  if  the  timing  appeared  optimistic*  He  stressed  the  need 
for  SWPA  air  support  from  Mindanao  and  Leyte  prior  to  the  For- 
mosa operation.  Leyte  was  of  special  importance:  if  this  island  fell 


279 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

into  SWPA  hands,  the  neutralization  of  the  whole  Philippines  would 
be  assured  and  subsequent  operations  could  be  expedited.^^ 

These  statements  ended  proposals,  at  least  for  a  time^  to  skip  opera- 
tions in  the  southern  Philippines.  "We  certainly  should  not  take  any 
action  now  to  prevent  the  Mindanao-Leyte  operation,"  Maj.  Gen. 
Thomas  T.  Handy,  AC/S,  OPD,  advised  Marshall.  *'MacArthur's 
stand  that  Luzon  must  be  seized  before  we  go  to  Formosa  may  be 
right.  Nimitz  is  not  sure.  ...  I  believe  we  should  await  future  de- 
velopments."^^ Nimitz  was  permitted  to  reduce  the  scale  of  the  Palaus 
operation  as  he  had  proposed.  Morotai,  by  implication,  gained  status 
as  the  main  supporting  base  for  the  invasion  of  southern  Mindanao.^^ 

Later  in  July  questions  of  strategy  again  were  reviewed  at  a  con- 
ference of  President  Roosevelt,  Mac  Arthur,  and  Nimitz  at  Pearl  Har- 
bor. Remembering  MacArthur's  proposal  to  visit  Washington,  Mar- 
shall had  taken  advantage  of  Roosevelt's  inspection  of  Pacific  defenses 
to  direct  Mac  Arthur  to  come  to  Hawaii  on  26  July.  On  the  next  eve- 
ning Roosevelt  invited  MacArthur,  Nimitz,  and  Halsey  to  dinner,  and 
after  the  meal  he  drew  out  a  map,  pointed  to  Mindanao,  and  said, 
"Well,  Douglas,  where  do  we  go  from  here?"  MacArthur,  who  had 
not  been  told  that  he  would  meet  Roosevelt  in  Hawaii  or  that  strategy 
would  be  discussed  after  dinner,  nevertheless  launched  into  a  discus- 
sion of  his  ideas  which  lasted  all  evening.  He  urged  that  Luzon  be 
seized  (target  date  15-25  February  1945)  and  bases  established  there 
from  which  Japanese  shipping  in  the  South  China  Sea  could  be  inter- 
dicted and  Formosa  neutralized.  The  Pacific  Fleet  and  POA  would 
then  be  free  to  operate  against  the  Japanese  fleet  and  to  seize  air  base 
areas  in  the  Ryukyus  and  Bonins.  Seizure  of  Formosa  would  be  a  mas- 
sive operation,  extremely  costly  in  men  and  shipping,  logistically  pre- 
carious, and  time-consuming.  It  would  offer  to  the  enemy  air  and  naval 
opportunities  against  an  overextended  Allied  supply  line  which 
would  never  otherwise  be  afforded.  He  was  willing  to  give  a  personal 
guarantee  that  the  Luzon  campaign  could  be  completed  in  six  weeks, 
or  thirty  days  after  a  landing  at  Lingayen.*  He  doubted  that  Luzon 
could  be  adequately  neutralized  from  Leyte-Mindanao  bases  prior  to 
CAUSEWAY,  and  he  reiterated  his  conviction  that  the  United  States 
was  morally  obligated  to  liberate  Luzon.  The  President  agreed  about 
the  moral  responsibility.  Nimitz,  presenting  his  views  next  morning, 

*  MacArthur  told  General  Kenney  that  he  would  have  Manila  six  weeks  after  the 
landing  at  Lingayen  and  all  of  the  Philippines  within  eight  months. 

280 


Above:  FEAF  Planes  Sink  DESTBOVEii  Belmc:  Attack  on  a  Transport 


PRELUDE  TO  INVASION 


was  "clear  that  the  time  has  not  yet  arrived  for  firm  decision  on 
moves  subsequent  to  Leyte.""  Since  the  conference  was  only  for  dis- 
cussion, no  decisions  were  reached. 

Meanwhile,  preparation  of  detailed  campaign  plans  had  began  at 
SWPA  headquarters  in  Brisbane.  To  move  landing  forces  across  the 
650  miles  of  sea  between  New  Guinea  and  southernmost  Mindanao 
would  not  be  simple,  and  the  augmentation  of  Japanese  air  forces  un- 
der way  in  the  Philippines  would  further  complicate  the  problem. 
Even  from  Morotai  it  was  some  3  50  miles  to  Mindanao.  After  discuss- 
ing RENO  V  with  Fifth  Air  Force's  Maj.  Gen.  Ennis  C.  Whitehead 
and  Thirteenth  Air  Force's  Maj.  Gen.  St.  Clair  Streett,  Lt.  Gen. 
George  C.  Kenney,  commanding  the  U.S.  Far  East  Air  Forces 
(FEAF)*  and  the  Allied  Air  Forces,  SWPA,  informed  MacArthur  on 
1 1  July  that  the  first  two  phases  of  the  plan  were  not  in  harmony  with 
air  capabilities."  Both  the  projected  seizure  of  Morotai  and  the  subse- 
quent invasion  of  Mindanao-Leyte  were,  in  his  opinion,  based  on  an 
overoptimistic  expectation  of  support  from  Pacific  Fleet  carriers  and 
contemplated  establishment  of  air  bases  which  would  not  be  mutually 
supporting.  "Carrier  units,"  he  wrote,  "are  so  restricted  in  their  time 
over  targets  and  radius  of  action  that  they  cannot  be  expected  to  neu- 
tralize and  maintain  neutralization  of  enemy  strong  points  and  air  in- 
stallations which  would  be  within  range  of  our  objective."  Direct  sup- 
port by  carriers  at  a  beachhead  would  be  unsatisfactory  because  their 
planes  lacked  sufficient  strafing  and  bombardment  power.  They  could 
furnish  fighter  cover  over  a  beachhead,  but  enemy  air,  surface,  and 
subsurface  action,  together  with  the  physical  limitations  of  carriers, 
created  constant  uncertainty  as  to  its  maintenance.  Kenney  granted 
that  the  proposed  invasion  of  the  northern  Moluccas  could  be  covered 
by  FEAJF  heavy  bombers  from  Biak,  but  Japanese  air  installations 
threatening  Sarangani  and  Leyte  would  be  outside  the  range  of 
fighter-escorted  heavy  bombers  from  either  Morotai  or  Biak.  Dis- 
tances between  Sansapor,  Morotai,  Sarangani,  and  Leyte  were  all  too 
great  for  mutual  air  support;  the  Japanese  could  select  one  of  the  bases 
and  knock  it  out  before  SWPA  air  units  could  protect  it.  It  seemed  to 
Kenney  that  these  problems  could  best  be  met  by  properly  spacing 
land  bases,  and  he  favored  scaling  down  the  individual  invasions  so  as 
to  move  and  build  an  air  base  every  twenty  to  thirty  days.  Specifi- 
cally, he  recommended  that  if  Sarangani  were  to  be  delayed  until  No- 

*See  Vol.  IV,  64<S-5i. 

281 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

vember,  SWPA  should  install  fighters  and  attack  units  at  Talaud  Is- 
lands (midway  between  Morotai  and  Sarangani)  to  support  it;  that 
SWPA  should  establish  an  intermediate  fighter  and  attack  aviation 
base  in  the  Del  Monte  area  of  Mindanao  prior  to  Leyte;  and  that 
heavy  bombers  should  be  operational  at  Sarangani  in  time  to  support 
the  invasion  at  Leyte.^^ 

This  admonition,  coupled  with  the  fact  that  SWPA  representatives 
had  been  informed  in  Hawaii  that  the  amount  of  assault  shipping  ob- 
tainable would  be  less  than  expected,  led  to  a  recasting  of  the  SWPA 
plans.  It  would  be  necessary  to  use  the  same  amphibious  equipment 
for  both  Sarangani  and  Leyte,  making  the  latter  follow  Sarangani  by 
thirty-five  instead  of  twenty  days  as  planned  in  RENO  V.  Since  the 
troops  put  ashore  at  Sarangani  would  have  to  remain  there  for  five 
weeks,  they  would  require  additional  air  support  from  a  base  in  the 
Talaud  Islands,  which  would  also  permit  increased  air  coverage  of 
Japanese  targets  in  the  central  Philippines  and  southern  Luzon.  Mac- 
Arthur  advised  the  War  Department  on  23  July  that  his  revised  sched- 
ule would  have  to  be:  Morotai,  15  September;  the  Talauds,  15  Octo- 
ber; Sarangani  1 5  November;  and  Leyte,  20  December.^^ 

This  schedule,  however,  was  tentative,  and  it  was  kept  under  almost 
day-to-day  study  by  a  series  of  WIDEAWAKE  planning  conferences 
which  met  intermittently  in  Brisbane  between  early  July  and  Septem- 
ber 1944.  There,  representatives  of  SWPA  G-3  and  of  the  subordinate 
headquarters  prepared  a  series  of  staff  studies  covering  the  planned  in- 
vasions. Based  on  a  new  set  of  plans  called  MUSKETEER,  the  first  of 
these  was  issued  by  SWPA  on  10  July.  MUSKETEER,  unlike  the 
more  comprehensive  RENO  V,  was  concerned  solely  with  operations 
in  the  Philippines,  and  at  the  initiation  of  the  plan  it  was  assumed  that 
Allied  forces  would  be  established  in  the  Marianas,  Palaus,  and  north- 
em  Moluccas.  The  plan  of  campaign  aimed  at  the  establishment  of  air 
units  in  the  central  region  of  Luzon  in  four  major  phases  of  operations, 
KING,  LOVE,  MIKE,  and  VICTOR." 

The  KING  operations  were  to  secure  an  initial  lodgment  in  the 
southern  and  central  Philippines  and  the  establishment  of  bases  to  sup- 
port subsequent  operations.  The  preliminary  blow,  KING  I,  was  to 
be  directed  at  Sarangani  Bay  in  Mindanao  on  15  November  1944;  the 
main  effort,  or  KING  II,  would  come  on  20  December  1944  at  Leyte 
Gulf,  where  major  air,  naval,  and  logistic  bases  would  be  established. 

282 


PRELUDE   TO  INVASION 


The  penetration  was  to  continue  northward  with  Operation  LOVE, 
a  series  of  campaigns  designed  to  seize  a  favorable  line  of  departure 
and  to  provide  air  and  naval  bases  for  operations  against  central  Lu- 
zon. The  main  effort  of  this  series,  LOVE  I  (January  1945),  was  to 
come  in  the  Bicol  provinces  of  southeastern  Luzon.  Concurrently, 
LOVE  II  would  establish  air  bases  at  Aparri  on  the  northern  coast  of 
Luzon  in  order  to  cover  convoy  movements  through  the  Luzon 
Strait.  LOVE  III  (February  1945),  the  occupation  and  development 
of  airfields  in  southwestern  Mindoro,  was  designed  as  a  subsidiary  air- 
borne operation  aimed  at  securing  bases  for  supplying  convoy  cover 
in  the  San  Bernardino  Strait-Sibuyan  Sea  routes,  and  for  mounting  air- 
borne and  air  support  operations  against  central  Luzon.  MIKE  I 
would  take  place  at  Lingayen  Gulf  in  an  all-out  invasion  tentatively 
scheduled  for  i  April  1945;  MIKE  II  was  set  for  the  same  month  in 
the  Baler-Atimonan  area  on  the  eastern  coast  of  Luzon;  a  concurrent 
diversion,  MIKE  III,  was  projected  for  the  Batangas  area  of  south- 
western Luzon;  and  a  supporting  operation,  MIKE  IV,  was  scheduled 
for  May  to  strike  the  west  coast  of  Luzon  in  Zambales  Province  in 
order  to  forestall  a  Japanese  retreat  into  Bataan.  Consolidation  of  Lu- 
zon, MIKE  V,  was  expected  to  follow  these  initial  invasions.  The  final 
reduction  of  Japanese  garrisons  in  bypassed  portions  of  Mindanao  and 
the  Visayas  would  comprise  the  VICTOR  series  of  operations.* 

In  Washington  the  JPS  who  had  not  been  advised  of  MUSKET- 
EER, believed  that  early  March  1945  was  the  latest  date  at  which 
POA  could  invade  Formosa.  To  allow  three  months  for  the  prepara- 
tion of  an  air  base  at  Leyte  and  the  neutralization  of  Luzon,  it  would 
be  imperative  that  SWPA  gain  control  of  Leyte  by  i  December.  Ac- 
cordingly, they  questioned  both  Mac  Arthur  and  Nimitz  on  27  July 
as  to  I )  the  practicability  of  eliminating  the  attack  on  the  Palaus  and 
substituting  smaller  attacks  on  Woleai,  Ulithi,  and  Yap;  2)  whether 
the  Talauds  and/or  Sarangani  Bay  could  be  abandoned  in  favor  of  di- 
rect movement  into  northern  Mindanao  and  Leyte;  and  3)  what  spe- 
cific operations  MacArthur  contemplated  in  northern  Mindanao.^® 
MacArthur  answered  the  inquiry  with  a  blistering  message,  express- 
ing his  strongest  disagreement  with  the  assumption  that  the  primary 
purpose  of  his  entry  into  the  Philippines  was  to  establish  air  bases  for 
support  of  POA  operations  against  Formosa.  With  the  capture  of  Lu- 

*  See  below,  pp.  450-63. 

283 


THE   ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


zon,  the  hazardous  operation  against  Formosa  would  be  unnecessary. 
In  answer  to  the  JPS's  specific  questions,  he  stated  that  the  Palaus  were 
essential,  that  Sarangani  Bay  and  the  Talauds  could  not  be  eliminated, 
and  that  operations  in  northern  Mindanao  would  follow  Leyte  as  soon 
as  possible  so  as  to  relieve  the  civilian  population  there.^® 

To  attempt  a  reconciliation  of  opinion  between  MacArthur  and  the 
War  Department,  Maj.  Gen.  John  E.  Hull,  Chief  of  the  Theater 
Group,  OPD  and  Col.  L.  Ritchie,  head  of  that  office's  Southwest 
Pacific  Theater  Section,  joined  Lt.  Gen.  Barney  M.  Giles,  Chief  of 
Air  Staff,  in  Brisbane  early  in  August  for  conferences  with  MacAr- 
thur. The  SWPA  head  insisted  that  the  Palaus  would  be  needed  as 
vital  flank  protection  for  the  entrance  of  the  southern  Philippines.  The 
use  of  shipping  released  by  canceling  the  Palaus  operation  would  make 
it  possible  to  move  up  the  Sarangani  landing  by  about  five  days,  but 
there  would  still  be  an  interval  of  seven  weeks  between  Sarangani  and 
Leyte.  Both  MacArthur  and  Kenney  were  dubious  that  Luzon  bases 
could  be  neutralized  from  Leyte,  and  MacArthur  repeated  with  cus- 
tomary eloquence  his  conviction  of  the  necessity  for  seizing  Luzon 
and  the  impracticability  of  the  Formosa  operation.  Both  Hull  and 
Giles  were  tentatively  convinced  of  the  correctness  of  MacArthur's 
position,  although  they  reserved  final  judgment  until  they  had  talked 
to  Nimitz  and  Richardson  in  Hawaii.^®  Giles,  reporting  his  near-con- 
viction to  Arnold,  observed:  "I  realize  it  is  very  hard  to  keep  from 
getting  ^localitis'  after  having  talked  to  MacArthur  for  five  hours  (I 
mean  listen)."" 

The  visit  was  not  without  some  effect,  however,  on  SWPA  plans. 
Both  Giles  and  Hull  were  convinced  that  SWPA  should  have  two 
new  air  commando  groups  (completely  airborne  P-51  groups  with 
their  own  transport  aircraft)  which  were  being  trained  in  the  United 
States.*  With  the  expectation  of  getting  these  groups,  the  FEAF  staff 
projected  a  new  airborne  invasion  (styled  KING  III)  into  the  Misamis 
Occidental  Province  of  western  Mindanao.  Here,  in  an  area  controlled 
by  guerrillas,  fighter  fields  would  be  prepared  for  cover  of  air  opera- 
tions into  the  Visayas  and  southern  Luzon.  Given  this  operation,  Ken- 
ney was  willing  to  bypass  either  the  Talaud  Islands  or  Sarangani,  pref- 
erably the  latter.  Ritchie  seems  to  have  instigated  further  SWPA 
study  looking  toward  acceleration  of  operations  after  Leyte,  predi- 

*  See  above,  p.  208  n, 
284 


PRELUDE   TO  INVASION 


cated  on  MacArthur's  conviction  that  Luzon  would  be  invaded  in- 
stead of  Formosa.^^  A  revision  of  the  MUSKETEER  plan,  drawn  up 
during  the  last  ten  days  of  August,  was  issued  formally  on  29  Au- 
gust.'^ 

Primary  objectives  in  MUSKETEER  II  remained  much  the  same 
as  in  the  earlier  plan,  with  the  significant  exception  that  Formosa  and 
the  China  coast  were  no  longer  mentioned.  The  initial  KING  opera- 
tions still  included  a  landing  at  Sarangani  Bay  on  1 5  November,  with 
the  main  effort  at  Leyte  Gulf  scheduled  for  20  December,  but  KING 
III,  the  new  airborne  operation,  was  included  for  8  December.  The 
LOVE  series  was  reduced  to  two  phases,  the  seizure  of  Aparri  on 
3 1  January  1945  and  an  airborne  invasion  of  Mindoro  on  15  February. 
The  MIKE  operations  would  begin  with  the  main  assault  at  Lingayen 
Gulf  on  20  February  instead  of  April,  and  MIKE  II,  the  supporting 
operation  planned  for  Dingalan  Bay  on  5-15  March,  would  be  em- 
ployed if  needed. 

Meanwhile,  the  Navy  had  begun  to  press  for  a  definite  directive 
about  Formosa.  On  1 8  August  Nimitz,  agreeing  to  all  SWPA  opera- 
tions projected  through  Leyte  and  noting  that  he  was  prepared  to 
cover  them  with  the  Pacific  Fleet,  asked  Admiral  King  to  secure  a 
JCS  directive  for  this  SWPA  effort  and  his  own  attack  on  Formosa 
and  Amoy.  He  believed  carrier  attacks  and  land-based  bombardment 
from  Leyte  could  neutralize  Luzon;  if  not,  SWPA  could  move  on 
Luzon  during  the  CAUSEWAY  operation.  Nimitz  admitted  that  he 
was  having  trouble  reconciling  variations  in  estimates  of  the  required 
forces  submitted  by  Richardson  and  Lt.  Gen.  S.  B.  Buckner,  who 
would  command  the  military  expedition,  but  he  recommended  a  di- 
rective for  CAUSEWAY  with  a  target  date  of  15  February  1945.^* 
King  forwarded  the  message  to  Marshall  with  a  request  for  JCS  ac- 
tion.^^  Naval  planners  seemed  to  have  some  hope  that  part  of  the  re- 
quired forces  might  be  pried  loose  from  MacArthur,  and  they  feared 
that  unless  both  Leyte  and  Formosa  were  coupled  in  one  directive, 
MacArthur  would  so  plan  the  Leyte  venture  as  to  make  Formosa  im- 
possible.^^ On  2  3  August,  Nimitz  reiterated  his  request  for  a  firm  di- 
rective on  Formosa.^^ 

Opinion  in  the  War  Department,  meanwhile,  had  moved  toward 
the  SWPA  point  of  view.  On  his  way  back  to  Washington,  Hull  had 
stopped  in  Hawaii  long  enough  to  discuss  strategy  with  Richardson 

285 


THE   ARMY   AIR  FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 


and  Lt.  Gen.  Millard  F.  Harmon  of  the  Army  Air  Forces,  Pacific 
Ocean  Areas  (AAFPOA).*  Both  had  been  in  agreement  on  the 
RENO  strategy,  and  Richardson  had  already  written  Marshall  on 
I  August  that  he  and  his  stalF  did  not  see  how  Formosa  could  be  sup- 
ported logistically  without  Luzon.  From  observations  on  Saipan, 
Richardson  did  not  believe  that  the  Marianas  could  possibly  support 
an  invasion  of  the  magnitude  of  CAUSEWAY.''®  Ritchie  had  taken 
back  to  Washington  a  copy  of  the  proposed  revisions  of  MUSKET- 
EER, which,  with  its  earlier  target  date  for  Luzon,  had  pleased  Mar- 
shall, In  a  teletype  conference  with  Brisbane  on  2  5  August,  Ritchie 
urged  Sutherland  to  send  in  an  official  message  confirming  the  new 
target  dates  and  to  hurry  some  high-level  SWPA  stalF  officer  to 
Washington  for  presentation  of  MUSKETEER  II.'^^  Two  days  later, 
MacArthur  confirmed  the  new  target  dates.^^ 

On  28  August,  Rear  Adm.  Forrest  P.  Sherman,  Nimitz'  chief  plan- 
ner, explained  the  CAUSEWAY  plan  to  the  JPS.  The  scheme  of  op- 
erations now  contemplated  use  of  three  Marine  divisions  against 
Amoy,  on  the  south  China  coast,  while  two  Marine  and  four  Army 
divisions  seized  the  southwestern  part  of  Formosa  instead  of  the  whole 
island  as  originally  had  been  intended.  This  change  had  been  made  in 
order  to  employ  a  minimum  force,  but  estimated  requirements  were 
still  large.  Nimitz  estimated  that  424,000  men  would  be  needed,  Rich- 
ardson 468,000,  and  Buckner  566,094.  Sherman  believed  that  carrier 
strikes,  coupled  with  Kenney's  air  efforts  from  Leyte  and  Seventh  Air 
Force  attacks  from  the  Palaus,  could  keep  Japanese  air  units  in  the 
Philippines  "pounded  down."  He  considered  SWPA  operational  plans 
up  through  Leyte  to  be  "necessary  and  well  coordinated,"  but  when 
asked  his  opinion  of  the  feasibility  of  a  direct  attack  on  Kyushu  in- 
stead of  Formosa  following  Leyte,  he  doubted  its  practicability  since 
it  could  be  supported  only  by  carrier  and  VHB  aircraft.  Even  suppos- 
ing the  destruction  of  the  Japanese  fleet,  Sherman  did  not  believe  a 
Kyushu  operation  would  be  sound  "without  shore-based  aircraft 
which  must  be  counted  on  to  support  the  troops  continuously  over  a 
sustained  period."*''^ 

At  a  JCS  meeting  on  i  September,  Sherman  urged  the  immediacy 
of  Nimitz'  need  for  a  firm  directive,  if  the  Formosa  operation  were  to 
be  undertaken  on  i  March,  when  the  weather  would  be  most  favor- 
able. Marshall  observed  that  an  immediate  decision  would  have  to 

*  See  below,  pp.  507-12. 


286 


PRELUDE  TO  INVASION 


favor  Luzon  in  view  of  available  resources,  and  he  proposed  that  it 
would  be  better  to  await  future  developments.  King,  on  the  other 
hand,  urged  at  length  that  a  Luzon  operation  would  delay  the  war 
against  Japan,  Leahy  suggested  as  a  compromise  that  it  might  be  pos- 
sible to  assemble  supplies  for  either  Luzon  or  Formosa  and  that  im- 
mediate attention  should  be  given  to  the  directive  for  Leyte.  The  JCS 
directed  the  JPS  immediately  to  prepare  a  directive  on  that  basis.^^  A 
draft  directive  submitted  the  next  day  proposed  to  inform  Mac  Arthur 
and  Nimitz  that  a  firm  decision  regarding  Luzon  or  Formosa  would 
be  postponed.  Meanwhile,  SWPA,  after  conducting  necessary  pre- 
liminaries, was  to  occupy  the  Leyte-Surigao  area  on  20  December  and 
establish  air  bases  to  support  either  a  PO A  attack  on  Formosa  on 
I  March  1945  or  its  own  invasion  of  Luzon  on  20  February  1945. 
POA  was  to  support  the  Leyte  operation,  submit  plans  for  the  inva- 
sion of  Formosa  and  Amoy,  and  be  prepared  for  assistance  to  a  Luzon 
operation.^^ 

King,  not  satisfied  with  this  solution,  presented  his  own  draft  direc- 
tive to  the  JGS.^^  He  argued  that  seizure  of  Formosa  promised  psy- 
chological and  material  assistance  to  China,  interdiction  of  Japanese 
sea  traffic  to  the  Indies,  and  the  establishment  of  air,  naval,  and  logis- 
tic bases  for  an  attack  on  Japan  proper.  If  the  JCS  were  unable  to  issue 
a  firm  directive  for  Formosa,  he  recommended  that  they  direct  Mac- 
Arthur  to  proceed  with  his  operations  through  the  invasion  of  Leyte 
and  Samar  and  to  develop  bases  on  the  former  for  containment  of 
Japanese  forces  in  the  northern  Philippines  and  for  support  of  further 
SWPA  and  POA  advances.  Nimitz  would  be  directed  to  provide  fleet 
cover  and  support  for  MacArthur's  advances  through  Leyte  and  to 
prepare  for  a  move  into  Formosa- Amoy  on  i  March  1945  if  the  JCS 
directed  it. 

At  a  meeting  of  the  JCS  on  5  September,  Marshall  noted  the  con- 
siderable change  between  the  original  plan  to  take  all  of  Formosa  and 
the  new  plan  to  take  only  part  of  that  island  together  with  Amoy. 
Until  a  clearer  picture  was  available,  he  could  only  agree  to  postpone 
the  decision.  Leahy,  taking  a  broad  view  of  the  Pacific  war,  saw  three 
possible  courses  of  action:  occupation  of  the  Philippines  to  include 
Luzon,  occupation  of  southwestern  Formosa  and  Amoy,  or  occupa- 
tion of  southern  Kyushu.  Necessary  forces  were  available  only  for 
the  first,  which  also  promised  the  smallest  number  of  casualties;  he 
therefore  favored  a  strategy  based  on  reoccupation  of  the  Philippines, 

287 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

together  with  an  intensive  bombardment  of  Japan  by  VHB's  and  a 
rigorous  air  and  naval  blockade  of  the  enemy  homeland.^^  Meeting 
again  on  8  September,  the  JCS  approved  the  directive  which  the  JPS 
had  furnished  on  2  September,  substantially  as  it  had  been  drafted.^® 
MacArthur  and  Nimitz  had  won  approval  of  their  objectives  in  the 
northern  Moluccas  and  the  Palaus,  and  Leyte  was  scheduled  for  De- 
cember. With  this  action,  the  JCS  had  finally  evolved  a  directive  for 
the  initial  invasion  of  the  Philippines,  but  once  more  they  had  cau- 
tiously postponed  a  decision  as  to  the  main  strategic  objective. 

Netherlands  Nev>  Guinea  Bases 

Concurrently  with  the  debate  on  strategy,  SWPA's  Allied  Air 
Forces  had  been  engaged  in  moving  its  units  into  Netherlands  New 
Guinea,  where  they  would  be  in  position  to  support  the  invasions  of 
the  northern  Moluccas,  the  Palaus,  and  then  the  southern  Philippines. 
Anticipated  missions  would  not  be  simple:  great  distances— all  over 
water— separated  hostile  concentrations  which  would  have  to  be  neu- 
tralized, and  the  Japanese  air  forces  were  showing  signs  of  recovery 
from  defeats  at  Wewak,  HoUandia,  and  in  the  Marianas.  Estimates  on 
3 1  July  placed  860  operational  aircraft  (over  half  of  them  in  the  Phil- 
ippines) within  striking  distance  of  the  Allied  invasion  areas.  It  also 
seemed  probable  that  the  Japanese  might  bring  naval  aircraft  equiva- 
lent to  a  carrier  division  to  the  Philippines  by  1 5  September,  making  a 
grand  total  of  1,220  planes  available  for  the  defense  of  Morotai  or  the 
Palaus.  If  the  enemy  followed  his  usual  procedure,  he  would  divide 
his  force  and  try  to  defend  each  area,  but  he  could  be  expected  to  con- 
centrate his  main  striking  force  in  the  southern  Philippines,  especially 
on  bases  around  Davao." 

The  Allied  Air  Forces,  even  without  the  expected  help  from  Pacific 
Fleet  carriers,  could  muster  a  twofold  numerical  superiority:  on  4 
August,  FEAF  had  2,306  serviceable  aircraft,  and  RAAF  Command, 
the  other  large  component  of  the  Allied  Air  Forces,  had  413  service- 
able aircraft— making  a  total  of  2,719  planes  (including  460  trans- 
ports) available  for  operations.  But  this  superiority  was  theoretical  at 
best,  because  Allied  air  units  were  strung  out  all  the  way  from  Biak 
and  Noemfoor  islands  to  Guadalcanal  and  Australia,  with  the  real  cen- 
ter of  gravity  in  the  Nadzab-Manus  Island  areas,  over  a  thousand  miles 
from  Morotai  and  even  farther  from  the  Palaus.  Before  the  air  support 
for  Morotai  and  the  Palaus  could  approach  effective  strength,  the 

288 


PRELUDE   TO  INVASION 


combined  striking  power  of  the  Fifth  and  Thirteenth  Air  Forces  and 
of  RAAF  Command  would  have  to  be  moved  to  Netherlands  New 
Guinea.*® 

The  general  plan  for  this  forward  deployment  assumed  that  the 
Fifth  Air  Force  would  serve  as  the  assault  force  in  initial  Philippine 
operations,  while  the  Thirteenth  would  concentrate  at  Sansapor,  Mo- 
rotai,  and  the  Talauds.  On  leaving  the  Solomons  and  Admiralties,  the 
Thirteenth  would  turn  over  its  part  of  the  commitment  against  by- 
passed areas  to  Aircraft  Northern  Solomons  (AIRNORSOLS),  a 
composite  organization  of  U.S.  Marine,  New  Zealand,  and  Austrahan 
air  units  commanded  by  a  Marine  airman.*  Initially,  RAAF  Com- 
mand would  furnish  an  air  garrison  at  Noemfoor  and  eventually  dis- 
place Thirteenth  Air  Force  units  at  Morotai  as  the  latter  moved  into 
the  Philippines.  Forward  progress  of  the  Far  East  Air  Service  Com- 
mand (FEASC)  would  closely  follow  the  tactical  situation.  Utilizing 
its  IV  and  V  Air  Service  Area  Commands  independently,  FEASC  was 
to  plan  for  complete  evacuation  of  its  service  organizations  from  Aus- 
tralia by  the  second  quarter  of  1945.  The  IV  ASAC,  through  Decem- 
ber 1944,  would  be  expanded  to  include  all  FEASC  activity  in  New 
Guinea;  the  V  ASAC  would  implant  its  units  in  the  southern  Philip- 
pines, moving  its  depots  from  Darwin  to  Sarangani  Bay  beginning  in 
December  1944  and  from  Townsville  to  Leyte  beginning  in  January 
1945.  Starting  in  June  1945,  the  IV  ASAC  would  move  its  depots 
from  Finschhafen  and  Biak  to  Manila,  thus  liquidating  FEASC  activ- 
ity in  New  Guinea.^^ 

Although  SWPA  forces  had  landed  at  Cape  Sansapor  on  30  July 
and  would  have  Middelburg  and  Mar  airdromes  ready  for  tactical  air 
garrisons  within  a  few  weeks,  the  most  advanced  Allied  airfields  on 
I  August  were  on  Noemfoor  Island.  There  the  engineers  were  reha- 
bilitating, virtually  rebuilding  two  airdromes  captured  from  the 
Japanese.  The  RAAF  10  Operational  Group,  controlling  the  78 
Wing,  was  occupying  the  Kamiri  airstrip.  Kornasoren,  scheduled  for 
use  as  a  heavy  bomber  airdrome,  would  be  used  by  a  U.S.  air  garrison 
under  control  of  the  309th  Bombardment  Wing  (H),  but  as  yet  only 
an  advanced  detachment  of  the  wing  and  a  detachment  of  the  419th 
Night  Fighter  Squadron  had  arrived.  The  site  of  a  third  Japanese  strip 
-"Namber— was  to  be  used  for  unloading  surface  vessels  during  the 
wmter  season.^ 

•See  Vol.  IV.  p.  647. 

289 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

More  extensive  airfield  development  was  under  way  in  the  Schouten 
and  Padaido  islands,  approximately  loo  miles  east  of  Noemfoor.  Fa- 
cilities available  on  Biak  early  in  August  were  Mokmer  airstrip,  being 
extended  into  a  modified  heavy  bomber  base;  Borokoe  strip,  under  de- 
velopment as  a  fighter-medium  bomber  field;  and  Sorido,  to  be  built  to 
serve  transports  and  as  an  air  depot.  Because  of  prolonged  ground 
fighting  on  Biak,  engineer  units  had  begun  construction  of  a  heavy 
bomber  base  on  nearby  Owi  Island.  Operational  air  units  at  Mokmer 
on  I  August  were  the  49th  Fighter  Group,  the  475  th  Fighter  Group, 
the  345th  Bombardment  Group  (M),  the  17th  and  Sid  Reconnais- 
sance Squadrons,  the  25th  Photo  Reconnaissance  Squadron,  and  a  part 
of  the  2d  Emergency  Rescue  Squadron.  On  Owi  were  the  8th  Fighter 
Group,  the  43d  Bombardment  Group  (H),  and  the  421st  Night 
Fighter  Squadron.  Patrols  were  being  flown  by  PBY's  and  PB4Y's  of 
Navy  squadrons  VB-115,  VP-34,  and  VP-52.  All  units  on  Owi  and 
Biak  were  under  operational  control  of  the  308th  Bombardment 
Wing  (H).^^ 

Farther  down  the  coast  of  New  Guinea— 1 80  miles  east  of  Biak— the 
348th  Fighter  Group,  a  part  of  the  90th  Bombardment  Group  (H),* 
and  the  418th  Night  Fighter  Squadron  (B-25H)  were  based  on  the 
heavy  bomber  strip  and  dispersals  which  completely  covered  the  small 
island  of  Wakde.  These  units  were  under  the  local  operational  control 
of  the  85th  Fighter  Wing,  which  was  itself  directly  subordinate  to  the 
310th  Bombardment  Wing  (M)  at  Hollandia.  Only  275  miles  east  of 
Biak,  but  rapidly  becoming  a  rear  area,  were  the  Hollandia,  Sentani, 
and  Cyclops  strips  at  Hollandia.  Here  on  i  August  were  located  a 
small  headquarters  detachment  of  FEAF  and  the  headquarters  of  the 
310th  Bombardment  Wing  (M),  which  controlled  the  3d  and  312th 
Bombardment  Groups  (L),  a  detachment  of  VP-33,  and  the  317th 
Troop  Carrier  Group  reinforced  by  the  67th  and  70th  Squadrons  of 
the  433d  Troop  Carrier  Group.^^ 

Movement  to  the  forward  bases  of  these  tactical  units  with  their 
supporting  services  had  been  fraught  with  extreme  difficulties.  SWPA 
had  been  forced  to  depend  upon  its  own  insufficient  shipping,  delays 
in  the  ground  campaign  on  Biak  had  complicated  projected  shipping 
schedules,  and  a  combination  of  both  of  these  had  delayed  airfield 

*  The  90th  Bombardment  Group,  although  based  at  Nadzab,  was  flying  missions 
through  Wakde. 


290 


PRELUDE   TO  INVASION 


construction,  Noemfoor  was  a  reef-surrounded  island,  which  made 
the  unloading  of  cargo  vessels  there  a  tortuous  task.  By  extreme  effort, 
including  maximum  use  of  troop  carrier  C-47's  and  bombers  with- 
drawn from  tactical  operations,  air  echelons  of  units  needed  to  sup- 
port the  Netherlands  New  Guinea  campaign  had  been  ferried  for- 
ward; despite  ii  loss  of  almost  half  of  their  combat  efficiency  because 
of  poor  maintenance  and  supply,  they  completed  their  assigned  com- 
bat missions.  Living  conditions  at  advanced  bases  during  the  deploy- 
ment were,  without  exception,  bad.  On  Owi  scrub  typhus  threatened 
to  reach  epidemic  proportions  until  checked  by  impregnation  of  all 
clothing  and  blankets  in  a  dimethyl  phthalate  soap  solution.  Quarter- 
master rations  received  were  poor  in  quality  and  variety:  C-rations, 
corned  beef,  canned  salmon,  dehydrated  potatoes,  canned  carrots, 
canned  chili,  and  canned  sauerkraut  was  the  diet  of  the  8th  Fighter 
Group  during  July.  In  one  shipment  of  600,000  rations  to  Biak,  two- 
thirds  of  the  meat  component  was  corned-beef  hash.  The  water  sup- 
ply at  Owi,  a  small  coral  island,  depended  on  shallow  wells  and  such 
supply  of  rain  water  as  could  be  trapped  from  deluges  so  great  that  it 
seemed  **to  rain  horizontally."  The  brackish  water,  heavily  chlorin- 
ated, was  distasteful  to  drink  and  unavailable  for  bathing.^  Japanese 
night  air  raids  plagued  Biak  and  Owi,  the  latter  island  being  so  small 
that  it  created  *'the  impression  that  a  bomb  hit  anywhere  was  a  near 
miss  for  everyone."  But,  as  reported  by  a  fighter  group  on  Biak,  "No- 
madic life  had  achieved  the  status  of  normalcy,"  and  cynics  often 
asked,  even  as  they  cleared  a  new  camp  site  in  virgin  jungle,  "When 
do  we  move?"^* 

Difficulties  with  water  transportation  improved  with  time,  and  hard 
and  ingenious  labor  bettered  living  conditions.  During  August  and 
early  September  the  Allied  Air  Forces  built  up  to  their  planned 
strength  in  Netherlands  New  Guinea  as  quickly  as  shipping  and  facili- 
ties permitted.  The  fighter  strip  on  Middelburg  Island  and  the  Cape 
Sansapor  bomber  strip  at  Mar  were  completed  with  nominal  delays, 
and  between  18  and  26  August,  a  detachment  of  the  419th  Night 
Fighter  Squadron  and  the  347th  Fighter  Group  began  operations  on 
Middelburg.  Ground  echelons  of  the  i8th  Fighter  Group  arrived  on 
23  August,  but  Mar  airdrome  was  not  ready  for  its  aircrews  until  6-7 
September.  Ground  personnel  of  the  42d  Bombardment  Group  (M) 
arrived  on  24  August,  but  the  aircrews  of  the  group,  held  at  HoUandia 


291 


THE   ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

to  fly  missions  coordinated  with  the  invasion  of  Morotai,  did  not  ar- 
rive until  14-18  September,  Arrival  of  the  Catalina  patrol  squadron 
VP-33  completed  the  13th  Air  Task  Force  garrison  at  Sansapor.^^ 

On  Noemfoor,  both  the  Kamiri  and  Komasoren  air  garrisons  were 
augmented.  Aircrews  of  the  35th  Fighter  Group  landed  at  Komasoren 
on  7  August  to  operate  without  a  ground  echelon  pending  movement 
to  Morotai.  The  348th  Fighter  Group  (less  its  342d  Squadron,  left  be- 
hind to  fly  cover  for  Wakde  and  Hollandia)  with  its  new  P-47D-23 
type  aircraft  arrived  on  26  August;  on  3  September  the  group  was 
joined  by  the  newly  activated  460th  Squadron,  making  it  the  only 
four-squadron  fighter  group  in  SWPA.  On  29  August  the  868th  Bom- 
bardment Squadron,  XIII  Bomber  Command's  radar-equipped  night- 
bombing  B-24  unit,  moved  to  Noemfoor  to  continue  night  attacks 
against  the  Palaus  already  inaugurated  from  Manus.  The  58th  Fighter 
Group  unloaded  on  30  August  and  received  its  flight  crews  on  6  Sep- 
tember, and  two  days  later  the  A-2o^s  of  the  417th  Bombardment 
Group  began  to  move  in  from  Saidor.  By  15  September,  10  Opera- 
tional Group  at  Kamiri  airdrome  had  in  place  its  77  and  81  Wings.*^ 

Biak  and  Owi  were  built  up  as  befitted  their  role  as  the  major  Allied 
air  base  in  Netherlands  New  Guinea.  During  August  and  early  Sep- 
tember, Fifth  Air  Force  Headquarters  moved  into  Owi,  allowing  the 
308th  Bombardment  Wing  (H)  a  period  of  badly  needed  rest  at  Hol- 
landia. Whitehead  also  pressed  forward  the  two  heavy  bombardment 
groups  remaining  at  Nadzab  (the  90th  and  2 2d),  moving  them  squad- 
ron by  squadron  as  hardstands  were  completed,  the  official  change  of 
station  being  on  lo-i  i  August.  The  38th  Bombardment  Group  (M) 
was  operating  from  Borokoe  strip  on  3 1  August,  and  by  1 5  September 
all  of  the  squadrons  of  the  6th  Photo  Reconnaissance  and  the  71st  Re- 
connaissance Groups  were  in  place  on  Biak.  Upon  completion  of  So- 
rido  strip,  the  3d  Emergency  Rescue  Squadron,  just  arriving  from  the 
United  States  for  assignment  to  the  Thirteenth  Air  Force,  joined 
the  2d  Emergency  Rescue  Squadron  there,  and  on  27  September  the 
375th  Troop  Carrier  Group  also  took  station  at  Sorido.^^  Until  he  had 
located  this  tactical  air  garrison,  Whitehead  staunchly  opposed  any 
diversion  of  construction  and  shipping  effort  to  air  depot  installations, 
despite  FEASC's  objections  that  this  was  vitiating  nearly  one-half  of 
its  depot  repair  capacity.  Beginnings  were  made  on  Depot  No,  3  at 
Sorido  during  August.  The  60th  Air  Depot  Group  arrived  on  i  Sep- 
tember and  the  13  th  Air  Depot  Group  on  20  October,  and  by  No- 


292 


PRELUDE   TO  INVASION 

vember  the  depot  was  nearly  complete.  By  mid-September  it  had  be- 
gun to  operate,  substantially  improving  the  logistic  situation  forward/^ 

As  quickly  as  Fifth  Air  Force  units  cleared  Wakde,  the  Allied  Air 
Forces  secure^  permissiqn,  effective  1 5  August^  to  cease  Thirteenth  Air 
Force  raids  on  Truk,  Woleai,  and  other  Carolines  targets  which  had 
been  supporting  POA's  Marianas  operations,*  and  began  movement  pf 
the  XIII  Bomber  Command,  together  with  its  jtb  and  307th1^mbard- 
ment  Groups  (H)  into  the  island.  Using  their  8-24-8  and  such  G-47's 
as  could  be  obtained,  the  groups  moved  most  of  their  personnel  into 
Wakde  on  12-24  August,  With  the  XIII  Bomber  Commajid  pfEcially 
established  at  Wakde  on  zz  August,  the  detachment  of  the  85th 
Fighter  Wing  returned  to  HoUandia;  similarly,  the  418th  Night 
Fighter  Squadron,  relieved  of  B-25  night  intruder  missions  on  18  Au- 
gust, moved  back  to  HoUandia  to  train  with  P~6i's.  The  air  echelon 
of  the  342^  Fighter  Squadron,  however,  continued  to  fly  cover  at 
Wakde  until  21  September,  when  it  was  perqiitted  to  join  its  parent 
group  at  Noemfoor/^ 

During  the  first  week  of  September  GHQ,  SWPA,  and  the  Allied 
Air  Forces  moved  from  Brisbane  to  Holiandjia,  the  Allied  Air  Forces, 
without  many  of  its  R A AF  representatives,  becoming  now  almost 
completely  identified  witji  hs  Aiherican  component— FEAF.  During 
the  middle  of  September  in  advanced  echelon  of  Thirteenth  Air  Force 
Headquarters  moved  from  the  Admiralties  to  HoUandia,  effecting  the 
closer  coordination  desired  by  F£AF.  Control  of  the  residual  tactical 
air  garrison  at  HoUandia  passed  from  the  310th  Bombardment  Wing 
(M),  which  was  preparing  to  move  to  Morotai,  to  the  3p8th  Bombard- 
ment Wing  (H)  on  3  September.'*^ 

Morotai  find  the  Palaus 

On  15  June,  Admiral  Malsey  had  been  relieved  of  his  South  Pacific 
command  and  transferred  to  Pearl  Harbor  to  undertake  detailed  plan- 
ning for  the  invasions  of  the  Palaus.  By  14  July  Nimitz  had  agreed  to 
a  new  plan  (STALEMATE  II),  divided  into  two  phases.''  First,  POA 
forces  would  take  Peldju,  Angaur,  and  possibly  Nges^bus  islands,  aU 
at  the  south  end  pf  the  Palau  chain  and  believed  to  be  defended  by 
about  9,700  Japanese.  Fields  would  be  rehabilitated  on  Peleliu  for  Ma- 
rine fighter  units  by  D  plus  10,  and  a  heavy  bomber  base  would  be 
built  on  Angaur  by  D  plus  35.  Air  units  would  then  neutralize  the  ap- 

•  See  Vol.  ly,  676^. 


293 


THE   ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN  WORLD   WAR  II 

proximately  27,000  Japanese  troops  remaining  on  Babelthuap  and  ad- 
jacent islands.  Second,  the  POA  forces  would  seize  Ulithi  Atoll  (300  to 
600  Japanese)  and  would  take  Yap  Island  (10,500  Japanese)  for  de- 
velopment into  a  fighter  base  to  cover  the  fleet  anchorage  at  Ulithi. 
This  plan  was  incorporated  into  a  formal  CINCPAC  operations  order 
on  2 1  July,  with  1 5  September  as  the  tentative  target  date  for  the  first 
phase/' 

Fearing  that  Nimitz  might  postpone  the  Palaus  invasions,  Kenney 
and  Whitehead  had  worked  out  plans  to  get  SWPA  to  Mindanao 
without  Pacific  Fleet  support,^^  but  these  plans  were  laid  aside  when 
Nimitz'  order  confirming  fleet  and  carrier  support  for  the  northern 
Moluccas  invasion  was  flashed  to  SWPA  on  7  July.^*  Selection  of  a 
target  area  in  the  Moluccas  had  not  been  difficult.  Since  it  was  desir- 
able to  have  the  Allied  air  base  as  far  north  as  possible  and  to  avoid 
most  of  the  30,000  Japanese  defense  troops  in  the  islands,  Morotai,  an 
island  just  north  of  Halmahera,  lightly  held  and  with  a  seemingly 
abandoned  airstrip  site  on  its  southeastern  end,  was  the  logical  objec- 
tive. Actually,  as  was  usual  in  SWPA,  no  adequate  terrain  intelligence 
was  available;  a  scouting  party  put  ashore  during  June  had  never  re- 
ported. With  the  equivalent  of  six  aviation  engineer  battalions  the 
GHQ  engineer  believed  that  air  facilities  could  be  constructed  in 
southeastern  Morotai  within  twenty-five  days.  GHQ  issued  a  warning 
order  for  Operation  INTERLUDE  on  2 1  July,  assigning  it  the  target 
date  of  1 5  September.^^ 

Matters  requiring  intertheater  coordination  were  resolved  when  a 
POA  delegation  met  with  SWPA  planners  in  Brisbane  on  27  July.  It 
was  agreed  that  the  Third  Fleet,  organized  around  Task  Force  38 
under  Vice  Adm.  Marc  A.  Mitscher,  would  move  upon  the  Palaus 
from  the  direction  of  Emirau,  commence  long-range  fighter  sweeps 
against  Yap  and  the  Palaus  on  the  afternoon  of  D  minus  9,  and  hit 
these  targets  with  sustained  attacks  on  D  minus  8.  Leaving  one  fast 
carrier  group  and  three  escort  carrier  divisions  to  continue  neutraliza- 
tion of  the  Palaus,  Task  Force  38  with  its  other  three  fast  carrier 
groups  would  attack  Mindanao  airfields  from  D  minus  7  to  D  minus  5, 
concentrate  against  southern  Mindanao  airfields  from  D  minus  3  to 
D  minus  i,  and  detach  one  fast  carrier  group  to  give  support  at  Moro- 
tai on  D-day.  SWPA  agreed  that  the  Allied  Air  Forces  would  i) 
support  POA  operations  by  an  intensive  bombardment  of  the  Palaus 
from  D  minus  40  to  D  minus  lo  and  with  nightly  attacks  until  D  mi- 

294 


PRELUDE  TO  INVASION 

nus  i;  2)  cover  the  approach  of  Task  Force  38  by  attacks  on  south- 
ern Mindanao  airfields  between  D  minus  12  and  D  minus  7;  and  3)  in- 
tensify attacks  on  enemy  airfields  west  of  New  Guinea  subsequent 
to  D  minus  7  for  protection  of  the  fast  carrier  group  in  its  approach 
to  Morotai.  Allied  Air  Forces  long-range  patrol  planes  would  also 
fly  search  missions  to  cover  all  approaches  by  the  Third  Fleet.^® 

Halsey  issued  his  operations  plan  on  i  August,  incorporating  the 
fleet  maneuver  agreed  on  at  Brisbane  and  outlining  the  amphibious  and 
ground  campaigns.^^  Rear  Adm.  Theodore  S.  Wilkinson  would  com- 
mand the  Joint  Expeditionary  Force  which  would  transport,  land,  and 
support  the  ground  troops;  Maj.  Gen.  J.  C.  Smith,  tJSMC,  would  bei 
in  over-all  command  of  the  ground  forces.  Ma].  Gen.  R.  S.  Geiger, 
commander  of  the  III  Marine  Amphibious  Corps,  would  use  the  ist 
Marine  and  8ist  Infantry  Divisions  to  seize  Peleliu,  Ngesebus,  and 
Angaur,  beginning  on  15  September.  M^j.  Gen.  J.  R.  Hodge,  com- 
mander of  the  Army  XXIV  Corps,  would  use  the  7th  and  96th  Infan- 
try Divisions  to  seize  IJlithi  and  Yap,  beginning  on  4  October.  Mac- 
Axthur's  operations  instructions,  issued  on  29  Jtily,^®  directed  Lt.  Gen. 
Waiter  Krueger,  commander  of  the  Alamo  Force  (Sixth  Army),  to 
seize  Morotai,  beginning  on  15  September.  For  this  mission  Krueger 
organized  the  TRADEWIND  task  force,  consisting  principally  of 
Maj.  Gen.  G.  R  Hall's  XI  Corps,  the  31st  Infantry  Division,  and  the 
126th  Regiment  of  the  3 2d  Division.^®  Acting  under  Vice  Adm.  T.  C. 
Kinkaid,  commander  of  the  Seventh  Fleet  and  Allied  Naval  Forces, 
Rear  .  Adm.  D.  E.  Barbey,  commander  of  the  Seventh  Amphibious 
Force,  would  transport,  land^  and  cover  the  TRADEWIND  force. 
For  naval  support  Barbey  would  have  two  escort  carrier  divisions  (six 
CVE's)  borrowed  from  CINCPAC  and  the  Seventh  Fleet's  cruisers. 
The  fast  carrier  group  of  Task  Force  38  which  would  be  at  Morotai 
on  D-day  would  cooperate  with  Barbey,  but  it  would  not  be  within 
SWPA  command  channels.^ 

To  the  Seventh  Air  Force,  operating  from  central  Pacific  bases,  fell 
the  responsibility  for  the  neutralization  of  Truk,  Yap,  Ulithi,  other 
Carolines,  Marshalls,  Marianas,  and  Bonins.  The  burden  of  land-based 
preliminary  bombardment  fell  to  SWPA's  Allied  Air  Forces,  which 
delegated  most  of  the  air  mission  incident  to  STALEMATE  and  IN- 
TERLUDE to  its  Fifth  Air  Force.  The  XIII  Bomber  Command,  fly- 
ing from  Wakde  under  operational  control  of  the  Fifth  Air  Force, 
would  neutralize  the  Palaus  with  intensive  strikes  until  D  minus  10, 


295 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORGES   IN   WORLD   WAR  11 

and  the  868th  Bombardment  Squadron,  flying  from  Noemfoor,  would 
continue  to  harass  the  Palaiis  nightly  until  D  minus  k  More  directly 
in  support  of  INTERLUDE,  Xlll  Bomber  Gomniahd,  taking  over  a 
task  already  under  way,  would  seek  to  render  Galela,  Lolobata,  and 
Miti  airfields  on  Halmahera  completely  unoperational  between  D  mi- 
nus 8  and  D  minus  i.  Aircraft  Seventh  Fleet  searchplanes,  under  op- 
erational control  of  the  Fifth  Air  Force,  would  extend  i,ooo-rriile-long 
search  sectors  out  of  Owi  to  blanket  the  waters  between  the  Philip- 
pines and  the  Palaus.  The  13th  Air  Task  Force  At  Sansapor  and  the 
RAAF  10  Operational  Group  at  Noemfooi?  (both  under  Fifth  Air 
Force  operational  control)  would  add  weight  to  atticks  on  the  north- 
ern Moluccas,  neutralize  each  Japanese  airfield  remaiiiing  on  the  Vo- 
gelkop,  and  provide  cover  for  the  convoys  and  direct  siipport  to  the 
ground  operations  on  Morotai.  The  RAAF  Command,  using  the  380th 
Bombardment  Group  (H)  and  other  shorter-range  units  based  in 
northwestern  Australia,  would  continue  neutralization  of  Japanese  air- 
fields on  the  Ambon-Boeroe-Ceram  islands  and  on  other  islands  in  the 
Timor  arid  Arafura  seas;  from  D  minus  z  through  D  plus  2  it  would 
hold  its  forces  in  readiness  to  support  the  Fifth  Air  Force  as  ordel-ed.**' 

In  the  Palatis,  POA  planned  to  develop  airfields  on  Peleliu  and 
Ngesebus  suitable  for  short-range  Marine  units  which  would  neutral- 
ize Japariiese  (Strength  remaining  in  the  islands,  arid  ori  Angaiir  a  6,000- 
foot  heavy  bomber  strip  for  use  by  the  Seventh  Air  Force's  494th 
Bombardment  Group  (H).  Initial  construction  would  be  supervised 
by  the  ground  task  force  commanders,  but  at  the  conclusion  of  the 
combat  phase,  island  commanders— an  Air  Corps  oifficer,  Cpl.  Ray  A. 
Dunn^  had  been  named  Island  Cornrtlander,  Angaur— would  assume 
responsibility  for  the  completion  of  outlined  heavy  bomber  base  fa- 
cilities.®^ SWPA  specified  that  air  facilities  for  Morotai  would  include 
a  rehabilitated  5,ood-foot  fighter  strip  by  D  plus  2,  construction  of  a 
7,000-foot  bomber  strip  by  D  plus  25,  and  completion  of  a  third  6,000- 
fodt  strip  (oriented  for  extension  to  7,000  feet)  by  D  plus  45.  As  us- 
ual in  SWPA,  the  ground  task  force  received  control  of  all  engineer- 
ing effort  during  the  combat  phase,  but  Brig.  Gen.  Donald  R. 
Hutchinson,  commander  of  the  310th  Bombardment  Wing  (M)  and 
thus  senior  air  commander,  would  be  permitted  to  designate  the  air- 
strip sites,  a  procedure  which  had  been  permitted  at  Gusap  and  Nad- 
zab  in  the  fall  of  1943  and  much  later  at  Sansapor.®  • 

As  soon  as  heavy  and  medium  bombers  could  operate  from  Biak  and 

296 


PRELUDE   TO  INVASION 


Owi  bases  and  returning  P-38's  could  be  sure  of  minimum  facilities  on 
Noemfoor,  the  Fifth  Air  Force  began  attacks  on  the  northern  Moluc- 
cas to  cover  the  Allied  landings  at  Cape  Sansapor  on  31  July.*  Aerial 
photographs  of  the  northern  Moluccas,  taken  by  high-flying  F-5's  on 
21-23  July,  had  revealed  a  substantial  enemy  air  garrison  and  diligent 
enemy  efforts  to  build  new  air  bases.^*  Although  Whitehead  suspected 
that  the  air  garrison  was  defensive,  he  sent  a  combined  heavy-medium 
bomber  raid,  covered  by  P-38's,  against  Lolobata,  Miti,  and  Galela 
airdromes  on  27  July;  the  prize  was  some  sixty  Japanese  planes.  One 
P-38,  with  a  mechanical  failure,  made  a  water  landing  en  route  home 
and  its  pilot  was  saved  by  a  Catalina;  otherwise,  there  were  no  Allied 
losses  to  a  lethargic  Japanese  defense.  Four  P-38's  of  the  433d  Fighter 
Squadron,  making  a  long-range  sweep  of  the  waters  northwest  of 
Halmahera  on  i  August,  destroyed  two  Rufes  and  a  Val,  but  after  this 
date  the  Japanese  evidently  preferred  to  hoard  their  remaining  air- 
craft. Against  almost  daily  air  attacks  the  aim  of  the  Japanese  gunners 
improved  slightly,  but  as  August  wore  on  even  the  AA  crews  slacked 
up,  firing  usually  at  the  first  planes  of  a  formation  and  then,  evidently 
having  saved  face,  taking  to  cover.  Only  three  aircraft  were  lost  to 
hostile  action  during  August,  all  B-25's,  one  of  which  was  shot  down 
by  AA  on  1 3  August  and  the  other  two  planes  collided  during  eva- 
sive action  over  Dodinga  Bay  on  1 5  August.  Only  weather  gave  the 
Japanese  surcease  from  Fifth  Air  Force  attacks.  The  weight  of  attack 
amounted  to  only  about  one-fourth  of  the  total  of  3,63  r  tons  of  bombs 
expended  by  the  Fifth  Air  Force  during  August,  but  by  2  September 
there  were  no  enemy  aircraft  operational  on  the  Molucca  airfields.^^ 

Late  in  July,  his  supposition  about  the  northern  Moluccas  confirmed 
by  the  lack  of  air  opposition  to  the  first  Allied  raid.  Whitehead  began 
to  send  missions  against  the  airfields  on  the  Ambon-Boeroe-Ceram  is- 
lands. Although  the  area  was  assigned  to  the  RAAF  Command, 
Whitehead  considered  it  a  dangerous  flanking  threat  to  the  line  of  the 
SWPA  advance.  On  days  when  weather  prevented  missions  to  the 
Halmahera  area.  Fifth  Air  Force  planes  were  turned  into  the  Ambon- 
Boeroe-Ceram  triangle,  often  after  the  missions  were  airborne.  One 
harassed  intelligence  officer,  after  briefing  a  mission  on  six  diflperent 
objectives,  complained  that  the  requisite  maps  and  target  photos 
"looked  like  the  first  half  of  Cook's  travel  pamphlet  of  the  Dutch  East 
Indies,"^^  The  Boela  oil  fields  and  oil  storage  tanks  on  Ceram,  first  at- 

•  See  Vol.  IV,  661-70. 


297 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

tacked  during  July,  continued  to  serve  as  secondary  targets,  and  dur- 
ing August  the  Ambon-Boeroe-Ceram  islands  absorbed  some  789  tons 
of  Fifth  Air  Force  bombs— an  effort  which  was  augmented  by  the 
380th  Bombardment  Group  from  northwestern  Australia.  These  mis- 
sions were  contested  by  enemy  AA,  and  hostile  fighters  presented  at 
least  an  incipient  hazard,  although  the  Japanese  seemed  to  wish  to  save 
their  planes,  probably  for  night  raids  through  Vogelkop  fields  against 
Allied  bases.  On  17  August  fifteen  to  twenty  Japanese  fighters  were 
flushed  off  Haroekoe  airdrome  on  Ceram  by  a  Liberator  mission,  and 
twelve  P-38's  of  the  80th  Fighter  Squadron  shot  down  three  of  them 
with  the  loss  of  one  P-38  which  crashed  while  pursuing  an  enemy 
plane.  At  almost  the  same  hour,  eleven  P-38's  of  the  35th  Fighter 
Squadron,  escorting  B-24's  to  Liang  airdrome  on  Ambon,  contacted 
about  eleven  enemy  planes  and,  despite  the  efforts  of  the  enemy  to 
avoid  combat,  shot  down  four  Oscars  and  a  Sally  bomber.  One  of  these 
P-38's,  having  prolonged  its  flying  time  in  combat,  ran  out  of  fuel  on 
the  return  trip  and  ditched  near  Japen  Island,  but  its  pilot  was  saved 
by  a  PBY.  Despite  the  success  of  this  bombing  effort  in  clearing  en- 
emy airplanes  from  the  fields  on  Ceram,  the  Japanese  were  thought  on 
2  September  to  have  forty-eight  operational  aircraft  on  Ambon  and 
Boeroe.^' 

Fifth  Air  Force  heavies  and  mediums,  weathered  out  of  both  the 
Moluccas  and  Ambon-Boeroe-Ceram  targets,  commonly  dumped  their 
bombs  on  the  Japanese  airfields  in  the  Vogelkop,  which  were  the  pri- 
mary targets  for  shorter-range  Fifth  Air  Force  and  RAAF  planes  fly- 
ing from  Noemfoor,  Biak,  and  HoUandia.  This  largely  unspectacular 
effort,  which  carried  the  heaviest  tonnage  dropped  by  the  Fifth  dur- 
ing August,  was  designed  to  prevent  Japanese  night  raiders  from  stag- 
ing through  the  Vogelkop  fields,  but  a  few  picayune  night  raids 
during  the  month  showed  that  it  was  nearly  impossible  to  interdict  all 
night  attacks  by  such  tactics  as  long  as  the  Japanese  had  any  airplanes 
within  striking  distance.  Fifth  Air  Force  B-25's  by  day  and  B-24's  by 
night  enforced  a  rigid  antishipping  blockade  in  the  waters  of  the 
Vogelkop-Ceram-Halmahera  triangle,  but  the  fact  that  the  Japanese 
were  keeping  their  larger  vessels  out  of  the  area  denied  the  bombers 
notable  success.**® 

During  August  planes  of  XIII  Bomber  Command  undertook  the 
strikes  designed  to  soften  the  Palaus  for  invasion.  Targets  in  those  is- 

298 


PRELUDE   TO  INVASION 


lands  had  been  previously  attacked  by  Pacific  Fleet  carriers  and  Fifth 
Air  Force  B-24's,  but  photos  taken  by  F-5's  on  4-5  August  showed 
that  the  Japanese  were  still  maintaining  thirty-six  planes  at  the  rough 
strip  on  Peleliu.  The  strips  on  Ngesebus  and  Babelthuap  appeared 
serviceable  but  untenanted;  nine  Jake  floatplanes  were  parked  on  a 
ramp  at  Arakabesan  Island.  Headquarters  and  supply  buildings  on 
Malakal  and  Koror  islands  (the  latter  the  site  of  both  the  local  military 
headquarters  and  that  of  the  South  Seas  Bureau,  the  Japanese  civil  ad- 
ministration for  the  mandated  islands)  appeared  battered  but  impres- 
sive, and  each  of  the  main  islands  was  heavily  defended  by  AA.  Begin- 
ning on  the  night  of  8  August,  the  868th  Bombardment  Squadron 
began  a  series  of  nightly  attacks  from  Los  Negros  against  either  Mala- 
kal or  Koror  targets  and,  prevented  only  by  weather  on  16  August, 
continued  through  28  August.  Moving  to  Noemfoor,  the  squadron 
flew  nightly  strikes  against  the  Palaus  during  7-14  September.  With 
the  loss  of  only  i  plane  and  5  crewmen  in  an  operational  accident, 
the  squadron  sent  57  B-24's  and  91.2  tons  of  frags,  demos,  and  in- 
cendiary bombs  against  the  Palaus  during  these  raids.  Results  were 
unobserved.^® 

By  23  August  the  5th  and  307th  Bombardment  Groups  were  get- 
ting into  place  at  Wakde.  That  day  the  crew  of  a  single  B-24  photo- 
graphing targets  in  the  Palaus  reported  few  enemy  airplanes  visible 
but  observed  so  much  small  shipping  in  Malakal  Harbor  that  XIII 
Bomber  Command,  scheduling  its  first  raid  for  25  August,  devoted  the 
307th  Group  to  shipping  and  ordered  the  5th  Group  to  bomb  nearby 
Koror  town.  Two  squadrons  of  the  307th  placed  a  good  pattern  of 
250-pound  bombs  across  the  harbor,  but  with  few  vessels  there,  only 
a  barge  and  a  small  cargo  ship  were  hit.  The  37 2d  Squadron,  seeing  no 
targets,  bombed  the  piers  at  Koror  town,  drawing  seven  Japanese 
fighters  which  badly  damaged  one  of  the  B-24's.  The  plane  success- 
fully limped  back  to  Wakde,  but  two  other  B-24's  in  the  squadron 
collided  and  crashed  while  penetrating  a  weather  front  en  route  home. 
Planes  of  the  5th  Group  weathered  heavy,  moderate,  and  generally 
inaccurate  flak  to  drop  their  loo-pound  bombs  in  an  excellent  pattern 
over  Koror  town.  Withdrawing  from  the  target,  the  B-24's  were  at- 
tacked by  six  Zekes  and  a  Hamp.  In  a  twenty-minute  engagement  two 
enemy  planes  were  shot  down,  but  Lt.  Grant  M.  Rea's  B-24  caught 
fire  and  was  getting  out  of  control.  To  avoid  a  collision  with  others  in 


299 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORCES    IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

his  flight,  Rea  feathered  his  propellers  and  dropped  out  of  the  for- 
mation. Two  Zekes  strafed  the  five  crewmen  seen  to  parachute  from 
the  stricken  bomber/** 

Thereafter,  Japanese  naval  airmen  in  the  Palaus  proved  no  more 
anxious  for  combat  than  their  fellow  army  pilots  in  the  northern  Mo- 
luccas. The  5th  and  307th  Groups,  hindered  only  by  weather  and  at- 
tacked only  by  AA,  returned  to  the  Palaus  daily  (except  27  August, 
when  weather  prevented)  through  5  September.  In  a  total  of  1 1  mis- 
sions, the  2  groups  sent  out  394  sorties,  only  23  of  which  failed  to 
reach  the  Palaus,  and  dropped  793.6  tons  of  bombs.  AA  remained  dan- 
gerous, shooting  down  a  B-24  on  28  August,  destroying  a  second  on 
I  September,  and  damaging  a  third  so  badly  on  2  September  that  it  had 
to  be  ditched  with  only  four  survivors.  These  missions  resulted  in  the 
destruction  of  most  of  the  major  installations  and  building  areas  in 
the  Palaus,  especially  Koror  town,  where  507  buildings  were  demol- 
ished. While  SWPA  intelligence  estimated  that  the  Japanese  still  had 
twelve  fighters,  twelve  floatplanes,  and  three  observation  aircraft  in 
the  Palaus  on  5  September,  the  local  airstrips  had  been  so  badly  cra- 
tered  that  they  could  be  made  operational  only  with  extensive  re- 
pairs.^^ 

Meanwhile,  the  Fifth  Air  Force  had  begun  attacks  on  the  southern 
Philippines  to  prepare  the  way  for  the  Third  Fleet  carrier  strikes.  Late 
in  July  Kenney  had  informed  Whitehead  that  attacks  against  Davao 
airfields  and  port  installations  should  begin  as  soon  as  possible."^^  Fear- 
ing that  Japanese  opposition  to  continued  day  raids  on  the  area  would 
become  costly,  Kenney  had  advised  Whitehead  to  use  his  "snooper" 
force  until  he  could  stage  a  day  attack  in  force.  The  63d  Squadron  ini- 
tiated such  night  raids  on  5/6  August  with  a  rather  ineffectual  single 
bomber  strike  on  Sasa  airdrome,  six  miles  north  of  Davao.  Planes  from 
the  63d  continued  to  harass  the  airdromes  and  harbor  area  around 
Davao  during  August,  assisted  by  PB4Y's  on  reconnaissance  missions. 
Captured  documents  indicate  that  these  heckling  raids  frequently 
killed  small  numbers  of  military  personnel,  sometimes  destroyed  air- 
craft, and  often  wrecked  buildings.  Japanese  resistance  was  ineffec- 
tual. Even  on  20  August,  when  the  345th's  B-25's  raided  Beo  and 
Rainis  villages  in  the  Talaud  Islands  to  cover  low-level  photography 
by  the  17th  Reconnaissance  Squadron,  only  two  inquisitive  Japanese 
fighters  appeared  and  they  seemed  reluctant  to  attack.  This  daylight 

300 


PRELUDE   TO  INVASION 


raid  was  in  easy  fighter  range  of  Japanese  bases  in  southern  Mindanao, 
but  there  was  no  reaction/^ 

Larger-scale  attacks  required  more  target  information,  and  on  20-2  3 
August  F~5's  covered  southern  Mindanao.  Surprisingly  enough,  163 
Japanese  aircraft  were  revealed  on  the  20  August  photos,  while  similar 
coverage  on  22  August  revealed  only  108  planes.  The  Japanese,  evi- 
dently reasoning  that  bombers  would  follow  the  photo  planes,  had 
withdrawn  northward.  Most  of  this  strength  was  concentrated  at 
Likanan  airdrome  (a  four-runway  base  twelve  miles  northeast  of  Da- 
vao),  at  Sasa  airdrome  (north  of  Davao),  and  Matina  airdrome  (a 
bomber  base  two  and  one-half  miles  southwest  of  Davao).  Nine  other 
airfields  were  in  the  area  varying  from  operational  to  probably  aban- 
doned, the  most  important  being  Padada  (thirty  miles  south-southwest 
of  Davao),  Daliao  (under  construction  six  miles  southwest  of  Davao), 
and  Buayan  (at  the  head  of  Sarangani  Bay) .  There  was  a  seaplane  base 
at  Bassa  Point.  Davao,  the  second  largest  city  in  Mindanao,  sheltered 
many  Japanese  troop  concentrations,  and  nearby  Santa  Ana  contained 
the  docks  and  waterfront  warehouses  for  Davao.^* 

Mac  Arthur  questioned  Kenney  again  on  2 1  August  regarding  the 
state  of  preparation  for  a  raid  on  Davao,  reiterating  his  interest  in  hav- 
ing the  ''big  wallop"  tal^e  place  as  soon  as  possible  to  prepare  for  the 
carrier  strikes  and  to  stimulate  sabotage  and  guerrilla  resistance." 
Whitehead  had  been  hoping  to  use  the  two  XIII  Bomber  Command 
heavy  groups  for  an  initial  five-group  raid.  He  had  also  been  holding 
up  the  heavy  attack  until  he  could  stage  B-25's  through  Sansapor  for 
a  simultaneous  photo  and  strafing  mission  against  the  Sarangani  Bay 
area.  Because  the  disappearing  Japanese  air  forces  made  target  selec- 
tion difficult.  Whitehead  asked  for  permission  to  bomb  Davao,  but 
MacArthur,  having  received  word  that  the  Japanese  hoped  to  exploit 
such  attacks  for  purposes  of  propaganda,  limited  attacks  in  the  Philip- 
pines to  airfields,  hostile  installations,  and  shipping.'^  Harbor  installa- 
tions which  might  be  of  use  to  the  Allies  were  to  be  spared  as  much  as 
possible,  and  villages  and  cities  were  not  to  be  bombed  except  with  the 
express  permission  of  GHQ." 

The  tactical  situation  and  state  of  the  airfields  at  Sansapor  limited 
the  Fifth  Air  Force  to  its  own  heavy  bomber  resources,  but  on  i  Sep- 
tember fifty-five  B-24's  of  the  22d,  43d,  and  90th  Groups  bombed  dis- 
persal areas  at  Matina,  Likanan,  and  Sasa  dromes.  Over  Matina  AA 


301 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  H 

was  intense,  heavy,  and  accurate,  shooting  down  two  2 2d  Group 
bombers;  one  burst  killed  a  pilot  and  a  gunner  in  another  of  the 
group's  planes.  Some  ten  enemy  fighters  attacked  the  43d  Group  over 
Likanan,  holing  several  of  the  bombers  at  a  probable  loss  of  two  fight- 
ers. The  three  groups,  with  each  plane  loaded  with  20-pound  frags, 
had  attempted  to  knock  out  dispersed  aircraft;  strike  photos  showed 
that  they  had  destroyed  twenty-two.  Three  squadrons  of  P-38's,  stag- 
ing through  Sansapor,  had  accompanied  the  B-24's  to  within  sixty 
miles  of  the  target,  but  they  had  been  turned  back  by  a  weather  front. 
The  next  day  the  same  groups,  this  time  with  effective  fighter  escort, 
flew  back  to  clean  up  stores  and  personnel  areas  around  the  airdromes 
with  500-pound  bombs.  Twelve  B-24's  of  the  43d  Group  bombed 
stores  at  Bunawan,  near  Likanan;  22  B-24's  of  the  90th  Group 
dropped  196  bombs  on  the  barracks  at  Likanan  with  good  suc- 
cess; and  24  B-24's  of  the  22d  Group  dropped  216  bombs  upon 
supply  and  personnel  areas  in  the  vicinity  of  Lasang,  northwest 
of  Likinan.  Both  A  A  and  the  several  phosphorous  bombs  dropped  in 
the  vicinity  of  the  2 id  Group  by  high-flying  enemy  fighters  were  in- 
effective. Twenty-one  P~38's  of  the  9th,  35th,  and  36th  Fighter 
Squadrons  prevented  any  closer  interceptions,  and  the  35th  Squadron 
pursued  and  shot  down  a  Zeke  and  a  Lily.  The  V  Bomber  Command 
attempted  a  B-25  shipping  strike  at  Davao  harbor  on  the  night  of  2/3 
September,  using  six  volunteer  crews  of  the  345th  Bombardment 
Group;  they  staged  through  Middelburg,  but  only  one  of  the  B-25's 
managed  to  reach  the  harbor  and  it  scored  no  more  than  a  near  miss 
on  a  merchant  vessel.^®  . 

The  coordinated  medium  and  heavy  bomber  raid  on  southern  Min- 
danao took  place  on  6  September.  Forty-five  B-24's  of  the  2 2d,  43d, 
and  90th  Groups  bombed  the  Santa  Ana  dock  area  with  1,000-pound 
bombs,  while  11  B-25's  from  the  345th  Group,  which  had  staged 
to  Middelburg  the  day  before,  made  low-level  strikes  on  Buayan  air- 
drome. Although  they  found  few  planes  on  the  field,  the  B-25's  de- 
stroyed 4  of  them  and  dropped  their  100-pound  parademos  on  bar- 
racks, warehouses,  and  hangars.  The  whole  area  was  thoroughly 
strafed,  and  numerous  Japanese  soldiers  were  chased  to  cover  with  .50- 
caliber  bullets.  Twenty-nine  P-38's  of  the  431st  and  433d  Squadrons, 
covering  the  Liberators,  had  an  uneventful  trip,  but  thirty-five  P-38's 
of  the  68th  and  399th  Squadrons,  escorting  the  Mitchells,  strafed  Bua- 
yan as  the  bombers  departed,  and  the  399th  Squadron  shot  down  a 


302 


PRELUDE  TO  INVASION 


Topsy  transport  which  tried  to  land  at  Buayan.  After  these  6  Septem- 
ber strikes  Whitehead,  at  the  request  of  the  Third  Fleet,  suspended  all 
missions  against  southern  Mindanao.  The  bomb  tonnage  dropped  had 
not  been  as  large  as  that  desired  by  Mae  Arthur;  counting  "snooper" 
and  PB4Y  tonnages  as  well  as  the  daylight  raids,  only  366  tons  had  been 
dropped.  But  when  the  Third  Fleet's  carrier  planes  appeared  over  the 
area,  they  would  find  that  the  Japanese  air  forces  had  deserted  their 
bases,  evidently  because  of  the  Fifth  Air  Force  action/^ 

Having  completed  the  missions  against  Mindanao,  the  Fifth  Air 
Force  turned  its  medium  and  heavy  bombers  to  the  Celebes.  This 
strangely  formed  island,  roughly  the  shape  of  a  "K"  with  the  vertical 
stroke  looped  over  the  whole  letter,  lies  between  the  Moluccas  and 
Borneo,  Although  a  single  island  it  had  been  given  a  plural  designation 
by  early  explorers  who  were  puzzled  by  its  peculiar  conformation.  To 
reach  its  western  extremities  would  tax  the  range  of  B-24's  from  either 
Biak  or  Darwin,  but  its  most  important  installations  were  located  in 
the  northeastern  and  southeastiern  peninsulas  where  even  B-25's, 
staged  at  Noemfoor,  could  attack  them.  On  the  long  northeastern 
penmsula  which  curls  over  the  whole  island,  centering  around  Me- 
nado,  the  Japanese  had  built  Langoan,  Mapanget,  and  Sidate  airfields. 
Japanese  garrisons  and  some  industrial  activity  had  been  noted  in  the 
towns  of  Menado  (also  headquarters  of  the  Second  Area  Army),  Go- 
rontalo,  and  Tomohon.  At  the  extremity  of  the  northeastern  penin- 
sula, Lembeh  and  Bangka  stimm  provided  shelter  for  shipping,  and 
Amoerang  Bay,  on  the  north  coast  of  the  northeast  peninsula,  was  a 
shipping  center.  Less  was  known  about  the  southeastern  peninsula,  but 
in  addition  to  the  old  airfields  at  Kendari  and  Pomelaa  the  Japanese 
had  developed  five  new  airfields  in  the  area— Baroe,  Boroboro,  Ti- 
woro,  Ambesia,  and  Witicola.  As  of  i  September  the  Japanese  were 
believed  to  have  177  planes  in  the  Celebes.®** 

A  few  B-24's  and  PB4Y's  had  bombed  the  Celebes  earlier  in  August, 
but  the  first  large-scale  effort  against  the  area  was  flown  on  24  August 
by  thirty-six  B-25's  of  the  345th  Bombardment  Group,  staging 
through  Noemfoor.  This  mission  successfully  attacked  merchant  ship- 
ping in  the  Bangka  and  Lembeh  straits,  damaged  the  mine-layer  Itsu- 
kushima  with  near  misses,  and  strafed  and  bombed  storage  areas  at 
Lembeh.*^  Except  for  reconnaissance  planes  and  night-flying  B-24's, 
the  Celebes  went  free  until  2  September  chiefly  because  weather  held 
oS  scheduled  345th  Group  strikes.  On  that  date  thirteen  B-25's  from 

303 


THE   ARMY   AIR   FORGES   IN   WORLli   WAR  II 

the  group  tried  to  attack  Langoan  airfield,  but  when  their  fighter 
cover  did  not  appear  on  schedule,  the  B-25's  once  again  attacked  ship- 
ping in  the  Lembeh  Strait.  On  this  mission  the  A  A  positions  along  the 
straits,  aided  by  gunners  on  the  damaged  mine-layer,  put  up  a  curtain 
of  flak  which  veteran  pilots  said  was  the  most  intense  seen  since  Ra- 
baui;  two  B-25's  were  shot  down  and  two  others  so  badly  damaged 
that  they  were  forced  to  land  at  Middelburg.  This  mission  showed 
that  the  Celebes  were  too  well  defended  for  medium  bombers.  On  the 
next  day  thirty-seven  B-24's  of  the  iid  and  43d  Groups  were  sent  to 
bomb  the  targets  adjoining  the  Lembeh  Strait:  twenty-two  90th 
Group  B-24's  bombed  dispersal  areas  at  Langoan,  destroying  thirteen 
Japanese  planes  on  the  ground.  Fighter  cover  was  again  delayed  by 
weather,  and  the  Japanese  intercepted  each  of  the  three  groups.  Over 
the  strait  the  interceptions  were  not  closely  pressed,  but  the  2  2d 
Group  shot  down  two  Tonys.  The  90th  Group  was  hotly  contested 
over  Langoan  by  some  ten  Zekes,  Tojos,  and  Hamps,  losing  one  B-24 
but  claiming  two  Japanese  fighters  in  exchange.^^ 

After  these  initial  raids  Japanese  resistance  wilted  and  Allied  fighter 
cover  began  to  function  properly.  On  4  September,  when  all  strikes 
from  Biak  and  Owi  against  the  Celebes  were  canceled  because  of 
weather,  twenty-three  B-24's  of  the  380th  Group  from  Darwin  made 
a  night  attack  on  Kendari  airdrome,  setting  a  number  of  fires.  On  5 
September,  fifty-eight  B-24's  from  Biak  and  Owi,  in  a  mission  de- 
scribed as  no  more  exciting  than  "taking  a  nine  and  a  half  hours  ... 
bus  trip,"  returned  to  blast  Langoan's  dispersals,  destroying  or  badly 
damaging  seventeen  Japanese  aircraft  on  the  ground.  On  7  September 
fifty-three  B-24's  hit  warehouses,  factories,  and  army  headquarters  at 
Menado,  and  the  next  day  forty-five  B-24's  bombed  Langoan  town 
and  airdrome.  A  series  of  heavy  bomber  missions  was  flown  against 
Mapanget,  Langoan,  and  Sidate  on  7-14  September,  designed  to 
knock  out  their  strips  with  1,000-pound  and  2,000-pound  bombs.  Re- 
connaissance photos  taken  on  14-15  September  showed  that  each  of 
the  three  runways  was  so  badly  cratered  that  the  few  remaining  Japa- 
nese planes  in  the  northeastern  Celebes  could  not  be  flown  from  them. 
At  each  airfield,  however,  the  Japanese  were  busily  filling  up  the  cra- 
ters, and  the  fields  would  require  continuing  attacks  to  insure  the 
safety  of  Morotai.  Iri  all,  this  neutralization  effort  had  required  some 
1,389  tons  of  bombs  prior  to  1 5  September*®* 

While  FEAF  long-range  planes  had  been  committed  to  attacks  on 

304 


PRELUDE  TO  INVASION 


the  Palaus,  southern  Mindanao,  and  the  Celebes,  other  shorter-range 
Allied  units  had  been  attempting  to  destroy  the  enemy  airfields  on  the 
Vogelkop  and  on  the  left  flank.  Fifth  Air  Force  P-38's,  P-47's,  A-20's, 
and  B-2 5 's— unopposed  except  for  AA  which  shot  down  a  B-25  over 
Namlea  and  two  A-20's  at  Amahai  on  10  September— repeatedly 
raided  the  enemy  airfields  on  Ambon,  Boeroe,  and  Ceram,  dropping  a 
total  of  303  tons  of  bombs  on  these  targets  during  the  first  2  weeks 
of  September.  The  13th  Air  Task  Force  P-38's  from  Sansapor  flew 
172  P-38  sorties  and  dropped  119  x  1,000-pound  and  53  x  500-pound 
bombs  on  the  2  Namlea  fields  during  the  same  period.  Missing  only 
two  days  during  5-15  September  because  of  weather,  RAAF  22  and 
30  Squadrons'  Bostons  and  Beaufighters,  flying  from  Noemfoor,  kept 
Boela's  airstrips  cratered.  Limiting  their  load  to  two  200-pound  bombs, 
RAAF  P-40's  from  Noemfoor  stretched  their  radius  to  the  Kai  Is- 
lands for  half-hour  attacks  on  shipping  and  targets  of  opportunity. 
The  380th  Group  from  northwest  Australia  continued  its  campaign, 
concentrating  after  8  September  on  Ambon  airfields.  Following  the 
4  September  night  strike  on  Kendari,  it  hit  Lautem  town,  Timor,  on 
2  and  12  September,  Kai  Islands  dromes  on  8  September,  and  Laha  air- 
drome on  Ambon  on  10  September.  At  the  same  time,  the  short-range 
air  units  dropped  some  676  tons  of  bombs  on  the  airfields  and  hostile 
installations  bypassed  in  the  Vogelkop,  displaying  a  great  deal  of  in- 
genuity in  running  up  the  tonnage.  A-20's  from  HoUandia,  for  ex- 
ample, were  accompanied  to  Utarom  by  B-25's  and  bombed  from  me- 
dium altitudes  on  the  B-25  lead  ship.  Other  than  two  P-38's  lost  over 
Jefman  to  AA  on  4  September  (one  of  the  pilots  was  rescued)  there 
were  no  casualties.  The  importance  of  this  effort  was  emphasized  by 
the  continued  Japanese  ability  to  sneak  night  raiders  into  Netherlands 
New  Guinea.  Taking  advantage  of  moonlight,  two  raiders  killed  one 
man,  wounded  seven,  and  damaged  five  planes  at  Mokmer  airdrome 
on  2  September;  five  days  later,  two  raiders  wounded  one  man  and 
damaged  five  bombers  on  Owi.  On  9  September  about  ten  hostile 
planes  raided  Biak  and  Owi,  killing  three  men  and  wounding  twelve. 
Allied  AA  shot  down  two  of  these  planes,  a  P-61  destroyed  a  "bogie" 
over  Biak  on  i  September,  and  other  Allied  night  fighters  drove  off 
hostile  planes  over  Sansapor  on  lo/i  i  September;  but  it  was  evident 
that  the  Japanese  were  still  able  to  harass  the  Allied  line  of  advance 
toward  Morotai.®* 
During  the  first  two  weeks  of  September  FEAF  planes  unleashed  a 

305 


THE   ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 

stepped-up  aerial  attack  on  the  northern  Moluccas  which  sought  to 
immobilize  the  Japanese  garrison,  destroy  their  logistic  establishments, 
and  knock  out  their  airfields.  The  5  th  and  307th  Bombardment 
Groups,  beginning  on  7  September  and  continuing  through  D-day, 
sent  297  B-24  sorties  to  drop  881  tons  of  bombs  almost  exclusively  on 
the  enemy  airfields.  Concurrently,  the  Fifth  Air  Force  used  every 
type  of  combat  aircraft  available  to  soften  the  northern  Moluccas  and 
to  isolate  the  island  of  Morotai.  P-47's  and  P-38's  dive-bombed  vil- 
lages, supply  dumps,  and  airfields;  B-25's  made  minimum-altitude 
sweeps,  bombing  and  strafing  airfields  and  other  targets  of  opportu- 
nity up  and  down  the  coasts  of  Wasile  Bay;  and  Noemfoor-based 
A-20's  of  the  417th  Bombardment  Group  attacked  Kaoe  airdrome 
dumps  on  1 1  September,  losing  one  plane  to  AA— the  only  casualty  of 
the  two-week  period  of  attacks  on  the  Moluccas.  To  provide  full 
measure  of  airdrome  neutralization,  Fifth  Air  Force  heavy  bombers 
attacked  Kaoe  drome  on  D-day,  followed  by  thirty-one  A-20's  of  the 
417th  Group  which  swept  the  field  and  the  adjacent  town.  Alto- 
gether, Fifth  Air  Force  units  had  put  362  tons  of  bombs  into  the  Mo- 
luccas during  1-15  September.  Morotai  was  hardly  touched,  partly  to 
avoid  giving  away  the  target  and  partly  because  there  were  no  Japa- 
nese installations  worth  much  air  effort  on  the  island.  The  38th  Group 
sent  their  B-25's  for  minimum-altitude  attacks  against  Morotai  on  2 
and  6  September,  strafed  and  bombed  a  supposed  radar  installation  on 
the  northeast  coast  on  1 2  September,  and  swept  the  invasion  area  for 
the  last  time  on  1 3  September.  On  D-day,  shortly  after  the  landings 
began,  2  B-25's  sprayed  the  area,  not  with  the  bombs  and  bullets 
usual  at  landings  in  enemy  territory  but  with  460  gallons  of  DDT 
insecticide.^ 

Meanwhile,  the  magnificent  success  of  the  Third  Fleet  had  guaran- 
teed Allied  victories  in  the  Palaus  and  Moluccas.  Halsey  had  sent  Task 
Group  38.4  to  strike  the  Bonins  between  3 1  August  and  2  September; 
it  had  attacked  Yap  on  7-8  September;  and  it  had  arrived  in  the  Palaus 
in  time  to  relieve  the  other  three  groups  of  Task  Force  38,  which  had 
been  operating  there  on  6-8  September.  These  three  groups,  begin- 
ning attacks  against  Mindanao  on  9  September,  met  next  to  no  opposi- 
tion in  areas  which  had  been  bombed  by  the  Fifth  Air  Force,  and 
Carney,  Halsey's  chief  of  staff,  wrote  Sutherland  that  the  "damned 
1 3th  Air  Force  has  just  about  spoiled  the  war  for  our  carriers,  par- 
ticularly at  Yap.  .  .       Continued  success  against  limited  opposition 

306 


PRELUDE  TO  INVASION 


next  day  caused  Halsey  to  order  Task  Force  38  against  the  Visayas 
and  Luzon;  achieving  tactical  surprise  over  the  Visayas  on  12-13  Sep- 
tember, it  destroyed  more  than  300  Japanese  planes.  As  agreed  with 
SWPA,  Task  Group  38.1  was  detached  and  moved  southward  for 
support  at  Morotai,  striking  Zamboanga,  the  Talauds,  and  Menado  en 
route.  But  Halsey  still  was  not  through:  having  replenished  Task 
Force  38  (less  Task  Group  38.4),  he  sent  it  against  Luzon  on  21-22 
September.  Before  withdrawing,  these  groups  repeated  attacks  against 
the  Visayas  and  staged  a  long  flight  to  catch  Japanese  shipping  which 
had  fled  from  Manila  to  Coron  Bay.  The  total  damages  claimed  against 
the  enemy  between  3 1  August  and  24  September  were  phenomenal: 
1,000  Japanese  planes  destroyed  and  over  150  ships  sunk,  at  a  cost  of 
only  1 14  U.S.  planes.®^ 

These  successes,  added  to  information  brought  back  by  a  carrier  pi- 
lot rescued  from  Leyte  that  there  were  no  Japanese  on  the  island,  led 
Halsey  to  make  a  startling  proposition  on  13  September.  He  suggested 
to  Nimitz  that  he  be  allowed  to  cancel  all  of  STALEMATE  II  except 
the  capture  of  a  fleet  anchorage  at  Ulithi.  He  wished  to  turn  over  the 
forces  so  released  to  MacArthur  for  an  immediate  assault  on  Leyte 
which  he  would  cover  with  carrier  aircraft  until  airfields  could  be 
built  ashore.  This  proposal,  based  on  an  overquick  estimate  of  dam- 
ages and  erroneous  intelligence  from  Leyte,  might  have  succeeded, 
but,  as  events  would  show  next  month,  only  at  extremely  hazardous 
risks.  Neither  Nimitz,  MacArthur,  nor  the  JCS  proved  willing  to 
eliminate  the  Palaus,  but  all  were  willing  to  release  the  forces  required 
for  the  Yap  phase  of  STALEMATE  II  so  that  they  could  be  used  by 
SWPA  for  the  occupation  of  Leyte— with  a  target  date  set  at  20  Oc- 
tober instead  of  20  December,  and  with  all  MacArthur's  planned  op- 
erations between  Morotai  and  Leyte  canceled.®® 

Preparatory  operations  for  the  landings  in  the  Palaus  had  already 
begun  when  Halsey  made  his  proposition  to  cancel  STALEMATE. 
During  the  first  week  in  August  the  8ist  Division  had  been  shipped 
from  Hawaii  to  Guadalcanal,  and,  joining  the  ist  Marine  Division  in 
the  Russells,  it  had  been  integrated  into  the  III  Amphibious  Corps.  On 
4-8  September  this  task  force  had  sortied  from  the  Solomons;  the  Fire 
Support  Group  and  the  Escort  Carrier  Group  (ten  CVE's)  had  de- 
parted in  time  to  arrive  at  the  target  area  by  12  September,  when, 
promptly  at  dawn,  they  had  commenced  bombarding  Peleliu.  Because 
of  excellent  Japanese  camouflage  (the  Japanese  persistently  refused  to 


307 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


return  fire  and  reveal  their  positions),  most  of  the  naval  shells  had  to 
be  fired  blindly  into  the  island.  Four  torpedo  bombers  and  four  fighter 
squadrons  from  the  CVE's  were  in  constant  use.  Covered  by  Allied 


-aE  LEGEND  =- 
®  AIRRELOS 

AN6AUR  I  O  REEFS   AND  SHALLOWS 


Air  Forces  searchplanes  in  its  movement  northv^^ard,  the  Western 
Task  Force  vv^as  standing  oflF  the  Palaus  on  15  September,  ready  for 
landings  vv^hich  proceeded  as  scheduled;  ashore  without  unusual  inci- 
dent, the  ist  Marine  Division  quickly  captured  the  Japanese  airfield. 

308 


PRELUDE  TO  INVASION 


On  17  September,  as  soon  as  it  could  be  determined  that  it  would  not 
be  needed  on  Peleliu,  the  8ist  Division,  less  one  regimental  combat 
team  (RCT)  which  Halsey  ordered  held  for  the  capture  of  Ulithi,  at- 
tacked and  easily  overran  the  Japanese  defending  Angaur,  ending  iall 
organized  resistance  on  the  island  by  20  September.^® 

The  ground  advance  on  Peleliu,  however,  slowed  up  as  the  Japanese 
were  pushed  back  into  a  series  of  fortifications  honeycombing  the 
rocky  ridge— the  Marines  called  it  "Bloody-nose  Ridge"— forming  the 
backbone  of  the  Island.  Against  such  cave  fortifications,  air  support 
missions,  flown  by  carrier  pilots  who  had  been  primarily  trained  for 
attacks  against  naval  units,  offered  only  limited  assistance.  They  tried 
napalm  incendiary  bombs  to  burn  the  Japanese  out  of  their  positions 
with  small  success,  partly  because  many  pilots  dropped  the  napalm 
containers  from  too  high  altitudes  and  partly  because  the  inflammable 
mixture  was  in  too  thin  a  solution.  An  AAF  observer  at  Peleliu  also 
noted  that  the  carrier  pilots  began  to  strafe  from  4,000  to  5,000  feet  and 
pulled  out  of  their  diving  angle  at  about  2,000  feet;  dive  bombers  re- 
covered at  3,000  feet  as  a  safety  measure  from  ground  fire,  although 
such  fire  usually  ceased  during  an  air  attack.  Relative  ineff ectiveiiess  of 
such  air  support  meant  that  the  Marines  had  to  root  out  and  destroy 
Japanese  positions,  usually  in  expensive  hand-to-hand  combat.  On  2  3 
September  one  regiment  of  the  8ist  Division  had  to  be  brought  to 
Peleliu  to  relieve  the  weary  Marines.^^ 

Elsewhere  the  troops  met  little  difficulty.  A  force  of  Marines  seized 
Ngesebus  on  25  September,  while  the  323d  Regiment  of  the  8ist 
Division,  supported  by  the  escort  carrier  group,  occupied  Ulithi  Atoll 
on  23  September  without  opposition  other  than  extensive  minefields. 
Halsey  also  seized  Kossol  Passage,  and  had  it  swept  for  possible  use  as 
a  fleet  regulating  point.  Although  there  would  still  be  some  mopping 
up  of  isolated  enemy  pockets,  Halsey  on  1 3  October  turned  the  arei 
over  to  Vice  Adm.  John  H.  Hoover,  commander  of  Forward  Area 
Central  Pacific,  Casualties  as  of  that  date  had  been  very  high:  against 
10,500  Japanese  on  Peleliu-Ngesebus  and  1,500  on  Angaur,  the  ist 
Marine  Division  had  lost  5,03 1  men  killed,  wounded,  and  missing,  and 
the  8ist  Division  had  sustained  1,91 1  casualties.®^ 

Because  of  the  separation  of  the  two  objectives  in  the  Palaus,  engi- 
neer troops  were  attached  directly  to  the  two  combat  divisions  for  the 
execution  of  CINCPAC  base-development  plans  until  the  function 
could  pass  to  the  garrison  or  island  commanders.  The  III  Amphibious 


309 


THE  ARMY  AIR   FORCES   IN   WORLD   WAR  II 

Corps  engineer  found  this  procedure  "most  objectionable"  since  the 
combat  divisions  had  little  time  or  personnel  for  construction.  The  ist 
Marine  Division,  with  two  naval  construction  battalions  attached,  was 
assigned  the  task  of  rehabilitating  the  Japanese  fields  on  Peleliu  and 
Ngesebus.  The  once-impressive  airdrome  on  Peleliu  was  found  in 
shambles,  but  despite  initial  delays  in  beaching  the  LST's  containing 
most  of  their  heavy  equipment,  the  Seabees  had  one  runway  ready  to 
receive  Marine  fighters  on  D  plus  8  and  for  Marine  bombers  by  D 
plus  20.  Ngesebus  airfield  was  so  poorly  built  that  it  was  not  worth 
diversion  of  effort  from  Peleliu.^^ 

The  1884th  and  1887th  Engineer  Aviation  Battalions,  initially  at- 
tached to  the  8 1  St  Division,  had  the  more  difficult  assignment  of  build- 
ing facilities  on  Angaur  for  a  heavy  bombardment  group  within  thirty 
days.  On  17  September,  the  day  of  the  invasion,  the  1884th  sent  a  sur- 
veying party  with  a  combat  bulldozer  to  begin  clearing  a  center  line 
for  the  strip,  even  though  the  area  was  still  under  fire.  The  whole  iarea 
was  covered  with  dense  jungle  growth,  and  a  six-inch  to  two-foot 
deep  ground  surface  of  humus  had  to  be  stripped  and  replaced  with 
coral.  Nevertheless,  a  steel-mat  runway,  service  apron,  and  warm-up 
area— minimum  facilities  for  flying— were  completed  by  20  October. 
According  to  construction  directives,  a  32,000-barrel  gasoline  tank- 
farm  should  have  been  completed  by  D  plus  30,  but  a  critical  tie-up  in 
unloading  over  the  beaches  delayed  this  work,  and  not  until  8  Novem- 
ber did  the  storage  capacity  reach  12,000  barrels,  an  estimated  week's 
supply  for  a  heavy  bombardment  group,^^ 

Deployment  of  the  air  garrisons  to  the  Palaus,  after  the  area  was 
transferred  to  Forward  Area  Central  Pacific,  became  the  responsibil- 
ity of  Maj.  Gen.  Willis  H.  Hale,  commander  of  the  Shore-Based  Air 
Force  Forward  Area.  He  supervised  Maj.  Gen.  J.  T.  Modre,  USMC, 
who  was  immediately  responsible  for  land-based  air  operations  in  the 
Palaus.  Prior  to  the  arrival  of  land-based  sqtiadrons,  three  tender-based 
patrol  squadrons  and  one  air  evacuation  squadron  were  moved  to  Pele- 
liu on  17  September.  As  soon  as  the  strip  on  Peleliu  could  support 
them,  three  fighter  squadrons,  one  night  fighter  squadron,  and  one  tor- 
pedo bomber  squadron,  all  Marine  units,  were  flown  in  to  undertake 
the  local  defense  and  neutralization  of  Japanese  forces  remaining  in 
the  Palaus.  The  long-range  striking  force  scheduled  for  Angaur— the 
Seventh  Air  Force's  494th  Bombardment  Group— was  unable  to  oper- 
ate there  in  force  until  late  November,  although  a  Marine  transport 


310 


PRELUDE  TO  INVASION 


squadron  had  begun  to  use  the  field  somewhat  earlier.  Thirteen  B-24's 
of  the  864th  and  866th  Squadrons,  all  the  heavy  bombers  which  could 
be  maintained  from  limited  gasoline  stores,  reached  Anga;ur  on  21-22 
October.  The  other  two  squadrons  would  not  arrive  until  November, 
and  since  the  494th  was  a  new  group  never  before  in  operation,  its  full 
effectiveness  had  to  await  shakedown  missions  and  local  orientation.^^ 


The  Palaus  would  thus  be  of  no  value  in  the  aerial  preparations  for  the 
invasion  of  Leyte  nor  for  the  fleet  action  which  followed,  but  the  field 
on  Angaur  did  prove  most  useful  as  a  staging  and  heavy  bombardment 
base  before  the  completion  of  the  Philippines  campaign. 

Meanwhile,  land-based  air  operations  in  support  of  the  landings  at 
Leyte  Gulf  depended  on  Morotai.  Loading  of  the  amphibious  troops 
for  the  invasion  of  that  island  had  begun  during  late  August  at  Aitape, 
Hollandia,  Maffin  Bay,  Biak,  and  Sansapor.  Despite  the  strain  on  slen- 
der SWPA  resources  caused  by  loadings  at  so  many  places,  the  two 


311 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES   IN   WORLD  WAR  II 

attack  groups  had  arrived  at  Aitape  and  MafEn  Bay  on  2-3  September 
for  final  rehearsals.  The  group  at  Aitape  weighed  anchor  on  1 1  Sep- 
tember, joined  the  other  group  off  Wakde  next  day,  and,  keeping  out 
of  sight  of  enemy-occupied  areas,  moved  up  the  coast  of  New  Guinea. 
Cruiser  and  escort  carrier  groups  joined  on  14  September,  and  the 
combined  force  proceeded  toward  Morotai  with  four  CVE  aircraft 
on  constant  antisubmarine  patrol.  Using  units  from  Biak,  Noemfoor, 
and  Sansapor  progressively,  FEAF  maintained  four  P-6i's  on  dawn 
and  dusk  patrols  and  sixteen  P-38's  on  continuous  day  patrols  over  the 
convoy;  P-6 1  night  fighters,  working  in  pairs  out  of  Sansapor,  covered 
the  convoy  all  night  on  14/15  September.  All  patrols  were  without 
incident.  After  excellent  gun  and  air  barrages,  the  31st  Division  and 
the  126th  RCT  began  unopposed  landings  at  0830  on  15  September, 
at  once  encountering  the  worst  reef  conditions  ever  met  in  any  SWPA 
landing.  Defying  fissures  which  trapped  their  vehicles,  the  assault 
troops  waded  ashore,  and  by  1300  hours  on  D  plus  i  they  had  estab- 
lished their  perimeter  defense  line.  Patrols  were  sent  out  to  scatter 
small  bands  of  Japanese,  other  parties  seized  offshore  islands  needed 
for  radar  sites,  and  the  original  perimeter  was  extended  to  include  ad- 
ditional dump  areas.  By  4  October  the  Sixth  Army  terminated  the 
ground  campaign,  reporting  casualties  of  30  killed,  80  wounded,  and 

1  missing  against  a  Japanese  loss  of  104  killed  and  13  captured.^'' 
Direct  air  support  for  the  ground  operation  was  not  needed.  The 

fast  carriers  of  Task  Group  38.1  were  released  on  D  plus  i  without 
having  been  used,  and  the  planes  from  the  CVE's,  aided  after  D  plus 

2  by  torpedo  boat  patrols,  had  only  to  maintain  air  patrols  over  Moro- 
tai and  to  break  up  any  possible  Japanese  efforts  to  slip  troops  across 
the  narrow  channel  separating  Morotai  from  Halmahera.  To  extend 
the  SWPA  search  pattern  and  provide  air-sea  rescue,  the  Allied  Air 
Forces  moved  the  Catalina  squadron  VP-33,  based  on  the  seaplane 
tender  Tangier,  to  Morotai  on  19  September.  Kenney  agreed  to  re- 
lease four  of  the  escort  carriers  on  25  September  in  order  to  give  them 
time  to  prepare  for  Leyte,  and  after  their  departure  P-38  patrols  from 
Sansapor  supplemented  the  air  defense.^® 

High-level  decisions  projecting  an  invasion  of  Leyte  on  20  October 
demanded  the  utmost  speed  in  the  development  of  air  facilities  on  Mo- 
rotai. With  little  knowledge  of  the  terrain  on  the  island,  SWPA  and 
FEAF  had  been  vague  about  timing  and  inexact  about  specifications, 
but  they  permitted  Hutchinson  wide  latitude  in  selecting  airdrome 


312 


PRELUDE  TO  INVASION 


sites,  in  determining  priorities  for  construction,  and  in  calling  forward 
air  force  units  as  facilities  permitted.  Engineer  units  coming  into  Mo- 
rotai  between  D-day  and  D  plus  1 5  were  concentrated  on  the  air  fa- 
cilities, except  for  one  battalion  which  worked  on  roads  and  dumps. 
Survey  of  the  abandoned  Japanese  field  began  on  D-day,  but  the  site, 
after  some  clearing,  was  less  practicable  than  the  good  site  at  Wama 
and  was  set  aside  for  crash  landings.  The  strip  at  Wama,  its  comple- 
tion delayed  by  torrential  rains  which  prohibited  work  for  72 
hours,  had  4,000  feet  of  usable  steel-mat  surface  on  4  October. 
On  2 1  September  a  second  site  had  been  located  north  of  and  parallel 
to  Wama  for  a  dual-runway  bomber  airfield,  later  called  Pitoe.  At 
Kenney's  request,  GHQ  approved  extension  of  Wama  to  5,500  feet 
and  authorized  a  regulation  heavy  bomber  airfield  at  Pitoe;  by  17  Oc- 
tober 7,000  feet  of  the  south  runway  at  Pitoe,  i  taxiway,  and  36 
heavy  bomber  hardstands  were  open.  Effort  was  increased  on  18 
October  because  of  news  that  the  Third  Fleet  had  withdrawn  sup- 
port at  Leyte,*  and  by  20  October  Wama  was  nearing  completion, 
with  runway,  taxiway,  thirty-two  hardstands,  and  six  service  aprons 
serviceable.  At  Pitoe  seven  new  hardstands  and  four  new  service 
aprons  had  been  added  in  the  three  days  following  its  opening,  t®^ 

The  first  air  force  units  ashore  on  Morotai  had  been  the  signal  air 
warning  (SAW)  support  aircraft  parties  and  fighter  control  units 
which  accompanied  the  assault  forces.  The  3  loth  Bombardment  Wing 
(M)  Headquarters  arrived  on  D  plus  3,  and  between  D  plus  4  and  D 
plus  16  the  ground  echelons  of  the  following  organizations  debarked: 
8th  Fighter  Group,  38th  Bombardment  Group,  418th  Night  Fighter 
Squadron,  35th  Fighter  Group,  82 d  Reconnaissance  Squadron,  and 
VB-ioi  and  VP- 146.  Since  FEAF  had  canceled  the  movement  of  the 
17th  Reconnaissance  Squadron  to  prepare  it  for  Leyte,  these  units 
completed  the  Fifth  Air  Force  garrison.  Of  the  Thirteenth  Air  Force 
units  scheduled  to  take  over  at  Morotai  as  the  Fifth  went  north,  only 
an  advanced  echelon  of  the  air  force  headquarters  had  arrived  on  D  plus 
12.  The  17th  Photo  Reconnaissance  Squadron  and  the  5th  and  307th 
Bombardment  Groups  (H)  would  not  be  brought  into  Morotai  until 
after  20  October.  Movement  of  these  ground  echelons  into  Morotai 

•  See  below,  p.  354. 

tMen  of  the  931st  Engineer  Aviation  Regiment,  the  836th,  841st,  and  1876th  Engi- 
neer Aviation  BattaUons,  would  be  surprised  to  learn  that,  by  Navy  account,  the 
Morotai  fields  were  "Seabee  built."  See  Capt.  Walter  Karig,  et  aL,  Batue  Report,  The 
End  of  an  Empire  (New  York,  1948),  p.  289, 


313 


THE  ARMY  AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 


was  on  the  whole  well  ordered,  although  in  the  shipping  shortage  the 
air  force  had  been  forced  to  accept  Liberty  and  transport  ships  for  the 
movement,  and  unloading  at  the  beachheads  was  difficult.  The  ground 
echelon  of  the  35th  Fighter  Group,  for  example,  arrived  on  27  Sep- 
tember but  could  not  begin  to  unload  until  5  October.  Cargo  damage 
ran  high;  the  advanced  echelon  of  Thirteenth  Air  Force  estimated  that 
15  per  cent  of  its  cargo  was  damaged  beyond  repair  in  unloading. 
After  15  October,  with  one  floating  Liberty-ship  pier  and  two 
coral  jetties  completed,  the  unloading  of  the  vessels  became  easier.®^ 

These  delays  were  not  especially  significant  because  all  were  ashore 
before  facilities  permitted  aircraft  to  be  brought  forward.  When 
Wama  was  opened  to  fighters  on  4  October,  Hutchinson  immediately 
called  up  the  P-38's  of  the  8th  Fighter  Group;  enough  were  on  hand 
the  first  day  to  permit  him  to  relieve  the  remaining  CVE's.  The  air 
echelon  of  the  418th  Night  Fighter  Squadron,  newly  equipped  with 
P-6i's,  arrived  next  day.  Headquarters  and  two  of  the  flights  of  the 
2d  Emergency  Rescue  Squadron  moved  to  Morotai  on  4-10  October. 
Air  echelons  of  the  38th  Bombardment  Group,  called  forward  by  Col. 
John  T.  Murtha,  Jr.,  who  had  relieved  Hutchinson  as  310th  Wing 
commander  on  the  i6th,  arrived  at  Pitoe  on  17  October.  Two  squad- 
rons of  the  35th  Fighter  Group  brought  their  P-47's  to  Wama  the  same 
day,  and  next  day  the  aircrews  of  the  82 d  Reconnaissance  Squadron, 
flying  P-4oN's  instead  of  their  old  P-39's,  flew  to  Wama.  By  19  Octo- 
ber Murtha  had  located  the  Venturas  of  VP- 106  and  the  PB4Y's  of 
VB-ioi  at  Pitoe.^®  Such  was  the  air  deployment  at  Morotai  on  the  eve 
of  the  invasion  at  Leyte  Gulf. 

Even  though  they  correctly  anticipated  both  attacks,  the  Japanese 
opposition  to  the  twin  invasions— with  the  exception  of  a  tenacious 
ground  defense  on  Peleliu— was  meager.  As  early  as  6  August  the 
Fourteenth  Area  Army  in  Manila,  charged  with  the  defense  of  the 
Philippines,  had  predicted  that  Allied  strategy  would  aim  at  the  re- 
capture of  Mindanao  via  the  Palaus  and  the  northern  Moluccas.  The 
Japanese  Thirty-fifth  Army,  defending  the  southern  Philippines,  had 
estimated  on  9  September  that  Morotai  and  Talaud  would  be  invaded 
within  the  month.  Imperial  Japanese  Naval  Headquarters  in  Tokyo  on 
7  September  warned  against  an  attack  on  the  Palaus  and  the  Moluccas, 
and  a  Japanese  plane  observed  the  invasion  convoys  about  Noemfoor 
on  1 1  September.  But  there  was  little  that  the  Japanese  could  do,  and, 
according  to  postwar  interviews,  they  virtually  wrote  off  both  objec- 

3H 


PRELUDE  TO  INVASION 


tives  in  favor  of  a  vigorous  defense  of  the  Philippines.  Loss  of  carrier 
aircraft  in  the  Marianas  made  defense  of  the  Palaus  impracticable,  al- 
though the  ground  garrisons  there  were  expected  to  put  up  a  good 
fight.  Japanese  orders  captured  on  Morotai  revealed  that  during  Au- 
gust and  September  the  enemy  had  hoped  to  deceive  the  Allies  into 
thinking  the  island  was  heavily  defended;  at  another  date  they  had 
proposed  to  "decoy  the  enemy  to  Morotai  Island  and  destroy  them." 
The  Fourth  Air  Army  planned  to  defend  the  northern  Moluccas  by 
shuttling  aircraft  between  Davao  and  Menado,  attacking  Morotai  on 
each  trip.  Similarly,  planes  from  Kendari  and  Makassar  were  to  move 
to  Ambon,  operate  against  the  invasion  area,  and  land  at  Menado.  Ac- 
cording to  a  postwar  interrogation,  planes  were  actually  being  con- 
centrated at  Davao  to  effect  the  plan,  when  on  8  September  a  coast 
watcher  erroneously  reported  an  Allied  landing  in  Davao  Gulf  and 
caused  cancellation  of  the  plan.  At  any  rate,  Third  Fleet  neutralization 
of  Japanese  air  strength  in  the  Philippines  made  such  tactics  impos- 

Thus  by  necessity  the  Japanese  were  limited  to  sporadic  air  attacks 
on  the  Palaus,  which,  with  the  exception  of  the  severe  strafing  of  a 
destroyer  on  the  night  of  i  October,  did  little  damage.  Night  attacks 
on  Morotai  were  more  vigorous,  but  they  were  never  of  sufficient 
force  to  endanger  the  success  of  the  operation  or  use  of  the  base.  Since 
the  island  was  mountainous  to  the  north  and  surrounded  by  land 
masses  to  the  south.  Allied  radars  could  not  operate  effectively,  and 
the  Japanese  raiders  could  sneak  in  and  bomb  the  concentrated  airfield 
area  with  little  warning.  Between  15  September  and  i  February  the 
Japanese  sent  179  sorties,  in  82  raids,  over  Morotai,  mostly  on  moon- 
light nights  between  0300-0500,  a  timing  indicating  that  they  staged 
from  Ceram  or  the  Celebes,  landed  on  Halmahera  fields  (which,  de- 
spite repeated  bombings,  the  Japanese  persistently  repaired),  and  then 
took  off  about  midnight  for  Morotai.  Fifty-four  raids  caused  no  dam- 
age, but  one  notable  raid  on  22  November  resulted  in  two  men  killed, 
fifteen  injured,  fifteen  planes  destroyed,  and  eight  damaged.  Alto- 
gether, nineteen  men  were  killed,  ninety-nine  were  injured,  forty-two 
aircraft  were  destroyed,  and  thirty-three  damaged.  P-6i's  and  P-38's, 
the  latter  with  searchlight  cooperation,  were  employed  against  the 
raiders,  but  the  cramped  maneuver  area  (the  night  fighters  had  to 
make  their  interceptions  in  the  short  time  before  the  Japanese  planes 
reached  a  gun-defended  area)  gave  most  of  the  twenty-six  definite 

315 


THE   ARMY   AIR  FORCES  IN  WORLD  WAR  II 

kills  to  the  Allied  AA.  After  the  end  of  January,  the  Japanese  sud- 
denly gave  up  their  night  attacks  against  Morotai,  and  there  was  only 
one  more  raid  on  the  night  of  22  March.^""'  By  this  time  Morotai,  obvi- 
ously a  poor  base  to  defend,  had  fulfilled  its  purpose  to  the  Allies. 

The  Balikpapan  Raids 

SWPA  airmen  had  long  coveted  the  Japanese  their  uninterrupted 
use  of  the  refining  and  oil  center  at  Balikpapan  in  Borneo,  second  in 
production  only  to  Sumatra's  Palembang  in  the  entire  NEI.  By  Sep- 
tember 1944  the  Netherlands  Military  Oil  Intelligence  Service  esti- 
mated that  Balikpapan  refineries  were  processing  some  5,240,000  bar- 
rels of  crude  oil  annually  and  were  turning  out  diesel  fuel,  motor  fuel, 
aviation  gasoline,  and  lubricating  oil.  True,  the  Japanese  had  an  esti- 
mated two  years  of  fuel  stores  in  the  homeland,  but  a  reduction  in  avi- 
ation fuel  and  "black  oils"  produced  at  Balikpapan  would  disrupt 
their  military  operations  in  the  forward  areas  rather  severely /"^^  After 
a  few  380th  Bombardment  Group  strikes  on  Balikpapan  and  Soera- 
baja  during  the  late  summer  of  1943,  Kenney  had  noted  that  within 
two  weeks  the  ''Japs  were  short  of  aviation  fuel  at  all  of  their  fields 
from  Ambon  to  Wewak  and  even  at  Palau  and  Truk."^°^ 

Judging  NEI  oil  installations  to  be  "the  finest  and  most  decisive  set 
of  targets  for  bombing  anywhere  in  the  world,"  Kenney  had  tried 
diligently  to  get  some  B-29's  assigned  to  him  for  operation  from  the 
Darwin  area/°*  Ajpned  with  the  SEXTANT  planning  paper,  he  had 
built  a  VHB  base  at  that  place,  and  had  urgently  requested  that  the 
AAF  initiate  VHB  attacks  on  the  NEI  from  northwest  Australia,  a 
request  which  both  Nimitz  and  MacArthur  had  supported.^*'^  Giles, 
while  in  Australia,  had  been  persuaded  to  propose  that  FEAF  be  per- 
mitted to  borrow  two  XX  Bomber  Command  groups  from  the  CBI 
and  to  employ  two  XXI  Bomber  Command  groups  while  they  were 
awaiting  movement  to  the  Marianas,^^^  but  this  proposition,  like  Ken- 
ney's  request  a  month  later  for  just  two  B-29  groups  to  bomb  Balik- 
papan, had  been  refused  by  the  AAF.^*^ 

Failing  to  get  B-29's,  Kenney,  Streett,  and  Whitehead  made  plans 
during  August  1944  to  employ  B-24's  from  Netherlands  New  Guinea 
bases  against  Balikpapan.  They  had  originally  intended  to  wait  until 
Mar  airdrome  at  Sansapor  could  be  lengthened  to  take  B-24*s,  Streett, 
however,  mistrusting  the  plan  to  place  Fifth  Air  Force  heavies  in  such 

316 


PRELUDE  TO  INVASION 


an  exposed  place,  had  suggested  that  he  be  permitted  to  employ  the 
two  Thirteenth  Air  Force  heavy  groups  from  Noemf oor  in  a  series  of 
strikes  at  Balikpapan.  Kenney  agreed  to  the  proposal,  and  Whitehead 
offered  to  furnish  the  Fifth  Air  Force's  three  heavy  groups  v^hen 
Streett  needed  them/^^  Streett  accordingly  moved  an  advanced  echelon 
of  his  headquarters  to  Noemf  oor  and  opened  his  command  post  there 
on  23  September;  on  i  October  he  assumed  command  of  the  air  garri- 
son at  Sansapor,  using  the  XIII  Fighter  Command  as  the  local  head- 
quarters there  vice  the  1 3th  Air  Task  Force,  simultaneously  dissolved. 
XIII  Bomber  Command  with  its  5th  and  307th  Bombardment  Groups 
moved  to  Kornasoren  drome,  Noemf  oor,  on  18-28  September.^*** 

Planning  the  Balikpapan  raids  was  complicated  by  the  extreme  dis- 
tance of  the  target— 1,080  nautical  miles--from  Noemf  oor.  Considered 
by  itself  the  distance  was  not  an  obstacle  until  a  bomb  load  of  2,500 
pounds  and  conservative  amounts  of  ammunition  and  gasoline  were 
included  in  the  plans.  After  careful  tests,  the  Thirteenth  Air  Force 
prepared