506th Fighter Group - Iwo to Japan
Their heritage began at Pearl Harbor
Missions to Japan
Number 46 (FC Mission #254) 5 August 45
Mission: Two Group VLR Fighter Strike against airfields and military installations in the Tokyo area.
Results: Four enemy aircraft destroyed or damaged on the ground and enemy ground installations and shipping destroyed or heavily damaged. Our losses: Three Mustangs lost and two pilots missing
The crew for Capt. Evelyn Neff's P-51 Mustang of the 457th FS. From L to R: Sgt. Henry P Manns (asst. Crew Cheif), S/Sgt W.W. Guason (Crew Chief), Pfc. Henry W. Benoit (armorer). Neff was lost on the August 5 VLR mission to Tokyo, as on a low strafing run, his wing hit the water. The Mustang's wing broke off and the aircraft hit the water and exploded.
Target areas were assigned in the same manner as on the previous mission. One squadron of the 506th Group hit ground targets, including the railroad yards at Ninomiya and Odawara, while a second squadron hit railroad yards and a station at Matsuda and an industrial installation south of Sikimoto. Both squadrons failed to find aircraft on fields in the area. Shipping was strafed enroute to the Rally Point during which time one P-51 and pilot were lost. The 21st Group rocketed and strafed Katori airfield destroying or damaging four planes on the ground and damaging buildings and other installations on the fields. One pass was made at Kasumigaura airfield with undetermined results. One pilot was lost on the way home when his engine failed. He parachuted but was not picked up. Only one airborne enemy aircraft was sighted, an unidentified single-engine plane over Hiratsuka, which was too distant to attack.
Squadrons of the 21st Group failed to attack primary targets due to cloud coverage in one instance and failure to find visible targets in another. One squadron attacked a secondary target, Kashiwa airfield, using a new system of attack in an effort to locate dispersed and camouflaged aircraft definitely known to be located in the near vicinity. The squadron assigned a section of the field and its environs to each of its flights with orders to make a thorough search of each area before attacking. Following this plan one pilot, circling the area northwest of Kashiwa, detected ten Tojos, five on each side of a road, parked nose to the road, under trees and heavily camouflaged. The planes were strafed and attacked but did not burn or explode indicating that tanks were empty. The planes of this group were lost to flak.Number 48 (FC Mission #257) 7 August 45. Mission: VLR Escort of B-29s over Nagoya or Tokyo with a Fighter Strike scheduled by one group in event the bombers did not appear at their Initial Point. Two groups were scheduled for this mission. One group was to escort a force of B-29s to Toyokawa, but if this target were to be found closed in, the bombers were to proceed to Yokosuka where the second fighter group was to take up the escort. If the bombers did not appear over the secondary target, this second fighter group was to strike airfields in the southwest Tokyo area.
The escort phase of the mission was routine with the bomber force hitting its primary target and the 15th Group escorting. One P-51 was lost operationally on the way to the rendezvous, but the pilot was rescued. When the bombers did not appear at the point of rendezvous over the secondary target, the Mustangs of the 506th Group continued on their alternate mission. Two squadrons investigated Sagami and Atsugi airfields with negative sightings. A variety of targets of opportunity was strafed and all planes of this group returned to base safely.
During the entire mission, no airborne enemy aircraft were sighted, despite the fact that weather conditions were favorable to interception with visibility unlimited. No friendly fighters were lost or damaged due to enemy action on this mission.
In a well known USAAF stock photo, 506th FG P-51 Mustangs await their turn for take off on another VLR mission to the island of Japan. Many plane numbers are visible, showing mostly 457th and 458th squadron aircraft. Note the mix of striped and solid colored tails.
Lt. Francis Albrecht and his crew cheif stand beside his P-51 'Erma Lou', #514 of the 457th FS. The plane was named for Albrecht's wife and was shared with Lt. Chauncey Newcomb.
The last encounter with Japanese fighters came on 10 August, when the 15th and 506th FGs were assigned to escort B-29s to Tokyo.
But the enemy did not collapse immediately, so the 'Sun Setters' continued flying missions to Japan. After hitting airfields in the Tokyo area on 2, 3, 5 and 6 August, and losing eight pilots in the process, VII Fighter Command put up an escort mission to Tokogawa on 7 August and struck airfields at Osaka 24 hours later, losing three more pilots and six p- 51s to ground fire. In these six missions, just one enemy aircraft had been shot down.
Both the 15th and 506th Groups escorted the Superfortresses over the target. Twenty-eight Jap fighters were sighted on the mission, only three of which were aggressive towards the bombers. No unusual enemy tactics were noted and our planes maintained mutual support tactics with good results.
Among the seven victories credired ro the 'Sun Setters' was one to Maj 'Todd' J\1oore of the 45th FS, bringing the ace's victory total to 12, and rwo to Capt Abner Aust of the 457th FS, making him the 506th's only ace, and the last pilot of VII Fighter Command to tally five or more victories.
All four fighter groups of the VII Fighter Command participated in this mission. The 15th with P-51s and the 414th with P-47s were assigned targets in the Nagoya area for Fighter Strikes, while the 21st and 506th Groups, both with P-51s, were designated as escort forces for the bombers.
The 414th was navigated to a point twenty miles southeast of the briefed landfall which caused some difficulty in locating the assigned target airfields. The primary target, Akenogahara airfield, was located, however, and was attacked as were targets of opportunity enroute to that field. The Owashi area was first strafed with resultant damage to warehouses, barracks, factories and some small shipping offshore. The group then proceeded to Akenogahara where the south dispersal area and shops were strafed. One Thunderbolt was abandoned at the Rally Point because of flak damage but the pilot was rescued.
The 15th Group damaged one Frank on Komaki airfield and attacked the marshalling yards west of the field. A general search of the area east of Nagoya was made and all worthwhile ground targets were strafed in a sweep which took the group south as far as Toyohashi airfield where one Sally was damaged. Three planes of the 15th Group were lost but two pilots were rescued. The escort phase of the mission was flown without incident and all planes of the escorting groups returned to base safely.
All four fighter groups headed for Japan on 14 August for what would be their last combat mission of the war. 1Lt J W 'Bill' Bradbury of the 72nd FS recalled that the mission was postponed for two days while surrender negotiations were underway before VII Fighter Command was finally ordered to fly. He recalled the mission;
'We arrived off the coast of Honshu and joined the bomber stream to escort them over their target. They dropped their bombs, and we went back out over the ocean to join our three (navigatot) B-29s. As we joined them and started flying back to Iwo Jima, one of the B-29s had picked up radio transmissions and came on the air saying, "Hey fellows, the war's over". I remember someone punching theit mike button and replying, "Well the Japs sure as hell don't know it". He was referring to all the flak that was put up over the target against the bombers. We took about threeand-a-half hours to fly back to Iwo Jima and landed. Sure enough, the war was over.'
As best can be determined 60 years after the fact, at the cessation of hostilities VII Fighter Command had run up a score of 452 Japanese aircraft destroyed in the air and on the ground. Countless other ground targets had also been attacked during strafing missions. VII Fighter Command had paid a high price for this success, however, as 130 Mustangs were lost and 121 men killed or captured, including the victims of the 26 March banzai raid. But not a single 'Sun Setter' would say the sacrifice was not worth the final reward of victory in the Pacific.
For the next two weeks flying was restricted to the local area around Iwo Jima, as everyone awaited word of the actual signing of the peace agreement. Then on 31 August the 'Sun Setters' were assigned a final VLR mission to Japan - a 'Display of Power' flight over Japan, led by Col Harper of the 506th FG. Few were eaget to risk another long haul over the Pacific, and sure enough one pilot, 1Lt William S Hetland of the 457th FS, experienced engine trouble over the target area. Fortunately, Hetland made a safe landing at Atsugi Airfield and returned to Iwo aboard a C-46.
On 2 September, Brig Gen 'Mickey' Moore boarded an LB-30 Liberator transport with orders reassigning him to the Pentagon. Within a week, the most veteran pilots and ground personnel began getting their tickets home as well. VII Fighter Command began shrinking rapidly, and in October pre-separation lectures were instituted for the men.
Late in the year, the headquarters was moved to Guam and redesignated the 20th FW. The 506th FG was deactivated in mid-November and its remaining personnel transferred to the 21st FG, while the 15th FG was transferred to Hawaii for deactivation. The 21st FG finally transferred to Saipan in the final weeks of 1945 and then moved to Guam, where it was redesignated the 23rd FG in October 1946.
Between 1952 and 1955, all three VLRgroups were again reactivated as USAF fighter wings. The 506th Tactical Fighter Wing was inactivated for good in 1959, however, although the other two - now the 15th Airbase Wing and the 21st Space Wing - continue to serve their nation as this book is written.
And what became of the stinky, depressing and dangerous island of Iwo Jima? American forces continued to serve on Iwo for many years after the armistice. Central Field, formerly home of the 21st FG, was maintained and expanded, while the other two runways were abandoned and allowed to be taken back by nature. American servicemen could still find the bones of Japanese soldiers in Iwo's caves into the early 1950s, and the Marine Corps occasionally used the island to conduct combat exercises. The US Coast Guard established a LORAN (Long Range Navigation) station there as well.
According to recently uncovered information, the US stored nuclear weapons on Iwo Jima (and Chichi Jima) from 1956 until 1966. Then in June 1968 the Bonin and Volcano islands were returned to Japan, becoming part of Ogasawara village in the Tokyo Metropolitan Prefecture. The Japanese Self Defence Force has used Iwo Jima as a patrol and rescue base ever since.
In 1995, the Japanese government allowed a small delegation of Americans to visit the island for a remembrance ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the historic events that took place there during World War 2.
The final score which the 506th had tallied on the twenty-two effective VIR Missions run in the period 28 May to 14 August was as follows:
Air : Ground
Air : Ground
Air : Ground
Pilots : Planes
39 : 22
11 : 11
33 : 96
20 : 29
This aircraft score, though, was not the only measure of the Group’s effectiveness. Our tally of rolling stock, power lines, and shipping which, due to the nature of the targets, cannot be as accurately estimated as the aircraft score, should be included in the record.
As authorized by Executive Order No9369 (Sec I WD, Bull 22, 1943), superseding Executive Order No 9075 (Sec III, WD, 1942) and under the:provisions of paragraph 2d (l), Section IV, Circular No 333, WD, 1943, and letter Headquarters United States Army Strategic Air Forces, file AG 200.6, subjects "Distinguished Unit Badge" dated 11 October 1945 and paragrpah 4 SectionI, General Orde s 1, Pacific Air Command, United States Army, 25 December 1945 (Classified), the following units are cited for outstanding performance of duty in action against the enemy; The 506th Fighter Group is cited for outstanding performance of duty in armed conflict with the enemy during the period 7 June 1945 to 10 June 1945. With exceptional valor and proud skill, this Group participated in two highly successful maximum effort very long range missions in escort of B-29s which had as their objective the destruction of two important industrial centers of Japan, Osaka and Tokyo. Despite the appalling loss of fifteen planes and twelve pilots on the preceding mission only six days before, and despite such adversity as the withering heat which billowed in on winds laden with Iwo Jima's volcanic ash, morale remained exceedingly high. The Group was more determined than ever, and the required number of planes was airborne on schedule on 7 June 1945 and again on 10 June 1945. Those intrepid fighter pilots flew vast distances over water to support the heavily laden bombers against some of the most fanatical and effective opposition ever mounted by the enemy. The opposition was intensified by the need for the bombers to fly these strikes at medium altitudes because of the problems occasioned by incendiary bomb ballistics and by the unpredictable and excessive winds at high altitudes. This tactical necessity subjected the aircraft to continuous attack from the largest concentrations of enemy fighters and anti-aircraft guns in the area. Hurling themselves through the accurate anti-aircraft fire, these intrepid pilots met the vicious enemy fighter attacks so skillfully that only one B-29 was lost to enemy action while eleven enemy airdraft were destroyed, four probably destroyed and two damaged. The success of these missions against two of the major industrial strongholds of Japanese war might was a fitting tribute not only to the coolness and skill of the gallant pilots of the Group, but also to the ground personnel working endless hours to keep the aircraft in the air although acutely short-handed and continuously improvising to overcome a shortage of tools, equipment and replacement parts. The conspicuous determination, unremitting devotion to duty and gallantry in the face of extremely adverse conditions and concentrated defenses of an aggressive and resolute foe displayed in the preparation and execution of these missions reflect the highest credit on the 506th Fighter Group and upon the United States Army Air Forces.
The tactics followed daring the escort missions’ flown by the 506th adhered closely to the provisions of the VII Fighter Command Tactical Directive. The Group patrolled the bomber stream at a distance of 3000’ out and 30001 above the level of the B-29’s. The formation employed two squadrons abreast with the third squadron above and slightly behind the other two. Generally speaking, the results of the escort missions were meager, and disappointing primarily because there was nothing to shoot at. The greatest number of enemy seen in the air at any one time was forty A/C on the mission of 10 June. None or almost none of the Japs seen tried to attack the B-29’s; several of them were probably spotters for AA batteries and most of them, after they wore sighted, acted as though they had arrived in the area by mistake. Properly speaking, the 506th ’s role on these affairs was not “escort” at all.
Jap air strength in late May, when the Group was set up to operate, had diminished to such a point and their policy of cautious conservation had been carried to such extreme that a vicious all out air battle between escorting planes and a swarm of attacking fighters, such as had developed in the air-war over Europe, was out of the question. Consequently, when any of the Group pilots did sight the Nips in the air, it was a mad scramble to see who could get there first and register the kill. The bomber stream was left miles behind; against a determined enemy attacking in force, this would have been a serious inconvenience for the B-29’s, but under the “bush-league” conditions, which governed aerial combat in the last stages of the war, it was the proper policy. When interception or the presence of the enemy was sighted, control was vested in the Squadron Leader to dispatch fighters in sufficient numbers to deal with the hostile aircraft. Because the tactical conditions had not required it, coordination of these squadron efforts by the Group Commander was not attempted.
Effective escort was rendered doubly difficult, had it been required, by the loosely strung out formation necessarily employed by the B-29’s. Patrolling up and down the “stream” of bombers, is a different matter, as far as adequate protection is concerned, from escorting a closely stacked formation. The technical problems connected with the B-29 operation and the geographical situation of the theater made it impractical to have any type of formation other than “stream” but it did complicate the problems of the escorting fighters. Radio contact between the bomber leader and the fighter leader was never provided for till near the end of the war. To carry on an effective escort job liaison between the commanders involved is absolutely essential.
Finally, the one constant difficulty, the universal handicap to all phases of VLR operations was – weather. In the long trek from Iwo to the Empire, weather fronts forced abandonment of the mission. Over the target area, cloud layers and rain frequently made it impossible to establish satisfactory contact with the bombers.
When it became obvious that we were not needed as a bomber escort force, some kind of a job had to be found for us. Airfield strafing, seeking out and destroying the enemy on his has home bases, was the logical answer to the problem. The tactical concepts involved in a ground strafing operation are very different from the problems which had to be solved on an escort mission. The most important question which we had to answer each time we undertook an airfield strike was that of the approach to the airfield. In answering this question, three things entered into our calculation:
2. Location of the A/F defenses
3. Dispersal area of the planes
First, geography had to do with the general layout of the field in relation to its surroundings, both natural and man made. Take Hamamatsu A/F as one example. Hamamatsu lies near the sea and other things being equal, an approach on this field from the water would not be made since such a maneuver would entail a route of withdrawal leading into rather than away from the territory of the enemy. In the case of a target like Itami, lying near the edge of a city, an attempt would be made to avoid heavily defended urban areas on both the route in and the route out. Second, unless other factors intervene, we prefer to sweep over the most lightly defended areas of the target. In many instances, the Japs, very conveniently for us, have concentrated their AA at one part of the field with the remaining sectors being defended either very little or not at all. At Kasumigaura, for instance, much of the AA is concentrated around a building area. The surrounding structures mask the five of these defenses against low flying Aircraft.
Third, disposal of aircraft, as is the case with most airfields, there were certain prearranged areas on the Jap fields at which their aircraft were habitually located. Whenever we knew where this area was, we arranged our pass so as to bring it under maximum fire of our aircraft. For some strange reason, the Japs very often cut their planes at one end of the airdrome and the heaviest cluster of AA at the other end. We were glad to take advantage of this habit whenever we found out about it. Our angle of approach, therefore, took all three of these factors into consideration. In the final tactical plan, provisions had to be made for the timing of the attack and the maneuverability of the strike force. Very frequently our squadrons hit the target from several different angles. The main thing in such multi-pronged attacks was to get our timing down so that the interval between the different approaches was as small as possible. If possible, we attempted to surprise the enemy. When we did accomplish this, as in our first mission to Hasumigaura for instance, we suspect that it was due not so much to our cleverness as to the fallings of the Nip air raid warning system.
The series of maneuvers we planned to take in the target area was transcribed to a map which was photographed and a copy of the photograph given to each pilot. For a number of reasons, our career as a ground strafing outfit was not too successful. The following factors accounted for the type of results which we achieved:
About the end of July we threw in the sponge as far as airfield targets were concerned. We began to undertake target of opportunity or “rhubarb” missions. We did rather well at this. Actually, the damage that fighters can do to the enemy at this kind of work - which is, properly speaking, strategic rather than tactical in nature, is kind of small. Very few targets of opportunity are vulnerable to the fire of a .50 cal. machine gun. Railroad engines (though not always rail-road cars), transformers, high tension towers, and oil or gas storage tanks (providing their walls aren't too think), are good targets. The advisability of firing at buildings, warehouses, and ships is dubious unless they are of wood construction and even then the game may not be worth the candle unload conditions are such that the structure or the boats can be set afire.
Operations against targets of opportunity, although they are more interesting than the strafing missions over empty fields, from the pilots point of views, and though they did inflict some damage to the enemy, were not as successful as they might have been. There are three main reasons for this:
The experience of the 506th and of that VII Fighter Command on Iwo was not a typical situation as far as VLR missions are concerned. Many elements of our tour of duty in this theater will not be repeated in later operations and recommendations on them will be useless. Nevertheless, certain basic conditions for the proper employment of Air Power were violated in this theater. The only reason we were able to get away with this was that the Jap Air Force was so incredibly lousy by the time we got to it that we won no matter what we did. Our recommendations are as follows:
Scientific weather forecasting technique, under the ideal operating conditions, is necessarily based upon information recorded simultaneously at a large number of properly placed surface reporting stations. Not only must the information be recorded at the same time at each station, but also the information from each station must be available to the using forecaster within a short period of time after it has been recorded. This information must be recorded many times each day, usually hourly, and the records kept for the total period of existence of the station. Finally, the monthly and yearly records of each reporting station should be available to the using forecaster.
The weather information that is to be recorded periodically at each surface reporting station includes such items as the sky condition, present and past weather, temperature, dew point, altitude setting, sea level pressure, pressure tendency, radioconda reports, wind direction and speed, upper level winds, spheric reports, and other special phenomenon. Using this data which was recorded at all the reporting stations at any one time, the using personnel are able to construct synoptic surface maps and additional upper level charts for any desired altitude or pressure level. From this information energy diagrams also may be constructed. Using the synoptic surface maps, upper level charts, energy diagrams, and other available data, the forecaster is able to determine the location and intensity of pressure systems and frontal systems at the time of recording of the used reports.
After the location and intensity of the pressure systems and frontal systems at map time have been determined, forecasting rules formulate, and other techniques are applied in order to prognosticate a position and intensity of the system at a future time. It is apparent that all of the above desired operating conditions do not exist in the Pacific Ocean Area. The numbers of surface reporting stations are too few and in many instances are inconveniently located due to the position of the available islands and the enemy. There is necessarily a delay in the dissemination of the little information available due to delays in communications and the use of codes. Finally, in most cases there are no monthly and yearly records of the reporting stations available to the using forecaster, as the stations are operating for the first time.
As soon as operations were begun against the enemy in advance of the boundary of the already meager reports, it was evident that additional weather information would have to be obtained. The solution to the problem was weather reconnaissance. Specially equipped bomber type aircraft with trained weather personnel aboard were to fly over enemy held territory for the purpose of obtaining weather information. These weather reconnaissance planes were dispatched from a weather forecasting central. This central, with the aid of the additional information, would publish weather forecasts for the entire area and also special operational forecasts. Because the weather reconnaissance planes at first could not radio reports while in flight and due to delays in the communications systems, there was a twelve to sixteen hour delay between the recording of the weather information and the receipt by a using station located 750 miles from the Weather Central. At the time of arrival of the 506th Fighter Group on Iwo Jima In April 1945, local area forecasting was being successfully effected by the weather stations located on the island. Due to lack of information at the weather station, the Guam Weather Central was relied upon for the major portion of the route forecasts in connection with operations between Iwo Jima and the Empire.
More the last part of May and the first part of June it became apparent to the using personnel on Iwo that additional information along the route immediately prior to the mission time was needed. Both daily and diurnal changes in the intensity of the frontal systems in the area could not always be anticipated with the amount of available information. A weather reconnaissance unit then began operating from Iwo checking weather conditions along the route of operations a few hours before take-off time. Encoded weather ports were radioed to Iwo while in flight along the routes, allowing information concerning changes in the intensity of frontal systems to be available to all concerned prior to time of take-off. After the institution of this system little difficulty in connection with changes in frontal intensity along the route from Iwo to the Empire was experienced and the resultant weather forecasts were more than satisfactory.
As soon as operations were begun against the enemy in advance of the boundary of the already meager reports, it was evident that additional weather information would have to be obtained. The solution to the problem was weather reconnaissance. Specially equipped bomber type aircraft with trained weather personnel aboard were to fly over enemy held territory for the purpose of obtaining weather information. These weather reconnaissance planes were dispatched from a weather forecasting central. This central, with the aid of the additional information, would publish weather forecasts for the entire area and also special operational forecasts. Because the weather reconnaissance planes at first could not radio reports while in flight and due to delays in the communications systems, there was a twelve to sixteen hour delay between the recording of the weather information and the receipt by a using station located 750 miles from the Weather Central.
When the Group arrived at Iwo, we found that no preparation had been made for conducting long range missions with the P-51. Our first difficulty was finding material to manufacture sway braces and lines for 165 gallon external fuel tanks. The island was covered to find enough ply wood to manufacture sway braces, and with much searching and begging, we were able to get enough braces to provide tanks for our sub-covers. Tie rods for these braces were made from salvage material taken out of Jap pill-boxes, and fuel lines were removed from wrecked B-29’s. The Group had been operating over two months before suitable sway braces were supplied. Some difficulty was experienced in the 110 gallon installation in that, tanks would not release properly and in some cases, did not reload until the airplane was approaching for a landing or had contacted the runway. Several flaps were damaged by this. By using a local manufactured sway brace, which we had used on our training flights in Lakeland, and by carefully aligning the ply wood braces, provided in the tank kite, we were able to reduce the failures considerably. The last six missions no failures were reported.
The problem of furnishing men from the line to build mess halls, living quarters, and still keep enough men on the line to maintain airplanes was a headache for Engineering Officers. If the Squadron Executives and Adjutants had cooperated with the Engineering Officers, the work of camp construction could have progressed without undue hardships on the line. Additional difficulties were experienced in that the 81st Air Service Group Engineering Section was not properly trained and organized and did not have the equipment to service us. For the first month they were not equipped to check props for balance or test for leakage. Even at this time there are no facilities for overhauling and testing of hydraulic units, pumps, coolant radiators, actuators, generators, and starters, and carburetors. All those accessories were handled by the A. R. U. ship stationed off shore and until the war was over their first priority was B-29's. Within the last month the 61st has received an instrument shop trailer and are checking and calibrating our instruments. However, no facilities are available as of yet for checking hydraulic units and carburetors.
A large percentage of our aircraft were received not suitable for combat operations. Over 30% were short DU installation when received here and were installed by our service group and by our own personnel. None of our first airplanes wore equipped with rockets and only five kits wore received. These were installed on our five oldest D-20 airplanes and were used for training in rocket firing. Airplanes received from Guam required considerable maintenance to place them in safe flying condition for the long over water flights we were required to make. There was no indication of any plans having been made previous to our arrival, to provide suitable equipment and supplies for our mission. Our operational losses would undoubtedly have been much higher if we had not had training in long range missions. Some of our earlier troubles were similar to what we had in the states and the method of correction was known.
Airplanes were delivered equipped with the K-14 gun sight which was a new type and pilots were not trained in the use of it. It was necessary to learn to use it in actual combat. Further difficulty was encountered when sights started to become worn, parts breaking etc, and it was found that no spare parts had been stocked in this control area. Our operation was hampered still further by shortage of crew chief kits and the shortage of special tools necessary for the P-51 airplane. Kits, as now issued, are not satisfactory as many tools that are urgently needed are not authorized. No propeller special tools were received for the Hamilton Prop, therefore, composite wrenches were manufactured locally. Shortage of some OEL equipment has caused delay and extra work in some squadrons. One squadron found after uncrating their equipment that the hydraulic test stand was missing. While another squadron was short the A-7 engine hoist. When these items were needed, it was necessary to borrow from another squadron, and usually had to wait until the squadron was finished with it.
Rust and corrosion presented quite a problem throughout our operations. It was held to a minimum by constant cleaning and maintenance. First trouble was the rusting and sticking of poppet valves which actuated landing gear and flaps. This was corrected by thoroughly cleaning and keeping the poppets’ covered with a thick coat of grease, which would be cleaned off weekly and recoated. Until our parking ramps were surfaced, the dust caused some trouble by clogging impact tubes and filters. Orders were issued that impact tubes, carburetors screens, and filters would be cleaned prior to each long range mission. Since moving to hard surfaced areas very little trouble of this nature has been experienced.
In the early stages of our operations, some trouble was experienced with spark plugs. Our experience while running long range missions in the states helped correct this unsatisfactory condition, by constructing cabinets which could be heated so as to keep the moisture from forming on electrodes and corroding. Only certain mechanics were authorized to set the gaps and mechanics installing plugs were repeatedly cautioned about using proper torque on installation. Resistors and leads were carefully checked at time plugs were installed. This procedure with the instructions given the pilot as to properly clearing engine and using full power on take-off eliminated entirely our previous trouble of engines cutting out on take-off. Fuel external tanks failing to draw fuel after taking off on long range missions gave us some headaches until it was discovered that the seals which were manufactured by the A. R. U. were not satisfactory. Proper Neoprene seals eliminated this condition.
Magnetos have given us some trouble after having reached 200 hours operation. This was on a series of Magnetos which had an unsatisfactory bearing which would not retain the grease. There are still some installed but are being replaced with modified Magnetos as rapidly as possible. Carburetors have given us considerable trouble. First trouble was caused by sand getting into carburetor and clogging air passages, boost venture, on enrichment valve, and diaphragm also scoring of vapor vent float needles. This condition was cleared up since airplanes were moved into hard surface areas, but trouble is still being experienced since starting to use overhauled carburetors; also carburetors coming with new engines, in some cases are improperly prepared for storage and rust and corrosion has started to form. The 81stService Group Engineering does not have the equipment to flow test carburetors and the A. R. U. will not flow test unless requested to do so. If a request is made to flow test a carburetor, it must go through the materiel squadron where work order is prepared, and then sent to A. R. U. Due to transportation difficulties, it usually takes a day to reach the A. R. U. where it is tested and it returns the third day. This is much time lost and the entire operation could be performed and carburetor installed back in the airplane in one half day if the service squadron was equipped with a flow bench.
Most all our difficulties have been (1) shortage of supplies, due to inexperience in not anticipating the needs for an operation of the kind we were engaged in and too much delay in getting organized; (2) Maintenance in engineering shops hold up due to inexperience and proper organization plus their own supply difficulties; (3) Time lost in waiting on supplies on third echelon maintenance; (4) Due to inexperience in our own organization in getting organized. Our accomplishments have not been numerous but we can point with pride to our maintenance record which has been accomplished, by the crew chiefs and mechanics taking great pride in their airplanes. Those men have performed their duty in a commendable manner. Technical orders and modifications have been accomplished while performing aerial missions. Very few technical orders remain to be accomplished; parts for them are on requisition. Major modifications have been: Installation of DU, Emergency Release for coolant radiator flaps, rocket installation on five airplanes, and installation.
The squadrons were using F-3 Refueling Units which made the task of refueling airplanes difficult, since the F-3 Unit held 750 gallons and each plane needed 489 gallons for full servicing. It required much time and effort to refuel all necessary planes for a mission.
Supply difficulties were also encountered in the procurement of supplies for the proper maintenance of the aircraft. The Air Service Group was not experienced in the needs of a P-51 Group, consequently did no maintain a proper 30-day level of critical items that were needed by the squadrons. On a requisition to Guam Air Depot, the depot would return the requisition requesting more data and basis for requisition. This caused great delay in obtaining the critical part.
The major difficulty occurred when the only available .50 cal. Ammunition proved to be defective and had to be classed Grade 3. The lack of missions and the location of a surplus in an Anti-Aircraft battery, prevented us from being completely out. Another situation in supply held up the rocket firing. Because of the small number of 5.0” HVAR and 5.0” AR reaching this island, we were unable to train and fire rockets to any great affect. The lack of Rocket Launcher Kits also restricted our number of rocket carrying aircraft to no more than six (6) at any time.
Even though there is a very rapid and peculiar wet rust in this area, we have never been able to get a sufficient amount of paint metal primer. This should be used on all metal surfaces, such as weapons and vehicles, before the outer coating of paint is applied. The present O.D. paint is very poor as protecting for metal. It has a very short wearing life and it is believed its original purpose as a camouflage paint is all that it should be used for. There is a very definite need for a metal enamel or a harder and more durable metal paint.
The principal difficulty encountered by the Armament Sections was the K14A Gun Sight. The sight, being a delicate gyroscopic instrument, could easily become inoperative between the base and the target, or over the target, without any prior warning. This necessitated use of the fixed portion of the sight which is equipped with a 70 mil reticle and this was particularly bad due to the fact that all our pilots had been trained to fight on a 100 mil reticle. A very definite supply problem was also encountered with the sight in our first two months of operation. No replacement parts of new sights were available, and no facilities for the repair of this sight were at hand. A limited number of K-14 sight installation kits were available and were tried with unsuccessful results. Another problem which fell to the Armament Sections was "wing tank trouble". This means simply that when the planes reached the point of release for the tanks, some of them almost invariably failed to drop. This put the pilot at a disadvantage in several ways such as the possibility of ground fire hitting the tank, reducing speed of the plane somewhat, as well as increasing consumption of gasoline which was all important. This problem was finally licked by cleaning the bomb shackles prior to such VLR, using metal sway braces which could not bind on the tanks, or if wooden sway braced were used, exercising extreme care to make certain the tanks were properly adjusted and aligned.
Pilots, too, were instructed on the best methods of release to be employed where possible such as diving and then pull out sharply while firing a burst from machine guns, or slowly up and lowering the flaps and landing gear, etc.
No real difficulty was encountered with the guns and gun camera. Only one instance of unserviceable ammunition was encountered and this was disposed of as soon as it was discovered. Only one squadron was involved in this bad ammunition.
The service test of stallite lined barrels performed by 462nd Fighter Squadron showed that approximately 2000 rounds of ammunition is the maximum which can be fired without changing, when firing up to 250 rounds in each burst as is often the case on strafing missions. However, this is a great improvement over the old tyon barrels as they average approximately 1000 rounds, under the same conditions.
Recommendations: More efficient operation of the Uncle Dog could have been effected at the rally point if a transmitter of higher wattage output had been used instead of the SCR-522. A more powerful transmitter would have overcome the effect of the Jap radar at the rally point and would enable the pilots to receive D/U on the target.
A visual, left, on course, and right indicator would be more satisfactory than the aural signal now used. It is believed this modification on the AN/ARA-6 is now being made and other information from the S-2, a decision is made as to the course to be pursued and the tactics to be followed. Leadership of VLR missions is rotated among the wheels of the Group: Col. Harper. CO; Lt. Col. Brown, Deputy CO; Maj "Muddy” Watters. Operations, Capt. Anthony. CC of the 457th; Maj. Shipman, CO of the 458th; 13aj DeJarnette, CO of the 462nd. In the Squadrons the CO, the operations officer, or selected flight leaders may serve as the unit leader. The plane to pilot ratio is such that the pilot is ordinarily scheduled to fly almost every mission.
The training and refresher program during June was on a comparatively modest basis. For the training and combat indoctrination of replacements pilots reliance was placed on CAP sorties and Bonins "training" missions. In general it was determined that instruction of the replacements should be done by the Squadrons rather than by the Group* Formal classroom instruction was held to minimum in all save two departments, air sea rescue and recognition. About 8 hours of lectures and demonstration were devoted to ASR procedure, survival, use of survival equipment and related subjects, proficiency in the recognition of aircraft and surface vessels, friendly and enemy, was maintained by a classroom schedule of about 2 hours per week. Our knowledge of the ED and the K14A, gunsight, gadgets that we had no opportunity to become familiar with during Stateside training, was augmented by edge of the target to allow for foreshortening. The diamonds were obscured, it was noted, and difficulty was encountered in bracketing due to the white backgrounds of the sleeve target against the clouds.
Map of Nagoya-Osaka area of Japan from May 1945. Maps like this were used in mission planning.
Gradually the Squadron maintenance sections are beginning to acquire the “know how” needed for efficient operation under the conditions prevailing on Iwo. Learning how to combat dust and corrosion, how to get along without necessary tools and equipment, how to stretch their meager stock of spare parts — these were the fruits of their experience. Dust, of course, was a problem for which special protective measures had to be taken constantly. In the 457th, for example, a sheet metal cover was devised and later adopted by the ether two Squadrons, which 5lamped over the case ejection chute openings for the .50 caliber guns while the plane was on the ground and prevented dirt and grit from being swept into the guns Many of the more interesting problems which arose during the month centered around the K14A gunsight. Replacements, spare parts, and kits for the sight are not to be had, in fact several a while that the Kl4 kits on hand could be used for the K14A, but this hope proved abortive because the parts required for the K14A were not interchangeable with the equipment found In the kits designed for its predecessor. The original intention of installing new sights after each 100 hours of operation was abandoned in favor of the present procedure, as prescribed in a tech order lately received, of thoroughly cleaning, inspecting and oiling the sight ever 25 operational hours. The sight just be turned on during taxiing and take off to prevent the jeweled bearings in the gyro from being dislodged by the vibration. Before corrective action was taken, the pilot, with the sight on would sometimes absentmindedly flick the gun camera trigger switch on the control stick starting the cameras and, of course, wasting film. The trick, there was to rig up a wiring system in which the sight would operate even though the gun camera safety switch was turned off. The solution to the problem was originally suggested by Lt Hines of the 458th in Tinian and was gradual adopted by the rest of the Group. The remedy consisted in removing the extreme right lead from the "Guns Camera and Sight" position and hooking it onto the “Camera and Sight" post aborting out the gunsight wire through the gun camera safety switch with the result that the sight is cow control by the "off-on” switch in the K14A, selector and dimmer rocket launchers for our aircraft remained the only outstanding shortage in the Group's combat equipment.
By 15 June, 5 planes had been fitted out for carrying the 5” HVAR or the 5” AH projectile. The installation in 3 of the planes included the wiring, the racks, and the intervalometer; two of the aircraft being of a somewhat newer type were already equipped with internal wiring and required only the racks and the intervalometer. Regardless of the fact that a Squadron or two of rockets would hare materially contributed to the success of our Empire missions it proved impossible to obtain kits end equipment for additional rocket ships. Far more than the average amount of propeller and carburetor trouble was encountered during the tenth. Prop trouble in the form of oil leaks at both the cone and the spider shaft was due primarily to the ersatz fiber type seal palmed off on us by the supply agencies as a replacement for the old reliable Neoprene seal. Oil leaks involve, ordinarily, no more than a droplet or two of fluid which escapes from the prop connection and splatters over the windshield at high velocity obscuring the pilots’ forward vision. During June, as many as 5 aircraft at a time were grounded because of oil leaks. The Neoprene seals to remedy this state of affairs were dribbling in a few at a time through normal supply channels and a few were being chiseled.
Was approximately 20 miles although at altitude, under proper atmospheric conditions the radio range station is capable of reaching 150 to 200 miles. Shortages in two of the test devices for the SCR 522,the test set IE 19 and the test meter I 139 (authorized 3 each per Squadron) have not been made up: the Squadron communications sections are using field expedients in lieu of the missing equipment. Major King’s radar expert, Lt. Forman, made up a DU instructional model to demonstrate the employment of homing equipment to the flying personnel. There is nothing particularly difficult about the operation of the DU though there are a few precautions that must be remembered. Particularly, it must be kept in mind that it is impossible to receive a DU impulse when the switch is on the transmit position. After several of the pilots had run into trouble through having accidentally flicked the transmit-receive switch to the wrong position, the communications sections cut the transmit button out of operation entirely. If the pilot desires to send a homing impulse to another aircraft he may do so by operating a transmit switch on his SCR 522.
In the living area and on the line the lighting problem continued to be annoying though by no means as acutely annoying as in May. With one additional 5KW Onan generator received in June, the Group now had two 15KW diesels and one 5KW gas engine chugging away in the living area and five additional 5KW gas engine generators and one 15KW diesel generator authorized for the Group. The telephone situation is gradually coming under control as personnel of all ranks and tempers are learning to be tolerant of the vagaries of the field telephone network. A contributory factor to the whimsicalities of the Hardhat exchange was the unreliable trunk lines leading up to Wichita, Chestnut, and the Walmit. The trunk line leading into the Group teletype machine was in operational well over 90% of the time. Priority messages instead of being dispatched via the machine were tucked into envelopes and arrived as much as 12 hours later sometimes by way of a series of intermediate message centers.
Administratively speaking, the month of June was a landmark in the 506th History in that it represented the first occasion on which the Group was, so to speak, inspected by itself. Preparations for the investigation shortly to be undertaken by the Air Inspector’s department included the gathering together of pertinent rules and regulations bearing in the activities to be inspected and the tabulation of a series of check sheets. The inspector’s checklists included a number of questions covering tactical, technical and administrative activities; lists were also compiled for such technical departments as supply, communications, ordinance, armament, transportation, and personal equipment. The campaign mapped out by the Inspector called for an administrative rating, a tactical rating and a technical rating to be given to the three Squadrons. Breakdown of the administrative rating included administration 70% and administrative supply 30%; the figure summarizing the Unit’s tactical efficiency was based on operations and training and 30% on intelligence (S-2). The technical proficiency of the Unit was broken down in the following manner:
Personal Equipment 15%
Tech Supply 10%
Translation of these figures into conventional GI efficiency rating terms was done on the following basis:
His preliminary strategy having been evolved, Capt. Wickman and his assistant, short swarthy Capt. Steve Removich, his check sheets in one hand and a big red pencil in the other, leaped into the battle. He discovered at the very outset of the campaign that a most formidable barrier had been erected within the Group against the system he was attempting to launch. The feeling had gotten abroad that in a combat area it was effete and unnecessary to abide by rules, regulations, and tech orders. All branches and departments had joined in an enthusiastic disregard for such guideposts of efficiency as it suited their purposes to ignore. The Inspector’s stand on this free and easy point of view was based on the belief that these rules were fruit of the air Corps’ collective experience on how its affairs might best be conducted that tech orders and other written directives were not designed to limit the individual initiative of the department heads and Squadron Cos but to advise and direct their energies into the proper channels.
The role of the inspector in military procedure was, moreover, subject to profound misunderstanding. The department head or Squadron CO, instead of frothing and fuming at the mouth when discrepancies were unearthed, should reflect that were the Inspector not at hand to advise him, he himself would have to work that much harder to discover the flaws which the Inspector calls to his attention. Considerably to their surprise, Group Headquarters discovered that they too were to be subjected to the scrutiny of the Inspector. To have an investigation launched into their sacred precincts was an indignity to which they submitted with great reluctance. They received an administrative rating of 75%, a moderate excellent. Other departments of the Group Staff were also inspected with the result that Operations and Intelligence were rated 80%, Materiel 75%, Transportation 75% and Communications, the outstanding department of the Group.
Results of the Squadron Inspections were as tabulated below:
The 457th , it will be noted, was low man on the totem pole from the Inspectors point of view. Highest rating in all departments save administration was received by the 458th . Also deserving of special mention is the fact that the 450th Engineering Section received the best mark in the Group, with the 462nd trailing by a very slight margin. When appraised of the Inspector’s verdict, Capt Anthony, new CO of the 457th conducted a series of conferences with him in a forthright effort to initiate such procedures as would erase these discrepancies from the future record of his unit. The month of June was signalized by the visit of Maj Gen Julius Jones, AAF Inspector General, and his entourage. His representatives made an examination of all phases of the Group’s activities. As the concluding feature of their operations, the General and his team held court in the briefing room on the 26th to report their findings. We were overwhelmed with compliments. Satisfaction was expressed with the tactical proficiency of the organization, with the maintenance of our aircraft, with our Communications, Armament and Ordnance departments, and with the living and working conditions of our personnel. It was a source of no little satisfaction to learn that our own opinion of ourselves was shared by an impartial authority from higher headquarters.
Criticisms were registered of such matters as our accident rate and the proposed location of the firing in butt for the Group’s aircraft. The Inspectors had nothing but praise for the system followed by the Group Air Inspector and were especially appreciative of the large multicolored charts prominently displayed on the walls of his office.
Other than the routine tasks connected with the “Win the war in Triplicate” campaign on Iwo, Group and Squadron administrative headquarters found that the bulk of the June paperwork centered around recommendations for officers’ promotions, officers semi-annual efficiency ratings, and the adjusted service rating score or “How to get out of the Army in three easy lessons—and one hard one”.
Under the revised procedure, the efficiency rating required to be submitted to the Adjutant General and transcribed—as of 31 December and 30 June—on the AAF Form 66-2, the officer’s qualification card was now rendered infinitely more complex and detailed. A check sheet of ten different items must be accomplished by the CO on each officer, encompassing (1) Physical activity and endurance (2) Stability under pressure, (3) Attention to duty, (4) Cooperation, (5) Initiative, (6) Intelligence, (7) Force, (8) Judgment and common sense, (9) Leadership, (10) Ability to obtain results. After the CO has searched his conscience in regard to these points, the final rating which emerges on each officer in his command represents the average score achieved on the 10 items.
The question of adjusted service rating score, commonly known by the civilian term “points” was of purely academic interest to the majority of the 506th officers and men. The astronomical score of 85 points or more as of 12 May 45 was possessed by but 9 of the 506th EM and 7 officers. Tabulation of the Group’s scores runs as follows:
The one officer and enlisted man in the “100 or More” column are Lt Willis of the 462nd and 1st Sgt Boram of the 457th. On the first of June on the Osaka weather mission, 13 pilots bailed out of their aircraft of whom 2 were rescued, 1 almost immediately and the other after a lapse of several days. Families of the remaining 11 men, it was presumed, would receive the little yellow slip of paper from the Adjutant General in which “The Secretary of War regrets…….”. The time interval between the date on which the casualty occurred and the date the family was notified was not known. Evidence received in late June by the Group suggests that this interval may be altogether longer than would be warranted by a decent regard for the sensibilities of the nearest of kin. The battle casualty report for the affair of 1 June was dispatched the following day. Among the missing was Lt Col Scandrett, the Deputy CO, and Capt Crenshaw, the Asst Operations officer. The War department obviously did not inform either Mrs. Crenshaw or Mrs. Scandrett until late in June, well after the date on which correspondence regularly received from APO #86 would be succeeded by a long period of ominous silence. The radiogram dispatched by Mrs. Crenshaw on or about 26 June (included as exhibit 30) is eloquent testimony on this point. Mrs. Scandrett, the evidence indicates, was notified June 27th.
Following the disaster of 1 June in which the Deputy CO and the Assistant Operations Officer were lost, the senior squadron commander, Major “Luddy” Watters of the 457th, moved up to join the Group Staff as Operations Officer while Lt Col Brown stepped into Lt Col Scandrett’s job. Maj Watters handed over the squadron to Capt Anthony, the 457th Operations Officer, and Capt Anthony’s position in turn fell to Capt Guadianni, formerly the Squadron Gunnery Officer. Some hope was entertained that the missing pilots might return, consequently these changes were made vOCO on 2 June. On the 23rd, Lt Evan S Stuart joined from the 458th as Asst. Operations Officer. On one of the Tuesday afternoon ceremonies at the Fighter Command, 12 of our pilots were awarded the Air Medal, and 2, Lt Col Brown and Maj DeJarnette, the first Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster to the Medal. “They successfully participated in long range fighter missions against the Japanese Empire, displaying high professional skill and courage which reflected great credit upon themselves and the Army Air Forces.” Awards of the good conduct medal were also made during the month to eligible enlisted men of the Group.
It was not often after the 1st of July that the Japs attempted to intercept our forces. Usually if an enemy plane was sighted in the air, it was too distant for our planes to chase. There were exceptions, however, particularly on the 8th and 16th of July when the enemy put some of his best planes and pilots in the air. The first of these interceptions was well planned and might have resulted in heavy losses had it not been for the superior performance of our planes and pilots. The mission was a Fighter Strike by two groups against airfields in the area east and northeast of Tokyo. The strike force was divided. Part were to strafe on the deck and part were to provide high cover. Between the high cover and strike force was a layer of clouds at 3,000 to 5,000 feet. Using this for concealment a force of Jap fighters jumped our strafing flights from altitude advantage, got on the tails of several P-51s and shot down two. Mutual support was difficult at the low altitude of the attack, but the superior speed of the P-51 enabled our pilots to pull away. Our claims on this mission were five enemy shot down, one probable and one damaged. The enemy used the same strategy often encountered on the previous missions, i.e., attack from altitude advantage with as much surprise as possible. Without these factors on his side the reluctance of the Jap pilot to close for combat has been very noticeable on all missions against the Empire.
The enemy’s interception on 16 July was on a much larger scale than on 8 July; and while it did prevent our forces from reaching their assigned targets (airfields in the Nagoya area), the success of the interception was questionable inasmuch as twenty-two enemy planes were shot down, two planes were probably destroyed and twenty were damaged; our loss was one P-51 and pilot. The Japs were waiting for our planes as they made landfall. The first contacts were near Suzuka where about twenty Zekes, Georges and Jacks were sighted fifteen miles away at 26,000 feet. Our planes (21st Group) which were at 11,000 to 14,000 feet climbed and as they closed the Japs peeled off in string and attacked from high astern. After their initial passes the enemy broke into individual units while the P-51s maintained mutual support in flights and elements with good results. Other enemy planed together with a second group of P-51s (506th Group) soon joined the fight, and a running air battle developed, involving approximately ninety P-51s and fifty to sixty enemy fighters, lasting for thirty to forty-five minutes. The enemy used split-esses as evasive maneuvers almost exclusively and seldom used his ability to turn inside the P-51. On the whole the pilots appeared to be experienced and handled their planes capably. Friendly tactics consisted, generally, of high side rear passes, quartering attacks from high or low, head on and ninety-degree deflection attacks.
That the use of the parachute was becoming standard procedure with Jap pilots was indicated on this mission. Several parachutes were sighted in the air and in three cases enemy pilots were seen to bail out when their planes were brought under attack. This was a marked departure from Jap practice earlier in the war.
Examples of our own and enemy tactics on the 16 July mission are found in the individual pilot encounter reports which follow:
CAPTAIN HARRY E. WALMER, 72d Fighter Squadron: “Ten minutes after making landfall, at 1333, many bogies were called in at nine o’clock high. We were at 11,000 feet, they were at 15,000 or 16,000 feet. I put my flight into mutual support and started a climb straight ahead. Shortly thereafter, the bandits attacked the rear squadron in steep overhead passes in string, and then yo-yoed back up. I scissored my flight, continued to climb, back to the area of the fight. About there, at 12,000 feet, we did a 90-degree right in mutual support, and upon completion, I spotted a Zeke high at three o’clock. I pulled up inside him, but he saw me and did a fast roll to the right and turned into me, pulling streamers. I managed to stay with him, but could not get a lead. He then pulled a fast roll to the left. I waited. He started a break and then reversed his turn. I didn’t try to follow the break, so when he reversed it gave me my first good shot at about 70 to 90 degree deflection-held lead as much as I could and raked him through. A flash, which looked bigger and redder than an incendiary hit, appeared very near the pilots compartment, - the evasive action then ceased, it rolled nearly inverted and started down steeply. It appeared to go down very fast. Several thousand feet lower it started a fast turning spiral and “went in” that way, observed from 6,000 feet. He exploded with one flash of flame.”
FIRST LIEUTENANT FRANK L. SEYMOUR JR., 531ST fighter Squadron: “Flying south with two flights in mutual support and climbing at IAS of 220 I observed seven planes at two o’clock level, distance at least twenty miles. Calling them in I continued to climb. The enemy was in a nice tight four-ship formation similar to our own, and a three ship V was slightly behind and below. Upon identification as Zekes I put my flight in position for a high side approach and headed for the flight of three. Coming into range the Japs made no indication that they saw us, but just before I fired this formation scattered and all three splitessed for the deck. Moving over behind the flight of four I hoped to catch a sitting duck. Same results- splitesses and to the deck. The Jap formation had observed us from the very beginning but had led us to believe the opposite. I made the initial pass at well over 300 miles an hour IAS and was unable to turn with Zeke when their formation broke up. The three-plane flight broke as follows. Leader went straight up- did one complete roll and then split down. Both wingmen pulled up slightly and then they half-rolled to split-ess to the hole in the clouds at about 4,000 feet. The flight of four waited till I was just ready to fire and broke up much as the others had. Both middle planes pulled up rather violently and then rolled to the outside while the wingmen or outside planes split-essed and went for the deck rolling as they went almost straight down. My airspeed was too high to follow. Too much speed I learned will make Jap shooting very difficult when the Jap sees you coming.”
SECOND LIEUTENANT JOHN D. THOMPSON, 531ST fighter Squadron: “Our flight was top cover for the other squadrons and was flying a northern direction. Bogies were reported coming down form six o’clock. They pulled up in a loop and were attacked by two planes of our squadron. We headed south and made a 360-degree turn to the right and started after some Zekes. I started to shoot at one but he rolled and started down. I got on his tail and started shooting, observed hits and tried to pull out of dive. However, I stalled, flipped over and went through the overcast. Pulled out slow and started up to rejoin the flight, but was jumped by three Jap single, radial engined planes. I dove to the deck and tried to pull away but could not. They stayed with me just out of gun range. One on each side and directly behind. I was attacked by three or four planes from the front. I believe the Japs behind were radioing ahead. I shot at a George making a head-on pass and observed hits on the side of his fuselage, saw him roll over and hit in a rice field. I made as hard a turn as I could and started south, all three of the planes behind me shooting at me but missing.”
CAPTAIN ABNER M. AUST JR., 457TH fighter Squadron: “I was leading Blue Flight in the second section of our squadron in the Nagoya area when six bogies were called out at nine o’clock low. I called my section to drop their tanks and we peeled off low on a flight of six Franks. I made almost a head on pass at their number one man and gave him about a two or three second quirt around the cockpit and he broke away to his right. As I turned to the left I was almost on top of another. I split-essed with him and got hits with a three second or more burst around the engine and cockpit area. After I passed him my flight saw him bail out. As I pulled up another was almost in front of me and as I closed in on him he split-essed and I followed him. I was getting hits all the way through and I finished up with a burst into the cockpit and I believe that I killed the pilot because he went straight into the clouds. As I pulled up another was coming almost head on and I fired a burst into his engine and he split-essed and I followed. I closed in on him and got hits in the right wing root and cockpit and he started smoking and burning in the right wing and fuselage, as he went straight into the clouds. We pulled off this one and I was almost behind another. As I closed in he split-essed and I followed him and he went into a dive. I got hits in the root of the left wing and before he went into the clouds I saw smoke coming out of the wing. I fired all my remaining ammunition at him and followed him down into the clouds to about 350 or 375 mph and elevation of the ground was about 1,000 feet. He was going almost straight down and made no move to shake us. I don’t believe he could have pulled out.”
CAPTAIN RICHARD W. BARNES, 458th Fighter Squadron: “I was flying Green Leader when I heard bogies called out and a babel of conversation that included warnings to break, admonitions to “get that bastard”. I knew there was a fight, and then I saw a melee of aircraft at two o’clock. I dropped my tanks and got altitude and circled a large hole in the clouds where all the action was taking place. I saw two enemy aircraft chasing a P-51, and started a pass, but both enemy aircraft went into the clouds. I figured both would be back, and circled. One did come back, at about ten o’clock low. I was heading north, and peeled off into his tail. Evidently he was inexperienced, for he broke into me while I was still out of range. I put the computing sight on him and tracked, and fired about a four second burst. I got strikes on his fuselage and wings, and he rolled onto his back. I continued to hit him, and finally small pieces broke off his belly and an incendiary got his right gas bag. He began to burn and smoke and went straight down. My flight and I recovered into the clouds, which were no more than 500 feet thick, and regained altitude over the hole and waited for another one. I saw another at nine o’clock low, and dived down on him. He broke when I was still out of range, to the right, in a very tight turn. I put my computing sight on him, tracked and fired a sixty-degree head on deflection. My burst was very short because we were closing so rapidly, but it hit his canopy and engine, and he began to smoke. His canopy was open as he rolled onto his back. He went straight down, hit a hillside and blew up.”
VII Fighter Command aircraft flew 1972 sorties during the month of July 1945. Loss and damage attributed to flak was 5.8% with eighty-six planes damaged and twenty-eight lost. This is a decided increase over our previous experiences. The increase in percentage of aircraft damaged and lost was not due to any startling improvement of Jap gunnery, but rather, for the most part, to the fact that no escort missions were flown during the month. Low level attacks against heavily defended airfields and other ground installations are much more costly than high altitude escort missions.
During July, the fighters, for the first time, attacked targets of opportunity on a large scale. Rail transportation, power line installations, shipping and other ground installations were attacked after giving the airfields the required attention. Little or nothing was known of the defenses around these secondary targets but, nevertheless, the pilots were briefed on the most likely places to expect trouble. All calibers of flak of varying intensity and accuracy were encountered from marshalling yards, industrial areas, docks and ships. The damage received was not unreasonable, although it had a cumulative effect on any previous damage sustained while attacking airfields.
The trends noted in previous reports with respect to Jap tactics, were more pronounced during July. The use of heavy guns showed a marked increase over previous months. These weapons were used at every opportunity, regardless of the altitude of our fighters. Several aircraft were damaged while flying at 3,000 feet at the base of the clouds. (Of course, such tactics should be avoided whenever possible.) A heavy barrage of one hundred feet was encountered at Hanshin A/F just before reaching the edge of the field. Surprisingly accurate heavy bursts in considerable volume were received along a 25-mile route while returning at minimum altitude west of Tokorozawa A/F. Undoubtedly, pre-cut fuses were used although incomplete evidence concerning the circumstances leaves some doubt as to exactly what my have been the true situation. It has not been ascertained if any planes have been damaged by or lost to heavy flak while at minimum altitudes, but they have been bounded and rocked considerably by the bursts.
Automatic weapon and machine gun reaction varied from nil to intense. One attack on heavily defended Kagamigahara A/F provoked no return fire what-so-ever. At Hanshin A/F a considerable volume of fire was encountered without tracers. The heavy machine gun continues to be by far the most dangerous weapon. In their desperation, the Japanese employed about every “trick in the bag” to discourage our pilots. In addition to barrage balloons previously reported at Kasumigaura A/F, about 25 to 30 red kites approximately two by four feet at 150 to 200 feet altitude were seen at this field and later at other A/Fs. Barrage balloons at 2500 feet were also observed at Choshi Pt. A smoke screen was first observed at Kasumigaura A/F and was ineffective. Later, one was observed at Yatabe and it effectively obscured the field in ten minutes. Two orange flares were also seen at Kasumigaura A/F. Land mines were encountered first at Tokorozawa A/F and an attack on Nishinomiya A/F resulted in three phosphorous land mines being detonated ahead of our fighters at the waters edge near the field. Other tactics included guns of all caliber firing into the water in attempts to throw up waterspouts at planes retiring out over the bay at Nishinomiya A/F and again in the Wakayama area.
Most of these are old Jap tricks and the pilots ere briefed against such tactics. Thus far, these “ersatz” devices and tactics have not caused damage or loss tour aircraft, but constant vigilance is imperative. The Bonins defenses remained the same as in previous months with the exception of a possible reduction I the use of tracers.
VII Fighter command P-51s and P-47s flew a total of 939 sorties from 1 August to 14 August 1945. Loss an damage attributed to flak was 6.6%, with 18 planes lost and 44 damaged. The percentage of aircraft lost and damaged due to flak during the month of August showed an increase in spite of the fact that nearly one fourth of the sorties were on escort missions. However, since our aircraft attacked secondary targets on a larger scale than heretofore, they were exposed to a corresponding increase in flak hazards. Almost one-half of the total loss and damage was incurred while attacking targets other than airfields.
Heavy guns continued to engage our aircraft whenever possible. Predicted concentrations, box barrages, and continuously pointed fire of varying accuracies were reported. There was no change in the reaction of automatic weapons and machine guns. However, it is believed that the defenses of marshalling yards, RR stations and other industrial targets were strengthened after the initial attacks on those targets. The only new development encountered during the period was reported at Tokorozawa A/F. A wire cable was stretch3d from SE to NW across the field at a height of 50’, presumably as a hazard to low flying aircraft.
FLAK AGAINST VII FIGHTER COMMAND AIRCRAFT
JULY AND AUGUST 1945
P-51S AND P-47S OVER TARGETS
DATE OF TARGET AREAS NUMBER OF AIRCRAFT AIRCRAFT
MISSION AIRCRAFT DAMAGED LOST
*Exact cause for loss of ten aircraft is not known;
however, it has been assumed to be flak.
**Includes nine sorties by P-47s.
A REPORT ON AIR SEA RESCUE FACILITIES DURING THE RECENT LONG RANGE MISSIONS
An original photo of a specially modified B-17 Flying Fortresses, with searching radar and survival boats, were used in ASR (Air Search and Rescue) missions. These B-17's would be airborne, along with US Navy aircraft and submarines, for every single VLR mission to Japan.
An integral part of every VII Fighter Command mission to the Japanese mainland has been Air Sea Rescue-the planes, destroyers and submarines which have stood by at specified stations along the Empire route ready to go to the assistance of any downed pilot. An impressive record ahs been made by this service during the period 1 July to 15 August. During this time eighty-five pilots have failed to return to base in their planes. Of this total forty pilots are known to be dead or to have parachuted over enemy territory, thus making rescues impossible. The remaining forty-five pilots, however, parachuted over water where the possibilities of rescue do exist. Forty of these survivors were picked up, crediting AST with approximately ninety percent successful searches for VII Fighter Command pilots. The shortest rescue took only thirty-four seconds from the time the pilot hit the water until he was standing on the deck of the submarine; the longest was the recovery of a pilot seven days after he had bailed out. One rescue was effected within one and a half miles of the Japanese coast. In another case the rescued pilot had suffered compound fractures of both legs in bailing out. He was given medical care aboard the rescue vessel and a day later was safely established in a hospital in Iwo.
On several occasions rescues were made in the face of determined enemy opposition. One such incident occurred on 3 August when a pilot of this Command, because of flak damage to his P-51, parachuted into the waters of Sagami Bay, only eight miles from the Japanese shore. An Iwo-based ASR B-17 dropped the survivor a lifeboat, and then sent his position via radio to the rescue submarine at the Rally Point fifty miles to the southeast. The sub, with its protective cover of four P-51s, immediately set course for the survivor who, by the time the sub had traveled twenty miles, had boarded the lifeboat, started its engine and was headed on a course out to sea. Two Navy Search bombers sighted the lifeboat and radioed its position to the submarine. Visual contact was made a few minutes later. At that moment the enemy went into action. Five Zekes or Georges attacked the four P-51s covering the submarine. The enemy had speed and altitude advantages and shot down one of our planes. The remaining three P-51s countered and probably destroyed two and damaged one of the enemy planes. During the aerial combat the P-51s were forced to drop their wing tanks and later, running low on gas, returned to base, landing after eight hours and forty-five minutes in the air. When the P-51s retired the two bombers took up the task of shuttling between survivor and sub. Just when the rescue seemed assured-the sub was within a few hundred yards of the lifeboat-the Japs sent out reinforcements. A Pete strafed the sub and dropped two bombs, scoring one near miss which left the sub undamaged. The bombers flamed the Pete but another one came in to attack and the submarine submerged. This second Pete was also destroyed by the Navy bombers. The submarine surfaced only to be driven under for a second time by a strafing George which was chased away. The sub then surfaced long enough to pick up the survivor and immediately submerged while the Navy bombers retired.
Read the full story here: Mission Aug 3
Another rescue, although it did not involve a pilot of this Command, provides valuable testimony as to why ASR is held in such high esteem by pilots in the Pacific area. In this instance a Navy fighter pilot attacking the Maizuru Seaplane Station on the north shore of Honshu was forced down in the Japan Sea. An ASR is held in such high esteem by pilots in the Pacific area. In this instance a Navy fighter pilot attacking the Maizuru Seaplane Station on the north shore of Honshu was forced down in the Japan Sea. An ASR Catalina of the Iwo-based 4th Emergency Rescue Squadron was notified of the pilot’s predicament. At 10,000 feet with an escort of four Navy fighters, the Catalina, without armament, cruised across one of the most heavily defended areas of Japan. Reaching the downed pilot the plane landed on the Japan Sea within range of shore batteries, picked up the survivor and took off. During the pick-up, however, one of the escorting fighters was shot down. Once again the Catalina landed, picked up the second pilot and took off. The long flight left insufficient gas for return to Iwo and the Catalina was forced to land amidst units of the Third Fleet, where all personnel were successfully transferred to surface craft. From takeoff to landing the ASR plane had been airborne for fifteen hours and twenty minutes.
Original teletype communique sent to Lt. Robert McClure of the 462nd Fighter Squadron that tells of the Japanese surrender and to stop all offensive operations against them.
(1) FO #113, HI VII FC, 30 May 45 (SECRET) Arrival time: 11/18/2018 at: 5:59:11 AM
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(2) Mission Report #06-01, HQ. 506th FG, 1 June 45. (Confid.) Exhibit 1.
(3) G-2 Periodic Report #68, HQ AGF, 2 June 45, covering period from 311800K to 011800K (SECRET)
(4) Page 23, Unit History, 5o6th Ftr Gp, May 45 (SECRET)
(5) AAF Form 14, Report of Major Accident, A/C 44-72552, 2nd Lt Lawrence E. Grennan, 457th Ftr Sq.
(6) Source of this account: Mission Report #06-01, plus signed statements of Capt Wickman, Capt Anthony, Capt Lumpkins, and others.
(7) Name withheld.
(8) Mission Report #16?, Hq VII FC, 1 June 45. (Confidential)
(9) Col Harper's interview with the CG, VII FC, 27 May 45.
(10) Exhibit 2.
(11) Published in Honolulu Advertiser., #20674,. 1 June 45.
(12) ibid #20675, 2 June 45.
(13) Mission Report 167. Hq VII FC, 1 June 45
(14) Extension of "Remarks" under par 8, sub par b, mission report #06-01 (1) Air Sea Rescue — Exhibit 3.
(15) ibid, plus news story by Capt Hynes.
(16) S-2 Journal, 506th Ftr Gp
(17) Page 17, Air Intell Report XXI BomCom Vol 1, 14 July 45. (SECRET)
(18) Best score of VII FC Escorts previous to 5 June was 26-9-23 on the Yokohama Escort of 29 May (Mission Report #163, Hq. VII FC)
(19) Mission Report #06-02, Hq. 506th FS, 7 June 45. (Confidential); Exhibit 4. Mission conducted per FO #122, HO. VII FC, 6 June 45.
(20) Mission Report 174. HQ. VII FC. 7 June 45. (Confidential).
(21) ONI Vol IV, #24, 13 June 45. p 1867
(22) Mission Report #06-03, Hq 506th Ftr Gp, 8 June 45. (Confid) Exhibit 5. Mission conducted per FO #123, Hq VII FC, 7 June 45.
(23) FO #126. Hq VII FC, 8 June 45. (SECRET)
(24) Mission Report #06-04, Hq 506th Ftr Gp, 9 June 45. (Confid) Exhibit 6.
(25) Mission Report #06-05. Hq 506th Ftr Gp. 10 June 45. (Confid) Exhibit 7.
(26) Critique held by Mission Leader Maj Dejarnette, 11 June 45.
(27) ONI Vol IV, #14, 13 June 45. P 1869
(28) Mission Report #06-06, Hq. 506th.Ftr Gp, 11 June 45 (Confid) Exhibit 8.
Mission conducted per FO#130, Hq VII FC, 10 June 45. (SECRET)
(29) TWX, Hq VII FC, 120522Z Bonins Neutralization Missions. (SECRET) Exhibit 9.
(30) The figure of 60' representing the radius within which a solidly built structure would be heavily damaged by the blast effect of a 550 lb bomb (figures not available for 500 lb bombs) was taken from p 11 of a pamphlet on Bomb Recon issued by the OCD, Washington DC, August, 1942.
(31) Mission Report #06-07, Hq. 506th Ftr Gp, 14 Jane 45. (Confid) Exhibit 10.
(32) Mission Report #06-08, HQ. 506th Ftr Gp, 15 June 45. (Confid) Exhibit 11. Mission conducted per FO #132, Hq VII FC, 14 June 45. (SECRET).
(33) Mission Report #06-09, Hq 506th Ftr Gp, 16 June 45. (Confid) Exhibit 02.
(34) Mission Report #06-10, Hq 506th Ftr Gp, 17 June 45. (Confid) Exhibit 13.
plus squadron report, 458th Ftr Sq, Mission #06-07, 17 June 45.
(35) Mission Report #06-11, Hq 506th Ftr Gp, 19 June 45. (Confid) Exhibit 14.
(36) FO #33. Hq VII FC, 22 June 45. (SECRET)
(37) Par 11b of Mission Report #06-12 describing these projectiles as HVAR 5" head 3.25" motor is incorrect.
(38) Mission Report #06-12, Hq 506th Ftr Gp, 23 June 45. (Confid) Exhibit 3
(39) TWX VII FC 240530Z to CO 506th FG. (Secret)
(40) A/P dispatch to lwo Jima, 24 June
(41) Mission Report #06-13 , Hq. 506th ; Ftr Gp, 26 June 45 .( Conf id) Exhibit 16.
(42) FO #136 Hq VII FC, 25 June 45. (Secret)
(43) Mission Report #206, Hq VII FC, 9 July 45 (date of Mission 26 June)(Secret)
(44) ONI Vol 4, #26, 27 June 45, pages 2005, 2007. The ONI figure of "approximately" 100 enemy planes in the air is a very rough approximation indeed. Sightings of all 3 groups, as reported by the Fighter Command, tallied 52 Nips Airborne.
(45) ONI, Vol 4, #28, 11 July, p 2l60, TWX damage report on this mission from XXI BomCom not available.
(46) Mission Report #06-14, Hq. 506th FG, 27 June 45 (Confidential) Exhibit 17. Mission conducted per FO 135, Hq VII FC, 25 June 45 (Secret)
(47) This term is employed by courtesy of the Engineer Aviation Camouflage School, March Field, Calif.
(48) Mission Report 06-15, Hq. 506th FG, 28 June 45 (Confid) Exhibit 18
(49) G-2 periodic Report #86, Hq. AGF, 20 June 45 covering period 181800K to 191800K. (Secret) The interrogation report of the prisoners issued on 26 June made no mention of the alleged cave hanger.
(50) Mission Report #06-16, Hq 506th FG. 29 June 45, (Confidential) Exhibit 15
(51) The flash report, phoned to A-2 an hour after the mission landed, was; re-produced in the VII FC Daily joint Operation-Intell Summary. 29 June 45 (SECRET)
(52) Mission Report #06-17, Hq 506th FG, 29 June 45, (Confidential) Exhibit 20.
(53) Mission Report 06-18, Hq 506th FG, 30 June 45, (Confidential) Exhibit 21.
(54) Item 4 - Item 8 Squadron Statistics, 1-15 June and 15-30 June, 506th FG (Secret), prepared by the Group Stat Officer for inclusion in the GO'S notebook. Exhibit 22a nd b.
(55) Mission #06-05, 10 June 45.
(56) 506th Mission Reports and AAF Forms 14 June 45
(57) At the showing of gun camera film for previous missions, held in the officers mess following the briefings, the pictures; would often show a juicy tar-get drifting into view, a few tracers going wide of the mark, and the target escaping punctured only by groans and shouts of derision from the audience. The films of the other two Groups revealed the same faults; inaccurate gunnery, a tendency to fire out of range at both air and ground targets and a disposition to break away to soon.
(58) Extension of Mission Report
(59) These recommendations and several others were handed to a representative of the AAF inspector General during his visit to Iwo in late June.
Exhibit 24, intelligence Deficiencies.
(60) Anonymous "The Island of Cemetaries"
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Many of the 506th pilots came from other theaters of operations (Mediterranean, Europe) many instructors and most experienced flyers of other aircraft than the P-51D that they were flying at Iwo. Here Captain JJ Grant 462nd with his P-40 fighter. (click to enlarge)
Picture taken from a B-29 Superfortress with P-51D Mustang fighter planes escorting her to Japan.
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(webmaster note: you will find many original stories & photographs contained within this site. An extensive history of the 506th is being presented throughout the many historical pages created. Many of the photos and written text is from actual combat personnel of the 506th Fighter Group. There is several hours of reading material contained herein. Every attempt is made to reference credit were credit is due. Please contact the webmaster if you have any input as to reference material.
Letters From Iwo Jima: The Air War - aboard the Bloemfenstein somewhere in the Pacific Ocean heading for Iwo Jima. We are all rather anxious to get where we are going, to get to a place where we can unpack and fix it up and call it home for a little while. Most of us are anxious to start flying again - sometimes I think this flying business has gotten into my blood. I sure hope when peacetime comes that I can have a plane (of course a school teacher could not afford one) (JJ never did get his plane - he did obtain a Lt Colonel status in the Reserves but never flew after Iwo) All the enlisted men aboard got paid the other day. You could not walk around the decks without stepping into a crap game, a poker game or some type of game where they had a chance to increase their money.
Letters From Iwo Jima: The Air War
Our traveling days aboard the boat are over as we came upon the Island one morning early and guys who had not gotten out of the sack the whole trip before breakfast were up and anxious to have a look. Its as we talked about where we were anticipating our final destination. Its as small as we figured it would be but much higher above sea level that we thought. Its all volcanic and and hard clay.<P> We stayed aboard ship a couple of days out in the harbor. Each individual who went ashore came back with tales of the number of Japanese still left on the island and how each night they were on the prowl.. they told of so many being captures each day and about the damage they had done. Everyone looked forward to landing with a great deal of anticipation. Grant of course drew guard duty guading the supplies and guarding the camp at night. The first night we did not have to go ashore for which we all breathed a little a sigh of relief. They starting disembarking our supplies right after we got here.<P>The next day they told us to be ready and at a moments notice. Finally about noon we boarded our barge and came ashore. The ships we came ashore on were fast like those that were in the invasion in which made history. They go full steam ahead right up on shore, let down a walk that is in the water aand when the waves have subsided you run like hell with your baggage. Then the Island. You sink into this ash right up over the low shoe Oxfords most of us were wearing. We grabbed a truck, loaded our supplies and sat down on the dusty old seats and headed from the camp site. There had been rain in the AM so the roads were fairly hard but I guess when its dary its real dusty.<P>We finally arrived at our temporary camp site, grabbed a tent, got all our luggage together and proceeded to set up our cots and our sleeping sacks. There are six of us that will use this little tent plus all our luggage, so its a little crowded. Here again everything is underfoot. Directly behind out area is a clay cliff with marks of battle, fox holes, and cave areas.. The boys soon discovered a dead Jap, some stray hands and legs, all just partially deceased and swarming with flies.
Second day on our little island, have moved twice now and expect to move again. The organization here is not as good as in a boy scout troop I was in back home. The medical department is not setup yet; you can not even get a bandage for your finger, and any casualities have to be hauled off to the base hospital. Water is hard to get. they can have all they want but they have a poor arrangement of passing it out so we always seem short. We are on C rations and most of us have little fires to warm up the food we are going to eat. Everything is in cans. I had frankfurters beans for breakfast yesterday. This a.m. I had spaghetti with meat. We have large pipes dug into the ground for taking a leak. Our commode is a outdoor, open air job with ten seats, very public but you will use it and think nothing of it. I am still on guard duty and my outfit has it all night tonight, hope we do not have any Japs in the area. Today we are going scouting and we grabbed a ride up to the North end of the island with Treacy, Torg, Loomis and I. We got our 45s real handy and took off into the cliff country. Talk about a battle scarred area. This is really it. We walk up and down shell craters, here and there a cliff, then numerous cave areas that have been blown up. All around is war debris. Jap ammunition, gas masks, helmets, rations, saki wine bottles, field equipment, two toed sneakers, canteens, etc. Then we sight a corpse of a Jap. He seemed to be in a kneeling position. His guts had all been eaten by worms and these big green flys I was telling you about.
Letters From Iwo - May 7th Awaiting Airstrip to Be Built
Our other outfit, Balhourn and them were do in today but for some reason did not show up. You know of course they were our flight eschelon. We are going to have an air strip here on the island. We are all anxious to see them. Our softball team practiced this afternoon for about two hours, that is about the only thing we have to do for another few days. Then you know what will start happening. These C rations are starting to get monotonous. Thus building a fire has its drawbacks also. Tonight the Red Cross gave us a carton of cigarettes, 10 candy bars, 2 packages of gum, matches and a bar of soap, toothbrush and tooth paste. Guess if I live I will be a coach, up at Rome (New York). They tell me they need a good one (JJ would go on to be that coach at Rome and had over 20 years as the head football coach (had many an undefeated team), then Director of Athletics and finally became President of the New York State Athletic Association before he retired) . That radio is a life saver. Get Leyte, Shanghai, Saipan, short wave from states, Australia and Tokyo - music all day and no commercials.
Letters From Iwo - May 11th Flight Echelon Arrives
We have started to eat out of the mess tents now instead of our C rations. They have started building Quonset huts and a colsolidated Officers mess and housing area for the 48 of 52 officers in each Squadron. The plan also calls for an Officers club - we have plenty of supplies that we purchased back in the states and most of the boys are inpatient to get started. Our flight echelon came in yesterday May 11th (from Tinian). We came ashore April 25th. we have done most of the ground work in making the ara liveable and it sure was great ot see sonmew of the old gang again. the 462nd came in first led by the Colonel. The first fighters to land on airfield no. 3. There was a camera man to take pictures and a hell of a cross wind for them to land in. All planes and Squadrons got down safely. Soon we will start our misions and their then our troubles will start.
Letters From Iwo - May 14th B-29 Bailout
Today has been quite a day. Some of our boys were alerted for CAP patrol starting at 5:30 AM. Then at 10:00 AM we got paid and went directly to our lecture on air & sea rescue, bailing out over Tokyo, our attitude when and if we are a prisoner of war and the Jap treatment of prisoners. The weather is still stinking as usual. It is raining drizzling and being generally obnoxious. Our B-29's, 560 strong hit Nagoya today with incendiaries and the planes in distress that have landed here have told us that the majority of Nagoya was completely shrouded in smoke up to 15,000 feet. The ceiling was 19,000 feet, flak was intense and fairly accurate and only one enemy fighter was spotted. He made an air attack and pulled off to the side and bailed out. The ceiling has been varied from 50 feet to 150 feet. We have heard planes flying around here all AM and then ceiling lifted slightly so that could land and it was definitely a thrill seeing them handle those big babies as close to the ground. The landings were good, although very tricky and much could be said of the skill of the pilots. The engines all varied from inboards to outboards because of the low ceiling. I left the landing strip and headed for my tent. A B29 came overhead and down through the clouds came the boys in their chutes 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8- and finally the ninth man came tumbling down with no chute open. He tumbled on down and nearly went out of sight before his chute opened. A little later a B-29 went over the area and the men bailed out in the bay. You could see them float down; down and finally hit the water. The ships in the area scooted out and picked them up. One boy had already floated his dinghy. It\'s strange to sit here and watch the havoc and destruction of war. We pray that all the boys get in safely, and the hell with the airplanes. It seems just a matter of course that chutes in the sky, emergency landings and burning planes. I hope this war ends soon.
The story briefly is this. They had gone in North of Tokyo. They saw one enemy aircraft but all along the way they ran into flak. Concentrated and fairly accurate. They discussed later that they had gone in the same route as the B-29s had been using and the passage had been lined with heavy guns. They went in on the deck and concentrated flak fused to burst at 50ft kept popping all around them with the result that four ships did not return from our group alone. The other groups have not been accounted for.
Our missing pilot, a first lieutenant, his very first mission with this wife due to have a child in September suffered a direct coolant hit over the target and then bailed out over the Japanese mainland - we are hoping they have taken him as a prisoner. Freeman, a new boy, but more experienced, as soon as he got over the water started to burn. He bailed out and was seen to fall about 5000 feet. Meatball followed him down and saw him begin to cast out a die marker and start a smoke grenade. Meatball circled until the Dumbos picked him up it was reported at 3 AM this morning that Freeman has been picked up by Sub.
Mikes from group suffered a flak hit up over the RP rendezvous point. He was picked up as soon as he hit the water. Harrigan, the boy that had spent 50 hours in a dingy bailed out over the Jap mainland. All appear safe except Newby whose plane crashed and burned. One boy said he saw a shoot sailing to the ground about 2 miles distance from the plane but he was not sure. Many planes returned with flak holes and small ammo holes. One boy bailed out at about 150 miles from here. His wing had a hole in it. Another had a hole in his gas tank and landed in the water."left>
Remember Goss - he is here with P 47 group – he hasn’t changed a bit and is also a 1st Lieutenant yet. He had a flight but they gave it to someone else. His complaints are the same as ours. You have to come with someone you know with a little rank.
I'll close now honey. Hope the war ends soon so I can get back home and be with you.