8th AF to the Pacific-why change planes

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junkman3353

Airman
29
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Jun 1, 2019
After VE day there were plans in the works to move many fighter groups from Europe to the Pacific in anticipation of invading Japan. It had progressed so far as the 8th AF command structure having already moved to Okinawa before VJ day. To that end a number of 8th AF groups (4th, 359th, 364th for certain) were given WW P-47s to transition from the P-51 to the P-47N. My question is why? All were widely experienced in P-51's both in operation and maintenance. Why not continue with what they knew? Was it to spread out the production so North American wasn't the sole source of fighter aircraft?
 
After VE day there were plans in the works to move many fighter groups from Europe to the Pacific in anticipation of invading Japan. It had progressed so far as the 8th AF command structure having already moved to Okinawa before VJ day. To that end a number of 8th AF groups (4th, 359th, 364th for certain) were given WW P-47s to transition from the P-51 to the P-47N. My question is why? All were widely experienced in P-51's both in operation and maintenance. Why not continue with what they knew? Was it to spread out the production so North American wasn't the sole source of fighter aircraft?
Firstly the 8th AF command structure in England DID NOT PHYSICALLY MOVE to the Pacific. The "move" occurred administratively by renaming existing headquarters units. In the official wording the 8th AF HQ in England ceased to exist and "Transferred, without personnel, equipment and combat elements to Okinawa on 16 July 1945."

What happened was the XX Bomber Command that had been in CBI became surplus to requirements when the 58th BW moved from India to the Marianas in March 1945 to join XXI Bomber Command. XX BC HQ was sent to Okinawa arriving early July 1945 and on 16 July 1945 was redesignated at the HQ of the 8th Air Force. On the same day the 8th AF HQ in England ceased to exist.

Initially it was planned that some B-17 & B-24 bomber & related fighter units based in the ETO and the MTO would rotate back to the US to rest and if necessary re-equip before going to the Pacific. But with 5 Very Heavy Bomb Wings (20 BG + 509th CG) already in 21st AF in the Marianas and another 4 Very Heavy Bomb Wings (16 BG) already planned to go to join the newly constituted 8th AF on Okinawa all equipped with B-29s, questions were asked about what the use of extra heavy bombers was going to achieve. By the beginning of Aug 1945 the first 2 B-29 BG for the 8th AF had begun to arrive on Okinawa. By the end of the war the Far East Air Forces (5th/7th/13th AF) already had 9 B-24 equipped Heavy Bomb Groups either on or in the process of moving to Okinawa. And in the CBI there were another 2 B-24 BG.

The RAF was also in the process of organising its Tiger Force, which would have put up to another 20 squadrons of Lancasters onto Okinawa by early 1946.

So sending more heavy bombers became somewhat superfluous even if space could be found for them on Okinawa.

Another thing to bear in mind is that plans for the Pacific kept changing. At one point the plan was to sieze territory on the Chinese mainland which would have provided more airfield space than Okinawa. But that got cancelled.

I've no idea however why the fighter groups you note transitioned to the P-47. For the tactical air forces in the Pacific the P-38 was a favoured fighter but 5th AF was converting its P-47D units to the P-51D/K. RAAF, RNZAF and NEIAF who had been operating alongside them with P-40s and F4Us were also all receiving P-51D/K to replace their earlier equipment. But the Very Long Range Fighter Force on Okinawa and Iwo Jima was about equally split between Groups operating the P-51D/K and the P-47N. So aircraft availability might have been an issue. IIRC while most of the heavy bombers were flown back to the USA, the fighters were left in Europe with the personnel going home. A lot of the aircraft left in Europe were scrapped there postwar.

As far as USN / USMC units were concerned, it was the common practice that they would work up on older models and then immediately prior to deployment receive the latest kit. So for example they would train of F4U-1/FG-1/F3A-1 Corsairs but transittion to the latest F4U-4 before leaving for the Pacific theatre.
 
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My understanding is that the 8th AF B-17 and B-24 units would have been stationed on Kyushu after it had been seized in the first stage of the invasion of Japan, and used to support the second stage of the invasion, the landings on Honshu.
 
A 1946 wartime USAAF would have P-47N, the P-51H and M plus the P-80.

Post VE day the USAAF rapidly transferred most B-24 groups from Europe to the US, mostly with the intention of becoming B-29 for use against Japan. Apart from the invasion of Japan the allies were aiming to recapture parts of South East Asia, where there was a lot of oil, rubber and tin, whose populations were beginning to starve.

All 15 of the 8th AF Fighter groups were still in Europe until late August 1945, down to 10 in mid October, and 4 in early November. The 9th AF groups moved a little earlier 3 in July, 3 in August, 2 in September, 1 in October and 1 in November. The 15th AF had 2 groups move in August the rest in October and November
 
Apart from the invasion of Japan the allies were aiming to recapture parts of South East Asia, where there was a lot of oil, rubber and tin, whose populations were beginning to starve.
Sadly there were next to no plans to reoccupy any of SEA beyond Singapore and the Borneo operations carried out between May and July 1945.

Why? Because the US wanted nothing more to do with helping European nations regain their Far East Colonies. As early as April 1945 they had raised the question of passing responsibility for the SWPA excluding the Philippines and the northern half of French Indochina to British/Australian control. The first sign of US withdrawal from the region was the withdrawal of 10th AF to India after Rangoon fell to prepare for transfer to China, a move that was just beginning in early Aug 1945.

The decision to move these territories out of SWPA was only finalised at the Potsdam Conference in July 1945 at which point the Australians stated they couldn't take on all that was planned for them because of existing commitments in the Solomons, New Guinea & Borneo. So SEAC had to pick up the slack.

So Mountbatten's new orders from Potsdam were to clear Malaya (& recapture Singapore) and maintain pressure on the Japanese in Thailand across the Burma border, capture key areas in Thailand and seize bridgeheads on Java & Sumatra. Coincidentally the changeover of Command took place on 15 Aug 1945.

In July 1945, SEAC was planning Operation Zipper (detailed planning for which had only started in April) to land forces in Malaya to be followed by Mailfist to recapture Singapore. At that point it had no plans beyond the instructions given to Mountbatten. There was no time, before the war ended, to carry out any more extensive planning.

Commonwealth interest was also focussed on participating in Operations Olympic & Coronet against Japan, which the US wanted to limit especially regarding troops on the ground.

US 13th AF would have been withdrawn from SWPA in Aug 1945 to join the 5th AF on Okinawa. RAAF units were already moving forward into bases in Borneo to continue the air campaign. US 7th Fleet ships were moving back out of Borneo to the Philippines to prepare for Operation Olympic.

Because the Japanese surrender occurred just as these command changes were occurring SEAC was not well placed to put troops on the ground to accept the Japanese surrender across the region.
 
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I can see (and appreciate) the big picture in all this but my main question pertained to why so many ETO fighter groups equipped with Mustangs were going to be issued P-47N's prior to transfer to the Pacific. Was it to spread the production out between defense plants, was P-51 production maxed out in CA and TX and Republic had excess capacity? As an aside, I would love to see the aircraft paint schemes that would have been dreamed up if the planning had progressed that far. A 364th FG P-47N with white and blue nose stripes would be cool.
 
I can see (and appreciate) the big picture in all this but my main question pertained to why so many ETO fighter groups equipped with Mustangs were going to be issued P-47N's prior to transfer to the Pacific. Was it to spread the production out between defense plants, was P-51 production maxed out in CA and TX and Republic had excess capacity?
The title 8th Air Force moved to the Pacific, along with a few people like General Spaatz. The following from Air Force Combat Units of World War II Author: Maurer, Maurer Date: 1986

4th FG Moved to the US in Nov 1945. Inactivated on 10 Nov 1945. Activated on 9 Sep 1946. Equipped with P-80's. Converted to F-86 aircraft in 1949.
359th FG, Returned to the US in Nov 1945. Inactivated on 10 Nov 1945. Redesignated 123d Fighter Group. Allotted to ANG (Ky) on 24 May 1946
364th FG, remained in England until Nov 1945. Returned to the US. Inactivated on 10 Nov 1945. Redesignated 131st Fighter Group. Allotted to ANG (Mo) on 24 May 1946.

No mention of P-47 in any of them. Is the idea they received P-47 in Britain post VE day? The P-47D in Europe had some significant differences to the P-47N. The fighter units of the 9th and the US part of the 1st TAF were P-47 dominated, the 9th had 1 P-38, 12 P-47, 3 P-51 groups. The P-51 was a latecomer to the Pacific but numbers were growing in 1945.

US fighter production was falling in 1945 as losses dropped and the end of the war in Europe became apparent. P-38 production was around 300 a month in January 1945, to 250 in April and kept decreasing until ending with 53 in August. Around 540 P-47 in February 1945 as the N model ramped up, stayed that way until June when it fell to above 400, then 157 in August. Like the P-47 the P-51 had a significant model change, to the H, 820 odd P-51 in January 1945, still 700 in June and 570 in July, before production wound down. P-63 continued around the same levels in 1945 until mostly ending in June. P-80 production had its gaps, hit a peak of 66 in December 1945. To an extent all part of the planning that saw trainer production hit peaks in late 1942, drop significantly in 1944 to replacement levels by end year, falling further in 1945

The ETO/MTO fighter groups were relatively late movers. Post VE day the US ETO requirement for POL actually increases as troops and supplies are redeployed. To give the required troop lift post VE day 200 liberty ships are converted to 550 man troop transports by October and 100 victory ships to 1,500 man transports by November.

In June 1945 around 375,000 men depart the inactive theatres, about 20,000 for the Pacific, the rest for the US. There were 56,000 returned to the US by air and 236,000 by sea from Europe. Ninth army HQ is redeployed heading for the Pacific.

In July 1945 around 450,000 men depart the inactive theatres, about 80,000 for the Pacific, the rest for the US.

In August 1945 around 420,000 men depart the inactive theatres, about 180,000 for the Pacific, the rest for the US.

In September 1945 around 290,000 men depart the inactive theatres, about 80,000 for the Pacific, the rest for the US.

The US Army had 7 divisions in Italy and 61 in France/Germany in March 1945, down to 7 and 50 by end July.

Many of the early departures were people who had the least overseas time, meant to end up in the Pacific, the 86th and 97th infantry divisions originally meant for the Pacific but sent to Europe as a result of the Ardennes offensive, they, along with the 95th and 104th left Europe in June, the 86th and 97th arrived in the Pacific (Philippines) in September.

Sadly there were next to no plans to reoccupy any of SEA beyond Singapore and the Borneo operations carried out between May and July 1945.
Note I said allies and parts of South East Asia where there was a lot of oil, rubber and tin, whose populations were beginning to starve. The end of major amphibious operations in Europe by the end of 1944 freed a lot of British controlled landing craft for the war against Japan, along with military forces and shipping. Retaking key parts of Asia had political, military and economic advantages. As far as I know there were at best ideas about operations in Thailand (Neutral as far as the US was concerned), French Indo China and further north, while the plans were to only take key points of the Dutch East Indies.

The split with US forces leaving the South West Pacific Area had begun with the Philippines operations which also saw a shift from taking key points to clearing the Japanese from the entire country, requiring more forces. There was still a sizeable USMC etc. air force in the Solomons. Rabaul in particular kept being bombed. The down side of bypassing enemy forces is the need to keep watch over what had become your rear areas. The Australians found themselves doing combat operations from the Solomons to Borneo and beyond, which is why the RAAF in the Pacific was expanding in 1945, partly as the need to supply its forces in Europe largely ended around late 1944/early 1945. The supply requirements for the invasion of Japan were immense, the US trans continental rail links could not handle the freight, ships were being loaded on the US east coast. Non US forces were going to complicate this further.

Operation Zipper was far enough advanced it became exercise Zipper the post war move in Malaya. Non political reasons for the operation included Singapore as port and base. Pre war nearly 80% of the world's rubber was produced in Malaya and the Netherlands East Indies and around 2/3 of the world's tin supplies as well. By the looks of things around 75% of the rubber and around 90% of the tin went to Canada and the USA. There was hemp in the Philippines (for rope, not smoking, Manila). The US, in the 1940's, was as close to an autarky as was possible, short only bauxite and rubber when it came to making a modern war machine. The US synthetic rubber project, which used the same techniques as the German one, is reported to have been larger than the Manhattan Project. Ending the need for that would free resources and help the British earn hard currency while easing the rubber shortage.

Pre war in South East Asia Burma exported around 3 million tons of rice, Indo China and Thailand around 1.5 million tons each out of a total production of around 14.4 million tons. Losing Burma started the road to the Bengal Famine in 1943. Malaya needed 700,000 tons of rice a year pre war, it received 94,000 tons in 1944 and 12,000 tons in 1945, rice went from $6 to $7,500 between December 1941 and August 1945. Living in Malaya in 1945 required an adult male to get by on 1.8 kg (around 4 pounds) of rice a month, 1.2 kg for a female, compared with 10.5 kg pre war. Thailand built up a 1,000,000 or so ton rice reserve (the Thais ran the economy, the Japanese the transport), which really helped post war. The British wrote into the peace agreement with Thailand the requirement for the Thais to deliver 1,500,000 tons of rice at cheap prices (given the prices then being charged). There was French Indo China, where the famine death toll in 1945/6 was around 800,000 to 2,000,000. See Food Supplies and the Japanese Occupation in South East Asia. The US Army cut rations in the ETO in 1945, the world was very food insecure.

Thai Burma railway figures, 46,000 POW of which 1 in 3 died, around 75,000 Burmese and 75,000 Malay labourers, 3 out of 7 Burmese and 1 out of 2 Malays died. The Thai Burma railway was 415 km long, meaning one labourer died for roughly each 5 metres of track and mostly non allied military personnel.
 
Here's what I'm referring to. All photos taken post VE Day, all painted in the then current scheme for the parent units (yes, the 4th operated P-47s but not with red noses), all unarmed, all war weary. Every attribution says they were turned over for transition to P-47Ns prior to redeployment to the Pacific. Maybe its one of those unknowable things if that was the intended purpose.
 

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A shot in the dark here, but developmentally the P-47N was ahead of the P-51H by about 9 months. The USAAF was already receiving P-47N's in late 1944. As this aircraft was developed with the intention of serving in the Pacific, it makes sense that the 8th would re-equip its units with the better aircraft. (over the P-51 D/K) As the P-51H became available I imagine it would have been introduced to the theater as well for air superiority.

A secondary factor, the air war in the Pacific would be different in Europe being less a battle for air supremacy and strategic bombing and more of a tactical war with increased importance on close air support. The P-47 would be superior in that role and may have been another factor in that transition.
 
When the war In Europe ended all the USAAF groups would have had a mixture of personnel from the just starting to just ending tours, a point is whether it was complete units to be transferred or Just personnel, probably a mixture. The cut backs in training would push the need for transfers of existing personnel to the Pacific. While the 8th AF fighter units and control systems had the long range bomber escort experience the Pacific was expecting to need.

Air 22/326 USAAF Fighter Strength UK and NW Europe
8th AF 1 May 1945, the 56th has P-47 the other 14 groups P-51, 74 P-47, 1,204 P-51
9th AF 29 April 1945, 1 group with 68 P-38, 12 groups with 916 P-47, 2 groups with 147 P-51
1st TAF 30 April 1945, 5 groups with 422 P-47
All groups have only 1 type on strength.

8th AF 22 May 1945, the 56th has P-47 the other 14 groups P-51, 113 P-47, 1,352 P-51
9th AF 20 May 1945, 1 group with 71 P-38, 12 groups with 901 P-47, 2 groups with 125 P-51
1st TAF 14 May 1945, 5 groups with 389 P-47
All groups have only 1 type on strength.

8th AF 29 May 1945, the 56th has P-47 the other 14 groups P-51, 114 P-47, 1,341 P-51
9th AF 26 May 1945, 1 group with 70 P-38, 12 groups with 898 P-47, 2 groups with 124 P-51
1st TAF 26 May 1945, 5 groups with 437 P-47
All groups have only 1 type on strength.

8th AF 19 June 1945, the 56th has P-47 the other 14 groups P-51, 111 P-47, 1,143 P-51
9th AF 17 June 1945, 1 group with 67 P-38, 14 groups with 1,170 P-47, 2 groups with 69 P-51, 3 groups no aircraft
All groups have only 1 type on strength.

8th AF 3 July 1945, all former P-51 groups except the 339th have P-51 plus between 3 and 7 P-47 on strength, 56th still only P-47, 112 P-47, 1,005 P-51
9th AF 30 June 1945, still one type per group, or no aircraft at all, 35 P-38, 833 P-47, 58 P-51

8th AF 31 July 1945, 56th P-47, 339th P-51, all other groups have P-51 and between 3 and 9 P-47 on strength, 161 P-47, 556 P-51
9th AF 22 July 1945, still one type per group, or no aircraft at all, 33 P-38, 713 P-47, 120 P-51

Further reports are personnel strengths only. In early May 1945 the single engine 8th AF fighter groups generally had around 1,700 personnel, those in the 9th more like 1,100, by end July a slight reduction to around under 1,600 for the 8th AF and 900 to 1,000 for the 9th.

Given all the writings on the 8th AF fighter units there should be published comment somewhere about the post war P-47 arrivals.

The P-51H had a little less range than the P-51D, making the P-47N (and P-82) the long range fighters for 1946. Evansville began mass production of P-47N in December 1944, Evansville switched in July 1945, North American managed 12 P-51H to end April 1945. End July 1945 the numbers were
Evansville 2,200 P-47N on order, 75 accepted to date, expected order completion date December 1946
Farmingdale 4,008 P-47N on order, 1,486 accepted to date, expected order completion date December 1946
Inglewood 4,900 P-51H on order, 221 accepted to date, , expected order completion date September 1946
Dallas 1,305 P-51M on order, 1 accepted to date, expected order completion date June 1946, plus 75 TP-51M, 0 accepted to date, expected order completion date October 1945, also still to be accepted from earlier orders 55 P-51D and 4 TP-51D, expected order completion date August 1945
Dallas still had 2 F-6D to be accepted (expected in August) plus an order for 249 F-6M, 0 accepted to date, expected order completion date February 1946

Lockheed had 3,548 P-80 on order, 74 accepted to date, expected order completion date December 1946.
Republic had 25 XP-84 and 75 P-84 on order, none accepted to date, XP-84 expected order completion date June 1946, P-84 order expected completion date November 1946.
 
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And the P-38 was still rolling off the production lines until Aug. Some 1,380 cancelled at Lockheed itself and 1,887 at the Consolidated-Vultee plant at Nashville, where production had only started in 1945.

Aug 1945 saw 5 FG still flying that aircraft in FEAF plus 1 in Alaska & another in the CBI as well as the various PR squadrons.
 
The last P-38 orders were under the J program approved June 1943. The last P-51 and P-47 orders were under the K program approved June 1944. The P-38 contract cancellations mostly occurred before August 1945.

End March 1945 Lockheed had 5,190 P-38L on order, 3,064 accepted to date, expected order completion date December 1945
Vultee had 2,000 P-38L on order, 36 accepted to date, expected order completion date December 1946

End April 1945 Lockheed had 4,279 P-38L on order, 3,289 accepted to date, expected order completion date November 1945
Vultee had 173 P-38L on order, 63 accepted to date, expected order completion date October 1945

End May 1945 Lockheed had 4,004 P-38L on order, 3,489 accepted to date, expected order completion date October 1945
Vultee had 113 P-38L on order, 88 accepted to date, expected order completion date June 1945

End June 1945 Lockheed had 4,004 P-38L on order, 3,639 accepted to date, expected order completion date October 1945

End July 1945 Lockheed had 4,004 P-38L on order, 3,757 accepted to date, expected order completion date October 1945

At Lockheed 1,186 P-38 cancelled before the end of the war plus another 194 in August 1945, total 1,380.

The 9th Air Force converted the 367th Group from P-38 to P-47 in February 1945 and the 370th group from P-38 to P-51 in March 1945 leaving it with the 474th as the last P-38 unit in the ETO. The 3 P-38 groups sent to the MTO as part of operaton Torch remained the only P-38 groups in theatre. The F-6 was the replacement for the F-4 and F-5.

End May 1945 Dallas had a K program approved formal contract for 1,156 P-51D plus an approved letter contract for 629 P-51D and an approved formal contract for 244 F-6D, total 2,029, end June that had switched to all approved formal contracts for 357 P-51D, 8 TP-51D, 35 F-6D, 695+629 P-51M, 75 TP-51M and 230 F-6M, total 2,029.

As an aside the July 1945 report has the entire L program as proposals for 200 B-29D from Boeing, 1 F7F, 1 already accepted F8F and 900 L-5G, end September it was 60 B-29D on an approved letter contract while the F7F and F8F had both been accepted. The completion date for the B-29D order had gone from December 1946 to June 1947.
 
When the war In Europe ended all the USAAF groups would have had a mixture of personnel from the just starting to just ending tours, a point is whether it was complete units to be transferred or Just personnel, probably a mixture. The cut backs in training would push the need for transfers of existing personnel to the Pacific. While the 8th AF fighter units and control systems had the long range bomber escort experience the Pacific was expecting to need.



8th AF 31 July 1945, 56th P-47, 339th P-51, all other groups have P-51 and between 3 and 9 P-47 on strength, 161 P-47, 556 P-51
9th AF 22 July 1945, still one type per group, or no aircraft at all, 33 P-38, 713 P-47, 120 P-51
Geoffrey - FWIIW the Red Menace dictated transfer of 355th and 357th FG intact to Germany, re-assigned to 8th AF on or before July 16th, to Gablingen and Naubiburg respectiverly.

Given all the writings on the 8th AF fighter units there should be published comment somewhere about the post war P-47 arrivals.

The P-51H had a little less range than the P-51D, making the P-47N (and P-82) the long range fighters for 1946.
The P-51H actually had slightly more Ferry range with same external tank - despite 14 gals less intrnal fuel - because it had less drag than the P-51D (and B). For the forseeable adversary USSR, there was little difference in practical combat radius of the P-51D/P-47N vs the longer range P-82.

IIRC there were only P-47N FGs stationed in Phillipines, whereas the Occupation of Japan called for 'All P-51D TO&E' including conversion of P-38FG to P-51. These FG were augmented by F-80 and then F-84 in the 1947-1950 timeframe.
This is a debatable point, and your sources may be better than mine.

The P-82B (only 18 built) was the only contemplated LR Escort of the P-82 series. Following converion to the Allisons, the remaining F-82 role was primarility all weather interceptor- and only P-51D/H plus P-47N were contemplated for escort in the 1946 through 1950 era. Further, IIRC the F-51H and P-47N active duty squadrons were attached to SAC? Then SAC scaled escort to F-51D/F-82, then started replacing both with F-84 in 1948.

I remain 'fuzzy' on deployment to UK during the Berlin Crisis but linger on the belief that no P-47N Fs were deployed from east coast of US to accompany B-29/B-50s while B-36 remained in US and P-51H assigned to ADC?

Thoughts?
 
Here is a link to the USAAF planning document dated 9 Aug 1945 showing the expected build up of the USAAF and USN/USMC units in the Pacific ahead of Operation Coronet target date 1 March 1946. Tables are in the Appendices.

Things to note:-
1. The Sept 1945 onwards VHB (B-29) figures are the 8th AF units arriving on Okinawa. The 4 BG comprising the 316th BW were en route when the war ended. The first aircraft arrived on Okinawa on 13 Aug with more in the Marianas. These 4 BG had originally been training units in the USA, being reactivated in Aug 1944 as VHB units.
2. In para 13 & 14 there is reference to a previously considered 5/7 B-17 BG deployment by Feb/Mar 1946 being cancelled in favour of slightly more B-29s on Okinawa. But overall the number of B-29s was to be limited to those units that could be expected to be operational by 1 March 1946.
3. The only increase in Heavy Bomber units then scheduled was the conversion of the 312th BG in 5th AF from A-20 to B-32, a process begun in July 1945 and continuing at the end of the war.
4. The Light / Medium BG total would increase by 5 from arrival of units from Europe. The 319th BG with A-26 was the first to move from Europe, and is in the June figures.
5. The Fighter Group total for June represents all the FG in 5th, 7th & 13th AF in the Pacific / SWPA (5xP-38, 5xP47N, 1xP47D & 5xP-51D). Only the 58th FG with its attached 201st Mexican FS (accounting for the extra squadron noted) was continuing to fly the P-47D. The P-47N equipped 508th FG was based in Hawaii effectively acting as an OTU for pilots needed in the other P-47N Groups on Okinawa & Iwo Jima.
6. So 16 FG expected to arrive in theatre through to March 1946.
7. The China figures represent an amalgamation of the 10th AF & 14th AF units. 10th AF was withdrawn from operations over Burma in May 1945 to rest & re-equip. At the beginning of Aug 1945 it was beginning the move over the "Hump" to establish itself in China.
8. Also note the juggling of fighter squadrons in China referred to, to create 2 extra fighter groups, which had not occurred before the end of the war.

The reduction in USMC units does not tell the whole story for that service. On the one hand the VMSB units with SBD/SB2C dive bombers used extensively in the Philippines in 1944/45 would have disbanded. But in 1945 the USMC was building up the number of Marine CVE Groups to operate from the Commencement Bay class CVE. 4 were already active in the Pacific by VJ Day with another 2 in the process of joining their carriers. There were another 11 formed and working up and planned to be ready through until Feb 1946 and awaiting completion of more carriers or the need for the original MCVEG to be replaced.

Edit:- the link isnt working.

Edit 2 - nothing is working!!!! Follow these links in the original link to get to it

2022Internet Archive Backup of Alternate Wars
World War II (in the right hand column)
Operation Downfall(USA, 1945-46, the Invasion of Japan)
JCS1455: Requirements for Land-Based and Carrier-Based Aircraft toAccomplish the Defeat of Japan (9 August 1945) (15.7MB PDF) - (
It is under Primary Sources)

Edit 3 - Now it works!!! Just follow the last line in edit 2.
 
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FWIIW the Red Menace dictated transfer of 355th and 357th FG intact to Germany, re-assigned to 8th AF on or before July 16th, to Gablingen and Naubiburg respectiverly.
Not sure about red menace in 1945, the US deployments were about governing ex axis powers, demobilisation and dealing with US property overseas. The 9th AF HQ would become the main USAAF unit in Europe and its units would form most of the strength but drawing on the other air forces present.

Having documents is one thing, going through them to understand exactly what they report is another. Even if a unit was present in 1946 or later it was generally not at the wartime strength. I have tracked Bomber Command, the 8th and 15th AF to end 1945, along with US Army deployments.

On 2nd January 1946 the US Army ETO mass redeployment program is ended, with some 3,044,985 troops sent to the far east or US since 12th May 1945. End December 1945 the 95 US divisions (6 Marine) available in August 1944 were down to 46, 22 in the Pacific, 0 in the Mediterranean and 10 in the European Theatre. The now ex 8th AF was down to 4 Bomb and 3 fighter groups. The bomb groups had been doing a lot of transport work in places like North Africa regardless of where they were officially based. The remaining groups locations, 92nd BG to France Jun 1945, 305th BG to Belgium Jul 45, Germany Dec 45, 306th BG to Germany Dec 45, 384th BG to France Jun 45. 55th FG to Germany 22 Jul 45, 355th FG to Germany 3 Jul 45, 357th FG to Germany 21 Jul 45. All would disband/inactivate in 1946. The ex 15th AF was down to the 2nd Bomb Group, which would disband in Italy in February 1946. A quick look at the 9th AF shows 4 fighter groups still in Europe end 1945, 2 would disband in 1946 leaving the 36th and 366th both with P-47, the former going to P-80 end 1947. From the Mediterranean the 27th and 79th FG with P-47 were present until mid 1947. It looks like the post war European USAAF mostly used P-47.

As far as I am aware there were no post war deployments of P-47 or P-51H units from the US, not even sure any P-47N were sent to Europe as replacements, P-47D used until the jets arrived. Given Berlin to Moscow is about 1,000 miles and London to Moscow around 1,550 miles there were not a lot of USSR strategic targets within the range of a Europe based P-47 or P-51.

Bomber Command had peaked at 98.5 squadrons in April 1945, not all operational, had its Halifax group moved to Transport Command in May and was down to 23 Heavy Bomber and 3 Mosquito squadrons end 1945.

On 30th May 1946 USFET announces first major post war training program with a deadline of 1st August for individual and crew training so unit training can start. On 1st July the US constabulary is officially activated, responsible for internal security, except in Berlin or Bremerhaven and for border security. US Army strength is 342,000. On 1st January 1947 the US and UK occupation zones merge into Bizonia. The 1945/46/47 US forces in Europe were more police than military.

The P-51H actually had slightly more Ferry range with same external tank - despite 14 gals less intrnal fuel - because it had less drag than the P-51D (and B). For the forseeable adversary USSR, there was little difference in practical combat radius of the P-51D/P-47N vs the longer range P-82.
Regarding the P-51H range would it be more correct to say with slightly less internal fuel and a more powerful engine using more fuel in combat the H combat radius was slightly less than the D?

IIRC there were only P-47N FGs stationed in Phillipines, whereas the Occupation of Japan called for 'All P-51D TO&E' including conversion of P-38FG to P-51. These FG were augmented by F-80 and then F-84 in the 1947-1950 timeframe. This is a debatable point, and your sources may be better than mine.
During the war the 20th AF received from the US the 413th, 414th, 506th and 507th FG, the 506th had P-51, the others P-47

413th to 8th AF August, inactivated Okinawa October 1946
414th to 13th AF Philippines December, inactivated September 1946
506th to US December 1945
507th inactivated Okinawa May 1946
The P-51 equipped 35th FG from 5th AF moved to Okinawa in June 1945, there may be others.

The P-38 was largely eliminated from the inventory in 1946, while there was around a 1 to 1 ratio P-47 to P-51 in the Air Force it was around 4 to 3 overseas. End 1947 the ETO had 554 P-47 and 190 P-51, the Pacific Area had 276 P-47 to 414 P-51. The 1948 USAF Statistical Digest demotes all the piston engine fighters to 2nd line and misc. in July, the June figures are 1,500 P-47 to 1,953 P-51 in the Air Force, 606 and 622 overseas.

The day fighter units that stayed in the western Pacific area post war were P-51 or moved to P-51 post war. When the Korean War started the US had just finished moving the last of the P-51 units in the area to jets, some reverted to the P-51 for fighter bomber operations.

I remain 'fuzzy' on deployment to UK during the Berlin Crisis but linger on the belief that no P-47N Fs were deployed from east coast of US to accompany B-29/B-50s while B-36 remained in US and P-51H assigned to ADC? Thoughts?
As above agreed about fighter deployments with the proviso I have not done a lot of checking.

The Berlin blockade began on 24 June 1948, this did little to overall USAAF deployments overseas, in fact numbers kept going down, from 4,894 in January (2,435 1st line combat) to 4,093 (2,050 1st line combat) in December. However B-29 deployed overseas went from 125 in June to 181 in July.

First attachment from AVIA 9/40 Report by Professor Jewkes, Lyttleton Mission to the U.S.A, second and third from AIR 20/2858.
 

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Not sure about red menace in 1945, the US deployments were about governing ex axis powers, demobilisation and dealing with US property overseas. The 9th AF HQ would become the main USAAF unit in Europe and its units would form most of the strength but drawing on the other air forces present.

Having documents is one thing, going through them to understand exactly what they report is another. Even if a unit was present in 1946 or later it was generally not at the wartime strength. I have tracked Bomber Command, the 8th and 15th AF to end 1945, along with US Army deployments.

On 2nd January 1946 the US Army ETO mass redeployment program is ended, with some 3,044,985 troops sent to the far east or US since 12th May 1945. End December 1945 the 95 US divisions (6 Marine) available in August 1944 were down to 46, 22 in the Pacific, 0 in the Mediterranean and 10 in the European Theatre. The now ex 8th AF was down to 4 Bomb and 3 fighter groups. The bomb groups had been doing a lot of transport work in places like North Africa regardless of where they were officially based. The remaining groups locations, 92nd BG to France Jun 1945, 305th BG to Belgium Jul 45, Germany Dec 45, 306th BG to Germany Dec 45, 384th BG to France Jun 45. 55th FG to Germany 22 Jul 45, 355th FG to Germany 3 Jul 45, 357th FG to Germany 21 Jul 45. All would disband/inactivate in 1946. The ex 15th AF was down to the 2nd Bomb Group, which would disband in Italy in February 1946. A quick look at the 9th AF shows 4 fighter groups still in Europe end 1945, 2 would disband in 1946 leaving the 36th and 366th both with P-47, the former going to P-80 end 1947. From the Mediterranean the 27th and 79th FG with P-47 were present until mid 1947. It looks like the post war European USAAF mostly used P-47.
I am aware of only the 55th, 354th, 355th and 357th FG serving with P-51Ds as full combat groups at end of July 1945. That said, the 357th was the first to wind down in summer 1945, then the 354th December 1945, then 355th by Apil 1946. The 55th converted to P-80 in 1946, then reconstitued as 33rd FG. I;m not sure of the latter and too lazy to look at Maurer.
As far as I am aware there were no post war deployments of P-47 or P-51H units from the US, not even sure any P-47N were sent to Europe as replacements, P-47D used until the jets arrived. Given Berlin to Moscow is about 1,000 miles and London to Moscow around 1,550 miles there were not a lot of USSR strategic targets within the range of a Europe based P-47 or P-51.
Agreed. And there were never enough P/F-82s to serve as escort to Moscow. AFAIK no P-47Ns went farther east than east coast of US.
Regarding the P-51H range would it be more correct to say with slightly less internal fuel and a more powerful engine using more fuel in combat the H combat radius was slightly less than the D?
That is an interesting question. At 67"MP there would be zero difference in cruise or combat settings. At 75", the same but WI increased MP to 80/90"MP.

The V-1650-9 was basically a stronger 1650-3, but only consumed more fuel at 80/90"MP


The P-51 equipped 35th FG from 5th AF moved to Okinawa in June 1945, there may be others.
The 35th and 18th still had P-51s on June 25th, 1950. My father was 35th FG CO when we were at Johnson AFB in 1948.
The P-38 was largely eliminated from the inventory in 1946, while there was around a 1 to 1 ratio P-47 to P-51 in the Air Force it was around 4 to 3 overseas. End 1947 the ETO had 554 P-47 and 190 P-51, the Pacific Area had 276 P-47 to 414 P-51. The 1948 USAF Statistical Digest demotes all the piston engine fighters to 2nd line and misc. in July, the June figures are 1,500 P-47 to 1,953 P-51 in the Air Force, 606 and 622 overseas.
Interesting balance. I know the ETO Mustang groups were losing aircraft due to attrition, with zero new replacements - and Groups were consolidated into squadrons by fall 1945. Seems like the P-47D equipped FGs maintained TO&E as the Mustang personnel left for home.
The day fighter units that stayed in the western Pacific area post war were P-51 or moved to P-51 post war. When the Korean War started the US had just finished moving the last of the P-51 units in the area to jets, some reverted to the P-51 for fighter bomber operations.


As above agreed about fighter deployments with the proviso I have not done a lot of checking.

The Berlin blockade began on 24 June 1948, this did little to overall USAAF deployments overseas, in fact numbers kept going down, from 4,894 in January (2,435 1st line combat) to 4,093 (2,050 1st line combat) in December. However B-29 deployed overseas went from 125 in June to 181 in July.

First attachment from AVIA 9/40 Report by Professor Jewkes, Lyttleton Mission to the U.S.A, second and third from AIR 20/2858.
good info, thanks,
 

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