July 26, 1941. Build the Far East Air Force.

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by davebender, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    July 26, 1941.
    The USA begins a massive military build up in the Philippines.

    31 July 1941.
    US Army Chief of Staff George Marshall issues public statement that it was now US policy to defend the Philippines and that Philippine defense was to take the "highest priority".

    Your mission (should you decide to accept it): Build the Far East Air Force.
    .....19th (heavy) bombardment group must be included. Part of the U.S. effort to intimidate Japan.
    .....Three additional heavy bomber groups will be sent during the spring of 1942. They are outside the scope of this discussion.
    .....Remaining aircraft types must be readily available during August to November 1941.
    .....FEAF had priority during the fall of 1941. Feel free to use aircraft historically shipped elsewhere.
    .....Size matters. Smaller aircraft require less shipping space, airfield construction effort and logistical support. Many large aircraft means FEAF will have fewer total aircraft.
    .....Most American and Philippine pilots were green as grass during 1941. It would be helpful to pick aircraft types that are easy to fly and maintain.
    .....Clark Airfield has paved runways. That's the primary B-17 airfield. A secondary heavy bomber airfield is under construction on Mindanao at the Del Monte Pineapple Plantation.
    .....All other airfields will initially have grass runways. They are often muddy. It rains a lot in the Philippines.
    .....Big Mac was barely on speaking terms with the USN during 1941. So these aircraft will all be operated by the U.S. Army or Philippine Army.

    Production data for many aircraft types can be found here.
    US Warplanes

    Historical FEAF composition can be found here.
    Far East Air Force, United States Armed Forces, 8.12.1941
     
  2. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #2 oldcrowcv63, Feb 11, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
    IMHO Forget the airplanes. Just demand the idiot USA Supply Corp send the oxygen production plant that was ordered in the summer for the P-40B, Es and P-35s. Then get back up SCR RADAR stations operating and start doing fighter direction raid drills with the existing Iba RADAR station using the aircraft on hand practicing rigid comm discipline so your aircraft know their assignments and don't go cowboying off to where they think the action is. Develop more dispersal fields and harden the RADAR sites. Also send enough 50 cal ammo to allow gunnery trainng. Start training the pilots to do boom and zoom tactics. After all that, then send more P-36C or P-40B or C aircraft as soon as possible. Strip 2 x .50's out of the P-40Es on hand. I think the Clark Runway was turf. Haven't been able to find a definite confirmation of that.

    With respect to bombers... In December real world, you are already nearly maxed out with facilities at hand. I think it was 34 B-17 D C? You've sent half to Del Monte site in Late November, early December awaiting the arrival of your next squadron. Rush said suplemental squadron and the development of De Monte with at least a squadron of new arriving P-40s in reserve there as well. Rush multiple A-24 squadron deployments to the PI with pilots trained to use them (preferrably USN trained)

    Big Mac was barely on speaking terms with anyone but his yes man Southerland and noone wanted to talk to him.

    Make Brereton subordinate to Hap Arnold only. Yea, like that would happen. :rolleyes:

    Finally, accept the unpleasant fact that even after all these efforts, the FEAF is just an IJN IJA speed bump.... :(
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I disagree.

    - FEAF was not outnumbered.
    - FEAF had plenty of airfields for aircraft dispersal and more could have been built during the four months available. Grass runways don't take long to establish.
    - Four months is plenty of time to establish airfield defenses and put secure communications systems in place.
    - FEAF had 7 radar sets. That's plenty for Luzon if properly employed.
    - Properly flown P-40s and A-20s were as good or better then Japanese aircraft during December 1941. You've got four months for additional pilot training.
    - If P-40s lack oxygen, .50cal ammo or anything else it's because FEAF didn't make it a priority. 4 months is plenty of time to ship this material from San Francisco.
    - By 1940 the Philippine Army Air Corps had about 100 pilots and 500 ground crew trained to USAAC standards. With modern aircraft the six PAAC squadrons could be a significant factor for defense of their homeland.

    IMO the key is to replace Brereton with someone more competent and do it early. The new FEAF commander should be in the Philippines by mid August 1941. The FEAF commander must have the nuts to do the right things rather then becoming a yes man for Big Mac.
     
  4. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Come on Dave, we've all played this game before. No mater what anyone post, you're gonna rip into it.

    The Phillippines of the 40's wouldn't have had many usable open areas you could use for airfields. It was either jungle ( big trees) or cultivated land ( very wet rice paddies) Either would take a lot of equipment, and in the rice paddies a lot of fill, to bring even up to 40s standards for aircraft use. PSP and gravel was used for such later in WW2, don't think it was very availiable in 41.

    But I guess i've got to agree with you, most of the problem were lack of training for too much of the forces involved, and a command that spent too much time with their heads up their lower intestines.
     
  5. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #5 oldcrowcv63, Feb 11, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
    Having recently read Edmund's and Shores' account of that espisode, (after coming to this problem with views very similar to those you express)

    I have come away with the impression that Brereton was actually a pretty decent commander. He tried to implement the necessary training but was foiled by poor logistical support and inertia on the part of Mac and Southerland. My opinion of Mac improved slightly. (it couldn't have gotten much lower, quite frankly) but my opinion of Southerland who apparently (according to Kenney) fancied himself an aviation expert, is below rock bottom. Shores does a great job listing the Japanese order of battle before the PI campaign. I'll check that since I believe much depends on the ability of Japan to wage a war of attrition given the historical modifications you are suggesting. After December 8, Japanese forces were still facing something like 70 or so fighter aircraft (vitually all the operational P-40Es survived the initial debacle on the 7th). But these had been effectively reduced to none by months end (if not sooner). Ferrying in P-40's from Oz would have probably resulted in loss of over 50% of assets (that appears to have been the experience during the Java campaign (according to Bartsch). Hell it was hard just to get wheels in the wheels out of Darwin starting from the staging base at Amberly. It is a most interesting and provocative propositon though. :)
     
  6. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #6 oldcrowcv63, Feb 11, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
    The PI is indeed a somewhat less than benign enviroment in which to attempt expansion on a big scale. In both its meteorolgy and ecology. There was also a relatively primitive indigenous industrial base (providing inadequate repair facilities for damaged A/C). This appears to have been less a factor in Java which apparently enjoyed a more developed manufacturing base. Even that didn't help much because the IJN IJA were moving in Jungle Blitzkrieg fashion, which even Bataan's persistence didn't slow. The PI rapidly became progressivly more isolated, whatever you put in there has to make do without further logistical support once the bullets start flying. Achieving a perfect logistical base and backlog of supply is difficult under the best of circumstances. It seems likely that some other horseshoe nail would have surfaced during the campaign that would have proven fatal to efforts to hold out much longer. They had to keep fighting well past August 1942 to hope for resupply and that may be a very Optimistic schedule depending on the survivability of USN carriers to achieve. The USN was very resistant to the concept of multi-carrier ops that gave the IJN superiority in early engagements.

    e.g. Logistical failings: Early P-40 shipments to Oz were delivered without the Glycol needed for their Allisons.
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    That isn't necessary.

    24 Nov 1941. Pensacola convoy departs San Francisco for the Philippines.
    7 cargo ships plus naval escort.
    7th (light) bombardment group with 52 x A-24 dive bombers (i.e. SBD)
    18 x P-40E aircraft. These were replacements. No aircrew.
    600 tons of munitions.
    9,000 drums of aviation gasoline.
    340 motor vehicles.
    2 light field artillery regiments equipped with 24 x 75mm field guns each.
    A bunch of ammunition and other supplies.
    .....Historically scheduled to arrive in the Philippines 14 January 1942. That's not exactly pushing the speed envelope. Non stop steaming distance from San Francisco to Manila was about 25 days. If this small convoy had been dispatched during August 1941 it would have been in the Philippines at least two months prior to the Japanese attack.

    5 to 6 Dec 1941. Reinforcement convoy to the Philippines departs San Francisco.
    SS President Johnson.
    SS President Garfield.
    SS Etolin.
    …..218th Field Artillery Regiment.
    …..35th Pursuit Group HQ squadron.
    …..35th Pursuit Group Maintenance section.
    …..70th Fighter Squadron, 35th Pursuit Group. 20 x P-40E. (some sources say P-36)
    Same problem as the Pensacola convoy. Why wasn't this small convoy dispatched from San Francisco during August 1941?

    16 Dec 1941. Convoy of 2 cargo ships departs San Francisco for the Philippines.
    122 x P-40E replacement aircraft. Plus aviation supplies.

    Same problem times three.

    The U.S. Military had 529,201 tons of shipping in the Pacific as of 30 Nov 1941. The above three convoys required a total of 12 ships which probably totaled less then 100,000 tons. Someone who understood the difference between vital cargo and nice to have cargo would have dispatched this material to the Philippines NLT September 1941.

    Personally I would have equipped 7th (light) bombardment group with A-20s rather then A-24s but what really counts is getting them to the Philippines ASAP. They would provide FEAF with aircraft able to sink anchored IJA troop transports.
     
  8. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #8 oldcrowcv63, Feb 11, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
    A-20s! great Idea! I got the impression reading about Java that the A-24's struggled after reaching Java and didn't contribute a lot to the outcome but don't know the details.

    I think there were pilots embarked in one of the ships in the Pensacola convoy. Just please don't forget to include the oxygen plant, the glycol and for God's sake, get rid of those outboard .50s in the P-40E!
     
  9. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #9 oldcrowcv63, Feb 11, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
    Looks like 90 A6M and 72 Ki-27s based on Formosa plus those aboard whatever CV assets (in addition to the already Commited Ryujo) they chose to employ at the expense of other ops. So about 162 Formosa Based fighters and 16 A5M on the Ryujo for a total of 178. That's roughly twice as many fighters of all varieties as available in the PI on December 7. The thing about the Pensacola convoy going directly to the PI is that it would require CV escort, else even the diminutive Ryujo would have posed a serious threat to ts survival. Consdering the very effective use if IJN flying boat recon throughout the Pacific theater, that could have been very dangerous.
     
  10. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    26 July 1941.
    USAFFE military build up begins.

    17 Oct 1941.
    USN orders all U.S. merchant ships in Asiatic waters to put into friendly ports.

    You've got 2 1/2 months before merchant ships heading to the Philippines are required to travel in an escorted convoy.


    24 Nov 1941. Admiral Hart relayed Navy Department message to Gen MacArthur
    MESSAGE TEXT (STARK TO HART):
    THE CHIEF OF STAFF IS IN AGREEMENT WITH THE ESTIMATE PRESENTED HEREWITH AND REQUESTS THAT YOU INFORM THE SENIOR ARMY OFFICER IN YOUR AREA COLON CHANCES OF FAVORABLE OUTCOME OF UNITED STATES DASH JAPANESE NEGOTIATIONS ARE VERY DOUBTFUL PERIOD THIS SITUATION TOGETHER WITH STATEMENTS OF JAPANESE GOVERNMENT AND MOVEMENT OF THEIR MILITARY AND NAVAL FORCE INTIMATE IN OUR OPINION THAT SURPRISE AGGRESSIVE MOVEMENT IN ANY DIRECTION INCLUDING ATTACK ON PHILIPPINES OR GUAM IS A POSSIBILITY STOP THIS INFORMATION MUST BE TREATED WITH UTMOST SECRECY IN ORDER NOT TO COMPLICATE A TENSE SITUATION OR PRECIPITATE ACTION END STARK).

    Even after this message was received military convoys had only a single cruiser plus a single ASW vessel for escort.

    Get the led out and FEAF aircraft reinforcements won't require CV escort.
     
  11. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #11 oldcrowcv63, Feb 11, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
    To be fair, you did specify all these meaures are implemented in advance of 12/7/41. You built a very large (high) speed bump. That's not gonna just go away. The initial outcomes would arguably have been of course very different

    Hell, the Dec 8 PI results should have been different even without all those measures, just not different enough to have made a major difference in the ultimate outcome.
     
  12. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    I knew this was going to turn into one of Mr. Benders "lets replace the B-17s with A-20s" threads.

    I have posted this in another thread this morning but I will copy it here.

    There was also a production line at Douglas- El Segundo. The US was NOT awash in A-20s as these were, as previously stated, mostly contracted for aircraft that were being delivered as fast as possible and NOT planes built on speculation sitting around on lots waiting for buyers like a big car lot. The best that might be done would be to defer deliveries on currant production for more aircraft to be delivered later.

    One reason for the US not using the A-20 a great deal was it's short range. See the following,

    http://www.zenoswarbirdvideos.com/Im...0/A20FOICa.pdf

    And please note that normal fuel capacity for an A-20 was 400 US gallons or very close to it. Depending on model there were auxiliary tanks above the bomb bay and for ferry flights a tank that would fit in the bomb bay. Use of the auxiliary tanks requires overload take off or reduced bomb load or both.

    Also note that even 340 gallons of fuel (after allowing for warm up and take off) is only good for 710 miles range at just under 170mph true airspeed under 10,000ft. and that use of maximum continuous power (not even military power) more the quadruples the fuel consumption per minute. 5 minutes at maximum continuous is worth 55-60 miles of slow speed cruise. Military power could be 6.5 gallons a Minute? or 5 minutes equaling a 1/2 hour or just under of low speed cruise depending on altitude?

    Basically, the A-20, while able to perform some roles very well is also limited to a combat radius (without the use of the auxiliary tanks) shorter than a P-47 without drop tanks.

    It is around 250 miles from Clark Field to the Northern tip of Luzon and around 600 miles from Davao to Manila.

    to add to this the A-20 had a stall speed of just over 100mph at 20,000lbs. Not as bad as the B-26 but still a hot plane in 1941. It is going to need about the same runway as a B-17. It introduces a new engine to the Philippines with the associated spare parts and training problem.

    For a History of PSP see:

    http://140.194.76.129/publications/eng-pamphlets/ep870-1-42/c-3-4.pdf

    It was NOT available during the fall of 1941.

    While Grass runways don't take long to establish they don't work real well with heavy aircraft or perhaps one should say with aircraft that have pressure tires or high weight per sq in of contact patch.

    The fast construction of a number of airfields is going to be limited by the availability of construction equipment. The transportation network of 1941 Philippines is rather sketchy, number of railroads, highways etc. Inter Island traffic is not only by boat but many large moves are even on the same Island are done by by boat along the coast. Moving construction equipment form one location to another is not going to be quick. Using troops as "shovel brigades" means they are not doing military training.

    Realistically, while more supplies could have gotten there earlier, any change in aircraft is going to be basically taking them from somewhere else, like the Panama Canal zone, one or two squadrons at a time.
     
  13. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    damn! That ice-cold water was a shock! :shock:
     
  14. varsity078740

    varsity078740 Member

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    A couple of points I'd like to make.

    1. Clark's runways were sod. Nichols' were paved.
    2. The no oxygen story is a myth. Read the pilots accounts of practice intercepts of B-17s at 20,000 feet in Bartsch's
    "Doomed..."
    3. What good would P-36Cs have been? They'd be no more effective than the P-35As.
    4. You can have all the airfields you want but they're useless without modern AA protection for low, medium and high
    altitudes and a decent warning system.
    5. FEAF was indeed outnumbered, especially if you only count first line aircraft which eliminates all the observation
    aircraft, the B-18s, P-35AS and A-27s. The JNAF was able to hit Clark with over 50 bombers, besides what they used at
    Iba on Dec. 8th. The famous quote made by a pilot at Clark just before the bombs fell "because we don't have that many"
    rings true.
    6. In retrospect, if anyone should have be replaced prior to Dec. 8th it was Major Grover, the CO of the 24th PG. He
    screwed up big time and was never taken to task.

    Duane
     
  15. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    I just did some quick checking on google maps so the figures are a little rough but it looks like around 950 miles from the Northern tip of Luzon to the southern tip of Mindanao and over 600 miles from the Western tip of Palawan to the east side of Catanduanes Island.
    It is about 900 miles from Leningrad to Kiel and the Baltic is very seldom more than 200 miles wide.

    Just because a plane did good service in the Baltic in the anti shipping role does not mean it is a good choice for the Philippines especially with a very limited number of bomber airfields to support it.
     
  16. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #16 oldcrowcv63, Feb 11, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
    Note to self, Remember to advise Dave, prior to his next time-machine visit to 1941 to convince DAC management to institute an A-20 and A-24 Bazaar lot where potential customers might come in and select the airplane of their choice with whatever options they desire.

    Now that's what I call a bazaar notion :rolleyes:

    Duane, see below:

    Thanks,

    OC
     
  17. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    #17 JoeB, Feb 11, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
    I generally agree with those points, would note:
    3. I agree P-36 v P-35 wouldn't have been a huge difference but some measureable difference in favor of the P-36.
    4. Yes and also stuff like dispersal, camouflage (including dummies), revetments etc. After the initial JNAF attacks through Dec 10, both JNAF and JAAF continued attacking the US fields on Luzon for up to a few weeks before physically capturing them, claimed in their reports many more US a/c destroyed on the ground, but actually destroyed *zero* additional a/c. Relatively quickly implemented measures by the USAAC to better hide and protect the remaining a/c reduced ground losses to nothing. The larger initial force might still have suffered some ground losses, but could suffered a lot fewer with comprehensive airfield defense measures especially passive ones. And while AA, radar and integrated warning and control were not what they should have been a/o Dec 8, passive airfield defense was almost zero, with the important exception that 1/2 the B-17's were dispersed to Del Monte on Mindanao (a field the Japanees didn't even know of until weeks later, and they couldn't reach from Formosa anyway) and so escaped destruction. But IMO passive airfield defense was the most glaring deficiency of all, and would have required much less knowledge of the future to remedy, as opposed to some of the other suggestions.
    5. The respective orders of battle of bombers and fighters (not including recon, flying boat, utility, observation etc on either side) were as follows:
    JNAF 21st and 23rd Air Flotilla's on Formosa: 90 Type 0 Fighters, 24 Type 96 Fighters, 81 Type 1 Land Attack, 36 Type 96 Land Attack. All but the Type 96 Fighters could reach central Luzon from Formosa; the Type 96's were used for local defense and saw no action. Also Ryujo's small air group of Type 96 Fighters and Type 97 Carrier Attack Planes was only used briefly v Davao and encountered no FEAF a/c.
    JAAF 5th Air Division on Formosa: 72 Type 97 Fighters, 18 Type 97 Heavy Bombers, 27 Type 99 Twin Engine Light Bombers, 27 Type 97 Light Bombers. The fighters couldn't reach, and bombers had limited capability v central Luzon from Formosa; the bombers were initially used in unescorted strikes v northern Luzon until they and the fighters leapfrogged to fields in N Luzon around a week after the campaign started, and FEAF was already crippled.
    FEAF: nominal squadron strength of 54 P-40E's, 18 P-40B's and 18 P-35A's, though 107 total P-40's and 48 P-35's in inventory, 35 B-17C/D's (all refitted to 'D' standard)

    So the FEAF was outnumbered overall, but in the key area of fully modern fighters able to operate immediately over central Luzon the Zero and P-40 forces were close in size. The FEAF lost that near parity with the heavy losses of P-40's, especially on the ground, in the initial raids. After that, no plausible number of B-17's, or A-20's for that matter, were going to accomplish much v the largely intact Zero force, and as it was even the remaining P-35/40 force was mainly used for recon and limited strike, generally avoiding the JAAF Type 97 Fighter force once it was established on Luzon. Interestingly though, after early January 1942 all but one company of Type 97 Fighters was withdrawn, and the Zeroes were also gone, so the P-35/40 remnant became again close, perhaps even slightly superior, in number to the Japanese fighter force facing it.

    Joe
     
  18. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #18 oldcrowcv63, Feb 11, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
    Shores counts 72 Type 97 (Ki-27) fighters on Formosa and seems to believe these were the planes that occupied the airfield near Vigan, in Northern Luzon early in the battle. Do you have a source to resolve the discrepency? Not that I think that particular component significantly changes the scale. Just wondering...

    When you say "initial" do you mean the first day? One of the enduring myths of the battle seems to be that most of the P-40s were knocked out the first day which according to Edmunds and Shores didn't happen. The losses amounted to about 20-25% (which is still high and not to diminish the nature of the tragedy) mainly the P-40Bs of the 20th and probably spares. But clearly a fair number of P-40s survived the first attacks on the 8th.

    OC
     
  19. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Did those P-40's survive undamaged, or with different degrees of damage?
     
  20. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    Good question, I believe the ones that survived were mainly airborne but that doesn't tell much. As I interpreted what I read, the P-40s that survived were operational until put out of that conidition by subsequent raids and combat. As I understand it, a lot of the airborne P-40s were milling about in a state of airborne confusion on the 8th and didn't actually engage any enemy aircraft.
     
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