P-39 in Action, Aleutians WW2

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by toadrobot, Jan 17, 2011.

  1. toadrobot

    toadrobot New Member

    Jun 9, 2010
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    Oilfield - Wireline
    West Central Alberta
    #1 toadrobot, Jan 17, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2011
    Does anyone have ANY info on the P-39 (all models) in the Aleutians/Alaska are in WW2? Im also interested in Lt. Jimmie Fields, and the 18th F.S., 343 B.G., 11th Air Force (USAAF). Thanks in adance!
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Jan 18, 2009
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    Michigan, USA
    The P-39 was a relativley short range aircraft. IMO that's not a good fit for the huge Alaska theater of operations.
  3. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

    Feb 28, 2010
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    i thought only 38s and 40s were up there but there were a bunch of 39s.

    there was some stuff in this book.

    P-39 Airacobra Aces of World War 2 - Google Books

    and then this..

    Fighting the Japanese in Alaska
    From September to November 1942 pilots of the 57th Fighter Squadron flew P-39s and P-38s from an airfield built on land bulldozed into Kuluk Bay on the barren island of Adak in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. They attacked the Japanese forces which had invaded Attu and Kiska islands in the Aleutians in June 1942. The number one foe that claimed the most lives, however, was not the Japanese but the weather. The low clouds, mist, fog, driving rain, snow and high winds made flying dangerous and lives miserable. The 57th remained in Alaska until November 1942 and then returned to the United States.

    looks like you want to focus your searches on the 57th FS
  4. JoeB

    JoeB Member

    Nov 24, 2006
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    The 57th FS belonged to the 54th Fighter Group. All three squadrons (42nd, 56th and 57th FS) were assigned to Alaskan theater in spring 1942, then equipped with P-39D's (it had been a P-40 unit pre-war), for various defensive assignments on the Alaskan mainland, then squadrons were rotated forward to the newly established base at Adak in the Aleutians from September 1942. Adak was within practical P-39/40 range of the main Japanese base at Kiska. Prior to that, USAAF P-40's had seen a bit of contact with Japanese carrier planes in June 1942, and 54th FS P-38's had flown a few very long range (for the war up till then) missions from Unmak to Kiska, but besides being out of P-39/40 range, that was dicey even for P-38's since the flight left too much time for weather to move in on the home field while they were gone, and not enough fuel reserves to circle while waiting for it to improve.

    John Huston's film "Report from the Aleutians" shows P-39's and P-38's at Adak when the field first opened in September, with huge sprays of water from the steel mat runway. That footage is usually shown on history TV shows about the campaign.

    The 54th FG was rotated out of Alaska in December 1942, in part because the P-39 didn't stand up as well to the field conditions as the comparable P-40.

    P-39 air combats in the Aleutians were as follows, all v. Kiska:
    Sep 14 1942, P-39's credited with 2 Type 2 Float Fighters (aka float Zeroes or later on, but not at that time, codenamed 'Rufe'). P-38's claimed 1. At least 3 Type 2's were actually lost per Japanese records. 2 P-38's collided while chasing a Type 2 and were lost

    Sep28: P39's were credited with 2 and P-38's with 1 Type 2. 1 was actually lost, 2 damaged. A P-39 was downed by a Type 2 Float Fighter, the only air combat loss of a P-39 in the Alaskan theater.

    Oct 21: P-39's claimed two Type 0 Recon Seaplanes (later 'Jake') and a Type 2 Float Fighter. No Type 2's were lost, Type 0 Recon losses not known.*

    Oct 31: P-39's claimed 2 Type 0 Recon and a Type 2, P-38's one of each; 1 Type 2 was lost and another damaged beyond repair, again the larger floatplanes' losses aren't known.

    *other biplane floatplane types appear in Japanese photo's at Kiska, probably from ships. The 5th Air Group operated Type 0 Recon Seaplanes but its surviving records deal only with float fighter ops.

    Besides USAAF P-39 operations in Alaska, almost 1/2 the P-39's transferred to the Soviets under Lend Lease (2,618 out of 5,707) were flown via Alaska to Siberia, the others being sent in ships. Almost all P-63's transferred to the Soviets (2,397 out of 2,400) were delivered via 'ALSIB' (Alaska-Siberia) ferry flights.

  5. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

    Apr 11, 2005
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    Workin' for the man....
    South East Queensland
    Great info Joe.

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