Who was responsible for the USAAF debacle in the Philippines - Dec 1941

Discussion in 'Polls' started by freebird, Aug 5, 2011.

?

Who was to blame for the FEAF debacle?

  1. Louis Brereton

    4.8%
  2. Douglas MacArthur

    85.7%
  3. Richard Sutherland

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. Nobody - Just bad luck.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. Obsolete equipment/Poor facilities

    9.5%
  6. Other? (explain)

    4.8%
  1. freebird

    freebird Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Messages:
    2,658
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    British Columbia
    After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the FEAF (Far East Air Force) had several hours warning, but was still largely caught on the ground and destroyed

    Who was to blame?
     
  2. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2007
    Messages:
    12,669
    Likes Received:
    96
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    R E T I R E D !!
    Location:
    Virginia Beach, Va.
    Gen. Douglas MacArthur !! He was warned and did nothing, except have the planes moved the the inner parts of the airfield,
    almost wingtip to wingtip, to prevent sabotage. This, according to the book, "At Dawn We Slept". Don't remember the author.
    The Japanese wiped out everything in one raid.

    Charles
     
  3. freebird

    freebird Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Messages:
    2,658
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    British Columbia
    Geez, no sympathy for poor 'ol Dugout Doug? :cry:

    Doesn't Brereton deserve a solid share of the blame?
    (note - I made the poll multiple choice, you can pick more than one)


    Make no mistake, the Americans caught a huge break when the Japanese strike was delayed.
    Even if MacArthur (or Sutherland) was dithering about authorizing a strike, isn't Brereton responsible for safeguarding his own force?

    Who's idea was it to have ALL the aircraft up?
    With 100+ pursuit types, couldn't they keep 1 or 2 squadrons up, and the rest fueled ready?
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    FEAF (Far East Air Force) ground based radar provided ample warning of the Japanese air attacks. B-17 bombers should have been sent to the new bomber airfield at Del Monte, Mindanao to remove them from danger. P-40 fighter aircraft should have been vectored to intercept the Japanese air strikes. Gen. Brereton was responsible for for the inept aircraft control system and overall poor aircrew training.

    However....
    Gen. Brereton was hand picked by MacArthur to be the FEAF commander. That reflects rather poorly on Gen MacArthur's leadership ability.
     
  5. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,678
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
    Mac was dithering, but he was also waiting for clearer weather over Takao. He intended to strike offensively against the Japanese Air Force.

    The Americans were also surpised by the range and quality of Japanese aircraft. Nobody in 1941 had fighters that could reach from Formosa to Clark. And Japanese Bombers were not thought to be very effective

    The failure to Disperse I can only put down to US inexperience....they simply did not realize I think what this would do to their airpower if caught on the ground
     
  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Of course. That was the whole point for stationing four B-17 heavy bomber groups in the Philippines. But it doesn't explain why FEAF got their butt kicked on 8 December 1941 (Philippine time).

    24 Nov 1941. USAFFE (U.S. Armed Forces Far East) receives war warning message.
    .....extract.
    SURPRISE AGGRESSIVE MOVEMENT IN ANY DIRECTION INCLUDING ATTACK ON PHILIPPINES OR GUAM IS A POSSIBILITY
    Intelligence estimates don't get much more blunt then this. USAFFE should have immediately made all necessary preparations to meet a Japanese attack.

    8 Dec 1941 (Philippine time)
    1:06 am. Gen Marshall dispatches another war warning message to USAFFE.
    .....About 11 hours prior to Japanese air strikes on Clark Airfield.

    4:30 am. USAFFE receives message from U.S. War Department stating that hostilities with Japan have commenced.
    .....About 7 hours prior to Japanese air strikes on Clark Airfield.

    7:10 am. Gen Brereton receives telephone call from Gen Arnold instructing him to insure the safety of his aircraft and recommending that they be dispersed.
    .....Common sense when expecting enemy air attacks. Perhaps Gen Arnold lacked confidence in Gen Brereton so he sent specific instructions. Still almost 5 hours before the Japanese air strikes on Clark Airfield.

    8:00 am. FEAF radar contact with incoming IJA bombers.

    9:10 am. IJA bombers strike Baguio and Tueguegarao (northern Luzon).
    .....Most popular histories omit Japanese Army air strikes on Northern Luzon 3 hours before Japanese Navy air strikes on Clark Airfield. They also typically omit FEAF radar which was operational and worked just fine on 8 Dec 1941.

    11:27 am. FEAF radar contact with IJN airstrike heading for Iba and Clark Airfields.

    Historical Radar Sets in Philippines as of 8 December 1941.
    Iba Airfield. SCR270. Operational since October 1941.
    Paracale.
    …..SCR270. Operational.
    …..SCR271. Still in crates.
    Tagaytay Ridge. SCR270. Faulty. Useful for training.
    Burgos Point. SCR270. Still in crates.
    Nagasugbu. SCR268. Operational. Crew untrained.
    Manila. SCR271. Still in crates.

    The SCR270 radar station at Iba was considered the only one fully competent and able to perform its role. This continued until the station was bombed at 1320 on 8 December 1941.
     
  7. freebird

    freebird Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Messages:
    2,658
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    British Columbia
    So are you blaming Brereton? (with an assist to Mac for choosing poorly)


    Am I reading this correctly that ALL the fighters were in the air, then ALL came down to refuel?

    Was Brereton at Clark?
    Or who was directly in charge there?
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Gen Brereton was commander of FEAF and present in the Philippines during December 1941. Otherwise Gen Arnold would have spoken to someone else when he phoned FEAF HQ.
     
  9. freebird

    freebird Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Messages:
    2,658
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    British Columbia
    OK, I don't think this sounds right.
    It's about 480 - 500 miles from Clark to the southern tip of Formosa, the Buffalo F2A could (just) make it rith a range of 1000 miles.
    Accounting for the use of drop tanks on (or even carrier launched) fighters, it really should not be a surprise.

    And yet they seemed to get them all in the air (earlier that morning) for exactly that reason?
    They just seemed to have forgot the need to stagger CAP refuelings
     
  10. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,678
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
    Buffaloes might have range, but they dont have the combat range, which is different. F4fs have a printed range of 770miles, but in reality its effective radius of action under combat conditions was no more than 220 miles, and early in its career about 150miles. Brewster Buffaloes were not deployed into the Phillipines, but had a range of of 960miles. using the F4Fs range as a guide, that gives the buffalo a nominal combat range of about 270 miles.

    Not sure either if any of the far eastern commands had access to drop tanks in december 1941. I know that the japanese had to rush them through for the battles in the Phillipines and SEAC region. Maximum combat radius of a Zero was eventually stretched to about 600nm, with drop tank. Without a drop tank they had a combat radius of about 400nm. However the printed normal range for the A6M2 was 1160 miles, and the long range was 1930 miles. What does this tell us....that printed ranges are virtually meaningless when determining combat capability.
     
  11. JoeB

    JoeB Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2006
    Messages:
    809
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
    #11 JoeB, Aug 7, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2011
    I agree with previous post that the US was indeed surprised when it learned (only later) that the Zeroes had escorted the bombers all the way from Formosa. The a/c were assumed to be flying from carriers, and even the Japanese themselves had planned to use carriers for this operation until only months before the war, when extra training in cruise control techniques proved that the Zero could fly such a long mission.

    But to clarify Buffalo statistics, the longest range F2A was F2A-2 without armor or fuel tank protection, ie equivalent configuration to the Zero Model 21. According BuAer performance data sheet dated May 1 1943, it had a max range of 1485 statute miles. This data sheet does not quote a combat radius, but as already mentioned, USN official combat radii were a remarkably small % of the maximum still air range, so the equivalent official data sheet for F4F-4 with two 58gal drop tanks (not used until late summer 1942) quotes a max range of 1275 miles and combat radius of 325 miles. This was including assumptions and reserves (which are given in detail) typical of carrier operations, so from land bases the practical range would be a higher %, but still nothing like 50% of the max range. As previously mentioned, the Zero 21's official max range w/drop tank was 1930 statute miles, which by USN standards would yield a combat radius around 490 miles, but in operations from land bases Zero's routinely ranged well over 500 miles right from the start of the war, and up to 650 miles, Vunakanau>Henderson Field, in the early part of the Guadalcanal campaign before any divert fields were established in the upper Solomons.

    Some of the US fighters were in the air during the inital Japanese attacks on Clark and engaged and shot down some Zeroes, though suffered heavier losses themselves and did not seriously disturb the bombers. William Bartsch's book "Dec 8 1941" is the definitive work on this debacle IMO, giving as much detail of these operations as anyone could want, from both sides; his earlier "Doomed at the Start" gives even more as far as the USAAC fighter units.

    Separately, it's remarkable reviewing the Navy and Army volumes of the Japanese official history related to air ops in PI, how many later attacks there were on the US bases on Luzon, and how many claims made of additional a/c destroyed, yet a fair number (mainly fighters) remained and hardly any more were actually destroyed. By then the US bases had adequate protection and camouflage, and lots of decoy a/c (previously damaged ones and homemade decoys). If they'd had that to begin with, the fighter force would have survived the initial attacks even if caught entirely on the ground, and only around 1/2 the B-17's were at Clark, the rest out of reach at Del Monte field on Mindanao whose existence the Japanese only discovered later.

    So the basic problem was a 'peace time mentality' when nobody thought to make such preparations, so obvious and so quickly implemented after the disaster. Note that the Marine air contingent on Wake was similarly caught hours after PH with its a/c arrayed without protection and the majority of the small F4F force was destroyed on the ground at that time, though even the remaining few were a notable nuisance to Japanese operations against the island after that. But, the Marines have much better PR than MacArthur, and that aspect is seldom dwelled upon in the story of the defense of Wake.

    Joe
     
  12. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Wake was tiny with only a single airfield. They didn't have dozens of airfields for aircraft dispersal, quite a few of which were located out of Japanese bomber range.
     
  13. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,678
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
    Hi Joe

    With regard to the F4F, Ive read elsewhere as wll that it had a combat radius of 325 miles, yet i can find not a single instance of that ever being used operationally. I can find several references that say its maximum effective range was 220 miles. The longest ranged strikes I know of occurred in the Solomons and at Sastern Solomons (or maybe Santa Cruz....I will check tonite), where (from memory), the Americans could not provide escort to their SBDs beyond the 220 mile mark.

    Im not challenging your 325 mile combat radius....ive learnt to respect your knowledge far too well to even attempt that, but i was still curious as to where you have found that range of 325miles used operationally.....
     
  14. JoeB

    JoeB Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2006
    Messages:
    809
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
    The point is, neither air arm did anything much to prepare for this forseeable outcome, but the Marines are hardly ever blamed for it.

    I was not saying the situations were otherwise identical which they obviously weren't, should go without saying. The Army in PI had more bases, although it also lost a considerably smaller % of its strength in the initial raids, because as mentioned, 1/2 the B-17's *were* at a base outside the radius of Japanese landbased a/c on Formosa, Del Monte. And only around 1/4 of the fighters on Luzon were destroyed on the ground Dec 8, v 2/3 of the Marine fighters at Wake in the intial raid there (8 out of 12, one later restored, including by Type 96 Rikko flying back and forth at low altitude with the flexible gunners strafing them!). OTOH the Army had to face follow up operations the next few days by Zero's which its P-35's and P-40's could not at that juncture face on anything like even terms in air combat, and it suffered more ground losses too. The remnant of the Marine fighter force in contrast operated against unescorted bombers and flying boats, and ships without air cover, until the Japanese sent Soryu and Hiryu to support the second invasion attempt on Wake and make quick work of the by then 2 remaining operational F4F's.

    Still if either force had undertaken basic airfield protection measures, soon taken for granted for any field with possible range of enemy air attack, the Japanese would have had a considerably harder time both places, but probably not actually failed in either place. Because, they could eventually bring overwhelming carrier power against Wake if US carriers didn't effectively intervene, just as they eventually did. And, more relevant to the main point of this discussion, the FEAF in PI would have been defeated anyway even if its airfields were well prepared all else equal: its fighter units couldn't compete in air combat with JNAF fighter units at that time, its bombers did not use effective antishipping tactics, and moreover the PI were effectively cut off from resupply, like Wake.

    On F4F's and drop tanks, the 58 gallon wing tank was only used in the 1942 carrier battles by VF-10 at Santa Cruz and only one at a time. On the one escort mission they conducted in the battle, they were ambushed by Zuiho Zero's while still close to Enterprise and had to drop them anyway. IOW the 58 gal tank wasn't that relevant to the F4F's reign as the frontline carrier fighter. A smaller (42 gal) higher drag bathtub-shape belly tank was used by Hornet's a/c at Santa Cruz, and also used at Eastern Solomons. I don't know of a source giving official radius with that early drop tank.

    The relative fuel capacities and radii with the 58 gal tank were: no tank 144 gals for 105 mi radius; 1*58 gal 202 gal for 245 mi, 2*58 gal 260 gal for 325 mi. The apparently strange relationship of capacity to radius is due to the fact that the large reserves assumed for return and at the end of the flight had to be internal fuel, heavily penalizing the no-tank case, while OTOH an a/c carrying 2 58 gal tanks would have to drop them before they were completely empty for internal fuel to suffice for an assumed 20 min of full power combat plus the return and reserves. Lundstrom quotes the F4F's generally accepted radius with no tanks as 'around 175 miles' in the 1942 battles, which presumably just meant taking more risk of fuel exhaustion losses than the official calculation assumed, and ditching for lack of fuel wasn't uncommon.

    Joe
     
  15. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,678
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
    so, in regard to the 325 mi radius of action, is it fair to generalize that it was used very rarely and was not a fair representation of the F4fs range capabilities......not trying to put words in your mouth, but wanted to understand if 325mi was common or the exception
     
  16. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,678
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
    anyway, this all confirms the allies definately could NOT strike back at Formsa with escorted raids in 1941. The Zero really was exceptional in 1941-3, for a number of reasons, and range was one of them
     
  17. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    The result of faulty training.

    During my 20 years in the U.S. military unit commanders were held accountable for training. Gen. Brereton was the FEAF commander. If his P-40 pilots didn't employ proper aerial tactics and his bomber pilots couldn't hit the broad side of a barn it was his fault.
     
  18. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,678
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
    Hard to disagree with that, but just the same, USAAC training was not all that realistic, tactics were poor....the whole country was unready in terms of the national mood for war. You would be hard pressed to find a country less prepred for war....psychologically, materially, or experience wise.

    Brereton was never a commander that fires me up in a good way......he probably deserved a courts martial but that was never going to happen.
     
  19. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    I agree. But leadership has to start somewhere.

    Claire Chennault had P-40 fighter aircraft similiar to those of Gen. Brereton. Ground support and logistics were more primative then in FEAF. Unlike FEAF he had no early warning radar. Yet Chennault's so called "American Volunteer Group" were generally successful. That's the difference competent leadership can make.
     
  20. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,678
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
    Thats a good point actually. I need to study the AVG more closely, its one of those many areas I dont know so much about....was he ever surprised what occasions did he actually lose a battle.....
     
Loading...

Share This Page