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Us Pacific Aircraft Inventory June 1942


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#1 Indy_Shark

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 1311 PM

I have often wondered why the Navy deployed such obsolescent aircraft as the F2A Brewster Buffalo and SB2U Vindicator to Midway before the Japanese attack. I also wondered why the Army only sent 4 B-26's. A dozen or more of these bombers could have been a real threat to the Kido Butai. What other combat aircraft were available at Pearl Harbor or the West Coast at that time?  



#2 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 1359 PM

To begin with, the Buffaloes and Vindicators were Marine aircraft.  First line Navy aircraft went to the carriers.  The Marines sucked hind tit in Navy allocations.  In 1942, B-26 were just coming off the assembly lines and there were not that many of them.



#3 Indy_Shark

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 1420 PM

That's a good point, but both squadrons also had Wildcats and Dauntless dive bombers so they could have replaced them if the planes were available. As far as the B-26 is concerned, that's what I was asking about. How many were actually produced at that point?



#4 Indy_Shark

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 1422 PM

I think they could have spared a few more B-26's!

 

Pacific Theatre[edit]

The B-26 began to equip the 22nd Bombardment Group at Langley FieldVirginia, in February 1941, replacing the Douglas B-18 Bolo, with a further two groups, the 38th and 28th, beginning to equip with the B-26 by December 1941.[8][18] Immediately following the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, the 22nd BG was deployed to the South West Pacific,[19][20] first by ship to Hawaii, then its air echelon flew the planes to Australia. The 22nd BG flew its first combat mission, an attack on Rabaul which required an intermediate stop at Port MoresbyNew Guinea, on 5 April 1942.[18]

A second group, the 38th, began receiving B-26s in November 1941 and began transitioning into them at Patterson Field, Ohio. There, the 38th continued the testing of the B-26, including its range and fuel efficiency. Immediately after the entry of the United States into World War II, plans were tentatively developed to send the 38th BG to the South West Pacific and to equip it with B-26Bs fitted with more auxiliary fuel tanks and provisions for carrying aerial torpedoes.[18] Three 38th BG B-26Bs[21] were detached to Midway Island in the buildup to that battle, and two of them, along with two B-26s detached from the 22nd BG, carried out torpedo attacks against the Japanese Fleet on 4 June 1942. Two were shot down and the other two were so badly damaged that they were written off after the mission. Their torpedoes failed to hit any Japanese ships, although they did shoot down one Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter and killed two seamen aboard the aircraft carrier Akagi with machine-gun fire.[18][22] Notably, one of them, Susie Q, after dropping its single torpedo and searching for a safer escape route, flew directly down the length of the Akagi while being chased by interceptors and anti-aircraft fire, which had to hold their fire to avoid hitting their own flagship.



#5 Markus Becker

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 1515 PM

I have often wondered why the Navy deployed such obsolescent aircraft as the F2A Brewster Buffalo and SB2U Vindicator to Midway before the Japanese attack. I also wondered why the Army only sent 4 B-26's. A dozen or more of these bombers could have been a real threat to the Kido Butai. What other combat aircraft were available at Pearl Harbor or the West Coast at that time?  

 

Not a lot and even if one had to get them from there to Hawaii. AFAIK only B-17 could make the trip on their own, the rest had to travel by ship. Carrier or convoy. And them you had to get things from there to Midway. Navy and Marines did what they could. 

 

About the B-26. Someone accidentally blew up a got part of Midway’s avgas supply. The rest had to be rationed. So much that the very green dive bomber crews could not train for dive bombing. Maybe they couldn’t operate more B-26 unless something else went. Like the gas guzzling B-17 but their limitations against ships weren’t known yet.



#6 Rick

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 0607 AM

I think they could have spared a few more B-26's!

 

Pacific Theatre[edit]

The B-26 began to equip the 22nd Bombardment Group at Langley FieldVirginia, in February 1941, replacing the Douglas B-18 Bolo, with a further two groups, the 38th and 28th, beginning to equip with the B-26 by December 1941.[8][18] Immediately following the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, the 22nd BG was deployed to the South West Pacific,[19][20] first by ship to Hawaii, then its air echelon flew the planes to Australia. The 22nd BG flew its first combat mission, an attack on Rabaul which required an intermediate stop at Port MoresbyNew Guinea, on 5 April 1942.[18]

A second group, the 38th, began receiving B-26s in November 1941 and began transitioning into them at Patterson Field, Ohio. There, the 38th continued the testing of the B-26, including its range and fuel efficiency. Immediately after the entry of the United States into World War II, plans were tentatively developed to send the 38th BG to the South West Pacific and to equip it with B-26Bs fitted with more auxiliary fuel tanks and provisions for carrying aerial torpedoes.[18] Three 38th BG B-26Bs[21] were detached to Midway Island in the buildup to that battle, and two of them, along with two B-26s detached from the 22nd BG, carried out torpedo attacks against the Japanese Fleet on 4 June 1942. Two were shot down and the other two were so badly damaged that they were written off after the mission. Their torpedoes failed to hit any Japanese ships, although they did shoot down one Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter and killed two seamen aboard the aircraft carrier Akagi with machine-gun fire.[18][22] Notably, one of them, Susie Q, after dropping its single torpedo and searching for a safer escape route, flew directly down the length of the Akagi while being chased by interceptors and anti-aircraft fire, which had to hold their fire to avoid hitting their own flagship.

I would say because the B26 was an Army plane and the Army at that time was in Australia looking at New Guinea. Most of the rest of the Pacific was the Navy's responsibility. In my opinion; overall, the IJN pilots and their leaders  were at the top of their game in naval aviation at this period in time, better than the USN.



#7 Rich

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 1200 PM

 

I think they could have spared a few more B-26's!

 

Pacific Theatre[edit]

The B-26 began to equip the 22nd Bombardment Group at Langley FieldVirginia, in February 1941, replacing the Douglas B-18 Bolo, with a further two groups, the 38th and 28th, beginning to equip with the B-26 by December 1941.[8][18] Immediately following the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, the 22nd BG was deployed to the South West Pacific,[19][20] first by ship to Hawaii, then its air echelon flew the planes to Australia. The 22nd BG flew its first combat mission, an attack on Rabaul which required an intermediate stop at Port MoresbyNew Guinea, on 5 April 1942.[18]

A second group, the 38th, began receiving B-26s in November 1941 and began transitioning into them at Patterson Field, Ohio. There, the 38th continued the testing of the B-26, including its range and fuel efficiency. Immediately after the entry of the United States into World War II, plans were tentatively developed to send the 38th BG to the South West Pacific and to equip it with B-26Bs fitted with more auxiliary fuel tanks and provisions for carrying aerial torpedoes.[18] Three 38th BG B-26Bs[21] were detached to Midway Island in the buildup to that battle, and two of them, along with two B-26s detached from the 22nd BG, carried out torpedo attacks against the Japanese Fleet on 4 June 1942. Two were shot down and the other two were so badly damaged that they were written off after the mission. Their torpedoes failed to hit any Japanese ships, although they did shoot down one Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter and killed two seamen aboard the aircraft carrier Akagi with machine-gun fire.[18][22] Notably, one of them, Susie Q, after dropping its single torpedo and searching for a safer escape route, flew directly down the length of the Akagi while being chased by interceptors and anti-aircraft fire, which had to hold their fire to avoid hitting their own flagship.

I would say because the B26 was an Army plane and the Army at that time was in Australia looking at New Guinea. Most of the rest of the Pacific was the Navy's responsibility. In my opinion; overall, the IJN pilots and their leaders  were at the top of their game in naval aviation at this period in time, better than the USN.

 

 

 

Okay, how many times do we have to go through this exercise? As of 31 May 1942, there were 275 B-26 on hand in the entire USAAF. Of those, 136 were in the CONUS. They were all either recent factory acceptances (70 in May) or in route to units in training, assigned to CONUS defense, or preparing for overseas movement, which in the case of the Pacific meant the aircraft were disassembled for shipment (see below). None of them were available to send to Hawaii or Midway in the roughly one-week time frame in which it was decided that Midway was the principle target of the Japanese...while Alaska and Hawaii remained possibilities.

 

Of the remaining 139, 3 were at Hickham, 21 were in Alaska, 63 were in Australia, and 52 were in route, disassembled and boxed up on freighters to Oahu, where they were reassembled by the Hawaiian Air Depot (HAD) at Hickham and flown by crews of the 22d and 38th Groups to Australia. The three in Hawaii were those, waiting for a fourth aircraft to be assembled so they could start the flight to Australia. In the first week of June, HAD completed assembly of a fourth B-26, giving four complete aircraft at Hickham, two from the 22d Bombardment Group, 408th Bombardment Squadron and two from the 38th Bombardment Group, 69th Bombardment Squadron. Instead of being sent on the overwater ferry flight to Australia to join its groups, the four were diverted to Midway.

 

There were no other B-26 "available" other than those four. End of story.



#8 Tim the Tank Nut

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 1244 PM

if you think about the complexity of an aircraft and the amount of time available to assemble them by tired men working long hours the quality of the work is amazing.

"say, we out this together pulling an all nighter.  Want to make its second flight ever against the Kido Butai?"



#9 Markus Becker

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 0620 AM

https://www.ibiblio....M-Midway-1.html

Before December 17th 1941 only some Catalinas had been on Midway.

#10 glenn239

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 0841 AM

 

Indy Shark I have often wondered why the Navy deployed such obsolescent aircraft as the F2A Brewster Buffalo and SB2U Vindicator to Midway before the Japanese attack. I also wondered why the Army only sent 4 B-26's. A dozen or more of these bombers could have been a real threat to the Kido Butai. What other combat aircraft were available at Pearl Harbor or the West Coast at that time?

 

 

 

 

Saratoga arrived at Pearl from the West Coast with 18 F4F, 66 SBD, 14 TBF according to Wiki.   She then sailed for Midway arriving after the battle with 107 aircraft - 47 F4F, 45 SBD, 10 TBF, 5 TBD.   Nimitz had ordered her expedited to Hawaii ASAP, and she sailed from Bremerton on May 22nd, but needed to go to San Diego to collect her air wing.  Could she have made it in time for the battle if special preparations were made in California for a direct sortie to Hawaii from Bremerton?   

 

According to Lundstrom Yorktown rotated to Pearl 42 flyable aircraft in 3 squadrons off the ship on May 27th, then received shore stationed Saratoga units as replacements.  The SBD squadron rotated shore side had suffered heavy losses in Coral Sea and the fighter pilots (not aircraft) of VF-42 were basically all transferred to VF-3 to bring it up to strength.  Lexington air group aircraft joined Yorktown’s.  Of Lexington’s aviators,  the TBD squadron was left behind in the South Pacific and the fighter/dive bomber pilots seem to have gone back to either Pearl Harbor with Yorktown or to the West Coast with Fitch, (not sure which). 

 

On May 29th, just after TF-16 had sailed a convoy arrived in Pearl with two F4F squadrons and 21 TBF’s.  Six of the TBF’s flew to Midway and fought in the battle, 15 were left behind.  (Only the Hornet and Saratoga could operate TBF’s at this time).

 

Aircraft carrying ship assets – Yorktown, Hornet and Enterprise were in the South Pacific and sortied towards Midway from Pearl on 29/30 May.   Long Island appears not to have reached the West Coast in time to do a shuttle mission.  AKV’s Kitty Hawk and Hammondsport (AKV-1 and 2) were in the Hawaii vicinity in May, 1942, presumably hauling aircraft to Hawaii, (Kitty Hawk sortied to Midway late in May). 

 

So, in answer to your question, some of the Yorktown aircraft left behind were available for Midway – maybe about 20 or 25 would be my guess, mostly F4F’s (minus pilots) and TBD’s (fully operational).  All of Lexington’s surviving aviators theoretically could have been made available after Coral Sea AFAIK, except for the TBD squadron left behind.   About 100 aircraft were on the West Coast and maybe 18+18+21 = 57 arrived by convoy on the 29th just after TF-16 had sailed.    What could Nimitz have got to Midway?  My guess would be some (maybe 18?) of the 57 arriving on convoy (deck ferry by Yorktown), all of those rotated off Yorktown (some of which went anyways aboard Yorktown), all the dive bomber aviators necessary to replace Marine aviators at Midway with navy crews, (from Lexington or the West coast via Catalina air transport), and all of the 21 TBF’s, (via direct ferry from Pearl Harbor).   Assuming Sara doesn't arrive in time, not sure how many could have been sent direct to Midway from California via cargo ship.  Maybe 0, maybe some.  (Keep in mind congestion at Midway, which could only operate a certain number of aircraft).


Edited by glenn239, 25 May 2017 - 0844 AM.


#11 Indy_Shark

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 0852 AM

Very interesting information. Thank you



#12 glenn239

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 0915 AM

Generally speaking, the reason for the composition of the Midway air group was doctrinal, not logistical.  Nimitz had just won a battle with King to preserve carrier squadrons for carrier use and did not want to disperse them to land bases, for fear that his best offensive weapon would be parcelled out, (kind of like the how the French tanks in 1940 were scattered far and wide while the German panzers were concentrated in Panzer divisions).  My impression is that Nimitz probably overrated the capacity of the MAG at Midway to damage Japanese carriers and probably underrated the chances of a catastrophe in a carrier battle.  (Applying 20/20 hindsight, it's not difficult to see how the situation could have deteriorated whereby an actual carrier air wing at Midway might have been a crucial difference).



#13 Markus Becker

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 0932 AM

Re: Could Saratoga has made it in time to participate in the battle?

This guy thinks she cloud have.

http://www.ww2f.com/...t-midway.51804/

#14 Rich

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 1037 AM

Re: Could Saratoga has made it in time to participate in the battle?

This guy thinks she cloud have.

http://www.ww2f.com/...t-midway.51804/

 

Frankly, unless Rich Leonard has commented on the subject, I don't think we've heard the last word on it. :D



#15 Indy_Shark

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 1040 AM

Yorktown launched VB-3 which would attack and sink the Soryu, but held back VS-3 for a follow up strike. What happened to the planes of VS-3? I believe VB-3 landed on Enterprise and 10 of them later attacked Hiryu along with aircraft from the Enterprise. 



#16 glenn239

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 1118 AM

Action report for VS-5 here,

 

http://www.midway194...sn_doc_09.shtml

 

In terms of who sank the Soryu, that was a hotly contested subject at the time.  VB-3 (Lindsey) insisted until his death that their target was a big bastard, and he says he knew it because a smaller carrier (ie, Hiryu) was close by.  It  was Lord who decided he mistook Soryu (thought to be 10,000 tons but 16,000 tons actual) for Kaga (thought to be 25,000 tons).   Shattered Sword did a reconstruction of the attack, but the had to introduce some questionable elements to make it work, meaning that the matter won't be fully settled until the battlefield itself on the bottom of the Pacific is mapped and fully reconstructed.



#17 Indy_Shark

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 0740 AM

Glenn, that is an interesting comment. I have read Shattered Sword and would be interested to hear what questionable elements you referred to.



#18 Rich

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 1152 AM

Glenn, that is an interesting comment. I have read Shattered Sword and would be interested to hear what questionable elements you referred to.

 

I'm more interested in finding out how mapping and "reconstructing" the sea bottom "settles" the supposed "questionable elements"... :huh:

 

See part two for a very good analysis of why the discovery of sea bottom artifacts don't necessarily say a lot about how, when, or where they were created. ;)

 

http://nauticos.com/...nalysis-report/



#19 Markus Becker

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 0712 AM

The Marine fighter squadron had 26 operational planes(20 F2A, 6 F4F) which ist not bad once you consider the overall number of both types made before the war broke out. In 1941 a total of 324 Wildcats were produced, 130 of them went to the British. Brewester added 108 F2A-3.

 

In other words almost 10% of the pre war carrier fighters were stationed on Midway. Ok, 439 Wildcats were made from January 42 to May. I exclude them given the difficulty of getting them to that far away outpost. Most of the F2A were intended for Wake but didn't make it in time and the rest of the fighters only arrived in May 42. 



#20 glenn239

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 0906 AM

 

Rich I'm more interested in finding out how mapping and "reconstructing" the sea bottom "settles" the supposed "questionable elements.

 

 

For example, on page 208 of Shattered Sword it shows the approach of VT-8 towards the Japanese task force, northeast to southwest, with Gay’s aircraft shot down the furthest southwest.  There are 15 VT-8 aircraft on the battlefield and they will form a line in the direction of the attack.   The second theory is they will be found in a line running southeast to northwest, with Gay’s plane the furthest north.


Edited by glenn239, 30 May 2017 - 0909 AM.





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