US Squads in the CAW 1944 theatre

A Project to model the 1944 Carrier air battles of the Pacific
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US Squads in the CAW 1944 theatre

Post by Moggy » Sat Feb 07, 2004 1:34 am

There seems to be a lot of information about the US squads, but not all of it isconsistent. The main fleet ("fast") carriers held a CVG - a carrier air group consisting of fighter, torpedo and dive bombing squadrons - hence CVG 2 contained VF-2, VB-2, and VT-2. These did an approximate 6 month tour of duty, and then did a few months resting and training.

This is what I have:

CVG 2 Hornet Mar-Sep 44
CVG 5 Yorktown Oct 43-Apr 44
CVG 7 Hancock Sep 1944 - Jan 1945
CVG 8 Bunker Hill Mar-Oct 1944
CVG 9 Essex Oct 1943 - Mar 1944
CVG 10 Enterprise Jan-Jul 1944
CVG 11 Hornet Oct 1944 - Jan 1945
CVG 13 Franklin Jul-Nov 1944
CVG 15 Yorktown Oct 1943 - Mat 1944
CVG 16 Lexington Oct 1943-Jun 1944
CVG 18 Bunker Hill Oct 1943 - Mar 1944, Intrepid Aug-Nov 1944
CVG 19 Lexington Jul-Nov 1944
CVG 20 Enterprise Aug 1944 - Jan 1945

Some of the fleet carriers additionally had a night fighter squad, and there were established toward the end of 1944 specialist night ops carrier groups CVG(N) 52, 90 and 91. This opens up the prospect of night missions in CAW.

Of course this leaves aside the smaller light carrier CVLG groups, and CVE groups, and the composite squadrons of all arms on the CVEs which I'm still digging in to.

Anyone with further information, and submissions for which squads in particular ought to be the campaign squads please contribute.

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Post by Moggy » Mon Mar 15, 2004 1:37 pm

The campaign setup for the USN squads is currently looking like this:

Fighters:

VF-10 "Grim Reapers" USS Enterprise 12/2/44 to 3/12/44 Hellcat
VF-31 "Flying Meataxes" USS Cabot 12/2/44 to 3/12/44 Hellcat
VC-3 USS Kalinin Bay 15/6/44 to 1/11/44 Wildcat
VF-2 "Rippers" USS Hornet 28/4/44 to 3/12/44 Hellcat
VF-15 "Fighting Aces" USS Essex 6/6/44 to 3/12/44 Hellcat
VFN-41 USS Independence 29/8/44 to 3/12/44 Hellcat

Dive Bombers:

VB-10 USS Enterprise 12/2/44 to 3/12/44 Helldiver
VB-2 USS Hornet 28/4/44 to 3/12/44 Helldiver

Torpedo/Level Bombers:

VT-10 USS Enterprise 12/2/44 to 3/12/44 Avenger
VTN-41 USS Independence 29/8/44 to 3/12/44 Avenger
VC-3 USS Kalinin Bay 15/6/44 to 1/11/44 Avenger

VC-3 was a composite squadron based on an escort carrier attached to "the Marine's Navy" which provided frontline support for marine landing operations. See http://www.bosamar.com/cve/cve68.html

VFN-41 and VTN-41 were based on USS Independence which was the very first "night carrier", providing night time CAP and undertaking night offensive operations. See http://www.cvl-22.com/history.html

Additional Navy/Marine careers could include:

PBJ-1 VMB-12 based in captured Saipan from November 1944 - mostly shipping strikes

Ventura - Fleet Air Wing 2 - bombing raids on island and shipping targets - ?? bases

Corsair - Marine Aircraft Wing 2/4 - ?? bases

It should now also be possible to have Army Air Force careers for the following planes:

P47D - based in captured Saipan - 19th, 73rd or 333rd FS
P61 - based in captured Saipan - 6th NFS
P38 - based in the recaptured Phillipines - 7th, 9th or 8th FS
P47D - based in the recaptured Phillipines - 460th FS

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Post by Moggy » Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:23 am

19th Fighter Squadron:

Again redesignated, on 15 May 1942, as the 19th Fighter Squadron and flying P-47D Thunderbolts, the squadron was given its first wartime tasking and moved to Saipan aboard the USS Natoma Bay. Upon arriving, the 19th pilots immediately took to the air on night and day missions, strafing and using general purpose bombs and rockets in support of advancing ground troops. Using home-made napalm bombs made out of napalm, gasoline and oil placed inside fuel tanks, the 19th helped U.S. forces successfully invade and capture Saipan, Tinian and Guam islands in only three months. The mission then changed to long range bomber escort missions with occasional strike missions to nearby Pagan Island and Iwo Jima. The squadron then relocated to Okinawa in November 1945, where the first 19th pilots were awarded their 'ace' rating. The squadron inactivated on 12 January 1946 at Ft Lewis, WA.


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Post by Moggy » Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:30 am

6th Night Fighter Squadron:

In 1944 Japanese night bombers launched a major effort to disrupt the construction of U.S. airfields on Saipan needed for the B-29 campaign against the home islands. Flying P-61s, the 6th NFS began defensive operations nine days after the Marines’ June 15 landing. Enemy attackers held the initiative until new Microwave Early Warning radars linked to SCR-615 and AN/TPS-10 “Li’l Abner” height-finder radars made three Japanese sorties one-way trips. In thirty-seven attempts at interception from June 24 to July 21, the defense made twenty-seven airborne radar contacts and claimed three kills. It was on Saipan that a Pacific-based P-61 Black Widow snared its first victim on June 30, 1944.

A typical Japanese aerial assault force consisted of a dozen Mitsubishi G4M Betty bombers flying twenty miles apart. P-61 crews discovered that if they could shoot down the lead bomber, the others would jettison their bombs and flee. Black Widows from the 6th NFS and the 548th NFS downed five additional enemy intruders before the attacks stopped in January 1945. Thereafter, boredom set in for the crews of the 6th defending Saipan.


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Post by Moggy » Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:48 am


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Post by Moggy » Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:02 am

460th FS:

Image

The 460th Fighter Squadron was conceived some 55 years ago in the midst of combat to soar briefly, but brightly, across the skies of New Guinea, The Philippines, Okinawa and Japan. Less than 14 months elapsed between its inception at Nadzab, New Guinea on 14 July 1944 until V-J Day, 2 September 1945. The total active life span of this 300-man, 25 plane unit was less than 20 months.

The squadron was born out of organizations, aircraft, equipment and people that could be made available because combat attrition had been less than anticipated. The ground echelon came from the 1st Airborne Squadron at Gusap, New Guinea. The initial cadre of pilots was drawn from the three squadrons of the 348h Fighter Group then based at Wakde Island on the New Guinea coast. Additional pilots were assigned from the Combat Replacement Training Center at Port Moresby. The aircraft, the Republic P-47 "Thunderbolt," the famous and beloved "Jug," came from excess theater resources.

The personal bonding that made this aggregation of men and machines unique began at Noemfoor Island in September 1944 and was strengthened through inspirational leadership, camaraderie and combat during successive moves to Tacloban, Tanuan and Floridablanca in the Philippines; le Shima Island, just off Okinawa in the Ryukyus; and finally to Itazuke airfield near Fukuoka, Japan.

Then came the first real test. Dinghy was successful in convincing 5th Air Force to select the 460th as the 348h Fighter Group's lead squadron into the Philippines. On 10 November 1944, only 21 days after MacArthur waded ashore at Leyte, the squadron launched from Moratai as top cover for a B-25 strike against a Japanese naval convoy in Ormac Bay attempting to land troops on the west side of Leyte. For the B-25's it was their bloodiest day of the war. More than half the strike force was shot down by naval gunfire as we watched in dismay while flying top cover for an air attack that never came. When we landed at Tacloban the engineers were still laying pierced steel planking at both ends of the runway.

Whoever selected the 460th camp area did so in a hurry. We pitched our tents in a rain filled depression only a few yards back from White Beach, crowded between a gasoline dump on one side and an ammunition dump on the other. Tacloban was receiving day and night air raids. A well-placed stick of bombs could have done for us all.

A nightly occurrence was to drive back from the airstrip in a blackout, crowded into a single weapons carrier. Pilots, ground officers and enlisted men dined in the dark on cold "C" rations right out of the can while standing in ankle deep mud, cracking jokes, laughing and enthusiastically rehashing the events of the day.

Two days later, on 12 November, we received our first taste of air-to-air combat. Captain Dick Frost scored the squadron's first victory when he shot down a Zeke 32 over Leyte Gulf. Nine more enemy aircraft were downed by the end of the month. Then the air war intensified. Thirty-eight enemy aircraft were downed in December followed by only three in January when Japanese resistance from the air virtually ceased. Seven long months would pass before we scored another air-to-air victory when flying out of Ie Shima in August 1945. In all, the 460th shot down a total of 54 enemy aircraft with 38 of those destroyed during December 1944 when Japan made an all out effort to drive us from Leyte into the sea. The memories and hand-flying yams from that month alone are more than could be recounted here.

None of us will forget December 7, 1944, third anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. For us, it was one of the strangest days of the war. A U.S. convoy carrying the 77th Army Division, with the 7 th and 11th Divisions close behind, landed at Ormoc Bay on the west side of Leyte only an hour or so in advance of a Japanese troop convoy that steamed into the same harbor. Two troop convoys, both protected by naval warships and strong air cover, and both were zeroing in on the same landing beach. It was wild. In the confusion it was hard to determine who was attacking whom. The 460th engaged enemy air cover in the morning and enemy shipping in the afternoon with notable successes in each. Of the 76,000 tons of shipping sunk by the squadron throughout the war more than half was sunk in the month of December.

A final bizarre note was added on the evening of December 7, just at dusk, when the enemy launched a paratroop attack on San Pablo airfield directly across the road from Group Headquarters. The Group lost contact with all four of its squadrons. Two 341st Squadron sentries were killed by Japanese troops wielding sabers. Fortunately, Army ground troops reacted to the attack in time to nullify its success.

On 14 December the 460th moved to a new airstrip at nearby Tanuan. The camp area appeared to be ideally located on a palm dotted grassy plain along the banks of the beautiful Guinarona River, but we suffered more from that river than we ever did from the enemy. It was infested with a tiny liver fluke that transmitted a pernicious disease called Shistosomiasis. A number of our people were infected before we discovered the cause and banned swimming in the river. Some of those stricken are still being treated today, more than 50 years after immersion in that deadly stream.

The move to San Marcelino on the Island of Luzon took place in February 1945 along with a major change in our combat mission. We became primarily a fighter bomber squadron and all that month provided close air support to the 37th Infantry and 1st Cavalry Divisions as they raced down the central Luzon plain and invested Manila. Japanese air resistance had disappeared. Manila fell. The 460th provided air cover for the paratroop attack on Corrigador and then bombed and strafed ahead of the troops until the enemy was driven from the island fortress. The American Army once again entered the bunker that had sheltered Douglas MacArthur and his wife and son some four years earlier.


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