A War of Their Own: Bombers Over the Southwest Pacific by Matthew K. Rodman

By Matthew K. Rodman

This paintings makes an attempt to provide a correct account of the character of the air battle within the Southwest Pacific in the course of international battle II, focusing normally upon the 5th Air strength. The examine doesn't presume to be an all-encompassing operational precis; as an alternative, it goals to supply a consultant photograph of yankee bombardment in that quarter. This was once a second in historical past whilst wrestle air strength performed a key position achieve victory. the writer recounts how the 5th Air strength speedy built new strategies and strategies that "saved the day." The perfection of low-altitude bombing, strafing, and bypass bombing made variations that during hindsight are effortless to acknowledge and quantify. with no them the 5th may have came across itself in an extended, more expensive struggle with an doubtful final result. although, those new strategies harm the enemy to the level that the Allies ultimately prevailed. the true price of this learn lies no longer lots in its retelling of vital advancements in air energy as in its pushing the necessity for the army to be versatile, adaptive, opportunistic, and entrepreneurial whereas safeguarding center values and capitalizing on center skills. Many elements be sure good fortune -- practise, assets, wisdom, and resolution to call a couple of. yet none of those have approximately the significance of the artistic skill to conform successfully to confront the hazard and convey victory.

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36 Despite the importance of attacking enemy shipping in the SWPA, Kenney’s first priority was always air superiority, the foundation of all Air Force doctrine. Even the most adamant prewar strategic-bombing theorists believed in this fundamental concept. The air superiority theoretically provided by the bombers’ formational fields of fire inspired enough confidence in the majority of prewar planners that they de-emphasized fighter protection and, thus, fighter development. The assumption of air superiority within bomber formations became a given.

The method developed by the squadron did not attack at mast height and did not aim to place bombs directly into the hulls of ships—it was true skip bombing: The bombs would fall anywhere from 60 to 100 feet short of the vessel, skip into the air, and hit 60 to 100 feet beyond. If perfect, the bomb would hit the side of the boat [ship] and sink it. ]. With the 4- to 5-second delay fuze in the bomb, I had time to get away while the bombs sank by the side of the ship. 35 Skip bombing is one of the most important but confusing topics in the history of Fifth Air Force.

He had to challenge the AAF’s strategic predispositions in the same manner he had handled General Sutherland. The targets in the SWPA, especially in the early days of the war, were anything but strategic: “In Europe, the mission of strategic bombers was to destroy Germany’s war economy. In the Southwest Pacific there were no typical strategic targets other than a few oil refineries. ”4 Until Allied forces could make major advances, the heart of Japanese industry and supply remained out of reach for Fifth Air Force and its minimal bomber contingent: Kenney held no grand strategic illusions.

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