By Matthew K. Rodman
This paintings makes an attempt to provide a correct account of the character of the air warfare within the Southwest Pacific in the course of global conflict II, focusing typically 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 region. This used to be a second in heritage while wrestle air energy performed a key function in attaining victory. the writer recounts how the 5th Air strength quick built new strategies and systems that "saved the day." The perfection of low-altitude bombing, strafing, and bypass bombing made changes that during hindsight are effortless to acknowledge and quantify. with no them the 5th could have came across itself in an extended, more expensive struggle with an doubtful consequence. even though, those new strategies damage the enemy to the level that the Allies finally prevailed. the true worth of this examine lies now not rather a lot in its retelling of important 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 middle capabilities. Many elements confirm good fortune -- guidance, assets, wisdom, and resolution to call a number of. yet none of those have approximately the significance of the inventive skill to conform successfully to confront the hazard and bring victory.
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Extra info for A War of Their Own: Bombers Over the Southwest Pacific
24 Such results inspired low-altitude development in other squadrons and platforms. Clearly, the leadership of Fifth Air Force and Fifth Bomber Command saw in the attacks on Rabaul the way of the future. If one could not provide a sky full of bombers, tactics would compensate for the shortage. Thus, low-altitude attack became a logical choice for commanders—one that Fifth Bomber Command would continue to use in coordinated efforts as it grew in strength. Low-altitude bombing and skip bombing developed concurrently, but the latter became the trademark of Fifth Air Force and remains one of the great mysteries of World War II.
The limited air contingent found itself in the same situation, unprepared and underequipped to fight off an invasion of the Philippines. Surviving AAF units withdrew toward Australia, beginning the retreat less than two weeks after the initial Japanese attack. The planes and crews that escaped became the foundation of the air effort in the SWPA. Ragged and poorly equipped, their flight from the Philippines was haphazard at best (fig. 2). 25 DECEMBER 1941–NOVEMBER 1942 LUZON CLARK FIELD PHILIPPINE ISLANDS 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 NAUTICAL MILES MINDANAO NEW IRELAND BORNEO NEW BRITAIN RABAUL CELEBES NEW GUINEA BUNA JAVA SO LO MO N IS PORT MORESBY LA ND S TIMOR DARWIN AUSTRALIA Figure 2.
8 Compared to the number of bombs dropped from formations at altitude, hits were few and far between. But with enough mass, according to Air Corps theory, bombers not only would bracket any ship with walls of bombs, but also do so out of effective reach of the ship’s antiaircraft fire. The 19th Bombardment Group (BG), survivor from the Philippines, operated almost exclusively with these high-altitude 27 DECEMBER 1941–NOVEMBER 1942 antishipping tactics. Its missions early in the conflict were textbook studies of prewar doctrine.