Axis History Forum

This is an apolitical forum for discussions on the Axis nations and related topics hosted by Marcus Wendel's Axis History Factbook in cooperation with Michael Miller's Axis Biographical Research, Christoph Awender's WW2 day by dayand Christian Ankerstjerne’s Panzerworld.

Skip to content

If you found the forum useful please consider supporting us. You can also support us by buying books through the AHF Bookstore.

Most Successful Fleet

Discussions on all aspects of the United States of America during the Inter-War era and Second World War.
Hosted by Carl Schwamberger.

Re: Most Successful Fleet

Postby Delta Tank on 16 Apr 2010 01:38

Pips and all,

Then when you consider how many pilots the Japanese Navy started with and then how many were in the "pipeline" you can see why they could not win. Somewhere on this forum, a member that is also an author, Tillman(?) gave a very accurate set of numbers for pilots in the Japanese Navy. The story I read was that the Japanese Navy started with something like 2000 or so pilots, and they only graduated 100 pilots a year. Apparently before the war they started to increase the number of pilot trainees, but from the numbers above (even if they are off by several hundred) you can see that very quickly you would run out of pilots. But when you consider combat, accidents, disease, and other causes you just run out of pilots very quickly.

Mike
PS I am pretty sure it was Tillman and he gave a very good explanation of all this. I tend to be search deficient, but I will try to see if I can find it.
Delta Tank
Member
United States
 
Posts: 1953
Joined: 16 Aug 2004 01:51
Location: Pennsylvania

Re: Most Successful Fleet

Postby Delta Tank on 16 Apr 2010 01:51

Pips and all,

I believe this is the thread I was thinking of, and the author is R. Leonard.
viewtopic.php?f=65&t=61356&hilit=+japanese+pilots

Delta Tank wrote: It was my understanding that the Japanese Navy only had 1500 qualified carrier pilots at the beginning of the war and that they only qualified 100 new pilots a year. If that is true, accidents, combat, sickness, etc would pretty much destroy that force very quickly. do you have any information on this subject?


R. Leonard wrote: The Japanese Navy had, as near as I can figure, some 3500 “front line” pilots of whom about one half were carrier current, that is, assignable to carrier squadrons. These numbers pretty much correlate with those of the USN/USMC. Just looking at active USN squadrons yields a similar number of available aviators. As far as carrier qualified pilots are concerned, that is a more difficult number ascertain from the sources I have available. I suppose a copy of “Sunburst” might clear some of this up for me, but I have yet to get around to purchasing a copy. USN carrier squadrons, at the end of 1941 only mustered about 580 flying slots in 38 squadrons. USMC VMF and VMSB squadrons probably accounted for another 200-250 readily available carrier qualified pilots. Certainly this was not the total pool of available carrier qualified USN/USMC pilots as it does not take into account carrier qualified pilots assigned to such mundane activities as training and staff positions, as well as land based squadrons. The same would be true of the IJN, there were undoubtedly many carrier qualified pilots not actually assigned to a carrier squadron and so operating. In preparing for the war, the IJN brought it’s operational aircraft up to a level of about 1800 aircraft, with about 1200 of them shore based and 600 ship based (aircraft carriers and battleship and cruiser scouts). If there were indeed only 1500 carrier qualified IJN pilots, then, obviously they had twice as many pilots as carrier pilot slots.

What was the final devastating factor for IJN aviation, both carrier and land based was their inability to make good their losses. While some like to believe that the cream of the IJN carrier aviators were wiped out at Midway, that is not exactly true. The loss of the four carriers in this battle meant that, no matter what, all of their aircraft were lost. So, probably about 256 planes were lost. This does not equate to the loss of 256 pilots; rather, the Japanese only lost somewhat less than100 pilots in the battle, most of whom met their ends aboard sinking carriers as opposed to air combat operations. Where the curve of the loss of experienced pilots started to drop off the chart was in the Solomons where both land based pilots and, thrown in as reinforcements, carrier pilot losses, went beyond the IJN’s training programs ability to replace them with a quality product. The short hiatus from the Solomons campaigns to the Mariana’s allowed the IJN some training and preparation respite, but it really was never enough to build air groups of the pre-war caliber. A substantial majority of these newly trained pilots, along with many of the residual experienced leaders, were lost in the Battle of the Philippines Sea, or as it is known, “The Great Mariana’s Turkey Shoot.” Somewhere (grabbing numbers out of the air because I don’t feel like looking it up) around 325 IJN planes and their crews were shot down, with no hope of rescue for any who might have been able to survive their downing. Essentially, this action eliminated the second generation of IJN carrier pilots and was a blow from which the IJN never recovered.

As near as I can put together, during the course of the war the IJN trained some 24,000 pilots of all stripes. Roughly 18,900 of them, and their pre-war compatriots, were killed, either in action, training, or operationally. Over 2500 of these were killed in suicide attacks.

If you look at USN pilot training, in the years 1925 through 1941 (very few aviators from classes prior to 1925 were still in flying billets by 1941) 7,061 pilots had completed the program. Of these, 44 percent, 3,112 completed the program just in 1941. Those most likely to endure the most of the fighting were those who completed flight training between 1934 and 1941, some 5,687 pilots. How many of these were carrier qualified? I have not the slightest idea; I would suspect certainly a majority, as the USN, especially in the 1930’s, had a habit of moving pilots from one type of squadron to another. In 1942 USN pilot training programs started going to high gear, 10,869 aviators received their wings of gold, three times the number that had completed the program in the previous 17 years. In 1943 there were 20,842 graduates; 1944, 21,067; and with then end of the war in sight, 1945 ended with 8,880 graduates. Thus in the period 1942 to 1945, the USN produced more than 2.5 times the number of pilots as the IJN. And each of those USN pilots went through a program of primary, intermediate, advanced, and, for carrier pilots combat preparation in RAGs before heading west. New pilots were arriving for action in USN carrier squadrons with as many as 600 hours flying under their belts and as much as 200 hours of that in type.

This was a level of training and preparation with which the IJN could never dream of competing. The IJN training programs suffered from an insufficient number of qualified instructors, lack of fuel for extensive flying time, poor maintenance of training aircraft, and shortages of ordnance. There two most critically lacking areas were a continued adherence to traditional adversarial nature of their programs (for every one graduate, there were nine others who did not) and, of course, time. There was never enough time to develop the students’ skills, to practice attack tactics or defensive actions. Most of them arrived in combat squadrons with less than 200 hours in all, by the very end of the war, less than 100 hours. Most had to learn combat skills on the job once assigned to a combat squadron. By then, it is too late and few survived.

Many will harp on the overall superiority of the start of the war IJN carrier pilots. I would suggest that this, too, is somewhat of a distorted view. Popularly, the IJN pilots are given credit for racking up all this great combat experience in China. Well what about this great combat experience? This was exciting work, bombing raids blasting relatively, certainly by later wartime standards, undefended villages, towns, cities and the odd US gunboat. Fighterplane wise, this meant flying strike escort for these mostly unchallenged air raids, shooting up an occasional column of troops or refugees, and, on rare occasions, cornering a bunch of Russian built and Chinese flown I-15 biplanes or a rare I-16 monoplane.

Also, consider that IJN air units had considerably less involvement in China than IJA air units and that virtually all, if not actually all, USN/USMC F4F vs Japanese VF encounters, in the 12/7/41 to 12/31/42 time period, were against IJN VF. This is not to say the IJN flyers had no combat experience, but to posit instead that it was, perhaps, a "lower quality combat experience" than that for which they are popularly given credit . . . really not much more than overly realistic training. The entire argument of the IJN pilots having all this vast combat experience must rest on some fairly unlikely presuppositions, such as: All IJN pilots/air groups went off to China and obtained this combat experience. That all sorties resulted in air to air combat action, all VF pilots received air to air combat experience, and all VF air to air combat experience was obtained flying the A6M2. The extensions of these presuppositions are: all IJN pilots/air groups went off to fight the Americans with no pilot without this experience. There were no PCS transfers out, no operational casualties, no assignment of new pilots fresh from whatever advanced training, and no PCS transfers in from pilots who were busy elsewhere during the China adventure

Significantly, whatever combat experience the IJN pilots did acquire in China would only stand them good stead if the USN pilots flew like the Chinese Air Force . . . which was, most definitely, not the case.

So the popular theory is that these green, inexperienced, fresh from training, USN/USMC pilots faced all these, to a man, combat experienced, multiple victory, mature late 20's to early 30's, rock steady, hardened professionals. Not really true.

The USN/USMC F4F pilots, while not combat experienced, were, in most cases, well trained, well led, and possessed of sound tactical doctrine. Their squadron commanders and executive officers, for the most part, were experienced aviators who had received their wings by the early 1930's, the division and section leaders usually had anywhere from three years to slightly less than a year in type. What do you suppose the USN/USMC pilots were doing while the IJN pilots were cavorting around China ... sitting around on their hands at the Kaneohe, Ford Island, or Norfolk NAS O Clubs? No, they were flying and training, flying and training, flying and training, ad nauseum. They had a good idea who they were going to have to fight, and some, Lt Cdr's James Flatley and John Thach being the prime examples, had a pretty good idea how they were going to go about it.

A shining example of the USN squadrons would be the aviators from one fighter squadron, VF-42, who fought against the Shoho, Zuikaku, Shokaku, Akagi, Soryu, Hiryu, and Kaga air groups, as well as aircraft stationed at Tulagi. VF-42 had spent some 8 months on Neutrality Patrols in the Atlantic, flying F4F's (and before that in its previous identity of VS-41, SBUs) off Ranger, Wasp, and Yorktown before Pearl Harbor. In June of 1941, the squadron was attached to the Yorktown and, with the coming of the war, went to the Pacific aboard her. The experience level for the squadron, reported on 30 April 1942, ranged from a high of 3019.3 hours (Flatley, the XO) down to 274.4 hours (Ens Gibbs, who joined the squadron on 8 December 1941). The average pilot hours for the squadron were 989.4. Note that 3.8 hours flying a day, 5 days a week, for a year would net you 988 hours flight time. In actuality, once assigned to a carrier squadron one could expect a pilot to acquire not more than about 10 hours a week if he really worked at it, or about 500 hours a year. Even in 1945, USN carrier pilots were still only averaging 10 hours a week in operational flying, this during the final July-August strikes. The squadron average, therefore, represents almost two years worth of flying experience.

The squadron suffered no combat casualties in the early raids, in fact, none until the Battle of the Coral Sea, where they lost two planes and one pilot in air-to-air combat. Another one plane and its pilot were lost operationally during the battle. The squadron was credited with 24 victories between 4 May 42 and 8 May 42. A month later, at Midway, where VF-42 pilots made up 64% (16 of 25) of Jimmy Thach's VF-3 pilots engaged on June 4th (and 59% of VF-3, overall), they lost 4 planes shot down and 2 pilots. Of claims confirmed and credited to pilots flying with VF-3 at Midway, 17 of 27 went to the VF-42 contingent. Of a total of 21 pilots assigned to this squadron from 7 December, 1941 to the end of June 1942 when it was disestablished, only 6 planes and 3 pilots were lost in combat. This squadron was one of only two that flew at both at Coral Sea and at Midway (the other squadron being the Yorktown's VB-5, which was temporarily re-designated "VS-5" during the Midway period) and the only US VF squadron whose pilots fought at both battles.

Where the real difference lay, as I am always so quick to point out, was in tactics . . . and this is where the discussion wraps back around to training . . . without training and practice in tactics you are just boring holes in the sky until someone shoots you down. While the USN/USMC VF pilots specialized in deflection gunnery, the IJN pilots, while having some training in deflection gunnery, tended to prefer the high side rear or frontal attack. If their target turned away at the last instance before firing, as the USN pilots were trained to react, the attack was spoiled. It has been said that true deflection gunnery tactics ended forever the concept of the "dogfight" as it had been practiced since WWI. If you do not practice the art of deflection gunnery and you find yourself up against someone who does, you re already behind the curve and in deep trouble. When you add Thach's beam defense to deflection gunnery, you are close to a world-beater. Escorting the Yorktown's VT-3 on its strike on the Japanese carriers at Midway, Jimmy Thach led a 4-plane VF-3 division as cover. After losing one plane (a VF-42 pilot, E. Bassett), in the initial contact with the Japanese CAP, he initiated the beam defense tactic with the remaining three planes of his division. They shot down at least four, and probably five, A6M2's with no further losses to themselves. In the process, they soaked up the attentions of some 12 of the Japanese CAP (almost a third of the airborne CAP) while the SBDs were gathering overhead. The Japanese reported that they had encountered some 18 Grumman fighters in this action.

What was your fathers name and which outfit was he in again. I understand that you wrote a book on the subject what is the name of that book.




Barrett’s “practically wrote the Wildcat book” reference to my father is just a figure of speech. Folks like Barrett, John Lundstrom, Robert Cressman, and others write the books; folks such as my father provide the grist for the mill. So, no, I have not written a book, though the thought has crossed my mind on more than one occasion, especially after long posts. :D

My father is Bill Leonard who flew in Yorktown’s VF-42 in the Lae-Salamaua raid, the Tulagi raid, and in the Battle of the Coral Sea. He was executive officer of VF-3 at the Battle of Midway and in the summer of 1943 was flight officer and, later, executive officer of VF-11 in the Solomon Islands campaign. An ace, he then spent about a year in ComFAirWest training new fighter squadrons and working with Jimmy Flatley on the revisions to the fleet fighter operations manual. In the fall of 1944, he went back out west as Jimmy Thach’s assistant on the TF-38 operations staff where he stayed until the end of the war. In 1971, he ended up 33 years commissioned service as a Rear Admiral commanding the US Naval Safety Center.

Regards,

Rich
Delta Tank
Member
United States
 
Posts: 1953
Joined: 16 Aug 2004 01:51
Location: Pennsylvania

Re: Most Successful Fleet

Postby Takao on 16 Apr 2010 02:53

You read too much Delta Tank.

There is a book author is Barrett Tillman. His webpage can be found here: http://www.btillman.com/
He has published several books on American naval aviation, and, at least, two on the Battle of the Philippine Sea. His most recent work on the Turkey Shoot was "Clash of the Carriers: The True Story of the Marianas Turkey Shoot of World War II" published in 2005.

Perhaps the best book that I have read concerning the air war in the Pacific is Eric M Bergerud's "Fire in the Sky: The Air War in the South Pacific." This book traces the path of the air war from the start of the war until the end of 1943.
User avatar
Takao
Member
United States
 
Posts: 2174
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 19:27
Location: Reading, Pa

Re: Most Successful Fleet

Postby Delta Tank on 16 Apr 2010 13:13

Takao,

I did read "Clash of the Carriers" a couple of years ago. You can never read too many books!! The problem is reading the right books, namely those that have correct factual information and following the truth were ever it leads. I am now studying the French and Indian War aka The Seven Years War, so my World War II books are resting comfortably until I can attack them again! :lol:

Mike
Delta Tank
Member
United States
 
Posts: 1953
Joined: 16 Aug 2004 01:51
Location: Pennsylvania

Re: Most Successful Fleet

Postby Takao on 16 Apr 2010 19:45

Yes, I agree! You can never read to many books.

Thanks to you and this thread, I am now rereading "Clash of the Carriers" I couldn't find "Fire in the Sky" were I thought I had left it, so that means it's probably boxed up somewhere.
User avatar
Takao
Member
United States
 
Posts: 2174
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 19:27
Location: Reading, Pa

Re: Most Successful Fleet

Postby john becktel on 29 Jul 2012 21:25

binder001 wrote:
Delta Tank wrote: Now back to Halsey. Why didn't he leave some sort of force or at least keep the straight under surveillance? He had a large enough force to leave something there.Mike


There's the million-dollar question! That very subject has been the subject of endless debate and speculation in print and on the internet since the event occurred. You'll soon have a 20-page thread if you go down that path :-)



i have a vague recollection of reading somewhere of king being critical of kinkaid's not having scouted the san bernardino strait. can anyone help me with this? it's a bit of a puzzle because i can't see what kinkaid could have done except perhaps to send the taffy's away and screamed for help earlier. of course it's always nice to know where your enemy is.
john becktel
Member
United States
 
Posts: 23
Joined: 20 Jul 2012 23:06

Re: Most Successful Fleet

Postby Takao on 29 Jul 2012 22:41

john becktel wrote:i have a vague recollection of reading somewhere of king being critical of kinkaid's not having scouted the san bernardino strait. can anyone help me with this?

Can't say as to King's being critical of Kinkaid about scouting. However, attempts were made at aerial reconnaissance of San Bernadino Strait. Kinkaid had detailed some "Black Cats"(PBYs specializing in night flying) to fly recon of the area). Of the 5 so detailed only three were able to get airborne that night, and only one of those flew over San Bernadino Strait. Unfortunately, this was before Kurita's force reached the area, so his force was missed completely. Further, Admiral Sprague had ordered Admiral Stump to fly off some recon planes, however, this order was not received by the USS Ommaney Bay until about 0500 hours, and problems with reading her aircraft delayed launch until 0658 hours.

john becktel wrote:it's a bit of a puzzle because i can't see what kinkaid could have done except perhaps to send the taffy's away and screamed for help earlier. of course it's always nice to know where your enemy is.
H. P. Willmott has each CVE carrying between 9 -12 torpedoes, between the 16-17 CVEs, that is a minimum of 144 torpedoes. Quite an anti-surface punch despite what most "popular" authors have to say about the battle. Had the CVEs been properly ready to engage Kurita instead of being caught flat-footed, the action off Samar could have been quite the American victory.
User avatar
Takao
Member
United States
 
Posts: 2174
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 19:27
Location: Reading, Pa

Re: Most Successful Fleet

Postby Rian on 15 Nov 2012 00:12

In 1942 USN pilot training programs started going to high gear, 10,869 aviators received their wings of gold, three times the number that had completed the program in the previous 17 years. In 1943 there were 20,842 graduates; 1944, 21,067; and with then end of the war in sight, 1945 ended with 8,880 graduates


"Naval Aviator" this is not the same as "Carrier Qualified Pilot". After December 7 1941 C.Q. training (Carrier Qualification) was made on board "lake carriers" - USS Wolverine and USS Sable. But in 1942 Wolverine qualified only 287 pilots and Sable started her duty in may 1943. And was some pilots qualified on board of escort carriers and sometimes on board of operational carriers.
In next years was better (betw. 1942 and 1945 "lake carriers" qualified 17820 pilots).
And remember - not all "Carrier Qualified Pilots" were members of US Navy!! Lot of carrier qualified pilots were from US Marine Corps. Some probably from US Coastal Guard. And some were from abroad (UK carrier pilots for example).

So - how many real carrier qualified pilots entered into US Navy service in 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945????
User avatar
Rian
Member
Poland
 
Posts: 142
Joined: 14 Apr 2005 22:45
Location: Czarnkow, Poland

Re: Most Successful Fleet

Postby R Leonard on 17 Nov 2012 02:02

Rian wrote:
In 1942 USN pilot training programs started going to high gear, 10,869 aviators received their wings of gold, three times the number that had completed the program in the previous 17 years. In 1943 there were 20,842 graduates; 1944, 21,067; and with then end of the war in sight, 1945 ended with 8,880 graduates


"Naval Aviator" this is not the same as "Carrier Qualified Pilot". After December 7 1941 C.Q. training (Carrier Qualification) was made on board "lake carriers" - USS Wolverine and USS Sable. But in 1942 Wolverine qualified only 287 pilots and Sable started her duty in may 1943. And was some pilots qualified on board of escort carriers and sometimes on board of operational carriers.
In next years was better (betw. 1942 and 1945 "lake carriers" qualified 17820 pilots).
And remember - not all "Carrier Qualified Pilots" were members of US Navy!! Lot of carrier qualified pilots were from US Marine Corps. Some probably from US Coastal Guard. And some were from abroad (UK carrier pilots for example).

So - how many real carrier qualified pilots entered into US Navy service in 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945????


Naval Aviators designated by year. This count includes USN, USMC, USCG; officers and enlisted - in the sum total, there were at least 10,349 Marine Corps naval aviators. It also includes, but does not differentiate, a really very small number for foreign aviators trained (actually more Free-French than British and only in the 1944 - 1945 period):

1930 - 348
1931 - 321
1932 - 168
1933 - 138
1934 - 35
1935 - 100
1936 - 212
1937 - 527
1938 - 543
1939 - 450
1940 - 708
1941 - 3,112
1942 - 10,869
1943 - 20,842
1944 - 21,067
1945 - 8,880

According to the Naval Air Operational Training Command, at least half, and as many as two-thirds, of any given class would be assigned to VF, VB, or VT training, presumably depending on manpower needs projections. Regardless of whether or not a given aviator so selected (and this was all done after the student aviator had already “earned his wings”) were USMC or USN, carrier qualification was a part of the advanced training syllabus. USCG naval aviators were, almost without exception, placed in VPB or VO/VCS advanced training. Those receiving their advanced training in VF, VB, and VT craft were in almost all cases assigned to Navy squadrons of the same type designations or, if Marines, to VMF, VMSB, or VMTB squadrons. For the sake of argument, then, at the low end of the scale, between January 1941 and December 1945, somewhere in the neighborhood of at least 32,000 naval aviators were at one time or another carrier qualified.

Certainly anyone with some hard numbers is free to present and I’ll be happy to review their work.

The qualification process utilizing Wolverine and Sable presented a location where, while bitterly cold in winter, offered generally sheltered waters where the budding aviator could carrier qualify; in actuality, these ships were a quick expedient in getting the job done . . . five launches, five traps, you’re qualified. In the descriptions I’ve seen, aviators went up to Glenview NAS in rotation from their advanced training syllabus, arriving by train. Within 24 hours they were flying out to one of these ships, performing the deed, maybe again the next day depending on impingements on the process, and the next day back on the train to NAS Jacksonville or one of its outlying sub commands. Note that this was part of the advanced training syllabus for VF, VB, and VT types, gents who had already been awarded their wings of gold . . . including those destined for USMC squadrons . . . and before final completion of training prior to assignment. I’d note that still not an inconsiderate number of other carrier qualifications also occurred in the ACTGs in Norfolk and San Diego, though, as the war went on, Wolverine and Sable took up much of the load. Still other qualifications took place aboard “regular” carriers (the CVs, CVLs, and CVEs) when they were available in the vicinity of the Operational Training Command, and by the end of 1944 there were CVEs ready and in use for that particular task in the waters off Florida – for example USS Guadalcanal performed that task beginning in December 1944 into February 1945; a quick duck back into Norfolk and a short cruise south and she became stationed out on Mayport starting on 15 Mar 1945 (and later out of Pensacola) for carrier qualifying duty, qualifying some 4,000 aviators in the process. USS Mission Bay performed carqual and re-qual duty in Atlantic following the German capitulation to the end of the Pacific War out of Norfolk and Quonset. USS Card, also out of Quonset performed carqual duties from March to May 1945 before heading to points west. USS Tripoli carried the burden for two months in the summer of 1944 out of Norfolk. I suppose we should also not forget the obvious USS Charger. Charger spent the entire war, practically, in the Chesapeake Bay providing a platform for RN sailors training to man US built CVEs and providing a handy carqual platform. There are more examples if one looks. To pose that those two Great Lakes sidewheelers alone provided the sum of “carrier qualified” naval aviators bespeaks a lack of familiarity with the training system process and its evolution.

Just looking at the established squadrons at the end of the war, there were at least 10,600 or more billets for carrier qualified aviators, that is, aviator slots in squadrons attached to, working up to, or established for, carrier duty (including at least 680 USMC billets). This, of course, does not count carrier qualified aviators involved with the various training establishments, the NATCUs Atlantic and Pacific, Flight Test units, some 70 plus CASUs, or staff positions not involving flying (for example, John Thach, as in “Thach Weave,” certainly a qualified carrier pilot, was operations officer for TF38 at the end of the war, a non-flying position; his two assistants were early war carrier fighter aces, both obviously carrier qualified, but not in flying billets – a similar situation in all the carrier division commands, the ops folks were almost to a man carrier qualified, early combat types). Nor are we counting those who were dual qualified and serving in multi-engine squadrons, mostly in the VPB end of the business. The list of the types of USN and USMC units besides carrier squadrons in which one might find a goodly number of carrier qualified pilots can get pretty long – I suppose I could come up with list of activities where one would be pretty confident in finding carrier qualified aviators, but I would need considerable coaxing to make the effort. And let us not forget the plethora of USMC single engine land based types, either, who launched and landed the requisite five times each at least once in their careers and got that little box checked.

And to clarify just a bit on USMC aviator training. Some, not necessarily here, hold the belief that shore based USMC types were not carrier qualified. Oh, no, not so; an orientation manual published during the war by the Naval Air Operational Training Command makes the following statement regarding USMC aviators in the Operational Training pipeline:
“A certain percentage of those going into naval aviation for flight training are taken into the Marine Corps. Throughout the OTU's, except VO/VCS, Marine aviators will be found. In the Florida area there is no base set aside exclusively for Marine training. However, the facilities at the Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina, are devoted to that branch of the service.
“Operational Training Squadron Eight, MCAS, Cherry Point, is comprised of units of PBJ's (B-25's).
“With respect to the Florida bases, whether fighters, dive bombers, patrol planes or torpedo bombers, all trainees are given the same instruction at the same units, regardless of whether they are Marine or Naval aviators.”

While the leatherneck aviators probably did not have a great number of opportunities to exercise this skill when operating out of island bases in the Pacific, they had, performed the task at least once to standard.

And let us not forget that not all of the Japanese naval aviators were carrier qualified either.
User avatar
R Leonard
Member
United States
 
Posts: 258
Joined: 16 Oct 2003 02:48
Location: USA

Re: Most Successful Fleet

Postby South on 18 Nov 2012 11:37

Good morning R. Leonard,

Re: "The ops folks were almost to a man carrier qualified, early combat types..";

The quote governs the flavor of much of the overall US military mobilization and training to prosecute WWII.

Without experience - usually defined as combat experience - these senior billets were not available for the merely well-groomed.


Warm regards,

Bob
South
Financial supporter
United States
 
Posts: 1698
Joined: 06 Sep 2007 09:01
Location: USA

Re: Most Successful Fleet

Postby R Leonard on 18 Nov 2012 23:17

Hello Bob!

Indeed you are correct, though sometimes it takes the experience to separate the wheat from the chaff. I can think of a couple of individuals who, in my most very humble opinion, had absolutely no business leading anyone in harms way. Of course, by the end of the war most of that got straightened out.

My father, on more than one occasion, remarked on the losses of squadron commanders and air group commanders in the last six months of the war, men who had survived the early combat as relatively junior officers and, leading out front, pressed their luck just once too often. Those losses he felt deeply as these were the same gents he came up with and many were good friends. His roommate, for example, from the VF-42 and VF-3 days aboard Yorktown (CV-5) and a USNA classmate, was killed in an air to air collision in the clouds off the coast of Hokkaido on 15 July 45, a month before the end of the war. My father was one of those TF38 AsstOps Officers - Jimmie Thach snagged him from his slot as director of the fighter training program at ComFAirWest (working for his former roommate's older brother) when the guy originally tapped for the job, Gordon Cady, with whom my father had served in VF-11 in the Solomons, was killed in a stateside crash . . . just one of those damned accidents. Thach went looking for my father because of their association as CO and XO of VF-3 at Midway.

Regards!

Rich
User avatar
R Leonard
Member
United States
 
Posts: 258
Joined: 16 Oct 2003 02:48
Location: USA

Re: Most Successful Fleet

Postby Rian on 19 Nov 2012 01:02

Yes, I know, that many of japanese navy pilots wasn't in fact carrier pilots. Hiroyoshi Nishizawa - one of best fighter aces of Imperial Japanese Navy probably never was on carrier deck. Was on US Navy side similar??

So - my question is how many of these pilots:

1930 - 348
1931 - 321
1932 - 168
1933 - 138
1934 - 35
1935 - 100
1936 - 212
1937 - 527
1938 - 543
1939 - 450
1940 - 708
1941 - 3,112
1942 - 10,869
1943 - 20,842
1944 - 21,067
1945 - 8,880

was carrier qualified pilots of US Navy carrier air squadrons?? Becouse these great figures may distort the real picture of the situation. If Great Lakes carriers qualified in 1942 only 287 pilots (partially from USMC), so where was made carrier qualification for the rest - more then ten thousand pilots?? Operational carriers was in action. CVE's - only sometimes was able for training pilots and not in big number (eg. USS Solomons in March 1945 qualified 101 pilots, USS Takanis Bay - in May 1944-August 1945 - more than one Year - qualified 2500 pilots).

So - If all CVE's qualified pilots with same speed (around 100 pilots per month) it must be minimum 4 CVE's in 1942 used for training only.

Question - so all "Naval Aviators" was carrier qualified or not?? If answer is "NOT" and if big part of carrier qualified pilots was in fact members of USMC, USCG (or was forgein pilots, eg. from Royal Navy) - than real situation of US Navy was worse than we see in these figures.

I know data for example from USS Essex. New pilots from Air Group Nine which embarked on board in March 1943 had many accidents - planes crashed, pilots died etc. during training months (March-August 1943). I know data from USS Ranger, USS Santee etc - lot of planes crashed during Operation Torch in November 1942. Was these pilot qualified carrier pilots (Ranger had new pilots from August 22 1942), or mayby they comes on carrier deck after training on land only (so they were carrier inexperienced)??
Last edited by Rian on 19 Nov 2012 23:51, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Rian
Member
Poland
 
Posts: 142
Joined: 14 Apr 2005 22:45
Location: Czarnkow, Poland

Re: Most Successful Fleet

Postby Rian on 19 Nov 2012 14:22

P.S. Last question:

"Naval Aviator" = pilot only??

or maybe

"Naval Aviator" are all aviators (incl. radiomen, gunner etc.)

If "Naval Aviators" are all aviators - so number of pilots must be much smaller than number of all aviators.
Last edited by Rian on 19 Nov 2012 23:50, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Rian
Member
Poland
 
Posts: 142
Joined: 14 Apr 2005 22:45
Location: Czarnkow, Poland

Re: Most Successful Fleet

Postby R Leonard on 19 Nov 2012 17:57

Okay, your last post has clarified the problem; it is one of basic terminology. One was designated a naval aviator upon completion of primary training. At that point one was awarded one’s wings. A naval aviator is one who has completed the USN’s program to qualify one as a pilot. SOME of those naval aviators go on to become carrier qualified, some of those naval aviators do not. All of them, with the funny little gold wings, are naval aviators. It would do well to remember that every patrol plane had at least two pilots aboard and sometimes three . . . that can do a lot to your manpower planning. And qualifying does not necessarily mean proficient. A good weather summer day with no accidents and I suspect good old Wolverine could easily carrier qualify 50 plus pilots. Fly out the ship from Glenview NAS, trap, launch; circle trap, launch; circle, trap, launch; until the required number of iterations is reached and you’re done, go back to the air station, your little carrier qualified box gets a check. Asking how many naval aviators were carrier qualified is like asking how many USAAF pilots were C-47 drivers as opposed to P-47 drivers. C-47 and P-47drivers were all USAAF pilots.

My suspicion on the lack of readily available hard numbers on how many were carrier qualified as part of their operational training phase and how many went to, say, a VR squadron in the NATS (and those who did so pretty much went right away, skipping the operational training phase) is that it was a conscious effort on the part of the USN to deliberately NOT differentiate one community over the other. Frankly, the fixation on carrier pilots versus, say patrol pilots makes me a bit uncomfortable. Were the patrol pilots somewhere else during the war? Kind of like the popular fixation on aces and fighter planes . . . not very many fighters sank any aircraft carriers; that was, at least for the USN, mostly a dive bomber thing, and without carriers to land on, the enemy planes tend to drop into the ocean all by themselves.

That being said, the number of carrier qualifying aviators is evidently an elusive number. A breakdown of how many went to what community apparently is not something the USN felt important enough to make readily public. Most USN publications deal strictly with numbers of aviators in the aggregate without so many patrol types, so many fighter types and so on. I’m sure there’s a breakdown or study out there somewhere gathering dust on a shelf, but not on one of mine. There is this squib found in a volume produced post-war by the Aviation History Unit (OP-519B) in the office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air) entitled “The Navy’s Air War - A Mission Completed” starting on page 312:

“. . . operational training concentrated on the five major service type planes. Observation-scouting pilots received a two months' course preparatory to being assigned to air units aboard battleships and cruisers, or those destined for inshore patrol received an abbreviated course. Carrier pilots and patrol plane pilots of various types also got roughly a two months' course, and an innovation was made in the training techniques at this stage. This was a further recognition of the principle that it takes teamwork to win a war, and consisted of a joint training of the pilots and the air crewmen. This type of training was improved upon as the program continued and proved to be of great value.

“In order to take care of this expanded operational training, new fields were necessary. A nucleus was already available in fields at Jacksonville, Miami, Key West, and Banana River, and in due course additional fields sprang up all over east Florida. In the early period of this program, it was planned to have simulated carrier landings at Florida bases, with actual qualification landings on near-by carriers. This plan was expanded by the introduction of carrier training in the Middle West. Two Great Lakes steamers, formerly coal-burning, side-wheeling excursion vessels, were converted to carriers, the USS Wolverine and the USS Sable, and aboard these vessels much of the later carrier qualification training was conducted. The Charger fulfilled a similar role as a practice ship off the east coast. By the first of December, 1942, carrier pilots alone were being trained at the rate of three hundred a month.”

A review of the DCNO(Air) produced Naval Aviation News volumes from 1943 through 1949, inclusive, did not produce a single instance where the words “carrier” and “qualification” (including potential variations) appeared together in a sentence. The closest reference was found in the 15 Dec 1944 issue:

“ ‘Three new pilots are scheduled to report today, Commander.’ The skipper of a fighter squadron cheerfully reported this news to the air group commander aboard X. He really needed those three aviators. Later in the day the skipper’s hopes were dashed. Questioning the trio, he found one was a veteran with months of experience on another carrier. That was fine, but the other two had not practiced landings aboard a carrier in the six months since they had been checked out during training. One had made only nine carrier aboard the U.S.S. Wolverine back on Lake Michigan and the other had only ten to his credit. These two could not be used even on routine patrol sweeps. When a strike was ordered on a major naval base, they stayed on deck.

“The Captain of Carrier X cited the incident in his official report of the air attack. So “the word” got to Washington. The difficulty was presented to the newly organized Flight Safety Council for action.

“The council also heard reports from Carrier Y telling that when its composite squadron was expanded only one of new aviators was an experienced pilot and reports from Carrier Z that new pilots reporting aboard had never been on a carrier before.

“The council took up the matter with the Training and Aviation Personnel Divisions under DCNO (Air). Both checked into the problem. The pilot replacement program was tightened and improved. All hands concerned were alerted to difficulties of a repetition of such carrier duty assignments for aviators. As the Flight Safety Council was informed at its next meeting, “It is believed that this matter has been satisfactorily solved.”

Of interest also is the Appendix 10 of the Naval Historical Center (now Naval History and Heritage Command) volume “United States Naval Aviation 1910 -1995” entitled “Aviation Personnel on Active Duty” which provides gross numbers by year of the subject matter. One might note a comparison to the number of aviators designated in the above post. As is what is becoming typical, there is no distinction made of those carrier qualified and those not. See: http://www.history.navy.mil/avh-1910/APP10.PDF. Also of interest is that in the Appendix 1 of the same volume, entitled “The History of Naval Aviator and Naval Aviation Pilot Designations and Numbers, The Training of Naval Aviators and the Number Trained (Designated)” – this the source for the numbers cited in the above post – on finds that the words “carrier” or “aircraft carrier” never appear, not even once. See http://www.history.navy.mil/avh-1910/APP01.PDF.

I still like the NAOTC estimate of half to two-thirds of each class going to single engine combat types of the VF, VB, and VT variety.

Just going to have to add this to the great list of tidbits for which to keep an eye peeled; I trust you will keep your eyes open as well. Bottom line, of course, is . . . how many? well, obviously, enough.

Regards,

R
User avatar
R Leonard
Member
United States
 
Posts: 258
Joined: 16 Oct 2003 02:48
Location: USA

Re: Most Successful Fleet

Postby Rian on 20 Nov 2012 00:28

Thank You very much for informations.

My questions about C.Q. (Carrier Qualification) of Navy pilots was, becouse I found some interesting informations.

At August 21 1942 on board USS Ranger comes VF-9 squadron for "its first taste of life at sea" (USS Ranger monography). At August 25th new pilots start training and nex day (August 26th) first of them, Ens. George N. Trumpeter crashed his Wildcat on deck, becouse "poor technique". Until end of September, crashed some other Ranger's planes:
At September 5th - Ens. Michael R. Saska from VF-9 crashed his Wildcat in Chesapeake Bay. Pilot died.
Same day Lt. (jg) Harold R. Keller, Jr. crashed his Vindicator on deck (too high landing speed)
September 28 - Lt. Tag Grell from VF-41 crashed in air with Boyd N. Mayhew.

One month - 5 planes crashed, one pilot died, some wounded.

I know data from Big "E" from january - july 1943 - in six months - 11 planes crashed (or were lost) - together 10 crew killed or missing. Most of them were new pilots.

USS Essex - March - end of August - 11 planes crashed (or were lost) (I don't know nothing about crew casualties - but some were missing - probably killed).

So - 2 carriers, six months, 22 planes lost, many crew killed. About 10-15% off all planes from these carriers lost without enemy...

I have also information from USS Bunker Hill - after some Helldiver accidents:
"pilots training on the SB2C It was produced under trying conditions — green labor, rushed schedule — forced into operational service and into the hands of rather inexperienced pilots without proper testing. I doubt that the average recently graduated ensign had over 250 hours total, and I know his carrier landing experience was nil, possibly six landings on the Wolverine or Sable in the Great Lakes. These conditions added to the problems"
User avatar
Rian
Member
Poland
 
Posts: 142
Joined: 14 Apr 2005 22:45
Location: Czarnkow, Poland

PreviousNext

Return to USA 1919-1945

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: CommonCrawl [Bot] and 0 guests