Greetings Pips, sorry it has taken so long to respond, but I have been unable to find any specific information only general
knowledge type material.
It has been awhile since I read "The First Team". Could you give me a chapter to use for reference.
First off, The Air Department did not instruct the CAG in the conduct of a mission. I think you are
confusing a CAP patrol with a strike mission, it is not. The CAG was to coordinate a strike against an
enemy target. The Air Department, via the fighter directors, was responsible for the defense of the
carrier. Thus, they are the ones issuing the orders to the CAP.
This is a very reasonable system. The CAP pilots' situational awareness was limited to their immediate
vicinity. Not to mention the fact that any CAG would have to divide his time between flying, fighting, and
coordination of all CAP patrols. While the Fighter Director could focus all his attention to plotting
incoming enemy raids and then coordinating the CAP to intercept these raids. The Japanese found out how
poorly the CAP functions when left to their own devices. Once an intercept was made, the CAP patrols
tended to leave their assigned sectors and head to the area of intercept. This would leave the Japanese
vulnerable to attacks from multiple directions. A good example is the battle of Midway, when the attack of
1010-1020 hit them from three directions, East, North-Northeast, and Southwest. The Japanese CAP focused
on the first sighted strike of VF-3/VT-3 coming in from the East. This allowed the dive bombers of VB-3
approaching from the Northeast and VB-6 & VS-6 coming in from the Southwest to carry out the attacks
As for the dissension between the pilots and Air Department aboard the USS Enterprise, I would say it was
the pilots who were being "very niggly and petty" and not the Air Department. While the pilots may have
hated flying the inner patrols, it is not tactically sound to have them flying the outer patrols. Here is
why. By having the bombers on the outer patrol, this allows them to detect incoming enemy aircraft and
give warning to the carrier. Thus, allowing the Inner patrol of fighters the greatest amount of time to
achieve a favorable intercept position. Now, if the positions were reversed. The fighters would be on the
Outer patrol and detect incoming enemy planes. However, if the fighters are not in a position to make an
intercept, then the carriers best defense has just been wasted. Then, all the carrier had to rely on was
the slower and ungainly bombers to attempt an intercept. Not a very promising situation indeed. So, by
having the bombers on the outer patrol you maximize the chances that the fighters on the inner patrol will
make a successful intercept.
Off-hand, I would say the inner and outer patrols would fall under the command of the fighter director
officer. I know that the USS Yorktown, during pre-WW2 Fleet Problems, had kept her fighters on the "Inner"
patrol and her other aircraft on the "Outer" patrol. So, this may have been standard practice in both the pre- and early war years, before radar had matured enough to be effectively used by the Fighter Director Officer.