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22. The Aerial Mining of Japan

Ralph H. Nutter University of North Texas Press PDF

22: The Aerial Mining of Japan

T

he aerial mining ofJapanese harbors, straits, and the Inland

Sea may have been LeMay's greatest strategic contribution to the defeat ofJapan. Military historians may have overlooked this because it lacked the drama of the firebombing of major Japanese cities or the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The navy was behind the mining ofJapanese waters. Its submarine campaign against the Imperial Fleet andJapan's merchant shipping had been a tremendous but overlooked success. The navy inflicted more damage on Japanese shipping than the Germans did on the Allies in the

Battle of the Atlantic. Ocean shipping was Japan's lifeblood. Its war industries required vast amounts of iron and steel, aluminum, and chemicals-nearly all of which had to be imported.

In the fall of 1944, Arnold's civilian committee of operational analysts joined with the navy in recommending a joint submarine and aerial mining blockade ofJapan. It was given the code name Operation Starvation.

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19. The Beginning of the End for Hansell

Ralph H. Nutter University of North Texas Press PDF

19: The Beginning of the End for Hansell

I

was concerned that Hansell's conflict with O'Donnell was impairing his judgment. He appeared lonely and withdrawn, seemingly engaged in a duel of nerves and will with Rosie. He had to know that he could not make his program succeed if his aircrews were hostile toward him. He also knew that O'Donnell was not alone in opposing high-altitude precision daylight bombing over Japan.

MacArthur's favorite air force commander, Lt. Gen. George C. Kenney, and several members of Arnold's staff were pessimistic about

Hansell's high-altitude daylight missions.

Arnold's staff would send him memos describing the success of

LeMay's operations in China, which angered Hansell, who didn't appreciate the comparison of his bombing accuracy with LeMay's. As the stress and pressures increased, Hansell felt that he had to either get control of the 73d Wing or he would have a breakdown. He wondered how LeMay got such good results. It was obvious that LeMay made no attempt to be liked by his men. Some feared him, but they all respected him. He knew that LeMay would not permit smug or disloyal people to disrupt his command, so he decided to call a meeting of the 73d Wing's aircrews and give them the toughest talking to a commanding officer could give a combat unit. He telephoned

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21. LeMay Firebombs Japan

Ralph H. Nutter University of North Texas Press PDF

21: LeMay Firebombs Japan

N

orstad arrived at our Guam headquarters on 1 March. He told LeMay that Arnold had sent him to review LeMay's

B-29 operations from the Marianas since he had assumed command on 20 January. LeMay was aware that although he had put more planes and bombs over the targets, his bombing results were not dramatically superior to Hansell's. He reviewed the strike photographs of the B-29 missions since November 1944. Although seventy-eight bombers had been lost, no high-priority military targets had been destroyed.

Except for Hansell's Akashi mission, the most damage had been inflicted with a mixed load of incendiary and high-explosive bombs.

Norstad suggested that the percentage of incendiaries carried on the missions be increased. LeMay agreed, but expressed doubt that highaltitude incendiary missions achieve the desired results. To obtain accuracy with incendiaries, he said, the planes would have to fly at lower altitudes, preferably below ten thousand feet.

He told Norstad that only twenty-five of the seventy-eight planes they had lost were shot down. The majority of losses were caused by the strain of climbing to and flying at high altitudes. However, B-29s could not fly low-altitude incendiary missions in daylight without fighter support. During the previous two weeks he had given thought to flying such missions at night. He asked Norstad if Arnold was willing to permit him to take a calculated risk. He wasn't asking Norstad to clear night missions with him. Arnold didn't need the heat and stress if they were a failure. If they failed, the monkey would be on

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17. A Different War, a Different Enemy

Ralph H. Nutter University of North Texas Press PDF

17: A Different War, A Different Enemy

A

s we approached the Marianas in a bright, cloudless sky, I moved up from my navigator's table to a position between the pilot and copilot for a better look. I was anxious to see my new home.

The campaign to capture the Marianas in the summer of 1944 featured the largest amphibious assaults of the war in the Pacific up to that time. Organized resistance on Saipan, Tinian, and Guam had ended on all three islands by mid-August. A few scattered Japanese remained to harass us until the end of the war. Only the island of Rota north of

Guam was still in Japanese hands; our forces had bypassed it. It became a favorite practice bombing area for our aircrews. On several occasions we threw empty beer cans out of the bomb bay after dropping our bombs, certain that the cans would whistle like real bombs and the

Japanese would wait for an explosion that never materialized.

The Marianas are a series of volcanic islands several hundred miles long in the central Pacific, thirty-five hundred miles from Hawaii, fifteen hundred miles east of the Philippines, and fifteen hundred miles south ofJapan. Saipan is seventeen miles long and about fiveand one half miles across at its widest point. It is the most northerly of the inhabited islands closest to Japan and one hundred and twenty miles from Guam. Guam is the largest island in the Marianas chain.

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8. Prelude to a Bloody Summer

Ralph H. Nutter University of North Texas Press PDF

8: Prelude to a Bloody Summer

C

ontrary to his glowing public relations statements to the

American people, General Arnold was privately dissatisfied with our bombing results in the winter and spring of 1943.

He criticized General Eaker's senior command personnel and told him that he was overly protective of his combat crews. The Eighth

Air Force was not flying enough missions; Eaker had not made adequate use of our available bombers or the short-range P-47 Thunderbolt fighters.

The assistant secretary of war for air, Robert Lovett, defended

Eaker. He informed Arnold that we were fighting against the toughest odds in the world. Even when our bombers returned from missions without personnel casualties, many of our planes were often so badly damaged that they could not return to combat for several weeks.

Each month during the spring of 1943, our losses increased. We lost seventy-five crews and less than a third of them were replaced.

Our increasing losses had to have become apparent to the Germans.

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