b-29

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[Witnesses to history, Tuttle and the soldiers around him didn’t know what the first use of nuclear weapons would mean, for them or anyone else.]

I stole a glance around and saw that everyone, to a man, was watching the unusual bomb run with me.

They say it was 9:12 am local time when the first bomber released its load and triggered the others to follow suit immediately after. Some men say they saw all five bombs in the air. I for one caught only a glimpse of the first giant steel ball just after it was released. I watched that pair of B-29s turn and dive steeply, right toward my vantage point. The other pairs pulled the same maneuver, leaving in whichever different direction would keep them best clear of the coming blasts. The first pair passed back overhead still diving, engines ripping madly at the air to pull the bombers away from danger. The high flying sentries continued to orbit over the area, a little to the south.

I was eyeballing the two laggards, which had passed the first pair on their way out. A great flash lit them up, brighter than a clear noon sun. Instinctively, though against instructions, I turned north toward the source of the light. In close succession, above the hills and trees in between, another four flashes lit up across the horizon. Each was similar to how the blast from a big navy 16 inch shell lights up the night, but this was in broad daylight.

An ethereal dome formed and spread out around each blast site, visible only by its effects. Cloud layers alternately formed or vanished as the dome passed. Walls of dust and smoke pushed out along the ground around each blast, quickly visible over the near faces of the mountains north of us. A flattened ball of burning air raised up over each of the sites I could see, shedding and re-swallowing smoky clouds as it roiled up through the hole each bomb had made in the atmosphere.

I remembered the late pair of bombers and picked them up again roughly over Karakuni-dake. The laden one had released its bomb and they had turned together to the east. Due north of my location they caught the first blast wave. Both planes suddenly jumped forward and up, while banked into a right turn. With their full profile facing the shock, they were hopelessly damaged instantly. Closer observers say one plane lost most of the right wing before being sucked directly into its partner. Debris rained over the 11th Airborne Division’s former staging area.
The last bomb detonated high over Takachihono-mine, barely two miles from the former front lines of the 40th Infantry Division.

I wrote some time ago about an ‘earthquake’ from artillery bombardment. I thought it was modest hyperbole, but it was not remotely close. Today a real earthquake moved the ground under our feet starting a few minutes after the first bombs went off. A great crack from each explosion was heard, followed by continued crackling that took some time to soften into an echoing rumble. Some men thought they felt the wind shift for a moment.

Men began to talk over the sounds, some of them excitedly whooping, some asking what it meant. The company captain had already gathered his officers and they were pointing at the burning mountains and marking up their maps.

Each explosion had been capped by a flattened ball or rolling donut of smoke and fire which rose steadily over a perfect column of hot smoke and steam. The ball shape stayed together until almost out of sight high in the sky. By then a great haze had spread over the entire horizon. Fires raged around each blast zone. A slight wind carried the smoke to the northeast, away from us and mostly across all the Japanese lines.

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[Tuttle got the outline on the next offensive, and picked his spot on one end of it.]

The next planned action was to be perfectly straight-forward – attack everywhere, all at once, using every mortar, gun, aircraft, tank, howitzer, bazooka, rifle, and knife at hand. “Nothing fancy, just meat and potatoes, and lots of it.” I kept my fork and napkin handy. I expected the dinner bell to ring soon.

Sure enough, before first light an earthquake on par with anything this volcanic island has felt in millennia woke me out of the hole I had taken for the night. Thick waves of bombers had come in from over the water, bombing inland objectives by radar . Some bombs may have fallen short, but I couldn’t confirm the details.

The 3rd Marine Division was working up the coast so it would get ample naval support. Small islands near shore gave up huge mounds of themselves as heavy shells made sure they would not present a hazard. The barrage picked up breadth and intensity as it moved inland.

I watched the bombardment from a small high spot with some of the artillery spotters. The bombardment was to spare the roads ahead, for our own use. Corrections were called backed several times after they watched the making of a large pothole through their specialized telescopes.

The division was established in a prosperous small coastal city northwest of Sendai, where a navigable river met a small harbor and a train line. The Marines were to drive another two miles north to the next such nearly identical town.

What drew me to the Third is what it would do next – nothing. The 3rd Marines would be the first large unit to reach the planned “line of advance.” The line is to run generally northeast from there all the way across Kyushu, about 90 miles. Some number of the combat divisions will dig in there and defend what we took, while bases are prepared to support the invasion of Tokyo itself*.

The Marines met little organized resistance today. The knobby terrain had only a few good roads connecting local villages. The Japanese had well disguised but uncoordinated traps set at most intersections or choke points. As usual, the American advance could not be stopped, nor could it move quickly. Ambulances had no trouble keeping up. They made numerous round trips.

* Naturally, this paragraph could not be published at the time and was not even submitted to wartime censors.

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[Not a field report, but included in Kyushu Diary, Tuttle gave readers an overview of the American battle plan.]

The primary focus of operations at the end of 1945 was to get as many troops as available onto Kyushu before winter set in. The troops available would be all the Army divisions MacArthur had used in the Philippines, and whichever Marine corps divisions were not heavily involved on Okinawa, the most recent operation.

Four multi-division army corps were set up, under a general command called the Sixth Army under General Walter Krueger. Planning staffs had labeled over 30 possible landing beaches on the southern third of Kyushu, naming them in alphabetical order from east to west by automobile brands. The final plan had us using eight of them in three clusters for the X-day assault.

The Marine Corps sent its 2nd, 3rd, and 5th divisions as the Fifth Amphibious Corps. They would land on the west coast, south of the city of Sendai. The First Corps, Army divisions 25th, 33rd, and 41st, would land on the east coast, either side of the city of Miyazaki.

South of that in Ariake Bay the 1st Cavalry Division, 43rd Infantry Division, and the Americal Division would land as the Eleventh Corps. Another corps, the Ninth, on X-2 has already made an elaborate fake landing operation toward Shikoku far to the northeast. Its 77th, 81st, and 98th infantry divisions can land as needed later. They are penciled in for a landing south of the Marines on X+3 or X+4. Ninth Corps also had the 112th “Regimental Combat Team” , which could deploy independently. Incidentally, the 98th is an all new unit, the only one here with no combat experience.

Ahead of the multiple corps, the 40th Infantry Division, reinforced with the 158th Regimental Combat Team, started landing on the smaller islands south and west of Kyushu, to eliminate them as threats to the main fleet once it arrived.

What we need out of Kyushu most of all is airbases. You may have noticed, B-29 bombers are not small. They need room to stretch out those long wings, and they prefer wide long runways. In addition, there are supply depots and workshops and barracks for a million men (or more) to build. But Kyushu does not have an abundance of flat land to offer. It is woven from a coarse thread of steep ridges and volcanic peaks, interrupted only briefly by flat valleys and a few small plains. To get enough space for our uses, and secure it from Japanese long range artillery or sneak attack, we plan to push well into the hills north of the last set of valleys.

As a layman looking at all this, the invasion plan at first looked like a focused application of awesome force, and it was impossible to see how such a large and well equipped invader could be turned away. But I had been at this a little while by then, and I did a little calculating. I’m sure real staff officers in many headquarters and Pentagon offices had run the same numbers many times.

Okinawa is about 5 miles across in its southern portion where we had four divisions abreast fighting stiff resistance for two months to advance about 15 miles, taking casualties all the way. Southern Kyushu is 90 miles wide, and we plan to land maybe 13 divisions. That would spread forces out almost six times as thin. Total area to be taken is well over 5,000 square miles. They talk about having ‘maneuver room’ and ‘flexible force concentration’ to overcome this. Time will tell.

Planned hospital beds for evac casualties from Operation Olympic

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Today we conclude this series of specific references behind the details in X-Day: Japan. These are not formal citations, as they are not all root sources and the book is not an academic volume. The use of real historical elements for X-Day: Japan serves to educate the reader about the time, add interest to the story, and honestly it just made the thing easier to write!

November 23, 1945
Jumbo air-to-ground rocket,
airandspace.si.edu

November 27, 1945
1st Cavalry Division,
first-team.us

December 3, 1945
M29 Weasel,
m29cweasel.com

December 8, 1945
M26 Pershing tank next to M4 Sherman tank (models),
warbird-photos.com

December 9, 1945
War Department Technical Manual TM-12-247,
Military Occupational Classification of Enlisted Personnel,
archive.org

December 10, 1945
U.S. Army Center of Military History style guide,
history.army.mil

December 11, 1945
Battle Formations – The Rifle Platoon, for NCOs (1942)
youtube.com

December 21, 1945
Hospitalization and evac plan for Operation Olympic,
Logistic Instructions No. 1 for the Olympic Operation, 25 July 1945
cgsc.cdmhost.com
USS Sanctuary, hospital ship AH-17
navsource.org

December 22, 1945
Russian communists vs Chinese communists,
– Tom Clancy, The Bear and the Dragon
Chiang Kai-shek quote on the communists vs the Japanese,
izquotes.com

December 23, 1945
Sakura-jima and its volcanoes,
photovolcanica.com

December 25, 1945
USS Hazard, minesweeper AM-240 [MUSEUM SHIP],
nps.gov
tripadvisor.com

January 17, 1946
Radiation detection equipment,
national-radiation-instrument-catalog.com

July 18, 1945
PBY-4/5 Catalina flying boat,
pwencycl.kgbudge.com
Consolidated Aircraft plant in San Diego,
sandiegohistory.org
Consolidated Aircraft plant production and products, B-24 and PB4Y-2,
legendsintheirowntime.com
wikipedia.org

December 24, 1945
Pearl Harbor survivors, trapped under USS West Virginia,
nps.gov
community.seattletimes.nwsource.com

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[After helping to stabilize his own camp, Tuttle moved around Okinawa to see what damage Typhoon Louise had done to the rest of the preparations for Operation Olympic.]

Buckner Bay is the new home to several dozen naval monuments. For example, some 50 yards in from the normal waterline sits a full size model of an American Sumner-class destroyer. I am sure it is full size, because it is the actual USS Laffey, DD-724. I found the Laffey with her bow pointed out to sea, and her stern jammed deep into the earth. She was leaned over a few degrees to port. The skin of her starboard side showed a long deep wrinkle, running vertically from mid height right down to the keel…

…other less lucky ships line the beach and shallows. I quit counting at forty-something, with a long way to go. Some are capsized, others broken apart. Anonymous debris thoroughly litters the beach. I picked through some of it, trying to guess what any of it used to be. I stopped to find someone to tell about a body that graves registration hadn’t found yet.

No planes are flying from here. Zero. I can’t say how many planes we have here, but ‘hundreds’ does not cover it. Runways are being cleared of debris, but every single aircraft is grounded until each is inspected for damage. So far every bird has failed inspection, and they are cued up for work ranging from skin patches to engine swaps to outright scrapping.

A plane engine can be heard overhead periodically. I’m told we are flying limited CAP with long range fighters from elsewhere, just in case the Japs try to take advantage of our situation. I can’t imagine what they would find worth bombing.

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Today we continue letting the reader see some of the specific references behind the details in X-Day: Japan. These are not formal citations, as they are not all root sources and the book is not an academic volume. The use of real historical elements for X-Day: Japan serves to educate the reader about the time, add interest to the story, and honestly it just made the thing easier to write!

August 30, 1945
Purple heart orders and production,
Giangreco, Hell to Pay, p187-193 [hardcover, 2009]

September 10, 1945
Typhoon Ursula,
wikipedia.org

September 17, 1945
Typhoon Ida,
wikipedia.org
navsource.org

September 21, 1945
Antitank Rocket, Methods of Use,
youtube.com

October 10, 1945
Typhoon Louise,
history.navy.mil
danielborgstrom.blogspot.com
navsource.org
glynn.k12.ga.us

October 11, 1945
USS Laffey, destroyer DD-724 [MUSEUM SHIP at Patriot’s Point],
patriotspoint.org

October 28, 1945
Downfall operational plan, 5/28/45, Annex 3 – estimated lift requirements
theblackvault.com

November 6, 1945
Petition to make Ernie Pyle’s house a national landmark,
nps.gov

November 9, 1945
Men lined up waiting to use the head before an assault,
Sledge, With the Old Breed
Surrender rates of Japanese soldiers,
Frank, Downfall, p28-29 and p71-72 [Penguin paperback, 2001]

November 11, 1945
Diagrams of amphibious assault boats,
ww2gyrene.org

November 16, 1945
USS Charette, destroyer DD-581, which had a remarkable career with the Greeks as the Velos,
wikipedia.org
USS Montrose, attack transport APA-212,
nasflmuseum.com

November 17, 1945
Helicopter medevac,
olive-drab.com
airspacemag.com

November 19, 1945
Estimate of Japanese tank strength and tactics,
ibiblio.org/hyperwar

November 20, 1945
USS Sanctuary, hospital ship AH-17,
wikipedia.org
158th RCT, “Bushmasters”
ww2f.com
wikipedia.org

November 21, 1945
USS Athene, attack cargo ship AKA-22,
navsource.org
USS Kidd, destroyer DD-661 [MUSEUM SHIP],
usskidd.com
USS Chester, heavy cruiser CA-27,
ibiblio.org/hyperwar
USS Windham Bay, escort carrier CVE-92,
sites.google.com/site/windhambay
USS Comfort, hospital ship AH-6,
dorriehoward.info/comfort
Blood supply,
Giangreco, Hell to Pay, p139 [hardcover, 2009]
USS Firedrake, Mount Hood class,
wikipedia.org
ibiblio.org/hyperwar
USS Orleck, destroyer DD-886 [MUSEUM SHIP],
orleck.org
USS Guam, Alaska-class,
wikipedia.org
wikipedia.org

November 22, 1945
USS Heerman (DD-532), USS John C. Butler (DE-339), – legends of Taffy-3,
bosamar.com
wikipedia.org
navsource.org
“The outcome is doubtful, but we will do our duty.”
Rear Admiral Robert W. Copeland,
wikipedia.org

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It must be emphasized that X-Day: Japan is not an academic work. Still, we’re proud of the research and detail that went into it. Some readers have asked for more information about certain details, or for a longer list of references than in the bibliography.

In the margins of the main manuscript can be found links to many of the little facts that decorate the novel. We’ve compiled them into a list, sorted by the Tuttle journal dates in which each was found. A bunch of them are given below. The list will be completed in later installments.

July 16, 1945
FM 30-26 Regulations for Correspondents Accompanying U.S Army Forces in the Field,
archive.org

July 19, 1945
Macarthur’s personal plane, and his assistants,
donmooreswartales.com
ozatwar.com
Flying across the Pacific in a hurry,
wikipedia.org
wikipedia.org
uswarplanes.net

July 22, 1945
USO,
archive.org
Hawaii – it’s history, economy, defenses, and outlook – as of late 1940,
fortune.com
Prostitution in Hawaii,
library.manoa.hawaii.edu
Actual USO show,
gvnews.com
abebooks.com

July 23, 1945
Training on Hawaii up in Camp Tarawa,
Chuck Tatum, Red Blood, Black Sand
DE’s by class and commissioning year,
ibiblio.org/hyperwar/

July 26, 1945
NATS,
wikipedia.org
vpnavy.org
FDR’s line crossing ceremony,
ww2db.com

July 27, 1945
Marpi Airfield, Saipan,
airfields-freeman.com

July 28, 1945
SB2C Helldiver,
wikipedia.org
Marine close air support,
ibiblio.org

July 29, 1945
Facilities and engineers in the Marianas,
ibiblio.org
Floating dry-dock example,
navsource.org
navsource.org
Log of bombing missions from one group,
39th.org

July 30, 1945
458th Squadron, 33th Bomb Group,
rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ny330bg/
mission log including radio report from Ray Clark,
rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ny330bg/

August 3, 1945
Baseball in wartime,
baseballinwartime.com
Navy reports on typhoon of June 1945 (Connie),
history.navy.mil
USS Red Oak Victory, cargo ship AK-235 [MUSEUM SHIP],
navsource.org
navy.memorieshop.com
richmondmuseum.org
Shortage of loading berths at Okinawa,
Nimitz Gray Books [multiple references]

August 6, 1945
Yonabaru Naval Air Station,
rememberingokinawa.com
Buckner Bay and Navy HQ buildings,
rememberingokinawa.com
Sinking of the USS Indianapolis,
history.com

August 9, 1945
Trial of Captain McVay of the Indianapolis,
ussindianapolis.org

August 10, 1945
Active airfields on Okinawa, 1945,
wikimedia.org

August 16, 1945
USO show on Okinawa,
rememberingokinawa.com
Betty Hutton,
bettyhuttonestate.com

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[For the first time Tuttle got to watch a large bomber attack form up and head off into the sunset toward Japan.]

The large Army air bases are fifteen miles from where I am near the giant naval station, but the bombers can be heard before they even get airborne. The insistent hum from thousands of cylinders in hundreds of radial engines shoves through the few gaps in the range of hills that cover Guam. The hum becomes an angry buzz as the engines rev and the 200 inch diameter propellers rip into the warm evening air, pulling the planes in close groups down parallel runways. The sound sharpens and takes focus as pairs of bombers come into view past the hills that had hidden them, slowly climbing over the water.

The evening sun warms each shiny silver bird with a fiery orange hue. I think it must look much the same when they circle back over a freshly fire-bombed city, widespread fires lighting up the sky as the injured city calls out her attackers in the sky.

The planes turn and continue climbing, moving to where they will meet bomber groups from the other islands. On each mission dozens or hundreds of planes from Guam meet a similar number from Tinian and/or Saipan. Together they pick up dozens or hundreds of fighter escorts near Iwo Jima.

The whole force moves toward Japan, where it will either split up or focus on just one large or important target. At night aiming points are found by radar. Coast line features, river junctions, and large landmarks show up well on even the most basic set. Thankfully Japanese defense radar and night fighters haven’t been very effective so far. That was a big unknown when the Army Air Force first started night bombing runs last spring, and at that time they had no option of fighter cover.

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[Tuttle wrote in real time as he was flown over the U.S. Navy’s island-smothering buildup on the Mariana Islands.]

Our plane ascends into an expansive blue field of distant white puffs, scattered high clouds well above our sight-seer’s flight plan. We start west bound, with a warm mid-morning sun behind us. As we gain altitude Tom makes a long lazy turn to the north. We level off and he points out some of the minor islands north of Saipan. After the big fighting was over we secured a few of them. Others are simply cut off. Whatever Japanese garrisons are left there will be tending vegetable gardens until the end of the war.

Turning back to the south, we pass Saipan on our right. Some areas where the fighting was hard are still pock marked and denuded. Other substantial areas are clear-cut and developed, including multiple airfields larger than the one we left. The 2nd Marine Division is camped somewhere between the clusters of runways and rows of Quonset huts. The rapidity of development since just last fall is awesome.

Tinian comes up quickly, and if our bases on Saipan are impressive, Tinian is simply gob-smacking. The whole island looks like it lost a fight with a giant cat. Parallel lines of broad white scratches cut across it at irregular intervals, with raw blisters of new buildings and other facilities ringing each big paw swipe. The largest ‘wound’ is called simply North Field, which has four parallel 8,000 foot runways and scattered parking for a secret but triple-digit number of heavy bombers.

Tom intends to cut across the middle of Tinian, to get me a better look, and communicates that to the appropriate party by radio. He is reminded to steer clear of the north end of the island, but otherwise cleared. We cut altitude and airspeed and move toward the center of the island, which from a low approach still looks tranquil and lush with green fur. Clearing the first line of trees, and conspicuous gun emplacements, the scene changes quickly.

I can barely see the ground for all the variety of patrol planes, long range fighters, inky black night fighters, and broad acres of shiny metal bombers. Most are parked out in the open, on pads off of curving paths that slink off of the runways and service ramps. The pads are scattered and staggered so an attacker can’t wreck a bunch of parked aircraft at once, but I think I could drop a rock from this plane at random and have even odds on dinging two of them in one go.

A southerly turn and another twenty some minutes flying brings us to Guam. I am still writing notes about Tinian as the facilities on Guam make themselves clear. Guam is the new home-away-from-home for a large part of the United States Marine Corps. The scene from Tinian is repeated, a dense clutter of war material making up most of the landscape. But the shiny bombers are here replaced by long rows and expansive clusters of tents, Quonset huts, and a growing variety of more permanent structures.

Guam today hosts two divisions of the United States Marine Corps. Before the war there wasn’t even such a thing as a Marine Corps division. Now there are six.

Seabees base on Guam 1945

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December 7, 1945 : X+22

Infantry in the field have little use for calendars. The day of the week means nothing to a man who is on the job all seven days no matter what, and hasn’t seen Sunday church services in months. Prayers out here are whispered on the schedule of artillery barrages and frontal assaults, not according to the program in a hymnal. The day of the month is immaterial to a soldier who pays no rent, though it should be cheap for accommodations consisting of a muddy hole and half a tent.

Those few here who do still keep track of what day it is recognize this as Pearl Harbor day. December 7th, four long years ago, the mighty Japanese Imperial Navy launched the surprise attack that ultimately brought us here. It would seem fitting for us to present them with an unpleasant surprise today, a little ‘thanks for the memories’ token of appreciation.

But I don’t think there will be any surprises offered in this part of the world. We assaulted this island with a quarter million combat troops and thousands of trucks and hundreds of tanks over three weeks ago. Our navy guns and artillery have pulverized in detail thousands of acres of Japanese home territory. I think they know we’re here.

One surprise for them might have been that the air force is operating out of the large airfields in Kanoya, but they tell me that won’t happen until tomorrow. We have been flying ground attack fighters from small improvised strips near the beaches since early on. Engineers get busy on the larger permanent airfields as soon as they are taken, but regular air operations don’t commence until the field is out of enemy artillery range and threat of night infiltration attacks.

Kanoya has the biggest prize airfield in this area, but it lies in a valley between what a civilian might call ‘beautiful mountain backdrops’, or the military calls ‘commanding heights’. Those heights must be cleared of unfriendly ‘sightseers’ before the field is safe to use.

The 1st cavalry division has nearly flushed out the last resistance in the rugged peninsula to the south. The 40th division believes it has a firm hold on the near sides of the dominating Onogara-dake, a 3600 foot jagged mountain that I imagine will be featured on postcards they will sell at Kanoya if it ever becomes a civilian airport.

So the plan is by this time tomorrow to have aircraft of many types able to land at Kanoya, quickly turn around, and rejoin the fight. Each captured or improvised airfield that opens up in a combat zone gets put to use like this as soon as it’s safe, and often before that. I can tell you several reason why, and why it’s important.

The first and most obvious thing is that the hours flying back and forth from a far-back air base to the front don’t have to happen. An attack plane can make many short trips in a day instead of one long one, delivering its presents to a greater number of naughty boys on the ground. A patrol fighter can spend many hours circling a patch of sky, or fight until its guns are empty instead of the gas tanks.

Sometimes people look at a map which says that target such-and-such is now in range of aircraft type so-and-so and they think ‘Great, that’s a done deal! It’s practically ours already.’ But if they stop and do the math they’ll realize the severe limits of operating at range. If a plane has say 12 hours endurance, as they call it, and it’s five hours away from the target each way (assume it’s the same both ways for simplicity), the plane can spend no more than two hours “on station” over the combat area. If you need to have constant coverage, and let me tell you the boys on the ground would really appreciate it if you made that happen, it now takes a squadron of twelve planes just to keep two at a time where they can do any good. Flying at great distance is what they call a “force divider”.

A subtler point is the drain long flights have on the airmen. It’s physically taxing, and a unique mental strain. I’ve seen this in every flying unit, but the problem was most acute with the long range B-29 pilots I visited in the Marianas. A squadron leader in one wing, Major Ralph Praeger of Great Bend, Kansas, explained it to me. “A bombing mission from here might be 8 hours out and 7 coming back. All of that is over wide open deep blue ocean. There’s very little to do but think about the risks, how on every large mission a few planes don’t come back, and for no known reason. They just don’t show up. Getting shot at over the target area is one thing. It almost seems fair [the Japs shooting back], I think some guys look at it that way any how. The rest of it though, it’s just nerve wracking.” Indeed it isn’t fair, one little (relatively) aluminum skinned bomber up against a humongous piece of fickle nature like the whole Pacific ocean.

The B-29, being a complexity-no-object state-of-the-art machine, requires plenty of maintenance after a long flight. If you ever get a chance to see a cutaway of one of those 18 cylinder supercharged radial engines that power these bombers, four at a time, I recommend it. It’s a thing of beauty, but remember that all those parts have to keep working together dozens of hours at a time, without service or inspection, for a loaded bomber to do a job. Now, if you get a chance to see a cutaway of a bomber pilot, I do not recommend it, because it’s pretty messy, but also a lot more complicated than even that radial engine or an entire bomber. Bomber crews sleep for a whole day after a big job. After an all-day mission they typically aren’t asked to fly again for three days or more.

Another reason we want close land air bases sooner-than-possible is the way it opens up the Navy’s aircraft carriers for their best uses. Navy and Marine flyers love supporting ground troops, but they also love their ships. The majority of the sea based planes here have been doing air defense, and as we’ve seen the fleet itself is the thing most in need of protection. The British sent every carrier they could muster, but their planes are 100% tasked with protecting their own part of the fleet.

The impatient airmen I talked to today, watching their new home air base being roughly finished, explained that the carriers would be free to move around more once the Army lets them go, and one thing they’ll like to do is go hunting for small airfields and harbors the enemy suicide planes and boats have been coming from. Shooting Japanese planes on the ground and boats at anchor would bring us back to symmetry with December 7, 1941.

It’s been a grand show , but I will not be sad to see the navy pull up its circus tent and take the show on the road, with a different script.

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