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PBY's

Old 17th Jul 2002, 03:17
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Talking

Chuck, did ya get above 5000 feet between the Whale and PH? If you have Milberry's book about Austin, I hope she was a little more ahh..svelte than the lady being helped aboard on page 133.

Capt, check out www.catalina.org.nz/new_page_1.htm if you don't already know about it. They may have the story of the first attempt of the transpac crossing.

Samuel, were those 46's bare metal finish with no registration marks?
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Old 17th Jul 2002, 17:44
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Pigboat:

Yes I have the book and just checked page 133,, my God that is her getting into JCV!!!!

Yes it happened at 5280 feet.

Boy that picture brings tears to my eyes remembering..

How can I ever thank you P.B. for pointing that picture out to me?

Cat Driver
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Old 17th Jul 2002, 19:36
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Yes PB. Definitely no markings, but given it was 1974-75 and I was an RNZAF Flt Lt at the time, I put two and two together and came up with Air America!

There was a Herc arrived there on the day of the fall of Saigon which was equally unidentifiable, but which rumour had it was promptly claimed by the Singapore Government.
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Old 19th Jul 2002, 01:02
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Smile

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Old 19th Jul 2002, 01:28
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Question Why do people climb mountains? Because they are there.

Many years ago an Air Force PBY flying out of (I believe) Elmendorf AFB in Alaska found itself in a white out in a mountainous area. The pilot was familiar with the various peaks and their respective altitude. Knowing where he was when he entered the whiteout he began to climb with the intention of flying over the mountain range. He was several minutes into the climb when the aircraft lurched. The airspeed dropped to zero and his rate of climb indicated no climb and no dive. His altimeter also stopped indicating an increase in climb. His first thought was his pitot sensing or his static port had frozen over. He turned on the pitot heat with no effect. The airplane was in a cloud and the pilot was totally unaware of his situation. The pilot very slowly retarded the throttles until the engines were at idle. The aircraft rolled slightly and the flight engineer lowered the floats. It seems that the P Boat intersected the rising surface of the mountain at a very slight angular difference and became stuck in the snow. The crew was eventually rescued by an AF H-19 and to my understanding the P Boat is still there.

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Old 19th Jul 2002, 06:17
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PBY Catalina - the First Casualty of the Pacific War

By late Nov/41 it was obvious the long expected Jap advance into SE Asia was imminent, but the whereabouts of the invasion armada was a mystery.
On his own initiative Adm T. Hart CinC Asiatic Fleet ( in the Phillipines) personally briefed his PBY crews to find the Jap fleet
and" Try to do it without being seen,and don't bring on a war".

* In effect the PBY now became the first aircraft to commence ops in the Pacific War.

On Dec 02 the PBY's found the fleet assembling in Cam Ranh Bay,some 20 ships. On 03 Dec the fleet had grown to 30 ships consisting of cruisers,destroyers & troop transports.
On the 04 Dec they had vanished.

Washington,CinC Pac & Cinc Asiatic were convinced Malaysia or Singapore was the fleets destination. The British Government however, was not convinced - at a meeting of Service Chiefs in London on Dec 06 they stated that the Japanese may be "just cruising around as a bluff" !!
On 06 Dec an RAAF Hudson spotted the fleet & an RAF 205 Sqn
Catalina was despatched to continue the shadowing. This aircraft was never heard from and its fate is unknown.
A second Catalina from RAF 205 Sqn was sent on task and having found the fleet was attacked & shot down by a Nakajima Ki-27 , Japanese Army fighter .

* The Catalina was the first casualty of the Pacific War.

The landing at Kota Bahru did not take place until late that day,so this was the first act of war against Britain - not the pre-landing bombardment at KB.

Last edited by Capt. Crosswind; 19th Jul 2002 at 07:54.
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Old 19th Jul 2002, 11:55
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X-Wind.

Very interesting. I had not heard of this. Can you cite a source/reference?
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Old 19th Jul 2002, 18:18
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LZ

This story is also recounted by E.K. Gann in Fate is the Hunter. The landing site was the Greenland icecap.
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Old 20th Jul 2002, 04:55
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PBY Catalina - the First Casualty of the Pacific War

Sure thing IME, I browsed a number of references including
Royal Australian Air Force 1939-1942, Douglass Gillison & Blood ,Tears & Folly, Len Deighton - which has many more references listed. Len Deighton drew on such works as History of US Naval Operations WWII, S.E.Morison; War in the Far East,Basil Collier et al.
I recommend Deighton's work for your bookshelf.

When reading through this period you get the impression that the US was 100% convinced the Japs were about to attack the British & Dutch possession in SE Asia. At the same time they thought the chance of Japan attacking the US was remote. Meanwhile the British government & top brass were not a bit concerned & felt any attack very unlikely & easily handled if it did eventuate.

X/W
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Old 20th Jul 2002, 07:51
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Captain Crosswind is quite correct regarding the attitude of the colonial Brits towards the ‘squinty-eyed Orientals’ and the main thrust of the Japanese attack. Despite Hollywood’s constant re-writing of history, where the US is at the centerpiece of everything, the main Japanese thrust in December 1941 was indeed directed towards securing the oil reserves of the Dutch East Indies and the strategically vital rubber-producing British territory of Malaya.

The main Imperial Fleet had no real role to play in this initial attack, for the Japanese had their excellent long range naval bomber force operating from land bases in French Indo China to protect the invasion fleet, (a role they carried out with devastating effect, which can be illustrated by the fate of the Prince of Wales and Repulse when they steamed north from Singapore without air cover to intercept the fleet on 10 Dec).

This meant there was no role for the main fleet, and the Navy wanted their slice of the glory, so they ran what amounted to little more than a sideshow in the Hawaii operation. Militarily, it could have been brilliant, and would have been if they had stuck to plan and followed up with a second attack on the US oil installations later in the day (and even moreso if they had caught the US carriers in port as well). However, politically, it was a truly disastrous decision, for it awoke the ‘sleeping tiger’ of US public opinion and unleashed the full might of the US industrial giant against them.

The ‘what ifs’ are tantalizing.

What if the Japanese had gone West into Siberia to support their allies, the Germans, (the other option, strongly favoured by the Imperial Army)? The Russians barely held the Germans in the desperate battles outside Moscow in late 1941, and only because they were able to strip the majority of their large forces from the Manchurian border and rush them to the European front after their spy in the German Embassy in Tokyo gave them the word that the Japanese had decided to go South into the NEI and Malaya in reaction to the oil embargo the Brits had slapped on them in 1941. With a war on two fronts, the Russians (or at least Stalin and the Communist Party) would not have survived that winter… and that would have totally re-written the history of the war in Europe for the Western Allies. Imagine if the Germans had had just half of the forces they committed to Russia (or ‘just’ the million+ men they lost at Stalingrad) available to use in North Africa and to oppose the Normandy invasion? – (which would never have happened, certainly not as early as 1944, BTW). Far more likely, the Brits would have faced starvation thanks to the U Boat offensive and it is probable they would have had to accept ‘peace’ and some form of German occupation, if only political.

What if the Japanese had concentrated on just the Dutch and the British territories? Militarily, it would have been very dangerous, leaving them with an exposed left flank, (the US forces in the Philippines and the untouched US fleet in Hawaii). But on the other side of the coin, they would have had all those assets used in the Philippines and Guam to present a very swift fiat accompli that might have taken them all the way to Fiji and Australia – and Rooseveldt would have had the devil of a time convincing a very unwilling US public to become involved in a war that ‘didn’t concern them’, just as the war in Europe was seen by most in the US. (Most people in the US then wouldn’t have been able to find Malaya – or Australia – on a map.) And remember, the Japanese plan all along was simply to grab territory that would allow them to negotiate a peace treaty from a position of strength. Without the high passions that Pearl Harbour created in the US psyche, they might well have got away with it, and a defeated Australia might have become nothing more than a huge Japanese mining camp and holiday resort. (Australia nothing more than a huge Japanese mining camp and holiday resort? Wait a minute….)

What if Macarthur (the US generalissimo in the Philippines) had put his forces on a proper war footing the day after Pearl Harbour? Admiral Kimmel, the leader of US forces in Hawaii, took the whole rap over Pearl Harbour. But Macarthur, with none of the excuses Kimmel had, escaped with his reputation intact over his huge screw up on the day following the Pearl Harbour attack when he allowed all his long range bombers to return to base from patrol for lunch(!) The Japanese, (surprise, surprise), attacked then and wiped out almost every B17 and PBY in the Philippines – on the ground. It’s been posited by more than one observer what a difference those aircraft would have made had they been available to oppose the invasion fleet approaching the Philippines.

And one last what if. What if the RN carrier that was on its way to Malaya in late 1941 hadn’t run aground in the West Indies? None of the RN carrier-borne aircraft were a match for the Zero, but its mere presence would have changed the equation in those first few months hugely, even if it had remained in the Indian Ocean.
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Old 20th Jul 2002, 12:02
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PBY's

Gentlemen - many thanks for all of this excellent information, much of which I was unaware of.

Another "What If" - What if we had lost at Midway?

Our West Coast and the Panama Canal would be under attack, and perhaps the Axis forces would have triumphed worldwide.

Frightening scenario, indeed.
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Old 20th Jul 2002, 13:07
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I. M. Esperto, may I recommend an excellent read “What If? – Military Historians Imagine What Might have Been” edited by Robert Crowley (ISBN 0 330 48724 8).

This book includes an alternative outcome of the Battle of Midway and posits how Nimitz would have been pilloried for making horrific errors of tactical judgment if the battle hadn’t gone the way it did – and even with all the Americans had going for them with knowing the Japanese codes, it still went very close to not going their way.
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Old 20th Jul 2002, 15:23
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PBY's

Wiley - Again, thank you.

All of this makes some sense of the "Divine Intervention" theory, doesn't it?
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Old 21st Jul 2002, 08:42
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PBY WWII

I.M. Esperto:
I.M. in the case of Midway at least the PBY's had found the Jap fleet for Nimitz. For which the accounts of Midway never seem to give due credit, I was unaware of their role until it was pointed out by R.B.Flying previously. Anyway, I still think the USN would have prevailed even if Midway was not won.

Pigboat:
Thanks for the web site - lots of good gen.
Makes me wish I'd made that Cat co-pilot job years ago ,but I was a day late & a dollar short.

Samuel:
I was always amused in that era in SE Asia to arrive at an airport & in the GA section would be 50 acft painted all colours of the rainbow . In the middle of it all a nondescript grey acft would stand out like a shag on a rock & we'd all say " Oh look the CIA are in town."

Wiley:
Thanks for the good gen.
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Old 23rd Jul 2002, 10:08
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PBY Midway

I.M.Esperto
Reading further into Midway, we need to give credit to the codebeakers at CinC Pac. They had partially broken a tough Jap Navy code JN25 & so the Cats were looking in the right region, not in the Aleutians which was Washington's original bet.
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Old 27th Jul 2002, 04:08
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My Midway Theory

Had a fine time reading through the posts since the last ime I looked.

Yep, the Japanese underestimated Westerners as much as Westerners underestimated them.

They lost Midway because of an accumulation of factors: the major ones were:[list=1][*] the vulnerability of their carriers to combat damage. Bombs went through the Japanese flight decks and started uncontrollable fires in the hangar decks.[*]Americans outclassed them totally on combat damage limitation and repair. Two Japanese carriers were damaged at Coral Sea and taken off the Midway force.

The Yorktown was damaged at Coral Sea and repaired in Pearl Harbor in time to make Midway. After being damaged at Midway, repair parties got it back in shape so well that the second Japanese air attack thought it was the other carrier.[/list=1] Without Coral Sea, it would have been 6 carriers vs. 2.
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Old 27th Jul 2002, 08:00
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Midway

Thanks for that info RBF, of which I was unaware.
In your post of 17 June you mentioned an assessment re Pearl Harbour that if the fleet had been at sea the losses would have been heavier. I've come across a similar argument that supports this to a considerable degree.
Firstly the loss of life & casualties would have been less if the fleet was ready at action stations at sea as the high loss of life & casualty rate in the attack was due to burns(60%). Reason being men were in underwear or half dressed & not wearing anti flash combat clothing when they went to action stations at such short notice.
On the other hand any of the battleships sunk at sea would not have been recoverable. Quite a few of the ships sunk at Pearl were refloated & returned to action as we know.
The question is how would the attack have gone against a fleet in open waters at action stations, with a CAP provided by the shore based fighters ??
Looking at other engagements Coral Sea & Midway, we can think the torpedo bombers would not have done much damage,but the dive bombers are different matter.
The Jap Navy torpedo bombers on the other hand had been responsible for sinking Repulse & Prince of Wales.
Anyone got any theories on how this would have gone ?

Last edited by Capt. Crosswind; 28th Jul 2002 at 09:25.
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Old 27th Jul 2002, 13:01
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CC, The Yanks acquitted themselves very well in later naval engagements, but when you're suddenly in a war, there's some hard lessons that have to be learnt or relearnt.

The principal naval lesson of WWII is that air cover wins naval engagements, but Billy Mitchell got court-martialled when he pushed that point too hard. It took Pearl Harbor etc. to clue in the Yanks properly.

And they learned very quickly. For them to have done better at PH would likely have required that they had already absorbed the hard lessons of the early months of WWII.
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Old 27th Jul 2002, 14:23
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Question Anti flash clothing

To: Captain Crosswind

Reason being men were in underwear or half dressed & not wearing anti flash combat clothing when they went to action stations at such short
The US Navy only in recent years adopted the use of anti flash protective clothing. At the time of Pearl Harbor the only clothing other than underwear worn by sailors were a chambray shirt and dungarees which didn’t offer much protection at all.

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Old 27th Jul 2002, 14:50
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Bombs penetrated the flight decks of US carriers as well. They were no armored.

Some RN carriers (perhaps all) had armored flight decks, but this made them very tender, and induced rolling.
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