Tag Archives: WWII

Military History – “Flying Tigers”

DAYTON, Ohio -- Curtiss P-40E Warhawk at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio — Curtiss P-40E Warhawk at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

“Flying Tigers”  

The 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG) of the Chinese Air Force in 1941–1942, nicknamed the Flying Tigers, was composed of pilots from the United States Army Air Force, the Navy and the Marine Corps.   The shark-faced nose art of the Flying Tigers remains among the most recognizable image of any individual combat aircraft or combat unit of World War II. During the summer and fall 1941, before Pearl Harbor, some 300 men carrying civilian passports boarded ships destined for Burma. They were initially based at a British airfield in Toungoo for training while their aircraft were assembled and test flown by CAMCO personnel at Mingaladon Airport outside Rangoon. Chennault set up a schoolhouse that was made necessary because many pilots had “lied about their flying experience, claiming pursuit experience when they had flown only bombers and sometimes much less powerful airplanes. They called Chennault “the Old Man” due to his much older age and leathery exterior obtained from years flying open cockpit pursuit aircraft in the Army Air Corps.  The AVG was created by an executive order of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. He did not speak English, however, and Chennault never learned to speak Chinese. As a result, all communications between the two men were routed through Soong Mei-ling, or “Madame Chiang” as she was known to Americans, and she was designated the group’s “honorary commander.”

The 100 P-40 aircraft were crated and sent to Burma on third country freighters during spring 1941. At Rangoon, they were unloaded, assembled and test flown by personnel of Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company (CAMCO) before being delivered to the AVG training unit at Toungoo.   One crate was dropped into the water and a wing assembly was ruined by salt water immersion, so CAMCO was able to deliver only 99 Tomahawks before war broke out. (Many of those were destroyed in training accidents.) The 100th fuselage was trucked to a CAMCO plant in Loiwing, China, and later made whole with parts from damaged aircraft. Shortages in equipment with spare parts almost impossible to obtain in Burma along with the slow introduction of replacement fighter aircraft were continual impediments although the AVG did receive 50 replacement P-40E fighters from USAAF stocks toward the end of its combat tour.Hells_Angels,_Flying_Tigers_1942

The group consisted of three fighter squadrons of around 30 aircraft each. It trained in Burma before the American entry into World War II with the mission of defending China against Japanese forces. The groups of volunteers were officially members of the Chinese Air Force. The group first saw combat on 20 December 1941, 12 days after Pearl Harbor (local time). It demonstrated innovative tactical victories when the news in the U.S. was filled with little more than stories of defeat at the hands of the Japanese forces, and achieved such notable success during the lowest period of the war for both the U.S. and the Allied Forces as to give hope to America that it might eventually defeat the Japanese. AVG pilots earned official credit, and received combat bonuses, for destroying 296 enemy aircraft  while losing only 14 pilots in combat.  The combat records of the AVG still exist and researchers have found them credible. On 4 July 1942 the AVG was disbanded. It was replaced by the 23rd Fighter Group of the United States Army Air Forces, which was later absorbed into the U.S. Fourteenth Air Force with General Chennault as commander. The 23rd FG went on to achieve similar combat success, while retaining the nose art on the left-over P-40s. Chennault preached a radically different approach to air combat based on his study of Japanese tactics and equipment, his observation of the tactics used by Soviet pilots in China, and his judgment of the strengths and weaknesses of his own aircraft and pilots.  When Japanese aircraft attacked, Chennault’s doctrine called for pilots to take on enemy aircraft in teams from an altitude advantage, since their aircraft were not as maneuverable or as numerous as the Japanese fighters they would encounter. He prohibited his pilots from entering into a turning fight with the nimble Japanese fighters, telling them to execute a diving or slashing attack and to dive away to set up for another attack. This “dive-and-zoom” technique was contrary to what the men had learned in U.S. service.  AVG fighter aircraft were painted with a large shark face on the front of the aircraft. About the same time, the AVG was dubbed “The Flying Tigers” by its Washington support group, called China Defense Supplies.  The P-40’s good qualities included pilot armor, self-sealing fuel tanks, sturdy construction, heavy armament, and a higher diving speed than most Japanese aircraft – qualities that could be used to advantage in accordance with Chennault’s combat tactics.  Chennault created an early warning network of spotters that would give his fighters time to take off and climb to a superior altitude where this tactic could be executed.

For more information on the AVG, check out the page on Wikipedia.org

Military History – July 2015

Military History for July

The Battle for Guam, 1944

Picked this item for Military History for July, as it brought back memories of my time spent there during the years of 1966-1969 riding FBM submarines out of Apra Harbor.  I was also able to watch B-52 Bombers take off and land at Andersen Air Force Base during the Vietnam War.  It was hot and humid 24-7, but has some of the most beautiful beaches and the residents were always gracious to us.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Guam is the largest of the Marianas, 32 miles (52 km) long and 10 miles (16 km) wide. It had been a United States possession since its capture from Spain in 1898 until it was captured by the Japanese on 10 December 1941, following the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was not as heavily fortified as the other Mariana Islands such as Saipan that had been Japanese possessions since the end of World War I, but by 1944 it had a large Japanese garrison.

The Allied plan for the invasion of the Marianas, Operation Forager, called for heavy preliminary bombardment, first by carrier aircraft and planes based in the Marshall Islands to the east, then once air superiority was gained, close bombardment by battleships. Saipan, Tinian, and Guam were chosen as targets due to their size, their suitability as a base for supporting the next stage of operations toward the Philippines, Taiwan and the Ryukyu Islands; the deep-water harbor at Apra was suitable for the largest ships; and airfields for Boeing B-29 Superfortresses could be built from which to bomb Japan.

The invasion of Saipan was scheduled for 15 June 1944, with landings on Guam tentatively set for 18 June. The original timetable was optimistic, however. A large Japanese carrier attack and stubborn resistance by the unexpectedly large garrison on Saipan led to the invasion of Guam being postponed for a month.

A US naval and air bombardment lasted from 11-13 June 1944, involving 216 carrier aircraft and B-24s. On the 12th and 13th, 12 Japanese cargo ships and several fishing vessels were sunk. Battleships started shelling the island on 27 June, joined by a carrier group on 4 July, and two more on 6 July, with the loss of 16 US aircraft.

Guam, ringed by reefs, cliffs, and heavy surf, presents a formidable challenge for an attacker. Underwater demolition teams reconnoitered the beaches and removed obstacles from 14-17 July. Despite the obstacles, on 21 July, the Americans landed on both sides of the Orote Peninsula on the western side of Guam, planning to secure Apra Harbor. The 3rd Marine Division landed near Agana to the north of Orote at 08:29, and the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade landed near Agat to the south. Japanese artillery sank 20 LVTs, and inflicted heavy casualties on the Americans, especially on the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, but, by 09:00, men and tanks were ashore at both beaches.  By nightfall, the Americans had established beachheads about 6,600 feet (2,000 m) deep. Japanese counterattacks were made throughout the first few days of the battle, mostly at night, using infiltration tactics. Several times they penetrated the American defenses and were driven back with heavy losses of men and equipment.

The 77th Infantry Division had a more difficult landing on 23-24 July. Lacking amphibious vehicles, they had to wade ashore from the edge of the reef where they were dropped by their landing craft. The men stationed in the two beachheads were pinned down by heavy Japanese fire, making initial progress inland quite slow. Supply was very difficult[3] for the Americans in the first days of the battle. Landing ships could not come closer than the reef, several hundred yards from the beach, and amphibious vehicles were scarce.

The 1st Provisional blocked off the Orote Peninsula on 25 July, and that same night Lt. General Takeshi counterattacked, coordinated with a similar attack against the 3rd Division to the north. The next day, General Obata reported, “our forces failed to achieve the desired objectives.” Lieutenant General Takeshi Takashina was killed on 28 July, and Lieutenant General Hideyoshi Obata took over the command of the defenders. On 28 July, the two beachheads were linked, and by 29 July, the peninsula was secure.

The counterattacks against the American beachheads, as well as the fierce fighting, had exhausted the Japanese. At the start of August, they were running out of food and ammunition and had only a handful of tanks left. Obata withdrew his troops from the south of Guam, planning to make a stand in the mountainous central and northern part of the island, “to engage in delaying action in the jungle in northern Guam to hold the island as long as possible”.

After ensuring no significant Japanese forces operated in the southern portion of Guam, Major General Geiger started an offensive north with the 3rd Marine Division on the left flank, and the 77th Infantry Division on the right, liberating Agana on the same day. The Tiyan Airfield was captured on 1 Aug.

Rain and thick jungle made conditions difficult for the Americans, but after an engagement with the main Japanese line of defense around Mount Barrigada from 2-4 August, the Japanese line collapsed. The 1st Provisional formed up on the left flank of the 3rd Marine on 7 August, due to the widening front and continued casualties, in an effort to prevent the Japanese from slipping through the American gaps. The Japanese had another stronghold at Mount Santa Rosa, which was secured on 8 Aug.

On 10 August, organized Japanese resistance ended, and Guam was declared secure, though an estimated 7,500 Japanese soldiers were estimated to be at-large. The next day, Obata committed ritual suicide at his headquarters on Mount Mataguac, after sending a farewell message to Japan.

A few Japanese soldiers held out in the jungle. On 8 December 1945, three U.S. Marines were ambushed and killed. On 24 January 1972, Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi was discovered by hunters. He had lived alone in a cave for 27 years.

After the battle, Guam was turned into a base for Allied operations. Five large airfields were built by the Seabees, and B-29 bombers flew from Northwest Field and North Field on the island to attack targets in the Western Pacific and on mainland Japan.

SSgt. Maurice L. Fevold – MIA since 1944

From the Commander:   Although this Airman was not an AMVET, I felt it was appropriate since on several occasions I have mentioned the job the JPAC team and the dedication of the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command does.  This is an example of why the U.S. is special; we never stop looking for our POW/MIA’s.

This was provided through the Iowa National Guard and the office of Col. Greg Hapgood, Public Affairs Officer.

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IOWA WWII AIRMAN RETURNS HOME 70 YEARS LATER image001FOLLOWING DISCOVERY OF REMAINS IN BELGIUM

Nearly 70 years after completing his final bombing mission, Staff Sgt. Maurice L. Fevold is returning home to Iowa.
Fevold, a 21-year old Badger/Eagle Grove, Iowa native was assigned to the 599th Bomber Squadron, 397th Bomber Group (Medium), U.S. Army Air Corps. On Dec. 23, 1944, the first day of aviation operations for the Battle of the Bulge, Fevold, along with five other crew members, took off from Saint Quentin, France onboard a B-26G Marauder bomber aircraft to attack an enemy-held railroad bridge in Eller, Germany. Their aircraft was shot down by enemy anti-aircraft fire near Seffern, Germany, which borders Belgium. A total of 10 U.S. aircraft were recorded as lost in the vicinity of Seffern during this specific mission.

Fevold, the aircraft’s armorer-gunner, and the entire crew were officially declared deceased on Dec. 23, 1944, but their remains were never recovered. In November 2006, the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command – Central Identification Laboratory (JPAC) received information of a possible aircraft crash site near Allmuthen, Belgium. In March 2007, a JPAC Investigation Team surveyed the purported crash site, where human remains and physical evidence were recovered in 2012 by JPAC personnel.

In 2014, JPAC’s Research and Analysis Group concluded a historical association existed between the artifacts and human remains recovered at the Belgium excavation site and Missing Air Crew Report #11985 from World War II. Mitochondrial DNA testing positively identified the remains as belonging to Fevold and other crew members from the missing aircraft.

Maurice Fevold was born Feb. 21, 1923 near Badger, Iowa to John and Carrie (Thorson) Fevold. He grew up in the Badger/Eagle Grove, Iowa area and was a 1941 graduate of Eagle Grove High School.

He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Jeanette Prime. He is survived by great nephews and great nieces: William Bushman of Missouri; Robert Sweeney of Hawaii; Michael Sweeney of Washington; Vicki Riley of Iowa; and Shelly Everheart.

A memorial service will be held on Monday, Oct. 20 at 2 p.m. at Bruce Funeral Home, followed by interment at the Blossom Hill Cemetery, Badger, Iowa (located northeast of Badger on 110th St. and Racine Ave.), with full military honors provided by the Iowa National Guard. The public is welcome to attend the visitation, funeral, and graveside service.