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Interview of

(Inspection Tour, South and Southwest Pacific)

in the
Bureau of Aeronautics
23 April 1943

Commander Spangler is Head of the Power Plant Design Section of the Bureau of Aeronautics. He has recently returned from an. inspection tour of the South and Southwest Pacific.

Among topics he discusses are self-supporting squadrons, use of war emergency ratings, ranges, counter-rotating propellers, tail wheels and tires, changing importance of bases, shipping confusion, unloading supplies, possibility of ships as bases, diversion of personnel from specific jobs, living conditions and other handicaps, ACV's, publications, building camps, health, flame dampers, F4U, morale, getting shipments to advanced units, changes as war develops, PB4Y, photographic units, performance data, droppable tanks, filters, oxygen masks, changes in planes and equipment.

Distribution; To all units ashore and afloat concerned with aircraft.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

       On this trip, I went out principally to try to get information on certain specific things; primarily whether they were having any engine difficulties in the Fleet, whether we needed any redesign, and whether there was anything we could do to cure some of their difficulties. Actually, the number of engine troubles that I found were remarkably small.


       The operating squadrons actually out in the areas at the moment are more nearly like the squadrons we used to have ten or




twelve years ago than some of those we've had in recent years. The squadrons now do a lot of work which we used to call maintenance but which in the last couple of years has been called overhaul. At Guadalcanal, for example, when I asked one of the TBF squadrons if they'd had any 2600 engine trouble, they said they'd had absolutely none; they had the best airplane and the best engine that they thought they could get for the job.

     Knowing that we had some valve difficulties on other engines in similar airplanes, I askod specifically on that point and was told of six or eight cases of valve trouble that hadn't caused them any difficulty - they'd just changed the valves. In recent years in our squadrons, to change a valve in an engine would have been far too big a job; they'd have had to turn it in for overhaul. I'm just trying to point out there that our squadrons out in the operating areas are really, to a great degree, now more self-supporting than they have been, - a very encouraging sign.


     Actually the people up in the front lines want more performance than the other airplanes have. If they get that, then how far you want to go beyond they don't really care. I don't mean that we shouldn't try to get the best airplanes we can build, but I do say that in some cases perhaps we've gone too far - perhaps built too big airplanes with too large engines, when it tsn't necessary to do it.


     Another thing I went out specifically to get was information on why the ranges as predicted by the Bureau for all of our various airplanes are not met in service, Actually, the real answer is the one that you could have expected: the people in the Fleet are not going to operate their airplanes in the way that we think they are. They're going to operate them at high power, higher speeds, and richer mixtures under conditions where we think they ought to use lean mixtures. The reason is partly lack of education, partly the kind of things they are having to do in the presence of the enemy, when they don't want to slow their airplanes down. It all leads to the fact that the ranges that we estimate here in the Bureau are out in some casos as much as 50, 60, 70 per cent.

     In trying to reach a solution to that particular trouble, I talked with operations and planning officers on all the staffs; and they have all agreed to try to get the squadron commanders to educate their personnel out there to the point where they can got more consistent results. They have also stated that they are going to write to the Bureau stating that they think this education should bo given the people at a far earlier date, - again perfectly obvious. In recent years in

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training pilots we haven't given engine operation nearly so much attention as it should, have, since it can have such an effect on operations and operational planning.


     One other thing of purely technical nature is whether counter-rotating propellers are necessary on fighter airplanes to steady the airplanes down for take-off and landings and, principally, for improving the airplane as a gun platform. The people out in the Fleet don't know the answers to that question; all they can say is that at present they're getting along pretty well. They do think that no torque reaction on the airplane might be a desirable thing.


     Admiral Towers at Pearl Harbor asked me to go into the reason for all this tail wheel and tire trouble that the Fleet apparently has been having. For the past several months about one out of three airplanes that have gone out from the West Coast to that area has been loaded down with tired (yes, it said "tired" and not "tires")and tail wheels. They are all being shipped air express and even then they can't keep up with the requirements. The reason for the trouble is pretty obvious: the Marston mat tears tires to pieces very rapidly. If there is any tendency to skid in an approach, or to land in a skid, you not only tear your tiros off and cut them all to pieces, but also tear the tail wheel off. The solution recommended by practically everyone I talked to out there (except Henry Cooper, who has maintenance of the field at Espiritu Santo), was to cover the surface of the mat with dirt or coral and some sort of top binder. The Army has done pretty well in that respect, particularly on their fields around Hawaii. They grow grass as soon as possible under the mat, and that seems to do the same thing, form a cushion.


     Noumea right now is pretty nearly en the fringe of things. They are almost as much out of operations now as Pearl Harbor itself. Of course Admiral Halsey is there with all his staff, but there is very little actual material being unloaded down at Noumea. Nearly all airplanes that are being ferried out are landed there, put together, and put into shape before being ferried on up the line. Espiritu Santo is being built up as our principal base in that area. That development was bound to happen, and is something that is bound to happen again. It looks to me that about the time we get Espiritu Santo built into a reasonably good operating base, we'll want to move farther on.

     The thing you run up against principally out there is that transportation is very, very difficult, - not only sea

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transportation but also land transportation. To give a general picture of what is going on: When I went up to Espiritu Santo, although I didn't count the ships present myself, I was reliably informed that there were enough ships in the harbor up there to account for over a year of unloading at the rate they were able to put stuff ashore at present. Of courses we are putting in docks and facilities for unloading; we expect to put in facilities for taking fuel out of tankers - but none of it is in there yet. As I said, by the time we get it in there, we're going to want it some other place. The same difficulties that have been associated with loading the ships, getting them out there and unloading them, are going to turn up again when we try to load the ships from Espiritu Santo, take them to some other place and unload them again.


     A partial explanation of the situation might be somewhat as follows: A ship is loaded with aeronautical materials on the West Coast and is sent out to Noumea, or to any destination to which they want the materials to go. (They don't go through Pearl Harbor any more; in fact, the way to get aeronautical materials from Pearl Harbor to Espiritu Santo nowadays is to send it back to San Francisco and have it loaded on a ship there and sent out. That's the fastest way of getting it out there). As soon as the ship crosses the international date line, it comes under Admiral Halsey or his Command. Then the ship may be sent anywhere; there's no telling where it's going to be sent. Assignment is directed by Admiral Halsey's staff, and the ship may be sent to Noumea, Espiritu, or any other place they feel called upon to send it. The material that's in the ship, primarily designated for a given outfit, may not get there at all. CASU Three, for example, which is the outfit that's working out at Tontouta, on the same island as Noumea, setting up airplanes, is unable to do a lot of things that they should be doing because they lack shop equipment. They have the tools; they have the materials; they have the things that they really need, but the actual shops are not built. Everything they have is under tents, and every time the wind blows over 25 miles an hour, which is quite frequently, and every time it rains, they have to go out and strike their tents. Their shops are not only temporary, but they're subject to being moved out almost once a week. And yet 50 miles from there is Noumea, there are Quonset huts which could be made available as shops.


     Once a ship gets to Espiritu, it is unloaded at the discretion of the Army. The Army apparently controls all the unloading except, at Guadalcanal, where control is under the

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Amphibious Force. They decide what's to come ashore, which ship is to be unloaded first, and how much of the cargo of each ship is to come ashore. They've had difficulties in shortage of supplies out there, particularly gasoline. At one time the gasoline supply on Espiritu was so short that they couldn't even fly their airplanes. When a ship comes in loaded with fuel in drums, that ship consequently gets unloaded first. And we've got drums of fuel all over Espiritu Santo; why the thing stays above water, I don't know, because we've got millions of drums of fuel on the island. Maybe that's necessary, naybe it's desirable. But again I want to point out that if we now move that base from Espiritu to Guadalcanal or from there to Rabaul, we've got to put all that stuff back on a ship; and get it up to the new base. In these days and times when materials are so short anyway, we can't afford to let stay on Espiritu Santo all the materials that we want at an advanced base. We've got to take them off there and carry them with us.

     Well, once the ship is in port and the Army has decided that maybe it could be unloaded, the stuff must be taken ashore in lighters - that's all there is available at the moment. The lighters are few in number compared to the job they have to do, and they have no place to unload the stuff after they get it ashore. It comes over to a pier, which is made of coconut logs salted down with coral, which disappears maybe once every three weeks. It gets overloaded or the wind blows or something. The whole unloading proposition is a terrific job; and even after it gets ashore, very frequently the person who is at the other end hasn't been notified that this particular material is coming ashore, so it's just taken over and set underneath the trees. No one has any inventory of it; no one knows it's there; as a result it just stays there. If you're looking for something in particular and find it among all these boxes of stuff, you feel you're pretty lucky.

     Again, there doesn't seem to be any real desire on the part of the people who have to get the material to follow the thing through from the time it starts to come out until the time it is unloaded at their front door. Now I'm not saying that that situation is any one particular person's fault. It's just a natural result of the utter confusion that exists out there.

     After you get the stuff ashore, and want to get it to some particular place, you find that half the trucks on the island of Espiritu now are used for hauling coral around to build roads. Well, that hauling is necessary because you can't get anywhere on Espiritu Santo without good roads. The island itself, while it has a coral foundation, is covered with about 12 to 14 inches of black dirt, and of course every time it rains, which it does frequently, that 12 to 14 inches of black dirt becomes mud, and you just don't get anywhere.

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As a matter of fact, Espiritu is probably worse off in that respect than Guadalcanal. Guadalcanal has more or less of a gravelly soil, which is somewhat better. The only place I saw on the island of Espiritu Santo where they really tried to get rid of all the mud was over at the Marines' fighter strip, where all the dirt had been scraped off the top and dumped over in a corner. The field had then been built on the coral foundation. This field is an all-weather field, and it doesn't suffer from the defect of tearing wheels and tires all apart.

     The whole general impression of the situation out there is that, as far as the operating side of this war is concerned, it isn't going too badly. We're doing pretty well. As far as the logistic side of the war is going, we're doing very poorly in a good many respects and will continue to do so until some real definite change is made in the system of supply. One of the changes that I would recommend is that we send out there as Commander Fleet Air Noumea a man who is basically and primarily interested only in materials, and give him enough people to follow this situation through from beginning to end as far as possible. It must be remembered that this job for an operating man is only a stepping-stone to an operating job materiel.

     It does seem to me that until we get a very definite material set-up out there, which you might say would parallel the Army Service of Supply, we're not going to get very far with the logistic side of this war.


     A corrective measure for this particular difficulty, one which was suggested by everyone that I talked to out there, is this: Instead of trying to set up permanent bases ashore, as we are doing, we could set up what we used to have, that is, a ship which in itself can do a reasonable amount of overhaul and maintenance, which will carry spares, carry stores, and will go right along with the operating people. Anchor it off the beach; if you want something, you go out and get it. You don't have to have a couple of barges to do it with; you go out in a boat and get what you want, bring it back, put it on your airplane, go ahead. Such a system really becomes sufficiently flexible so that if and when we move up to Rabaul we don't have to worry about taking out the things that we so laboriously put into Noumea and into Espiritu Santo, and carrying them up by ship, unloading them, preparing the ground, building camps, furnishing camp keepers, and all those things that go with a shore installation. It's all on the ship.

     Perhaps the reason we didn't use that system at first was that they were afraid we would lose too many ships, and

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also that we didn't have enough ships. Things are quieting down out there pretty much now. They don't bomb Guadalcanal every night any more, and daylight raids are becoming infrequent. Perhaps this situation would change if we did put a lot of ships up there, but I doubt it very much. We did have eight to ten ships unloading at Guadalcanal at the time I was there.

     The second reason, that we don't have enough bottoms, doesn't seem to my mind to stand up at all. The number of ships required to carry out supplies, materials, stores, food, housing, and everything else that goes with them, to maintain the people that we have ashore there, certainly must add up to more ships than would be required, to maintain our stores and supplies afloat and in the condition that we want them. We're setting up an engine overhaul base in Espiritu Santo to overhaul 200 engines per month. The base is pretty well set up at the moment, except that it's out in the middle of the wilderness and mud. The overhaul shop, right now, is ready to go, at a considerably reduced rate, except that they don't have the engine parts to do anything with. The engine parts are on their way, but how soon they'll be unloaded is anyone's guess. It might be two months; it might bo six months. The situation is just exactly that.


     Another thing, the officer in charge of that outfit is up against tremendous difficulties. His personnel, while primarily assigned to him for this particular purpose, are continually being taken from him for odd jobs around the camp, to maintain the camp site. The people that the Bureau of Aeronautics gave him. are highly trained people for their own specific jobs. It certainly seems to be a waste of manpower to put a nan who has had six or eight years engine overhaul experience on an M.P. job around the camp. That kind of thing quickly destroys not only morale, but the ability of the shops to put out any work.


     Living conditions are such that the men can work only a six-hour shift. On that kind of basis it's going to take at least one and a half times as many men to run that engine overhaul shop where it is now as it would havo taken to run it at some place with better living conditions, as, for example, Pearl Harbor. Taking the things all together, I think that putting an engine overhaul shop into a place as remote as that with so many natural handicaps and so inaccessible, hasn't gained us anything. I think perhaps we would have gained, as far as transportation is concerned, by getting the engines out and getting them back to Pearl Harbor, and having them overhauled

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there. Of course, one of tho catches to that system is that things are not getting back out of the operating areas. The Marines have had a salvage squadron at Guadalcanal which has done a pretty good job of keeping the Navy fields cleared of wrecked airplanes; in a good many cases they've salvaged parts which can be used again. They boxed and crated them ready for shipment, carried them down to the beach - and there they sit, and will sit. At Guadalcanal loading and unloading of ships comes under Commander, Amphibious Force, who feels that it is necessary for any ship that goes up there to unload its stuff and get out as rapidly as possible. None of the ships that have come out of there have carried any perceptible amount of salvaged material.

     Most of the squadrons except the carrier aircraft groups are doing practically all their own work of maintenance and repair as well as camp keeping, etc. Of course they can't do any overhaul work, and they're not expected to. They do do a lot of very ingenious putting, together of airplanes and parts, however, making whole ones out of crackups.

The idea behind the CASU is really very good. It was well thought out and somebody put a lot of attention on it. The CASU at Tontouta, for example, is doing a good job. The closer you got to the front, however, the worse the system becomes. It's simply impossible to get the people in, to get there with the materials and tools and equipment necessary to keep these squadrons running and in operating condition.

     I feel pretty strongly about this particular thing, because, of all the complaints I received from any of the squadrons that were operating out there, there never was a serious complaint,by anyone on where he lived or how he had to live - the real basic complaint they had was that they had to do too many things with their bare hands. They wanted more tools, more equipment, more shops, more machinery. And those are the things We're not getting for them. They're being sent out of here, all right; but they're not getting to the squadrons; and they won't get there until it's too late. If this is to be a static war, perhaps we're doing the right thing in setting up very extensive shore bases. If it's not to be a static war, then I think it's perfectly obvious that we're making a very large mistake in the way we're handling the whole situation.

     The VS squadrons would like to be ship-based rather than shore-based, As it stands now, they're put on tho beach with very inadequate preparation and with inadequate personnel. They're not primarily expected to maintain their own squadrons. They're supposed to have people to do that for them. Yet they don't have the people to do it, and they're forced to do it themselves. Half of their personnel are taken up with sanitation and camp keeping, where they should be actually operating.

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Again, in lots of cases they lack shops and shop equipment. We should either give them more people, twice as many as they have now, and let them go ahead the way they are or else reconsider the whole thing and let them be ship-based. They could get along very nicely if they were ship-based on the right kind of ship. The Commanding Officer of VS-58 suggested a modified Liberty ship or an LST. This system would really make their outfits mobile.

     One thing that I was particularly interestod in is that this so-called glide bombing in TBF's is actually in my opinion a form of dive bombing. The TBF's right now are actually using, I was given to understand, an angle of 40° to 45° and a speed which went up as high as 365 - 370 knots. They're doing it and getting away with it. They have a little trouble with the wheels falling down some times when they pull out of a dive, and parts of the wheel wells are falling off. But they still think that's the way to do it, and they're going to continue. It looks as though it is up to us to build that kind of airplane, if that's what they want.


     Admiral McFall, who has command of an ACV division out there, wanted me to to tell the Admiral that the small carrier, in his opinion, has a very wide field of operation. He readily admits that the small carriers, unless, they have pretty good winds, can't be used as a striking force except in isolated raids on islands which are not well protected. But he does believe that one of the primary uses of the ACV's is to carry a lot of fighters to protect your main carrier group when you send off your attacking force. Let the F6F's and the F4U's go along with your attack force to protoct them and leave the small carrier fighters to protoct your main carrier line. Actually, that was the thought behind tho FM-2, I think; or at least that is the kind of airplane that can be very usefully employed for that purpose.

     I told the people out in the Fleet about the FM-2, and they all seemed to think that that would be an airplane which was almost as desirable as the F4U and the F6F for lots of missions. They all like light airplanes if the performance is there. By performance, I don't necessarily mean high speed. They're not basically and primarily interested in high speed, although it is of value; there is no question about that. They like principally the take-off, climb and maneuverability of the airplane. The low gas consumption also is a very important item, as you can gather from what I said about the supply problems. The idea of an F4F, which has made a big place for itsolf in the hearts of most fighting pilots, with the improved performance was well received.

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     Admiral McFall also thought that the small carrier could be used for the uses to which it is now put, transport of airplanes and convoy protection. He did want to make it very clear that he is optimistic about the possibilities of the ACV's. At the time I saw him, he hadn't really had a chance to do anything with them as yet. The carrier groups from his three carriers were up at Guadalcanal. He hasn't, consequently, had a lot of experience to go on, but he has put a lot of thought on the subject and is really quite optimistic about it.


     A large proportion of the squadron commanders who are sent out there haven't had any real experience in running a squadron before. They don't know what to do. Some of them have never even been executive officers. They think the situation could be improved. If, for example, a VS squadron is to be sent out to relievo a squadron now out there, a squadron which has been operating on the coast of the United States some place for five or six months should be selected. Don't try to form a squadron out there, which is what we have done in the past in some cases. Give the new squadron commanders a chance to shake down under reasonaably good conditions.


     Another thing that is desirable is a booklet which would give a prospective or a new commanding officer all the information that he has to know about what red tape he has to go through. Among other things, for some of those squadrons that are going to have to base ashore, such a book might include how to build a camp and how to insure proper sanitation and all such things.


     I don't see where those boys have picked up all the information that they have about how to build a camp out in that area. They've really done a swell job.


     When you stop to think that this is tropical or semi-tropical country and how quickly an epidemic of disease could sweep an island like Espiritu, It's a continual wonder that the health is as good as it is. Really, the only thing that they have a lot of trouble with is malaria; they haven't got tho screening and the medicines and the equipment they need to avoid it.

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     They want flame dampers immediately on everything they have out there except fighters; they don't particularly care about them on fighters. The TBF's, for example, are used for everything you can think of. Just before I got to Guadalcanal they had been out at night mining some straits up north near Bougainville, and had done a very good job. The boys were very well satisfied with the night performance of the TBF. If TBF's are to be used for that kind of thing, then very definitely they do need flame dampers.


     The F4U in Guadalcanal is doing an excellent job. They had, I believe, eight in active commission and were putting into combat six or seven of those eight. Of the ones they'd lost, as far as I could find out at the time I was there, only one loss had occurred in actual combat. They'd lost some in landing accidents. The Marines are extremely well satisfied with the F4U; they say it out-performs any fighter in that area. It certainly does out-perform the Zero. They don't have any basic complaints about the fact that the airplane is harder to maintain and harder to keep in service. As a matter of fact, they've done very well with their maintenance so far. The big defect which we thought existed in the airplane, namely, poor visibility in the air for making overhead full deflection approaches, they didn't seem to think a fatal defect. They were so anxious to have the airplane, of course, because of its increased performance, that they weren't complaining too much about anything. They did, however, say that the visibility for landing was not good enough and that a portion of their troubles could very definitely be traced to the fact that in landing on the narrow and restricted runways they have up there, they either have to come in in a slip or come in at high speed and make a wheels-first landing in order to see the runway properly. Otherwise they are very well satisfied with the F4U and with its performance.


     The morale, to my mind, is extraordinarily high, considering all the difficulties they have to contend with; living conditions are lousy in the general case, for the operating people, at any rate; transportation is tough; malaria is always prevalent; you have to keep yourself pretty well dosed with medicine, at least on Espiritu Santo and at Guadalcanal. Most of the housing at Guadalcanal still is under tents, and in rainy weather it's not any too pleasant. Nevertheless the morale is extraordinarily high. The only thing they're really complaining about is that we haven't given them enough material to work with; that's their real basic argument. We expect them to do too much with too little. How to cure that situation is something that should be given very careful consideration.

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Q.   Would a shipment officer help, to handle distribution and look after things?

A.   Well, that was my idea in suggesting that ComFair Noumea be made primarily and basically a material man with a staff big enough to do that kind of thing. I think that is what must be done.

Q.   We've done that; with each ship that goes out there we send one officer who has no other duty except to go with that ship. He has a complement of enlisted men present at the loading of each individual hatch. He has a copy of the hatch diagram and material area, and the officer is not to be detached from that ship until such time as she is unloaded.

A.   Well, maybe the catch there is that the man who is supposed to be doing that hasn't enough rank to insist that his ship get unloaded first.

Q.   That's quite true, because anything that goes to the South Pacific has one of these officers on board. I was at a lecture this morning by Captain Carter - your remarks and his are almost the same. But we feel that we've sent from continental United States to the area certainly sufficient material of all kinds.

A.   That's perfectly true.

Q.   Down in that area the things get lost?

A.   That's quite true.

Q.   In other words, it doesn't reach the place it was intended for when it left the United States. There is little that the Navy Department can do about a problem of that kind, because, as you say, when it crosses the international date line it comes under Commander South Pacific.

A.   There is enough material out there to really do a swell job of setting up shore establishments provided that's what we want to do. I don't really believe it is what we want to do. It's there. How to get it to where you want it and who is to be at the other end to receive it, are other questions. We're sadly lacking in a solution of those questions at the moment. As an example, Lion Two was sent out to go to Guadalcanal. When they loaded that outfit, they loaded it on several different ships. The ship that had the personnel had gone up to Guadalcanal and unloaded all the personnel and nothing else: no housing, no tools, no material, no anything.

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The other ships had been diverted to Noumea and to Espiritu, and there they were. To correct that situation Captain Pennoyer at Pearl Harbor had to send out enough extra tools - hand tools - to give those people something to do besides sitting on the beach and eating their heads off.

Q.   I'd like to ask if that couldn't be to a large extent corrected by furnishing proper unloading equipment?

A.   I don't know. The land transportation is pretty tough, too. I don't believe the necessity exists any longer for such haste in getting ships unloaded. The time has come now, I think, where we can afford to put ships up there and leave them up there. To put a storage ship at Guadalcanal, to my mind, is a far better solution than trying to put everything on the beach.


     I can't believe that this is going to be a static War. If it is, then we've already lost it. We can't afford to sit there and wait. We've got to go forward. And - purely as a personal opinion, I don't have the authority to advance this, except my own personal thoughts on the subject - it does seem that if and when we got Rabaul and New Guinea the Navy doesn't have any business in the South Pacific any more. I don't know what we're going to do down there. All we started to do, as I see it, was to protect our supply line to Australia. Well, we've done that. And if we get Rabaul we've pretty well got the thing consolidated and can then turn the holding of the line over to the Army. Then it's up to us to get out of there and start some other place. I can't believe that it's in anybody's mind that we're going to try to take these islands one by one. That would certainly be a costly proposition, After we once get Rabaul the next step is Truk, and Truk is eight or nine hundred miles away; we might just as well start at Pearl Harbor, if that's what we want to do. We've already shifted up some of the rear echelons.

     The engine overhaul unit that is now being put in at Noumea was initially intended for New Zealand. But we've already found that New Zealand is too far away. And when we take the next step, up to Rabaul, we're going to find that Noumea is too far away, and we'll probably want to move it up to Guadalcanal. We think of these things as temporary installations - and they are temporary Installations. A Quonset hut is very easy to take apart and move around. The only difficulty is that it's a tremendous job to get it from where you set it up down to the beach to get it loaded on a lighter to get it loaded on a ship to take it up to some other place and then go through tho agony of getting it ashore and established. It's a tremendous job. Everything's against you - the roads are bad; the mud is deep; you don't have any piers; and

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at the place you're going to, assuming that we move into Rabaul, we're going to be just as badly off as we have been at Espiritu unless the Japanese are fools enough to leave whatever they have put up there for us to use.

Q.   Do you think that if you had a LION unit combat-loaded it would do any good? In other words, if you'd keep the unit and its equipment in the same ship and be able to put it ashore and put it up anywhere you wanted it?

A.   Yes, I think it would be a far better situation than the one that exists at the moment. If it were possible, however, to keep maintenance and overhaul facilities shipborne as far as possible we'd be a lot better off.


Q.   Did you hear any comments on the PB4Y?

A.   No, they were operating about sixteen B-24's out of Guadalcanal at the time I was there but they were using them mostly for night work because their forward gun power wasn't acceptable. They were using B-24's and also some P-38's for photographic purposes.

Q.   Navy planes?


A.   Some Navy, yes. And they were really doing an excellent job. That photographic unit out there is a marvelous thing to me. With the little equipment they have, the way they can find out things from their photographs is astounding. One of the things that they showed me was a chronological history of the field at Munda from the time it was a white strip on the photograph until it was practically bombed out of existence. And it was really a remarkable piece of business.


Q.   You spoke about the performance - should we change our system of recording performance since planes are operated differently from manner specified?

A.   Yes, I think so. My section in the Bureau is now drawing up what we will propose as a program to try to specify a performance that the Fleet can realize or else give them sufficient information so that they can determine what they are doing to their own performance when they operate the airplanes other than as advised.

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     Those people out there, according to their lights, are doing the best they can to realize the performance that we give them; I don't think there is much question about that. The only thing is, they don't understand the basic things behind what changes the performance. They don't understand, for example, that our computed performance is based on cruising speed which is somewhere near a reasonable maximum range speed. They think because we say 160 knots that 200 knots won't make a lot of difference in fuel consumption. Well, actually the miles per gallon at 200 knots are only about half of what they are at 160 knots. And nobody has ever taken the trouble to explain that situation in particular to the people that are making use of the airplanes out there. It does seem to me that it might be considered a function of the operating staffs to draw up for each specific operation instructions as to exactly what they are supposed to do.

Q.   Would it be better if we did it?

A.   Well, I don't know that you can, because there are too many intangibles. Suppose, for example, that you want to send out the F4U's with the SBD's. You've got an absolutely and totally different problem than if you want to send out the F4U's with the TBF's, because you'll want to go at a different speed, and a different altitude.

Q.   Well, take the SB2C, the TBF, and the F4U - they're pretty close togethor.

A.   Well, sure. You can arrive at something that's reasonably close. Of course, we already do that. The curve, the information, that we actually put out is in a form so that you can interpret that kind of stuff if you want to sit down and take the time to do it. The only thing is that the people out in the operating areas don't want to do that. That, they consider, is a staff function, and I think they're right. It is a staff function. Perhaps the Air Group Commander ought to have a specific person who has nothing else to do but determine the flight conditions for every specific mission.

Q.   Having a man for tactical planning is one thing; but you should know how they're going to use the planes.

A.   That's exactly the point, and there isn't anything you can do about it until you've educated the Fleet to an exact understanding of what they're up against. Here's just a typical example of that - an F4U, if you operate the airplane at a reasonable cruising horsepower, can be operated on about 50 gallons per hour. Now you calculate for this airplane that on a particular mission the pilot is going to go out to a combat area and fight 20 minutes and come back home. That's the figure the boys used at Guadalcanal, 20 minutes at the

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other end. Well, suppose he uses an additional 10 minutes of full-throttle operation at the other end; he hasn't burned 50 gallons an hour for these ten minute's; he's burned over 250 gallons per hour. In other words, instead of burning what he should have, what you figured on, about eight gallons of fuel, he's burned over 40 gallons of fuel. There are 30 gallons you've just thrown away, which would have taken him 120 miles.

Q.   There are a lot of variables in there. I think we could approach it much closer than we have in the past.

A.   Yes, I know, the Engineering Branch is now working out such a problem; that is, so much warm-up, so much for flying, so much for combat. What you might call an operating range is being set up now; but it still comes back to this: the pilot only has to make one mistake, and it doesn't have to be a very big one, before your calculations are thrown off so far that you don't know where you stand.


Q.   Will they accept droppable tanks?

A.   They want droppable tanks. As far as the wing tanks in the F4U are concerned, they might just as well not be there because they're not going to use them. They'd like to see them taken out and a droppable tank put on.

Q.   In other words, they want all Integral fuel protected?

A.   That's right.

     One thing was very evident up at Guadalcanal; the people are willing to pay for added maintenance and added difficulties only to get a performance which is superior to the enemy's. They're not willing to pay a big price for added performance beyond that.


Q.   Do you think we've been on the right track on those filters? Is there an immediate need for filters?

A.   Air filters - no. That was one of the surprising things I found out out there. They have had very little trouble in any part of the airplane, with one single exception, which could be traceable to dust. The dust that they have out there in that area doesn't seem to do any part of the airplane any damage. There was one complaint on the F4U landing gear. One of tho collars got filled with dirt and had to bo greased every flight. That, of course, might not be a problem in other areas, even in Australia, for example.

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Q.   Were they using oxygen to a considerable extent?

A.   Yes, they were using oxygen almost every flight in the fighters.

Q.   What were they using in the fighters in the way of masks?

A.   I didn't get to see the mask. One comment they did have on it was that the mask wasn't any good, it came off the face in combat.

Q.   In other words, they had no mask there that they were satisfied with?

A.   That's right.


     When we start making changes in airplanes and equipment, it seems to me that in order to insure that the changes get in the airplanes we must make the changes in the airplanes before they leave continental United States, - certainly not any later than Pearl Harbor. If we don't make the changes then, they're not going to be made, not only because they don't get the materials but because they don't have the facilities nor the time to do it. Even such a thing as water injection equipment, which would improve the performance of the F4U's so markedly, they want no part of - they want it put in before they get the airplanes. It behooves us to change our system of getting changes in airplanes. Perhaps the first change parts we could get should go to the modification centers right away rather than into airplanes that are actually currently in production. Catch the furthest airplanes before they leave the United States, and then put the changes in as we get to them in production. As things are now, the first time a change comes out it comes out in the production airplane; and we build change kits which are sent out to the service. Well, they never get out there. And it's just a waste of material, to send it out there - waste of material and waste of shipping space.

Q.   Would you mind taking the trouble to explain water injection?

A.   Well, most radial air-cooled engines are restricted as to the amount of power that you can take out of them by their tendency to detonate. The detonation is caused, of course, by the fact that as you increase the amount of supercharge in

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the engine, you increase the intake air temperature which leads you into detonation. Now water has been long known as an anti-detonant. In this case it probably acts in two ways: one is as an anti-detonant in which it isn't very efficient; the other is in actually cooling the air, or the charge, - at least reducing the maximum temperature of the gases in the cylinders. As a consequence, you can make use of more supercharging in the engine and get higher powers, also you can run at leaner mixtures. Both of those effects, running at the maximum supercharge that you have available and running on a leaner mixture, will give you an increase in power. All of our engines are run at too-rich mixtures at high powers for best power settings. That, in essence, is a simple explanation of what goes on. That primarily then, means that any engine which has water injection has more power than would normally be available at altitudes below the critical; but the change in power at the critical and above the critical is not very great.


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13th Naval District, Commandant's Office, Central Subject Files, 1942-43
National Archives & Records Administration, Seattle Branch

Transcribed by RESEARCHER @ LARGE. Formatting & Comments Copyright R@L.

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