Daily Archives: August 29, 2013

7 posts

Wings Across America 2008 Final Update

Current Status
After 5 years, 1 month and 29 days the SQuiRT has finally returned to Virginia.  Pilot #402, Wade Saltzgiver of Newport News, VA met pilot # 398 Scott Saxon at Kitty Hawk, NC on 17 Aug.  They were joined by pilot #399 Jim Davis to fly the SQuiRT on aviation’s hallowed ground.  The SQuiRT flew 110 years after the Wright Brothers’ famous flights which marked the beginning of powered flight not more than a few hundred yards away from where it all began.  What an incredible day for our adventure.  Thanks to Scott for coming up with the idea 5 years ago
Wade transported the SQuiRT back to Virginia and is currently coordinating the SQuiRT’s visits to a number of flying events at local clubs during the months of August and September.  As of right now, Wade has scheduled the SQuiRT to attend five events in the local Virginia area.  She will be flown in demo flights at these events and will be used for new pilot introductions with a buddy box.   The SQuiRT is a trainer after all and it is in her blood to introduce newcomers to the sport and help teach new pilots how to fly.
At today’s count we have had 719 different pilots fly the SQuiRT, but there is no telling how many total flights the SQuiRT has on her.  I am going to guess close to 1,000 flights.  Who would have thought that an old school brushed motor would have lasted that long not to mention a balsa built airplane with thin vinyl covering.  That is one tough bird and a testament to its quality design.  Not only has she held up well, she still looks great after all this time.  I bet there are lot of stories the SQuiRT could share with us on her travels and visits with pilots around the country.  That would be a very interesting read if possible.
Museum Status
I have been working with Maria from AMA’s National Model Aviation Museum in Muncie, Indiana and have coordinated the SQuiRT to be donated to the museum at 1400 hours on 18 October 2013.  I had hoped to fly back to Virginia and fly the SQuiRT at her home field in Gloucester, Virginia, but after checking on ticket prices, I realized it would just be way too expensive.  Fortunately, Rusty Kennedy who is the Leader Member chairman who happens to live in southeast VA has volunteered to carry the SQuiRT to Muncie since he will be headed that way for the executive council meeting that will be happening that weekend.  The deed of gift will be signed by Bill Stevens, Walter Grasmick, Steve Griffin, and Donald Way along with me.  As you know, these gentlemen has been instrumental in the success of the WAA-08 adventure and I felt it only fitting that they would sign the deed of gift for the SQuiRT, travel case, pilot’s log books, photos, and all the memorabilia collected along the way to the museum.
I do need to add that there has been a number of pilots that has not sent their photos to me of them posing with the SQuiRT.  If you have not received a pilot certificate from Don that means I did not get your photos.  Please send your photos to me along with your pilot number and we’ll be sure to get your certificate out to you.  I don’t want you to miss out on Don’s wonderful pilot certificates and I don’t want you to miss out on your photos not being included in the SQuiRT’s exhibit at the museum.
I have a limited number of WAA-08 patches remaining.  If you would like a patch, they are still $5 shipped to your door.  I do not plan on placing any more orders so first come first serve.
And Finally
I believe that is about all the information I have to share with you.  As I mentioned above, this is a bitter sweet email.  I am sure you are tired of getting “spam” from me twice a year but I just wanted to keep everyone updated on the status of the Wings Across America 2008 adventure.  I know for me, it has been a ton of work.  It was much more work than I could have ever imagined and it really turned into a labor of love coordinating this adventure for the past 5 years.  I certainly appreciate all the time and effort everyone has put into making this happen.  So many people have done so much to ensure its success.  I could not begin to list their names and provide details, but their enthusiasm and willingness to go above and beyond to help promote model aviation is nothing short of incredible.  Thank you all for your selflessness and love of model aviation.
If you are ever near Muncie, Indiana please stop by the museum and say “Hi” to the SQuiRT.  I’m sure she would love to see you again as she rests in her “retirement home” chatting with all the other historical planes in the museum.
I will end this email with the credit line that will be on the SQuiRT’s exhibit:
For those who shared our dream; Promoting Model Aviation – One Pilot At A Time

Fascinating facts about WW II aviation history


A  B-17 carried 2,500 gallons of high octane fuel and carried a crew of 10 airmen.


9.7 billion gallons of gasoline consumed.
108 million hours flown.
460 thousand million / 460,000,000,000 (460 Billion) rounds of aircraft ammo fired overseas.
7.9 million bombs dropped  overseas.
2.3 million combat flights.
299,230 aircraft used.
808,471 aircraft engines used.
799,972 propellers.




Russian  Ilyushin IL-2 Sturmovik                                  36,183



Yakolev Yak-1,-3,-7, -9                               31,000

Messerschmitt Bf-109                                  30,480

Focke-Wulf Fw-190                                      29,001

Supermarine Spitfire                                     20,351

Convair B-24/PB4Y Liberator/Privateer       18,482

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt                          15,686

North American P-51 Mustang                     15,875

Junkers Ju-88                                              15,000

Hawker Hurricane                                        14,533

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk                                 13,738

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress                         12,731

Vought F4U Corsair                                      12,571

Grumman F6F Hellcat                                  12,275

Petlyakov Pe-2                                             11,400

Lockheed P-38 Lightning                              10,037

Mitsubishi A6M Zero                                    10,449

North American B-25 Mitchell                        9,984

Lavochkin LaGG-5                                         9,920


Grumman TBM Avenger                                9,837

Bell P-39 Airacobra                                        9,584

Nakajima Ki-43 Oscar                                    5,919

DeHavilland Mosquito                                   7,780

Avro Lancaster                                              7,377

Heinkel He-111                                              6,508

Handley-Page Halifax                                     6,176

Messerschmitt Bf-110                                    6,150

Lavochkin LaGG-7                                         5,753

Boeing B-29 Superfortress                            3,970

Short  Stirling                                                   2,383




The US lost 14,903 pilots, aircrew and support personnel plus 13,873 airplanes — inside the continental United States .  There were 52,651 aircraft accidents (6,039 involving fatalities) in 45 months.
Average 1,170 aircraft accidents per month—- nearly 40 a day.

It gets worse…..
Almost 1,000  planes disappeared en route from the US to foreign climes.  But  43,581 aircraft were lost overseas including 22,948 on combat missions (18,418 in Europe ) and 20,633 due to non-combat causes overseas.


In a single 376 plane raid in August 1943,  60 B-17s were shot down. That was a 16 percent loss rate and meant
600 empty bunks in England . In 1942-43, it was statistically impossible for bomber crews to complete the intended 25-mission tour in Europe .


Pacific theatre losses were far less (4,530 in combat) owing to smaller forces committed.  The B-29 mission against Tokyo on May 25, 1945, cost 26 Superfortresses, 5.6 percent of the 464 dispatched from the Marianas .


On  average, 6,600 American servicemen died per month during WWII, about 220 a day.  Over 40,000 airmen were killed in combat and another 18,000 wounded.  Some 12,000 missing men were declared dead, including those “liberated” by the Soviets but never returned.  More than 41,000 were captured.   Half of the 5,400 held by the Japanese died in captivity,  compared with one-tenth in German hands.   Total combat casualties were  121,867.


The US forces peak strength was in 1944 with 2,372,000 personnel, nearly twice the previous year’s figure.


Losses were huge—but so were production totals.   From 1941 through 1945, American industry delivered more than 276,000 military aircraft.  That was not only for US Army, Navy and Marine Corps, but also for allies as diverse as Britain , Australia , China and Russia .  


Our enemies took massive losses.  Through much of 1944, the Luftwaffe sustained hemorrhaging of  25% of aircrews and 40 planes a month.

Experience Level:
Uncle Sam sent many men to war with minimum training.  Some fighter pilots entered combat in 1942 with less than 1 hour in their assigned aircraft..
The 357th Fighter Group (The Yoxford Boys) went to England in late 1943 having trained on P-39s, then flew Mustangs.   They never saw a Mustang until the first combat mission. 


With the arrival of new aircraft, many units transitioned in combat.  The attitude was, “They all have a stick and a throttle.  Go fly `em.”   When the famed 4th Fighter Group converted from P-47s to P-51s in Feb 44, there was no time to stand down for an orderly transition.   The Group commander, Col. Donald Blakeslee, said,
“You can learn to fly 51s on the way to the target”. 
A future P-47 ace said, “I was sent to England to die.”  Many bomber crews were still learning their trade.  Of Jimmy Doolittle’s 15 pilots on the April 1942  Tokyo raid, only five had won their wings before 1941.   All but one of the 16 co-pilots were less than a year out of flight school.


In WW2,  safety took a back seat to combat.  The AAF’s worst accident rate was recorded by the A-36 Invader version of the P-51: a staggering 274 accidents per 100,000 flying hours.   Next worst were the P-39 at 245, the P-40 at 188, and the P-38 at 139.  All were Allison powered.


Bomber wrecks were fewer but more expensive.  The B-17 and B-24 averaged 30 and 35 accidents per 100,000
flight hours respectively– a horrific figure considering that from 1980 to 2000 the Air Force’s major mishap rate
was less than 2.


The B-29 was even worse at 40 per 100,000 hours; the world’s most sophisticated, most capable and most expensive bomber was too urgently needed to be able to stand down for mere safety reasons.


(Compare:  when a $2.1 billion B-2 crashed in 2008, the Air Force declared a two-month “safety pause”).


The B-29 was no better for maintenance. Although the R3350 was known as a complicated, troublesome power-plant, only half the mechanics had previous experience with it.  


Perhaps the greatest success story concerned Navigators.  The Army graduated some 50,000 during WW2.


Many had never flown out of sight of land before leaving “Uncle Sugar” for a war zone.  Yet they found their way across oceans and continents without getting lost or running out of fuel – a tribute to the AAF’s training.


At its height in mid-1944, the USAAF had 2.6 million people and nearly 80,000 aircraft of all types. 
Today the US Air Force employs 327,000 active personnel (plus 170,000 civilians) with 5,500+ manned and perhaps 200 unmanned aircraft.  That’s about 12% of the manpower and 7% of the airplanes of the WW2 peak.


Another war like that of 1939-45 is doubtful, as fighters and bombers have given way to helicopters and remotely-controlled drones, eg. over Afghanistan and Iraq .  But within our living memory, men left the earth in 1,000-plane formations and fought major battles five miles high, leaving a legacy that remains timeless.



It’s The Cup of Brandy No One Want to Drink


After Japan ‘s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, with the United States reeling and wounded, something dramatic was needed to turn the war effort around.


Even though there were no friendly airfields close enough to Japan for the United States to launch a retaliation, a daring plan was devised. Sixteen B-25s were modified so that they could take off from the deck of an aircraft carrier. This had never before been tried — sending such big, heavy bombers from a carrier.


The 16 five-man crews, under the command of Lt. Col. James Doolittle, who himself flew the lead plane off the USS Hornet, knew that they would not be able to return to the carrier. They would have to hit Japan and then hope to make it to China for a safe landing.


But on the day of the raid, the Japanese military caught wind of the plan. The Raiders were told that they would have to take off from much farther out in the Pacific Ocean than they had counted on. They were told that because of this they would not have enough fuel to make it to safety.


And those men went anyway.


They bombed Tokyo , and then flew as far as they could. Four planes crash-landed; 11 more crews bailed out, and three of the Raiders died. Eight more were captured; three were executed. Another died of starvation in a Japanese prison camp. One crew made it to Russia .


The Doolittle Raid sent a message from the United States to its enemies, and to the rest of the world: We will fight. And, no matter what it takes, we will win.


Of the 80 Raiders, 62 survived the war. They were celebrated as national heroes, models of bravery. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced a motion picture based on the raid; “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo,” starring Spencer Tracy and Van Johnson, was a patriotic and emotional box-office hit, and the phrase became part of the national lexicon. In the movie-theater previews for the film, MGM proclaimed that it was presenting the story “with supreme pride.”


Beginning in 1946, the surviving Raiders have held a reunion each April, to commemorate the mission. The reunion is in a different city each year. In 1959, the city of Tucson , Arizona , as a gesture of respect and gratitude, presented the Doolittle Raiders with a set of 80 silver goblets. Each goblet was engraved with the name of a Raider.


Every year, a wooden display case bearing all 80 goblets is transported to the reunion city. Each time a Raider passes away, his goblet is turned upside down in the case at the next reunion, as his old friends bear solemn witness.


Also in the wooden case is a bottle of 1896 Hennessy Very Special cognac. The year is not happenstance: 1896 was when Jimmy Doolittle was born.


There has always been a plan: When there are only two surviving Raiders, they would open the bottle, at last drink from it, and toast their comrades who preceded them in death.


As 2013 began, there were five living Raiders; then, in February, Tom Griffin passed away at age 96.


What a man he was. After bailing out of his plane over a
mountainous Chinese forest after the Tokyo raid, he became ill with malaria, and almost died. When he recovered, he was sent to Europe to fly more combat missions. He was shot down, captured, and spent 22 months in a German prisoner of war camp.


The selflessness of these men, the sheer guts … there was a passage in the Cincinnati Enquirer obituary for Mr. Griffin that, on the surface, had nothing to do with the war, but that emblematizes the depth of his sense of duty and devotion: “When his wife became ill and needed to go into a nursing home, he visited her every day. He walked from his house to the nursing home, fed his wife and at the end of the day brought home her clothes. At night, he washed and ironed her clothes. Then he walked them up to her room the next morning. He did that for three years until her death in 2005.”


So now, out of the original 80, only four Raiders remain: Dick Cole (Doolittle’s co-pilot on the Tokyo raid), Robert Hite, Edward Saylor and David Thatcher. All are in their 90s. They have decided that there are too few of them for the public reunions to continue.


The events in Fort Walton Beach this week will mark the end. It has come full circle; Florida ‘s nearby Eglin Field was where the Raiders trained in secrecy for the Tokyo mission. The town is planning to do all it can to honor the men: a six-day celebration of their valor, including luncheons, a dinner and a parade.


Do the men ever wonder if those of us for whom they helped save the country have tended to it in a way that is worthy of their sacrifice? They don’t talk about that, at least not around other people. But if you find yourself near Fort Walton Beach this week, and if you should encounter any of the Raiders, you might want to offer them a word of thanks. I can tell you from firsthand observation that they appreciate hearing that they are remembered.


The men have decided that after this final public reunion they will wait until a later date — some time this year — to get together once more, informally and in absolute privacy. That is when they will open the bottle of brandy. The years are flowing by too swiftly now; they are not going to wait until there are only two of them.


They will fill the four remaining upturned goblets.
And raise them in a toast to those who are gone.

EMAC Results & Pics for July 2013


Since, Jeffrey was doing the computer scoring. Tim suggested we do sequence level backwards as Advance 1st and Basic last. Tim Attaway flew his Advance 1st Round nice, tight, and precise without any zeros while preserving a 10cell 5000 pack flying the full two sequences without changing batters!  Dang man!


Jeffrey went up flying Advance better than IMAC at Coachella earlier in March of this year from 268 to 764 avg.


Sportsman class was the heating competitive show of three highly experience pilots from IMAC and F3A’s competing against each other in EMAC comp set! These pilots muscled and demonstrated for their places with clean lines of up lines & down lines with rolls, snaps, and point rolls. This IMAC Sportsman 2013 sequence was refined by our previous World Class Southwestern Region IMAC Director Tim Attaway, himself! It’s more challenging than 2012. Great Show guys!


As Basic Division began, the weather started becoming spookier with higher winds, and light rain. Pilot Diffenbach flew his Slow Stick impressing the judges every maneuver for the 2 sequences. Forester step-up and demonstrate Basic Class better than I have seen in the past EMAC contests. At this point, Basic Pilot Scharck decided the weather was alittle to extreme to be flying his contest round.


The 2nd Round of EMAC was Canceled due the weather.


Next EMAC #3 Contest is scheduled for September 14, 2013 at 10am. Please come, again!

“Operation Downfall” Japan 1945


In the    first invasion—code named Operation Olympic—American combat troops would land    on Japan by amphibious assault during the early morning hours of November 1,    1945—50 years ago. Fourteen combat divisions of soldiers and Marines would    land on heavily fortified and defended Kyushu, the southernmost of the    Japanese home islands, after an unprecedented naval and aerial    bombardment.        

The    second invasion on March 1, 1946—code named Operation Coronet—would send at    least 22 divisions against 1 million Japanese defenders on the main island of    Honshu and the Tokyo Plain. It’s goal: the unconditional surrender of Japan.    With the exception of a part of the British Pacific Fleet, Operation Downfall    was to be a strictly American operation. It called for using the entire Marine    Corps, the entire Pacific Navy, elements of the 7th Army Air Force, the 8th    Air Force (recently redeployed from Europe), 10th Air Force and the American    Far Eastern Air Force. More than 1.5 million combat soldiers, with 3 million    more in support or more than 40% of all servicemen still in uniform in 1945 –    would be directly involved in the two amphibious assaults. Casualties were    expected to be extremely heavy.      

Admiral William Leahy estimated that there would be more than 250,000    Americans killed or wounded on Kyushu alone. General Charles Willoughby, chief    of intelligence for General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of the    Southwest Pacific, estimated American casualties would be one million men by    the fall of 1946. Willoughby’s own intelligence staff considered this to be a    conservative estimate.        

During the summer of 1945, America had little time to prepare for such    an endeavor, but top military leaders were in almost unanimous agreement that    an invasion was    necessary.        

While    naval blockade and strategic bombing of Japan was considered to be useful,    General MacArthur, for instance, did not believe a blockade would bring about    an unconditional surrender. The advocates for invasion agreed that while a    naval blockade chokes, it does not kill; and though strategic bombing might    destroy cities, it leaves whole armies    intact.        

So on    May 25, 1945, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after extensive deliberation, issued    to General MacArthur, Admiral Chester Nimitz, and Army Air Force General Henry    Arnold, the top secret directive to proceed with the invasion of Kyushu. The    target date was after the typhoon    season      

President Truman    approved the plans for the invasions July 24, 1945. Two days later, the United    Nations issued the Potsdam Proclamation, which called upon Japan to surrender    unconditionally or face total destruction. Three days later, the Japanese    governmental news agency broadcast to the world that Japan would ignore the    proclamation and would refuse to surrender. During this same period it was    learned—via monitoring Japanese radio broadcasts—that Japan had closed all    schools and mobilized its school children, was arming its civilian population    and was fortifying caves and building underground    defenses.       

Operation    Olympic called for a four pronged assault on Kyushu. Its purpose was to seize    and control the southern one-third of that island and establish naval and air    bases, to tighten the naval blockade of the home islands, to destroy units of    the main Japanese army and to support the later invasion of the Tokyo    Plain.        

The    preliminary invasion would began October 27, 1945 when the 40th Infantry    Division would land on a series of small islands west and southwest of Kyushu.    At the same time, the 158th Regimental Combat Team would invade and occupy a    small island 28 miles south of Kyushu. On these islands, seaplane bases would    be established and radar would be set up to provide advance air warning for    the invasion fleet, to serve as fighter direction centers for the    carrier-based aircraft and to provide an emergency anchorage for the invasion    fleet, should things not go well on the day of the invasion. As the invasion    grew imminent, the massive firepower of the Navy—the Third and Fifth    Fleets—would approach Japan. The Third Fleet, under Admiral William “Bull”    Halsey, with its big guns and naval aircraft, would provide strategic support    for the operation against Honshu and Hokkaido. Halsey’s fleet would be    composed of battleships, heavy cruisers, destroyers, dozens of support ships    and three fast carrier task groups. From these carriers, hundreds of Navy    fighters, dive bombers and torpedo planes would hit targets all over the    island of Honshu. The 3,000 ship Fifth Fleet, under Admiral Raymond Spruance,    would carry the invasion    troops.        

Several    days before the invasion, the battleships, heavy cruisers and destroyers would    pour thousands of tons of high explosives into the target areas. They would    not cease the bombardment until after the land forces had been launched.    During the early morning hours of November 1, 1945 the invasion would begin.    Thousands of soldiers and Marines would pour ashore on beaches all along the    eastern, southeastern, southern and western coasts of Kyushu. Waves of    Helldivers, Dauntless dive bombers, Avengers, Corsairs, and Hellcats from 66    aircraft carriers would bomb, rocket and strafe enemy defenses, gun    emplacements and troop concentrations along the    beaches.        

The    Eastern Assault Force consisting of the 25th, 33rd and 41st Infantry Divisions    would land near Miyaski, at beaches called Austin, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet,    Chrysler, and Ford, and move inland to attempt to capture the city and its    nearby airfield. The Southern Assault Force, consisting of the 1st Cavalry    Division, the 43rd Division and Americal Division would land inside Ariake Bay    at beaches labeled DeSoto, Dusenberg, Essex, Ford, and Franklin and attempt to    capture Shibushi and the city of Kanoya and its    airfield.        

On the    western shore of Kyushu, at beaches Pontiac, Reo, Rolls Royce, Saxon, Star,    Studebaker, Stutz, Winston and Zephyr, the V Amphibious Corps would land the    2nd, 3rd and 5th Marine Divisions, sending half of its force inland to Sendai    and the other half to the port city of    Kagoshima.        

On    November 4, 1945 the Reserve Force, consisting of the 81st and 98th Infantry    Divisions and the 11th Airborne Division, after feigning an attack of the    island of Shikoku, would be landed—if not needed elsewhere—near Kaimondake,    near the southernmost tip of Kagoshima Bay, at the beaches designated    Locomobile, Lincoln, LaSalle, Hupmobile, Moon, Mercedes, Maxwell, Overland,    Oldsmobile, Packard and Plymouth.      

Olympic was not just a plan for invasion, but for conquest and    occupation as well. It was expected to take four months to achieve its    objective, with the three fresh American divisions per month to be landed in    support of that operation if    needed.        

If all    went well with Olympic, Coronet would be launched March 1, 1946. Coronet would    be twice the size of Olympic, with as many as 28 divisions landing on    Honshu.        

All    along the coast east of Tokyo, the American 1st Army would land the 5th, 7th,    27th, 44th, 86th, and 96th Infantry Divisions along with the 4th and 6th    Marine Divisions.        

At Sagami Bay, just south of Tokyo, the entire 8th and 10th Armies    would strike north and east to clear the long western shore of Tokyo Bay and    attempt to go as far as Yokohama. The assault troops landing south of Tokyo    would be the 4th, 6th, 8th, 24th, 31st, 37th, 38th and 8th Infantry Divisions,    along with the 13th and 20th Armored    Divisions.        

Following the initial assault, eight more divisions—the 2nd, 28th,    35th, 91st, 95th, 97th and 104th Infantry Divisions and the 11th Airborne    Division—would be landed. If additional troops were needed, as expected, other    divisions redeployed from Europe and undergoing training in the United States    would be shipped to Japan in what was hoped to be the final    push.        

Captured    Japanese documents and post war interrogations of Japanese military leaders    disclose that information concerning the number of Japanese planes available    for the defense of the home islands was dangerously in    error.        

During    the sea battle at Okinawa alone, Japanese kamakaze aircraft sank 32 Allied    ships and damaged more than 400 others. But during the summer of 1945,    American top brass concluded that the Japanese had spent their air force since    American bombers and fighters daily flew unmolested over    Japan.        

What the    military leaders did not know was that by the end of July the Japanese had    been saving all aircraft, fuel, and pilots in reserve, and had been feverishly    building new planes for the decisive battle for their    homeland.        

As    part of Ketsu-Go, the name for the plan to defend Japan—the Japanese were    building 20 suicide takeoff strips in southern Kyushu with underground    hangars. They also had 35 camouflaged airfields and nine seaplane    bases.        

On the    night before the expected invasion, 50 Japanese seaplane bombers, 100 former    carrier aircraft and 50 land based army planes were to be launched in a    suicide attack on the    fleet.          

The Japanese had 58 more airfields in Korea, western Honshu and    Shikoku, which also were to be used for massive suicide    attacks.        

Allied    intelligence had established that the Japanese had no more than 2,500 aircraft    of which they guessed 300 would be deployed in suicide    attacks.        

In    August 1945, however, unknown to Allied intelligence, the Japanese still had    5,651 army and 7,074 navy aircraft, for a total of 12,725 planes of all types.    Every village had some type of aircraft manufacturing activity. Hidden in    mines, railway tunnels, under viaducts and in basements of department stores,    work was being done to construct new    planes.        

Additionally, the Japanese were building newer and more effective    models of the Okka, a rocket-propelled bomb much like the German V-1, but    flown by a suicide    pilot.        

When the    invasion became imminent, Ketsu-Go called for a fourfold aerial plan of attack    to destroy up to 800 Allied    ships.        

While    Allied ships were approaching Japan, but still in the open seas, an initial    force of 2,000 army and navy fighters were to fight to the death to control    the skies over kyushu. A second force of 330 navy combat pilots were to attack    the main body of the task force to keep it from using its fire support and air    cover to protect the troop carrying transports. While these two forces were    engaged, a third force of 825 suicide planes was to hit the American    transports.       

As the    invasion convoys approached their anchorages, another 2,000 suicide planes    were to be launched in waves of 200 to 300, to be used in hour by hour    attacks.        

By    mid-morning of the first day of the invasion, most of the American land-based    aircraft would be forced to return to their bases, leaving the defense against    the suicide planes to the carrier pilots and the shipboard    gunners.        

Carrier    pilots crippled by fatigue would have to land time and time again to rearm and    refuel. Guns would malfunction from the heat of continuous firing and    ammunition would become scarce. Gun crews would be exhausted by nightfall, but    still the waves of kamikaze would continue. With the fleet hovering off the    beaches, all remaining Japanese aircraft would be committed to nonstop suicide    attacks, which the Japanese hoped could be sustained for 10 days. The Japanese    planned to coordinate their air strikes with attacks from the 40 remaining    submarines from the Imperial Navy—some armed with Long Lance torpedoes with a    range of 20 miles—when the invasion fleet was 180 miles off    Kyushu.        

The    Imperial Navy had 23 destroyers and two cruisers which were operational. These    ships were to be used to counterattack the American invasion. A number of the    destroyers were to be beached at the last minute to be used as anti-invasion    gun platforms.        

Once offshore, the invasion fleet would be forced to defend not only    against the attacks from the air, but would also be confronted with suicide    attacks from sea. Japan had established a suicide naval attack unit of midget    submarines, human torpedoes and exploding    motorboats       

The goal of    the Japanese was to shatter the invasion before the landing. The Japanese were    convinced the Americans would back off or become so demoralized that they    would then accept a less-than-unconditional surrender and a more honorable and    face-saving end for the    Japanese.        

But as    horrible as the battle of Japan would be off the beaches, it would be on    Japanese soil that the American forces would face the most rugged and    fanatical defense encountered during the    war.        

Throughout    the island-hopping Pacific campaign, Allied troops had always out numbered the    Japanese by 2 to 1 and sometimes 3 to 1. In Japan it would be different. By    virtue of a combination of cunning, guesswork, and brilliant military    reasoning, a number of Japan’s top military leaders were able to deduce, not    only when, but where, the United States would land its first invasion    forces.        

Facing    the 14 American divisions landing at Kyushu would be 14 Japanese divisions, 7    independent mixed brigades, 3 tank brigades and thousands of naval troops. On    Kyushu the odds would be 3 to 2 in favor of the Japanese, with 790,000 enemy    defenders against 550,000 Americans. This time the bulk of the Japanese    defenders would not be the poorly trained and ill-equipped labor battalions    that the Americans had faced in the earlier    campaigns.        

The    Japanese defenders would be the hard core of the home army. These troops were    well-fed and well equipped. They were familiar with the terrain, had    stockpiles of arms and ammunition, and had developed an effective system of    transportation and supply almost invisible from the air. Many of these    Japanese troops were the elite of the army, and they were swollen with a    fanatical fighting    spirit.        

Japan’s    network of beach defenses consisted of offshore mines, thousands of suicide    scuba divers attacking landing craft, and mines planted on the beaches. Coming    ashore, the American Eastern amphibious assault forces at Miyazaki would face    three Japanese divisions, and two others poised for counterattack. Awaiting    the Southeastern attack force at Ariake Bay was an entire division and at    least one mixed infantry    brigade.        

On the    western shores of Kyushu, the Marines would face the most brutal opposition.    Along the invasion beaches would be the three Japanese divisions, a tank    brigade, a mixed infantry brigade and an artillery command. Components of two    divisions would also be poised to launch    counterattacks.       

If not    needed to reinforce the primary landing beaches, the American Reserve Force    would be landed at the base of Kagoshima Bay November 4, 1945, where they    would be confronted by two mixed infantry brigades, parts of two infantry    divisions and thousands of naval    troops.        

All    along the invasion beaches, American troops would face coastal batteries,    anti-landing obstacles and a network of heavily fortified pillboxes, bunkers,    and underground fortresses. As Americans waded ashore, they would face intense    artillery and mortar fire as they worked their way through concrete rubble and    barbed-wire entanglements arranged to funnel them into the muzzles of these    Japanese guns.        

On the beaches and beyond would be hundreds of Japanese machine gun    positions, beach mines, booby traps, trip-wire mines and sniper units. Suicide    units concealed in “spider holes” would engage the troops as they passed    nearby. In the heat of battle, Japanese infiltration units would be sent to    reap havoc in the American lines by cutting phone and communication lines.    Some of the Japanese troops would be in American uniform, English-speaking    Japanese officers were assigned to break in on American radio traffic to call    off artillery fire, to order retreats and to further confuse troops. Other    infiltration with demolition charges strapped on their chests or backs wold    attempt to blow up american tanks, artillery pieces and ammunition stores as    they were unloaded    ashore.        

Beyond    the beaches were large artillery pieces situated to bring down a curtain of    fire on the beach. Some of these large guns were mounted on railroad tracks    running in and out of caves protected by concrete and    steel.        

The    battle for Japan would be won by what Simon Bolivar Buckner, a lieutenant    general in the Confederate army during the Civil War, had called “Prairie Dog    Warfare.” This type of fighting was almost unknown to the ground troops in    Europe and the Mediterranean. It was peculiar only to the soldiers and Marines    who fought the Japanese on islands all over the Pacific—at Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo    Jima and Okinawa.        

Prairie Dog Warfare was a battle for yards, feet and sometimes inches.    It was brutal, deadly and dangerous form of combat aimed at an underground,    heavily fortified, non-retreating    enemy.        

In the    mountains behind the Japanese beaches were underground networks of caves,    bunkers, command posts and hospitals connected by miles of tunnels with dozens    of entrances and exits. Some of these complexes could hold up to 1,000    troops.        

In    addition to the use of poison gas and bacteriological warfare (which the    Japanese had experimented with), Japan mobilized its    citizenry.        

Had    Olympic come about, the Japanese civilian population, inflamed by a national    slogan—”One Hundred Million Will Die for the Emperor and Nation”—were prepared    to fight to the death. Twenty Eight Million Japanese had become a part of the    National Volunteer Combat Force. They were armed with ancient rifles, lunge    mines, satchel charges, Molotov cocktails and one-shot black powder mortars.    Others were armed with swords, long bows, axes and bamboo spears. The civilian    units were to be used in nighttime attacks, hit and run maneuvers, delaying    actions and massive suicide charges at the weaker American    positions.        

At    the early stage of the invasion, 1,000 Japanese and American soldiers would be    dying every hour.        

The invasion of Japan never became a reality because on August 6,    1945, an atomic bomb was exploded over Hiroshima. Three days later, a second    bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Within days the war with Japan was at a    close.       

Had these bombs    not been dropped and had the invasion been launched as scheduled, combat    casualties in Japan would have been at a minimum of the tens of thousands.    Every foot of Japanese soil would have been paid for by Japanese and American    lives.        

One can    only guess at how many civilians would have committed suicide in their homes    or in futile mass military    attacks.        

In    retrospect, the 1 million American men who were to be the casualties of the    invasion, were instead lucky enough to survive the    war.        

Intelligence studies and military estimates made 50 years ago, and not    latter-day speculation, clearly indicate that the battle for Japan might well    have resulted in the biggest blood-bath in the history of modern    warfare.        

Far    worse would be what might have happened to Japan as a nation and as a culture.    When the invasion came, it would have come after several months of fire    bombing all of the remaining Japanese cities. The cost in human life that    resulted from the two atomic blasts would be small in comparison to the total    number of Japanese lives that would have been lost by this aerial    devastation.       

With    American forces locked in combat in the south of Japan, little could have    prevented the Soviet Union from marching into the northern half of the    Japanese home islands. Japan today cold be divided much like Korea and    Germany.        

The    world was spared the cost of Operation Downfall, however, because Japan    formally surrendered to the United Nations September 2, 1945, and World War II    was over.        

The    aircraft carriers, cruisers and transport ships scheduled to carry the    invasion troops to Japan, ferried home American troops in a gigantic operation    called Magic Carpet.        

In the fall of 1945, in the aftermath of the war, few people concerned    themselves with the invasion plans. Following the surrender, the classified    documents, maps, diagrams and appendices for Operation Downfall were packed    away in boxes and eventually stored at the National Archives. These plans that    called for the invasion of Japan paint a vivid description of what might have    been one of the most horrible campaigns in the history of man. The fact that    the story of the invasion of Japan is locked up in the National Archives and    is not told in our history books is something for which all Americans can be    thankful.