Failure of the Japanese pilots training program

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by vashstampede, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    More than a few times when I watched/read documentaries of Pacific War, it mentioned how after the Japanese lost the 4 aircraft carriers at the Battle of Midway, they were unable to replace their pilots fast enough. It was brought up almost every time that their pilots training program were insufficient to provide them with enough qualified experienced pilots after just one major loss.

    I'd like to learn the details of the pilot training programs of Imperial Japan, and the difference in the training programs of the United States. Why the U.S. were able to train qualified pilots fast enough, while the Japanese could not?

    The difference in the pilots training programs caused Japan lost over 500 planes for only 30 American planes in the Battle of Philippines Sea. American pilots called it “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot”...
  2. Vladimir

    Vladimir Siberian Tiger

    During the pre-war period, the Imperial Japanese Air Force gave too much importance to quality over quantity. So the number of pilots serving with the IJAF was much smaller when compared to that of USAF.

    However once the war started, the IJAF quickly inducted hundreds of young men in to its ranks by giving them very basic pilot training. (It was shortage of aviation fuel which affected them the most, not the shortage of trainer aircraft or flight instructors)

    During the early phases of WW2, the Japanese pilots were much more experienced than their American counterparts, due to their participation in various operations in Philippines, Manchuria and other Asia-Pacific nations during the 1930s.
  3. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    I am sure most experienced Japanese pilots got their experience from the war in China. Although entire Chinese air force were quickly defeated during the first year or so, the bombing run by Japanese bombers were conducted on daily basis against Chinese targets.

    I wouldn't say the American pilots had no experience at the beginning of the Pacific War. Remember Flying Tigers? They were American mercenaries fighting for the Chinese government. They had plenty of experience against Japanese bombing raids.
  4. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    Another 2 parter . . . keep banging up against the 10K character limit.

    Part I

    Re: your comment on the experience of the Flying Tigers. The American Volunteer Group, most of whom apropos of nothing else, were naval aviators, did not enter combat until 20 December 1941, after Pearl Harbor was attacked.

    To the main topic . . .

    The Japanese Navy had, as near as I can figure, some 3500 “front line” pilots of whom about one half were carrier current, that is, assignable to carrier squadrons. These numbers pretty much correlate with those of the USN/USMC. Just looking at active 1941 USN squadrons yields a similar number of available aviators. As far as Japanese carrier qualified pilots are concerned, that is a more difficult number to ascertain from the sources I have available. USN carrier squadrons, at the end of 1941 only mustered about 580 flying slots in 38 squadrons. Land-based USMC VMF and VMSB squadrons probably accounted for another 200-250 readily available carrier qualified pilots. Certainly this was not the total pool of available carrier qualified USN/USMC pilots as it does not take into account carrier qualified pilots assigned to such mundane activities as training and staff positions, as well as land based squadrons. The same would be true of the IJN, there were undoubtedly many carrier qualified pilots not actually assigned to a carrier squadron and so operating.

    Additionally, it was a pre-war USN practice to move pilots from “community” to “Community”. Famed fighter pilot Jimmy Thach, for example spent two or three tours in patrol planes, five to six years, if not more. All USN pilots, prewar were carrier qualified at some point regardless of the community to which they were eventually assigned.

    In preparing for the war, the IJN brought it’s operational aircraft up to a level of about 1800 aircraft, with about 1200 of them shore based and 600 ship based (aircraft carriers and battleship and cruiser scouts). If there were indeed only 1500 carrier qualified IJN pilots, then, obviously they had twice as many pilots as carrier pilot slots.

    What was the final devastating factor for IJN aviation, both carrier and land based was their inability to make good their losses. While some like to believe that the cream of the IJN carrier aviators were wiped out at Midway, that is not exactly true. The loss of the four carriers in this battle meant that, no matter what, all of their aircraft were lost. So, probably about 256 planes were lost. This does not equate to the loss of 256 pilots; rather, the Japanese only lost somewhat less than 100 pilots and aircrewmen in the battle, most of whom met their ends aboard sinking carriers as opposed to air combat operations. Where the curve of the loss of experienced pilots started to drop off the chart was in the Solomons where both land based pilots and, thrown in as reinforcements, carrier pilot losses, went beyond the IJN’s training programs ability to replace them with a quality product. The short hiatus from the Solomons campaigns to the Mariana’s allowed the IJN some training and preparation respite, but it really was never enough to build air groups of the pre-war caliber. A substantial majority of these newly trained pilots, the second generation of Japanese pilots, if you will, along with many of the residual experienced leaders, were lost in the Battle of the Philippines Sea, or as it is known, “The Great Mariana’s Turkey Shoot.” Somewhere (grabbing numbers out of the air because I don’t feel like looking it up) around 375 IJN planes and their crews were shot down, with no hope of rescue for any who might have been able to survive their downing. Essentially, this action eliminated this second generation of IJN carrier pilots and was a blow from which the IJN never recovered.

    As near as I can put together from various sources perused over the years, during the course of the war the IJN trained some 24,000 pilots of all stripes. Roughly 18,900 of them, and their pre-war compatriots, were killed, either in action, training, or operationally. Over 2500 of these were killed in suicide attacks.

    If you look at USN pilot training, in the years 1925 through 1941 (very few aviators from classes prior to 1925 were still in flying billets by 1941) 7,061 pilots had completed the program. Of these, 44 percent, 3,112 completed the program just in 1941. Those most likely to endure the most of the fighting were those who completed flight training between 1934 and 1941, some 5,687 pilots. How many of these were carrier qualified? All of them at some point.

    In 1942 USN pilot training programs started to ramp up; 10,869 aviators received their wings of gold, almost twice as many as had completed the program in the previous 8 years. In 1943 there were 20,842 graduates; 1944, 21,067; and, with then end of the war in sight, 1945 ended with 8,880 graduates. Thus in the period 1942 to 1945, the USN produced more than 2.5 times the number of pilots as the IJN. And each of those USN pilots went through a program of primary, intermediate, advanced, and, for the carrier pilots combat preparation in RAGs before heading west. New pilots were arriving for action in USN carrier squadrons with as many as 600 hours flying under their belts and as much as 200 hours of that in type.

    This was a level of training and preparation with which the IJN could never dream of competing. The IJN training programs suffered from an insufficient number of qualified instructors, lack of fuel for extensive flying time, poor maintenance of training aircraft, and shortages of ordnance. The two most critically lacking areas were, first, a too long, into 1943, adherence to traditional adversarial nature of their programs (for every one graduate, there were nine others who did not) and, secondly, of course, time. There was never enough time to develop the students’ skills, to practice attack tactics or defensive actions. Most of them arrived in combat squadrons with less than 200 hours in all, by the very end of the war, less than 100 hours. Most had to learn combat skills on the job once assigned to a combat squadron. By then, it is too late and few survived.

    Many will harp on the overall superiority of the start of the war IJN carrier pilots. I would suggest that this, too, is somewhat of a distorted view. Popularly, the IJN pilots are given credit for racking up all this great combat experience in China. Well, so what about this great combat experience? This was exciting work, bombing raids blasting relatively, certainly by later wartime standards, undefended villages, towns, cities and the odd US gunboat. Fighter plane wise, this meant flying strike escort for these mostly unchallenged air raids; shooting up an occasional column of troops or refugees; and, on rare occasions, cornering a bunch of Russian built and Chinese flown I-15 biplanes or a rare I-16 monoplane.

    Also, consider that IJN air units had considerably less involvement in China than IJA air units and that virtually all, if not actually all, during those critical first 12 months of the war, USN/USMC VF vs Japanese VF encounters, were against IJN VF. This is not to say the IJN flyers had no combat experience, but to posit instead that it was, perhaps, a "lower quality combat experience" than that for which they are popularly given credit . . . really not much more than overly realistic training. The entire argument of the IJN pilots having all this vast combat experience must rest on some fairly unlikely presuppositions, such as: that all IJN pilots/air groups went off to China and obtained this vast combat experience. That all sorties resulted in air-to-air combat action and as a result all VF pilots had the benefit of this air-to-air combat experience. And all VF air-to-air combat experience was obtained flying the A6M2. The extensions of these pre-suppositions are also equally unlikely: that all IJN pilots/air groups went off to fight the Americans with no pilot without this experience. That there were no PCS transfers out of these units. There had been no operational casualties in these units. There were no assignments of new pilots fresh from whatever advanced training to these units. And there were no PCS transfers into these units from pilots who were busy elsewhere during the China adventure.

    more to follow . . .
  5. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    Part II

    Significantly, whatever combat experience the IJN pilots did acquire in China would only stand them good stead if the USN pilots flew like the Chinese Air Force . . . which was, most definitely, not the case.

    So the popular theory is that these green, inexperienced, fresh from training, USN/USMC pilots faced all these, to a man, combat experienced, multiple victory, mature late 20's to early 30's, rock steady, hardened professionals. Not really true. Statistically unlikely.

    The USN/USMC VF pilots of the period, while not combat experienced, were, in most cases, well trained, well led, and possessed of sound tactical doctrine. Their squadron commanders and executive officers, for the most part, were experienced aviators who had received their wings by the early 1930's, the division and section leaders usually had anywhere from three years to slightly less than a year in type. What do you suppose the USN/USMC pilots were doing while the IJN pilots were cavorting around in the air over China ... sitting around on their hands at the Kaneohe, Ford Island, or Norfolk NAS O Clubs? No, they were flying and training, flying and training, flying and training, ad nauseum. They had a good idea who they were going to have to fight, and some, Lt Cdr's James Flatley and John Thach being the prime examples, had a pretty good idea how they were going to go about it.

    An example of the USN squadrons would be the aviators from one fighter squadron, VF-42, who fought against the Shoho, Zuikaku, Shokaku, Akagi, Soryu, Hiryu, and Kaga air groups, as well as aircraft stationed at Tulagi. VF-42 had spent some 8 months on Neutrality Patrols in the Atlantic, flying F4F's (and before that in its previous identity of VS-41, SBUs) off Ranger, Wasp, and Yorktown before Pearl Harbor. In June of 1941, the squadron was attached to the Yorktown and, with the coming of the war, went to the Pacific aboard her. The experience level for the squadron, reported on 30 April 1942, ranged from a high of 3019.3 hours (Flatley, the XO) down to 274.4 hours (Ens Gibbs, who joined the squadron on 8 December 1941). The average pilot hours for the squadron were 989.4. Note that 3.8 hours flying a day, 5 days a week, for a year would net you 988 hours flight time. In actuality, once assigned to a carrier squadron one could expect a pilot to acquire not more than about 10 hours a week if he really worked at it, or about 500 hours a year. Even in 1945, USN carrier pilots were still only averaging 10 hours a week in operational flying, this during the final July-August strikes. The squadron average, therefore, represents almost two years worth of flying experience.

    The squadron suffered no combat casualties in the early raids, in fact, none until the Battle of the Coral Sea, where they lost two planes and one pilot in air-to-air combat. Another one plane and its pilot were lost operationally during the battle. The squadron was credited with 24 victories between 4 May 42 and 8 May 42. A month later, at Midway, where VF-42 pilots made up 64% (16 of 25) of Jimmy Thach's VF-3 pilots engaged on June 4th (and 59% of VF-3, overall), they lost 4 planes shot down and 2 pilots. Of claims confirmed and credited to pilots flying with VF-3 at Midway, 17 of 27 went to the VF-42 contingent. Of a total of 21 pilots assigned to this squadron from 7 December, 1941 to the end of June 1942 when it was disestablished, only 6 planes and 3 pilots were lost in combat. This squadron was one of only two that flew at both at Coral Sea and at Midway (the other squadron being the Yorktown's VB-5, which was temporarily re-designated "VS-5" during the Midway period) and the only US VF squadron whose pilots fought at both battles.

    Where the real difference lay, as I am always so quick to point out, was in tactics . . . and this is where the discussion wraps back around to training . . . without training and practice in tactics you are just boring holes in the sky until someone shoots you down. While the USN/USMC VF pilots specialized in deflection gunnery, the IJN pilots, while having some training in deflection gunnery, tended to prefer the high side rear or frontal attack. If their target turned away at the last instance before firing, as the USN pilots were trained to react, the attack was spoiled. It has been said that true deflection gunnery tactics ended forever the concept of the "dogfight" as it had been practiced since WWI. If you do not practice the art of deflection gunnery and you find yourself up against someone who does, you re already behind the curve and in deep trouble. When you add Thach's beam defense to deflection gunnery, you are close to a world-beater. Escorting the Yorktown's VT-3 on its strike on the Japanese carriers at Midway, Jimmy Thach led a 4-plane VF-3 division as cover. After losing one plane in the initial contact with the Japanese CAP, he initiated the beam defense tactic with the remaining three planes of his division. They shot down at least four, and probably five, A6M2's with no further losses to themselves. In the process, they soaked up the attentions of some 12 of the Japanese CAP (almost a third of the airborne CAP) while the SBDs were gathering overhead. The Japanese reported that they had encountered some 18 Grumman fighters in this action.

    By mid 1942 virtually all the USN/USMC squadrons operated in two plane sections and four plane divisions. Sections could be internally supportive one with one and externally supportive in divisions, two with two. The Japanese, on the other hand were saddled with the three-plane section, nine-plane division, a practice that looks nice in air shows and was more suitable for WWI type tactics. The 3-9 set up, indeed, evolved during WWI as it provides a better lookout doctrine in the biplane world. The 2-4 set up takes advantage of the monoplane construction with no overhead and forward wing to block the view. While one might think that the greater numbers would work to the Japanese advantage, in practice it was hard to maintain section cohesiveness. Oft times the third man in a section turned out to be the odd man out and it was he who was sure to get burned in an approach on weaving F4Fs. The USN/USMC fighter pilots were already experimenting with, and some squadrons had firmly established, the 2-4 formations before they ever got into the war. VF-42 for example transitioned to F4Fs in March 1941 and by May they were using 2-plane sections and 4-plane divisions, exclusively, and never looked back. The Japanese maintained their 3-6-9 formations into 1944.

    Bottom line is that the Japanese could not match the numbers of pilots trained and could not make good their own losses. In spite of what ever experience level they had acquired in China, that experience did not prepare them for combat against the USN. While they did not do badly at first, their inability to absorb losses and lessons pretty much led them down a path to futility. And, certainly, long road back for the USN, but one, especially as the Solomons campaign was drawing to a close, where a final victory lay as a prize at the end.

  6. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    I also found that in almost every engagement, despite on many occasions the Americans lost as many aircraft as the Japanese counterpart, and the Americans lost as many carriers as the Japanese counterpart, in all occasions the Japanese took heavier casualty. More American pilots and ship crews were rescued when their aircraft was down or ship sunk, while most Japanese just drowned.

    Were the Japanese not paying enough attention and putting more effort in rescue operations?
  7. Vladimir

    Vladimir Siberian Tiger

    Vash, I think the Japanese never put much importance to the individual survival of their soldiers. Most of the rank and file soldiers were treated badly, and the generals never put much importance to their lives. I am not sure though.

    This was definitely the case with the Soviet Army. I suspect the situation in the Japanese Army was also similar.
  8. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    I understand they didn't treat individual foot soldiers that highly, but pilots are completely different since they not only consumed a lot of resources to train and to maintain, they often hold some kind of ranks. Every country knows the importance of recovering the downed pilots, because they can't be easily replaced.

    When I went through the number of downed planes and lost pilots, the Japanese figure looked like a disaster while the American counterpart was able to recover most downed pilots.
  9. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    One thing to remember was that the Japanese were not always in a position to implement an effective search and rescue.

    Look, for example, at the Solomon’s campaign. From the start, Japanese air operations were primarily staged out of Rabaul, striking south east towards Guadalcanal. These operations were at the far reach of effective strike range offering but scant minutes of combat time before one’s ability to return was seriously compromised. Presuming one survived a ditching, there were simply no assets available to affect a rescue and, more importantly even if there were, there were no combat assets available to cover such operations. For the US types in the same situation, in more than just a few cases, the opposite was true . . . absent the presence of Japanese strike air, the US controlled the air at all other times, especially as the preponderance of increasing US air assets began to exert more pressure on the Japanese. Patrol planes, American and Commonwealth, in ever increasing numbers, could often find themselves in serendipitously in company with patrolling fighters as they went about their search routines, or, just as often, fighters were specifically tasked to provide coverage. Coupled with the possibility of fetching up on a shore where one might find oneself spirited off to a ragged coast watcher with a radio, one’s chances of being returned were considerably better than a Japanese pilot in the same situation . . . indeed, making it ashore for a Japanese pilot might just be a case of just another way to die.

    Midway, is another example; US patrol planes operating out of Midway were part of a two week plus effort to scour the seas in the vicinity of the action. Not just a few US pilots and air crew owe their lives to this effort, not to mention a boat load of Japanese survivors of Hiryu to whom a patrol plane directed a USN ship to rescue.

    The same thing happened in the Marianas where USN patrol planes and searching ships were able to rescue numerous pilots and crew floating about in the ocean. It was not a case of just picking up the Americans; there were not a whole lot of Japanese to be found.

    Air-sea rescue became a specialty with USN and USAAF patrol squadrons being specifically tasked to the effort – there were, by the end of the war, beyond the typical VP/VPB patrol plane squadrons, specifically designated air-sea rescue squadrons, VH in USN squadron designations – as well as submarines and individual scout planes from surface warships. A US pilot ditching in the course of combat operations had a better than 50% chance of rescue. The Japanese pilot in the same situation was pretty much a write off because his compatriots were not in a position to make the same effort. Certainly some Japanese benefitted for the proximity of Japanese vessels which might be near-by when he went in the water, but if no one saw him go in, his chances were pretty slim unless spotted by an Allied search and he found it in himself to be willing to be picked up – sometimes getting found resulted in suicide.

    Plucking downed aviators from enemy held waters, under fire, was not all that unusual, even in the confines the waters surrounding the Japanese home islands. Planning and coordinating air-sea rescue operations early-on became a routine, but significant piece of operations plans for strikes, with specific patrol plane assets covering known areas and submarines stationed at known points for easy contact and rescue coordination.

    Lastly, one might consider the basic equipment, the airplane. It was a readily observed phenomenon that Japanese planes, when solidly hit, had an oft remarked upon tendency to explode, fall apart, or simply catch fire in a spectacular manner. One might presume that disastrous and fatal results from such instances might limit the number of potential survivors of an encounter. Not to say that US aircraft did not suffer similar effects, but equally remarked upon was the ability of US planes to absorb more damage and thus be able to depart the area of combat and wing their way closer to US forces and the potential for rescue.

    If one looks at the record of USN combat type planes, for example, known to be lost from air action against Japanese aircraft, Japanese anti-aircraft fire, or some other combat related operational loss, one can find a rough total, combining all types, of about 3,367. Since most USN pilots were officers, we can get a rough idea of survivability by looking at USN pilot officer losses from the same effects. Those 3,367 aircraft when taking into account pilots, co-pilots, and such (remembering that some of the VP types routinely carried as many as three pilots) the least number of pilots involved comes to about 3,611. USN pilot deaths from enemy action including operational losses in combat operations came to about 1,602, less than half the number of pilots involved in the aircraft losses. How many of the balance of 2,009 were plucked from the water, I could not begin to guess, but I would not be at all surprised if a rather large, majority percentage of them, went for a swim.
  10. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

  11. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

  12. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    For some basics on SAR orientation in the Pacific pages 97 through 104 of
    this, entitled “War Zone Familiarization – Pacific Ocean Areas”

    USAAF SAR history can be found described in “Air-Sea Rescue, 1941-1952” by Frank E Ransom, USAF Historical Study # 95, found at
    Chapter 5, beginning on page 76 covers the Pacific and CBI theaters. If you read the orientation in the first link, you’ll be happy to find some of the exact wording in this same chapter. Always nice to know they were consistent. Brief (very) description of USN SAR starts on page 102.

    The Air Force Historical Research Agency - Numbered USAF Historical Studies
    ( site, BTW, has some pretty interesting documents for folks who might have an interest in the USAAF and WW2.
  13. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    Further, if one wants to restrict the research to the use of flying boats for SAR purposes, a significant piece of the puzzle would be production versus losses, that is how many of the service types of flying boat type aircraft (US = PBY, PB2Y, & PBM series; IJN = H6K, H8K& H9K series were produced, say, from January 1940 to the end of the war, versus how many were lost in operations. (We might want to remember that the H9K series was primarily for training purposes, but since a not inconsiderable number of the USN types were used for training, the H9K is included.)

    Total US production
    PBY series*: 1,556
    PBM series*: 1,269
    PB2Y series*: 174
    Total: 2,999
    Gross total reported losses combat and operational: 215
    Percent of production reported lost 7.1%
    * note that production numbers do not include models destined for lend-lease nor produced before 1940.

    Total Japanese production and their reported combat losses
    H6K series*: 181
    H8K series: 167
    H9K series: 31
    Total: 379
    Gross total reported losses combat and operational: 315
    Percent lost of production reported lost: 83.1%
    * note that production numbers do not include models produced before 1940.

    One might note that the end of war inventory of Japanese flying boats, that is those still operational in the Japanese home islands at the end of the war totaled 9, yes, nine; that would be 5 H6Ks and 4 H8Ks, that could still get into the air in September 1945. Any surviving H9K series, or their losses for that matter, are not specifically mentioned in the available reports. Of these, today in 2012, I believe but a single H8K survives, located in Japan. This particular aircraft was held as captured war material by the USN until when it was returned to Japan in 1979 for restoration. The USN kept it parked at NAS Norfolk during most of the time in its possession. I remember, I was 9 or 10 at the time, actually looking inside (my memory: dark and cavernous) when it was once briefly opened in the early 1960s.

    The inference to be drawn, just from production numbers, is that the Japanese did not ever have sufficient inventory at any one point in the war for dedicated SAR mission tasking as compared to available inventory of US production. Adding to those numbers the losses incurred by the Japanese, and the lack of SAR, especially the “S” search part becomes painfully obvious. Just another case of the greater production – in this case aircraft and pilots – having a greater impact on operations, both in terms of operations, generally, and greater mission flexibility. Carried a step further, if one were to look at the end of the war, the USN had six dedicated SAR squadrons (VH-1 through VH-6) in the Pacific Theater, operating 6 flying boats (usually of the PBM variety) each. These squadrons were specifically tasked with SAR in support of and co-located in combat operations. At the same time there were some 25 other flying boat type equipped squadrons in the Pacific, to the west, northwest, and southwest to the far reaches of the USN operational theater, operating some 390 plus aircraft, any one of which were operated by folks trained and prepared to render rescue service or coordination. That’s looking only at August 1945; some 425 plus available aircraft, more than the total Japanese production of flying boats for the entire war. This does not count the VPB squadrons stateside reforming nor the 8 VPB squadrons operating flying boats in the Atlantic, nor replacement or OTU training squadrons, nor transportation and utility squadrons, nor aircraft in maintenance and repair units, nor those assigned to headquarters commands, nor special development squadrons, nor general pool aircraft nor flying boat types assigned to any of a plethora of other activities.
  14. Deneb1973

    Deneb1973 New Member

    Several points have not been discussed in this thread. First, most of the Japanese aircraft did not have functional radios during the Solomon's campaign (Stille, The Imperial Japanese Navy in the Pacific War); Second the Japanese fighter pilots fought individually while American pilots were trained to fight in sections that were mutually supporting (See also, Tillman, Wildcat); Third, many Japanese pilots eschewed parachutes (See Sakai's book Zero Fighter); Fourth, the Japanese had no organized pilot rescue program (Stille); Fifth, the Japanese had no rotational program to infuse their training programs with combat experience (their pilots fought until wounded or killed) (Sakai); Sixth, the Japanese dive bombers in 1941 hit their targets 84% of the time. In 1943 the figure dropped to 10% or less (clearly demonstrating the decline in aircraft crews) (Gunston, Fighting Aircraft of World War II); Seventh, Japanese aircraft maintenance programs broke down with the expansion of the Empire reducing aircraft availability (or perhaps performance) to less than fifty percent degrading aircraft performance and survival rates (Stille - I have also read this in numerous histories but I think you get the point); Eighth, the Japanese operated from unimproved strips without perforated steel planking; Ninth, Japanese personnel (including pilots) did not have medical care comparable to American forces. Finally and most important, the Japanese found themselves in a war of attrition when they had initiated the war to negotiate a peace on favorable terms. Initially the Japanese did not want or believe they could win a war with the US and Britain. The Japanese wanted and expected a negotiated resolution (read the Japanese diplomatic memoirs - there are at least a dozen). The victories changed that objective (Victory Disease) and trapped the Japanese into a war of attrition that their flight schools and previously trained manpower could never win. Also remember that the Japanese were fighting in China, Burma, Indochina, the Philippines and the Pacific islands and by 1944 had lost 1/3 of their mercantile ships and more than 50% of their tankers reducing the training times enormously because of fuel shortages.
  15. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    Actually, points you seem to think are not discussed are in the above posts.

    I have none of the cited Stille works, so I am unfamiliar with his presentations (or his first name for that matter) . . . nice to see that he apparently agrees with my points outlined in the above posts.

    Barrett Tillman, on the other hand, has been a friend for well over thirty years and we hold much the same opinions on the Pacific war (you might want to look to see to whom Barrett dedicated his Wildcat tome, the similarity between that gentleman's last name and mine is not at all a coincidence). Sometimes I even get to contribute to his works in small ways.

    To my knowledge, Sakai did not write a book; he was interviewed at length by a Japanese-American writer, Fred Saito, who passed the product on to one Martin Caiden. T'were me, I'd be careful citing Caiden's Samurai as a source, he was a ghost writer of a ghost writer and never, repeat, never even spoke or met with Sakai until after the book was published. A lot of what our author Caiden wrote in his various works was simply over embellishments and in some cases out and out nonsense. Yes, many, perhaps a majority, of Japanese fighter pilots did not wear parachutes, but some certainly did. And as for the radios? Well, since their ignition shielding was pretty much non-existent, there was not much point in hauling around equipment that was operationally worthless. Saito, by the way, had little to no background in naval aviation, operations or history, thus some of what he provided to Caiden had built-in errors which Caiden simply amplified.

    Further, were you to seriously pursue the statistics, you'd find that the high hit rate for the Japanese dive bombers in 1941 was because, with a few exceptions, most of their targets were stationary. Makes the deflection problem much easier to solve . . . and the same could be said for all the supposed superiority of the A6M2 . . . most of the allied aircraft destroyed by the Zero drivers in 1941 were on the ground, not in the air.

    If you want to look into the Japanese failures in operational logistics and maintenance, I'd suggest Eric Bergerud's Fire in the Sky (1999); he covers it quite nicely.

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