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View Full Version : Some excerpts from an interview with Guadalcanal Navy pilot.



WTE_Galway
08-19-2008, 05:32 PM
Found this stuff over here while looking for data on gun convergences:

http://www.researcheratlarge.com/Aircraft/


Note the interesting claim that USN pilots did not use the gunsight but relied on tracer to shoot !!!!

Also this comment which is relevant to the complaints about the effectiveness of AA on ships in game ...

" Q. Do you feel that fighter strafing is worth while in making the torpedo and bombing attacks more effective?


A. There's a lot of pro and con on that because sometimes it will cost you about 50% of your fighters. You really lose the fighters on that deal. When you do get out and get out alive on a strafing attack on warships, you just aren't good, you're lucky. "



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



Excerpt from Interview of

CAPTAIN J. J. FOSS, USMC
Executive Officer, VMF-121

in the
Bureau of Aeronautics
26 April 1943



THE P-38

Q. What was your impression of the P-38's?

A. The P-38 is really a good plane as an interceptor, above 20,000 feet. If you get notice that a bogey is coming in, and don't have much time, give it to the P-38's; they can really get up there. If it's above 20,000 feet they make their runs, go on out far enough to make a turn, and come back for another run, When the P-38's were sparring around with me, they would buzz way down below me, take a look, then go up through a hole in the clouds, take a short look around and come back down. They ran all around the sky while I was doing my best just to stay where I was.

Q. Was any attempt made to use them at the limit of their range?

A. They went clear up to Bougainville. They sent P-38's to fly cover on B-17's and on B-24's. There would be Zeros above them and below them would be more Zeros, float bi-planes and float Zeros, but their orders were to stay in formation with the bombers. If any of the enemy fighters made an attack, they'd just pull up, give a short burst, and the enemy fighter would pull right back up out of range. When they failed to do this one day, three of them were shot down. They went down below 20,000 feet to get some "easy meat", (these float bi-planes that can turn on a dime) - went down and tried to dogfight - that was the end of three P-38's

- 5 -



STRAFING

Q. Did you do much strafing on enemy ships?

A. Yes. When we first came, they said there wouldn't be much strafing of enemy ships; I thought I'd start out on canoes or something easy. But our first assignment was some transport ships. Before we went out (I was going out in another formation just to get the idea), the leader said, "Now I don't like to go down close, but you just follow me." When we got out there, there were four or five cargo ships and nine destroyers. We went right on down. I don't know how he missed the ship. That was my first indoctrination in strafing. We came in at about a 45? angle. There were plenty of AA bursts, too close for comfort, on that attack. From then on I was leading.

We went out again around October 13. There were six cargo and transport ships with sevel (SIC) destroyers covering them. The cargo ships were in column with three destroyers on one side and four on the other. We were supposed to go in and strafe a cargo ship, but when we came out they spotted us. They all turned in different directions when I came in at the usual 45?, I failed to look out for a destroyer over at the side, and she real1y packed them right into the middle of the flight. She didn't shoot anyone down. But on the way out one plane in another flight was shot down. I didn't seem to have enough speed, so the next time I went out to strafe destroyers I came down at about 70? and just made a tight spiral to keep my fire right on the decks. The boys came in a little from the side; none of us got shot down that trip.

The next time we went out to strafe a light cruiser off New Georgia. We lost one man out of eight on that deal.

On November l4th my flight had the pleasure of strafing a Jap battleship off Savo Island. The bad thing about that was that they had pompom guns on her, all forward of the big guns clear to the tip of the bow. They kept shooting even after we started sprinkling around right into the gun positions. Finally we shut them up. I couldn't tell you whether they were worked by indirect control - I never did see anyone there. I came right down, but I was looking at other things.

As far as strafing goes, you got a lot of it. Then strafing the fields - we made several attacks on Rekata Bay, a seaplane base. There we really did some good work. We'd get five or a dozen planes and set them on fire. We'd get the radio-shack, and things like that, or get a gas dump - start a few fires, etc. They had five or six AA guns there. And then their small arms fire was something fierce. There is a point at Rekata Bay with a little island right at the end of the point. Whenever you strafe that bay, you come past this point, right off this island. On this island they have an anti-aircraft position covered with small arms fire. Every time we went through there, somebody got badly shot up, but we always had enough speed to go around the corner and make a forced landing down the coast. The boys usually get back, unless they were killed in the plane.

When the field at Munda was constructed, we made several attacks, getting as high as a dozen planes one day, started fires around the field, got some trucks, dropped in one time and surprised the men whe were working on the runways, and cleaned the field off pretty well. They kept moving in anti-aircraft and three-inch stuff. The last time I went to Munda there looked to me to be around twelve big anti-aircraft positions located so that if you got in there you'd really have to pull a Houdini to get out. Their small stuff would light up the boundary of the field, when they started shooting. Everybody that went in there got pretty well peppered

They have a new destroyer, comparatively new, with anti-aircraft. It resembles the ATLANTA class cruiser, in shape of the turrets. When you come down on those babies, they light up like a Christmas tree. Just about everyone in the formations gets hit a few times

Q. What was the highest altitude at which you operated?

A. The highest altitude that my outfit operated was 31,000 indicated. We could have used a few thousand more feet on several occasions. Our main trouble with the Grumman was that we couldn't get enough altitude in time. We liked to make overhead and high side runs; those were the only two runs that we ever used. Once in a while someone would use a headon run, When we used the headon run, we'd come out behind the Zeros - where some of them had a clear shot at you.

Q. If you'd had planes with a good enough rate of climb, would you have used it up to 35,000 or 36,000 feet?

A. Yes.

Q. What was the effect of the strafing on the ships?

A. Sometimes it'll start a fire on a cargo ship, and on the troop transports the decks are just packed with men. When you strafe the deck on a troop transport, you really do some damage to personnel. When you strafe a destroyer, that's the end of anti-aircraft from that destroyer, if you're placing them good, up and down the deck. They'll stop shooting at you when you get to about 3000 feet.

There were two destroyers that came in one afternoon. Broad daylight around Savo Island, and they saw two of our little old corvettes. These two corvettes saw the destroyers coming, and started on down the channel, trying to outrun them. The destroyers cut loose and had them well bracketed. When the little fellows saw there was no use trying to run, they just turned and headed straight towards the two destroyers, shooting full blast with their 3-inch. I'll swear that one was sinking - there was a squirt of water coming up - and they were still shooting at the Jap destroyer, All the men on the two corvettes were saved. Then we went out and strafed the Japs. After they cleared Savo Island, one of them exploded, caught on fire, and sank. Then a little farther on, the other one did the same thing. They gave the last four planes credit for sinking two destroyers. But as for doing any damage to a cruiser or battleship, in my estimation, you don't do any. The main thing is to draw fire so that your dive bombers and torpedo planes can get in. When the torpedo planes were coming in on this battleship, the battleship would blaze away with big guns trying to cause geysers so that the torpedo planes would fly into them. They did that all day, but they didn't get a single torpedo plane. I saw one of Captain Dooley's hits, he got one right amidships. I was just a few feet off from the ship when it hit. Then I saw thousand-pound bombs hit on the battleship, and they still kept shooting their big guns; they never would shut up those big guns; torpedoes would hit them and thousand-pound bombs, still the big guns kept going.

Q. Did you see her sink?

A. No, sir. That's the thing we all missed out on. We got the old thing dead in the water at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon; you could see that it had a slight list. It was then about two miles off Savo Island. A nice big cloud came up, what you'd call a thunderhead, up to about 24,000 feet and tight down to the water. The Japs were right under that thing. They were in that place with five destroyers, a light cruiser, and that battleship. We couldn't get in to get at them. I tried to go under the thing because I knew that they would be taking personnel off the battleship, and I thought that was really a chance to score. We'd go in there a few feet and we couldn't tell the water from the rain. It was solid. We just turned around and came back out again, That night, they evidently left a skeleton crew aboard and towed the battleship around Savo Island so that it could take a few shots at Henderson Field as a farewell. There was one salvo of big stuff came in that night - that was all. Some think it turned over and sank after that one. Whether they planted dynamite in it or not, I don't know; but the next morning there was a big explosion. We never sighted the battleship again.

Q. I don't suppose you ever identified it " what class

A. It was of the KONGO Class.

Q. Do you feel that fighter strafing is worth while in making the torpedo and bombing attacks more effective?


A. There's a lot of pro and con on that because sometimes it will cost you about 50% of your fighters. You really lose the fighters on that deal. When you do get out and get out alive on a strafing attack on warships, you just aren't good, you're lucky.

Q. It does silence the anti-aircraft?

A. Yes, it does on destroyers and transports, but on cruisers and battleships the anti-aircraft keeps pegging away. The only thing that I silenced on the battleship was pompom guns. The anti-aircraft there was still plenty of that around - I got one hit right under my wing. I had an idea of turning one way but just happened to turn the other way. It hit where I would have been.



SPREAD BETWEEN GUNS

Q. How important do you think it is to keep your guns from being too widely separated?

A. I noticed on the F4U that the guns are really close together. I was wondering if they weren't so close together that they'd overheat.

Q. I didn't mean close to each other - but you've got one group of guns on one wing and one on the other wing - whether that's 15 or 10 feet, does it make very much difference?

A. No, sir. I wouldn't say that it did. In the Grumman whenever we've caught troops we've been able to wipe out the whole outfit. One day, my wing man and I caught some troops on the road as we came out of a dive. They just stood still until we went by, and I called to him and said, "I'm going to do a quick wing over here and start shooting; you just get right under my wing and shoot where I am." We cut loose and when we came back, they were all knocked off. Our guns were set for 250 and 350.

Q. How about combat against other aircraft - does the spread between the two-gun emplacement make very much difference there?

A. No, sir. In combat, against the other planes, I've always used my outboard four guns and left off my inboard guns to save them in case I ran short on ammunition. On one occasion I made a mistake and instead of turning on my outboard four guns, I turned off my outboard four and turned on my inboard. When I started shooting, it sounded like a sewing machine; but I happened to be right on him and got him with the two. I'd like six guns on the plane and save two in case something goes wrong with the others or if you run out of ammunition.

Q. Did you have any trouble with the reflector sight in night strafing?

A. Never did any night strafing or night fighting.



AMMUNITION COMBINATION

Q. In shooting at aircraft, what was the ammunition combination?

A. One-one-one. When we were in there the first time, we had one-one-one. When I came back, all the pilots said it won't be so easy shooting down Zeros now because they've got armorplating in them and they have self-sealing tanks. They told us that they weren't blowing up like they used to. So we took a short check on the ammunition. The ordnance chief or someone had decided that maybe they should get rid of some AP ammunition they had over there. About 50% of it had been loaded - with five AP's, an incendiary, and a couple of tracers. As a result they weren't blowing the planes up so readily. We got that changed right then and now and started out the same way again, blowing them up.

Q. Do you think the AP was necessary? We had an idea that tracer and incendiary were enough.

A. Well, the AP comes in handy with headon (SIC) passes at Zeros. In fact, about 25% of the Zeros shot down are direct headon (SIC) passes; just staying right in until the last second, hoping you get him or hoping he pulls up. That's where your AP comes in handy because you just keep drilling him right head on with the AP. He usually goes down or up.

Q. Did you see any skip-bombing?

A. No, Sir.

Q. What do you think of the idea of it for fighters?

A. I don't know enough about it to make any comments.



GUNNERY

Q. What do you think of the use of tracer? Did you use your tracer for sighting?

A. Yes, sir. To start out I used the sight. After I got started, however, I just dropped my seat clear down so that I wouldn't have my neck stuck out and just barely looked over the edge. Then I used my tracer altogether, but, I had previously used the sight enough to know right where to shoot. As for deflection shots, I'd always lead enough so that I'd never underlead. I'd always over-lead. When you overlead, you just ease forward on your stick and you can always see as far as the axis where he's going to go. You shoot in front of him and just ease forward on your stick. He flies right into it - you see your tracer work right on him. And on the tail end
shot just give a burst of tracer, If it's over or under, you just go up or down. I never wanted to sit up high enough to look at the sight. I just stayed down. To start with, I flew around looking in the sight. It works fine, as far as the sight goes; but after a while you don't need it. Is fact, I don't believe any of the boys that had been in combat a lot were using it; they all slid away down in the seat.

Q. Depended entirely on tracer?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. How close do you have to come to do effective damage?

A. When we started out, all our shooting was out of range. We would begin on the enemy a quarter of a mile away, and by the time we actually got into range we'd used up our ammunition. Then we started getting in there from 300 yards to 50 foot off, and really started hitting them. Then we moved it down so that we'd shoot right at 100 yards - then you can't miss. If you're off to one side or the other, just kick it on. If you shoot too far off, you scare 'em! If you keep your tracers out of there - the Jap pilot shoots. I've seen him shoot half a mile off; they just keep shooting until they go on range, and they're still shooting whan they pass you. They really get rid of the ammunition! I talked to the boys when a new outfit would come in. When you talk to a man before he goes out the first time, it doesn't do any good; but after he's been out the first time or the first two times, then you can talk to him. He knows what you're talking about. I'd just tell them, "Get in there, really get them in your sights, and really shoot close." I told one group that, and every flight scored on the trip. They'd all had a couple of combats before; they were shooting away out of range - 500 or 600 yards.

Q. Have you flown the F4U's?

A. Yes, I have. One 1 hour hop in it. There were no other planes in the sky, so there was nothing to compare it to. But I liked the way it climbed and handled.

Q. How bad is the visibility?

A. I kept the seat clear up and my head up in that little knot on the top. I think that it would probably be all right, - unless it was on a Zero, a full deflection shot going full speed.

FLOAT PLANES.

Q. What do you think about float fighters?

A. Well, sir, those float fighters that they have don't last anytime at all, I mean, they're sure death. Anytime we ever tangled with float fighters, none got away. If you got float fighters and mentioned it to somebody, he'd just laugh.

Q. There's been a lot of talk about float planes.

A. Shooting float planes is just like shooting down clay pigeons. They buzz around - they'll turn on a dime. I saw five P-39's chasing one one day. They had just started to shoot when he decided that was enough of that; so he turned around and came headon back out. The P-39's scattered and went all directions. Then they made another run; and when he'd see them all bearing down on him and start shooting, he'd made a quick turn and jump right back through them nearly causing them to have collision with each other. They were all so crazy to get him that they chased him for fifteen minutes before they finally got him. Another morning my flight ran into two of them, and all seven of the boys turned off after the one. I had the other one to myself. I didn't want to fool around with him; so I gave him a burst and he started smoking. I thought I had him. I then raced over to get this other one that they were chasing. I started over and looked back. The one that I thought I'd got was taking off again up the channel. I went back.

Q. What good are they to the Japs? Or how do they use them?

A. They use them at low altitudes, and they use them to jump SBD's. They come in handy as search planes. At first they had no bases on Guadalcanal, Munda, and Kolambangara; their closest land base was Kahili. They moved these seaplanes into Rekata Bay, and from Rekata Bay they could sneak out and catch SBD's that were flying the different searches. They can handle an SBD. They can maneuver but they just haven't got the speed, I've seen them do slow rolls and all that stuff with their float plane.



STRAFING

Q. In strafing a destroyer, what is the maximum distance for attack?

A. In strafing a destroyer, I would start shooting at 3000 feet. Some of them start shooting at 5000 feet; but in my opinion that's just wasting time and ammunition. I go right down and pull up below 1000 feet. After I pass the destroyer, I am right on the water. In strafing a troop transport, I'd drop over the bow or the stern, so that when I went out I was right on the water. I just cleared the ship, went over it, and then really snaked along. We shot all the way in, down to 500 feet - by that time you're really going, high speeds - we were always upward of 300 when we came by. On the way out none of us were hit; it was when you were coming down that you were in a bad spot. You have to look out for crossfire. The ship that you're strafing isn't the dangerous one; there's one on each side; they start playing a crossfire into you, and they pretty well put it on you. When six or seven or eight destroyers and cruisers were escorting transports and cargo ships, we'd come in and attack the corner warships so that we'd draw fire from these ships and give the dive bombers a chance to go in and drop on the cargo and transport ships. They used to shoot the fighters in preference to the dive bombers. Whether they couldn't tell a dive bomber from a fighter, I don't know. The Grumman looked so chubby that they right away thought it was a dive bomber with a big bomb on it!

Q. Can you hit anything with a TBF in a 45? dive - using bombs?

A. They put these bomb racks on and I know they got one hit. That kind of attack was comparatively new when I left there, so I have really no word on that.

Q. How did you coordinate strafing with dive bombing?

A. The fighter flight commander would use his own judgment. The dive bombers never told us. As soon as I'd see them getting ready, I knew just about what to do, so then I carried out my attack. It worked well.



OXYGEN AND RADIO

Q. Have you any comment on oxygen, communications, radio equipment?

A. In regard to oxygen - when new pilots went in, there'd be a couple who would fail to have their mask on tight, or would get excited and get the mask off their face, and pass out. Everytime that some new pilots came in we'd always lose a couple of men. A lot of time we'd have gasoline left after returning. If the Japs kept orbiting out there, we wouldn't have enough oxygen to stay; we'd have to go on back down and hope that someone else got up there in time for the attack. They used to pull that old stuff all the time. They'd start an attack in and then turn out and go back out and orbit a while and then start in again for the attack, and then change their mind again. They knew that we were using gasoline and oxygen.

Q. Were you using the white mask or the newer one?

A. They were about 50-50 when I first arrived. Later all the white ones were gone, and we were using the latest one, the big one. Some don't like the large mask. They like the little white one. As far as that's concerned, either one was all right. We just left the mask in the plane. We flew a different plane every hop so you never had the same type mask twice in a row.

We had a lot of trouble with the radio. They'd go out. They'd get them back in commission, but they'd go right out all the time. And then when we'd get 35 or 40 miles away, we were unable to receive Guadalcanal. We could talk to each other, and maybe the base could hear us; but we couldn't talk back and forth to the base. That's a handicap. The radio as I use it in combat is very important, because I direct the whole flight with it. We talk back and forth, though we don't put on a lot of unnecessary stuff over the air. If you see a Zero banging up and down and if one chap get's another one in his sight, you just yell over at him that there is a Zero on his tail to give him a chance so he doesn't make any fancy pull-ups. We saved a lot of necks by the radio. I've talked to the Army pilots the same way when I had P-38's or P-39's in combat with me. We'd direct the attack, and tell them not to attack or to move around to the other side.

Q. Did you use the throat microphone?

A. Altogether.

Q. You didn't have microphones in those new masks you got out there?

A. Yes, sir, in some of them they did. As it happened, I had the throat mikes all the time.

Q. Do the Japs use radio much in their tactics?

A. One time they happened to be on our frequency, and we couldn't use our radios at all. Whether they were just being funny, I don't know, and I don't know what they were saying. It was just some mad mass of Japanese over the radio. They blocked us, and we couldn't say a word. We got off that frequency in a hurry. That's the only time I ever heard the Japs on the air

EDIT: Changed thread title

Blutarski2004
08-19-2008, 05:59 PM
Outstanding find!

S!

WTE_Galway
08-19-2008, 06:44 PM
Originally posted by Blutarski2004:
Outstanding find!

S!

Thanks

I just thought a lot of it seem relevant to the game ... the stuff about what happens to p38's when they dogfight instead of B&Z for example.

steiner562
08-19-2008, 06:53 PM
Very intresting read. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

LEXX_Luthor
08-19-2008, 07:35 PM
A nice big cloud came up, what you'd call a thunderhead, up to about 24,000 feet and tight down to the water. The Japs were right under that thing. They were in that place with five destroyers, a light cruiser, and that battleship. We couldn't get in to get at them. I tried to go under the thing because I knew that they would be taking personnel off the battleship, and I thought that was really a chance to score. We'd go in there a few feet and we couldn't tell the water from the rain. It was solid. We just turned around and came back out again,...
Hiryu was temporarily saved at Midway by this, for those who know that story.

With the level of cloud and air warfare environment found in The Sims, 10 polygon aircraft stick models are all that's needed to match. Maybe someday the devs will figure this out, and find success in the real market.

Great find. Thanks!

unreasonable
08-19-2008, 07:53 PM
Outstanding find, thanks. Also shows how an interview depends on the interviewer asking good questions, as opposed to the usual "was your aircraft better than their aircraft" rubbish.

MB_Avro_UK
08-20-2008, 03:19 PM
Thanks for posting http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

Very interesting and good to hear from a guy who was there.

He mentioned that new pilots always started firing at enemy aircraft well beyond effective range.

He also mentioned that you couldn't teach a new pilot tactics until he'd had a couple of combat missions experience. And by then he was ready to listen http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_cool.gif

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

Wildnoob
08-20-2008, 03:28 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SzYvJV-UAg

to complement wat he saied, I posted in Youtube this video I found.

at least for me, looks like that all where merchant ships.

Xiolablu3
08-20-2008, 08:24 PM
If you shoot too far off, you scare 'em! If you keep your tracers out of there - the Jap pilot shoots. I've seen him shoot half a mile off; they just keep shooting until they go on range, and they're still shooting whan they pass you.


Thanks mate, great find http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif Could anyone explain what he means in the quote above pls? It got me a little confused?

WTE_Galway
08-20-2008, 09:05 PM
Originally posted by Xiolablu3:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">If you shoot too far off, you scare 'em! If you keep your tracers out of there - the Jap pilot shoots. I've seen him shoot half a mile off; they just keep shooting until they go on range, and they're still shooting whan they pass you.


Thanks mate, great find http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif Could anyone explain what he means in the quote above pls? It got me a little confused? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

My interpretation was that another advantage of holding fire till very close is that if you held fire and did not shoot the Japanese pilots tended to open fire from a distance and waste ammo. Whereas if you shot early yourself your tracer scared him into manouvering instead.

Multimetal
08-21-2008, 12:02 PM
What a great interview, thanks for posting!