Chapter III
 
 
 
 
OPERATIONS
 
     
 
The Battle of the Atlantic
 
     
          It was a large and already crowded stage onto which the AAF Antisubmarine Command stepped in October 1942.  The Battle of the Atlantic had not yet reached its peak of intensity, nor had any decisive blows been struck, but several phases of the conflict had already come and gone and several agencies were engaged in an effort to defeat the Nazi raiders.  At first, in 1939 and 1940, the U-boats had operated with impunity close to the British Isles and the coast of Europe.  The British had made every effort to counter the submarine blockade and had, in fact, cleared the English Channel and North Sea waters with fair success.  As yet, however, aircraft were used only to a limited extent, and long-range air patrols were unheard of.  The result was that the U-boats moved farther field, scattering their attacks as far west as 49°, and as far south as Africa.  Effective air patrol remained relatively short-ranged, leaving the whole central ocean a free hunting ground for the enemy.  
     
          The next phase of the battle began upon the entry of the United States into the war.  The resulting depredations off the U. S. Atlantic coastline General Marshall felt jeopardized the entire war effort.  
     
     

 

 

     
     
 
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  By the middle of June 1942, he reported that 17 of the 74 ships allocated to the Army for July had already been sunk, 22 per cent of the bauxite fleet, and 20 per cent of the Puerto Rican fleet had been lost, and tanker sinkings had amounted to 3.5 per cent per month of the tonnage in use.1  
     
          By the fall of that year an entirely new act in the drama was begun.  The enemy had gradually withdrawn from the Eastern and Gulf Sea Frontiers, partly because of the increased opposition he encountered in American waters and partly because the Allied invasion of North Africa made it essential for the U-boat fleet to turn from its aggressive campaign against shipping in general in order to operate defensively against the invasion convoys.  The U-boat fleet continued, however, to operate actively and effectively in areas, such as the waters off Trinidad, where the traffic was relatively large and the antisubmarine measures relatively weak.  
     
          By the time the AAF Antisubmarine Command was activated, two things had become clear about the submarine war.  One was that the Germans would, if at all possible, avoid areas provided with adequate antisubmarine forces.  The other was that the most flexible and among the most powerful of those forces consisted of long-range bombardment aircraft, specially equipped and manned for the purpose of hunting and killing submarines.  Though dictated primarily by the necessity of destroying as much Allied shipping as possible and preventing the Allies from implementing any logistical plan of major importance.  German strategy in the Atlantic always remained sensitive to the  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  state of Allied antisubmarine forces, especially air forces.  Throughout the antisubmarine war, wherever adequate air cover was provided the submarine withdrew, it tactically possible.  In the region of the British Isles, when the same submarine was sighted an average of six times a month it left the area, and when sighted an average of three times a month in American coastal waters it left them.  As for the relative effectiveness of aircraft compared to surface vessels.  Dr. Bowles, in March 1943, estimated aircraft to be about 10 times as effective in finding submarines as surface craft and at least as effective in killing them.2  
     
          The U-boat fleet, although strategically on the defensive, had still ample opportunity to operate effectively.  The RAF Coastal Command and the Royal Navy had made the British waters unprofitable for it, and had seriously interfered with its free access to the submarine bases on the European coast.  The AAF and U. S. Navy had cleared American waters as far south as the Caribbean.  But the convoy routes, especially those in the North Atlantic, which bore the weight of Allied strategic supplies, remained relatively unprotected.  For air cover, in the absence of adequate very-long-range equipment, it could only protect an area a few hundred miles offshore.  This left a large gap in mid-ocean without cover, and as yet the Allies did not have enough strength in carrier escort vessels to provide air cover for this area.  Moreover, the Atlantic U-boat fleet was believed to be increasing rather than otherwise.  Probably not more than 15 to  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  22 enemy submarines were operating in the Atlantic at the beginning of 1942.  At the end of the year this force had risen to about 108, and the Germans were believed to be producing submarines at the rate of between 20 and 25 per month.3  
     
          After a highly successful month in November 1942, the Germans spent a relatively unprofitable winter.  Their strategy was apparently to throw out mid-ocean screens in a primarily defensive plan to destroy Allied convoys.  It may have been owing to this thinly deployed screen of submarines, extending from 56° north latitude to slightly south of the equator and through which convoys could frequently pass without detection, that few merchant vessels were lost that winter.  It may also have been true that the Germans were conserving their forces for a total spring offensive.  At any rate, toward the end of February and during the early days of March 1943, it became evident that they were adopting a new strategy involving a concentration of U-boats along the North Atlantic convoy routes.  Concurrently with this shifting of forces, the enemy also planned to hold large forces of Allied antisubmarine aircraft and escort vessels in widely scattered control areas.  This they could do without too much expenditure of submarines simply by sending small groups into the Eastern, Gulf and Caribbean Sea Frontiers and the Brazilian, Freetown, and Mozambique areas.  
     
          The disposition of enemy forces in the North Atlantic followed a general pattern somewhat as follows.  Two roughly parallel screens running in a northwesterly direction were thrown across the convoy routes in such a way as to make contact with both eastbound and westbound  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  convoys.  As soon as convoys were attacked, the lines would break formation and gather around the the convoy, resuming the parallel screen formation when all feasible measures had been taken to harass the Allied ships.  This strategy worked well and accounted for most of the sinkings in the Atlantic, which rose once again to a dangerous total in March.  In that month, too, the Allied nations immediately concerned in the Battle of the Atlantic took action to close the gap in their North Atlantic defences.  The Atlantic Convoy Conference met, and plans were laid to employ effective long-range air forces in Newfoundland, Greenland, and Iceland.  
     
          The battle of the North Atlantic reached its climax in early May with the attack on a convoy known as ONS-5.  Frustrated by increasingly effective surface escort and air patrol, the Germans threw a large force of submarines into a running battle in a reckless attempt to retrieve some kind of victory from their swindling spring offensive.  So reckless was their attack that they lost heavily, and were forced to admit the failure of their attempt to close off the North Atlantic routes.  In addition to an increasing number of air attacks of better quality than ever before, the Germans owed their defeat to the introduction by the Allies of aircraft carriers which were able to provide air coverage in any part of the ocean.  Planned aerial escort of convoys by carrier-based aircraft had been inaugurated in March.  
     
          By early July the enemy had almost abandoned the North Atlantic and the vital war convoys could proceed unmolested.  The estimated average daily density of U-boats in the area declined from 58 in May to 16 in June and only 5 in July.  Ship losses decreased  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  correspondingly from a peak of 38 in March to 14 in May and none in July, despite the fact that nearly 1,700 ship crossings were accomplished in June and July.4  
     
          Meanwhile, since October 1942, AAF bombers of the Eighth Air Force had joined RAF forces in bombing attacks on German submarine bases, construction yards, and parts plants.  This action did little to reduce the number of U-boats at sea nor did it do as much as had been expected to retard the output of submarines, the estimated number of completions by early 1944 having been reduced by not more than 30.5  Meanwhile, also, the RAF with the brief help of two AAF Antisubmarine Command Squadrons, was pressing an offensive campaign in the Bay of Biscay transit area.  And both aircraft and surface forces engaged in the antisubmarine war were gradually increasing in effectiveness, as a result of improved weapons and devices, and the increasing experience of their crews.  
     
          It was clear, then, that the Allies, though hampered by lack of unified command, were successfully employing four main methods in their counterattack against the U-boats.  First, they were maintaining defensive patrols in coastal areas to hamper and restrict enemy operations.  Secondly, they were employing defensive convoy escort and offensive sweeps around convoys in order to prevent the submarine packs from closing in for the attack.  Thirdly, offensive bombing missions were being pressed against U-boat bases and building yards.  Finally, screens of surface craft and aircraft were being thrown in a continuous offensive action across areas in which U-boats were forced to concentrate.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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          A corollary to the increasingly effective antisubmarine campaign may be found in the increasing tendency of the U-boats to fight back.  Prior to the spring of 1943, the standard practice on the part of U-boat commanders was to employ a passive defense against air attack and simply to dive on the approach of an enemy plane.  If too many planes were encountered, however, a new problem arose.  The submarine could not remain submerged indefinitely nor could it make the speed necessary for successful attacks while under water.  The decision to employ an active defense came therefore as an admission of the effectiveness of air patrol.  It also, of course, gave the attacking aircraft a substantial target for its depth bombs.  During July of 1943 these defensive tactics, apparently adopted throughout the U-boat fleet, served to intensify the speed of the submarine war.  
     
          Especially vigorous was the action in the eastern Atlantic.  It had been anticipated that the enemy, driven from the North Atlantic convoy routes, would move his forces south to the convoy routes between the United States and the Mediterranean.  The latter lanes were not only carrying a substantial and steadily increasing amount of vital traffic in support of the North African and Sicilian campaigns, but, owing to lack of antisubmarine bases in the Azores, much of the route was out of range of land-based aircraft.  This anticipation proved entirely correct, for the Germans formed heavy U-boat concentrations south and southwest of the Azores.  These submarines enjoyed surprisingly little success.  Several factors may have reduced the effectiveness of their groups.  Convoys could be  
     
     

 

     
     
 
 
     
     
     
     
     
     
 
        Five charts:  Merchant vessels sunk in the Atlantic, September 1941-August 1943.  From charts published at intervals in AAFAC Monthly Intelligence Reports, 1943.
 
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
     
 
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  widely dispersed in the wide expanse of the mid-Atlantic; heavy escort was provided, especially for the high-speed troop convoys; and the small aircraft carriers operated effectively in this area.  
     
          Certainly another factor was the action of British and AAF Antisubmarine Command aircraft in the Bay of Biscay transit area and in the approaches to Gibraltar.  AAF Antisubmarine Command squadrons were sent in July to reinforce the British offensive in the Bay of Biscay and long-range patrol of the approaches to Gibraltar had been increased in March by the transfer to Northwest Africa of two AAF Antisubmarine Command squadrons from the United Kingdom.  In June and July these areas saw some of the sharpest action of the Atlantic war in operations which frustrated any further attempt on the part of the enemy to reorganize a concentrated offensive.  During these operations, the Germans threw large forces of medium and heavy aircraft into defensive attacks on antisubmarine aircraft.  
     
          September saw a sadly reduced, if still potentially dangerous submarine fleet being employed by the Germans in the Atlantic.  The Germans had deployed an average of about 108 U-boats in the Atlantic during the first five months of 1943.  In contrast to these figures, probably not more than 50 were operating in the Atlantic by early September.6  Moreover, the U-boats were now being manned by relatively inexperienced crews, since probably 7,000 trained crew members and officers had been lost in the submarines, estimated at upwards of 150, either sunk or probably sunk during the previous 8 months.7  Most encouraging of all was the fact that from July to  
     
     

 

     
     
 
94
 
     
  September 1943 only one-half of 1 per cent of U. S. supplies shipped in the Atlantic were lost through submarine attack.8  
     
          In accomplishing this great change in U-boat warfare, which until the end of 1943 had run entirely in favor of the enemy, air craft played a major role.  By July 1943, aircraft were making 80 to 70 percent of all attacks on U-boats and by the end of the year it was estimated that about 70 percent of the submarines being sunk were lost to aircraft, either land-based or carrier-based.  The answer to the U-boat menace had been found to an overwhelming degree in action at sea, and by air attack in particular.9  
     
          This, in rough outline, was the pattern of events in which the AAF Antisubmarine Command found a not inconspicuous place.  
     
 
Operations in the Eastern Atlantic
 
     
          The Bay of Biscay.  The summer of 1942 had left the Eastern and Gulf Sea Frontiers almost free from the undersurface raiders.  While the bulk of the Antisubmarine Command's operational squadrons were engaged in defensive convoy coverage or in the patrol of these uninfested waters, a few units were being allowed to test the command's doctrine of the strategic offensive, and to hunt the U-boats where they abounded, either in their home waters or where they were forced by strategic necessity to be.  In November 1942, one squadron of B-24's, equipped with SCR-517C Radar, was sent to England.  In January another joined it.  During the course of its career, the command sent, in all, six VLR squadrons to operate in the Eastern Atlantic.  These  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  units, ultimately organized into the 479th and 480th Antisubmarine Groups, contributed the most significant chapter in the AAFAC operational history.  
     
          Probably the most interesting aspect of these eastern Atlantic operations was the participation by the American squadrons in the Bay of Biscay offensive being conducted almost continuously by the British Coastal Command during the period covered by this study.  Their participation was of brief duration, but the results were extremely instructive to students of antisubmarine warfare and destructive to the enemy.  
     
          The "Bay offensive" had, by 1943, become the pivotal point for the entire British antisubmarine effort.  The strategic theory behind it was very logical.  It was well known that most of the U-boats operating in the Atlantic, estimated at upwards of 100.10 were based on ports on the western coast of France.  In order to leave these ports for operations against Atlantic shipping and to return for necessary periodic repair and servicing, practically the entire German submarine fleet had to pass through the Bay of Biscay, thus producing a constantly high concentration in the Bay and its approaches.11  Moreover, in crossing this transit area, the U-boats were obliged to spend an appreciable portion of their time on the surface in order to recharge their batteries.  It soon occurred to the Coastal Command that the judicious use of a moderate air force in this area would be enough eventually to cripple the U-boat offensive.12  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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          Throughout the first 6 months of 1942 the Coastal Command flew a small but steadily increasing number of hours in the Biscay transit area.  During the next year, the flying effort in that area was maintained at a relatively high level, averaging between 3,000 and 4,000 hours per month.13  The chief problems to be overcome were lack of very-long-range aircraft capable of covering the entire transit area from English bases, lack of a "balanced" antisubmarine force capable of attacking both day and night, thus making it just as dangerous for U-boats to surface by night as by day, and lack of radar equipment of a kind the Germans could not detect.  Early in 1943 a plan was being drawn up, based on comprehensive theoretical studies, calling for an increased and better-balanced flying effort in the Bay of Biscay.  An area was determined in the approaches to the Bay, of such a size that every U-boat in transit must surface at least once to recharge its batteries.  The expected density of surfaced U-boats in the area was then calculated.  It was estimated that a certain number of sorties by specially equipped planes would be required, by day and night, to insure that every submarine in transit would be subjected to attack.  It was planned to make extensive use of Mark III radar, which the Germans were apparently unable to detect, in conjunction with the Leigh searchlight in order to make night operations effective.  It was claimed that a force of 260 suitably equipped aircraft could account for about 25 U-boats killed and 34 damaged per month.14  Even a force of about 40 long-range aircraft was considered enough to make the enemy abandon the Bay ports, because the U-boats in transit had no retreat from a well-equipped air force.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  And to abandon the Bay ports would mean defeat in the Atlantic, for the Germans could not use Norwegian ports without risking a similarly concentrated offensive in a similar transit area off Scotland and Ireland.15  
     
          The question had arisen whether this air force would be used to better advantage in a defensive-offensive campaign in the area where the U-boats actually operated.  But it was decided that, inasmuch as the Bay offensive, if pressed constantly, would lead to a breaking point, and therefore to total defeat of the U-boats in the Atlantic, it should have priority over the necessarily defensive campaign against the enemy in his operational area.  In the open sea the U-boat could choose its time and place, surface or submerge, more nearly at will than was possible in the vital transit area.  On the ground of morale alone it was believed the Bay offensive could do irreparable damage to the U-boat fleet.16  
     
          This was the strategic situation into which the 1st and 2nd AAF Antisubmarine Squadrons were projected in February of 1943.  They had been dispatched to the United Kingdom originally for the purpose of training in Coastal Command methods.  When thoroughly indoctrinated, they were to proceed to North Africa for action with the Twelfth Air Force.17  While in England, however, plans were altered somewhat.  The British were at this point (early 1943) in serious need of long-range antisubmarine aircraft.  Though their operations in the Bay had been successful, it was believed that the U-boats were able to remain submerged long enough, with possible brief night  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  surfacing, to carry them beyond the outer limit of the British medium-range planes.  It was therefore decided to use the two American squadrons of B-24's to supplement the few available long-range British aircraft in a thorough patrol of the outer area, far to the west.  The medium-range equipment would then be concentrated in the inner area.  These areas were called Outer and Inner Gondola, respectively.13  In view of the then chronic shortage of aircraft, the sustained effort of this Gondola operation was planned to continue for only 9 days, and was dated to coincide with an estimated inrush of U-boats coming away from two convoy battles then in full conflict.  The period was actually 6 to 15 February 1943.  The results confirmed the wisdom of the plan.  Fourteen sightings resulted in nine attacks in Outer Gondola.  Only four sightings and one attack came from the inner area.  Of the enemy contacts made in the outer area, 90 per cent were by the U. S. aircraft.  Thus, Air Marshal Slessor, Air-Officer-Commanding-in-Chief, wrote, some months later.  "The two U. S. squadrons . . . played the major part and incidentally 'bloodied themselves in' most successfully in the Anti-U/boat War on this side of the Atlantic."19  
     
          This is all somewhat ahead of the story.  And the Gondola offensive is really only part of the story.  It was no simple task to transplant two American squadrons and train them under foreign conditions to such a point that they could turn in a record such as that outlined above.  Many U. S. bombardment squadrons had preceded them to England and as components of the Eighth Air Force had become successfully operational.  But they had from the beginning formed  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  part of a well-organized and sizeable American force, and had pioneered in an entirely different type of warfare from that to which the 1st and 2nd Antisubmarine Squadrons were committed.  The latter units, in fact, found the way but poorly prepared for them in the United Kingdom.20  
     
          To begin with, on its arrival at St. Eval on 7 November 1942, the advance units of the 1st Antisubmarine Squadron found that no one knew anything of the plans for it.  The decision to send it and the 2nd Antisubmarine Squadron had been made in haste and in great secrecy, and it took the commanding officer, Lt. Col. Jack Roberts, some time to find out where his unit should operate and under whose control.  After a series of conversations with the Commanding General of the Eighth Air Force, it was finally settled that the squadron should be attached to the VIII Bomber Command for supply and administration, and that it should remain at St. Eval under the operational control of the RAF Coastal Command.  When the 2nd Antisubmarine Squadron arrived in January 1943, it was stationed at the same field and placed under the same administrative control.21  On 15 January 1943 the two squadrons were combined in the 1st Antisubmarine Group (Prov.), under the command of Colonel Roberts, working as a detached unit of the 25th Antisubmarine Wing of the Antisubmarine Command.22   
     
          It had been understood prior to departure from the United States that maintenance for aircraft would be provided immediately after arrival.  Actually, there were no adequate facilities or personnel  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  for this purpose.  The VII Bomber Command quickly detached 65 mechanics, ordnance men, armament specialists, and guards, but the men were not experienced in B-24 aircraft at that time, and they joined the group reluctantly since it meant leaving their own promotion lists.  It proved to be a considerable problem to weld these men into an efficient maintenance team, but one that was fortunately soon solved.23  
     
          St. Eval was already overcrowded with squadrons of the Coastal Command.  No hangar space was available for maintenance.  The result was that all such work had to be done during the limited number of daylight hours in the open, the mechanics unprotected from the raw weather of a British winter.  Nearly 50 per cent of the personnel immediately contracted heavy bronchial colds, a situation which presented a real problem to the flight surgeon who lacked even the simplest medicines.  Furthermore, there were no quarters available for the officers and men at the station, so it was necessary to scatter them at considerable distances from the field.  For quite a while, too, the American units had to eat British rations, since no separate mess facilities had been provided.24  
     
          St. Eval was far removed from any established Services of Supply or Air Service Command supply depots, finance offices, or Army post offices, nor had any adequate communications or supply channels been set up to reach it.  As a result, the nearest depots were at first a difficult day's drive away.  Later, a newly established depot was located that could be reached by a 5-hour drive.25  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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          In addition to these initial difficulties, there were several serious administrative and operational problems which could scarcely have been solved until the units were in the theatre.  The squadrons had been sent to England with no idea of prolonged operations in that area.  They, therefore, found themselves short of personnel, a situation which was not improved by generally prevalent illness.  Officer personnel was especially overtaxed.26  Moreover, since the group was at that time provisional, the commanding officer found himself without adequate authority in some respects.  For example, he could neither promote deserving personnel nor demote a few recalcitrant individuals -- in either case a condition detrimental to group morale.27  The squadrons were immediately faced with innumerable problems in learning British control methods, navigational aids, communications, and other procedures.  Even some British customs provided minor but troublesome problems.  British military custom, for instance, draws a sharp line of demarcation among enlisted men between sergeants and those of lower rank, and provides each group with its own housing and recreational facilities.  The American crews had to be similarly divided although such division was contrary to U. S. Army custom.28  
     
          Some difficulty arose over the nature of the "operational control" to be exercised by the Coastal Command.  As in the case of the U. S. Navy's control, the term had not been clearly defined.  Questions at once arose.  Did operational control mean that missions could be ordered if weather conditions were, in the opinion of the group commander, too hazardous?  Would he have a voice in determining  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  assignments?29  These and similar questions carried serious potentialities which could easily have wrecked current and future cooperation between Allied commands.30  Officers of the group had, however, nothing but praise for the cooperation they received from the RAF Coastal Command.  That organization gave freely of its long experience in antisubmarine warfare, a contribution which proved invaluable in guiding and training the novice squadrons.  It left to the group commander final decision on all assignments as well as on all questions of recall or diversion of missions, whether owing to weather or enemy activity.  The Army Air Forces Controller, who worked directly with the British Controller, had the full privilege of handling all control of American aircraft if in his judgment intervention was advisable.  British radio communications proved to be excellent and the British control officers soon gained the complete confidence of all flying personnel.  The British spared no effort in guiding aircraft to safe bases, regardless of risks involved, and fields were always fully lighted for landing despite the constant and often immediate threat of attack from enemy aircraft operating from bases only 100 miles distant.31  
     
          The 1st Antisubmarine Squadron flew its first mission in European waters on 16 November 1942, just 9 days after its arrival in the United Kingdom.  Operations continued rather slowly for a while, since at first only three planes were available.  Additional aircraft became operational during the following 90 days.  Exactly 2 months later, on 16 January 1943, the 2nd Antisubmarine Squadron  
     
     

 

     
     
 
102a
 
     
  flew its first mission.  These small initial operations provided invaluable experience, for they demonstrated the operational problems that were to face all U. S. squadrons in European areas and they served as laboratory tests that proved the amount and type of additional training needed for newly arrived units.  32  
     
          The job of training to meet the conditions of operation in the eastern Atlantic, and under the control of the British, was a large one.  Much instruction had to be given in the use of British depth bombs, in the British methods of diverting aircraft to alternate fields when weather proved suddenly adverse, and in British control and radio procedures which differed substantially from American.  Recognition of enemy and friendly aircraft had to be exact in an area covered by enemy as well as by friendly patrols.  Enemy capabilities, tactics, and methods of combat had to be learned.  Extra training in navigation was especially important since many of the navigational aids to which U. S. navigators were accustomed, such as radio beams, could not be used in the ETO; and even a small navigational error in returning from a 2,000-mile sea mission might put the aircraft over enemy territory.33  
     
          As for equipment, the new SCR-517C radar proved the principal problem.  The aircraft of the squadrons had been equipped with this latest device immediately prior to leaving the United States.  A supply of spare parts was lost en route, the equipment had not been "shaken down" before departure, the radar operators in the organization had not been trained in its use, and experienced mechanics could not  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  be found in the United Kingdom.  Once these initial difficulties had been surmounted, the radar sets proved their worth, accounting for many sightings that probably could not have been made with British equipment.34  The B-24 aircraft themselves gave very little trouble.  The only serious difficulty arose in adapting them to carry 10 to 12 of the British Torpex 250-pound depth bombs without shifting forward the center of gravity of the airplane.35  
     
          The chain of command in the Coastal Command was similar to that in the AAF Antisubmarine Command.  The 1st Provisional Group operated under the Station Commander, St. Eval, who received his orders from Headquarters, 19 Group, RAF, which corresponded to the wing organization in the AAF Antisubmarine Command.  The squadrons reported daily to the Station Controller the number of planes and crews available for missions the following day.  The Controller then assigned take-off times.  Crews reported for briefing 2 hours prior to scheduled take-off and received lunches, pyrotechnics, and all other equipment and information relative to the mission.36  Operational missions generally were of 11 to 14 hours' duration in order to make full use of the long-range potentialities of the B-24.  Such long missions, searching far out over the ocean, proved exceedingly fatiguing to the combat crews, especially when executed under adverse weather conditions.  When it is considered that these squadrons arrived in the United Kingdom at the beginning of the worst months normally experienced in a country not noted for its fine winter climate, it can readily be seen that the long-distance patrols were only for tough and young  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  men.37  Missions at first were planned every third day, but it was found that, in the interests of the mental and physical health of the men, 3 days would have to elapse between missions.38  
     
          The following table indicated the extent of operations of the group from the United Kingdom:39  
     
 
Month
Missions
Hrs. Flown
U-boat
Sightings
Attacks
Nov. 1942
  9
   77
 0
 0
Dec. 1943
 30
  231
 2
 2
Jan. 1943
 58
  490
 1
 0
Feb. 1943
111
1,052
15
 8
Mar. 1-5, 1943
 10
  116
 2
 1
 
218
1,966
20
11
 
     
  In view of the fact that few aircraft were available during November and December 1942, and that the 2nd Antisubmarine Squadron did not fly its first operational mission until 16 January 1943, the record of nearly 2,000 hours of operational flying during the months of worst British weather is highly satisfactory.  The record of sightings and attacks is also good.  On the average, 1 sighting was made for every 98.3 hours of flying time, and i attack for each 177.4 hours of flight, a record far more satisfying than that being achieved during the same period on the U. S. Atlantic coast where the scarcity of U-boats necessitated many thousands of hours of flying for each sighting.40  Most striking of all, however, are the figures for the Gondola campaign in early February.  This action proved to be the climax of the operations of the 1st Provisional Group (later the 480th Group) during its stay in the United Kingdom.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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          On 20 occasions, aircraft of the group, while flying from the United Kingdom, sighted enemy U-boats.  In 11 instances attacks followed.  In the remaining 9, the U-boat had been submerged so long before the arrival of the attacking aircraft that no depth bombs were released, a procedure quite in accordance with instructions.  In these early months of operation a great deal of difficulty was experienced in adjusting release mechanisms to function properly with the British type of depth bomb.  In 3 out of 11 attacks made, the depth bombs "hung up" and so frustrated what might otherwise have been excellent attacks.  Of the 8 attacks not thwarted by mechanical failure, the assessed results were:41  
     
          1 probably sunk  
          1 so severely damaged that it probably failed to reach port  
          1 severely damaged  
          3 insufficient evidence of damage  
          2 no damage  
     
          The aircraft of the group did not conduct these early operations unopposed.  For many months Allied aircraft had been free to fly over the Bay without opposition from enemy planes, but, as the Allied air patrols increased and crossing the Bay became correspondingly more difficult, the enemy began to put medium-range twin-engine fighters over the area in increasing numbers.  This tendency was becoming apparent during the period when the 480th Group operated from the United Kingdom.  Some months later, the 479th Group encountered much greater opposition from the JU-88's.  During the winter months, aircraft of the 480th Group engaged enemy planes on four occasions.  As  
     
     

 

     
     
 
106
 
     
  a result, two JU-88's were at least damaged and quite possibly destroyed.  They were last seen losing altitude rapidly and smoking heavily.  On another occasion one of the group was known to have engaged in aerial combat but failed to return to its base or render any report by radio.  Two other aircraft failed to return to their base, but no indication remains as to the cause of their loss.42  
     
          The successful operations of the 480th Antisubmarine Group from St. Eval were not accomplished without cost in lives and aircraft.  In all, 65 officers and men lost their lives, and 7 B-24's were destroyed.  Of the latter, 2 were lost in crossing the Atlantic to England, 2 failed to return from a mission, their fate unknown, 2 crashed, and the seventh was doubtless destroyed in aerial combat.43  
     
          In March 1943 the 480th Group was ordered to Port Lyautey, French Morocco, to engage in antisubmarine patrol of the vital approaches to the TORCH area.  The final mission from the United Kingdom were flown on 5 March.  In 6 weeks of full operations and during the preceding 2 months of limited operations, the 480th Group had made a very solid contribution to the antisubmarine effort in the eastern Atlantic.  Of the 49 sightings and 26 attacks made during the critical month of February by all units operating on antisubmarine duty from the United Kingdom and Iceland, the 1st and 2nd Antisubmarine Squadrons alone accounted for 15 sightings and 5 completed attacks.  Even more important was the pioneering work done in foreign operations, a contribution which led to the solution of many troublesome administrative and technical problems.  Their withdrawal was noted by the British Coastal Command "with keen regret."44  
     
     

 

     
     
 
107
 
     
          The campaign of early February in the Gondola area had demonstrated the feasibility of a sustained and concentrated air offensive in the Bay of Biscay.  After the departure of the 480th Antisubmarine Group, the Coastal Command continued to hit the U-boats in transit as heavily as its resources would permit.45  The British also agitated with increasing insistence for an Allied offensive, launched on an unprecedented scale, in the Bay area.  In March it was proposed by the British that a combined British and American contribution of 160 additional VLR, ASV-equipped aircraft and crews to be organized to be added to the force of 100 aircraft then said to be devoted by the Coastal Command to the Bay patrol.  This force would constitute the tactical elements of a specially staffed British and American organization to be assigned the specific mission of offensive air operations in the approaches to the Bay of Biscay during the period May to August, inclusive.46  The plan, involving as it did the creation of a distinct task force, separate in organization, did not coincide with AAF plans which conceived the Bay project as but one aspect of a single air task of much broader scope, namely, the protection of the Atlantic lines of communication against submarine attack.  Furthermore, it was pretty obvious that any implementing of the Bay of Biscay plan would have to be done by the AAF at the expense of ETO heavy-bombing operations, for the U. S. Navy was not planning to do more than add 45 planes to those already engaged in North Atlantic antisubmarine activity.47  The AAF was both unwilling to compromise its current commitments of heavy bombers and crews to the Eighth Air Force and  
     
     

 

     
     
 
108
 
     
  reluctant to incur further commitments with regard to the Atlantic antisubmarine campaign until it could be finally determined what organization would ultimately be responsible for U. S. air operations against submarines in the Atlantic.48  The British authorities felt strongly that the Bay offensive would do more than any other single factor to end the "present unsatisfactory progress in the Battle of the Atlantic."  And time, in this instance, was at a premium: 3 to 6 months later, the Germans might be shifting their efforts to Norway, threby necessitating an entirely new project, and one less feasible than that proposed in the Bay of Biscay.49  
     
          Support for this view came from an unexpected source.  The U. S. Navy, which had been hitherto officially against the use of antisubmarine forces in a purely offensive campaign, came, in June 1943, to favor the plan and urge its adoption.  Admiral King, early in June, had suggested that two Army VLR squadrons be sent from Newfoundland to the United Kingdom to participate in the Bay of Biscay project.  There were, he pointed out, more VLR aircraft in the Newfoundland area than were set up as a minimum requirement for that area by the Atlantic Convoy Conference (ACC 3).50  Finally, in the latter part of June, the 4th and 19th Antisubmarine Squadrons were ordered from Newfoundland to duty in the United Kingdom.  These units became the backbone of the 479th Antisubmarine Group, activated in England in July 1943.51  
     
          Meanwhile, the British had gone ahead with plans of their own for a concentrated offensive in the Bay and its approaches.  The  
     
     

 

     
     
 
109
 
     
  losses, which had been inflicted on the U-boats in May, forced the German command to withdraw their fleet from the North Atlantic convoy route and to operate against independent shipping in scattered areas.  This shift in enemy strategy forced the British to redouble their efforts in the Bay transit area, for there alone could the enemy be found with any degree of certainty.  Accordingly, it was decided in early June to concentrate in the Bay offensive all available aircraft not required for close escort of convoys, and to reinforce these by surface support groups withdrawn from the convoy routes.  The resulting joint antisubmarine striking forces were deployed in two new antisubmarine areas in the Bay known as "Musketry" and "Seaslug."52  Reinforcement of the patrol of these areas, especially in their southern reaches, came from the Allied forces in the Moroccan Sea Frontier and at Gibraltar.  The newly intensified offensive met with early success.  The enemy attempted to counter it by sending their submarines through the bay in close groups of two, three, sometimes even five.  This practice, while it concentrated a formidable screen of antiaircraft fire against individually patrolling planes, presented a tempting target for a well-balanced antisubmarine force.  On 30 July a whole group of three U-boats was sunk in a combined air and surface action.  
     
          The 479th Group began its work in the United Kingdom with a double advantage in its favor.  Not only had the project been less hastily organized than that of the 480th, but it profited from the pioneering work done in the field by the older unit.  Upon the  
     
     

 

     
     
 
110
 
     
  arrival of its flight echelon at St. Eval (the first 13 airplanes landed there on 30 June, the remaining 11 on 7 July), the group was placed under the Eighth Air Force for administration and supply and under the 19 Group, RAF Coastal Command, for operational control.  It was decided not to keep it at St. Eval but to turn over to its use a new field at Dunkeswell, Devonshire.  At this field the men of the 479th enjoyed the advantage of a relatively separate establishment, under the control of Col. Howard Moore, commanding officer of the Group, with Group Captain Kidd of the Coastal Command exercising only a general supervision.53  The 87th Service Squadron, 1813th Ordnance Service and Maintenance Company, the 1177th Military Police Company, and the 444th Quartermaster Platoon arrived in England with the group's ground echelon and were attached to it at Dunkeswell.  It is not surprising, then, that the 479th escaped some of the more vexing administrative and logistical problems which faced the 480th on its arrival.  The men of the 479th even received American rations at this new station.54  The incomplete state of construction at Dunkeswell did, it is true, impose some discomfort on the new occupants.  Nevertheless, the group at once settled down to training under the novel conditions of operations in the United Kingdom.  The problems met in this regard were much the same as those encountered by the 480th.55  On 13 July aircraft of the 479th Group flew their first operational missions.56  
     
          Not long afterward (29 July) Air Marshal Slessor spoke of the "most welcome reinforcement" provided by the two squadrons of the  
     
     

 

     
     
 
111
 
     
  group "for the 'Muskestry' area where hunting had been quite good this month."57  The 479th had, indeed, taken an extremely active part on the Muskestry campaign.  During the 19 days, from 13 July to 8 August, aircraft of the 4th and 19th Squadrons sighted 12 submarines and attacked 7 of them.  Of those attacked, 3 are known to have been sunk.  2 with the aid of RAF aircraft patrolling in the vicinity.  Enemy tactics thereafter changed.  The U-boats abandoned the policy of staying on the surface and fighting the attacking aircraft and henceforth made every effort to avoid surfacing during daylight hours.  After a successful attack on 2 August, only 1 additional sighting occurred during the entire remaining period of operation, to 31 October; and even this sighting did not result in a successful attack.58  
     
          Most of the attacks (six out of eight) made by the 479th Group were made in the face of determined countermeasures on the part of U-boat crews.  In a desperate attempt to nullify the air offensive that was bidding fair to strangle their submarine fleet, the enemy had resorted to the policy, ultimately disastrous to itself, of remaining surfaced during an attack and fighting back with antiaircraft fire.  One B-24 was believed lost as a result of this action.59  
     
          Much more serious was the opposition encountered from enemy aircraft, though just as indicative of the enemy's desperate plight.  German aircraft over the Bay in July and August accounted for 2 aircraft and 14 lives.  JU-88's were encountered throughout the entire period of operations, often in very large groups.  The average number  
     
     

 

     
     
 
112
 
     
  was 6.6 enemy aircraft per encounter.  It is therefore cause for surprise that so few planes of the 479th were lost.  Even so, of course, the strain on the crews of the single B-24's in the face of such large groups was very great.  Crews were instructed to avoid combat whenever possible, but in many instances the enemy pressed the attack vigorously.  For a tabulation of the results of these encounters, in which the antagonists may be said to have fought to a draw, the reader should consult Appendix 3.60  
     
          It is not the province of this study to evaluate the entire Biscay offensive.  It continued long after the AAF Antisubmarine Command had ceased to exist, and until the submarine menace itself had been substantially reduced.  But some assessment must be attempted, at least for the period during which AAF Antisubmarine squadrons participated.  It has been suggested that the campaign was a failure.61  Certainly the tangible results obtained in August failed to measure up to those of July.  In July, 26 percent of all attacks made on U-boats were made in the Bay, and the B-24's of the Antisubmarine Command operating in that area had to fly on average of only 54 flying hours per sighting.  The situation altered radically in August.  Only seven damaging or destructive attacks were made in that month, as compared to 29 for July.  Sightings fell off proportionally, and the 479th Antisubmarine Group certainly spent most of its time in August combating enemy aircraft rather than in attacking U-boats.  Yet throughout the month of August, plotting boards regularly carried from 10 to 20 U-boats in the area, which is approximately the same  
     
     

 

     
     
 
113
 
     
  concentration as characterized the previous month.  Nor can the decrease be charged to any relaxation of the offensive effort.  
     
          The failure to sight the enemy in August may be explained in part as the result of the installation of radar by the Germans in their submarines.  Increasingly, the aircraft on antisubmarine patrol found that the "blips" disappeared from the radar screens at average distances of 8 or 9 miles, indicating that the enemy was detecting patrol aircraft at safe distances.  The Germans also altered their tactics considerably in order to cut down the heavy losses sustained by them in July.  They abandoned the practice of remaining surfaced and fighting back during air attacks, and resorted again to an over-all policy of evasion, hugging the Spanish coastline so as to confuse radar contacts, and surfacing only at night in that farthest south part of the Bay which lay at the extreme limit of the English Wellington's equipped with Leigh-lights.  Some credit must also be given to the persistent use of aircraft to counter the pressure of the Allied air offensive.62  
     
          Nevertheless, it must be remembered that the tactics to which the Germans resorted -- fighting back in July, hugging the Spanish coast in August, and using extremely heavy air cover in both months -- are themselves eloquent evidence of the effectiveness of the Bay offensive.  And the effect of antisubmarine activity cannot be determined entirely by the amount of damage directly inflicted on the enemy.  The constant patrolling of the Bay forced the submarines to proceed so slowly through the transit area that their efficiency  
     
     

 

     
     
 
114
 
     
  in the open sea was greatly reduced and the morale of their crews seriously impaired.63  Yet, even in terms of submarines sunk or damaged, the Bay campaign inflicted heavy loss on the enemy.  During its most active 3 months (June to September) it accounted for the following score:64  
     
 
 
By aircraft
By surface craft or submarine
Sunk and probably sunk
19
4
Damaged
9
4
 
     
          The Moroccan Sea Frontier.  Closely related to the Bay of Biscay offensive was the action in the Moroccan Sea Frontier.  In fact, the two at times overlapped, aircraft from the latter reinforcing the campaign in the transit area, at least in its more southerly reaches.  In any event, the antisubmarine warfare in the approaches to the Straits of Gibraltar was always likely to be affected by strategy in the Bay, probably even more than other Atlantic areas, all of which were affected in one way or another.  As the summer Bay offensive reached its climax in late June and early July, the U-boats tended more and more to skirt the Spanish coast to Cape Finisterre, and from there to deploy in a southwesterly direction toward the waters between the Azores and the coast of Portugal.  The result was a concentration, during the first 2 weeks of July, of enemy submarines in that area, which thus became part of the narrow transit lane.  
     
          It is a matter of question what exactly were the strategic motives back of this movement.  Undoubtedly, it sprang in large part  
     
     

 

     
     
 
115
 
     
  simply from a desire to evade patrolling forces in the Bay.  But it also appears to be true that the U-boats were spending considerable time in that region on antishipping patrol.  It may very well have been that they were ordered to spend several days in these waters on their way to and from their Biscay bases.56  The object was apparently to create a screen off the coast of Portugal to intercept Allied convoys proceeding from the United Kingdom to supply the Allied campaign then being developed in the Mediterranean.  It was a bold move, for it brought the U-boats within range of antisubmarine aircraft operating from Northwest Africa and Gibraltar, and it coincided with the brief and desperate attempt of the submarines in the bay to counter the air offensive by antiaircraft fire.  The enemy also relied on the relative ease with which air protection could be provided in the form of JU-88's and the longer range FW-200's.  There is difference of opinion concerning the precise number of U-boats patrolling off the coast of Portugal in the first half of July, the estimate ranging from 8 to 25.  But it is certain that a considerable concentration came within range of African-bases Liberators.67  
     
          It is at this point that the B-24's of the 480th Group reenter the picture.  They had been moved to Port Lyautey in March and had extended the patrolled area in the Moroccan Sea Frontier by several hundred miles.  These squadrons were especially equipped to answer the challenge made by the U-boats as the latter swung across the convoy lane in early July.  Their offensive really began with a sighting on 6th July in which the pilot made a perfectly executed run  
     
     

 

     
     
 
116
 
     
  on a submarine, but was foiled by mechanical failure of his bomb bay doors.  On the 7th, two attacks were made, one of which resulted in the probable sinking of one U-boat.  The other may also have been destroyed, although it was officially assessed as probably severely damaged.  The following day a fifth attack occurred which resulted in another probable kill.  On 9 July three attacks were delivered, one of which was assessed as severe damage, one as slight damage, and one as no damage at all.  Next day another attack resulted in doubtful damage, and again on the 11th an attack of undetermined effect was executed.  On the 12th, 13th, and 14th, an attack was made each day, resulting in one submarine definitely destroyed and two damaged.  Thus during this short period of 10 days, the 2 squadrons made 15 sightings and 13 attacks, which are believed to have resulted in 1 submarine known sunk, 3 probably sunk, 2 severely damaged, and 1 possibly damaged.  Only 6 attacks were considered unsuccessful.68  
     
          After this decisive, if local, defeat, the enemy obviously decided to abandon his policy of active defense.  The U-boats now dived, whenever possible, on sight of antisubmarine aircraft, and not a single submarine was sighted by AAF aircraft in the area thereafter.  It was also immediately after this brief "blitz" that the Germans began to patrol the area with heavy armed FW-200's, and it is logical to presume that the action of the 480th Group had a good deal to do with that development.69  
     
          In order to put this July offensive in its proper perspective, it will be necessary to review the history of operations in the  
     
     

 

     
     
 
117
 
     
  Moroccan Sea Frontier from the time when Col. Jack Roberts and his 480th Antisubmarine Group reported at Port Lyautey in March 1943.70  
     
          The 480th Group encountered in Africa something more that the usual problems involved in transfer to a new theatre.  Most of the difficulties arose from the fact that the group was now placed under the operational control of the U. S. Navy.  It was assigned to the Northwest African Coastal Air Force for administration, and attached temporarily to Fleet Air Wing 15 for operational control, pending decision as to the control and disposition of all Allied antisubmarine units in Northwest Africa and Gibraltar.71  Colonel Roberts felt that this arrangement was most unsatisfactory for several reasons.  The group had been the first of the AAF Antisubmarine Command units to operate free from U. S. naval control.  It had been thoroughly indoctrinated in RAF Coastal Command procedures, which differed markedly from those of the U. S. Navy, and the officers of the group felt that, for the job at hand, they were much superior.  Morale was adversely affected by poorer radio communications, less efficient briefing and operational control, poorer air-sea rescue facilities, and RDF than those to which the unit had become accustomed.72  An example of the resulting friction was that, with five intelligence officers capable and experienced in briefing and interrogating crews, the group was not allowed to provide watch in the control room or to conduct briefing.  Since the briefing provided by Fleet Air Wing 15 was not considered adequate by Colonel Roberts, crews had to be re-briefed by an officer of the group before going on a mission.73  Worse than that,  
     
     

 

     
     
 
118
 
     
  intelligence data necessary for successful missions frequently got to the group too late to be of any real value.  And, with practically no operational authority, there was little that Colonel Roberts could do about it.  Nor was much attention being paid to estimated U-boat positions in routing patrol aircraft, which resulted in poorly planned missions.  In general, it was felt that the best use was not being made of a highly trained organization.74  
     
          Basically, the trouble lay in the difference of strategic thinking between Navy and AAF Antisubmarine Command:75  
     
 
        The unsatisfactory nature of our present status and operations is due [Colonel Roberts wrote in May] . . . to the difference in the fundamental conception of Moroccan Sea Frontier and this Hqtrs as to how best to defeat the submarines, whether offensively (on sweeps and covering threatened convoys) or defensively (covering all US convoys at all times to the exclusion of offensive sweeps and coverages).
 
     
  As will appear in the following pages, the Navy had performed its initial function adequately by patrolling the approaches to Gibraltar to within 400 miles and had helped to force the Germans beyond that limit.  But the long-range and very-long range aircraft of the Antisubmarine Command had a new and different mission to perform, namely, that of reaching beyond the 400-mile line and striking the submarines prowling in the outer waters.  The two missions thus required two different approaches, a fact which the Moroccan Sea Frontier failed to appreciate.  
     
          Since the problem of command in the Gibraltar-Northwest African area was currently under discussion in the spring of 1943, 76 Colonel  
     
     

 

     
     
 
119
 
     
  Roberts vigorously urged, as a solution, placing antisubmarine operations in the area under British control at Gibraltar.  The RAF Coastal Command was operating antisubmarine squadrons from both Gibraltar and Agadir -- to the north and south of Port Lyautey respectively.  So he believed the best interests of all concerned would be served by coordinating operations from all three bases under Coastal Command control.  "I am. . . convinced [he wrote in May], as are all of my subordinates, that our Wing can operate "independently" under the central control of AOC Gibraltar with much greater efficiency and effectiveness than under present U. S. Navy control."  This statement, he warned, was made without malice toward any individuals of the Navy "thereabouts," for they were "generally a fine bunch with whom our relations are on a most pleasant basis."  He then added, significantly, "The majority of them privately concur with me in my expressed ideas on antisubmarine organization in Northwest Africa."73  
     
          In fact, by June improvement was becoming evident in the general control exercised by Fleet Air Wing 15, and in the quality of services furnished at Port Lyautey, although no change in the official status of the group, or in the quantity of services, had taken place.  Group intelligence officers were being given equal authority and responsibility with naval, and air-ground liaison was "reasonably satisfactory."79  Army and Navy intelligence officers were rotating duty shifts in the Control Room.  And the group was exercising increased authority, "actually, if not officially." in the laying out of patrols. "the Navy exhibiting little interest in anything other than convoy coverage."80  
     
     

 

     
     
 
120
 
     
          The Navy did not, of course, furnish all the problems facing the 480th Group in Africa, though it provided the largest of them.  In addition to the myriad of problems incident on stationing several hundred men in a strange territory and climate, Colonel Roberts had to build up his unit from a strength of not more than 16 or 17 VLR aircraft to one of 24 VLR (E).81  This increase in aircraft, especially in the modified B-24D, involved considerable training of crews both old and new, and considerable adjustment of equipment.82  As of 23 June 1943, the group reported 19 VLR (E) aircraft on hand, with 6 en route from the United States.83  
     
          The 480th Group arrived in Africa as a well-trained unit.  Thanks to the experience gained under the tutelage of the Coastal Command, the group officers felt that their organization was better prepared for antisubmarine tasks than any other American unit.84  And the quality of the new crews received from the OTU at Langley Field had steadily improved.85  The chief training problem consequently arose in connection with the new equipment being received and the unfamiliar flying conditions prevailing in the Moroccan Sea Frontier, where scarcity of clouds made tactics learned under the heavier northern skies inapplicable.86  The commanding officer was especially conscious of the value of continuous training, and, once such facilities as a triangulation bombing range and a blind-landing system had been set up, he maintained a steady training schedule.87  
     
          Morale constituted an ever-present, though happily not a serious, problem.  At first the crews felt insecure under what they considered  
     
     

 

     
     
 
121
 
     
  inferior radio control from the Navy, and in view of the fact that rescue facilities were lacking.  Recreation facilities remained limited, relaxation consisting mainly of athletics and an earnest endeavor to consume enough liquor before 2000 to make a pass, normally expiring at that hour, worth the trouble of securing.  Unfortunately, the 480th Group was the only "front line" unit in what was considered to be a rear echelon, or rest area, and the Provost Marshal persisted in subjecting it to the same type of restrictions ordinarily imposed in inactive units.  Morale in general, however, remained high until, in August, rumors of the impending dissolution of the AAF Antisubmarine Command left all personnel in an uncertain and frustrated frame of mind.88  
     
          The 480th Antisubmarine Group found in the Moroccan Sea Frontier a field especially well suited to its talents.  Since the invasion of Africa on 6 November 1942, a major objective of the German submarine fleet had been to harry Allied convoys heading for Northwest Africa and Gibraltar.  At first they had met with some success.   On 11 November 1942, four merchant vessels and one destroyer were sunk while riding at anchor off Fedala (20 miles from Casablanca) by what appears to have been a mass U-boat attack.  Allied aircraft, however, soon made hunting in these shore-line waters too costly for the enemy to continue.  This work had largely been done by the British who made 37 sightings between 7 and 30 November, resulting in 21 attacks.  By the end of December the PBY's had made 6 attacks in the area.89  The result was that the enemy retired to positions 400 miles or more from  
     
     

 

     
     
 
122
 
     
  Casablanca and Port Lyautey.  Instead of having to guard only a 200-mile span, the U-boats had then to guard an arc several hundred miles long; and for some time they actually took up positions along the arc of an approximate circle centered at Gibraltar.  After January, all sinkings occurred more than 600 miles from the nearest aircraft base.  During all this time the U-boats showed little tendency to approach within range of land-based aircraft, for, although thousands of hours were flown, no sightings were made until the arrival of the Liberators in March.  These long-range aircraft were able to reach both the U-boats on patrol beyond PBY range and also those traveling the great circle submarine lanes to South America and South Africa.  During the period March to June, a total of 12 sightings were made, mostly beyond the 400-mile limit.  Meanwhile, aircraft operations from Casablanca had been discontinued and PBY's began patrols from Agadir in April.90  By June, the location of American antisubmarine forces in the Moroccan Sea Frontier was approximately as follows:91  
     
 
Port Lyautey - Army15 (480th Antisubmarine Group)
  - Navy 12 (VP-22 and part of VP-73)
Agadir - Navy 6 (remainder of VP-73)
 
     
          Thus it became the peculiar task of the 480th Group to carry on long-distance patrols, beyond the extreme range of the PBY's, making the maximum use of the SCR-517 radar.  Missions began promptly on 19 March in spite of temporary shortages of spare parts, maintenance personnel, and equipment.92  Three planes a day ordinarily went out  
     
     

 

     
     
 
123
 
     
  on operational missions, laid out by Fleet Air Wing 15, under the supervision of the Moroccan Sea Frontier at Casablanca.  The area covered was at first from 31°00' N. to 35°00' N., extending west to the prudent limit of endurance (1,050 nautical miles).93  Later missions were ordered almost as far north as Cape Finisterre.94  Within 2 days of the beginning of operations, the group made the first sighting that had occurred in the area since December, and in the ensuing months of its stay at Port Lyautey it made roughly 10 times as many sightings per hour of flying time as the Navy PBY's operating from the same region at the same time.  This result was owing in part to the extra range of the B-24, but also to the alert visual search of the B-24 crews and to the superior efficiency of their radar, which came nearer than the PBY equipment to making the theoretically expected number of sightings in the patrolled regions by a factor of 4.95  
     
          Of these sightings, all made in the period March to July 1943, inclusive, more that 90 per cent resulted in attacks on U-boats, and of these 20 attacks, 10 percent were sure kills.  In all, more than 25 per cent of the U-boats attacked probably failed to reach port.96  Assessments run as follows:97  
     
 
2
U-boats
known sunk
3
"
probably "
1
"
probably or severely damaged
5
"
possibly or slightly        "
9
"
no damage or insufficient evidence of damage
 
     
  This fine record is largely owing to the high quality of flying technique and sound tactics employed by the pilots, to the well  
     
     

 

 

     
     
 
124
 
     
  coordinated use of radar, and to the aggressiveness of the crews.  Especially noteworthy is the use made of cloud cover.  Clouds were available for use in 72 percent of the sightings, and were actually used in nearly 60 percent.  In other words, of the 16 sightings in which cloud cover was available, it was used in 13 cases.  Of the other 3, 2 involved flying below clouds on convoy coverage, and the other flying below clouds in darkness, both perfectly correct procedure.98  
     
          As a result of superior flying technique, 16 of the 20 attacks were made while the enemy craft was still visible, and in 17 instances the U-boat was still fully surfaced or with decks awash at the time of attack.  Here the B-24's again surpassed the B-17's for, in all out 2 of the 13 sightings made by the latter from November to 15 July the U-boats were able to submerge before the arrival of the aircraft.  In one of these instances, the submarine deliberately chose to remain surfaced and fight back with AA fire.99  This result arose in part from the slower speed of the Navy planes and from less effective radar.  
     
          At least 13 of the sightings made by the group were first picked up by the SCR-517 radar equipment at an average range of 18 miles.  At least 5 of these sightings would certainly not have been made without radar, and in 5 others the contact would otherwise have been doubtful.100  
     
          The spirit of the crews played a very large part in securing the high record of attacks and kills.  They showed general willingness to encounter enemy fire and an ability to carry out attacks in the face  
     
     

 

     
     
 
125
 
     
  of strong opposition.  In six instances the submarines fired on the attacking planes, yet with the exception of the first case in which resistance occurred, the aircraft pressed home their attacks.  Several planes were damaged by this sort of encounter, and about 12 crew members injured.101  
     
          As in the Bay of Biscay, encounter with enemy aircraft in the Moroccan Sea Frontier proved more serious than resistance from the submarines themselves.  As in the Bay, also, the early operations of the group were not seriously opposed by enemy aircraft, but, opposition became more and more severe as the effectiveness of the antisubmarine patrols increased.  In the Moroccan Sea Frontier it was not the relatively short-range JU-88 that opposed the aircraft of the 480th Group but the powerful long-range FW-200, which in many ways is comparable to the B-24 itself.  The first combat of this nature occurred in the last half of July, when the antisubmarine "blitz" conducted by the 480th Group during the first 2 weeks had goaded the enemy into desperate action.  By August the FW-200's began to appear, heavily armed with rapid-firing 20-millimeter cannon which gave them as marked fire superiority over the B-24.  From that point on, the crews of the 480th found their mission to be very hazardous, and the casualties increased rapidly.  The final record is, however, one of which the group may be well proud, for, during its entire African operations, through October 1943, it is estimated to have destroyed 5 FW-200's, 2 DO-34's, and 1 DO-26; probably destroyed 1 JU-88; and damaged 2 FW-200's and 2 JU-88's.  In doing so the group lost 3 B-24's  
     
     

 

     
     
 
126
 
     
  as a result of action by enemy aircraft.102  
     
          In all, the 480th Group put in a more than satisfactory amount of work in the Moroccan Sea Frontier prior to the dissolution of the Antisubmarine Command, even allowing for the excellent flying weather prevailing in the area.  The following table demonstrates this fact:103  
     
 
 
Antisubmarine sweep
Convoy coverage
Total hours flown
March
  400
  400
April
1,122
397
1,519
May
  674
733
1,407
June
1,119
541
1,660
July
1,544
624
2,165
August
  883
795
1,678
 
     
  This table demonstrates the relatively high proportion of flying time devoted to escorting convoys, a type of operation unlikely to produce many sightings of enemy submarines.  From November 1942 to the middle of July 1943, no unthreatened convoy (defined as one having no plotted U-boat positions within 100 miles, or within 100 miles of the position for the ensuing 24 hours, was attacked.104  Conversely, of the 22 sightings made by aircraft in the area between 5 December and 15 July 1943 over 90 percent occurred within 80 miles of a plotted U-boat position.  The average error was only 41 miles.105  
     
          Facts of this sort confirmed the officers of the 480th Group in their belief that their aircraft would be more profitably employed in hunting in areas of high probability (defined as regions enclosed by arcs of circles, 80 miles in radius, drawn about predicted U-boat positions than in convoy coverage.  They recognized, of course,  
     
     

 

     
     
 
127
 
     
  that their very long range allowed them to pick up convoys much farther out than was otherwise possible, a practice which the convoy commanders greatly favored.  And it was also true that a minimum of actual danger from unplotted submarines made a certain minimum of air coverage advisable on all convoys.106  Nevertheless, the results obtained in areas of high probability more than justified the diversion of as many planes as possible in those directions.  Since such areas occurred mainly out of range of the naval planes (beyond the 500-mile limit) they fell principally to the Army B-24's107  As experience was gained, it became evident that by far the best ratio of hours per sighting could be obtained beyond 500 miles and on adroitly routed missions.108  As the Army became more and more influential, officially or unofficially, in routing patrols, a gradual improvement in that respect took place.  
     
          The campaign of 5-15 July, narrated above, gave the group a splendid opportunity to prove not only its fighting ability, but the validity of these tactical principles.  Deployed on missions carefully routed toward those areas off the Portuguese coast where intelligence sources indicated the enemy had concentrated its forces, the aircraft of the group turned in what is probably a record for a unit of the sort.109  
     
          The effect of this campaign of July may be estimated to some extent by the fact that, after 14 July, the 480th Group made no further contacts with enemy submarines during their stay on the west coast  
     
     

 

     
     
 
128
 
     
  of Africa.  The Germans' attempt to defy heavy air coverage had proved disastrous to themselves and it was once again demonstrated that submarines either could not or would not operate in areas at all well covered by antisubmarine aircraft.  In August patrols and convoy protective flights continued and were even extended.  Employing tactics similar to those used by the RAF Coastal Command in July, a "shuttle run" was made in the early part of the month by the 2nd Squadron between Port Lyautey and Dunkeswell.  On the trip to Dunkeswell the squadron covered a convoy and on the return flight it conducted an antisubmarine sweep, thus combining two principal functions in one operation.  Two such runs were made in August, but no submarines were attacked.110  
     
          The antisubmarine warfare in the Moroccan Sea Frontier generally may be similarly evaluated.  Between the British squadrons at Gibraltar and the Navy squadrons in the Moroccan Sea Frontier, the Allied antisubmarine forces had, prior to the arrival of the Army B-24's, forced the enemy to withdraw from the immediate approaches to the vital area.111  The operations of the 480th Group forced them to withdraw to a point at which they could no longer seriously menace the convoys pouring through the Moroccan Sea Frontier, bound for the Mediterranean theatre.  And in July, when convoys were sailing down from the United Kingdom to supply the Sicillian campaign, they were able to pass through the greatest concentration of U-boats then at sea without a loss from submarine activity, thanks to the effective air and surface escort provided.113  This relative immunity granted  
     
     

 

     
     
 
129
 
     
  finally to the Moroccan and Gibraltar area was a triumph for combined convoy escort and offensive antisubmarine sweeps, and it vindicated the principles underlying each form of antisubmarine activity within its own peculiar limits.  
     
          The operations in the Eastern Atlantic were experimental in a great many ways.  For one thing, they gave the AAF Antisubmarine Command the opportunity to test its strategic doctrine.  In the course of their rather brief duration, experiments were carried out in the difficult matter of administering the activities of units operating far from their parent organizations, and in the even more difficult problem of operational control.  And, by no means least of all, invaluable experience was obtained in antisubmarine tactics in an area where operations had to be conducted on a more than theoretical scale.  
     
          As a result of these efforts, the AAF Antisubmarine Command was able to draw certain interesting, if tentative, conclusions.  The offensive strategy had worked.  If not the be-all and end-all of antisubmarine warfare, it had at least to be considered an essential element.  In administration, the policy of sending units on detached service from the wing headquarters in the United States soon proved to be unsound and was replaced by one in which the overseas squadrons were given "separate, special" group organization.  An effort had been made to extend that principle to the point of creating overseas wings, but AAF headquarters was opposed to expanding the AAF Antisubmarine Command organization on such a scale.113  Operational  
     
     

 

     
     
 
130
 
     
  control had been exercised over the AAF Antisubmarine Command units by both RAF Coastal Command and the U. S. Navy.  The comparison was striking, and not always to the advantage of the latter.  The AAF Antisubmarine Command had always recognized its British counterpart as a pattern, and the experience of actual cooperation under the operational control of the older organization had only confirmed the younger in its preference.  Yet even in Northwest Africa the problem of naval control was greatly mitigated, if not exactly solved, as a result of the tact and vigor of the commanders involved.  Finally, the detached antisubmarine units learned more in a week of operations in the eastern Atlantic about such things as defense against aircraft attack, proper attack procedures, and the use of cloud cover and radar equipment than they could have done in weeks of operations elsewhere.  It was with a sense of anticlimax and frustration114 that they heard, in August 1943, that they were to be relieved of their mission just when they felt they were really achieving their objective and when they were, in fact, as efficient an antisubmarine team as could be found at that time.  
     
 
Operations in the Western Atlantic
 
     
          The Eastern and Gulf Sea Frontiers.  In contrast to the intensive, if sporadic, activity of the overseas squadrons, the story of antisubmarine operations in the western Atlantic is one of endless patrols, few sightings, and still fewer attacks.  While the units of the 479th and 480th Antisubmarine Groups were enjoying the best  
     
     

 

 

     
     
 
131
 
     
  of hunting in the Bay of Biscay and in the Moroccan Sea Frontier, flying at worst only a few hundred hours per contact, units in many parts of the U. S. strategic area were flying many thousands of hours per sighting in regions with an average U-boat density of 1 in a million square miles of ocean.  In the Eastern and Gulf Sea Frontiers almost no enemy activity had been encountered since September 1942.  To the south and north, in the Trinidad area, and in that part of the North Atlantic convoy route lying off the coast of Newfoundland, the Germans were still trying hard to stop the flow of vital material.  Even in those areas, however, the hunting was often poor.  
     
          Yet the Navy felt obligated to patrol not only these threatened areas but the relatively quiet waters of the Eastern and Gulf Sea Frontiers with as many aircraft as might be spared from other more urgent projects.  The enemy, it was argued, had withdrawn, but he might return.  He was not too preoccupied with the invasion convoys to overlook a rich and unprotected merchant shipping lane.  And, as Admiral King put it, the submarines could shift their area of operation more rapidly than the air defenses could be moved to meet them.  Accordingly, and "irreducible minimum" of aircraft would have to be maintained on the coast of the United States, despite the meager returns in contacts with the enemy.115  
     
          The only question was, how small did that minimum have to be before it became truly irreducible?  Was it necessary to provide such heavy coverage -- at one time as many as 15 out of 25 squadrons?  
     
     

 

     
     
 
132
 
     
  Was it an economical way of using units specially trained in the work of destroying submarines to deploy them in areas where there were few if any submarines, when in other parts of the Atlantic the undersea raiders abounded?  These were debatable questions, the debate resolving itself finally into a conflict between the AAF Antisubmarine Command ideal of a mobile offensive force and the Navy's doctrine of a relatively fixed defense.  Since the operational control of antisubmarine activity lay in naval hands, the Navy won the debate.  The result was that many of the fully trained and equipped antisubmarine crews could say of their operations as one squadron historian said, somewhat wistfully, of his entire squadron:  "The tactical achievement of the squadron cannot be elaborated on by enumerating the number of submarines sunk.  It has been our misfortune never to have had the opportunity of sighting a submarine."  When he added sturdily that "this fact has never reduced the crew's efficiency and patrol missions have been conducted in an alert manner," he epitomized as large portion of this story.116  
     
          This work of patrol and convoy escort was shared by AAF Antisubmarine Command, air units of the U. S. Navy, and the Civilian Air Patrol.  It must be remembered, however, that the CAP planes were light, single-engine civilian types, limited in their range to a narrow zone along the coast where the depth of the water normally restricted submarine activity, and that the planes used by the Navy in the Eastern Sea Frontier were mostly single-motor observation  
     
     

 

     
     
 
133
 
     
  types, with a limited radius of action compared to the Navy PBY and the medium and heavy bombers used by the Antisubmarine Command.117  
     
          From October 1943 to February 1943, no damaging attacks were made in the Eastern and Gulf Sea Frontiers, and few positive sightings of enemy submarines.  This startling lack of combat action was by no means the result of any reduction in antisubmarine patrol activity which remained heavy on the part of both Army and Navy squadrons.  It was simply that there were few, if any, U-boats to see.  From an estimated 10 enemy craft in August 1942, the average density in these areas had dropped in October to 3.4 and was further lowered in November to 1.7.  In December, January and February there was no positive evidence of any enemy activity at all, though some depth bombs were dropped on suspicious spots in the water.  In all, these operations during the winter of 1942-1943 probably did more damage to the aboriginal marine life in the patrolled areas than to the mechanized intruders.  But there is no doubt that the negligible density of enemy submarines in its turn resulted partly from the continued heavy air coverage.118  
     
          The spring and summer months of 1943 brought some increase in enemy operation.  In February, the average density rose to 1.8, a significant increase if still not a major threat in over a million square miles of ocean.  For the rest of the time the AAF Antisubmarine Command patrolled these frontiers, the Germans kept from one to three U-boats busy -- and not without effect.  In addition to keeping a  
     
     

 

     
     
 
134
 
     
  disproportionately large antisubmarine force patrolling these waters, they managed in May to destroy the first merchant vessel sunk in the Eastern Sea Frontier since July 1942.119  Naval aircraft and B-25's were in the vicinity of the attack on the tanker Pan Am (a straggler from convoy NK588) but were unable to make contact with the submarine.  A U-boat, possibly the one that sank the Pan Am, was detected several times and was attacked by a Navy plane with possible damage resulting to it.  Later in the month, a B-24 from the 19th Antisubmarine Squadron based at  Langley Field, Va. made a fairly promising attack in the same general area.120  Again in June the tanker Gettysburg was sunk by a submarine (31°02' N. 79°08' W.).  A Navy blimp had been escorting the tanker until separated from it by a thunderstorm.  A plane of the 25th Antisubmarine Squadron later directed a passenger ship to the 15 survivors.  In July the Bloody Marsh, a U. S. tanker, met a similar fate.  In August a patrol vessel was sunk (37°22 N. 74°25' W.)  On the 28th of August a B-25 of the 25th Antisubmarine Squadron attacked a U-boat (31°31' N. 78°45' W.)  Unfortunately, the enemy managed to escape before any serious damage could be dealt it.  
     
          In spite of the poor hunting in the Eastern and Gulf Sea Frontiers, the range and efficiency of the AAF Antisubmarine Command Squadrons in the area were gradually being increased by the substitution of B-24's for the medium-range aircraft originally employed, and by constant processing of crews, old as well as new, in the Operational Training Unit at Langley Field.131  By March 1943, the effect of increased long-range aircraft was becoming evident in an  
     
     

 

     
     
 
135
 
     
  increase of over 3,000 flying hours in the month for Army planes.122  On the 23rd of that month, 23 B-24's were reported, distributed among the 4th, 6th, 9th, and 18th Squadrons.  By August it was possible to report 75 B-24's among 9 of the squadrons based in the United States.123  
     
          If this were the whole story of operations in the Eastern and Gulf Sea Frontiers -- and as far as actual contact with the enemy is concerned, it is the whole story -- it would be a disproportionately small one in relation to the number of squadrons involved.  And it might seem strange that so great an effort was being made to increase precious long-range equipment in what was essentially an inactive theatre.  Happily the story is much larger, for it includes also a prodigious program of technical development and crew training.  When the Antisubmarine Command was activated a beginning only had been made on the task of securing the proper weapons and auxiliary devices for antisubmarine warfare, and of training personnel in their use.  Close liaison had to be maintained between the command and the various research organizations, and the new command had to put into effect a training program that was at once uniform and flexible enough to keep up with the constantly developing methods of antisubmarine warfare.  
     
          The responsibility in both material development and training rested not only on headquarters but also on the squadrons based in the continental United States, for it was with their help alone that the dual program could be implemented.  It was originally contemplated that the Operational Training Unit at Langley Field would accomplish  
     
     

 

     
     
 
136
 
     
  most of the training work for the entire command, but that objective was never completely achieved because the tremendous need for available aircraft made it necessary to carry on training to a considerable extent in conjunction with patrol operations.  Even when the flow of personnel through the OTU had become fuller and steadier, stress was still placed on squadron training.  The U. S. coastal area constituted a more or less inactive theatre and it was felt that those squadrons tied down to patrol over these waters could profitably be used to supplement the training program.  Training, therefore, became the principal contribution made by the home-based units.  The story of this program will be told in a later chapter.  
     
          The Caribbean and South Atlantic Areas.  As the Germans withdrew their submarines from the Eastern and Gulf Sea Frontiers, during the late summer of 1943, they concentrated for a time in the Caribbean area, specializing in the waters off Trinidad.  The Caribbean had been a favorite hunting ground for the enemy since his entry in force into the U. S. strategic area.  By September 1942, however, the convoy lanes off Trinidad offered one of the few profitable areas of operations in the western Atlantic.  During the winter months, the Caribbean shared with the northern coastal waters a relative immunity from submarine attack.  In December and January, a total of 10 merchant vessels were sunk, all outside the Caribbean, in the area east of Trinidad.  In February, none were lost.  In March, five sinkings occurred in the Caribbean, the first in the island ring since September.  During the  
     
     

 

     
     
 
137
 
     
  following months, from one to four enemy submarines were kept in the area, seldom, however, doing much damage.  
     
          The enemy withdrawal from the Caribbean, late in 1943, was part of the same strategic movement that took the submarines from the Eastern and Gulf Sea Frontiers.  Unable to continue his original policy of destroying Allied shipping faster than it could be replaced, Admiral Doenitz had withdrawn the bulk of his submarine fleet in an attempt to shut off the "invasion" convoy.  But it was apparently, also a part of his strategic plan to leave a minimum force of U-boats in convoy and shipping areas of secondary importance.  The nuisance value of these scattered raiders was enormous, for they kept a large force of surface craft and aircraft tied down to convoy coverage and routine patrol.  In accomplishing this effect, only an occasional merchant vessel had to be sunk, and the operation could be carried on with the least possible risk to the submarine, since it could proceed in a leisurely fashion, evading searching patrols wherever possible.124  
     
          The problem, then, was to provide enough effective air coverage for the Caribbean to keep the U-boat threat to a minimum.  Nor, no matter how greatly motives of high strategy had figured in the withdrawal of the enemy from the American areas, the fact still remained that the Germans normally stayed out of reach of effective air patrol, and deliberately sought out those areas in which it was lacking.  So, from the beginning of its career, the AAF Antisubmarine Command was requested to plan for the deployment of an effective force in the Caribbean areas.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
138
 
     
          Operations in the Cuban area were undertaken in accordance with an agreement between the U. S. and Cuban governments drawn up 12 June 1942,125 and were controlled directly from Headquarters, 25th Antisubmarine Wing, Miami, Fla.126  These operations, undertaken successively by the 23rd, the 5th, the 17th, and the 15th Antisubmarine Squadrons, supplemented those of the squadrons based in the Florida and Gulf areas.127  The net result was similar to that obtained by the squadrons based in the United States.  Yet, as in other coastal waters, the enemy continued to keep a few U-boats operating in the Cuban area and managed to sink a few ships.  In July 1943 a probable strength of four U-boats accounted for two merchant vessels.  It was felt, therefore, that an antisubmarine squadron of the AAF Antisubmarine Command should be kept in that region.128  
     
          A similar, though somewhat more exciting story, may be told of operations in the Trinidad area through which passed probably three-fourths of the Caribbean shipping.  Pioneer work in this part of the world had been done for the AAF Antisubmarine Command squadrons by the 40th Bombardment Squadron, later designated the 4th Antisubmarine Squadron.  From August to November 1943, that unit had threaded its way among the intricacies of command channels in the Caribbean Sea Frontier and had at least prepared succeeding squadrons for the sort of problem they were likely to face.129  
     
          And problems in plenty they faced, too.  The weather itself proved a serious handicap to sustained operations, what with tropical  
     
     

 

     
     
 
139
 
     
  hurricanes and torrential rainfalls; and night maintenance had to be entirely abandoned because of the prevalence of malaria-bearing mosquitoes.130  If a pilot were unfortunate enough to be forced into a jungle landing, he might never get out alive.  One pilot landed in the jungle at Zanderij Field, Dutch Guiana, only 15 minutes from his base.  After 4 days of hard work a rescue party reached him.131  On top of all this, the native population of Trinidad either disliked the Americans or British with an intensity that promised little in the way of hospitality, or else their unusually high venereal disease rate promised a little too much.138  
     
          The most serious problem came, however, not from the climate or the native population, but from the command situation into which the AAF Antisubmarine Command squadrons were plunged.  Being on detached service from the 26th Wing, these squadrons had to be given a place in the administrative and operational structure already set up in the region; but, being temporary in status and late in arriving, they found no very satisfactory place in that system.  As in the Eastern and Gulf Sea Frontiers, antisubmarine activity was under the operational control of the sea frontier commander.  AAF Antisubmarine Command squadrons were placed under the administrative supervision of the area defense command.  But in addition to the Caribbean Sea Frontier and the Caribbean Defense Command, many lesser headquarters existed between the highest echelon and the single AAF Antisubmarine Command squadron serving at Trinidad.  Under the Caribbean Defense Command, air forces were normally administered by the Sixth Air Force,  
     
     

 

     
     
 
140
 
     
  but, since the latter had delegated all its antisubmarine functions to the Antilles Air Task Force, all Army aircraft engaged in that work were under the jurisdiction of the Task Force.  The 25th Boming Group, with its headquarters at Trinidad, was attached to the Trinidad Detachment of the Antilles Air Task Force, and it was to this group that the AAF Antisubmarine Command squadrons were assigned.  This more or less, was the chain of command for administration.  Air Force supply and higher echelon maintenance came from the Trinidad Area Air Service Command under the Trinidad Sector Command.133  
     
          On the operational side, the jurisdiction of the Caribbean Sea Frontier, to which the Antilles Air Task Force had been assigned, was almost entirely decentralized among four sub regions at Guantanamo, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, and Curacao.  Between these subordinate commands, communications appear to have been somewhat cumbersome, and coordination frequently slow or entirely lacking.  Such an operational structure would have been perfectly adequate as a system of static defense, but in antisubmarine operations, which demanded the highest possible mobility based on the most rapid and complete transmission of intelligence possible, it proved to be much less suitable, and no doubt led to a less economical use of antisubmarine forces available than might otherwise have been the case.  Even more annoying to the 26th Wing headquarters was its inability to order units into the Caribbean, or to exchange units, without securing specific authority from the Joint Command in Washington, and without having given advance notice of the movement to the Commander, Caribbean Sea Frontier and  
     
     

 

     
     
 
141
 
     
  having secured concurrence from him or any other interested Caribbean headquarters.134  With submarines likely to make their appearance suddenly and in force, this was an awkward arrangement since it bound the officer commanding AAF Antisubmarine Command units in the area to the point where he could not act quickly enough to counter such a move.  
     
          Operations from Edinburgh Field, Trinidad, were controlled more or less directly from Naval Operating Base, Trinidad, located at Port of Spain, the air officer of which had final decision concerning the time and nature of each mission.  Control over operations was exercised from a joint control room, established on lines similar to those at Miami and New York City.  Information was received by headquarters, 25th Bomb Group, at Edinburgh Field, and from a local control room relayed to the AAF Antisubmarine Command squadron stationed there.135  
     
          The first antisubmarine command squadron to go to Trinidad was the 9th.  The air echelon, consisting of 42 officers and 72 enlisted men in 10 B-18B type planes, arrived at Edinburgh Field on 2 December 1942, Maj. P. Overing in command.136  Living conditions at the field were generally considered good, possibly better than in Miami.  In addition to the 9th Antisubmarine Squadron, the 10th Bombardment Squadron, a flight of the 417th Bombardment Squadron, and some Navy blimps operated from the field, all on primarily antisubmarine duty.137  Patrol missions began at once for the B-18's.  To the chagrin of all present, the number of submarines active in the Trinidad area declined sharply after the arrival of the 9th Squadron.  In January  
     
     

 

     
     
 
142
 
     
  1943 no vessels were sunk in the waters around Trinidad, as compared to 5 in December and 13 in November.138  And it is very doubtful whether the increased air coverage provided by the 9th did more than confirm the Germans in a policy of strategic withdrawal already agreed upon, or possibly hasten the rate of that retreat.  As the threat of a U-boat concentration decreased, sweeps gave way to convoy coverage, and some tactical time was given up to an accelerated training program.139  
     
          Equipped with aircraft of medium range only, and patrolling an area in which seldom more than one U-boat operated, the 9th Squadron could hardly be expected to turn a long list of attacks.  Prior to its return to the United States in the latter part of March 1943, it had, however, made seven sightings and two attacks, both probably embarrassing to the enemy.  In fact, in March, though flying only one tenth of the total hours flown in the Trinidad area, it was fortunate enough to record three of the four sightings made during the month in those waters.140  
     
          The 9th Squadron had been separated from its ground echelon for 3 months.  During that time it had gained a great deal of experience in use of radar and in operational flying.  It was decided that the squadron should be reunited and given transition training in long-range aircraft in order to make the best use of this experience.141  The air echelon of the 7th Antisubmarine Squadron and part of the ground echelon were accordingly ordered to Trinidad to replace the 9th.142  
     
     

 

     
     
 
143
 
     
          With 10 radar-equipped B-18's, the 7th continued the work of patrolling the convoy lanes, both those from the west and those, especially of the bauxite ships, plying along the South American coast.  Occasionally, convoys passed to the north and northeast of the island and, in order to provide more complete coverage, planes would be sent to St. Lucia and to barbados for several days.143  Although from 4 to 12 patrols were flown daily, weather permitting, and three-fourths of the time with radar equipment, the 7th Squadron had even less luck than the 9th in making contact with the enemy.  From the end of March until the middle of July, when it was relieved by the 8th, the 7th Squadron obtained only one contact and made no attacks.144  In fact, the only unusual incident resulted when the delicate political situation in Martinique required that the squadron patrol the island, two planes having been based at St. Lucia for that purpose.148  
     
          In July 1943 the enemy staged what amounted to a concerted offensive in the Trinidad area.  The average density of U-boats increased to 4 daily, sinkings of merchant vessels increased to 4, and attacks on submarines reached 13.  Of these attacks, the 8th Antisubmarine Squadron, having stationed flights of B-24's at Zanderij and Waller Fields to cope with the situation, accounted for 2.  Of the rest, 4 were made by B-18's of the 35th Bombardment Squadron stationed at Zanderij, and 7 by Navy planes.  It is interesting to note that this flurry of activity coincided with the desperate efforts of the Germans in the eastern Atlantic to proceed in spite of air coverage.  In 10 of the July attacks the enemy elected to fight back.146  
     
     

 

     
     
 
144
 
     
          None of the three attacks delivered by the B-24D aircraft of the 8th Antisubmarine Squadron resulted in direct damage to the submarine, but twice they participated in effective killer-hunts.147  
     
          On 31 August, the 8th Squadron was replaced by the 23rd, which under took experimental operations in the area with 18 B-25G aircraft equipped with the debatable 75-milimeter cannon in the nose.  The withdrawal of the AAF Antisubmarine Command from antisubmarine patrol, in August 1943, left these operations still inconclusive.148  
     
          The Caribbean and the South Atlantic areas both seemed to AAF Antisubmarine Command planners a fertile field for expansion.  Early plans had included these areas.149  An effort was also made in 1943 to establish a separate antisubmarine wing in the Caribbean in order to provide administrative machinery for a large-scale operation in that area and along the northeasterly coast of South America.150  Most of these plans came to nothing, frustrated either by lack of equipment, lack of cooperation from the Navy, or lack of time -- the command was dissolved before much could be done even on favorably considered plans.  One project did, however, come close to realization.  In the spring of 1943 it was proposed to survey the possibility of establishing antisubmarine coverage over the Atlantic Ocean in the general region of Belem, Natal, Sao Salvador, Ascension Island, Accra, and Dakar.  This belt of ocean was little traversed by convoys, but frequently by independent vessels, and had been a fairly profitable resort for individual raiding U-boats.  It was felt that this entire area could be covered if one or more antisubmarine squadrons, equipped with VLR (E)  
     
     

 

     
     
 
145
 
     
  B-24's, were based at Natal, Brazil, or some other base in that vicinity, using Ascension Island and points on the West Coast of Africa as advance or alternate bases.151  AAF headquarters gave modified approval to the plan, suggesting in substance that it never does any harm to study possibilities of this sort provided definite commitments are not made.152  In this connection it should be observed that the Navy hoped by the fall of 1943 to have enough B-24's to handle the job, and in June 1943, it was anybody's guess who would ultimately control the VLR aircraft engaged in antisubmarine warfare.153  
     
          A project was begun, somewhat tentatively, in May, when on the 10th of that month two B-24D aircraft from the 8th Squadron were dispatched to Natal under the leadership of the squadron commander, Lt. Col. H. S. Beeks.  This experimental detachment operated from Natal until the 27th, when it was moved, together with its ground echelon, to Ascension Island.  During the following month, its strength increased to four B-24's, one of which was normally based at Natal.  Some confusion arose regarding its place in the command machinery of the South Atlantic, but finally it was placed under the Commander, South Atlantic Force, acting under the direction of the Commander in Chief, U. S. Atlantic Fleet.  This arrangement was in accord with the procedure effective at the moment for control of all antisubmarine operations by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with the Commander in Chief, U. S. Fleet acting as the executive agent for this unified command.154  The detachment continued operations on this basis, with the official blessing of Vice Adm. Jonas H. Ingram, Commander, 4th Fleet, Recife, until its  
     
     

 

     
     
 
146
 
     
  recall in August.155  During the period of its special duty, it flew 98 missions.  Although it made few contacts with the enemy, it gathered considerable valuable information regarding German use of radar and radar detectors.156  
     
          Nothing more came of the Antisubmarine Command's plans for the South Atlantic.  Decisions concerning its fate, and that of antisubmarine activity generally, placed all such projects in abeyance.  
     
          The North Atlantic convoy route.  In February and March of 1943, Admiral Doenitz made an all-out effort to render the North Atlantic convoy route unusable for Allied shipping.  This attack was part of a general defensive strategy adopted to cut off or seriously harass the convoys bringing supplies to the invasion armies in Europe and Africa.  And, as the North Atlantic convoys constituted the most important of these vital supply lines, the U-boat attack in the North Atlantic was the most concerted and desperate ever launched by the enemy.  It therefore became essential to strengthen to the utmost the antisubmarine effort in that area; and to this end long-range air coverage was of paramount importance.  So grave had the situation become by March, that President Roosevelt wrote on the 18th to the Chiefs of Staff, U. S. Army and U. S. Navy, asking how many B-24's could be operated at once from Newfoundland, Greenland, and Iceland, how many ACV's were on antisubmarine operations in the North Atlantic, and how soon the existing force of both could be brought to its maximum strength.157  If sufficient long-range bombers and ACV's were not promptly engaged  
     
     

 

     
     
 
147
 
     
  in this battle of supply, the President warned, both HUSKY and BOLERO, as well as the security of Great Britain, might be seriously threatened.  
     
          In answer to the President's urgent message, the Chiefs of Staff vouchsafed the following information.158  Army, Navy, and Canadian air bases could support B-24's at the rate of 75 in Newfoundland, 40 in Iceland, and 6, for limited operations only, in Greenland.  Plans to date did not, however, provide for numbers of this sort.  For Newfoundland, the AAF had planned 12 B-24's by 1 May, and 18 by 1 June; and the U. S. Navy had 12 which it hoped would be ready by June.  Six Army Liberators had been earmarked for Greenland by 1 June.  Iceland was to be left entirely to the RAF, whose Coastal Command had 8 B-24's in operation, 12 promised by 1 May, and 12 more by 1 June.  In addition to the B-24's, 112 Antisubmarine Command B-17's were ready for immediate shipment to Newfoundland to help cope with the convoy problem although they were not so well suited to the work as B-24's, owing to their shorter range.  The Navy had an ACV in the area and planned to deploy two more in April.  The British planned to put the two ACV's on the convoy route.  In short, with the U-boat war reaching its peak of intensity, the Allies were only able to put a handful of the vitally necessary VLR aircraft immediately into the battle.  Adequate forces were planned, and diversions from other projects were suggested,159 but none could be made available before mid-summer.  
     
          This, then was the desperate situation at the end of March.  A few medium-range aircraft were being operated from Greenland and Iceland, and the 421st Bombardment Squadron (redesignated the 20th  
     
     

 

     
     
 
146
 
     
  Antisubmarine Squadron on 8 February) had for some time been operating a few B-17's from Newfoundland.  But the pressing problem still remained to provide long-range air cover for that middle portion of the North Atlantic route which had hitherto been beyond the range of the land-based aircraft available.  
     
          The problem had been recognized from the first, and the increasing intensity of the U-boat war in the North Atlantic stimulated discussion of it at the highest level.  But it took most of the winter and spring of 1942-43 actually to equip Newfoundland with three antisubmarine squadrons from the AAF Antisubmarine Command; and by that time the climax of the struggle had already arrived.  All that the AAFAC squadrons could do was to hasten, as best they could, the impending defeat of the Nazi submarine fleet.  
     
          A leading part in the discussion had been taken by the Canadian government.  In December, Canada had been asked by Prime Minister Churchill whether it could supply the necessary bases, crews, and aircraft to undertake the task of providing air protection for the gap of approximately 250 nautical miles west of mid-ocean which was not being given air protection.  Canada was able to supply the bases and crews, but could not provide the aircraft.  Neither, at the moment, could the British.  The Canadian Joint Staff then asked the AAF for 15 LB-30 aircraft.160  General Arnold disapproved the proposal on the ground that the AAF had no liberators to spare.161  In March, the Atlantic Convoy Conference proposed that the AAF Antisubmarine Command  
     
     

 

     
     
 
149
 
     
  operate three squadrons of B-24's from Newfoundland.162  By that time the situation in the North Atlantic had become so grave that every effort was made to equip and send these units as soon as possible.163  It had been estimated that by 1 July 1943 the AAF would have the necessary VLR aircraft deployed as recommended by the Atlantic Convoy Conference, but General Arnold was concerned to implement the plan for Newfoundland immediately.164  
     
          Meanwhile, the four B-17's of the 421st Bombardment Squadron, which had been operating for months under the Newfoundland Base Command as a reserve striking force, had also been carrying on antisubmarine patrol as a secondary duty under the control of Navy Task Force 24.  They had been providing convoy coverage in a small square off the southeast corner of the island, in addition to the various odd jobs assigned to the unit.  In order to increase the antisubmarine forces in the area, this squadron had been redesignated the 20th Antisubmarine Squadron and assigned antisubmarine patrol as its principal duty, under the Navy Task Force.165  In January, too, preliminary steps had been taken to extend long-range air coverage to Greenland.  On the 25th the Director of Bombardment ordered the AAF Antisubmarine Command to conduct experimental operations from Greenland and to survey the facilities available there.166  And approximately a month later a report on the subject was submitted.167  Actual operations from Greenland had, however, to wait on the establishment of a regular B-24 patrol from Newfoundland, from which point all Greenland long-range operations were to be controlled.168  
     
     

 

     
     
 
150
 
     
          Finally, on 18 March 1943, a detachment of the 25th Antisubmarine Wing left New York, under Col. Howard Moore, to establish a headquarters at St. John's Newfoundland.  On 3 April, this detached headquarters began operations in the control room of the combined headquarters of the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force.  The 19th Antisubmarine Squadron also arrived late in March, and the 6th Antisubmarine Squadron a few weeks later.  Those squadrons were stationed at Gander Lake with the 20th Antisubmarine Squadron which had been in operation there for some time.  A control room was set up for their use.  The recently arrived squadrons, the 8th and 12th, became operational on 1 April and 19 April, respectively.  For the next three months the three squadrons conducted antisubmarine sweeps and convoy coverage from Gander under the supervision of the detachment headquarterd.169  In early June, the 4th Antisubmarine Squadron joined the units at Gander and the 20th Squadron returned to the United States.  Late in June 1943, when their services were no longer required in Newfoundland, the detachment headquarters (which on 13 June had been transferred on paper from the 25th Wing to the Antisubmarine Command itself) was ordered to England, together with the units operating under it, the 4th, 6th, and 19th Antisubmarine Squadrons.  These squadrons became part of the 479th Group.  The 4th and 19th arrived in the United Kingdom in mid-July.  The 6th, which had been left behind for a few weeks, assumed responsibility for AAFAC operations in Newfoundland in the absence of the detachment command post.170  
     
     

 

     
     
 
151
 
     
          Operations originally were conducted under the immediate control of the detachment command post at St. John's and were subject, as usual, to coordination with the naval force in charge of that locality, in this case the RCN.171  On 30 April 1943, operational control of AAFAC units based in Newfoundland passed to Canada, in accordance with recommendations of the Atlantic Convoy Conference (par. 6, App. A, ACC-1) for an appropriate division of area responsibility between the three countries most concerned with the North Atlantic antisubmarine war.172  It was a natural division, for, as far as air forces were concerned, the RCAF operated a majority of the antisubmarine aircraft in that area.173  The nature of this control remained general, however, and consisted of designating the missions to be performed, rather than prescribing how they were to be accomplished.174  
     
          By the time the detachment headquarters began operations, the tactical situation had been pretty thoroughly surveyed by the Canadian agencies concerned.  The great proportion of Allied convoys sailing to the United Kingdom had, because of fuel limitations, to pass through a relatively narrow bottleneck as they rounded Newfoundland and proceeded northeast along either the great circle or the northern routes.  The enemy, recognizing this fact, apparently deployed his attack forces in such a way as to take maximum advantage of it.  By March it was estimated by RCN intelligence that the Germans were setting up a patrol line of approximately 20 "informer" submarines, spaced about 20 miles apart along a line which cut across the convoy lines in the bottleneck within the general area bounded by 51° N., 48° W., 52° N., 47° W., 50° N.,  
     
     

 

     
     
 
152
 
     
  40° W., and 49° N., 41° W.175  This disposition of informer submarines afforded complete coverage of roughly 90 per cent of the North Atlantic trade convoys, and allowed the enemy to relay such information concerning these convoys as would be required for the main attacking forces, patrolling farther to northeast, to coverage on each convoy with concentrated force and a significant economy of time, effort, and fuel.  
     
          According to this theory, then, the contact line became the most important target in the North Atlantic battle.  To locate and attack its elements and do to put out the eyes of the U-boat fleet, became the primary objective of the antisubmarine forces operating from Newfoundland.176  During April and May it appeared that the Germans were extending this contact line farther to the south by adding probably 10 more submarines to cover the approaches to the southern route.  Probably not more than 15 U-boats were deployed as an attack group, but, with the advantage of accurate advance intelligence, they were able to make every craft count in their attack on the convoys.  The U-boat offensive in the North Atlantic reached its climax in a running attack on ONS-5 (28 April to 5 May 1943), during which 12 merchant vessels were torpedoed -- 11 of them within less than 24 hours.  The ONS-5 action, however, turned out also to be a turning point in the North Atlantic battle, for it was a costly victory, so costly that the enemy could ill afford many more such triumphs.  Over 20 attacks were made on the U-boats by both surface craft and aircraft, resulting in 9 sunk or probably sunk and about 9 others damaged to some degree.177  
     
          It was in this sort of battle that the AAFAC squadrons found themselves during April and May.  Convoy coverage and offensive sweeps  
     
     

 

     
     
 
153
 
     
  in broad areas ahead of convoys were their normal missions.  In general the latter were the most productive of tangible results.  For a few weeks, sightings were relatively frequent.  The 20th Squadron, with only a few of its 7 B-17's (equipped with Mark II radar) available for patrol, flew 379 hours during March and made 7 sightings which resulted in 2 attacks, neither apparently damaging to the enemy.  April proved to be a fairly productive month for the 3 squadrons.  After the attack on ONS-5 early in May, the Germans began to withdraw their U-boat fleet gradually.  As the waters off Newfoundland became correspondingly quiet, operations of the AAFAC squadrons consisted largely of escort missions.  The following figures illustrate the changes in the situation, as far as the AAFAC squadrons were concerned, during the 2-month period:178  
     
 
Period
Escort Missions
Contacts
Sweeps
Contacts
2 April to 2 May
  454 hrs.  7 min.
1
588 hrs. 30 min.
10
3 May to 31 May
 1,161 hrs. 58 min.
0
234 hrs. 56 min.
  1
 
1,515 hrs. 5 min
1
823 hrs. 26 mins.
11
 
     
  Few attacks resulted from the above listed contacts, and, of the 5 delivered, only 3 were assessed as damaging to the submarine.  It must, of course, be remembered that the weather in the Newfoundland area permitted fewer efficient flying hours than in other areas of antisubmarine activity, with the exception of Greenland.  
     
          Part of the AAF Antisubmarine Command activity in the North Atlantic took place in Greenland.  It had been announced by the high command on 16 March that a "Trans-Atlantic umbrella" consisting of Canadian, British, and American Aircraft, was to be raised over the North Atlantic  
     
     

 

     
     
 
154
 
     
  convoys in order to afford coverage for "every mile of the route from North America to Europe."  Full responsibility for this broadening beneficence was to rest with the Canadian and British governments.  Operations from Greenland and Iceland were necessary, in addition to those from Newfoundland, if this project were to be accomplished.  The major part of the additional mid-ocean coverage had to come from Iceland, where the RAF and the U. S. Navy normally maintained patrols.  But it was felt the even sporadic long-range operations from Greenland would be enough to discourage the enemy in the vital mid-ocean gap.179  Accordingly, in spite of some of the most disheartening flying weather in the world (operations could be undertaken only 15 days in the month at the most suitable field in the country) it was decided to operate a small long-range force from Bluie West One.  Surveys of the area had been undertaken in February, but nothing could be done to provide the necessary long-range equipment and control personnel until the Detachment Headquarters had begun to function in Newfoundland.180  
     
          Meanwhile, two AAF units, the 1st and 2nd Provisional Bombardment Flights, were operating a few B-25D airplanes as an emergency striking force under the control of the Greenland Base Command.  Although engaged in antisubmarine operations, the efforts of these flights were limited by the range of their aircraft and by lack of experience on the part of their crews.  In addition to these small Army forces, the U. S. Navy had a few PBY-5A's and PV-1's at Bluie West One under its Greenland Patrol Force which also undertook antisubmarine patrol.  Such coordination of antisubmarine effort as was available came from the commander  
     
     

 

     
     
 
155
 
     
  of this naval force.181  It had not been contemplated to use Bluie West One for more than an advance operating base for planes based in Newfoundland.  But it was not until close to the middle of May that anything was done even to use the Greenland base in that limited capacity or to open a control room there.182  By that time the crisis in the North Atlantic had already passed, and the enemy was withdrawing from the northern waters.  
     
          By June 1943 convoys were passing safely through lanes where a few weeks previously they had undergone the severest punishment.  Admiral Doenitz had, in the face of increased Allied counterattacks and increased Allied activity in the Mediterranean, found it impossible to maintain his Newfoundland line.  For a few weeks he had given everything he had to an all-or-nothing showdown in the North Atlantic.  After the attack on ONS-5 he apparently decided to play for smaller and surer stakes.  In his defeat, the three AAFAC squadrons had labored hard and not without effect, despite the few contacts obtained.  There is no question that the increased long-range patrol that they were able to provide did much to reduce enemy mobility and to weaken enemy morale.  
     
 
Antisubmarine Tactics and Attack Narratives
 
     
          It was a strange type of warfare that the antisubmarine crews undertook, unlike any other in which the AAF had engaged.  Hours of monotonous search were necessary.  In areas of low U-boat density, some crews never saw a submarine, yet they had to maintain constant  
     
     

 

     
     
 
156
 
     
  vigilance.  Even in areas where the hunting was good, a crew might fly hundreds of hours without a sighting, then, in a matter of seconds, be required to go into action.  For this kind of work crews had to be carefully trained to insure that no fumbling would mar an attack when the big moment finally came.  Moreover, flying a thousand miles or more over open water requires expert navigation.  Radio communication must be reliable and the crew must be able to identify surface craft and aircraft with the utmost accuracy.  
     
          It is the attack itself that distinguishes antisubmarine flying most sharply from all other types.  To be effective the depth bombs had to be laid within 20 feet of the submarine's pressure hull, and the aircraft was forced to drop close to the water, often to a scant 50 feet above the waves, in order to place them accurately.  Each battle became a dual between the U-boat and the attacking plane, for the antisubmarine aircraft normally travelled alone.  It might only last a few minutes, and during that time the crew had to function as a well-coached team, with all mechanical equipment in perfect condition.  
     
          It was hazardous work, too.   Many crews had to face antiaircraft fire at close range or attack enemy aircraft, often in considerable numbers, sent in to cover U-boat concentrations.  Should the plane crash at sea, the crew knew it had few chances of surviving.  The greatest danger to the aircraft came about during low-level attacks which made safety precautions generally useless; and under the best of conditions the plane would sink in a few seconds.  Even if the crew survived a landing at sea it faced a disheartening prospect, for  
     
     

 

     
     
 
157
 
     
  it would usually be hundreds of miles from land, dependent mainly on luck and the sometimes doubtful aid of its emergency equipment.  
     
          Experience had evolved certain basis principles for the conduct of antisubmarine operations by long-range aircraft.183  Patrol missions were planned in such a way that a given stretch of ocean would be covered in a more or less comprehensive pattern of flight, the crew depending when possible on its radar equipment to supplement the visual observation of its members.  In this way a single plane could detect the presence of an enemy craft in a strip of water many miles wide.  A radar-equipped plane might be expected to patrol effectively a 25-mile channel.184  Sweeps of this sort were normally routed toward areas in which U-boat concentrations were suspected, or in which individual raiders had been reported.185  Frequently the antisubmarine planes would be required to fly search sweeps in the neighborhood of convoys, the theory in this case being to prevent the enemy from closing in on its prey of even following it.  Of course, if a submarine could be located and attacked, so much the better, but simply by forcing the enemy to dive and remain submerged for long periods, during which this speed would be greatly decreased, the patrolling aircraft could prevent a "wolf pack" from delivering a rapid and coordinated attack.186  
     
          The big trick in this business of submarine hunting was to catch the submarine on the surface, or at least partially visible, and to deliver the attack before it had time to crash-dive.  Analysis of attacks on submarines demonstrated that in approximately 35 per cent the submarines were still partly visible at the instant when the depth  
     
     

 

 

     
     
 
158
 
     
  bombs were released, and that in about 30 percent of cases the enemy had disappeared less than 15 seconds.  Attacks made after 15 seconds had small hope of success.  Analysis further indicated that, in about two out of three instances, the submarine sighted the aircraft first.  
     
          It thus became an essential point of tactics to surprise the U-boat crew.  Every possible use had to be made of camouflage and natural cover.  Clouds, when available, provided by far the best cover; and by flying in and out of their bases, even by flying above formations of less that 5/10, the pilot was able to enjoy considerable concealment without materially reducing his chances of sighting submarines.  Attacks from down sun, up moon path, and up to a dawn or dusk horizon proved effective.  Camouflage of the plane itself also helped.  Some were painted either Mediterranean blue or gray or olive drab on their upper half and off-white on their lower, with good effect.187  
     
          Even with the best cover and camouflage, the attack had to follow the sighting with the greatest possible speed.  If the U-boat elected to dive, as it normally did, it could be out of sight in 30 seconds.  If a maximum time of 45 seconds were allowed for the dive, and 15 more during which the submarine would be within range of depth bombs, the attack would have to be completed in 1 minute.188  
     
          It was not always possible, therefore, to approach the U-boat at the best possible angle.  If practicable, the pilot would cross his target at a small angle (15 to 45 degrees was considered best).189  In this way, without complicating his aim, he could considerably increase the probability that at least one depth bomb would do lethal  
     
     

 

     
     
 
159
 
     
  damage.  Normally a plane carrying only six depth bombs would drop them all on the first attack.  If more were carried the second stick would be reserved for a subsequent attack.  The bombs were spaced in such a way that a normal height of 100 feet, the 385-pound charges would fall in a pattern of 50-foot intervals and those of 550 pounds at 70-foot intervals, thus making it possible for two of them to straddle the submarine and either tear its pressure hull seriously or even break it in two.  Care had always to be exercised to attain the 100-foot level long enough before the attack to make the final approach in level flight.  Nor was it wise to execute a run at too great speed, which simply increased the likelihood of error.  
     
          During the attack the aircraft generally had to be prepared to bring machine-gun fire to bear on the U-boat, especially if the enemy crew showed signs of fighting back.  Even under ordinary circumstances, it was considered advisable to fire along the hull of the submarine in the hope that penetration of its thin armour might do embarrassing damage to the fuel tanks or high-pressure air tanks.  
     
          If, as was usually the case, the aircraft crew could not be certain of the effect of their attack, or if they had not been able to make an attack at all, they were instructed to remain as long as possible in the area of the contact, or until relieved by other aircraft or by surface vessels summoned to the scene by radio.  As long as a submarine is forced to remain submerged, the area to be searched is restricted to a minimum.  In this way a concentration of forces in a cooperative killer hunt had a very good chance, if followed up  
     
     

 

     
     
 
160
 
     
  persistently, of finally destroying the submarine.  Sometimes, if the aircraft still had bombs, or had failed to release then at the initial contact, the pilot would drop a marker at the point where the submarine had disappeared, and resort to baiting tactics.  After withdrawing some 30 miles, and staying away for 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on his gas supply, he would return to the contact area on the chance that the enemy had surfaced again.  
     
          It was often difficult to determine the amount of damage inflicted, even by a well-executed attack, on an enemy submarine.  Depth bombs themselves gave off a dirty oil residue which might easily be mistaken for the oily evidence of damage.  Air bubbles appearing immediately after the depth bombs had detonated might only signify that the submarine was blowing or venting some tanks to adjust a temporary upset.  Oil rising at this point might indicate damage to the external fuel tanks.  If small air bubbles rose in a continuous stream, it was likely that the external connections to high-pressure air were damaged.  This was annoying but not serious to the submarine.  The U-boat might break surface momentarily after an attack and take up strange angles, stern or bow up.  Yet even these signs might only mean a temporary loss of trim or control, rather than any serious damage.  Large air bubbles that caused a disturbance on the surface and lasted for some time could be considered as evidence of trouble, and if accompanied by oil it meant that the enemy was in a desperate condition.  In cases of this sort, if the submarine failed to reappear soon on the surface it would be considered sunk.  Probably the only certain evidences of a  
     
     

 

     
     
 
161
 
     
  "kill" were the appearance of survivors, or of bodies, or of a large amount of debris.  
     
          Most of the principles, outlined above, are exemplified, together with a number of unusual instances, in the following accounts of some of the more interesting attacks made by aircraft of the AAF Antisubmarine Command, which appeared in the monthly intelligence summary, published by that organization.  
     
          On 31 December 1943 the 1st Antisubmarine Squadron made its first important attack in the Bay of Biscay.  It was a well-executed attack, making good use of the newly acquired radar equipment under adverse sea conditions.  The attack was carried out at 1349 (GCT) by a B-24D, piloted by Capt. W. E. Thorne, while on patrol in 51°20' N., 20°58' W.  An A.S.V. contact was first made while the airplane was 5 miles distant at an altitude of 1,000 feet.  The pilot homed on the signal, on a course of 300°, gradually reducing altitude, and sighted the submarine about 4 miles away traveling on the surface at a speed of approximately 8 knots, course 330° T.  No wake was visible because of the heavy seas.  The submarine began its crash dive as Pilot Thorne started his run.  Attacking from 4 points abaft the starboard beam of the submarine, at a speed of 200 m. p. h. from 179-foot altitude, 9 Torpex MK XI depth bombs were dropped with a fuze setting of 25 feet and at a spacing of 16 feet.  The stick straddled the hull just behind the conning tower.  Three depth bombs fell to starboard, two over the hull, and the remainder to the port side, approximately  
     
     

 

     
     
 
162
 
     
  eighty-five .50-caliber rounds were fired at the disappearing hull and conning tower by the port ventral and tail gunners.  The three depth bombs that fell to the starboard should have moved in and exploded directly under the stern of the U-boat, and the plume of the depth bombs contained a black streak believed to have been oil.  As the point of the attack was circled, an oil patch estimated to be 200 feet in diameter was observed, in the center of which numerous small bubbles were noticeable.  A flame float was dropped, and the plane left the area on bating procedure, returning 50 minutes later without seeing any further evidence of damage.190  
     
          Tidewater Tillie was the B-24 in which 1st Lt. W. L. Sanford and his crew of the 2nd Antisubmarine Squadron executed two attacks on enemy submarines which resulted in one probably sunk and one known sunk.  
     
          The first attack took place on 10 February about 800 miles west of St. Nazaire while the squadron was operating out of Great Britain.  While patrolling at 300 feet at the base of a solid overcast, the left waist gunner sighted a U-boat on the surface 10 degrees off the port bow and about 4 miles away.  A radar contact had been obtained in the same position a few seconds before, but owing to sea conditions, it had not been verified until the visual sighting was made.  
     
          When first observed, the conning tower was clearly seen, but, as the aircraft approached, it disappeared and about 40 feet of the stern was seen projecting out of the water at an angle of 20 degrees.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
163
 
     
  As the aircraft attacked, no churning was visible from the screws of the apparently motionless U-boat.  Six MK XI Torpex depth bombs, spaced for 19 feet, were released from 200 feet at 200 m. p. h.  The entire stick overshot: the first depth bomb was observed to explode about 30 feet to starboard of the submarine as the tail gunner fired 75 rounds at the exposed part of the hull.  
     
          As the pilot circled to port the U-boat settled back on an even keel with the conning tower visible and both decks awash.  A second attack on the still motionless submarine was made with three more depth bombs.  The tail gunner fired another 75 rounds and saw the first depth bomb explode on the port side, while a second exploded to starboard.  The U-boat appeared to lift slightly, lurching with the force of the explosion, and then remained motionless on the surface.  
     
          While Lieutenant Sanford circled to make a third run, the sea was seen to be churned just astern of the U-boat, and the conning tower settled beneath the surface, without way, 16 seconds before the last three depth bombs were released.  The detonations occurred about 200 feet ahead of the patch of disturbed water, but no plume resulted.  Instead a cone-shaped bubble appeared, followed by a large circular slick of brown fluid which was described by the crew as definitely not depth-bomb residue.  Nothing further was seen, and 30 minutes later the B-24 set course for base.  
     
          When first sighted, the U-boat apparently was attempting to dive at too steep an angle without sufficient way.  This gave the pilot  
     
     

 

     
     
 
164
 
     
  an opportunity to maneuver for two additional attacks which resulted, according to official assessment, in "probably sunk."  
     
          On 22 March, while operating out of a North African base, Lieutenant Sanford, again in Tidewater Tillie, made another attack in the vicinity of the Canary Islands which resulted in the complete destruction of a U-boat.  
     
          The B-24, camouflaged Mediterranean blue on its upper surfaces and cloud white underneath, was patrolling at 1,200 feet, in and out of the cloud cover, when the co-pilot sighted a broad wake about 5 miles on the starboard beam.  The pilot continued on his course into the next cloud, then made a 90-degree turn, immediately losing altitude.  As the plane emerged from the cloud, the wake, still about 5 miles distant, was observed to be caused by a U-boat proceeding fully surfaced on course 180°.  Lieutenant Sanford decided to continue his run straight ahead and attack from the beam with the sun behind him rather than maneuver for a quartering or following attack.  With the aircraft at 200 feet and making about 200 m. p. h., the bombardier released four MK XXIX depth bombs spaced at 60 feet, allowing about 1,000-foot range on the water.  
     
          The explosions enveloped the after portion of the U-boat which continued on its course for 11 seconds, then began to settle by the stern.  The entire bow section from the conning tower forward was projecting out of the water and in about 1 minute slipped beneath the surface.  Several survivors were observed clinging to debris which was strewn about the area, and a large oil slick developed.  Half an  
     
     

 

 

     
     
 
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  hour later, as the plane was about to depart, a mass of brown, paint-like substance came up in the middle of the slick.  This may have been rusty bilge oil discharged when the U-boat began to break up on the bottom.  
     
          The submarine was described as painted white with no markings.  It had a streamlined conning tower and a very sharp bow.  Three men were observed in the conning tower as the plane passed over.  One of them tried to man the antiaircraft gun.  
     
          The attack was evidently a complete surprise and was achieved by a combination of effective camouflage, clever use of cloud cover, attacking out of the sun, and accurate bombing.191  
     
          On 20 February 1943 a B-24 of the 1st Antisubmarine Squadron piloted by Lt. W. S. Johnson, was on patrol over the Bay of Biscay in the area 49°30'N 21° W., some 600 miles from base.  It was flying at 1,800 feet through broken clouds that extended down to about 700 feet when the navigator in the nose sighted the broad wake of a fully surfaced U-boat about 3 miles away.  The pilot immediately dived to attack, entering the clouds and emerging when about 1 mile distant from the U-boat.  
     
          Apparently the aircraft had not been spotted since the U-boat was still on the surface.  The B-24 went in with its bow gun raking the conning tower.  Six depth bombs spaced for 35 feet were dropped from 200 feet and were seen to straddle the hull just aft of the bow.  The force of the explosions lifted the bow, and, as the plume fell away, another explosion was seen on the port side in the vicinity of  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  the conning tower.  This explosion caused no plume but a boiling hump appeared on the water.  Fifteen seconds later the conning tower disappeared without any noticeable headway, and a bluish-grey oil slick about 400 feet long formed on the water.  Some small bubbles were seen rising in the center of the slick, and the navigator reported seeing a greenish patch, possibly air, rising to the surface.  
     
          Baiting tactics were employed but nothing further was seen.  Ninety minutes after the attack the aircraft left the area and returned to base.  This attack probably resulted in severe damage.192  
     
          Early in March 1943 there took place in the Caribbean a good example of a killer hunt in a convoy area.  Early on the evening of 2 March, while returning from a convoy escort mission in the Trinidad area, a B-18B of the 9th Antisubmarine Squadron picked up a good instrument contact at 17 miles.  Haze an darkness restricted visibility to less than 1 mile, so the pilot had to home on the target, increasing speed and losing altitude at the same time.  From three-quarters of a mile a wake was sighted and as the plane passed over at 400 feet it was identified as a fully surfaced submarine on course 330°, speed 12 knots.  While the target remained on the radar screen the pilot immediately turned and lost more altitude.  The attack was made 90° to the course of the submarine which was still visible when the bombs were released.  Two Mark XXIX and two Mark XVII depth bombs were released from 100 feet and were seen to enter the water about 50 feet ahead of the swirl.  Apparently the U-boat had just submerged as the bombs hit.  All charges were observed to explode directly in the track of the submarine, but because of darkness no evidence of damage could be seen.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
167
 
     
          Edinburgh Field dispatched another B-18B as soon as the message from the attacking plane was received.  About 2 hours later this plane obtained an initial radar indication about 8 miles distant at 45° to starboard in a position 12 miles northwest of the scene of the first attack.  The pilot approached the target and, when 1 mile away, altitude 200 feet, he turned on his landing lights.  The submarine immediately opened fire with two guns, one firing slightly higher than the other.  Tracer bullets were plainly seen as the pilot banked steeply to the right, turned off the landing lights and drew out of range.  The B-18B returned and positively identified it was an enemy submarine on course 300° making about 15 knots.  The U-boat crash-dived immediately, making it impossible for the plane to make a second run.  
     
          A square search of the area was begun an hour later a radar contact was made at 11 miles, bearing 60° to port.  The plane homed on the target, dropping to 200 feet, and made three passes over the fully surfaced submarine in an attempt to line up on the target.  On the fourth pass, the submarine was still proceeding on the surface at 15 knots, course 75°.  Two Mark XXIX and two Mark XVII, spaced for 20 feet, were seen to enter the water, straddling the submarine between the conning tower and stern.  At least three explosions were observed; the other bomb may have hit the U-boat, or hit so close to it that the explosion was not seen.  Following the attack the area was searched for 30 minutes for evidence of damage but nothing could be seen due to darkness.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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          These two attacks, delivered under difficult circumstances, probably saved the convoy from an attack and caused possible damage to the enemy submarine.  When the submarine was sighted again at 2110 by the B-18B which relieved the original plane, its course of 300° and speed 15 knots indicated that the submarine was persisting in its original intent.  The fact that it opened fire on the plane and failed to submerge while the plane made four passes is not positive indication that the first attack resulted in damage sufficient to prohibit the prompt execution of a crash dive.  However, it appears very probable that the net result of the two attacks was sufficient damage to hinder the enemy greatly in his efforts to evade the exhaustive search by airplanes and surface craft which ensued.  
     
          Six days later a Navy PBY was hunting 500 miles east of these attacks for a possible crippled U-boat limping its way back home.  From 4,500 feet, a fully surfaced submarine was sighed about 8 miles distant on a course of 93° and making 8 knots.  Making good use of cloud cover, the aircraft maneuvered to attack out of the sun.  Diving to 75 feet, four Mark XVII depth bombs were dropped in salvo, landing alongside the hull about 10 to 15 feet away.  As the bombs exploded the submarine appeared to rise out of the water, then split in two at the center.  Debris, smoke, and water were thrown 50 feet in the air.  At least 11 survivors were seen in the water.193  
     
          Celebrating the arrival of the 6th Antisubmarine Squadron in Newfoundland, Lt. E. J. Dudeck in a B-24D made an excellent attack on 19 April 1943.  The B-24D, camouflaged white, was flying on a course  
     
     

 

     
     
 
169
 
     
  of 147° M. through weather conditions that were fair for submarine hunting, with the sun obscured by low stratus clouds at 1,000 feet and with visibility varying up to 2 miles.  At 1448Z, while Lieutenant Dudeck was taking full advantage of cloud cover, a submarine was sighted at 355° about half a mile distant, proceeding on a course of 10° M., at about 2 knots.  
     
          At the moment of sighting the U-boat, the airplane crew was engaged in transferring fuel, and fast action was necessary since the enemy apparently had already spotted the plane and started to dive.  The pilot immediately pushed the plane into a dive for the attack while the crew scrambled to their stations.  The conning tower disappeared 10 seconds after the original sighting, but six Mark XVII depth bombs, spaced at 35 feet with 25-foot depth settings, were released 5 seconds later, while 10 to 15 feet of the diving U-boat's stern were still visible.  The U-boat appeared to be a dirty grey color, about 200 feet long, with a 3-inch gun mounted forward of the conning tower.  
     
          The pilot led the visible stern of the U-boat by about 150 feet and while the first depth bomb was about 35 feet short and the fourth, fifth and sixth were over, the second and third appeared to straddle each side of the U-boat slightly ahead of the conning tower.  A large yellowish green oil slick was observed immediately after the attack and air bubbles about 1 foot in diameter appeared 50 feet ahead of the last observed position of the stern.  The plane remained in the vicinity for 1 hour and 45 minutes and a B-17 later searched the area for 3 hours.  No further evidence of damage appeared.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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          The attack, executed accurately in a minimum of time, appears to have been carried out in a superior manner.  While evidence of a definite kill was lacking, the probabilities favored at least severe damage to the U-boat.194  
     
          On 3 May 1943, Capt. H. J. Larson and his crew in a B-17 of the 19th Antisubmarine Squadron had a field day off the coast of Newfoundland.  They appear to have happened upon one of those U-boat packs by means of which the Germans were currently attempting to close the North Atlantic convoy route.  A period of poor weather had restricted flying for several days previous, and even on this day haze, light rain, and fog prevented all the scheduled missions from taking off.  Another result of the protracted low-pressure area which hung offshore was to draw in the U-boat pack which usually patrolled from 500 to 600 miles off Newfoundland to within 300 miles.  A convoy, ONS-5, was in the vicinity of Greenland at this time and proceeding on a southerly course for Halifax.  Apparently the submarines were working into position to intercept it.  Captain Larson was dispatched to sweep an area about 300 miles ahead of the convoy.  
     
          In the course of the afternoon three U-boats were sighted and attacked by this plane.  The first contact was obtained at 1945Z when an enemy craft was seen 3 miles away proceeding with decks awash.  The submarine appeared to be of the 740-ton type with deck guns fore and aft and a streamlined conning tower 12 to 15 feet long.  It was painted solid black.  The aircraft attacked on a course of approximately 45 degrees to the U-boat, dropping four Mark XVII depth bombs  
     
     

 

     
     
 
171
 
     
  from 50 feet spaced at 30 feet.  The top of the conning tower was still visible at the time of release.  All the bombs were seen to detonate.  With respect to the conning tower the first explosion was estimated about 40 feet short, the second 10 to 20 feet short, the third a direct hit, and the fourth about 10 feet over.  As the bombs exploded, the conning tower appeared to lift about 3 feet and then settled under.  Tracers from the nose and top turret were seen to hit in the conning tower area.  After the attack, a heavy black slick 500 feet in diameter was seen.  
     
          Two hours later a conning tower was sighted 2 miles away, in a position about 70 miles from the first contact.  This U-boat, which was also painted black, appeared to be of the 500-ton type with a small conning tower and a deck gun forward.  The aircraft attacked on a course of 180 degrees to the U-boat with .50-caliber machine guns only, since all depth bombs had been expended in the first attack.  As the B-17 circled, the U-boat was seen to submerge in a normal dive.  
     
          A half hour later another submarine was sighted in the same area.  It was not moving and the deck was dry as if it had been surfaced for some time.  A high, rust-colored conning tower and one deck gun forward was observed.  As the aircraft went in to attack, six men were seen on deck; one, at the gun, may have fired upon the plane.  At least two men were left in the conning tower when the U-boat crash-dived.  One appeared to be hit by the fire from the .50- and 30-caliber machine guns.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
173
 
     
          In all three attacks the aircraft was patrolling at about 200 feet.  Visibility varied between 2 and 6 miles.  All contacts were first picked up on special equipment which was used continuously, and without which the crew believed the sightings could not have been made.  It is to be regretted that the limited bomb load of the B-17 prevented more serious damage to the enemy.195  
     
          On 19 June 1943 a B-24D of the 2nd Antisubmarine Squadron piloted by Capt. William Sanford, took off from Port Lyautey on convoy escort duty in the early morning hours.  At 0622, with visibility 10 miles (still restricted by darkness), at an altitude of 1,200 feet, the radar operator reported two indications at 20 to 22 miles, in a position about 11 miles behind the convoy.  Captain Sanford lost altitude as he neared the area and opened the bomb bay doors, but the contact was lost.  Turning to starboard, he climbed again to 1,500 feet, and soon another indication was picked up 80° to starboard at 7 miles.  
     
          As the plane started its run, it let down to 400 feet, and from a distance of 1 mile sighted a 517-ton German U-boat with decks awash making a speed of 12 to 15 knots on a course of 90°.  The submarine immediately opened fire on the plane with cannon and machine guns, to which the plane's navigator replied with 25 rounds from the nose gun, scoring hits on the deck and conning tower.  The U-boat's fire ceased when the B-24 came within 100 yards, but the navigator fired another burst for good measure.  
     
          The U-boat was still on the surface making no attempt to crash-dive, when the bombardier released six Mark 47 350-pound depth bombs.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
173
 
     
  with a 60-foot spacing and a 25-foot setting.  The plane, which was flying at 200 m. p. h. at 100 feet, attacked from the starboard beam at an angle of 100° to the course of the submarine.  The tail and left waist gunners reported the explosions were seen 10 to 20 feet ahead of the U-boat's stern with numbers 3 and 4 straddling the hull.  The force of the explosions lifted 5 feet of the submarine's stern out of the water at a 30° to 40° angle.  As the plane passed over, the U-boat's guns fired again, but less heavily this time; and a few seconds later the submarine slid under the surface, bow first.  The German gun crew was evidently left in the water, for they were still firing when the U-boat submerged.  The screws were apparently damaged or destroyed in the attack, for there was no sigh of churning when the stern sank.  A large piece of debris was left on the surface.  
     
          Having dropped a flame float and circled to port, the plane made a second attack up the U-boat's track 40 seconds later.  This time the remaining two depth bombs were released, guiding on the flame float, and the debris left from the first attack was scattered by the explosion.  An oil slick 300 to 400 feet long and 30 feet wide was seen, but darkness obscured the scene, making observation of further results impossible.  The B-24 reported to the convoy and after resurveying the area resumed its patrol.  
     
          This attack was assessed as resulting in "probably slight damage."  It was one of the few successful night attacks made by the Antisubmarine Command.196  
     
          On 7 July a B-24D airplane of the 1st Antisubmarine Squadron, piloted by Lt. T. A. Isley, was out hunting about 250 miles southwest  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  of Lisbon with ceiling and visibility unlimited and scattered clouds at 1,500 feet.  The aircraft was flying at 170 m. p. h. in and out of the base of the clouds, when a radar contact was obtained at a distance of 15 miles.  Lieutenant Isley immediately altered course and a fully surfaced U-boat was sighted at 8 miles distance, making 8 to 9 knots on a course of 20° true.  As the aircraft let down still about 4 miles away, the U-boat was observed crash-diving.  It was obvious that an attack could not be made while the U-boat was still on the surface, with the result that careful judgment was required if the attack was to be a success.  
     
          Lieutenant Isley estimated that fully 10 seconds had elapsed since the conning tower disappeared before six Mark 47 depth bombs were released by intervalometer.  The bombs were spaced at 60 feet, fuzed at 25 feet, and released from 200 feet.  The explosions straddled the advance track of the U-boat approximately 200 feet ahead of the swirl at a target angle of 060°.  This angle of attack afforded a broad coverage of the submerged course of the U-boat and soon indications of results appeared.  About 40 seconds after the explosions, a large, black oil bubble rose to the surface, continued to erupt oil for 5 minutes, and spread over an extensive area 600 to 700 feet in diameter.  Lieutenant Isley remained in the area for 40 minutes after the attack but observed no further evidence of damage.  COMINCH considered this submarine to be severely damaged.197  
     
          On the same day and in the same general area, another aircraft of the 1st Antisubmarine Squadron, while patrolling at 3,000 feet obtained a radar contact at 7 miles.  Almost simultaneously, Lt. W. S.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
175
 
     
  McDonnell, the pilot, sighted a fully surfaced 517-ton U-boat proceeding northwesterly at about 8 knots.  He immediately altered his course to starboard and let down to make the attack.  
     
          As he approached, the U-boat swung off to starboard and opened fire from the conning tower with its 20-millimeter gun.  The pilot pressed the attack despite the AA fire, and as the aircraft passed over the U-boat from the port side at a target angle of approximately 270°, 7 Mark 47 depth-bombs, spaced at 60 feet, were released by the bombardier.  Both the navigator and the top turret gunner returned the fire of the U-boat, strafing the conning tower and the deck.  The explosions of the bombs straddled the target, which was seen to break in two abaft the conning tower.  Members of the air crew then observed the after section of the U-boat rise 10 or 12 feet into the air, roll to starboard, then settle and sink with no forward motion.  
     
          As the aircraft was attacking, a 20-millimeter shell from the U-boat struck the top center panel of the nose.  Several members of the crew were seriously injured by the burst, including the navigator, bombardier, radio operator, and assistant radio operator.  In addition, the aircraft itself suffered minor damage,. as the shell knocked out the radio compass, the hydraulic system, and most of the engine instruments.  With the plane damaged and most of the crew injured, Lieutenant McDonnell headed for home.  
     
          Although Lieutenant McDonnell was not able to remain in the area to observe further results, photographic evidence indicated a perfect  
     
     

 

     
     
 
176
 
     
  straddle, and the testimony of the crew suggests that the U-boat was destroyed.198  
     
          The following day, 6 July, another attack was made by a plane of the 2nd Antisubmarine Squadron, about 150 miles north of the previous days action.  The aircraft, piloted by Lt. J. H. Darden, was flying at 3,000 feet through a broken overcast when radar contact was made on a U-boat off to starboard and 18 miles distant.  Approaching through the base of the clouds, Lieutenant Darden, planned the attack so that he would come down out of the sun in a steep dive.  The maneuver worked out according to plan.  Upon sighting the U-boat ahead 8 miles distant, proceeding at 12 knots in a southeasterly direction, the plane dove steeply, leveled off, and passed over the submarine at an altitude of 50 feet.  The target angle was 270° and four Mark 37 650-pound depth bombs were observed to straddle the U-boat between the bow and the conning tower.  The tail gunner observed the surfaced U-boat running directly into the center of the explosion.  
     
          This attack had not been delivered without opposition; once again, the U-boat commander elected to remain on the surface and defend himself with AA fire.  From 300 yards on in, the B-24D was under fire, suggesting that the use of the sun almost achieved a complete surprise attack, as the aircraft passed over, however, one burst struck the starboard side of the nose, but caused only minor damage.  Fire was returned during the attack by the top turret, nose, and tail guns.  Lieutenant Darden made a sharp climbing turn to port after delivering the first attack, and prepared for another run.  The  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  enemy craft was now circling, out of control, in a series of tight turns, gradually losing speed and trailing a long stream of brown oil.  A large cloud of dark smoke poured from a point directly abaft the conning tower, and, in addition, the stern was submerged completely with the bow rising higher out of the water.  
     
          The aircraft returned for a second attack at a 50-foot altitude and a target angle of 90°.  On this occasion the U-boat's AA fire was more effective, scoring numerous hits on the wing, fuselage, and bomb bay, cutting the hydraulic and fuel lines and damaging the radio equipment and the command radio transmitter.  Unfortunately, the damage to the bomb bay doors now made it impossible to release the additional two depth bombs as the aircraft passed over on this run.  Machine-gun fire from the plane, however, continued to rake the U-boat, which now had slowed to two or three knots, continuing tight turns and gradually losing all forward motion.  Finally it disappeared, stern first, settling slowly with no churning or other surface indications.  There were still two depth bombs aboard, however, and the crew prepared for a third attack.  
     
          The bombardier,. Lt. C. J. Froccaro, succeeded in opening the doors of the bomb bay despite the damage, and two more Mark 37's were dropped upon the settling U-boat which was silhouetted beneath the surface.  The explosions of these bombs straddled the conning tower and were accompanied by a third blast of greater intensity.  This third plume appeared to be higher than normal, thick and dark in color.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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          This series of attacks had consumed approximately 20 minutes.  It was skillfully executed, beginning with the use of the sun and cloud cover, and ending with a successful release of the remaining two depth bombs.  Heavy and accurate enemy AA fire did not deter the pilot from completing very accurate runs over the target, and the bombardier released the bombs in both instances with superior skill.  The results of the attack were visible on the surface, for heavy oil spread over the entire area.  Owing to the damage sustained, and to minor injuries suffered by one crew member, the pilot was unable to remain in the vicinity to observe further indications of success.199  
     
          On the 9th of July a B-24 of the 2nd Squadron attacked and probably destroyed a submarine.  The plane was flying at 3,200 feet, taking advantage of 3/10 cloud cover when Lieutenant Gerhart, the bombardier, sighted a U-boat apparently just surfacing about 4 miles dead ahead.  It was the 517-ton type, camouflaged slate gray.  
     
          Lt. T. E. Kuenning, the pilot, immediately put the aircraft into a dive, leveling off at 50 feet.  Six Mark XI 250-pound Torpex-filled depth bombs were released, straddling the bow with one short and five over.  The explosions occurred just aft of the conning tower.  No enemy fire was encountered.  No one was seen on deck, confirming the supposition that the submarine may have been surprised just as it surfaced.  
     
          The pilot circled immediately and, as the spray subsided, came in again for a second attack on the still surfaced U-boat.  This attack was almost head-on, and two more Mark XI were released.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  exploding aft of the conning tower on the port side as the enemy craft appeared to be attempting a crash dive.  As the plane climbed away to port, six crew members saw the bow rise 15 feet out of the water at an angle of 45°; then the hull slid backwards, sinking stern first.  The entire action was over in 2 minutes.200  
     
          A very unusual attack in which radar played a very important role occurred on the 12th of July about 200 miles northwest of Lisbon.  Lt. E. Saln, the pilot, was flying at 5,600 feet over a solid overcast, using radar continuously, when a contact was obtained about 13 miles dead astern.  The pilot turned and descended through the overcast on instruments at 240 m. p. h., constantly receiving headings from the radar operator.  
     
          The B-24D finally broke through at 200 feet, and a surfaced U-boat was sighted on the starboard bow 1 mile away.  Immediately the navigator and top turret gunner opened fire and tracers were seen to rake the entire conning tower area.  No enemy personnel was seen, but lookouts must have been present.  Seven Mark XI 250-pound Torpex-filled depth bombs were released while the aircraft was still in a slight dive.  Because of the angle at the time of release, the spacing of the bombs was somewhat shortened, but in this case the shorter spacing probably resulted in maximum effectiveness, owing to the accuracy with which the bombs were released.  
     
          The crew saw the explosions straddle the submarine, and, as the pilot made a vertical turn at 100 feet, the U-boat broke in two and  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  sank.  The entire area was covered with oil, and large bubbles appeared for several minutes.  While Lieutenant Salm continued to circle, low and very tightly because of the limited ceiling and restricted visibility, 15 survivors were counted in the water.  The air crew dropped a dinghy and smoke flares.  As the plane departed seven survivors were still seen in the water.201  
     
          This remarkable attack demonstrated what skillful use of radar equipment, coupled with the alertness and audacity of the pilot and crew, could do, even in the face of adverse weather conditions.  
     
          On 28 July an excellent example of a cooperative attack took place.  On that date, Lt. A. J. Hammer of the 4th Squadron had set a course to return to base from the vicinity north of Cape Finisterre.  Flying at 4,000 feet and in light clouds on a course of 30°, the B-24D was approximately 150 miles north of the Cape when a fully surfaced U-boat was sighted 5 miles off to starboard.  The U-boat, which appeared to be of the 740-ton type and well camouflaged, was proceeding at 10 knots on a course of 250°.  
     
          Lieutenant Hammer immediately altered his course to prepare to attack out of the sun which was now down in the west.  The U-boat had altered its course 90° to starboard shortly after it was sighted, and now was on a northwesterly course, continually zigzagging.  As the aircraft closed in to attack, the U-boat opened fire at a range of 2-1/2 miles with two guns abaft the conning tower, but, despite the intense flak, no hits were scored upon the Liberator on this run.  At 1,000 yards, the two top turret guns and nose gun opened accurate  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  fire on the U-boat, registering hits all along the deck, knocking two men overboard, and temporarily silencing all AA fire.  
     
          From an altitude of 100 feet the bombardier released 8 Mark XI Torpex depth bombs, spaced at 60 feet, of which 5 fell short and 3 just beyond the conning tower, thus securing an accurate straddle at a target angle of approximately 270°.  The pilot circled to port to prepare for a second attack, and this time the bombardier released 4 Mark XI bombs spaced at 100 feet from an altitude of 50 feet and at a target angle of 90°.  The U-boat was still on the surface and all 4 of the depth bombs fell short, the last one falling only 5 feet from the hull.  Unfortunately, during this second run, the turret guns jammed and the nose gun had exhausted its ammunition, which left no defense against the renewed AA fire of the U-boat.  The No. 1 engine of the Liberator was completely knocked out, and additional damage was suffered in the tail assembly as a result of the intense AA fire.  
     
          At this point a second Liberator appeared on the scene, attracted by the depth-bomb plumes of the original attack, and before the U-boat could submerge, the new arrival, a Coastal Command B-24, commanded by Flight Officer Sweeney, was able to deliver a third attack.  Seven more Torpex depth bombs straddled the U-boat, with the third one falling alongside the conning tower.  Before the plumes had entirely subsided, the enemy craft had disappeared, but immediately surfaced on an even keel, then submerged once more with bow projecting high out of the water.  Once again an attack was delivered by the second  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  aircraft, and the U-boat disappeared.  Two extensive oil patches spread over the sea, large air bubbles rose to the surface, and 10 men in life jackets were observed swimming amid the debris and oil.  During the run in, the second Liberator had been hit in the No. 4 engine which was set afire, but fortunately both aircraft reached their bases safely.  Despite damage to Lieutenant Hammer's aircraft, his crew suffered no injuries.  This attack was assessed as a definite kill.202  
     
          A B-24D of the 4th Antisubmarine Squadron attacked and sank an enemy submarine on 2 August 1943.  The aircraft was patrolling at 2,500 feet on top of scattered clouds about 400 miles west of St. Nazaire when a radar contact was obtained indicating a target 20 miles distant and 50 to starboard.  Lt. J. L. Hamilton, the pilot, changed course and 5 minutes later the co-pilot, Lt. R. C. Schmidt, sighted a large wake about 30° to starboard and approximately 10 miles away.  As the aircraft let down from out of the sun, a surfaced U-boat was sighted, apparently homebound on a course of 30°.  
     
          When the B-24D was 1 mile away the submarine opened fire with light flak, scoring one hit on the left wheel, but most of the firing was very inaccurate.  The aircraft's top turret opened fire at 1,500 yards distance, the front guns began at 600 yards, and both registered hit all along the U-boat decks.  Antiaircraft shelling subsided as the plane made its final run at a target angle of 90°.  
     
          From an altitude of 50 feet the bombardier intended to drop 8 depth bombs, but actually a train of 12 Torpex Mark XI depth bombs  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  were released.  The tail gunner observed the charges straddling the U-boat.  The American A-1 bombsight was used but this plane's intervalometer, previously known to be unreliable, was not used on order of the squadron commander.  The 12 depth charges were released by toggle and the crew estimated their spacing at 50 feet.  As the plumes subsided, the tail gunner observed the entire U-boat lifted out of the water.  It quickly settled by the stern as the bow raised to an angle of 30°.  The submarine continued to sink stern first and disappeared 10 seconds after the depth bombs were dropped.  
     
          After the aircraft had circled to port, at least 15 men were seen in the water.  White and yellow pieces of wood and a large amount of oil were floating on the surface.  The B-24D dropped two marine markers, and 5 minutes later tossed out a rubber dinghy to the survivors.  Five men were seen to climb aboard the raft.203  
     
          This attack is an excellent example of radar and visual search, followed by a clever approach out of the sun.  This tactic probably contributed to the aircraft's relative safety in the face of antiaircraft fire.  
     
          It has been pointed out in other parts of this study that the AAF Antisubmarine Command units operating in the Eastern Atlantic frequently had to give as much attention to enemy aircraft as they did to enemy submarines.  no account of their activities would be complete without at least an example of the frequently violent action involved in these engagements.  Most of the aircraft encountered were  
     
     

 

     
     
 
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  medium JU-88's, which were being employed for the primary purpose of intercepting antisubmarine planes.  Later in the summer of 1943, the Germans also sent their heavy, four-engined FW-200's into the fight.  The primary mission of these bombers was antishipping strikes for which their long range (they often operated as far as 700 miles from their bases) made then ideally suited.  But their long range also allowed them to intercept the B-24's when the latter had flown far beyond the range (seldom over 300 miles) of the JU-88.204  These heavy bombers gave the AAFAC crews virtually their only action in August when submarines themselves had acknowledged their defeat and were staying carefully out of range of the B-24's.  
     
          It was with the FW-200's that probably the most dramatic of the many air engagements took place.  On the 17th of August a B-24D of the 1st Antisubmarine Squadron was on convoy coverage 300 miles west of Lisbon, when two Focke-Wulf 200's were sighted.  The B-24D was flying at 1,500 feet below an overcast when it received a radar contact, indicating a target at 12 to 15 miles, 30° left.  After turning towards the target, a second blip was obtained at 8 miles, 5° left.  The aircraft climbed to 2,300 feet and homed on the target.  At 4 miles, it descended through the overcast to 1,000 feet.  Finally, at a distance of 1 mile, two FW-200's were sighted,. just beginning a parallel bombing run on the convoy.  
     
          The nearest FW fired a sighting burst at the approaching B-24 and banked to the left.  Captain Maxwell, the pilot, followed on its tail and slightly above.  The other FW closed in from astern.  The three  
     
     

 

     
     
 
185
 
     
  planes were in line at this point and all opened fire.  The fire from the enemy aircraft appeared to be from 20-millimeter cannon.  The first German aircraft dived to 50 feet, with the B-24 and second FW following.  After 1 minute of combat, Nos. 3 and 4 engines of the B-24 were out.  Large holes were seen in the wing and fuselage and the right wing was ablaze.  Nevertheless, the B-24 continued to gain on the first FW, scoring many hits on the inner wing, fuselage, and port engines of the leading FW.  As the B-24 passed over this aircraft, it was seen to break into flames and crash into the sea.  
     
          Meantime, the tail gunner and right waist gunner had been returning the fire of the tailing Nazi aircraft, and now the top turret gunner turned around to join in that engagement.  The B-24, however, was almost out of control and the crew took up ditching stations immediately.  There was no time for ditching orders.  Owing to cut hydraulic lines, the bombardier was unable to release the depth bombs a minute before ditching.  
     
          The right wing of the B-24D hit the water first.  The plane skidded sideways with little shock, making about a 180° turn.  On the second impact, the aircraft broke in three pieces at the trailing edges of the wings and at the waist windows.  The nose section floated for 1-1/2 minutes, but the other two sections sank almost immediately.  The pilot and co-pilot escaped through the broken windshield, the navigator and radio operator through the escape hatch.  Two others of the crew escaped through a break in the top of the fuselage near the waist  
     
     

 

     
     
 
186
 
     
  windows, while the tail gunner went through the top of the tail turret which had partially broken off.  
     
          Two life rafts were then released and seven survivors, all of whom were slightly wounded with shrapnel, climbed aboard.  Three men were lost including the radar operator, who, it is believed, was pinned to his seat by the radar set.  
     
          Meanwhile, the second FW could still be seen by the crew mushing along at 50 feet with No. 3 engine out and tail heavy.  In 15 minutes, the crew members were picked up by one of the escort vessels from the convoy.  Survivors from the first Focke-Wulf were also rescued a short time later.  Seamen from two of the naval vessels said that they saw the second German bomber crash.  At the same time, a radar indication on the screen of the escort leader disappeared at about 8 miles, tending to confirm the destruction of the second German plane.  
     
          It is to be noted that in this and other encounters with FW-200's, 20-millimeter fire was experienced from both the front and rear of the "bathtub."  The B-24D, however, appeared to be approximately 20 miles per hour faster, even with a full bomb load, and more maneuverable than its adversary.205  
     
          Throughout the sharpest of the fighting, whether with enemy aircraft or in attacks on submarines, the B-24 proved to be by far the best land-based aircraft for the job, especially in it modified form (B-24D).  Indeed, the modified Liberator had no rival anywhere in the antisubmarine forces, except in the carrier-based planes developed by  
     
     

 

     
     
 
187
 
     
  the U. S. Navy and employed effectively during and after the summer of 1943.  
     
          It is a pity that the AAF Antisubmarine Command was unable to profit more fully from the technical research undertaken in the field of antisubmarine warfare.  No agency appreciated more keenly the potential value of improved devices and weapons; and it did all in its power to stimulate development along lines suggested by experience in that highly specialized kind of combat.  The story of its efforts in this direction will be told in Chapter IV.  At this point it will be enough simply to state certain general facts.  First, it must be remembered that the Command did profit to some extent from the research done prior to its activation and during the course of its career.  Most useful of all antisubmarine aids was radar, which, in the form of the SCR-517 type, did yeoman service during 1943 and accounted for many contacts that might not otherwise have been made.205  Improved, though by no means ideal, low-level bomb sights were in irregular use by the summer of 1943.  And by that time also the modified B-24D, with its greatly increased forward firing power, was ready for use.  Early in 1943, more dependable bombing was made possible by the adoption of the flat-nosed depth bomb.  The absolute altimeter was completed in time for it to be used effectively by this command, with the result that safer more accurate bombing runs could be made at low altitudes.  Most of the other projects, and their number was legion, were not completed in time to be of any use to the AAF Antisubmarine Command.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
188
 
     
  Great things were expected of the new detection devices, especially the magnetic airborne detector and the radio sonic buoy.  And in the field of lethal weapons, rocket projectiles and retro bombing devices promised greatly increased precision in antisubmarine attacks. But as far as the command was concerned, their value remained largely potential.  Indeed, the greatest tactical progress made by the command appears to have come about as a result simply of increased experience in the operation of those devices and techniques already in use when the command took over, or developed shortly thereafter.  
     
 
Summary and Results of AAF Antisubmarine Command Operations
 
     
          It is hard to find an adequate criterion for measuring the results of the Army Air Forces antisubmarine operations.  In addition to locating and destroying hostile submarines, the mission of the AAF Antisubmarine Command included "assisting the Navy in the protection of friendly shipping."207  In the 8-month period from January to August 1943, purely defensive escort missions totaled 43,264 hours.208  Even these figures do not fully reflect the extent of the effort in protecting friendly shipping, for most of the flying in the western Atlantic was of a purely defensive nature.  Of the total operational hours flown by the command, 86 per cent were accounted for by squadrons based on the western side of the ocean, yet this primarily defensive flying yielded only 29 per cent of the attacks.209  Although it is obviously impossible to estimate the number of ships that may have  
     
     

 

     
     
 
189
 
     
  been saved by this great defensive effort, the presumption is that it was large.  
     
          The following table will give some idea not only of the total activity of the AAF Antisubmarine Command, but that of the I Bomber Command as well:210  
     
 
Attacks on Submarines
 
     
 
 
Operational Combat Hours
Total Attacks
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
Not Assessed
I Bomber Command
59,248
81
1
6
7
12
25
9
1
9
11
 
Antisubmarine Command
Eastern Atlantic
12,215*
37
5**
4
1
3
5
8
9
0
0
0
2
 
Western Atlantic
75,879*
15
2
3
1
2
1
0
1
5
 
147,342
133
6
4
1
11
15
21
36
10
1
10
18
 
  *    Through September 1943.  
  **  Two of these kills were made with the help of RAF aircraft.  
     
 
A Sunk
6
B Probably sunk
4
C Probably severely damaged to the extent that sub failed to reach port
1
D Probably severely damaged
11
E Probably slightly damaged
15
 
Totals
37
 
     
 
Key to other assessments:  F--insufficient evidence of damage;  G--no damage;  H--insufficient evidence of presence of submarine;  I--non-submarine;  J--insufficient data for analysis or inconclusive.
 
     
          Thus a total of at least 37 enemy submarines suffered from attacks by aircraft of the command or its predecessor.  Of these, probably 11 failed to reach port at a cost to the enemy of some $55,000,000 to  
     
     

 

     
     
 
190
 
     
  $75,000,000 and the lives of more than 500 men.211  Eleven others were severely damaged and 15 slightly damaged.  The British had a rule of thumb that about 30 per cent of the "severely damaged" and 5 per cent of the "slightly damaged" usually fail to reach port.  If such a measure were applied to the above figures, it would indicate that a total of 15 U-boats were destroyed.  There is no way of telling how much inconvenience was caused by the attacks of lower assessment, but it would be reasonable to suppose that they failed in most instances to simplify the task of the U-boat commander.  
     
          In this connection the probable effect of aircraft attacks in the U-boat crews must be recognized.  No submarine crew likes to make emergency  crash dives since there is always the chance that some mistake will be made, some valve left open.  Furthermore, the crews know that crash dives use up valuable electricity and if repeated too often will leave the craft in a vulnerable position.  Frequent air patrols, insofar as they make frequent crash dives necessary, had a gradually corrosive effect on crew morale.  There is little doubt, too, that depth-bomb attacks, even though non-damaging to the U-boat, are likely to damage the morale of the crew.  And even slight damage is enough to spoil a long ocean trip in a craft as peculiar in its habits as the submarine.  It may be leaking, it may be unable to withstand the pressure of a deep dive, its steering apparatus may be damaged.  In any case, it is not safe.  
     
          The table presented above also reflects the great improvement in accuracy of aircraft attacks as the Army Air Forces gained experience  
     
     

 

     
     
 
191
 
     
  in this field that was foreign to its training and traditions.  Prisoner of war statements indicate that U-boat crews had little fear of attacks by aircraft at the beginning of the U. S. participation in the war, and the statistics seen to verify this evidence.  Out of 51 attacks made by the I Bomber Command prior to 15 October 1942 (eliminating all attacks in which there was doubt as to the presence of a U-boat, three which were inconclusive, or which were not assessed) only 1, or less than 2 per cent, resulted in the known or probable destruction of a submarine, and 13, or over 25 per cent, in damage.  In the 10 months following the formation of the AAF Antisubmarine Command, 43 attacks, computed on the same basis, resulted in the destruction, known or probable, of 10 U-boats, or over 23 per cent of those thus evaluated.  Fourteen others, or almost 33 per cent, suffered damage to some degree.  Thus close to 56 per cent of the validated attacks in this period were either lethal or damaging, as compared to 27 per cent during the period of the I Bomber Command operations.  
     
          The mission assigned to the AAF Antisubmarine Command did not mention combat with enemy aircraft, but there is truth in the cynical remark of a young pilot of the 480th Group at Port Lyautey in September 1943.  "We are," he said, "not hunting U-boats any more.  We are hunting Focke-Wulf 200's."212  The crews were instructed to remember their mission and avoid combat with enemy aircraft whenever possible.  But frequently such engagements were forced on the American flyers.  The consolidated figures for these unsought operations, which  
     
     

 

     
     
 
192
 
     
  follow, include encounters during the entire period, prior to 1 November 1943, during which these units were operational:213  
     
 
 
479th A/S Group
480th A/S Group
Total
Number of e/a encountered
165
55
220
Results to e/a
        Destroyed
3
8
11
        Probably destroyed
1
1
  2
        Damaged
4
6
10
        Probably damaged
8
0
  8
        Total destroyed or damaged
16(a)
15(b)
31
       
Results to our a/c      
        Destroyed
  3
  4
  7
        Damaged
  7
  6
13
        Total destroyed or damaged
10
10
20
 
  (a)  All JU-88's.  
  (b)  5 FW-200's, 2 DO-24's, 1 DO-26 destroyed, 1 JU-88 probably destroyed, 2 FW-200's damaged, 4 JU-88's damaged.  
     
          The AAF Antisubmarine Command made a distinct contribution to the antisubmarine effort.  It was a contribution that increased in scope as time went on.  And it is perfectly obvious that this contribution cannot be measured by the number of submarines sunk or damaged.  It is, however, well to observe that it was only a small part of the total contribution by all agencies involved in the antisubmarine war.  It must, for example, be placed in relation to the total of 136 submarines known sunk by all agencies during the 8 months from January to August 1943.214  It must also be remembered that many more submarines would probably have been sunk or damaged by AAF Antisubmarine Command aircraft had the command been allowed to deploy its forces in accordance with  
     
     

 

     
     
 
193
 
     
  its own aggressive policy.  Whether such an offensive could have been mounted without correspondingly weakening the defensive patrols in the western Atlantic remains an open question.  And it it true that only late in its career did the command receive enough VLR aircraft to make possible any extensive deployment overseas in that vital category.  It is probable, however, that throughout its existence, more units were retained in domestic areas than the U-boat situation warranted.  
     
          Undoubtedly, at the time of its dissolution, the AAF Antisubmarine Command was rapidly reaching the point where its VLR forces could profitably have been dispatched in large numbers whenever the enemy might make his appearance.  Its own planes tended stubbornly in that direction.  Almost on the eve of its removal from antisubmarine duty, the command had submitted plans for an extended deployment in Australian, Indian, Mediterranean, and Chinese areas.215  The following figures illustrate the rapid growth of the power at the command's disposal, expressed in terms of VLR aircraft.  Shortly after its activation, the Antisubmarine Command reported 209 operational planes at its disposal.  Only 20 of these were B-24's, assigned to the 2 squadrons in England.  Of the remainder, 12 were B-17E's, and 125 were medium bombers, B-18's, A-29's, and B-34's.  The rest were observation planes.  O-47's and O-52's.216  By 27 August 1943 the number of B-24's had risen to 187, the remainder of the 286 operational planes consisting of 12 B-17's, 7 B-34's, and 80 B-25's.  It was planned eventually to equip all squadrons with B-24's.217  It is further worth noting that, of the 286 planes reported in August, 148 were equipped  
     
     

 

     
     
 
194
 
     
  with radar.218  Thus, although the AAF Antisubmarine Command was responsible for only about 8 per cent of the total aircraft engaged in antisubmarine warfare in the Atlantic by August 1943, the strategical importance of the command's aircraft was relatively much greater than that percentage would indicate.  For of the VLR aircraft then in use, approximately 56 per cent were operated by the Army Air Forces, 31 per cent by the RAF, and only 13 per cent by the U. S. Navy, although the latter was rapidly acquiring a large force of B-24's.219  
     
          In a sense the real strength of the command, as it stood in August 1943, lay in its men and their experience.  A significant proportion of its personnel had 18 months of actual experience in hunting submarines.  The combat crews had mastered the complexities of long overwater navigation, of enemy ship identification, of radar operation, of air-sea rescue methods, and, most important of all, the technique of spotting and instantly attacking an inconspicuous, moving, and rapidly disappearing target.  They had become expert in a form of bombing vastly different from any other form of air attack.  
     
          The conclusion, then, is inescapable that, however its operational history may compare with other agencies, the AAF Antisubmarine Command was, at the time of its dissolution, potentially the most powerful force of very-long-range antisubmarine aviation in existence.  To many observers it seemed a pity that its great promise could not have been fulfilled.  
     
     

 


 

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