Chapter IV
          During the course of its operational history, the Antisubmarine Command faced certain problems of organization, training, and material development which were unique, at least insofar as AAF experience was concerned.  The command had been invested with a responsibility of a hybrid character, in relation to current military concepts.  The resulting problems had to be solved without reference to any body of experience except, perhaps, that being established by the British.  A great part of the energy and initiative of the command personnel had therefore to be expended on the solution of these problems.  To complicate matters still more, the solutions usually depended on action by higher echelons since they involved the relation of the command to other agencies; in which case the command itself could only point out to higher authority the urgency of the matter, and recommend appropriate action.  
          The whole problem of logistics, for example, was one which involved liaison with various other organizations and, owing to the peculiar nature of the Antisubmarine Command's mission, the establishment of certain new procedures.  Originally all, and to the end of its career most, of the AAFAC units were stationed in the continental United States, yet they were operating directly against the enemy.  Unlike most other domestic units, they therefore required full equipment immediately.  This meant securing a priority rating for supplies.  


  It was not until 13 January 1943 that a priority rating of A-2a was secured for all squadrons, thus placing them on the same level as a unit under warning orders for overseas duty.  In April 1943, it was raised to A-1b, which gave antisubmarine squadrons the same status regarding supply as that of an overseas unit.1  Beginning in May of the same year, squadrons were being put under warning orders for supplies in accordance with a definite schedule worked out between the Antisubmarine Command and the Assistant Chief of Air Staff.  Operations, Commitments, and Requirements.  Supplies were processed by the use of shortage lists just as if the units were going overseas.  This method proved reasonably successful, and by August 1943 the domestic squadrons were about 85 per cent equipped.2  
          The procurement and distribution of ammunition presented certain difficulties.  Since the Antisubmarine Command had neither bases nor base troops assigned to it, but operated from bases under the jurisdiction of other air forces and commands, it originally became entangled in a complicated system of supply involving coordination and liaison with First Air Force, Third Air Force, Air Service Command and Air Transport Command.  Under this system AAFAC ammunition requirements had to be submitted to these four separate agencies who would incorporate then with their own requirements, and eventually issue supplies the the AAFAC units.3  Some relief was gained by having requirements submitted directly to the Commanding General, AAF, who in turn issued Ammunition Supply Authorities (AMSA's) to the organizations having jurisdiction over the bases at which the AAFAC units were stationed.  


  AAF Regulations still authorized only personnel with base jurisdiction to control training ammunition.  In February, this regulation was changed, and the command was allowed to issue AMSA's and distribute them to its units as required.  Supply of combat ammunition was still not the responsibility of the AAFAC, but remained with the defense command, air force, or air command which had jurisdiction over the base.  In March authority was granted by the Army Air Forces to maintain certain stock levels of combat ammunition on each base, to be made immediately available to units of the command whenever needed.4  Overseas units were supplied by theatre commander except for training ammunition, requirements for which were submitted to the Antisubmarine Command which, in turn, would send the ammunition to the Eastern Defense Command port of embarkation for disposition.5  
          The Antisubmarine Command had, then, to fit itself gradually into a supply plan not originally designed to meet its needs.6  It involved a constant need for liaison between the AAFAC A-4 section and the service agencies, especially Air Service Command and Air Transport Command.  This was especially true before the assignment of a high priority to AAFAC projects, but it continued to be necessary throughout the history of the organization.  To facilitate liaison, the Air Service Command released one of its officers to AAFAC headquarters, and the Supply and Logistics subsection, A-4, AAFAC maintained constant contact with Air Transport Command.  The value of those liaison channels appeared especially in connection with the movement of units overseas.  As soon as a squadron received orders for foreign duty the  


  Overseas Section, Supply Division, Headquarters, ASC was immediately notified, and special project supplies were usually at the point of destination as soon as the squadron itself.  The Air transport Command set up priorities for shipment of AAFAC personnel and material upon coordination with that command.7  
          Expansion of I Bomber Command and AAFAC activities necessitated extending the system of communications beyond that used in the days when the Bomber Command was asked to begin antisubmarine operations.  The usual peace-time communications facilities -- teletype and telephone mainly -- proved totally inadequate for routing information and instructions to a widely scattered patrol force.  Joint action between Army planes and naval units failed frequently as a result of inadequate communication.8  
          By October 1942 the Bomber Command communications network extended from Canada to Mexico along the coastline, between stations from which Army and CAP planes operated.  AGL stations had replaced the Navy service, and radar planes were beginning to be used in some numbers.  When the Antisubmarine Command was formed, little change was made in this system.  The 25th Wing took over the Joint Control Room in New York City.  A new switchboard was installed with lines to those serving the 25th Wing, the 26th Wing, the First Air Force headquarters.  With the addition of more signal personnel, the command took on more projects.  When it went out of business it had worked out an efficient  


  and rapid means of communication between command headquarters and control rooms, and between control rooms and the aircraft in flight.9  
          Radar equipment presented many problems.  Not only was there constantly changing equipment to contend with, but, in a widely extended network, serious problems of congestion arose.  When the 25th and 26th Wings were formed in the early days of the command, separate AGL frequencies were assigned to each, which did much to relieve the situation.  In order to allow AAFAC planes to move to any part of the world on short notice, they had to be equipped with additional transmitters which covered a wide band of frequencies and allowed the aircraft to establish communications in any area.  
          Originally air-ground communication had been conducted by the I Bomber Command from a single mobile station on Governors Island.  Arrangements subsequently made with the Navy to supplement this system with numerous shore stations proved unsatisfactory.  The naval radio stations handled their own traffic first, so that messages from planes were often delayed as much as an hour in reaching the Army controller.  A project was begun to install a series of permanent AGL stations to cover the extended areas of Bomber Command operations, and by the time the Antisubmarine Command was created, the Navy was relieved of the task of guarding the AGL frequencies.10  These stations, operated by the 30th Antisubmarine Communications Squadron, were so located that the direct teletype facilities of the command were available to them, thus providing facilities for the immediate relaying of information between aircraft and controller.  As the scope of operations increased,  


  additional installations were made.  At the time of the dissolution of the command, a station was under construction at Port Lyautey, North Africa.  
          Wire remained the major means of point-to-point communication used by the Antisubmarine Command, although a point-to-point radio net was set up in connection with the permanent AGL stations.  A network of teletype and telephone lines covered the eastern seaboard from Cuba to Newfoundland and as far west as Texas.  This wire network served the tactical needs of the command excellently, at least as they existed in the western Atlantic.  
          A project for installing an AAFAC direction-finding network, based on general dissatisfaction with existing systems along the Atlantic seaboard, was under construction when the command was dissolved.11  
          Special cryptographic equipment and systems had to be worked out to insure the speedy transmission of a large volume of highly secret information concerning merchant vessels, friendly submarines, convoys, and naval vessels operating in the American waters.  Here again Headquarters, AAF discovered that the mission of the command was unlike that of any other units operating within the continental limits.  
          It was found, in the fall of 1942, that the existing method of manning the command AGL facilities, by placing men on detached service in various antisubmarine squadrons, was unfair to the highly trained personnel involved.  On 15 February 1943 the 30th Antisubmarine  


  Communications Squadron was activated under a new T/O (1-1017), its personnel comprising all those men operating command AGL stations.12  
          The greatest logistical problem with which the command had to contend was that of securing the mobility necessary for effective antisubmarine operations.  The entire concept of the organization had been based on the assumption that it should be able to move rapidly and at a moment's notice in order to counter the centrally controlled and rapidly shifting U-boat concentrations.  Time and again it had been demonstrated that the submarine situation could change overnight, yet just as frequently the antisubmarine forces proved too cumbersome to react with the required celerity.  When the submarine menace shifted from the U. S. Atlantic seaboard, a proportionate number of antisubmarine squadrons was not moved with it.  Those units subsequently sent to the Caribbean area, to which the U-boats had withdrawn, found that the situation had already altered by the time they became operational.  Likewise, in the North Atlantic, it took most of the early months of 1943 to get plans approved for deploying an adequate force in Newfoundland and the units themselves delivered, by which time the crisis had already arrived and was soon over.  Only in the eastern Atlantic, in water the U-boats had to traverse whether they liked it or not, did AAFAC squadrons find the kind of hunting they wished.  
          Undoubtedly this slowness in delivering an effective counterattack retarded the antisubmarine campaign.  It also threatened the morale of the AAFAC squadrons whose spirit was normally high.  Such units as those sent to Newfoundland were well equipped and trained and  


  possessed of a profound confidence in the importance of their mission.  But they found themselves for the most part sharing in the patrol of ocean stretches virtually without enemy, a task which they felt could easily have been done by less highly specialized units.  In short, they were not getting submarines.  For a few weeks, the 6th and 19th Antisubmarine Squadrons had taken part in a campaign which promised much, and gave considerable, in the way of combat activity.  The 4th had been moved to Newfoundland too late even to catch sight of a U-boat.13  The experience of the 4th Squadron was, in fact, particularly frustrating.  An old squadron in the game, it had been organized as an antisubmarine unit early in the war.  In the late summer of 1942, it had been ordered to the Caribbean for a short period of operations in areas where the Germans were especially active.  Its stay was too brief and its orders too confused to allow it much chance at the enemy.  After its abortive Caribbean experience, the squadron flew patrol for a while from Westover Field without much action for its pains.14  After undergoing B-24 transition, it contributed certain units to an emergency project in the Bermuda area where, according to the A-3 of headquarters, 25th Antisubmarine Wing, the entire project was about 3 days late, with the result that no contacts or sightings were made.15  In June the squadron was sent to Newfoundland, but there again the shooting was over before it arrived.  Finally, of course, this unit saw action in the Bay of Biscay in late July.  Prior to that time, however, its pilots had built up an average of 1,000 hours each, with only three contacts among them all to show for their effort.  To be  


  sure, they were performing useful preventative patrols during those long hours, but the lack of tangible results could not help but dampen their enthisiasm.16  
          The reasons for this lack of mobility were many, and involve the entire antisubmarine organizational structure.  Some resulted from flaws in the organization of lower echelons.  During most of their career, the AAF heavy antisubmarine squadrons operated under the old heavy bombardment T/O and T/BA.  Each squadron had assigned to it dome 50 pieces of transportation, including trailers.  They carried with them, where ever they went, field-lighting equipment, decontaminating units, and other implements that ran into tons of cases requiring careful crating and slow hauls by surface vessels up and down the coast.  Air transport for those elements of the squadron that could be airborne was usually done by Air Transport Command planes.  The Antisubmarine Command had never enough transport aircraft to provide its own transportation; and without that ability it was dependent on coordination with external agencies.17  
          What compromised mobility most fundamentally was the difficulty of operating through devious command channels and by means of liaison between various agencies concerned in the antisubmarine war.  To begin with, the command was forced to operate through War Department channels and Navy liaison in such a way that much valuable time was always lost before a movement order could be approved and action undertaken.  This was true of the Newfoundland situation, and particularly so of the summer project in the Bay of Biscay.  Navy operational control tended  


  also to slow up mobility because it was not originally founded on premises of mobility.  Hence the freezing of many squadrons were they could not make the best use of their equipment.  This point must not, however, be overstated.  Admiral King was as eager as anyone to see that units were moved as rapidly as possible to Newfoundland and to the Biscay area during the later phases of that campaign.18  The fault lay only partly in a desire to maintain a static defense.  It lay also in the inability of all concerned to clear command and liaison channels rapidly enough to permit sudden shifting of the antisubmarine forces.  The Germans, under unified command, could move their U-boat fleet with a minimum delay.  The Allies could only follow slowly, impeded by divided control both internationally and, in the case of the United States, within the national military organization.  
          The officers of the Antisubmarine Command itself saw the problems clearly enough.  In the fall of 1942 they had submitted a plan calculated to streamline the Allied antisubmarine organization from the top on down to the individual elements.19  And, in April of 1943, they drew up a plan to the individual elements.19  And, in April of 1943, they drew up a plan to increase the mobility of their own organization.  Specifically they proposed that the Commanding General, AAFAC be authorized to issue the necessary orders dispatching air echelons to any base within or without the continental limits of the United States from which hostile submarines might be subject to attack.  In order to facilitate the physical transfer of units, they further proposed that bases be surveyed in all likely theatres for possible emergency use;  


  that the command be equipped with its T/BA allotment of transport aircraft to be used for rapid movement of personnel and equipment to operating bases; the that direct communications be authorized between the Commanding General of the AAFAC and other agencies involved in the transfer of antisubmarine units -- Army Service Forces, Air Transport Command, The Adjutant General's Department, and the theater commands.20  
          Some steps were taken to remedy the situation.  A new T/O was shaped for heavy antisubmarine squadrons,21 though too late to be of much help to the command.  The AAFAC headquarters maintained constant liaison with ATC and ASC.  No increase in transport planes allotted to the command was approved, however, since to do so would mean diverting aircraft from the ATC on whose shoulders rested the primary responsibility for rapid transport.22  On the international level, the Atlantic Convoy Conference defined area of responsibility for each of the interested countries.  And, finally, in assuming control of all U. S. antisubmarine activity the U. S. Navy took a long step toward the necessary unity of command, a step which, of course, eliminated the Antisubmarine Command entirely.  The AAFAC went out of business, however, with the problem of mobility still largely unsolved.  
          Next to hunting submarines, the most important elements of the AAFAC mission were to promote the development of special antisubmarine equipment and tactics and to train personnel in their use.  Research in antisubmarine devices and techniques had been made the special responsibility of the Sea-Search Attack Development Unit (SADU),  


  operating at Langley Field under the Commanding General, AAF, through the Director of Technical Services.23  Several agencies outside the AAF were engaged in the general problems of research in antisubmarine warfare, notably, the Antisubmarine Warfare Operations Research Group (ASWORG), a subcommittee of the National Defense Research Council, and the naval antisubmarine research unit known as the Air Antisubmarine Development Detachment, Atlantic Fleet (AirASDevLant).  But the Antisubmarine Command found it necessary to insure, through its Research Coordinator, that the progress of technical development was in accord with the requirements and experience of its own operating units.  
          Prior to the activation of the Antisubmarine Command, the I Bomber Command had taken little part in promoting technical development.  It was a small organization and found its hands full with its operational duties.  Furthermore it was still officially a bomber command, and in considering modification of any equipment it had always to remember that tomorrow it might be back on bombardment duty.  Some independent action had been taken by SADU and ASWORG, but liaison between them and the I Bomber Command was poor.  As a result, a considerable amount of work of these agencies failed to profit by the experience rapidly being amassed by the I Bomber Command.  
          When the AAFAC was activated an office was set up in the new organization for the purpose of insuring that research followed lines indicated by experience to be most profitable, and that the needs of the command were translated into technical projects.  The A-3 officer, designated as the Research Coordinator, was charged specifically with  


  assembling data on all new developments of any type which, in his opinion, might prove of value.  This data he then presented to all command sections concerned, for criticism and suggestion.  If the development appeared to have merit, the Research Coordinator requested either the Director of Technical Services, Headquarters, AAF, or the Material Command, AAF, to take such action as might be indicated.  In most instances, this action consisted of installing certain types of airborne equipment in B-24's, the standard antisubmarine long-range plane, and of specifying desired tests.  Occasionally, however, it meant that problems were presented which required the development of brand new devices.  
          The section eventually consisted of the Coordinator, his assistant, and two civilian scientists, the latter attached from the ASWORG of the National Defense Research Council.24  
          The Research Coordinator attempted to present to higher headquarters the technical problems confronting the command in the order of their importance, which meant that development requests were not confined to devices for the airplane.  Action was instituted to demonstrate the need for installing the latest type of radio direction-finding equipment at all AAFAC stations, for installing radar beacons at stations were navigational aids were scarce and for installing Loran equipment at certain specified bases.  Emergency rescue kits were also designed by this section and standardized for all antisubmarine aircraft.25  


          Probably the most important function of the Research Coordinator was to keep the attention of higher headquarters fixed on the more important problems.  It was not as easy a task as one might at first think, for emphasis was often placed on projects which on the surface appeared plausible, but which in experience had been discarded as impractical.  For example, many persons believed that antisubmarine airplanes should carry one or two heavy demolition bombs rather than four to six 325-pound depth charges.  After studying this idea, the command discarded it because the bombs did not posses as great a lethal range, a conclusion reached independently by the U. S. Navy and the RAF Coastal Command.26  
          The Research Coordinator had no dearth of problems with which to grapple.  There were those constant navigational difficulties which were not peculiar to antisubmarine work but which nevertheless were essential to its success.  As long as it was possible for an airplane to get off its course, during a long-range operation, especially at night or in bad weather, constant attention had to be given to improving and extending the scope of such navigational aids as the radar beacon and Loran direction-finding equipment.  The Research Coordinator advocated installation of adequate radio direction-finding equipment in all operating areas.  The command experienced difficulty in obtaining desired results from the system in operation along the Atlantic coast.  So it was decided to install an AAFAC direction-finding network reaching from Greenland to the Caribbean.  Fifty units of receiving equipment were allocated for use in this special network and surveys began in  


  April 1943.27  Final installation of the extended system was not made before the termination of the command.  Radar beacons were, however, installed where needed in foreign bases.28  
          Radar, in general, was, of course, a major and constant preoccupation of all agencies engaged in the antisubmarine campaign.  Throughout the experience of the Antisubmarine Command, effort was made to improve airborne radar equipment and to extend its use.  There was no doubt that radar constituted a vital element in the successful pursuit of the command's mission.  By February 1943, radar efficiency had so increased that it was possible for a skilled operator to identify landmarks at 100 miles, buoys at 35 to 40 miles, convoys, small ships, and submarines at even greater distances.  Even the conning tower of a submarine could be detected at from 15 to 30 miles.  But it was equally clear that radar had its limitations.  It was not perfectly reliable and was difficult to maintain.  It required the interest and cooperation of all concerned, from the command headquarters down to the individual crew member.  Consequently, the training problem was a sizable one, especially as the command extended its activity overseas.  It was difficult also to keep a steady flow of supplied available to radar-equipped units, a problem complicated still further by the constant changes being made in the standard devices.  Despite thee obstacles, it was planned to expand the use of radar as quickly as possible.  Although the SCR-717 A equipment, considered superior, had never been field-tested it was decided to install it in all future VLR  


  planes.  It proved to be definitely superior in operation and maintenance to all previous models.29  
          The radio or absolute altimeter, a modification of the radar principle, answered a pressing tactical as well as a navigational need.  In areas of abnormal barometric pressure, the ordinary sensitive altimeter, reacting to barometric changes, would give erroneous readings which could be disastrous in blind landing and might easily frustrate an otherwise well-executed, low-level bombing attack.  For it is obvious that, whereas an error of 50 feet at high altitude would make little difference in the accuracy of the bombing, at 100 feet it would probably cause the bombardier to miss his target.  In a few instances the errors balanced out, but the odds were great.  The AYD altimeter, accurate to within 10 feet at altitudes of less that 400 feet, removed much of this uncertainty, and by May 1943 was approved as standard equipment on all AAFAC planes.30  
          Radar did not wholly solve the problem of submarine detection.  A U-boat sighted by radar at a distance of 25 miles might, especially in the absence of cloud cover for the attacking plane, be completely submerged and beyond further possibility of detection by the time the plane reached the spot.  And, by remaining submerged, the submarine was always well insulated from the air.  The magnetic airborne detector (MAD) and the radio sonic buoy were developed in an attempt to meet this problem of underwater detection.  A plane having sighted a submarine by means of radar might thus conduct an intensive search by using these new devices.  Though potentially valuable devices the MAD  


  and the sonic buoy (or sonobuoy) had limited success during the lifetime of the Antisubmarine Command.31  
          Night operations proved to be almost valueless on account of the variety of unidentifiable small craft likely to be met in the course of a patrol flight.  Upon locating a surface craft, the pilot had first to fly over it, attempt to identify it, then circle and bomb it if he believed it to be an enemy craft.  By the time he had completed these maneuvers, a submarine would have submerged and bombing would have been useless.  In an effort to improve night operations, searchlights and rocket flares were developed.  These valuable devices were, however, successfully tested just prior to the termination of the AAFAC.32  
          Having located the enemy, the antisubmarine crew faced problems of attack.  When the I Bomber Command originally studied the problem of submarine bombing, it was felt that no bombsight was necessary for operations from altitudes of 50 to 100 feet.  But tests proved that the average range of error in this sort of dead-reckoning attack amounted to about 175 feet.  Furthermore, the standard round-nosed MK XVII depth bomb was found to be erratic in its underwater travel, and ordnance data, initially received, provided no answer to the problem.  Navy and Army ordinance authorities had to be pressed for exact data on depth charges, and every effort was made to develop an adequate low-level bombsight for the peculiar purposes of antisubmarine warfare.33  Considerable progress was made along these lines.  The  


  flat-nosed depth bomb proved much less erratic than the round-nosed type, and several fairly efficient bombsights were in use by the summer of 1943.  The latter, though effective, were still in the experimental stage at the termination of the command.34  
          Considerable work was done to develop superior lethal weapons.  Among the most promising of these developments was retro bombing.  MAD indications reach their height when the plane is directly over the contact.  It was, therefore essential to develop a method of releasing projectiles at this point with a nearly vertical trajectory.  It was found that, by means of rockets, bombs could be projected to the rear with a speed approximately equal to the forward speed of the plane, so that the bomb trajectory would be vertical rather than parabolic.  This method not only made possible "direct-over" bombing, but eliminated ricochet and erratic underwater travel.  The Research Coordinator gave the device a high priority and predicted that it would prove to be "the number one Antisubmarine weapon."35  Much thought was also expended on the development of forward-firing rocket projectiles.  Though apparently effective, retro bombing and forward firing rocket projectiles had not progresses beyond the experimental stage before the dissolution of the Antisubmarine Command.36  
          Other projects urged by the command included additional emergency equipment, suitable water markers, long-burning flares, droppable automatic radio homing beacons, and improved airplane camouflage, most of which were completed prior to the demise of the command.37  


          A sudden change in submarine tactics in the late spring of 1943 created a problem the solution to which involved the remodeling of the B-24 antisubmarine airplane.  In an effort to escape from the embarrassment of continuous air coverage, the U-boats began to stay on the surface and fight it out with the attacking aircraft.  In the face of this situation the standard B-24 showed certain weaknesses, chief being its inability to bring adequate forward fire power to bear on the enemy craft.  As a countermeasure, the AAFAC had power-driven turrets installed in the nose.  The nose was so designed that during an attack the bombardier and gunner could work simultaneously, the latter equipped with two .50-caliber machine guns.  The project was begun in May 1943.  By the end of August, 30 modifications had been received.38  Although in use only a short time before the termination of the command, it was apparent that the front turret had tremendous value and could play an important part in the final defeat of the U-boat.39  
          The projects mentioned in the preceding pages represent only the more important ones in which the Antisubmarine Command was interested.  Many others, some promising, some fanciful, came before the Research Coordinator.  Of those mentioned, many were developed from specifications established by other organizations, but the AAFAC research section kept constant pressure on the agencies engaged in the work.  Actual service testing was usually performed by SADU.  Since this group was not under the AAFAC, but under the Director of  



  Technical Services, AAF, all requests for testing had to go through AAF Headquarters.40  
          The research section attempted also to see that the training of operating and maintenance personnel, and the provision of necessary supply channels paralled procurement orders.  This proved to be a major problem and efforts toward its solution met with little success.  The difficulty lay in the organizational structure of AAF Headquarters, where experimental procurement, training, and supply were each the responsibility of a separate directorate.  As a result, in the case of two of the most important projects, radar and MAD, the equipment was installed in the aircraft months before trained operating and maintenance personnel or normal supply channels became available.41  
          The Antisubmarine Monthly Intelligence Report declared in its first issue that "perhaps the most lasting contributions of the Antisubmarine Command in the battle against the U-boat are the various tactical and technical improvements, either developed by this organization or stimulated by it and completed by special research agencies."42  
          Be that as it may, the fact remains that most of the special projects undertaken had not been completed, or were not operational, when the AAFAC went out of the picture.  It was the opinion of the Research Coordinator himself that the submarines were defeated primarily because they were smothered by quantities of air and surface craft and not because they were hunted out and destroyed with special devices which might have done the job more speedily.43  


          All important AAFAC projects were turned over to the Navy upon termination of the command.44  
          The Antisubmarine Command faced a training problem unparalleled in the history of the Army Air Forces.45  As in the case of technical development, the I Bomber Command has no preparation for its hastily assumed antisubmarine duty.  It had been training for its normal mission of bombardment, and, except for a limited amount of overwater reconnaissance, its units were entirely unacquainted with the tactics and techniques of antisubmarine aviation.  Each unit commander had consequently to devise his own methods and give his own men whatever makeshift training he could manage in the operation of inadequate equipment.  Only the simplest type of control could be exercised by command headquarters, which was at all times understaffed for the proper execution of its enlarged mission.  For this reason, it was several months before proper control could be extended over subordinate units, and still longer before directives formulating uniform tactics and techniques could be published.  
          It was a chaotic situation that the AAFAC faced after its activation.  The first thing to do was to extend control over subordinate units in such a way as to standardize training throughout the command.  That would have been a task difficult enough to accomplish if it had not been further complicated by several additional problems.  Since the antisubmarine mission was a specialized one, and unique in AAF experience, no provision had been made to provide replacement crews for the command.  Training had therefore to be undertaken mainly within  


  the command itself and on its own time, while its units were engaged in operational work.  This practice had many bad features, inasmuch as training had often to be interrupted in accordance with operational requirements and as the crews, many of which had already learned improper techniques in actual combat, had to be taught proper methods.  In addition, there was a shortage of AAF personnel qualified to give training in antisubmarine warfare.  Especially serious was the need for qualified navigators, for that work required a knowledge of navigation unequaled in any other branch of the AAF.  
          Moreover, the methods and equipment of the Antisubmarine Command were constantly changing.  Seven of the squadrons originally assigned to the command 46 were observation units, quite inexperienced in bombardment aviation.  All squadrons had sooner or later to be converted from single- or twin-engine aircraft to heavy long-range bombers, and their personnel given adequate transitional training.  As the work of research progressed and the experience of the command increased, new equipment and new tactics were constantly being introduced, bringing with them new training problems.  
          Supply agencies were not organized to give automatic consideration to the requirements of the command for training equipment and material, as they were accustomed to do in the case of the other types of tactical aviation.  All AAF agencies gave these requirements consideration when specifically requested, but many of them were not constructed to cope with problems peculiar to antisubmarine operations.  Especially serious was the lack of synthetic training devices. as a  


  result of the Atlantic Convoy Conference, the Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Training directed that efforts be made at once to assist the command in procurement of this equipment.  Prior to that time none had been received, and it was found that the command was low on the priority list for distribution of training devices.  Although action was immediately taken to remedy the situation, by the end of its career only 10 per cent, approximately, of the equipment requested had arrived.  
          Fortunately, the domestic squadrons were not engaged in operations in close or frequent contact with the enemy.  By the time the Antisubmarine Command was activated, the U-boats had practically abandoned U. S. coastal waters.  This was the only bright side of the picture as far as training was concerned, for it gave the command a good opportunity to train the majority of its units while they were engaged only in routine patrol operations, and squadrons could easily be rotated in the Operational Training Unit.  In fact, the work of training became the principal mission for the domestic elements of the command.  Of the 116,723 hours flown by the command between 1 January and 1 September 1943, 55,324, over 50 per cent, consisted of training operations.47  
          It was with these considerations in mind that the command set about building an integrated training program.  Some changes in staff organization had to be made in order to place training in its proper relationship to the other staff offices.  The traditional grouping of Plans and Training in one subsection of A-3 proved inadequate.  Plans were closely allied with the activities of the Operations Section; and  


  Training, in addition to being dependent upon operational planning, was a full-sized job in itself.  Accordingly, Plans and Training were divorced, Plans being transferred to the Operations Section as a separate subsection under the designation of Operational Planning.  
          Originally it was contemplated to establish a combination operational training unit and replacement training unit which would furnish completely trained combat crews and individual replacements for assignment to units of the command.  In this way the command wings would be charged only with that training necessary for the maintenance of proficiency.  In this way the units actively engaged in operations would be relieved of all but routine training activities.  It was a sensible objective, but one never realized.  Initial qualification of individuals continued to be carried on in the wings and squadrons.  Such progress as was made toward the attainment of the objective was made after the first 6 months when the Operational Training Unit began to function with rapidly increasing efficiency.  
          The Operational Training Unit was the pivotal point for the entire training program, despite the many factors which always made a large degree of decentralization necessary.  The 18th Antisubmarine Squadron, stationed at Langley Field, was relieved of its operational mission and given the responsibility for all operational training in the command.  This was to be a temporary expedient which would be discontinued as soon as AAF Headquarters should authorize a separate training unit.  The expedient remained in effect, however, until the  


  command itself was inactivated.  The new unit suffered from an inadequate table of organization, still that of a heavy-bombardment squadron.  A new one came into being a few days before the inactivation of the command.  It also suffered from lack of instructors, especially in navigation, and from a general lack of equipment and facilities.  
          Originally the OTU course was 4 weeks in length and covered B-24 transition, bombing and gunnery, navigation, and practice patrol.  One hundred and two combat crews, each consisting of 10 men, received this course.  Later, when increased delivery of B-24 aircraft made an increased number of trained crews necessary, the course was reduced to 3 weeks.  One hundred and four crews received the shorter course.  It was planned to give each squadron a thorough refresher course, as soon as delivery of B-24's had been completed, in order to compensate for the necessary inadequate training packed into the few weeks of the original OTU course, and to keep crews abreast of new tactical and technical developments.  This plan was never realized, however.  Close liaison was, of course, maintained between the OTU and the Research Section.  At the completion of the Antisubmarine Command's operations, 20 of the 25 squadrons assigned to it had completed their initial course at the OTU.  
          Bombing and gunnery training was the largest single problem.  When the Antisubmarine Command was activated very little was known, based on practical tests, regarding the technique of antisubmarine bombing.  The only available data was that obtained from the British  


  Coastal Command.  Subsequently the U. S. Navy developed valuable studies on the underwater characteristics of depth bombs, and when camera installations for photographing low altitude antisubmarine tactics became available, the command conducted tests of its own.  But, even with increasingly useful data, training was still handicapped by lack of antisubmarine bombing ranges.  The same was true of gunnery facilities.  Requests for these facilities were approved by higher headquarters and construction began on the various projects, but few of them were completed in time to be of any use to the command.  The result was that training in bombing, technique of attack, and gunnery did not reach the level considered desirable.  Nevertheless, by use of improvised facilities, considerable training was possible, especially in connection with the OTU at Langley Field, aerial gunnery remaining the weakest element.  
          The Antisubmarine Command began its operations in the fall of 1942 with a critical shortage of trained navigators.  Its patrols made long flights necessary and pilots, co-pilots, and bombardiers alternated in performing navigational duties, using elementary dead-reckoning and radio bearings.  Because of this shortage, the policy was to assign one graduate navigator to each squadron to act as a local supervisor and instructor.  Throughout the early months of the command's activity, the navigation training program was devoted to training of bombardiers and other combat crew members in dead-reckoning navigation.  It was these men, developed in considerable numbers, who performed most of  


  the navigation on patrols during the autumn and winter of 1942.  In January 1943, graduates of AAF navigation schools began to be assigned in larger numbers, which greatly relieved the pressure on the generally inadequately trained personnel who had been doing emergency duty.  The trained navigators, however, tended to be concentrated in the squadrons destined for overseas service, the result being that a celestial and dead-reckoning navigation school was set up under the 26th Wing at Miami which trained 60 officers prior to its dissolution in July 1943.  
          Training in the operation and maintenance of antisubmarine aircraft presented many difficulties over and above those involved in transition to the B-24.  Even though it was known from the beginning that the B-24 was ultimately to be used throughout the command, the fact that their arrival in quantity would be delayed made it necessary to attain proficiency in operating and maintaining various multi-engine types then in use.  In an effort to raise the level of training, three methods were adopted.  Some trained maintenance were secured from the Technical Training Command.  Some were sent from the AAFAC squadrons to the Technical Training Command schools and factory schools for specialized training.  And many were simply given on-the-job training.  Since training had to be undertaken in such a way that operations would not suffer, it was not possible to send more than a few men to schools for technical training.  
          By December 1942, it appeared that, for an indefinite period, about half of the strength of the command would consist of B-34's  


  Accordingly, several officers and men were sent to Lockheed Aircraft Corporation factory, and two B-34 Mobile Training Units were obtained from the Technical Training Command.  But most of the B-34's were withdrawn from the command just about the time this training program had been completed, and the maintenance personnel had to begin training all over again in B-25's.48  
          Training in the use of radar49 naturally proved to be a major problem.  Highly developed in any type of operation, radar became particularly specialized in antisubmarine warfare.  Considerable attention was therefore given to proper radar training at the OTU.  A member of the National Defense Research Council was assigned to that unit in 1943 in order to assist in the development of teaching techniques.  The big difficulty, of course, was in securing personnel with the right kind of basic training in this line of work.  The officers, in general, had received good theoretical background in radar, but were unacquainted with the practical application of radar principles in antisubmarine activity.  Operators and mechanics lacked both practical education, and, of course, experience.  In addition to these personnel difficulties, new equipment and techniques continually complicated the problem.  
          To offset these difficulties, a program was set up in June 1943, with the following objectives.  All radar personnel would be procured well in advance of needs and assigned to a specific squadron.  Until such time as their own squadrons should be equipped with radar, specialists would be assigned to fully equipped units for training  


  and experience.  All radar personnel would accompany their squadron on its periodic visit to the OTU.  Mechanics would be split into small groups, each specializing in one particular new development which their organization had not received, and might not receive for some time, yet which they would normally expect to operate.  In order to facilitate the assimilation of new equipment, factory-trained Western Electric technicians were obtained to act as consulting engineers, both in training and repair.  To the same end, a "permanent" cadre was developed, (May 1943) usually consisting of one supervising officer, two experienced operators, and two experienced mechanics, who were to assist in training of new organizations.  
          By August 1943, this part of the training program was, like the rest of it, in a far way to achieving for the first time the results desired.  
          From the training point of view, the dissolution of the Antisubmarine Command was premature.  During the last months of its existence all training directives were completed, synthetic training equipment, ordered shortly after the command's activation, was being delivered, standardized procedures for the first time were being accepted willingly by the combat units, satisfactory aircraft and operational equipment were being received in sufficient quantity to ensure progress, and a suitable operational training organization, based on recently approved tables of organization, was about to be inaugurated.  As the officer in charge of training not infelicitously put it, the situation  


  of the command at the end of its existence was comparable to that of a man who, having worked industriously to put his automobile in running order, is then asked to step aside and let a stranger drive off with it.  



Click the icons to view the associated records

Return to the Army Antisubmarine Command History page
Return to the Army Air Force Antisubmarine Command page