Sunday, October 07, 2007

MacArthur's Pearl Habor December 8 th 1941 - More MDS

This book is a blow by blow account of the Japanese attack on Clark Field on December 8th 1941. Starting even before MacArthur was recalled to day in July 1941, the author tells the story of how the Japanese planned their attack, and how the FEAF was created and reinforced and eventually attacked on December 8th.

However, when it comes to analyzing the reason for the Japanese success, the author comes down with a case of MacArthur Derangement Syndrome. Per the author, Big Mac was to blame for the full disaster and even more absurdly, the loss of 18 B-17s is described as a significant event.

The truth is that the FEAF was "Doomed at the Start", (which BTW, is the title of much better book about the the P-40 fighter pilots in the FEAF from Dec 1941-to May 1942).

To summarize, FEAF has 35 B-17s and 100 P-40s, in the Philippines on December 8th, 1941. The FEAF lost approximately 17 B-17s and 40 P-40s in the attack. Clark AFB had inadequate AAA and was not properly bombproofed. No matter what Brenton or MacArthur did or didn't do, we simply didn't have enough planes (with no replacements from the USA) to do stop the hundreds of Japanese bombers and fighters. And of course, the Japanese had replacements and the FEAF did not. Note, the remaining US fighters were quickly disposed of during the remainder of Dec/Jan 1941.

To argue that 18 unescorted B-17s, on their first combat mission, could have inflicted significant damage on unknown Japanese airfields in Formosa is absurd. It is 520 miles from Clark AFB to Formosa, and it was covered with Fog through much of the day. In fact the reason the Japanese did not attack at dawn was due to fog covering the airfields.

It should be noted that Mac had ordered the Air Force to move all B-17s to Del Monte out of danger in early December. The Air Force only moved 16, leaving 19 at Clarke Field. One reason for delaying the attack was to wait for the other 16 B-17s to fly up to Clarke, be refueled and go in one big attack.

Finally, FEAF was warned of a Japanese air attack and had their planes airborne at dawn. However, they had to come down refuel. The attack on Clark AFB achieved surprise because the radar operators did not warn Clark AFB of the incoming Japanese planes.The author never makes clear how 18 B-17s on their first combat mission, flying unescorted to an unknown target could have accomplished anything significant. Had the B-17s taken off at dawn for Formosa, they would discovered it covered in fog. had the B-17s taken off after 7AM, they would have found the Formosa airfields empty. The fact is that 18 B-17s were simply too little to have accomplished anything.

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