“Guardians of the Sky” from C.I.C. (Combat Information Center), U.S. Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Vol. I, No. 6, August 1944.
Guardians of the Sky
An enemy raid is being tracked on the display plot in this "action shot" of an Air Defense Control Center at Bougainville. Liaison officers have alerted the base. Island and Air Command, AA Batteries, and ADCC's of other bases and ships. The Fighter Director Officer has assigned the raid to an intercept officer (not in the picture) who, from an intercept table or PPI, is vectoring fighters to intercept the raid.
An Air Combat Intelligence officer briefs the pilots before they go out on a mission. Their tense attitude shows that they know from experience how vital is the information which he is giving them on landmarks, radar evasion, enemy opposition to be expected, weather conditions enroute, communications procedures, and plan of attack.
During the Battle of the Bulge, the Germans disguised several Panther tanks as U.S. M10 tank destroyers (“Ersatz M10”). Part of the Operation Greif created and commanded by Otto Skorzeny, Panzer Brigade 150 deployed these Panther Ausf. G tanks which had been extensively modified and painted to resemble U.S. M10 tank destroyers.
The history of the bazooka from U.S. Rocket Ordnance: Development and Use in World War II, U.S. Joint Board on Scientific Information Policy, 1946.
Bazooka Versus Tank
Among the now-it-can-be-told weapons of the American rocket family, is the super-bazooka, bigger and better version of the foot-soldier’s famed tank-buster.
By their surrender, the Germans and Japs missed feeling the impact of a rocket which travels at almost twice the speed and carries double the explosive payload of the standard bazooka projectile; which has an effective range of as much as 700 yards, instead of the 200 to 300 yards of the regular bazooka; and which can function safely through a considerably wider temperature range, thus affording greatly increased protection against the dangers of motor explosion and blast. Though the super-bazooka retains the 2.36-inch diameter of the original bazooka, and is fired from the same launcher, it is propelled by a larger motor, and its heavier explosive charge can penetrate thicker armor plate.
Another development of the original bazooka-still secret at the war’s end-is a super-powered rocket of 3.5 inches in diameter with greatly increased power to penetrate armor plate and reinforced concrete.
The super-bazooka was the joint product of Section H, which produced the design for the motor, and Division 8 of NDRC, which developed the far more powerful head. The 3.5-inch rocket was designed by the Army Ordnance Department.
To arm United States infantry to fight tanks on more nearly equal terms, the Army Ordnance Department, in early 1941, had under development a rifle grenade, carrying a “shaped charge” of high explosive. A cone-shaped cup hollowed in the front face of the explosive filling focussed the blast energy into a narrow beam of great penetrating power.
These rifle grenades had too much recoil for field use as a shoulder weapon. Recoilless rocket propulsion was suggested, tried, and adopted. Colonel Skinner, then an Ordnance Department major, and Lt. (now Major) E. G. Uhl, with Section H at Indian Head, undertook the development of a suitable rocket motor.
Following unsuccessful attempts to launch these rocket grenades from attachments to the service rifle, it was concluded that a separate launcher would be required.
To protect the gunner from the rocket blast, the launching tube had to be longer than the maximum burning distance of the rocket motor. To be portable and easily aimed from the shoulder, the launcher, and hence the burning distance, had to be short. By the use of a charge of several thin-web tubular grains of solvent extruded powder in a motor about an inch in diameter, the burning distance was made short enough for a 54-inch launcher, soon dubbed “the bazooka.”
“Lessons Learned” by U.S. Eighth Air Force fighters against German flak taken from Light, Intense, and Accurate: U.S. Eighth A.F. Strategic Fighters Versus German Flak in the ETO, Headquarters, 65th Fighter Wing, August 1945. The booklet was the work of Lt. Col. San Souci and Capt. William D. Thurston, assisted by Lt. Col. R. F. Kennedy, Wing A-2.
CHAPTER XI: LESSONS LEARNED
In fighting back at light flak, Enemy No. 1 of our fighters in the Eighth Air Force, we all learned a great deal. Operating as we did in East Anglia in England, a tight little area crowded to capacity with strategic air units, we were ideally situated to analyze, discuss and record what we learned over a considerable period of time. Our military communications net was perhaps the finest that ever existed in any combat zone, and the exchange of information among units left little to be desired.
Some of the lessons that grew out of this particular situation are worth setting down in a list, followed in Chapter XII by recommendations based on our experience:
1. Specialization in Fighters is a Myth. Anyone using fighters in a strategic air force might just as well make up his mind in the beginning that before it’s over his pilots will come up against every type of defense the enemy has. It was an error in the early days in the ETO to assume that high-level escort fighters would not be bothered by light flak. Ultimately we had to prepare to meet it, and we should have started sooner than we did.
2. Photo Interpretation is Reliable in Locating Flak. Our own experience as we went along, and investigations on the ground in Germany after the war, both proved that the flak defenses pin-pointed by photo reconnaissance were over 90% correct.
3. Reconnaissance Must be Continuous. It is obvious that frequent photos of every area reached by the strategic air force are absolutely essential in order to keep abreast of the fluid flak situation.
Crew instructions for use of the anchor on the Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat from Pilot’s Handbook of Flight Operating Instructions, Navy Model PBY-5A Airplanes, U.S. Army Air Forces, August 1945.
(1) TO CAST ANCHOR.
(a) Fit float gear hand crank into anchor reel socket on port side of bomber’s compartment. Station one man here to operate crank.
(b) Detail second man, equipped with safety belt, to outside of ship to perform following operations:
(c) Open door of anchor box at latch in up position with webbing strap and dot fastener provided.
(d) Hook safety belt in forward snap, facing aft.
(e) Take out anchor. Set it upside down on walk rail in handhole slot.
(f) Unfold anchor while in upside-down position.
(g) Place anchor cable in guide eye in walk rail.
(h) Drop anchor overboard. (Man inside must release ratchet of reel.)
(i) When anchor hits bottom, release pendant from stowage and secure clamp to anchor cable. Throw pendant overboard and slack off anchor cable until pendant cable is taking pull of the anchor line.
(j) Man inside must secure anchor reel with latch.
Two detail views of the WWII jeep cargo trailer from ORD 8 SNL G-529: Spare Parts and Equipment for Trailer, ¼-Ton Payload, 2-Wheel, Cargo, 1942-42 (American Bantam T-3 and Willys MBT), Headquarters, Army Service Forces, July 1945.
FIGURE A—TRAILER, 1/4-TON PAYLOAD, 2-WHEEL, CARGO, 1942-43, AMERICAN BANTAM T-3 AND WILLYS MBT THREE QUARTER RIGHT REAR VIEW
FIGURE B—TRAILER, 1/4-TON PAYLOAD, 2-WHEEL, CARGO, 1942-43, AMERICAN BANTAM T-3 AND WILLYS MBT THREE QUARTER RIGHT FRONT VIEW
Tank driver instructions for dealing with mud, thrown tracks, and bellied tanks from From TM 21-306: Manual for the Full Track Vehicle Driver, War Department, August 1946.
CHAPTER 6: FIELD EXPEDIENTS
32. GENERAL. Field expedients are based on a common sense use of the things you have in the field with which to do a job. A few minutes of thought before starting the work often save hours of unnecessary labor.
33. CONTROLLED DIFFERENTIAL. A number of field expedients for full-track vehicles are based on the way the controlled differential works. If your vehicle has thrown or broken one track, you can move the vehicle by holding back on the steering lever on the same side. This throws power over to the side that has the track and your vehicle moves either forward or in reverse. However, if you do not hold back on this steering lever, the vehicle stands still because the power is thrown to the sprocket which is free to turn without the track. Paragraphs 34 through 38 describe several of the most common field expedients.
34. ONE TRACK SPINNING. To move a full-track vehicle which has one track on solid ground and the other spinning in the mud, pull back on the steering lever on the same side as the spinning track. This throws power to the track on solid ground and your vehicle moves out. (See fig. 36.) To move the vehicle in a straight line pull back alternately on the levers.
Figure 36. When in mud and only one track spins, move the vehicle by holding back on the steering lever on the same side as the spinning track.