Sunset over Port Moresby, New Guinea. A place that saw a lot of action during the War in the Pacific, including the fight for the Solomon Islands and the air battles over Darwin, Australia and the Philippines. It’s also a place where the fathers of two of our regulars served during WWII, (Barnslayer and Solaratov).
While reading about the air war with the Japanese in this area of the Pacific, I came across this fascinating blurb by a blogger who disputes the popular contention that the Allies won this conflict by overwhelming the Japanese with large numbers of planes. He says:
In one typical scramble in late 1943, the
7FS was only able to launch 5 P-40Ns, one of which got off about three minutes
behind the rest because the engine wouldn’t start. Two immediately aborted with
mechanical probems leaving one element of two, trailed far behind by a single
P-40. They encountered 30-plus Oscars and Tonys. The resulting battle resulted
in one P-40 and one Oscar shot down and one P-40 damaged plus maybe some other
Japanese planes damaged. This kind of action was fairly routine. Usually the
Japanese wouldn’t sortie unless they had a large number of planes available.
The Americans would throw up whatever would fly. The New Guinea air war was
won through a long series of skirmishes between relatively small numbers of
airplanes in which, over the long haul, the Americans prevailed. If anyone
should be credited with winning the air war, it should be the ground crews, who
kept those old wrecks in flying condition (more or less) while their Japanese
counterparts weren’t able to do the same. From what I’ve read, the Solomons
air campaign (excluding the carrier actions) was about the same, and probably
the CBI situation was, too. The Japanese weren’t overwhelmed by vast numbers.
They were beaten by small numbers of pilots who outfought them and just kept
coming back at them again and again.