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The Navy's Air War
A Mission Completed

by
the Aviation History Unit OP‑519B, DCNO (Air)

Edited by
A. R. Buchanan
Lieutenant, USNR

The Book and its Editor

The Navy's Air War, transcribed onsite in its entirety, was an official publication of the United States Navy, and tells a carefully circumscribed history of U. S. naval aviation in World War II.

▸ The "Chronology", by the way, is a particularly good timeline of Atlantic and Pacific naval air operations during the war.

The true purpose of the book seems to have been to bolster the Navy's argument against folding her aviation into any unified military aviation force on the horizon. In 1947, the year following the book's publication, the United States Air Force was established as a separate arm of the armed forces: but naval aviation did by and large preserve its independence.

As for the book's editor, here's what I can tell you with something like certainty about him, pieced together from scant details scattered over the Web: Albert Russell Buchanan was born in 1906 — or just maybe 1905 — probably in Yuma, AZ, and died in 2001, very likely in Menlo Park, CA. A 1927 graduate of Stanford University, he earned his Master's there the following year, and his PhD, also at Stanford, in 1935: both degrees in history. The following year he was named a Professor of History at the University of California at Santa Barbara and held the position until his retirement in 1973. He is best known, not for this book, but for three others in his later career: David S. Terry of California: Dueling Judge (The Huntington Library, San Marino, 1956); The United States and World War II (2 vols., Harper & Row, 1964); and Black Americans in World War II (Clio Books, Santa Barbara, 1977).

He was married to Mary Ethel O'Keefe (b. 1901 in Menlo Park, Stanford graduate 1921, d. 2000 also in Menlo Park); they had three children.

Contents

ix
xi
xivº
 

Part I

Pearl Harbor

1
 

Part II
Inventory

Background

15

Naval Air Organization

20
 

Part III
The Atlantic Theater

It Takes Practice to Win a War — The Neutrality Patrol

27

From Neutrality Patrol to Anti-Submarine Warfare

40

Prototype of Invasion

49

The Navy's Air War on the "Wolf Pack"

58

"Good Neighbors" Win the Battle of the South Atlantic

70

Naval Aviation in the Italian Invasion

82

Naval Aviation in the Invasions of France

89

Coast Guard Aviation

99
 

Part IV
The Pacific Theater

Readiness in the Philippines

109

Toward the End of Tragedy

113

The Beginning of Glory

134

Wings over Guadalcanal

154

The Northern Dagger

166

Starting the Road Back

173

The Task Force Shows Its Strength

185

The End of the Aleutian Campaign

191

The Marshalls Campaign

194

Conquest of the Marianas

201

Operations in the Western Carolines

217

p. vi From New Britain to Morotai

225

Whirlwind in the Philippines

230

Iwo Jima

270

Okinawa

275

Into the Heart of Japan

300
 

Part V
The Forces behind the Navy's Air War

Training Naval Aviation's Manpower

307

Production to Meet Changing War Needs

330

The Expansion of Shore Establishments

345

"Keep 'Em Flying"

353

Naval Air Transport Service

362

Science Aids the Navy's Air War

371
 

Epilogue

Old Mission Completed; New Mission Assigned

386
Appendix

A: Naval Aircraft Designations

389

B: Chronology

391

p. vii Illustrations

These illustrations, grouped as a separate section, will be found following page 112

Atlantic

Convoy

Surfaced Sub

Sub Attack

Captured Sub

Patrol plane, blimp

Pacific

Fleet at Manus

Marcus Raid

Suicide sequence

Kamikaze close‑ups

Jap Carrier

Naha

Iwo Jima landing

Air-ground support

Supplies to Iwo Jima

JATO (Jet-assisted take-off)º

Patrol planes, Jap camouflage

These illustrations, grouped as a separate section, will be found following page 336

Pearl Harbor
Carriers

CV‑CVL

CVE (2 types)

p. viii Plane Types

F4F, F6F, F4U

TBF, SBD, SB2C

PB4Y, PB4Y‑2, PV‑1

PBJ, PB2Y, PBY

PBM, SOC, OS2U

Training

Aviation cadets

Flight base

Carrier, Link

NATS
Photo Interpretation

Gasmata airfield

Tarawa vertical

Tarawa oblique

Model and guns

[These maps are not listed in the book's table of contents:]

Operating Commands U. S. Naval Forces
in the Pacific Ocean Area
inside front cover
Operating Commands U. S. Naval Forces
in the Atlantic Ocean Area
inside back cover
Battle for Leyte Gulf: Oct. 23‑26, 1944 page 237

Technical Details

Edition Used

The edition followed in this transcription is that of my own hard copy: marked simply "First Edition", with no date. Published by "Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York and London", the book bears no copyright notice — properly, since it is an official report of the United States Navy and thus in the public domain; details here on the copyright law involved.

Illustrations

The illustrations fall in two groups: 55 black-and‑white photographs placed on their own high-quality glossy pages bound in two signatures, as noted in the book's own table of contents above; and 3 maps (two of them serving as endpapers: almost illegibly signed, even in my original hard copy, by A. [Adrian] O. Van Wyen, Lt. USNR). I've taken advantage of the flexibility offered by the Web to redistribute them to appropriate places in the text.

Although the title page of the book states that it is "Illustrated with official U. S. Navy Photographs", the specific sources of the individual photographs are not given in the book. One of them is an exception, since it has to be a Japanese photograph: it shows planes taking off from a Japanese carrier on December 7, 1941.

Much of the book, especially the chapters dealing with the Pacific campaigns, would have benefited from additional detail maps; I've provided a substitute by inserting a number of GoogleMaps keyed to the text.

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is shown in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line); p57  these are also local anchors. Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.

Proofreading

As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if successful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

My transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, the sections are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree; a red background would mean that the page had not been proofread. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

The printed book was very well proofread. The inevitable typographical errors were few, and all trivial: I marked them with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the underscored words to read the variant. Similarly, glide your cursor over bullets before measurements: they provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles. Where we read "miles" without qualification, I usually assumed them to be statute miles; where they are meant to be nautical miles, you'll remember that 1 nautical mile = 1.15 statute: add ⅙ to my conversion. The book itself gives no indications.

A number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic ‑‑> in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked. They are also very few.

Any other mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have a copy of the printed book in front of you.



[image ALT: A photograph of a small twin-engined World War II monoplane in the air. One of many illustrations of World War II planes in the book 'The Navy's Air War', and serves as the icon on this site for that book.]

The icon I use to indicate this subsite is my colorization of one of the book's illustrations, the PV‑1 Ventura patrol bomber from the "Plane Types" section of the second signature of photographs.


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Site updated: 10 Feb 15