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What if Chennault's teachings were taken seriously by the US Army Air Corps?

Discussion in 'What If - Pacific and CBI' started by John Dudek, Mar 26, 2008.

  1. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    General Claire Lee Chennault, founder of the "Flying Tigers" was a maverick and an old fighter pilot who served as an advisor and trainer in China against the Japanese in the late1930's. He correctly observed the strengths and weaknesses of Japanese Army and Naval aviation and devised ways of overcoming their superiority in aerial combat, while using US aircraft. He wrote a lengthy treatise on the subject, telling future US Pilots how to fight and triumph over the Japanese foe. He sent the information off to the US War Department, where it was filed away and largely forgotten.

    My question is, what if Chennault's teachings were taken seriously and US P-40 Pilots were trained not to engage in dogfights with the Japanese, but instead to use the advantage of high altitude diving attacks, followed by low level, high-speed get-aways, before attempting to regain the altitude advantage?

    I'm sure that we all know that the Flying Tigers racked up an unbelievable kill ratio in China against Japanese Army Oscars and the occasional Zero, but what would have happened had these teachings been extended to the entire US Army Air Corps? It might have had a significant effect on Pacific air operations during the early days of the war.
     
  2. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    I agree that adopting Chennault's tactics would have made the US Army Air Corps more effective. Unfortunately, these tactics were negated when US Army officers decided to gather aircraft closely together instead of dispersing them. We all know the result in the Japanese attacks on Hickham, Nichols Field, Clark, etc.
    The other thing, which I learned from the responses on the Pearl Harbor fighter thread, is the existence of an effective warning system. Chennault's tactics are most effective if the P40's could be scrambled early enough to gain altitude to make their diving attacks.
     
  3. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I think there was also some real problems in thinking the Japanese could fly at all. I did put some info a couple of years ago about the propaganda where Japanese pilots were considered not able to have 3D-vision due to their eyes and thus flying was almost impossible not to mention bombing targets.
     
  4. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Yes. I read that one. The guy who originally wrote it must've been a real "expert" on Japanese aviation. LOL.
     
  5. Twitch

    Twitch Member

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    Tactics are good only if you can use them. A good deal of the time at this juncture of the war the Zeros attacked in superior numbers and/or by surprise completely negating ANY tactic other than escape as best as possible. Can't employ any fancy dictums as your canopy erupts and your instrument panel explodes. When you're bounced you're bounced. Planned reportoires only work before the shooting starts.
     
  6. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Though I agree with your sentiment in general, I have to disagree about a few particulars. For me, knowing tactics means I would know what to do if I get bounced or ambushed. I won't say it will keep me alive but I will say it increased my chance of surviving. That's why I have to disagree when you declare that "surprise completely negates ANY tactic other than escape." Though I do concede that running away is one of the many options that I could take, it is not the only option. That's why people train. One can't train for everything but it will increase one's odds. One doesn't use a particular tactic, rather, he adapts the tactic to a particular situation.

    As for US fighters vs. the Zero, the P40 was robust enough to survive getting hit by Zeroes and Oscars in China. This was attested to by Pappy Boyington in his book. However, the P40 who survive this aerial melee is usually too beat up to continue taking on the Zero, which also flew away because the Japanese pilot is surprised that the American plane is still in the air despite the damage it took.

    Come to think of it, this is one factor that I should've mentioned in the fighter scramble pearl harbor what if.

    Also, in the area of New Guinuea and the Solomons, the Japanese rarely had surprise because of their excellent warning system via the Coast Watchers. Again, when push becomes shove, the US fighters in Guadalcanal were robust enough to still fly on despite the damage they received from Japanese Zeros. Japanese Zeros or (other Japanese plane models at this early stage of the war) were relatively easy to shoot down because they lacked self sealing tanks and hardly had any armor at all.
     

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