2013年7月31日 星期三

Tainan Airfield(s) 1944-45 Part 2

“20 Oct 1944 – United States Army Troops with General DOUGLAS MAC ARTHUR in personal command, land on LEYTE ISLAND in the PHILIPPINES.”
"I shall return" and he did.

To prepare for this glorious MacArthur event, however, incessant US bombing of Taiwan started in earnest on 12 October 1944.

In the early days of the Pacific War, the Japanese High Command had decided to make Taiwan a formidable fortress and transform it into an aptly named "Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier". It was estimated that 71 airbases had been reinforced or constructed since then. Initially, some were intended for civilian use, for example, the Tainan Airfield (Eikosho) was built in 1937, drafted by the IJA Air Force in 1943 as were many other civilian airports. [Note: The seaplane port in Tamsui became an IJN base at around the same time.]

From the strategic POV of the US High Command, this Unsinkable Carrier must be sunk at all costs, not only to neutralize the Japanese offensive capabilities but also to clear the way to mainland Japan. The invasion into Taiwan area spearheaded by US Naval Task Force 38 of the Third Fleet, aided by the US Army Air Force, can be found in this book:
The Army Air Forces in World War II, Volume Five: THE PACIFIC: MATTERHORN TO NAGASAKI JUNE 1944 TO AUGUST 1945 - available online [here].

As far as the bombing of Tainan Airfield(s), we will use the declassified history of the 40th Group under the XX [i.e., 20th] US Army Air Force Command, one of the several bombing groups involved, as an example:

Office of the Historical Officer
APO Number 631
20 November 1944
Group History: 1 Oct to 31 Oct 1944
Prepared by WILLIAM M. MC NAIR, Captain, Air Corps, Actg Historical Officer


"It was decided that combat B-29’s should carry bombs rather than gasoline over the hump as XX Bomber Command now had a fleet of C-109 tankers carrying gasoline to the forward area. On 2 October some of the newer B-29’s with center wing tanks were dispatched to China with a load of 40 x 500 pound bombs in each airplane. The trip was accomplished without any unusual occurrences.[Note: this group was based in India, mobilized to Chengdu, China by flying over the Himalayas ("the hump").]

"On 9 October, the 40th Group began dispatching aircraft to China for the first of three missions scheduled for October. The target was the OKAYAMA airfield and arsenal at OKAYAMA, FORMOSA [Note: this was 岡山], called by the 20th Air Force as “the most important target south of Japan.”

“Starting at 132256Z on 14 October 1944 all 34 aircraft were airborne to attack the OKAYAMA airfield and arsenal at OKAYAMA, FORMOSA. By 132338Z 32 aircraft had been airborne, the remaining two being delayed, one by mechanical difficulties and the other becoming mired when it taxied off the runway. Both difficulties were overcome and the last aircraft was airborne at 140117Z.

“A total of 473,500 lb An-M 64 TNT bombs with .1 sec nose and .01 sec tail fusing and 236,500 lb AN-M 76 type incendiary bombs with instantaneous nose and non-delay tail fusing were dropped on the primary target.

"At the completion of the mission the Group did not return to India, but awaited further order in China and they came the next day. Another strike was to be made, this time a maximum effort against Japanese installations at EINANSHO airfield and repair depot at TAIWAN, FORMOSA. The assigned secondary target was shipping harbor installations at TAKAO, FORMOSA. This was to be a special mission by 40th Group airplanes, on 17 October, as planes from the other Groups had flown a mission on 16 October.

“A total of 32 B-29 aircraft at A-1 were considered available for the mission. Starting at 16230Z 30 aircraft were airborne with the last aircraft taking off at 170015Z. Two aircraft were unable to take off due to mechanical difficulties.

“Of the 30 aircraft airborne 10 attacked the assigned primary target dropping a total of 174 GP and 50 incendiary bombs from 24,000 feet with reported good results. Weather over primary target was such that the target was covered by cloud from the east up to the extreme western edge. The target was clearly visible coming in from the west and bombs were seen to explode in the aiming point area. No worthwhile photos were obtained due to cloud cover.

“Between 12 and 14 enemy S/E fighters were sighted below the formation but attacks were not pressed home in this area. Antiaircraft fire was meager and inaccurate. Several aircraft reported sighting high altitude balloons, spherical in shape with a long black box-like object suspended beneath them. The balloons were reported at 23,000 feet and it is believed photos were obtained.

“Thirteen aircraft proceeded to the primary target but finding it cloud covered went on to the secondary target and dropped a total of 281 GP and 121 incendiary bombs from 24,000 feet with good results. Approximately 15 ships, six of which were large ocean going type, we re found in the harbor. The center of the main bomb pattern appears from strike photos to have hit in the midst of the anchored shipping slightly short of the assigned aiming point. Three or more ships appear to have sustained direct hits and there are apparently numerous near misses. Some bombs are seen to be striking the main northern dock area. Weather was CAVU,

After accomplishing the missions in Taiwan, Group 40 was dispatched to attack Japan:

“Starting at 241828Z a total of 14 aircraft were airborne to attack the OMURA Aircraft Plant at OMURA, JAPAN [Note: This was 大村 in Nagasaki].

[Note: More information on the operation of  Group 40 also can be found in this excellent post: http://taiwanairpower.org/blog/?p=4178]

Group 40 Bombardment Group was only one of the many that had bombed Taiwan. From November 1944 to February 1945, bombing events without mentioning specific targets were documented in
The United States Air Force: A Chronology

On November 25 1944: B25s, P38s, P51s of the 14th Air Force attacked Formosa Taiwan for the first time
In 1945:
January 17: 91 B29s of the XX Group attacked Hsinchuku, the last mission from Chengdu
January 22: B24s and P38s from the 5th Air Force attacked Formosa, their first mission
February 19: The 14th Air Force hit Formosa with B24s, B25s, and P40s

Then from 1 March 1945 on, a long list of sorties against "Tainan Airfield" and the town of Tainan:
Loading bombs onto a B24 Liberator
American missions against Tainan Airfield
March 1 - July 10, 1945
March 1, 1945
(FEAF [Note: Far East Air Force]) B-24s bomb the Takao aluminum plant, Tainan Airfield
March 3, 1945
(FEAF) B-24s pound the Tainan area
March 12, 1945
(FEAF) On Formosa B-24s, with P-38 support bomb Takao and Tainan. P-51s also hit Tainan
March 18, 1945
(FEAF) Aircraft hit Tainan Airfield
March 20, 1945
(FEAF) B-24s bomb the town of Tainan
March 22, 1945
(FEAF) B-24s hit Tainan
March 28, 1945
(FEAF) B-24s hit Tainan
April 8, 1945
(FEAF) B-24s and B-25s hit Tainan
April 12, 1945
(FEAF) B-24s attack Tainan
April 13, 1945
(FEAF) B-24s hit Tainan Airfield
April 18, 1945
(FEAF) B-24s hit Tainan Airfield
April 19, 1945
(FEAF) B-24s hit Tainan Airfield
April 20, 1945
(FEAF) B-24s hit Tainan Airfield
April 24, 1945
(FEAF) B-24s hit Tainan
April 30, 1945
(FEAF) B-24s hit Tainan
May 18, 1945
(FEAF) B-24s hit Tainan Airfield
May 18, 1945
(FEAF) Fighters sweep the Tainan area
May 29, 1945
(FEAF) B-25s, and fighter-bombers, hit the Tainan alcohol plant and targets of opportunity
July 10, 1945
(FEAF) B-24s bomb Tainan Airfield, destroying several planes
The immediate questions are (1) which Airfield and why so many attacks? (2) why target Tainan (City) at all? and (3) what were "targets of opportunity"?

2013年7月29日 星期一

Tainan Airfield(s) 1944-45 Part 1

It took a while to piece together the missing details of the bombing of Tainan Airfield, from 12 Oct 1944 til the end of the Pacific War in 1945. 

Thanks to Prof YangHL who points the way: The paper published by 杜正宇 and 吳建昇, "日治下臺南永康機場的時空記憶", 台灣文獻 Vol 63, Issue 1, Pp 230-284 (2012) has reported that there were actually three Tainan Airfields, located in 永寧庄, 永康庄, and 歸仁庄, respectively. Only one remains today, i.e., the present Tainan Airport, previously known as the 臺南飛行場(永寧庄). The other two have long disappeared, both physically and historically. Now, with the seminal efforts of Prof 洪致文, the above-mentioned paper has reconstructed the history of 臺南飛行場(永康庄), unknown to even natives of Tainan. One of them, Mr WuJM comments: "I did not know there used to have an airfield although I went to Tainan Industrial Tech High in Yong-kang. I traveled on dirt road from near Tainan railroad station to YongKang every day for three years. Of course I was young then."

The proper Japanese kan-ji pronunciation of 永寧庄 and 永康庄 is Eineisho and Eikosho, respectively. For unknown reasons, perhaps for disinformation purposes, the former was misspelled as "Einansho" which consistently appeared in all 1944 US military documents. "Einei-sho" is seen only in the 1945 map of Tainan City made by the US Army Map Service (in the Univ of Texas Library map collection)[http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/ams/formosa_city_plans/txu-oclc-6565942.jpg]. Both airfields were targeted by the US.

There are multiple confusions: (1) in the US records, "Tainan Airfield" is not necessarily the Einansho Airdrome and Depot, it can be one of the 3 different airbases of the same name; (2) since two of the 3 bases vanished after the war, it was never clear which one(s) the US bombers had hit on each mission; (3) Einansho is actually Eineisho - almost no one could decipher what Einansho was in Japanese kanji; and (4) on at least one occasion, the USAAF had bombed 麻豆飛行場 also in Tainan, mistaking it as the Tainan Airfield (Eiko) because of the proximity and the almost identical runway configuration.

Here is the narrative of a USS Enterprise-based Navy Ensign, Bob Barnes, who piloted a Helldiver in the attack on:

12 October 1944 - Einansho Airfield (Formosa)

Robert J Barnes, then 20 years old on the wing of his Curtis Helldiver
We headed for Formosa (Taiwan) to attack a very large Japanese airfield. We headed in with VB-20 leading the way under CDR Riera and VT-20 and VF-20 for fighter cover. As we got close to the target and ready to peel off for our dive, we heard the fighters on the radio say 7 Zekes (Japanese fighters) were heading to attack. I switched gas tanks to have a full tank and peeled off. On the way down - straight down - I was concentrating on the target, wind, etc., when I heard a tremendous explosion. The plane shook and at first I thought I had forgotten to switch tanks and the empty tank had caused the engine to backfire.

Here I was, in a dive through heavy anti-aircraft fire, with Jap fighters chasing me. I switched tanks again, released the bomb, pulled out and the engine quit. In the meantime, my rear seat aircrewman confirmed we had been hit in the tail by AA. I quickly checked my fuel tanks and then realized I had already switched tanks and in the heat of the moment had switched back to the low tank. After switching back to the full tank, the engine started. What a relief! I headed for our rendezvous for the return to Enterprise. After landing, it was found that the plane had a large hole in the vertical stabilizer from the AA that had hit and bursts which sprayed shrapnel holes all over the rear of the Helldiver.

The defenders had put up a fight and incurred some losses: "On 12 October 1944, when we attacked Formosa, two of our Helldivers flown by LT Sam Tharp and LT(jg) George Muinch were hit by AA but were able to glide out to sea, to be picked up by our good old lifeguard submarines. One of my roommates, ENS Fred Turnbull from VF-20, was shot down that day and taken prisoner. I next saw him at a reunion 45 years later, in Pensacola. That same day, LT(jg) William F. Ross of VT-20 and his crew, Harry Aldro and Charles E. McVay, were shot down and captured. Sadly both crewmen were killed while prisoners. LT(jg) Ross was a prisoner throughout the war. That was one rough day!"

The Oct 12 1944 attack on Taiwan was island-wide, conducted principally by the US Navy with carrier-based aircraft. Bombing with land-based long-range bombers followed two days later and continued well into the early part of 1945.

2013年7月9日 星期二

Tamsui Town History

Tamsui District Office announces the publication of Tamsui Town History淡水鎮志 [quoted from Mayor Tsai Yeh-Wei's Facebook pages of Jul 7 and 9]:

有關「淡水鎮志」索取原則[The availability of Tamsui Town History]:

1. 紙本印刷數量有限,將依慣例,送全國319鄉鎮市公所、重要圖書館(如央圖、本區各學校圖書館...等)。[Limited hard copies will be distributed nationwide as usual to 319 units, including city/town offices, major libraries, and school libraries within Tamsui district.]

2.光碟版500套,供市民索取,送完為止。年底如還有預算再追加。[500 sets of DVDs are available upon request by citizens. Re-supplies will subject to funds available.]

3.已責成本所資訊室同仁,將數位檔案公開,未來市民可在本所網站下載區內自由下載,廣為流傳。[A downloadable digital version will soon be accessible through the District Office website.]

4.淡水鎮志版權歸淡水區公所所有,本著政府資訊公開原則,歡迎大家下載、分享、廣為流傳,但如引用,請註明出處。[This History has been copyrighted by the District Office. The public is welcome to download, share, and distribute. Please include the source in citation.]

感謝淡江大學歷史系、中文系,真理大學宗教系等各位篆稿委員及審稿委員的努力,終於出版。[Thanks are due to the writers and reviewers of Depts of History and Chinese Literature, Tamkang Univ, and Dept of Religion, Aletheia Universities, whose joint efforts have made the publication possible.]