Find a Security Clearance Job!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Curtis E. Lemay The Enduring"Big Bomber Man" CSC 1986 SUBJECT AREA History CURTIS E. LEMAY THE ENDURING "BIG BOMBER MAN" by Major T. J. Cronley United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College Education Center Marine Corps Development and Education Command Quantico, Virginia 22134 25 March 1986 Abstract General Curtis E. LeMay: "Ever since I was a boy and read about Gettysburg, I've thought that ambiquity was the reason for Lee's losing the bat- tle. Lee said: 'General Ewell was instructed to carry the hill occupied by the enemy, if he found it practicable ...' I call that leaning on a sub- ordinate, most definitely. Ewell didn't find the attack practicable; so he didn't attack ... Lee left it up to Ewell to make a decision which I feel a great general should have made himself. And Lee was a great general. Figure it out if you can. Because of his aggressive, unyielding stance on strategic readiness and his 36 year presence on the American military scene, this paper is titled LeMay - the Enduring "Big Bomber" Man. There have been many other advocates of strategic bombardment who made their mark in their own way. Some helped sell the concept, others fielded the machines, and others commanded strategic forces with great results. But no one endured and became synonomous with the term strategic bombardment like LeMay. He was a first lieutenant in the Army Air Corps on January 1, 1940. Less than eight years later he was a lieutenant general in the United States Air Force. In 1951, he became a full general. He retained this rank until retiring as Chief of Staff of the Air Force on January 31, 1965. He was the first officer since Ulysses S. Grant to remain an active duty general that long. This paper will examine the career of General LeMay with the main purpose of seeking the factors which con- tributed to his longevity in bombers and his ascendancy to eventual head of the Air Force. The author had sought to minimize references to LeMay's personal style - his cigar, his frown, etc. - unless where relevant. To tell any creditable story of LeMay it is necessary to refer to parallel stories of the emergence of an indepen- dent United States Air Force and two of it's bombers: the B-17 and the B-29. Therefore appropriate attention has been given to those developments as they pertain to the main subject. TABLE OF CONTENTS Page Chapter 1 Pre War, 1906 - 1937 1 Chapter 2 European Theater 19 Chapter 3 Pacific Theater 40 Chapter 4 Post World War II 71 Endnotes 93 Bibliography 103 Appendix 1. Chronology of Significant Events 108 Appendix 2. Key Individuals in LeMay's Career 110 Appendix 3. Performance Comparison of Selected American Bombers, 1933 - 1965 112 Chapter 1 - Pre War. 1906 - 1937 LeMay's first 31 years were inauspicious - for one who would be so well known later. Born in Columbus, Ohio on November 15, 1906, he spent his youth moving around the country with his family as his father, a construction worker, sought better jobs. The family lived at times in various places in Ohio, Montana, California, and back in Ohio. His parents neither helped nor hindered any designs young Curtis had for the future. Their concerns lay with the immediate welfare of the LeMay family, which was com- paratively poor. Curt was very young when he started liking airplanes, but it wasn't until college that he really decided that he wanted to fly for a living. He had no plans for a military career until even later. Work became a part of LeMay's life as soon as he was old enough to contribute. He delivered newspapers, telegrams, candy, and did whatever else he could to add to the family coffers. These duties were reinforced by his being the oldest of three boys and three girls. As he said later. "When the man stands there asking for his rent or when the grocer hesitates about putting that latest basket of groceries on the bill, you'd better be ready to come up with cash in hand. Very early in life I was convinced bit- terly of this necessity."(1) In San Leandro California, he had a job shooting small birds with a BB gun for five cents each so the lady down the street could feed her cat. In high school in Columbus he worked after school at a foundry. Because of this perpetual moving and working, he wasn't very popular in the various schools he attended. He later paraphrased the social planners in his Columbus Ohio, high school: "Shall we invite Curt?" "Hell, no. No use inviting him because he has to work." (2) In what little time he did have left over, he preferred hunting or rebuilding cars, radios, or whatever other machine was around. And he was quite good at it; tinkering with machines remained a favorite pastime well beyond retirement. He also enjoyed reading. Especially historical novels and biographies. In high school he had "vague aspirations" about the military but his chief desire was to fly, and the best flying education was in the service. He considered trying for an appointment to West Point but was reluctant to seek favors from Congressmen whom he didn't know. Being mechani- cally inclined, he entered Ohio State University and studied toward a civil engineering degree. His "vague aspirations" to the military and ultimate goal of flying made him an ideal ROTC student. After four years of that, he was an honor graduate with a field artillery specialty; however, he did not graduate from college. He had taken a night job at a steel plant to pay for school. Getting only four or five hours of sleep a night, he kept falling asleep in the morn- ing classes - so he failed those classes and came up short of the required credit hours. Eager to fly, he left Ohio State and used the ROTC background to enter into the Ohio National Guard. He was concerned about the thousands of applicants trying to fill only a few hundred flying slots in the Army in 1928, and he knew National Guard units had a high priority for pilots. So he started with the Ohio Guard instead of the Army. After personally following up on his application, he was ordered to the Army Air Corps training base at March Field, Riverside, California in October 1928. Shortly af- terward he resigned his guard commission and entered the regular Army. Even at this time he had no plans for a career in the military. He just wanted a good, free flying education.(3) As a second lieutenant in the Field Artillery, Ohio National Guard, his ROTC was his only required training for commission. Any "screening" for flying duty came at March Field. Flying PT-3s, LeMay and his fellow students held the status of "cadet", or, less formally, "Dodo". The wash out rate was high. Treatment of cadets was uniformly harsh in order to impart to them early in their training the impor- tance of standard flying techniques. LeMay was impressed. He didn't do well with his particular instructor. Instruc- tor change was permissible, but he didn't risk it because he thought by doing so he would be considered a whiner - a decision he regretted later.(4) Accidents were frequent, the high cost of doing business; LeMay learned this when he ran into another cadet's airplane one day while taxiing.(5) But he graduated from March anyway, and the next stop was advanced training at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas. All along, he had not really considered what category of airplane he desired to fly. Primary graduates went into bombardment, attack, observation, or pursuit. He was as- signed pursuit training and was generally happy. Things went much more smoothly than at March Field. He had a good instructor and good airplanes to fly. The transition from PT-3s and O-2-Hs to the more modern PT-9s was very simple because as he said, "You had a throttle, a mixture and a spark control common to the most advanced pursuit plane, and the most basic trainer." (6) Second Lieutenant LeMay was assigned to the 26th Pur- suit Squadron, Selfridge Field, Michigan in October 1929. In this, his first operational squadron, he flew more ad- vanced P-1 aircraft and developed his skills as a pursuit pilot. He also had a collateral duty - mess officer - and he took it as seriously as his flying. He began to ap- preciate the importance of the welfare of the men who com- prised a unit. From early experiences with food preparation and presentation at Selfridge, LeMay would continue an em- phasis on this element of good morale throughout his career. He had two minor mishaps while at Selfridge. On August 15, 1930 he damaged a P-1B at the air field. On March 28, 1931, he had an engine failure in a PT-3 and was forced to land in a farmer's field. He was giving a ride to a local girl when it happened - neither LeMay nor his passenger were hurt.* Later that spring he met Miss Helen Maitland on a blind date. She was a graduate student at the University of Michigan. They were married three years later. In 1931 he arranged temporary duty at Columbus, Ohio so he could complete the credits for the degree which had eluded him. He did this not for professional advancement, but because he felt it was a job which should be finished. Along with pursuit and formation training, he dropped his first bombs at Selfridge, at a practice range on Lake Huron. He was as impressed with the logistics as he was with the actual aerial delivery. The struggling Air Corps of 1931 could not get very much practice ordnance to the field. Other flying included cross-countries and regional airshows. It is necessary at this point to look in greater depth at the Army Air Corps as it existed in the early thirties. * The state of aviation safety and accident investigation in 1931, however, was such that careers were not as adversely affected by such events as they would be later. The airplane had proven itself in World War I, as both an offensive and defensive instrument, Army aviation moved out from the control of the Signal Corps and into a new branch of the Army, the Air Service, in 1918, But following the war, demobilization was swift. In 1923 General Mason Patrick, the air service chief, told Congress, "The Air Service today is practically demobilized and unable to play its part in any national emergency."(8) By 1926 the number of personnel had dropped from 197,338 (World War I) to 9,644 personnel - 919 officers and 8,725 enlisted. (9) By June 1932 it had increased slightly to 1,305 officers and 13,400 enlisted. (10) The General Headquarters, Air Force (GQAF) was estab- lished at Langley Field, Virginia, in 1935 to control the tactical activity of the Army Aviation. The Air Corps was responsible for training and logistics. Both commands reported separately to the Army Chief of Staff. This ar- rangement continued until March 1, 1939 when both commands were responsible to the Chief, Army Air Corps.(11) The first person to hold this job of Chief, AAC was General Henry H. (HAP) Arnold.(12) As the depression grew in the early 1930's, so did the dreams of a stronger Army Air Corps among many of its leaders. But there just was not enough money. In 1932 the Air Corps possessed 1,709 aircraft in four attack, 12 bombardment, 16 pursuit and 13 observation squadrons.(13) As if lack of funds was not bad enough, the Roosevelt Administration, in an effort to find new ways of dealing with the Depression, made innovative use of the Air Corps, depriving it of realistic training. Shortly after Roosevelt took office, a call went out to Selfridge for "Volunteers to help run a CCC camp at Brethren, Michigan. LeMay got the job and immediately rebuilt the mess camp there. The strategic bomber had emerged from World War I on shakier footing than its tactical brothers. Indeed it had been shown that a bomb could be dropped from a plane and do some damage. But it took something more convincing for the Roosevelt Administration to channel money specifically to develop a long-range aircraft capable of influencing the outcome of a general war. Earlier attempts at publicizing bomber power came from people like General Billy Mitchell who sacrificed his career by disobediently bombing a target ship on July 21, 1921. Twelve years later in 1933 the few Martin B-10s of the Air Corps were at least managing a toehold for the theories of the ardent proponents of strategic bombing like Mitchell, General Gulio Douhet, General Benny Foulois, and others.(14) General Douhet was an Italian who expoused mass bom- bardment as a means of crippling industrial targets. General Foulois was the strident Chief of the Air Corps in 1932. A terrible bureaucrat, he preferred flying to his desk in Washington; but his forceful if unpolished speeches before Congress kept bombers - and the Air Corps - afloat in the early 1930s.(15) As technology rapidly advanced and money slowly became more available for research and development, bigger bombers appeared to supplant the B-10. To transit longer distances with greater loads, greater horsepower was necessary; thus the new breed of bombers had four instead of two engines. Of the four main contenders, the B-17 held the greatest promise for the new, as yet untested theories. After a rocky beginning (the prototype crashed in 1938 at Wright Field) the B-17 emerged as one of a very few bombers capable of entering World War II with any hope for success.(16) Cur- tis LeMay would help to promote this bomber in 1937, but he would have to make several important decisions before this. At Selfridge, LeMay wrestled with all the pros and cons of staying in the military. For a time he came close to going to work as a pilot for Ford Motor Company in Detroit. Many of his service contemporaries easily found jobs with the burgeoning airline companies. But LeMay finally decided that, along with the first class flying education he had received, he was proud to consider himself one of "the finest group of men" in the country. Therefore he would stay in.(17) With that decision, he buckled down to make the most of his military career. One of his last assignments while at Selfridge was to participate in mail runs out of Cleveland in 1934. Air Mail responsibilities had been given to the Air Corps at Roosevelt's orders. This short experiment was disastrous overall; but by exposing the weaknesses of the Air Corps, the government, through the Baker Commission, gave all of military aviation greater recognition and financial support. From the Baker Commission came a unified air strike force and the General Headquarters, Air Force.(18) In September of 1934, LeMay and his new bride were transferred to Wheeler Field, Hawaii where he would fly with the 18tn Pursuit Group.(19) For two years he held various collateral duties including communications, armament, and meteorology. As had been the pattern, he fully immersed himself in his work. With the help of a short navigation course he had at Langley (TAD from Selfridge), he formulated techniques for group pilots to find their way around the Hawaiian Islands. Until then navigation was strictly visual dead reckoning, as navigation aids in pursuit aircraft were almost nonexistent. LeMay taught the celestial techniques he had learned at Langley. As far as social requirements were concerned, LeMay complied only to the minimum. He found having to wear din- ner jackets in his own quarters after six p.m. to be par- ticularly irksome.(20) Still a second lieutenant as 1935 arrived, he and Helen had been hoping for children, but had none. After two miscarriages, Helen was beginning to despair, but Curt, although disappointed for a while, came out of each misfortune quickly and stoically. While involved in his mini-navigational school, flying out of sight of any island, he began to appreciate the strategic significance of aerial bombardment. Tactical aviation had many proponents in 1935 and, as every pursuit pilot knew, it was very enjoyable. Not just the flying but the prestige associated with the smaller, more agile aircraft. But pursuit aviation had its limitations. As LeMay reasoned, "How the hell were you going to win a war with it?" (21) With insight gained through long hours and initiative in all previous assignments, especially his latest navigation adventures, he felt that heavy bombers were going to be "the strong arm" of the Air Corps. And he wanted to be part of it. So in 1936 he requested and received orders to the Second Bombardment Group at Langley Field, Virginia. (22) The B-17 program, which had been fought so hard for by Air Chiefs like Generals Andrews and Arnold, was beginning to take root at Langley by mid 1937. Very slowly, the Second Bomb Group at Langley was making tactical and material gains. First Lieutenant LeMay checked in as one of a new breed of bomber pilots. Many of the pilots at Langley already had considerable experience in earlier bomber types like the Martin B-10 which was still around when LeMay checked in. LeMay was restless to be part of the new en- vironment of four engine bombardment - to learn everything there was to know about it. He was assigned as Operations Officer of the 49th Squadron, Second Bomb Group. Until this assignment LeMay's only noteworthy achievement had been his navigation school in Hawaii. Though he had done thorough, professional work for the previous nine years, there was nothing more which made him competitive with the other com- pany grade officers of the Air Corps. Without a catalyst, a person or fortuitous turn of events, he may have continued indefinitely as a hard working but inconspicuous airman. He had arrived at Langley in time to see the B-17s come aboard in mid 1937, and that would prove to be helpful. But it was a person - Lieutenant Colonel Robert Olds - of whom LeMay would later state "made the greatest impact, or at least the first impact that really got me started to work for the first time." (23) Lieutenant Colonel Olds was the Commanding Officer of the Second Bomb Group. His regular operations officer had taken ill, so LeMay temporarily assumed these duties. Since the operations office was in such a position that Olds had to pass it every morning en route to his own office, in a very short time LeMay discovered that the group boss was a crisp, dynamic, and demanding leader who expected his opera- tions types to have certain information when the day started. (24) "How many airplanes are available?" "How many practice bombs do we have?" "What's the weather in San Antonio this morning?" These were the types of questions for which LeMay had no answers - the first time they were asked.(25) But he learned quickly from Olds and gained a rapid "insight under him as to what leadership meant and the great amount of work that had to be done to build a first class Air Force." (26) Olds was the first officer with whom LeMay had an associa- tion who really knew strategic bombardment. At the same time he knew the importance of combat readiness and demanded the most of his people in its attainment. Olds had heard of LeMay's navigating capabilities. Before long he was using LeMay for his own navigator - espe- cially on missions of possible public impact. There were several such missions planned by the Army Air Corps to "prove" mass bombardment in general and the B-17 in particular. The first significant event was the attempted interception of the battleship Utah off the Pacific coast. President Roosevelt was curious as to just what were the capabilities of the Air Corps' long range air arm.(27) A joint Army Navy Board decided to have two groups of bomb- ers search for a Navy "attacking force" lead by the Utah somewhere in a tract of over a hundred thousand square miles off California. Olds' bombers would lead one group. He selected LeMay to be the lead navigator. They took off on August 13, 1937 to the point off San Francisco that the Navy had given as a fix for the Utah. They had missed their tar- get the day before because the Navy's fix was one degree - sixty miles - off. The Navy made the same mistake on the 13th but LeMay was able to correct sixty miles at the last minute.* Sailors were lounging around the deck but had not taken down the flag which signaled it was safe to bomb. Ap- parently they did not think they would be spotted 285 miles from shore under a thousand foot overcast. The B-17s scat- tered the sailors with direct hits with water bombs. (28) Strategic bombardment had passed an acid test. The Navy was embarrassed and tried to keep this "Joint Exercise no. 4" a secret. Lieutenant Curtis LeMay emerged as a preeminant navigator in the Air Corps. Eager to promote the plane which the War Department was still not procuring in satisfactory numbers, the Army Air Corps' next big event was called the "Goodwill Mission". The Second Bomb Group under Bob Olds also took on that task. By this time, February 1938, LeMay had been piloting B-17s and requested to be a pilot on "Goodwill Mission" to South America and back. Olds told him he didn't have enough time in the airplane but was eager to have him along as a navigator. LeMay accepted. (29) The mission, in addition to fulfilling its "Goodwill" objectives with the countries of South America, proved the capabilities of the Flying Forts to the public. It was the longest such flight by a *It was never determined if the "mistakes" made by the Navy in reporting their position were deliberate attempts to throw the bombers off. Many in the Air Corps thought they were. bomber formation in history. The mission also showed many operational and training deficiencies which would have to be solved tn the event the Fortresses went to war. LeMay's abilities and judgment on this mission further impressed his boss. Severely hampered by lack of maps and ground naviga- tion aids, he dead reckoned the formation through clouds on several legs through western South America, landing in Chile, Argentina and Brazil. (30) Three months after their return, Olds and LeMay led three B-17s on their most difficult navigation test. The event was another ship interception, this time the Italian liner Rex six hundred miles off the east coast. A squall line of rain and low ceilings had made the weather almost too bad to work with. The ship's day old coordinates were handed to Olds as the B-17s were taxiing out at Mitchell Field, New York, about to take off on LeMay's best guess. In addition to lousy weather, they had a time deadline and an NBC film crew aboard to record the success or failure of the mission. But they found the Rex and returned jubilantly. The Navy, opposed to the long-range bomber, again classified the mission secret. (31) But LeMay had again proven his dedication and talent. Other events throughout the GHQ, Air Force and the Air Corps were laying the foundation for LeMay's future. On Sept. 21, 1938, the Chief of the Air Corps, Oscar Westover, wad killed while flying his own plane on an in- spection tour of California airplane companies, His successor, Henry (Hap) Arnold, had been advocating the B-17. Arnold's co-equal at GHQ Air Force, General Andrews was a more outspoken proponent of mass production of the new plane. There were others, too. In spite of them all, there would be no major expansion of the Air Corps until the War Department and Roosevelt were convinced. Though Roosevelt had used the Air Corps for CCC Camps and Air Mail service, he had been ambivalent on the issue of buildup until it be- came obvious that Germany was going forward with military adventures in Europe, He had played lip service to air power before, but on September 12, 1938 he made a key deci- sion to begin rapid Air Force expansion. He was driving in Rochester, Minnesota that day, with his close advisor Harry Hopkins. The radio reported Hitler making overt threats at expansionism. He immediately or- dered Hopkins to look for aircraft manufacturing sites. Hopkins later said, "He was sure then that we were going to get into war and he believed air power would win it."(32) Believing that airplanes would influence Hitler, on Septem- ber 28, Roosevelt had Arnold and other important service chiefs in the Oval Office to talk about air power. He wanted to know what would be needed to defeat Hitler in the air. Arnold told him 10,000 planes. The President concurred. The next day Arnold was named Chief of the Army Air Corps (replacing Westover).(33) On January 12, 1939 Roosevelt went before Congress and asked it to strengthen America's air arm, which he told them was "utterly inadequate". On April 3 Congress authorized $300 million for the Air Corps expansion.(34) The President's support was the key. When war in Europe and American involvement became more and more obvious, the Air Corps under General Arnold began one of the most overwhelming expansions in military history. As Poland, Norway, Holland, Belgium, and France fell, Arnold began receiving anything he asked for. Hardly had he received support for 54 combat groups when he called for 84 groups - 7,800 aircraft and 400,000 officers and men by 1942 and had this funded.(35) However, as Arnold had emphasized, planes and men alone would not be enough. There would have to be training bases, support equipment and research and development to counter any threat to American security. Arnold was a visionary. Observing the swiftness with which the Germans were marching on the European continent, he put forth proposals for an aircraft capable of striking Europe from North American bases. The B-29 would be his three billion dollar gamble. In 1940, though, those aircraft available immediately with good performance and reputation were pressed into ac- celerated production. In the heavy bomber category, there were the B-17 and the B-24. The B-17, its reputation estab- lished by events such as those flown by Olds, LeMay and others, was farmed out to other plants around the country; Boeing in Seattle couldn't handle the production schedule. In personnel, the Army Air Corps grew according to Arnold's requirements. In 1938, there were 21,125 officers and men. That number more than quadrupled by 1940 and con- tinued exponentially to mid-1944 (figure 1). Groups were split and resplit to create new units to fly and support the ever increasing numbers of aircraft. In early 1939 there ware 15 groups in the Air Corps (10 in the United States and 5 abroad). By the end of 1940 there were 30 groups. After Pearl Harbors the number had increased to 67 - and then ex- pansion accelerated even more. By the end of 1943 there were 269 air groups.(36) Officers with any seniority in 1940 naturally rode the crest of this giant manpower wave as the new squadrons and groups required leaders. Promotions were commeasurate with the responsibility. LeMay found himself in this category. By October, 1939, he had been in the Air Corps eleven years. With so few officers throughout the Air Corps, he had already met many of his peers with whom he would later serve as a senior commander. His training had consisted of flight school, navigator school, and on the job training. This was not unusual for officers of his seniority. The Air Corps had a Tactical School at Maxwell Field, Alabama, but that was for more senior offlcers.* To this point, he considered his Click here to view image boss, Colonel Olds, to have been the most influential "instructor" - an individual who brought out the best of LeMay's dormant leadership abilities. He taught me more in 30 days than I had learned in the previous seven years that I had been in the service ... At the end of 30 days, I was pretty far behind. But it dawned on me for the first time what I was in uniform for and what I should have been doing that I hadn't been doing for the last seven years.(37) * Many of the instructors at the Tactical School would play major roles in World War II - as planners, administrators and operators. One in particular, Major Heywood Hansell, would play a large part in LeMay's future. Chapter 2 - European Theater LeMay wad promoted to Captain on January 6, 1940. His assignments in the month preceding the war took on the same hectic pattern as the Army Air Corps itself. The Second Bombardment Group was split into three new groups. He was given command of the 7th Bombardment Squadron at a new base - Westover in Massachusetts in early 1941.(1) This was more of a paper command, though, because there were so few planes to fly. On March 21, 1941, he was promoted to Major.(2) In July he transferred to Prestwick, Canada to assist the Canadians in laying out air routes across the Atlantic. In September he participated in flying a B-24 to Brazil to set up a Southern Atlantic route to England. In October he returned to Westover and took an operations job with the newly formed 34th Bomb Group. From then until April 1942 he had various TDY assignments at Pendleton Field, Oregon and Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio. At Wright he helped with the Service tents of the B-24.(3) On 24 January, 1942 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. In May he was ordered to the 306th bomb Group being formed at Wendover Field, Utah to serve as Executive Officer to Lieutenant Colonel Charles B. Overacker. He was only there for a month - in June he moved to Salt Lake City and assumed command of the 305th Bombard- went group which had been activated March 1 as part of Arnold's new 8th Air Force. The 305th was LeMay's first real command. He had ini- tially only three B-17s, but like every other group commander, wad charged with preparing his unit for combat as quickly as possible. The term "temporary expediency" was used officially to describe the abject condition of men, materiel, and training as units strove to achieve readiness. Men were sometimes unpaid and poorly equipped. Desertions were frequent. For a short time the war looked as if it would even come to American shores. LeMay had to move his group up to Spokane, Washington even as men and planes were coming to Salt Lake City. Planners feared a Japanese attack. When that threat died down he was ordered to move his outfit to Muroc Dry Lake, California. At Muroc (now Edwards AFB) LeMay's began training his men as hard as he could for imminent combat operations with the newly formed 8th Air Force in Europe. Personnel came from all over to fill air crew and support billets. He ex- hibited the drive for operational excellence that he had seen in Lieutenant Colonel Olds. With "temporary expediency" the order of the day, LeMay became even more of a driver. He restricted liberty to one weekend every two weeks. Married men were restricted to base. He flew his airplanes as long as they were airworthy. When they were not, he demanded that maintenance personnel work harder to get them up. He never received the numbers of people and planes that he would have liked, but that was how it was throughout the Army Air Forces. (The war Department was reorganized on March 2, 1942 and the Air Corps was renamed the Army Air Forces).(4) It was LeMay's first evidence of protracted surge operations which he would employ later as a commander. Com- bat readiness was worth all measures. Planes and men were taxed to the limit round the clock as long as availability would permit. Brand new crews had to practice formation, navigation, multi-engine crew-coordination and, of course, bombing. Bombing was practiced on desert ranges, on targets made up of white concentric circles. Great weather helped the sortie rate, but would prove to hinder instrument flying and tactics needed for Europe. In spite of his rigorous training program, LeMay's 305th was still greatly undertrained when the group left California for Europe in October. Most of the navigators had never navigated over water. Most of the gunners had never fired at another airplane.(5) The group landed in England in October and became part of what would become the 3d Bomber Division, 8th Bomber Command, 8th Air Force. Before continuing the story of LeMay's new group, it is now necessary to take a closer look at the make up and background of the 8th Air Force. The 8th Air Force came into existence when Roosevelt and Congress gave General Arnold the resources to build for combat. In February 1942 Arnold sent General Ira Eaker to England to "make the necessary preparation to insure com- petent and aggressive command and direction of our bomber units in England". (6) In a few short months Eaker and his small group set up bases around the United Kingdom for the introduction of American combat groups. It was a giant undertaking, espe- cially in view of the fact that England was already at war. But her experience with the employment of heavy bombers would be welcome to the fresh men and equipment from the United States. Four of Arnold's staff officers, Lieutenant Colonel Harold George, Major Lawrence Kuter, Lieutenant Colonel Ken- neth Walker and Major Heywood Hansell had prepared a docu- ment called AWPD-1; in it, they estimated the numbers of men and materiel which would be necessary to "wage a sustained air offensive against German military power".(7) The groups and divisions which made up the 8th Air Force were established largely due to their efforts.* Eaker had been fighter pilot and was initially disap- pointed at having been selected to command the 8th Air Force. Arnold was driven to see the precepts of AWPD-1 turn to reality. He felt that an air victory could be achieved over Germany with sufficient assets and aggressive leadership. He told Eaker "That's why I chose you, to put * The division was called a wing until late 1943. For pur- poses of clarity, the term division will be used throughout this paper. some fight into the bombers."(8) As the war progressed, Arnold's unrelenting pressure on his field commanders would take its toll in careers, but he took whatever steps were necessary to achieve his goals. His unflagging work pace and determination in the name of "results" would cost him several heart attacks during the war and death in 1949.(9) As an administrator, he was controversial. He was very poor with paperwork but a had tremendous memory for details. His needling of Eaker would continue in spite of the unavoidable shortcomings in the 8th Air Force through 1942. LeMay's group was one of the first four "pioneer groups" in the 8th bomber command. Each group was comprised of four squadrons of 12 aircraft each. The squadrons did not have tactical perogatives and were always in formation with the group. Groups operated at various bases around England and rendezvoused after takeoff if multi-group forma- tons were to be flown. The four bomber groups of the 8th Bomber Command were, in October of 1942, receiving a trial by fire as the bombing offensive built up momentum. (10) LeMay's group began operations out of Grafton- Underwood. The first few missions were formation practice in which LeMay observed the group while sitting in the top turret of one of the rear planes. By that time it was ob- vious that stragglers were easy prey to German fighters, so picking up whatever combat reports were available he in- sisted on tight formation as he sought the ideal pattern. At the time there existed no standardized formations throughout bomber command. Group commanders were free to develop whatever tactic they wished. Most were experiment- ing with variations on layered formations which they hoped would provide maximum protection from fighters. These were quite cumbersone, though. During one of his first practice missions, LeMay developed a box-type of formation which he believed would offer the greatest defense against fighters. Though his inexperienced pilots found it difficult at first, they soon had it mastered, and it was employed on the first two actual missions the group flew. These were diversions - no bombs - over targets in France. The groups which had begun bombing before LeMay arrived, had been jinking (maneuvering sharply at random) to avoid flak as they approached their targets. This jinking maneuver continued through the bomb run. The result: the bombing ballistic solution was thrown off and the bombs were going everywhere but on the target. The belief that jinking was necessary for survival was even held by more experienced group commanders like General Frank Armstrong.*(11) The poor bomb results were putting the 8th Air Force Bomber Com- mand off to a very poor start. General Arnold's expecta- tions were far from being met. * Frank Armstrong, another of the four "pioneer" group com- manders (97th Group) of the 8th Air Force, ended the war with numerous decorations. The exploits of the 97th under Armstrong formed the basis for the movie Twelve O'Clock High. Considering the first real bombing mission his planes would fly, LeMay personally examined the probability of taking a flak hit if they went in on a straight line. He was intent upon hitting his assigned target. He said later "We paid the price of admission, it's time to play the game." He recalled his days at Ohio State and his ROTC ex- periences with a 75 man antiaircraft gun much like the ones being used by the Germans. To his pleasant surprise he dis- covered he had thrown a copy of the gun's operating manual into his personal belongings when he left the states. He compared the gun's rate of fire and accuracy to the altitude, size and speed of the B-17. He concluded that the accepted jinking maneuver gave an airplane no greater prob- ability of avoiding flak than flying straight and level. When mission orders came to bomb St. Nazaire, France on November 23, 1942, LeMay ordered his crews to fly a straight path for seven minutes to align sights and release bombs. At this prospect, many of his crews, including some squadron commanders, though he was crazy. But the mission proceeded, and LeMay flew in the lead plane. The results were impressive: No losses due to flak. Two aircraft lost to fighter action. This was much better than the other groups flying to St. Nazaire that day. On the night of his 36th birthday, Colonel LeMay wrote his first letters of condolence to families of his crews and prepared for more strikes. Throughout 1942 and early 1943 the proficiency of LeMay's group improved. And so did its reputation. He had built the 305th from nothing into a tightly-knit, well- functioning combat unit. When the crews realized that his innovations were well-thought out practical improvements, instead of improvident guesses, they responded with a cor- responding measure of enthusiasm for "Old Iron Ass". With his mechanical affinity and concern for the support func- tions of the group (maintenance, chow, facilities), they ap- preciated the fact that he knew their jobs. They admired him in spite of his glum demeanor and insistence on training that sometimes interfered with liberty plans. There were still losses, but as the men of the 305th compared them- selves to other groups, some of whom were themselves quite reputable, they realized that LeMay knew what he was doing. (12) In addition to innovations in the air, he instituted a "lead crew" system back at base. This was set up because of the way missions came down from higher headquarters (8th Bomber Command). Many missions were lead by crews who had little or no experience flying to the given target. As a consequence of this lack of familiarity, targets would some- times be identified at the last minute or, worse yet, missed altogether. In the "lead crew school", certain groups of pilots, navigators and bombardiers were sequestered behind curtains in a room containing only maps of the target area, The crews were told to become totally familiar with every aspect of the target, to the point where they could recog- nize it even below scattered clouds. As missions for these targets came down from Bomber Command, only these crews would lead the formations. The results were greatly im- proved bombing. The "lead crew" concept became standard throughout Bomber Command by July 1943. (13) In January 1943 the commander of the 1st Bomb Division, General Haywood Hansell, called a conference to decide what to do about losses throughout his wing, which consisted of four groups, including LeMay's. Hansell wanted to standard- ize bomber formations to reduce losses from fighters. All groups had been experimenting to find the ideal formation, but after a heated argument it was decided to employ a derivation of LeMay's "combat box" and a similar formation being used by another group.(14) Shortly afterwards, LeMay moved his group to Chelveston, England. Then came targets which came closer to the German homeland: Romille, Lille, and Rouln, France. On January 27, 1943, the group bombed the Navy Yards at Wilhelmshaven as the 8th made its first strike on Germany, Other objectives included aluminum works in Norway, and aircraft and heavy industry in Germany itself.(15) Attrition was taking its toll throughout Bomber Command, however, and the men knew it, but they kept going. General Eaker was told that if the losses continued, the Click here to view image last available B-17 would attack Germany in March 1943. Eaker said, "OK, I'll be on it". (16) Bomber groups would often consolidate to mass assets. In the experimental days of early 1943, provisional combat wings were sometimes formed for the tactical integration of two or three groups. Eaker's staff combined LeMay's 305th group and another group, the 303rd, to make the 102nd Combat Wing. LeMay was put in command and recommended for promo- tion to Brigadier General. (17) Lack of effectiveness against Germany continued to alarm General Arnold back in Washington. Eaker and his division commanders Hansell and Longfellow were groping to find an ideal solution. Experiments could result in greater losses. Many air planners were adamant proponents of figh- ters escorting the "heavies" all the way to the target and back. But in early 1943, even though Eaker wasn't yet penetrating deep into Germany, there were no fighters capable of even a medium combat radius. After each mission LeMay's division commander, General Hansell, could only debrief the groups as clinically as possible and expect similar results on subsequent raids unless men and planes came in greater numbers. German defenses were so formidable that crews chances of surviving twelve missions were less than 50%.(18) Eaker was pleading with Arnold for more planes and crews. Prime Minister Churchill too had men- tioned it in March: "We are dining together, smoking your cigars, and waiting for more of your heavy bombers," Cables to Eker became more urgent. In one memo he stated that the bombing doctrine taught in schools was being followed too closely. Not enough initiative was being shown in actual combat.(19) In another memo, he told Eaker that the 8th Air Force was finding alibis for not sending ou more bombers on each mission. Arnold told Eaker that more aggressive leaders were needed. Maybe some group and division commanders had been there too long.(20) In March, Eaker put his career on the line with a forceful reply to Arnold's charges of laxity in the 8th. The current position of the Eighth Air Force is not a credit to the American Army. After six- teen months in the war, we are not yet able to dis- patch more than 123 bombers toward an enemy target. Many of the crews who fly this pitiful number have been on battle duty for eight months. They under- stand the law of averages. They have seen it work on their friends. The crews know why this command has never dared to bet a limit of operational tours until re- cently. They know that we have been promised re- placement crews as often as we have been promised more planes. They have seen the number of planes dwindle until its scarcity has restricted most of our raiding to relatively futile forays on the coast of France. They have seen our precision bombing improve, in bloody lessons, until they know with confidence what they can do, or could do, if they had enough planes to run the increasing gauntlet of enemy fighters to important targets. As it is they know that we have not enough. They know that they will have to continue battle duty even after the limit of thirty missions lately set. And they know the reason which is that after eight months in this theater, the Eighth Air Force is still an unkept promise. The purpose of the Eighth Air Force was, and is, to strike the chief Axis enemy in his heart. No other American military or naval force was capable of this at the outset of the war. No other will be capable of it this year. Nor is any other Allied force except Bomber Command of the R.A.F. capable of it. It is ... well worth reflecting upon some of the consequences both present and potential of this unkept promise. To consider ourselves first, the delay in our receipt of promised planes and crews means that present crews will have to stay on still longer to break in the new ones. These men should be returning now, to pass on the lessons and bring back squadrons trained in our bloodily bought experience. Instead they will have to remain, in dwindling numbers, until replacements as green as they once were arrive to relieve them. This is the most serious intrinsic consequence of our failure to receive the promised replacements. Every passing day and every lost plane adds to its gravity. The ill winds that have blown our bombers to every part of the compass, except the source of our troubles, have blown Germany a windfall of the most precious element of warfare. That element is time. The time is short. The enemy is using it re- sourcefully. Our allies are waiting. It is respectfully requested that the Eighth Air Force be given sufficient planes to redeem its unkept promise. Arnold only replied that he had "eight youngsters to feed"; this referred to his eight major theaters, all of whom were clamoring for more of everything. (21) Arnold was in Oregon recovering from a stroke in May, by which time American factories were beginning to deliver the numbers of planes that Eaker was talking about, But enemy defenses, lack of fighter protection, and terrible weather were still keeping the 8th Bomber Command from producing what ArnoLd wanted. In June he again asked Eaker: Why?(22) Eaker replied, legitimate factors. But he did not in- dite his wing and group commanders, some of whom were show- ing the strain of the war of attrition. In the name of loyalty, he tended to be generous when it came to "benefit of the doubt". Arnold on the other hand was a firm believer in summarily replacing any commander who was not measuring up fully; and it was new the issue of commanders, not weather, that was bringing Arnold's wrath: I am willing to do anything possible to build up your forces, but you must play your part. My wire was sent to you to get you to toughen up - to can these fellows who can't produce - to put in youngsters who can carry the ball ... (23) He then recommended lower level commanders whom he thought would be suited for higher positions in Eaker's bomber command. He had known about LeMay's contributions to bomber command in the way of technical innovations. LeMay was men- tioned in the cable. (24) Concerning his overall Bomber Commander, Eaker replied: Consideration of Bomber Commander. I am well aware of the officers in your cable. There is not one of them who has yet had an experience in this theater to justify his immediate assignment as Bomber Commander, with the exception of Hansell and the possible exception of [Fred] Anderson. Hansell has been First Wing Commander, immediately charged with the operation and maintenance of all the old groups. He more than Longfellow is directly re- sponsible for the combat effectiveness and mainte- nance supervision. He has been carefully considered for eventual bomber commander. He is nervous and highly strung, and it is very doubtful whether he would physically stand the trials and responsibil- ities of the bomber commander task ... But Arnold wanted a decision. Eaker relieved Generals Han- sell (1st Division) and Longfellow (3d Division). Eaker had recommended that LeMay be promoted, as he was serving as a combat wing commander. Now he named LeMay to command the 3d Bomber Division.(25) Brigadier General Fred Anderson became 8th Air Force Bomber Commander. Colonel Robert Williams assumed command of the 1st Bomber Division. LeMay was given an emotional farewell by his men when he left the 305th in July.(26) The Job of division com- mander included an office at Elveden which was a far cry from the constant mud and grime at Chelveston. He now com- manded seven groups which were growing more quickly. His was the job of a Major General but he wasn't promoted to brigadier until September 28.(27) General Arnold withheld LeMay's promotion. Arnold, impatient and inquisitive, ques- tioned the need for bomb divisions at all. He felt it was an unnccessary layer of bureaucracy where people went "just to get promotions". Thus he held up LeMay's for two months. (28) And the pressure from Arnold to bomb deeper into Ger- many did not stop. His Washington based Committee on Opera- tional Analysis, COA, had reckoned that it would be better to really pound one of Germany's vital industrial sites, rather than to put fewer bombs on more targets. Using the talents of experts on German industry and prominent American industrialists, the committee determined that Germany's ball bearing industry would be an ideal target. Eaker's 8th Bomber Command staffers had been planning the raids on the Schwienfurt ball bearing complex and Regansburg aircraft plants before LeMay arrived at the 3rd Division in July. By August, the plan was to hit both targets at once. This would be the first time every available American bomber would be put into action against German industry. The idea was to saturate German fighter defenses with the lead divi- sion and thus pave the way for a second division Bomber Commander. LeMay's 3rd Division of seven groups would take off ten minutes before Brigadier General Bob Williams' 1st Division composed of twelve groups. LeMay's division would bomb Regansburg, Williams' Schwienfurt. Schwienfurt, though fairly deep into Germany, was close enough to return to England. Regansburg was so deep into Germany that LeMay's orders were to continue south and land at bases of the 12th Air Force in North Africa. This "shuttle" tactic would also keep fighters off the Schwienfurt force longer. The idea to hit these particular targets was born out of two separate plans formulated earlier in 1943. General Eaker approved the final plan in early August. One of the most difficult aspects of the planning was the weather. Rarely could good conditions be expected for both take off and target. And it was doubtful that target visibility would be compromised at the expense of good take off and group rendezvous conditions. LeMay knew this as much as anyone. Joining up multiple groups of relatively inexperienced pilots after in- strument take offs was a chore at best - and caused mid air collisions at worst. So the 3rd Division practiced weather take offs in anticipation of Regansburg. Bomber Command waited until weather conditions looked reasonable. The day came on August 17. At least the weather permitted the 3rd Division to take off without serious incident. LeMay flew in the lead group for this mission. The 1st Division, without the benefit of instru- ment practice was held on the ground for three and a half hours by bomber commander Anderson. He had two other choices - scrub the whole mission or risk mid air collisions in the fog over the first division.(29) The long delay permitted German fighters to attack LeMay's formations, land, refuel and rearm, and go up again to hit the following wave. LeMay lost 24 out of 146 B-17s. Casualties: 38 killed, 133 prisoners of war, 20 interned in Switzerland, and 40 rescued at sea.(30) William's follow-on force lost 36 out of 230 aircraft. One of the reasons LeMay's division had to take off early was because he had to reach Tunisia by night fall. The 3rd Division battled with fighters all the way into Regansburg and for an hour afterwards. The surviving crews limped into Tunisia. LeMay had made personal liaison with the service units of the 12th Air Force there, but due to the short notice of the raid and the fact that the 12th Air Force was fighting its own war, accommodations were much poorer than expected. LeMay was furious. Crews had to sleep in their aircraft and maintenance was almost nonexistent. But Combat Service Support officer Lieutenant Colonel Oliver B. Taylor later said: Certainly the short notice we had in Service Command did not permit us to do quite as much as we might have otherwise. In any case, LeMay should have been apprised of our limitations and the fact that the conditions in the field in Africa were nothing like those in England ... the Eighth could be admired for their combat performance but it was difficult to sympathize with them about 'primitive' conditions to which they were exposed for only a few days.(31) Eventually the B-17s of the 3rd Division were repaired and flown back to England. Based on his experience in North Africa, LeMay recommended that shuttle-type missions be discontinued. The actual damage inflicted on the Germans on this, the largest offensive to date, has been the subject of con- troversy over the years. The accuracy of the two divisions was excellent and a great deal of damage was done to facilities at Schwienfurt and Regansburg. But ball bearing production continued apace in September, and the machine tools at Regansburg were hardly damaged at all.(32) It took almost a month for the bombers of the 8th to recover enough for another combined-group strike. Then on September 6, 407 bombers (B-17s and B-24s) attacked the ball bearing plants around Stuttgart. Bad weather meant poor bomb effectiveness; and equally important, lack of suffi- cient fighter cover meant the loss of forty-four airplanes. On October 14 another full bomber command strike against Schwienfurt went out. The bombing results were much better, but the loss of 60 bombers to fighters was more than Eaker could afford. Each airplane lost took with it ten ex- tremely valuable crewmen. (LeMay's old group, the 305th, sent 15 bombers out that day - 13 were shot down - possibly the worst group loss of the war.) General Arnold had been of the belief that bombers could proceed without fighter escort, but his visit to the 8th in September and the dis- astrous losses of 14 October caused him to change his mind, and put a much higher priority on fighter development and production. On October 29 Arnold told Eaker that P-38s and P-51s destined for other theaters would be rerouted to England. (33) Arnold continued to press Eaker for measures of success which were always one step beyond what he was doing. Eaker picked LeMay, because of his experience, to return to the states in November 1943 on a War Bond tour.(34) LeMay used the time to check on gunnery training, which he felt was critical to bomber survival and hadn't been as good as he wanted it. In December, Arnold "promoted" Eaker to a position as deputy for Allied Air Operations in the Mediterranean. Eaker protested strongly but complied with the orders of his old friend. He was replaced by General Jimmy Doolittle.(35) The position of 8th Air Force Bomber Command was abolished. To this day, it is not clear whether Eaker's transfer was the result of Arnold's passion for results from the 8th Air Force. What is clear, however, is that histoy has judged Eaker to be the main force behind the building of the 8th. As 1944 began, American aircraft production hit its stride. LeMay's 3rd Division became larger, fighter protec- tion became standard, and the target list, made up largely by recommendations from Arnold's staff, became more destruc- tive to axis industry. From this point, there is nothing to distinguish LeMay's 3rd Division's performance from that of the 1st or the Second. The entire 8th Air Force was using the lead crew school and derivations of LeMay's combat box formations. "Big week" in February saw German aircraft in- dustry attacked in force with some of the most positive results to date. Other missions included rocket sites, beach preparation, even bombing in support of Army forces. (36) With the delivery of more bombers and long range fighters, the scales were finally beginning to tip in favor of the Army Air Forces. The number of personnel had almost doubled from 153,077 in February 1943 to 296,561 a year later. (37) In March LeMay was promoted to Major General. In June, Arnold ordered him to the China-Burma-India theater to command B-29s. (38) Summary LeMay came into his own in the first years of World War II. Propelled to command by a burgeoning Air Corps, he soon proved that he had better credentials than just seniority. By exercising a strong, unwavering command of the 305th Bomb Group, from its beginning to his departure, he built that group into one of the most consistantly effective units of the early 8th Air Force. He showed his men that he was every bit as prepared to endure the hardships and uncer- tainties of war as they were. His rigorous training schedules and demand for operational discipline were later much appreciated by his crews. Though there were losses, they were overall less than the normal rate. In practice, he gave an order and got out of the way. If an order was not carried out, the result was swift and certain discipline. His success as a commander in these early years was riot all due to his ability to build a combat unit. Others had done that and others were replaced for a variety of reasons. Colonel Overacker, for example, (LeMay's old boss) was relieved of command of the 306th Bomb Group for letting discipline breakdown in the air and on the ground. By not detaching himself and to make of the hard decisions of command, his avuncular style resulted indirectly in greater losses. (Overacker returned to Washington and told Arnold that the American and British bomber offensive was not working and should be discontinued.) LeMay did not have a problem with any such anxiety. Steady and imperturbable, he just kept the ground and flight discipline at peak levels, and proceeded with the mission at hand. It is significant that LeMay was (and has always been) a good follower. He went where he was told to go and did what he was told to do. Even on missions of such proportions as Schwienfurt-Regansburg, with thorough knowledge of a marginal situation, he respected the deci- sions of his own superior officers. "Fred Anderson said go, so we went." But though he was a good soldier (he never forgot that it was the Army Air Forces), his years in the European Theater showed that he was also an extraordinary innovator. The box formation, the lead crew school and the straight line bomb runly eventually became part of the 8th Bomber Command Standing Operating Procedure. It was LeMay's combination of rare and gifted abilities applied to a brand new form of warfare, mass aerial bombardment, that brought him recognition and advancement in the first half of World War II. Chapter 3 - Pacific Theater General Arnold was fighting a number of important battles in Washington. He was defending the European bomb- ing record. He was struggling to increase aircraft production. He was seeking ways of increasing the range of the fighters. He was trying to improve the safety record of stateside training commands. (He had relieved the Commander, General Johnson.) His health was failing but he continued to work from rest locations like Coral Gables, Florida. In the middle of all this, he was pressing for field deployment of his "3 billion dollar gamble", the B-29. The B-29 program began in November 1939, when Arnold, as Air Corps Chief, asked the War Department for permission to develop a new bomber with a 2,000 mile combat radius. Permission was granted in 1940. When it appeared that Britain might fall to Germany, the B-29 would be America's tool to fight a truly strategic war from this country. When the threat to the United Kingdom faded, Arnold planned to send the new super forts there to complement the B-17s. But in December, 1943, Arnold quite suddenly decided that B-29s would go exclusively to the Pacific Theater against Japan. (1) Because of the urgency of the war, Arnold pressed the B-29 into production without having thoroughly tested it. When the prototype fist flew, 1,664 airplanes had already been ordered.(2) This was not only a tremendous financial risk but it severely taxed production capabilities of American plants. The logistics and training programs neces- sary to field the new plane were themselves a monumental effort. In addition to pilot training bases in Georgia and Kansas, maintenance facilities had to be established to train ground crews on the new engines, electric gun turrets, pressurization systems and other features unique to the superfortress. All this for a plane which was as yet not fully tested. Arnold put a very capable officer with an en- gineering background, Brigadier General K.B. Wolfe, in charge of development. Recognizing the flaws inherent in spreading bomber as- sets across several theaters, as had happened with the B-17, Arnold decided to keep all B-29s to himself and mass them where he saw fit. He put himself in command of the new 20th Air Force, answerable only to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Although Arnold was not a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he was on very good terms with his boss General Marshall, of the Army, who was. Marshall generally agreed with whatever plans Arnold made.) George Marshall signed a directive which said, "The power of these new bombers is so great that the Joint Chiefs of Staff felt that it would be uneconomical to confine the superfortress to a single theater. These bombers, therefore, will remain under the centralized control of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with a single commander, General Arnold, acting as their agent in directing their operations throughout the world." On February 19, 1944, Roosevelt signed the order.(3) Under the code name, Matterhorn, the details of 20th Air Force command and control were worked out, along with a general plan of employment and support.*(4) B-29s would bomb Japan and other strategic targets from China until suitable bases became available. China was selected not only for its strategic significance, but because of pressure from Chaing Kai Shek who threatened to get out of the war unless he received more support from Roosevelt. Arnold put General Wolfe in command of the 20th Bomber Command, the first unit to field the B-29. The proof of the pressure to get the B-29s to China can be seen in the deployment of the first planes there on April 7, 1944. Two planes made it to Chakulia, while five crash landed en route due to engine fires, pressurization problems, etc.(5) The logistical problems associated with bombing Japan from forward bases in India and China were of such propor- tions that Wolfe had a truly monumental task in sending out even one mission. All supplies had to come from India. This meant an average of seven sorties back and forth to India * The development of Matterhorn was a complex and political issue. It had many detractors. The general results are what are important here. for every one tactical sortie against Japan. Added to these problems, Wolfe had to deal with the thousands of technical "bugs" still evident in the B-29. The airplane itself flew well, But pressurization problems sometimes caused the win- dows to pop out at altitude. The new electric gun turrets were causing problems. There were problems with the instruments, with the hydraulic system and with the electric system. The most critical problem, however, was the new 3,000 horsepower Wright engines. Fires were frequent and resulted in many forced landings. Accidents were also causeed by the minimally trained pilots operating from aus- tere new bases. Arnold was aware of the problems, but was still anxious to see results for his big bombers head- quartered in Chengtu, China. The first missions flown by Wolfe's B-29s against Japan in the spring of 1944 were not impressive to Arnold. In spite of Wolfe's continued explanations of supply difficulties, Arnold maintained the pressure for a convinc- ing show. On June 17 Arnold told Wolfe it was "essential" to put more pressure on Japan. He went on to give objectives and asked for an estimate of 20th Bomber Command capabilities. Wolfe gave a cautious estimate. Arnold gave orders for attacks on Japan listing numbers of planes, targets, and dates. Air Transport Command, charged with providing air freight for forward bases, would have to as- sist with logistics (flying the "Hump" across the Himalayas). Wolfe thought the directive was too much. He wanted more new bombers and a guarantee of Air Transport Command support; thus he offered an alternate plan. On July 4, Arnold ordered Wolfe to Washington immedidately for an "important command assignment". He left on the 6th - fired. (6) Arnold personally picked LeMay to succeed Wolfe. He later confided to his friend General Carl Spaatz, "With all respect to Wolfe, he did his best, and he did a grand job, but LeMay's operations make Wolfe's very amateurish."*(7) In his autobiography Arnold said of LeMay that he "barely knew him but for his fierce determinations, resourcefulness and overall combat record with the 8th Air Force in Europe."(8) He wanted LeMay in the China-Burma-India theater right away. But LeMay was adamant about learning to fly the B-29 before he commanded a fast growing bomber command. He ap- pealed to Arnold's air staff for this instruction and returned to the states for a "check off" in the B-29 and some welcome time with his wife and young daughter. At * There is evidence to suggest that General Clair Chennault, charged with fighter protection of Wolfe's bombers, had a hand in discrediting his efforts. He said after the war, "They continued to fly in thousands of tons of American food and personnel into China at the expense of gas and bombs. They always retained recollections of the Pentagon standard of living."(9) Omaha, Nebraska, he learned about the numerous faults of the airplane. In the interim, Brigadier General LaVerne Saunders commanded the 20th Air Force. By September, LeMay was in China. He gained an im- mediate appreciation of the obstacles faced by his predecessor. For the time being, there was no choice but to continue as Wolfe had. The supply shuttles from Chengtu and satellite bases in China to friendly posts in India was the only way to operate. Fortunately, Air Transport Command was able to help, using their C-46s. Also, the numbers of airplanes were increasing and the technical problems were slowly being solved. He instituted his combat box formation and lead crew school as he had in Europe.(10) He also fully encouraged experimentation with rapidly improving radar sets being installed in the superforts. This permitted bombing in marginal weather conditions and at night. He shook up maintenance to get better availability from his planes. He stressed cruise control - to enable pilots to get better mileage for the extra long round trips to Japan.(11) LeMay thus made real improvements. Missions against Japanese tar- gets became more effective as a result. On November 5, the 20th attacked Singapore, the former British Navy and now a Japanese naval base. Seventy six airplanes made the nearly 2,000 mile round trip and had very accurate hits on the King George VI Graving Docks. Two B- 29s were lost.(12) Logistics problems remained, however, just too much, for even LeMay to overcome to the extent desired by Arnold. On September 22 he wrote LeMay: We have not yet obtained the bomb loads which originally were envisaged for the B-29 ... Pilots that are weak must either be replaced or trained to a point where they can obtain the maximum from their airplane. I wish you would drive home to your crews and commanders the necessity for car- rying the maximum weight of bombs on all missions and the fact that every bomb that is carried on each B-29 will contribute to the overall air ef- fort against Japan.(13) Meanwhile, preparations were underway to establish the 21st Bomber Command on bases in the Pacific. The 21st was to complement LeMay's 20th in carrying out the "global mission" of Arnold's 20th Air Force B-29s. The Marines had been fighting to secure bases in the Pacific. Their preparation and support would be a complex but necessarily interservice operation. In May 1944 Army Air Forces General Walter H. Frank convened at Pearl Harbor with repre- sentatives from the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps to hammer out details of base development, air field construction, logistics, and dozens of other support lssues.(14) The 'Frank Report' estimated dates for operational readiness for six new B-29 bases - two on Saipan, two on Tinian, and two in Guam. Provisions of the Frank Report would cause LeMay trouble later, especially with regard to facilities and ordnance, both of which were to be responsibilities of the Navy. General Haywood Hansell, transferred from the 8th Air Force in Europe by Eaker, had been Arnold's chief of staff for the 20th Air Force. Hansell was given command of the new 21st Bomber Command on Guam on August 29, 1944.(15) On October 14, he landed the first B-29 at Saipan while fight- ing was still going on for Tinian and Guam. From bases in the Pacific, Arnold, through Hansell, now had the capability to really use the B-29 in its intended role. Distances were not as great as in the C.B.I. (China Burma India) Theater, but much more importantly, the logistics and supply problems of C.B.I. were greatly alleviated in the Marianas. There were no shuttle runs for supplies - the Navy delivered much of the necessary equipment in accordance with the provisions of the Frank Report. On October 26, Hansell began modest operations with his meager first echelon of planes.(16) Arnold's Committee on Operational Analysis (COA) gave Hansell a target list, code name San Antonio I, which was rich with aircraft and engine factories. Hansell, who played a major role in planning the air war against both Germany and Japan, used tried and true precision tactics in his attacks on the Japanese homeland. As Guam and Tinian fell to American forces, four new bases became available for the growing numbers of B-29s. Throughout November and December 1944, groups from the 21st were able to bring come pressure to bear on targets at Nagoya, Tokyo, Musashino, Akashi, Takasaki, and other locations.(17) Arnold as always was restless for greater results. He had said in April, "Of particular interest to me would be some idea as to the most effective mixture of high explosive and incendiaries (fire bombs) against heavily built up areas."(18) The use of incendiaries was nothing new, as Brigadier General Wolfe had tried them with respectable results. So had LeMay in the C.B.I. and even Hansell on occasion. The COA figured they would be especially effec- tive against the lightweight flammable building materials used by the Japanese and made their use a high priority in messages to Hansell as early as 11 November. On December 18, LeMay gutted the military storage area at Hankow using incendiaries.* On the 19th, Arnold's Chief of Staff directed Hansell to launch such a full scale incendiary at- tack on Nagoya. Hansell, long a proponent of precision at- tacks (he had been a precision bombing instructor at the Air * LeMay objected to this mission, but General Wedemeyer, Commanding General of U.S. forces in China, prompted by his Air Commander, General Chennault, appealed to the Joint Chief of Staff who directed the mission. Chennault was probably correct in calling the Hankow mission "The first mass fire bomb raid,"(19) Corps Tactical School) resented the directive and protested. The Chief of Staff, General Louis Norstat, replied that the change to area incendiary attacks was "simply a special requirement resulting from the necessity of future planning."(20) Hansell later wrote, "Since I had not yet accomplished my first priority task, destruction of Japanese aircraft and engine plants, I was not immediately affected by this change and I continued my emphasis on selective bombing."(21) On the 21st Hansell did comply with the incendiary directive, but was unable, due to aircraft availability, to give a full measure. He sent 78 bombers instead of the planned 100 and used a daylight precision (versus area) attack. Results were almost nil.(22) On January 3, 1945 Hansell attempted a better fire raid on Nagoya. Ninety seven bombers got off, but between weather and navigation errors only 57 bombed the target. The results were inconclusive. But Hansell did what Norstat had directed and he went back to high altitude precision work. In this he had been hampered all along by 150 knot head winds above 20,000 feet; this not only affected accuracy but broke up formations. High altitude, attacks using high ex- plosive bombs were yielding only mediocre results for Arnold's superfortress and his unorthodox air force. On January 6, 1945 Arnold sent Norstat to Guam to tell him the bad news. On the 7th LeMay flew in from Chengtu to relieve him. In a letter to Hansell on February 1, Arnold wrote: Dear Possum: I know that the change in command of the XXI Bomber Command was a great disappointment to you and it for that reason that I am greatly impressed with the fine spirit with which you have accepted this situation. Your letter of the 8th of January indicates a degree of loyalty, judgment, and devo- tion to duty which is a great credit to you as an officer I want to make it clear to you that I feel that you did a very fine job in organizing, training, and committing the XXI Bomber Command to action. I am cognizant of the great problems involved in pio- neering a project of this type. You have my appre- ciation as well as my admiration for your excellent work. ... The job from now on is no longer planning and pioneering. It has become one of operating. LeMay, because of his broad experience in handling large units of heavy bombers over a long period of time plus his experience of over 4 months with the XX Bomber Command, should be our best qualified oper- ator... ... The change in your status was the result of my decision based upon my best judgment. I sincerely appreciate your generous acceptance of this decision and I greatly regret the disappointment which I know it has caused you... (23) Now LeMay had four groups instead of one (Brigadier General Giles replaced LeMay and began winding down opera- tions of the 20th). As LeMay quickly discovered, it was tough to run high altitude attacks from Guam against preci- sion targets in Japan with a head wind close to 200 knots. The weather obscured targets in Japan so frequently that it Click here to view image was almost impossible to predict weather suitable for visual attacks; also radar was not that good for precision bombing through the overcast. General Norstat, with intelligence from the COA, still urged incendiary attacks - particularly one on Kobe, an im- portant port. On February 4 LeMay launched 129 planes with E-28 incendiaries. Sixty nine planes made it to the target and bombed at altitudes between 24,000 and 26,000 feet. Two planes were lost. The results were encouraging - war produc- tion was hit hard - but LeMay then went back to conventional precision tactics. (24) On February 12, Norstat directed another "major incen- diary attack" in view of the promise shown in the Kobe attack. On 25 February, with groups expanding and aircraft arriving, 231 B-29s destroyed about one square mile of Tokyo with incendiaries from high altitudes. Again, more effec- tive than conventional bombing but still not to General Arnold's satisfaction. On March 4, LeMay's bombers made the eighth attack on the Musashino industrial complex - and had the eighth failure of high altitude precision techniques on that target. Too much cloud cover.(25) Norstat had told LeMay on the day he took over the 21st Bomber Command that if he, LeMay, didn't get results from the "3 billion dollar gamble", he, too would be looking for a job. After LeMay took over, Arnold told Norstat, I am still worried, we have built up ideas in the Army, the Navy, and among civilians of what we can do with our B-29s. We had all realized that in order to do considerable damage, large numbers of B-29s would have to deliver their loads of bombs against Japan continuously and consistently, and yet in spite of the above, really and truly, our average daily delivery rate against Japan is very, very small ... Unless something drastic is done to change this condition soon, it will not be long before the B-29 is just another tactical airplane ... These airplanes are quite expensive and carry with them a crew of 12 men, and yet our results are far from what we expected and what everyone else expects.(26) Many knowledgeable Americans were questioning the cost of the B-29. Secretary of War Stimson had said that "Japan's production capability has not yet been fundamen- tally weakened."(27) Alexander P. de Seversy, a very popular aviation writer, said, The B-29 is an aerial version of the Big Bertha, a softening up weapon whole sporadic use defi- nitely removes it from the strategic force. The Twentieth Air Force is almost a flawless example of how strategic air force ought not to be used. It is nothing but auxiliary aviation deluxe."(28) LeMay was under the gun. He had pressure not only to prove the B-29 and it's strategic role, but as he later related, to justify Arnold's Joint Chief of Staff Air Force. "General Arnold had to have some results out of this new or- ganization he had set up, He had to get results quickly or lose the gains he had made."(29) The Army, the Navy, and the Pacific Air Forces were asking for B-29s for their own uses. On March 6 LeMay told his Public Relations Officer, Lieutenant Colonel St. Clair McKelway, "This outfit has been getting a lot of publicity without having really ac- complished a hell of a lot in bombing results."(30) The February 25 attack which destroyed a square mile of Tokyo was successful largely because the bomber formations were forced to descend to about 20,000 feet to avoid clouds at higher altitudes. This relatively small descent gave more efficient dispersal of the fire bombs and permitted more accurate bomb placement. It was certainly no secret that an even lower attack - one below 10,000 feet could wreck havoc with the thin wood and stucco buildings bunched so closely together in Japanese cities. But heretofore such a low attack had been out of the question. Japanese anti- aircraft defenses were believed to be able to chew up bomber formations flying so low. The fighters would be able to respond more quickly also. There were other questions also. Such an attack would signify a shift from hitting precision industrial targets to "area bombing", that is bombing entire neighborhoods - entire cities, civilians and all. LeMay began to seriously consider a low altitude mass fire bomb attack. He did not do it alone. He consulted his staff and his wing commanders. Some of his intelligence of- ficers thought the idea was suicidal - based mainly on the flak threat. The wing commanders were in general agreement that such an attack was feasible. In fact they each had their own idea about how best to employ fire bombs.(31) He reviewed the pros and cons over and over. Misjudg- ing it would mean unprecedented losses. Pros: a. accuracy, bomb pattern b. greatly improved bomb capacity due to less fuel required to climb to high altitude c. less strain on still troublesome engines due to shorter climb d. eliminate 200 MPH head wind at altitude e. pressurization problems eliminated f. fly under clouds (possibly) g. better radar resolution h. element of surprise i. Arnold wanted results Cons: a. fighters (maybe) b. flak (maybe - Japan's AA guns optimized for high altitude) c. failure would mean an end to career and serious setback to 20th Air Force The biggest threat was the flak. But LeMay concluded that Japanese guns, set up against high altitude bombers, could be taken by surprise. He decided to order such a mission. Target - Tokyo. The planes would also go at night - for better survivability against flak and fighters. Furthermore, minimum crew, tail gunner only. This would further increase pay load.(31) The chances of defending against fighters at night were ques- tionable anyway. The tactics would be single aircraft in more or less of a file. Three hundred and twenty five newly configured B-29s took off on the evening of March 9, 1945. LeMay stayed up all night. At about two o'clock in the morning, his public rela- tions officer, Lieutenant Colonel McKelway, visited him at the operations center. As it was a 15 hour round trip for the bomber force, most of the unnecessary staff personnel had gone to bed to hear the results of the raid the next morning. Only LeMay and a few operations duty types were staying up. After a brief exchange of small talk, LeMay told McKelway, I'm sweating this one out myself. A lot could go wrong. I can't sleep. I usually can, but not tonight. If this raid works the way I think it will we can shorten the war. In a war you've got to try to keep at least one punch ahead of the other guy all the time. A war is a very tough kind of proposition. If you don't get the enemy, he gets you. I think we've figured out a punch he's not expecting this time. I don't think he's got the right flak to combat this kind of raid and I don't think he can keep his cities from being burned down - wiped right off the map. He hasn't moved his industries to Manchuria yet, although he's starting to move them, and if we can destroy them before he can move them, we've got him. I never think anything is going to work until I've seen the pictures after the raid, but if this one works we will shorten this damned war out here.(32) At about four in the morning the first "bombs away" message arrived at the operations center by radio, "Bombing target visually, flak moderate, fighter opposition nil."(33) After sun up, airplanes began landing at their home bases on Guam, Tinian, and Saipan. The mission was a stun- ning military success. Fourteen square miles of Tokyo were destroyed and an estimated 100,000 people killed. The fires started by the B-29s were fanned by a 14 knot wind which made the conflagration more intense. In spite of the thousands of civilians killed, the attack served to destroy much of the "phantom industries" - military manufacturing of small parts done in private residences. Only 2 B-29s were lost. Arnold and the world knew about the raid immediately. (34)* The B-29 and the Joint Chiefs of Staff set up had been legitimized. In spite of congratulations from Arnold, LeMay did not relax. Seizing the offensive, he spent the next ten days at a feverish pace repeating the tactics of March 9. In that *National papers reported results within hours of the mission. (36) period, the 21st Bomber Command sent 1,595 sorties against four major cities proposed by Arnold's targeting group. Thirty two square miles of urban landscape in Nagoya, Kobe, Osaka, and Tokyo was razed :by 9,365 tons of fire bombs dropped at an average altitude of 7,000 feet.(35) The switch to area fire bombing over precision in- dustrial targets was not objected to by any American organizations. It was accepted as a viable military option. Planners in Washington were gearing up for an invasion of the Japanese homeland in November. There was very little concern expressed for the lives of Japanese civilians whom the American public in general referred to as "Japs". LeMay did not ignore the civilian factor. He just balanced it against the possible loss of thousands of American lives should the homeland be invaded. (Estimates ranged from 500,000 to one million.)(37) The Joint Targeting Group in Washington quickly desig- nated 33 targets to be hit with the same tactics - all in preparation for an invasion of Japan. LeMay and a number of Arnold's staff, however, believed that with enough support, the war could be brought to an end by the use of air power alone.(37) The only things standing in the way of this pre- diction were the availability of ordnance and air crews, and the need for autonomy in a theater where Navy was demanding B-29s for its own uses. Ordnance had been expended at an accelerated rate through the ten day siege. Almost all the incindiaries were gone. LeMay had to pressure the supply chain in the Navy to get more delivered (under provisions of the Frank Committee). Air crews presented a graver challenge. LeMay was not receiving the pilots, bombardiers, and navigators he needed to exploit his tactical successes. He decided to fly his crews beyond the standard 60 hours a month - well beyond. He believed that with positive morale boosters (like successful missions) pilots could be "flown to death" if the missions warranted it.(39) He told Norstat on April 25, "Though naturally reluctant to drive my force an exorbitant rate, I believe that the opportunity now at hand warrants extraordinary measures on the part of all sharing it."(40) The crews flew. He said later, "All we had to do was paste a picture of the incendiary raid results on the bulletin board, and crews doubled their flight time" and morale im- proved tremendously.(41) This hunch of LeMay's regarding the effect of mission success on "combat fatigue" was given credence by a report to the Army Air Forces medical team from the 20th Air Force flight surgeon.(42) When the Marines took Iwo Jima, the 21st Bomber Command had a field from which they could stage escort fighters for the trip to Japan. Fighters were not nearly as important as they had been in the European theater, however. Iwo Jima became more valuable as an emergency landing field for the bombers themselves.* The Joint Target Group compiled a list of the 22 most important industrial cities in Japan. The new directive was issued to LeMay on April 3. Top priorities were Nakajima - Mushimo and Mitsubishi - both at Nagoya. Also listed were urban areas of Tokyo, Kawasaki, Nagoya, and Osaka.(43) The Joint Target Group based their selection on the premise that the home islands would be invaded. LeMay's fire attacks had been so successful in March however, that some of Arnold's staff believed the war could be won exclusively from the air. LeMay did. In April he wrote in a private letter, "I consider that for the first time strategic air bombardment faces a situation in which its strength is proportionate to the magnitude of the task. I feel that the destruction of Japan's ability to wage war lies within the capability of this command."(44) The fact that LeMay was the only commander in the Pacific theater not under Admiral Nimitz caused problems for Pacific theater commanders who needed a plane like the B-29 *Admiral Ray Spruance, whose task force captured Iwo Jima, had private doubts about the need for paying 6,000 American lives to take the island for a strategic air field. LeMay visited Spruance and assured him that the number of lives saved by having Iwo as an emergency field more than offset its price.(45) for their own purposes. In late March, LeMay's autonomy was tested. Under the provisions of the Joint Chief of Staff directive, B-29s could be used "in emergency situations" when approved by the JCS. Admiral Nimitz needed B-29s for two purposes: suppression of Kamikaze bases in support of his Okinawa campaign and the mining of Japanese ports. LeMay objected to both, but he was overridden by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Iceberg was the code name given to the naval campaign at Okinawa which began on April 1. On March 7, LeMay par- ticipated in a planning meeting in which Nimitz's planners invoked the emergency clause to use B-29s to attack kamikaze bases on the island of Kyushu. The B-29 would be used tactically, not strategically, in this role. LeMay was not happy with this, but took his orders. As the fire raids slowed down at the end of March, (because of fire bomb depletion) he began the attacks on Kyushu using high ex- plosive bombs to crater airfields and destroy as many aircraft as feasible. The first mission was March 27.(46) For a week, the bombers continued attacking numerous known suicide bases. The landings at Okinawa had begun. LeMay wanted to go back to strategic bombing of the mainland. He told Nimitz, "We've got everything flat on Kyushu, all we can do now is put more holes in the field, and we can't stop an occasional airplane from taking off. We've done all we can" Nimitz's agent in this matter was Rear Admiral Forrest Sherman, whom he then consulted. Sherman wanted greater destruction - more raids. LeMay went back to work.(47) On April 6, the Japanese launched about 355 kamikazes from Kyushu and sank two destroyers, a minesweeper, two ammuni- tion ships, and an LST, plus damaged several other ships. On the 7th there was another fierce attack on Nimitz's task force 58.(46) LeMay then sent 53 planes against Kyushu on the 8th and 134 planes on the 17th, but the enemy was not deterred. Be- tween April 6 and June 22 an estimated 1,500 suicide sorties were flown from Kyushu. Twenty-five allied ships were sunk and 182 were damaged. The B-29s flew 2,104 sorties against kamikaze bases - about 75% of the combat sorties for that period. LeMay complained to General Norstat, Arnold's Chief of Staff, several times in April and May about this tactical employment of his planes; but each time he was told to do whatever Nimitz needed in support of Iceberg.(49) On one occasion, LeMay appealed directly to Arnold, who then checked with Admiral King on the JCS. Arnold was told in essence that if the Army Air Forces did not want to help the Navy, the Navy could pull out from Okinawa and leave the Army stranded without support.(50) Arnold did not make an issue of it. LeMay later wrote, "During the period that we were tied down to strikes against air fields, we could have knocked out every engine plant in Japan.(51) This campaign was not a success. Later estimates concluded that between April 17 and May 11, 1945 95% of the enemy's sorties were flown on the same day their chief bases were being attacked by B-29s.(52) On May 11 Nimitz finally released the B-29s from their duties against the kamikazes.(53)* While all this was happening, LeMay had been also min- ing Japanese ports - again at Nimitz's insistence. He didn't care too much for this job, either, but went at it wholeheartedly. The plan to mine key Japanese ports and shipping lanes had been put together in late 1944 (code name Operation Starvation). Soon after taking over from General Hansell, LeMay had submitted his own plan to 20th Air Force Headquarters. He dedicated an entire wing - the 313th - to the task. The Schimonoseki Straits was the chief area mined. Through a combination of massive numbers of bombers and resourceful techniques, the mining campaign was a great success. It required less than 6% of the total sorties flown during the period but resulted in the sinking of over 1,250,000 tons of Japanese shipping.(54) LeMay had a mining officer, Commander Ellis A. Johnson, who planned a great portion Operation Starvation. In a * Though the superforts did little to stop kamikaze attacks, their contribution to a joint effort of Navy and Air Force tactical strikes was all that could be hoped for by Nimitz. Click here to view image later book he gave a detailed account of strategy, ordnance types and the other planning factors needed for this - the most concentrated mining effort ever.(55) The full economic significance of the campaign was not evident until after the war. The Premier of Japan in 1945, Prince Fumimard Konoy, stated, "The result of the B-29 mining was so effective against shipping that it eventually starved the country. I think you probably could have shortened the war by beginning earlier."(56) LeMay only devoted two paragraphs to the min- ing campaign in his autobiography. As outstanding an effort as it was, he was restless to resume his fire campaign full scale He was able to mount some medium effort strikes during the JCS directed missions. On April 13, 327 airplanes burned out 11.4 square miles of Tokyo. On the 15th, 303 planes destroyed six more square miles of that city. The 20th Bomber Command departed China and Joined the 21st in the Marianas. Germany surrendered on May 8 and Arnold told General Doolittle to deploy the 6th Air Force to the Pacific Theater. However, the contribution of the 8th was minor be- cause they joined the 20th so late in the war. By May 14, with other committments gone, LeMay was able to send out 529 airplanes against the industrial area of northern Nagoya. On the 16th, 522 planes again hit Nagoya. (57) Subsequent attacks were against Tokyo, Yohahama, Osaka and Kobe.(58) In June, Arnold visited his bomber commands in the Pacific. He met LeMay at Guam on the 12th and asked him when he thought the war would end. Arnold asked this of people wherever he went and no one had really given him a serious estimate. LeMay told his staff, "Get the target list and tell me when we're going to run out of major targets." The date was September 1 - and that was the answer he gave Arnold.(59) Impressed with this, Arnold decided to send LeMay to Washington to brief the JCS on his campaign.(60) Arnold also had an opportunity to witness 520 planes rendezvous for a mission on Osaka. More importantly, he was able to smooth over some of the rough spots between the Navy and Air Force regarding supply, logistics, and air- field construction.(61) By June 15, the six industrial cities chosen by the Joint Target Group had been ruined. Japan's air raid system was almost totally inadequate - the economy was in shambles - the whole country was on the brink of collapse. LeMay returned from Washington to conduct the final aerial assault on the homeland. He was using all sorts of tactics by this time to suit the needs of the mission at hand - high al- titude precision attacks when weather permitted, medium and low altitude incendiary attacks against urban areas, even attacks in broad daylight became common when it became ap- Click here to view image parent that fighter resistance was weak. Incendiary mis- sions continued against secondary cities. In July, LeMay decided to drop leaflets which announced in advance the destruction of given cities. Nimitz's psychological warfare section assisted with preparations for leaflets to be dropped on July 27. 660,000 copies were dropped using M-26 bomb cases. The leaflets read, "In ac- cordance with America's well known humanitarian principles, the American Air Force, which does not wish to injure in- nocent people, not gives you warning to evacuate ... and save your lives."(63) Radio broadcasts from Saipan had the same theme. This saved lives and lessened the stigma of at- tacks on civilians. The warnings did not jeopardize the ac- tual attacking force. Strategic bombardment forces in the Pacific were grow- ing so quickly and proving to be so effective that General Arnold relinquished personal command to General Carl Spaatz in July. At the approval of JCS, Arnold directed sweeping changen in the command structure in the Pacific Theater. Spaatz would command the newly designated United States Army Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific. LeMay's 21st Bomber Command became the Twentieth Air Force. Spaatz, fresh from victory in Europe, arrived at Guam on July 29. By August 1 he had his staff set up. He chose LeMay as Chief of Staff. (64) Thus, LeMay's days as an operational bomber commander Click here to view image in the Pacific theater were over. He was succeeded by Lieutenant General Nathan F. Twining, former commander of the Thirteeth Air Force. LeMay's move to a staff job was in recognition of his superb efforts of the previous seven months.* He had created so much momentum against Japan that, with additional air forces and continuing deliveries of B-29s, victory was assured. LeMay, Arnold, Spaatz and a few others knew about the atom bomb. LeMay's 509th composite group had been based at Tinian with the mission of preparing for it's delivery. By flying comparatively safe practice missions, they generated resentment from some of the other groups who were flying more regular and hazardous missions. Working in secret, they began flying practice missions on 20 July on "leftover" targets from the main JTG list. Dropping TNT filled bombs with ballistics similar to the atomic bomb the 509th aircraft ran in at about 29,000 feet, dropped the 10,000 bomb projectile, and practiced their sharp break away maneuver. The group executed this type of mission while waiting for the directive to drop the real item.(66) Arnold ordered LeMay to reserve Kyoto, Hiroshima, *Spaatz looked over his new command and cabled Arnold, "Have had opportunity to check up on Baker two nine [B-29] opera- tions and believe this is the best organized and most tech- nically and tactically proficient military organization that the world has seen to date." Nigata, and Kokura for the 509th. Secretary of War Stimson overrode Arnold and scratched Kyoto because of its cultural significance. Nagasaki was added apparently by LeMay's staff.(67) LeMay had been told about the bomb by one of Arnold's staff officers. Support requirements would come from the Navy. LeMay's whole attitude toward the atomic weapons to be issued to the 21st Bomber Command was quite matter-of-fact. There is no evidence that he placed any greater or less emphasis on its employment than he had on any other mission being flown during the spring and summer of 1945. He said, "I think it was anticlimactic in that the verdict was already rendered."(68) The atomic bombs were dropped on August 6 and 9. The 20th Air Force also flew conventional missions on 1, 5, 8 and 14 August - the day the Japanese announced their surrender.(69) LeMay only remained Spaatz's Chief of Staff until September.(70) On his return to the states, he visited Japan and was given a peace medal by the government. At first he refused orders to the ceremonial peace treaty. "It's one place I don't want to go," he said. Then he flew one of three B-29s from Hokkaido, Japan to Chicago, Illinois - a record for the time. The Air Force was rapidly demobilizing following the war. General Arnold had felt as early as autumn of 1944 that the war would end soon and he began preparing for the Air Force of 20 years hence. He hired noted scientist Theodore Von Karmen to assemble a team to estimate the requirements down the road. From this very insightful plan- ning came revolutionary, but prophetic conclusions about fu- ture air power. The Von Karmen team foresaw jet propulsion, missilery, and a host of other aspects relative to a post war Air Force. LeMay's first major post war assignment was complementary to Von Karmen's work. In October 1945 he was named the first Deputy Chief of Staff for Research and Development.(71) Summary The B-29 was General Aranold's instrument to carry out a truly "global mission" unique to the United States Army Air Forces. Though it was born out of a fear that the United States might have to wage war from her own shores, Arnold later devoted it exclusively against Japan. He went through two other commanders (Wolfe and Mansell) before choosing LeMay to be the chief field agent in the operation of his "3 billion dollar gamble". LeMay was chosen for no other reason than the ability he had demonstrated in the European Theater. In operating out of China, he showed adaptability and perseverence in dealing with the disproportionate logistics problems. After succeeding General Hansell in the Pacific Theater, he was hard pressed to improve on the record of that great planner. When pressure continued from Arnold's camp, LeMay used an uncanny combination of theory, intuition, threat analysis, and courage to personally make one of the greatest operational decisions of the war - to fire bomb Japan from low altitude. He was able to motivate his people - from wing com- mander down - to put forth even greater efforts in maintenance, ordnance handling, support functions and actual flying when he felt it imperative to exploit the successes of late March 1945. Thirty eight years old - he showed resolve and deter- mination in dealing with Nimitz and his staff over the provisions of the Frank Committee and 21st Bomber Command autonomy. Very heavy bomber operations were much different in the Pacific theater than they had been in Europe, but LeMay's performance through the end of the war with Arnold's B-29s was every bit as brilliant as his work with Eaker's B-17s. World War II was the first (and only) time strategic bombardment was used to physically bring a country to surrender. By proving this legitimacy, the Army Air Corps earned enormous recognition and paved the way for its inde- pendence in 1947. LeMay had grown with the mass bombardment concept since 1937, and by war's end had become its leading field general. Chapter 4 - Post World War II (1946 - 1948) In his new job at R&D, LeMay oversaw a group which went to Germany in 1946 to investigate the many innovations developed by Germany in the closing days of the war. His office was especially interested in the V-2 rocket - the long range weapon employed by Hitler against England. American derivatives of this weapon became the first tacti- cal offensive missiles. LeMay was quick to mention this fact when later accused of too heavy a reliance on strategic bombers.(1) Meanwhile there were important changes being made throughout the Air Force - change which would affect LeMay's future. General Arnold retired in February 1946; with General Spaatz succeeding him as Chief of the Army Air Forces. American confidence after the war resulted in mas- sive demobilization in accordance with traditional U.S. policy. Arnold had ordered thousands of planes destroyed because of an inability to support them; also he feared for the survival of civilian aviation companies if there were too many war surplus planes around.(2) LeMay personally emerged from the war as one of many young commanders who would find places in the newly indepen- dent Air Force, established by the National Security Act of 1947. As energetic as he was at his duties at R & D, LeMay did not complain when General Spaatz ordered him to command the U.S. Air Forces in Europe in October 1947.(3) Feeling he was much better suited as a field commander, LeMay took his family with him to his new headquarters at Wiesbaden, Germany. The scars of war were very much in evidence when he arrived - physical, economic and spiritual. On January 26, 1948, with less than 20 years active duty, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General.(4) When the blockade went up around Berlin, LeMay again found himself in the unique position of being able to single handedly affect the situation. The blockade of Berlin by the Russians in July 1948 began as early as the Potsdam Con- ference three years ealier. The political situation had deteriorated so much by the time LeMay arrived that the commander of American Forces in Germany, General Lucien D. Clay, was preparing plans for such an event. A staunch advo- cate of a firm American stand, Clay had made no secreat of the possibility of a blockade.(5) LeMay, also aware of the possibility of armed conflict, and of the pitiful state of his Air Forces in Europe, took his own measures. He had one fighter group, a few transports and a radar unit. The Soviets were increasing harassment of military and civilian road traffic in 1948. He decided to build up Air Force rear areas in France and Belgium. But at the time, the presence of American troops was illegal in those countries. LeMay therefore sent in logis- tics personnel in civilian clothes by a round about route to avoid detection. In a few months, LeMay had built up his rear area stock piles. General Clay gave tacit approval.(6) American policy makers were arguing about whether or not the country should take a stand in Berlin. On April 10. General Bradley told Clay about fears and doubts about Ber- lin he was observing in American institutions and asked Clay if it might not be wiser to pull back now and possibly save face if the Soviets decided to move. Clay said no. In early April, the Soviets were searching all rail military shipments to Berlin. A small airlift was effected to get around that. On June 24, the Russians announced that all freight, passenger trains, and water traffic to Berlin would be halted. General Clay had been considering his options. On June 25 he called LeMay (at Frankfurt) and told him to dedicate all of his C-47s to an airlift to Berlin un- til further notice.(7) LeMay thought that Clay (not being an airman) couldn't realize the magnitude of the task of feeding a city the size of Berlin, by air if it became necessary. But he took his orders and promptly executed them.* *Fearful that requesting permission for such a move would, through indecision, only cause its delay, General Clay or- dered the airlift entirely on his own. The next day, 32 flights of C-47s carried about 80 tons of supplies from Wiesbaden, Germany.(8). From there, "LeMay's Coal and Feed Company" grew at an almost uncon- trolled pace. When it was obvious the blockade would continue, LeMay secured the use of C-54s and C-47s and their crews wherever he could find them. By the end of June, so many transports were coming and going out of Berlin's downtown airport, Templehof, that traffic management was becoming a real problem. LeMay succeeded in getting local help to build a new runway. But that didn't end the confusion and congestion in the air and around the loading areas. The Undersecretary of the Army, General William D. Draper,visited the area and confirmed for his superiors in Washington the need for the airlift.(9) With Draper was his chief planning officer, Lieutenant General Albert Wedemeyer, who knew LeMay well. Wedemeyer, a pilot himself, saw the confusion created by the rapid es- calations of the airlift. When he returned to Washington he met with the new Air Force Chief Hoyt Vanderberg (who had succeeded Spaatz) and suggested that another old acquain- tance would be better suited to direct traffic in Germany. This man was Major General William Tunner - a commander of Air Trasport Command in the China-Burma-India (HUMP) route in 1944. Vandenberg asked LeMay what he thought. LeMay replied, "I don't think I can afford to turn down any offer to help. Let's use him."(10) Beginning July 30 Tunner and his team made a "cowboy operation" into a smoothly running airlift of unprecedented magnitude: It would end May 11, 1949. Vandenberg himself visited Germany not long after as- signing Tunner to run the airlift. LeMay gave him a per- sonal tour - showing him what had been done not only with the airlift but with all aspects of Air Force operations in Europe. In spite of LeMay's insufficient assents, Vandenberg was impressed with his (and Tunner's) achievements. He said so, too. And shortly after his visit he named LeMay to succeed General George Kenny as Chief of the Strategic Air Command.(11) Summary LeMay post war years gave him an opportunity to exer- cise his talents in the austere environment of demobiliza- tion. It was his resourcefulness which kept him at the forefront during this period. To send American troops (dressed as civilians) into France and Belguim was an un- likely scheme borne entirely from LeMay's traditional refusal to accept the status quo. His skepticism over General Clay's proposal for an airlift was very short-lived after LeMay began appreciating Clay's resolute stand on the blockade issue. LeMay threw all his energies into the airlift, flying many missions himself to prove his enthusiasm. He needed labor for the new runway at Templehof, so he conscripted hundreds of unemployed area residents, all of whom were eager for the work. Against the advice of some of his staffers, he even hired old Luftwaffe mechanics to service American transports when the pace of the airlift called for more mechanics. General Spaatz could not have anticipated the airlift when he sent LeMay to Europe in 1947 to command the Air Forces there. So the element of luck was on LeMay's side when he was the commander on the scene when General Clay in- quired about airlift. Once that enterprise began, however, it was LeMay's characteristic "full speed ahead" method of running it that made such a positive impression on the new Air Force boss, General Vandenberg. SAC The Strategic Air Command was established by General Arnold on March 21, 1946.(12) General George Kenny, who had commanded the 7th Air Force in the Pacific was named as its first Commanding General. Demobilization was so profligate that in 1946 General Kenny could call only 148 B-29s his own. A year earlier, there had been over a thousand. Five hundred plane raids were common. Reorganization was rampant throughout the Army Air Forces. By 1947, Kenny had 713 to- tal aircraft (319 bombers). But still forced with budgetary cuts, Kenny hired Major General Clements McMullen to reor- ganize Strategic Air Command.(13) McMullen drastically cut the number of staff agencies within SAC and ordered manpower trimmed at all levels. In spite of these austerity measures, Kenny was begin- ning to make progress toward a truly modernized strategic force. The B-36 was about to be fielded.(14) This bomber was conceived in 1940 to possibly supplement B-29 operations from the states in the event England fell.(15) He also was responsible for the first doctrine built around the capability of the atomic bomb.(16) Vanderburg said he gave SAC to LeMay for one primary reason: LeMay "has participated in more strategic bombings in time of war than any other man in the world."(17) Time magazine reported that soon after his arrival at SAC, LeMay found an airman guarding a bomber hanger with a ham sandwich. Though not exactly true, it was typical of a general attitude throughput the organization which in- furiated the new commander. But this would soon change. In December, 1949 he obtained permission to grant "spot promotions" to first lieutenants who showed excellence in performance of their duties as aircraft commanders. This was extended to other ranks in 1950 and 1951. Conversely, individuals or entire crews could lose temporary promotions for failing to maintain high standards.(18) He made General Kenny's "bombing competition" an annual event with awards to best units. He gave top priority to manning and equipping SAC - especially in his first years there. He established his World War II "lead crew" system at Walters Air Force Base New Mexico. He reorganized maintenance and other sup- port functions into a more efficient package. He instituted rotational deployments to overseas bases so units could familiarize themselves with those areas.(19) LeMay kept apace of the fast growing American aerospace industry as the 1950s began. He fielded the first American jet bomber, the B-47, in 1951. Never one to grow personally attached to an airplane if it was no longer a leader in his growing command, he told a Congressional Committee in 1954, "If I had my way, all the B-36's would be on the junk pile."(20) In 1955 SAC began operations with the B-53. Also, in the 1950s an entire family of intercontinental bal- listic missiles became part of the SAC arsenal. LeMay wel- comed the missiles but always maintaind they should be balanced with a bomber force. By 1958, SAC personnel had more than quadrupled to 258,703. Aircraft went from a total of 837 in 1948 to over 3,000. Bases rose from 21 to 39. As concerned as he was about the organization and operation of SAC, LeMay never lost sight of the need for proper morale and welfare of its airmen. In this regard he fought for and helped win pay raises. He improved barracks drastically from common usage squad bays - totally unsuited for alert crews with round the clock shifts - to smaller in- dividual quarters. He fought hard to obtain better quarters for married personnel, both on base and off. In Omaha he cooperated with a local official named Capehart to build off base government housing - the same type later set up at military bases around the country. He even set up a hobby shop at Offult using donations of machine tools from local concerns. The Strategic Air Command was at it peak when LeMay was ordered to Washington in July 1957 as Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force. He was succeeded by his long time deputy at SAC, Major General Thomas Powers. The Pentagon President Eisenhower appointed General Thomas White to the poition of Chief of Staff of the Air Force in the spring of 1957. White immediately asked LeMay if he would be his deputy. LeMay said yes.(21) White had commanded the 7th Air Force in the Pacific at the end of the war and gone on to various staff jobs at Air Force Headquarters. In four years with White, LeMay learned the political "ins and outs" associated with work in the Pentagon. He found himself run- ning the day to day operations of the Air Force as White spent most of his time with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He considered his blunt style to be complementary to White's moderate methods. "There were many incidents wherein General White was exactly the kind of brake which should have been applied to keep me from battering myself to death."(22) General White retired on June 30, 1961. His successor had been a matter of speculation. By then President Kennedy was growing more confident in his new office. He was doing a respectable job of showing the Soviets his resolve to live by the words of his inauguration speech. Instead of naming a younger, more broad-minded man to lead the Air Force, Ken- nedy decided to practice what he had been preaching. He named LeMay.(23) It was not necessarily that Kennedy agreed with LeMay on various issues, he just felt that a warrior should do a warrior's work and policy makers should make policy. He told Hugh Sidney, "Its good to have men like Ar- leigh Burke and Curt LeMay commanding troops once you decide to go in; but those men aren't the only ones you should lis- ten to when you decide whether to go in or not. I like having LeMay head the Air Force - Everybody knows how he feels. That's a good thing."(24) LeMay proceeded with his newest job as energetically as any before it. And the Air Force as a whole was healthier than ever with SAC continuning to gain strength, new gener- ations of fighters coming aboard, good retention of personnel, and a strong new role in ballistic missiles. It was the missile issue on which LeMay believed he was often misunderstood. He felt that people considered him ex- clusively a "big bomber man". He maintained he wasn't.(25) As early as 1946, at R&D, he was following up on General Arnold's plans to include missiles in the Air Force. And the silos manned by SAC personnel were a testament to his belief in the deterrent value of intercontinental missiles. He was not exclusively a "big boomber" man, but in his posi- tion at the Pentagon, he was very outspoken on the need for manned bombers as part of the total equation of strategic deterrence. But times were changing and the era when big bombers could solve most problems was rapidly coming to a close. LeMay found himself waging political battles that were in- creasingly frustrating. One of the first of such battles did involve a bomber - the B-70. In March 1961 Kennedy severely cut back development of the MACH-3 aircraft, stat- ing that the new missile capabilities "makes unnecessary and economically unjustifiable the development of the B-70 as a full weapons system at this time."(26) In spite of this LeMay fought for procurement of the B-70 during his entire three and a half year tenure as Air Force Chief. He was able to persuade congress to heavily fund the bomber in 1964 but Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, LeMay's perennial foe, diverted the funds through technical loopholes. Soon after LeMay's retirement, with Vietnam escalating, the project was quietly abandoned.(27) Building and Air Force was one thing. Dealing with the Joint Chiefs of Staff on matters of national policy was another. LeMay left a memorable legacy of having a single opinion on all crises of the time: bomb them. For example, he told Kennedy that Cuba should be bombed immediately when the missile crisis flared up. McNamara is reported to have asked LeMay if it wouldn't be possible to just "wound" Rus- sian technicians in Cuba. LeMay looked at him for a long time, then said, "You must have lost your mind."(28)* After Krushchev pulled the missiles away from Cuba, Robert Kennedy noted that LeMay had said, "Why don't we go in Monday and make a strike anyway?"(29) As Vietnam began to escalate, LeMay (with Marine Com- mandant Wallace Green) was the leading proponent of im- mediate resolute air strikes against the north to "Bomb them *LeMay did order a significant tactical air build up in Florida in case there was no other solution. into the stone age."* Later, he observed that "we are swat- ting flies when we should be going after the manure pile." (30) Though Kennedy appreciated LeMay's "no nonsense" opinions, the President had a very difficult time with him on the personal level. The deputy Secretary of Defense at the time, Roswell Gilpatric, said that whenever Kennedy had to see LeMay, "He ended up in sort of a fit. He would just be frantic at the end of a session with LeMay because LeMay couldn't listen or wouldn't take in, and he would make what Kennedy considered ... outrageous proposals that have no relation to the state of affairs of the 60's."(31) In spite of their entirely different outlooks, Kennedy broke prece- dent and extended LeMay's term for a year in 1963. Said Kennedy, "Any president should have the right to choose his military advisors." There were no major personnel changes in the Joint Chiefs of Staff after Kennedy's assassination. Lyndon Johnson tolerated LeMay for a year, fully aware of his position. Tensions were evident between the president and LeMay on the issue of policy in Viet Nam. "I won't let those Air Force Generals bomb the smallest outhouse north of *LeMay visited Vietnam in 1962 and told the air commander, General Haskins that the requests for air strikes are being processed much too slowly. Ambushes by insurgents, he said, could be very costly to them if close air response time was lessened.(32) the 17th parallel without checking with me. The generals know only two words. Spend and bomb."(33) LeMay retired on February 2, 1965; leaving the Air Force in the hands of General Mac McConnell (who had almost exactly the same philosophies). He wrote his memoirs and went to work as a board member of a major electronics firm. In 1968, George Wallace asked him, based on his strong views on Vietnam, to be his running mate on the American Indepen- dent Party ticket for president. LeMay agreed, thought some- what reluctantly. When Wallace failed in his bid for the presidency, LeMay returned to the electonics firm and made occasional apperarances in behalf of air power. Analysis There are many things which influenced LeMay throughout his life. His was not the type of career with a single sig- nificant turning point which propelled him to the top. Nor did he have any distinct "beginning" on a road to a success- ful military career, or distinct social or economic advantage. Coming from a comparatively poor background, the only life he knew as a boy was one of moving and worked as hard as he could all his life. This obviously affected his perfor- mance of duty, but it also contributed indirectly to his success. By considering hard work and performance the norm, he was naturally able to expect - demand - it from his subordinates. His tight knit, smooth running organizations from Mess Camps in Michigan to Strategic Air Command were proof of this. His pastimes from his earliest youth grew and con- tributed to his many abilities as a commander and thus to his continued advancement. Although he never had many op- portunities for organized recreation; mechanical interests, hunting, and reading lead directly to furture abilities. His early interests in crystal radio sets, used cars and other machines were also invaluable in later decisions: a degree in engineering, the box formations of his bombers, flak avoidance, and the decision to send over 300 B-29s to Japan at low altitude. LeMay's early interest in historical novels and biographies played a very important role in furture decisions. Although he had ROTC in college, through his personal reading, he had a deeper appreciation of the role of the commander that went all the way back to his boyhood. In his autobiography, he compares the anguish of commander's past with his decision to launch the first low level strike against Tokyo.(36) LeMay made many important decisions in his life - tac- tical and orgaizational. But the decisions he made to directly change his career path were few. The fact that he wanted to fly, wanted to start in the military, etc. were easy ones. The two personal decisions that made Curtis LeMay the Curtis LeMay the world came to know were in their own way no different than the countless other decisions he made as a commander. These were the decisions to stay in the Air Corps, and to transfer from pursuit aircraft to bombers. All other advancements were the result of deeply engrained personality traits, or external factors. One of the external factors was the mood of the country when he transferred to B-17s. He arrived at Langley Field, Virginia just in time to take part in the build up which lead to full production of that plane as America went to war. Similarly, the mood of the country let him wage a direct assault on the Japanese homeland - civilians and military targets. At the height of the war, almost no one cared how many enemy civilians died - the nation demanded a quick victory in the Pacific. Although America shifted into an attitude of conciliation after the war, LeMay didn't. Demobilization had left him in a very compromising position in Germany in 1948. When the mood swung back to support a posiiton of strength through deterrence, LeMay was there, ready to build up Strategic Air Command to a showpiece of deterrence. Then when trouble flared up in Cuba and Vietnam, LeMay came across to many politicians as an anachronism - out of step with a new, foreign policy. In 1939, America needed men like LeMay. By 1965, it wasn't sure what it needed. Luck was a big factor in LeMay's career. He was lucky he didn't die in any of the three accidents he had in biplanes. He stood a good chance of dying in World War II. Group Commanders were replaced unceremoniously after disap- pearing on missions. The Schwienfurt-Regansberg raid of 1943 was typical of the type of "Russian Roulette" bomber crews had to play. LeMay's luckiest day was when he began serving for Colonel Bob Olds - not that it was a stoke Click here to view image of fate that the regular operations officer had become ill, but because there was a man like Bob Olds at all commanding the 2nd Bomb group. LeMay has been quoted often as saying Olds was the one man who gave him a license to excel. LeMay was also lucky to have been assigned to Europe when the Rus- sians were threatening in 1948. Certainly the exponential build up of forces during the first years of World War II gave LeMay a corresponding boost from first lieutenant to colonel. Command billets were mul- tiplying quickly. But after he became a group commander, LeMay's fate was guided by the personalities of his supe- riors - at least two levels above him. First there was General Arnold - demanding, irrespressible, and, most of all, impatient. He had been moderate on the issues of an independent air force, the early B-17, fighter escort for bombers, and other issues. He had bided his time in the late 1930s while the noisier voices for an independent Air Force fell by the wayside. Promoted to Chief of the Army Air Forces, however, he ex- hibited a drive which was intensified by America's commit- ment to World War II. There was no area of Army aviation in which Arnold did not have a consuming personal interest. Hap Arnold was responsible for LeMay's promotion from group commander to division commander - in charge of seven groups. Though General Eaker may have eventually moved LeMay, he went up when he did because of Arnold's demand for "youngsters who can carry the ball". Arnold was also directly responsible for LeMay's transfer to B-29s - at a time when LeMay was fairly secure in the European Theater. Relieving K.B. Wolfe was a trifle for Arnold. He, Arnold, was less interested in a "creditable job", and explanations than he was in results. Arnold personally moved LeMay to the Marianas. Again, the efforts of General Hansell were commendable. But public and political pressure on Arnold, and his own impatience to see his B-29s and his 20th Air Force succeed caused him to take swift measures. LeMay's calculated risks in bomber tactics payed off for Arnold. Though General Spaatz had high praise for LeMay, the assignment of Deputy Chief of Research and Development was a bit of a let down in the LeMay continuum. But Spaatz later ordered him to command Air Forces Europe just before the Soviets set up their blockade. (Luck) On this assignment, LeMay was once again able to display resourcefulness, resolve and organizational ability which inspired General Vanderberg to assign him to SAC. President Kennedy wasn't looking for any of this when he directed LeMay to the position of Chief of Staff of the Air Force. He just liked to see a soldier be a soldier. Even after two years of sharp personal disagreement, Kennedy himself kept LeMay on another year. Throughout his career LeMay exhibited a very basic leadership style free of gimmicks and shortcuts. His first priority was with his people and he had three basic tenets for their welfare. First he wanted each of his subordinates to understand his or her job thoroughly. Second, he believed a commander should set clear goals for his people and see to it that regular progress was made in reaching them. And third he believed that achievement must be rewarded; without recognition there is no progress. He had an unyielding belief in the concept of team work. He would rather have a group of "average, but highly motivated" people, than a few "geniuses". He believed that if there was one word which could best sum up what his leadership philosophy was, that word would be responsi- bility. He expected his people to be where they were sup- posed to be and do what they were supposed to do. As simple a philosophy as that was, he encountered his share of people who couldn't do their job. Occasional fresh crewmen coming into B-17s for example who always seemed to be in sick bay on the day of the mission ("yellow twirps"). His education and appreciation of the role of the com- mander came about without any formal military training ex- cept ROTC. Everything else he absorded on his own, begin- ning as a boy with his personal reading. Later, he credited other fine military figures of the era for providing him wiht positive examples of leadership. He cited people like Carl Spaatz, Hap Arnold, and of course his first real mentor, Robert Olds, as being very influential in his professional development. He possessed a remarkable ability to confront a problem, see clearly its essence and devise forthright, logical solutions. He stated on several occasions that he never entered into a job feeling comfortable that he was ready for it. There was always a sense of inadequacy - of unpreparedness. For example, when he took over command of the 3rd Bomb Division in Europe, he became boss to older of- ficers who had in earlier times been his commanding officer. In every new job assignment, however, he simply learned all he could and proceeded with the task at hand. Conclusion LeMay was a striking example of professionalism in a time when his talents were desperately needed. His under- standing of his responsibilities ranged across the entire spectrum: troop welfare, unit integity, training, mission analysis, courage, endurance and numerous other factors com- bined to make him so "extraordinarily successful" at every- thing he did. Those responsible for his advancement and professional longevity may not have known about all these abilities, they just knew they could expect a first rate job if they put in LeMay. This author has concluded that his talents were cumulative. They were borne out of a personal exposure to work and hardship at a very young age; nourished by a strong attraction to historical and military literature; developed in ROTC, early military service, and work with Colonel Bob Olds; and strengthened in the hard decisions of World War II. From early childhood he had been interested in the role of the commander. This interest became an appreciation and later a highly polished skill as Curtis LeMay grew with his service for 37 years. ENDNOTES Chapter 1. Prewar 1906 - 1937 1. Curtis E. LeMay, with McKinley Kantor, Mission with LeMay, (Garden City: Doubleday and Company, 1965), p. 30. 2. Ibid., p. 32. 3. William Peck, Interview with Curtis E. LeMay 11 March 1965. (USAF Oral History Program, 1965) 4. LeMay, op. cit., p. 62. 5. U.S. Army Air Materiel Command Aircraft Accident Reports, 1929, 1930, 1931. (Office of Air Force History, Washington, D.C) 1929. 6. Peck, op. cit. 7. Accident Reports, op. cit., 1930, 1931. 8. DeWitt S. Copp, A Few Great Captains, The Air Force Histor- ical Association (New York: Doubleday and Company, 1980), p. 31. 9. Charles A. Ravenstien, Organization of the Air Force (Re- search Division, Simpson Historical Research Center, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, 1982), p. 7. 10. Ibid., p. 7. 11. Ibid., p. 7. 12. DeWitt S. Copp, A Few Great Captains, p. 444. 13. Ravenstein, op. cit., p. 7. 14. C.G. Crey and Leonard Bridgman, Janes All the Worlds Air- Craft, (London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co. Ltd.) 1933, p. 303c. 15. Roger J. Spiller, Dictionary of American Military Biography, (Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1984), Volume 1, p. 346. 16. Arnold, H.H., Official Report of the Commanding General or the Army Air Forces to the Secretary of War. January 4, 1944. 17. Peck, op. cit. 18. Roger J. Spiller, op cit., p. 345. 19. Statement of Military Service, ref. no. AFCAG-61-M LeMay, Curtis E., dtd 22 December 1955. Headquarters, United Stated Air Force. 20. LeMay, op cit., p. 124. 21. LeMay, op. cit., p. 125. 22. Statement of Military Service, op. cit. 23. Peck, op. cit. 24. Peck, op. cit. 25. Proceedings of the Eighth Military History Symposium, USAF Academy, 1978, p. 187. 26. Peck, op. cit. 27. Copp, A Few Great Captains, p. 392. 28. Ibid., p. 396. 29. Martin Caidin, Flying Forts (New York: Meredith Press, 1968), p. 94. 30. Ibid., p. 97. 31. Thomas M. Coffey, Hap (New York: Viking Press, 1982), p. 177. 32. Ibid., p. 182. 33. Ibid., p. 185. 34. Ibid., p. 185. 35. Ravenstien, op. cit., p. 9. 36. Maurer Maurer (ed.), Air Force Combat Units of World War II (Air Univeristy, Department of the Air Force, U.S. Government Printing Office: 1960), p. 8. 37. Eighth Military History Symposium, op. cit., p. 189. Chapter 2 European Theater 1. Headquarters, USAF, ref no. AFCAG-61-M. LeMay. op. cit. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid. 4. Ravenstien, op. cit., p. 11. 5. LeMay, op. cit., p. 218. 6. Target: Germany. The Army Air Forces Official Story of the VIII bomber Command's First Year over Europe. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1943), p. 25. 7. Heywood S. Hansell, Jr. The Air Plan that Defeated Hitler (Atlanta: Higgins, McArthur, Longina & Porter, inc., 1972), p. 298. 8. Coffey, op. cit., p. 252. 9. Ibid., p. 388. 10. Roger A Freeman. The Mighty Eighth War Manual (London: Janes, 1984), p. 40. 11. LeMay, op. cit., p. 231. 12. Wilbur H. Morrison, The Incredible 305th (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pierce, 1962), p. 62. 13. Freeman, op. cit., pg. 52. 14. Hansell, The Air Plan that Defeated Hitler, p. 116. 15. LeMay, op. cit., p. 280. 16. Ibid., p. 278. 17. Hansell, The Air Plan that Defeated Hitler, p. 115. 18. Ibid., p. 138. 19. Henry H. Arnold, Global Mission (New York: Harper Co., 1949), p. 436. 20. Ibid., p. 440. 21. DeWitt S. Copp, Forged in Fire, The Air Force Historical Association (New York: Doubleday and Co., 1982), pp. 372 - 377. 22. Ibid., p. 400. 23. Ibid., p. 401. 24. Ibid., p. 403. 25. Ibid., p. 403. 26. Morrison, op. cit., p. 64. 27. Statement of Military Service, op. cit. 28. Copp, Forged in Fire, p. 409. 29. Martin Middlebrook, The Schwienfurt-Regansberg Mission (New York: Scribner's Sons, 1983), p. 77. 30. Ibid., p. 319. 31. Ibid., p. 307. 32. Ibid., p. 288. 33. Coffey, op. cit., p. 325. 34. LeMay, op. cit., p. 301. 35. Coffey, op. cit., p. 332. 36. LeMay, op. cit., p. 310. 37. Army Air Forces Statistical Digest, WWII (Office of Statis- tical Control, AAF, 1945), p. 17. Chapter 3. Pacific Theater 1. W.F. Craven and J.L. Cate, The Army Air Forces in World War II (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1953), v. 5, p. 12. 2. Ibid., p. 7. 3. Vern Haugland, The AAF Against Japan (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1948), p. 421. 4. Craven and Cate, op. cit., pp. 58-88. 5. Coffey, op. cit., p. 343. 6. Craven and Cate, op. cit., p. 103. 7. Edward Jablonski, Winds of Fire (New York: Doubleday & Co., 1972), p. 160. 8. Coffey, op. cit., p. 353. 9. Craven and Cate, op. cit., Vol. 5, p. 87. 10. Keith Wheeler, Bombers over Japan (Alexandria, Va.: Time Life Books, 1982), p. 65. 11. Ibid., p. 65. 12. Wheeler, op. cit., p. 161. 13. Coffey, op. cit., p. 354. 14. Craven and Cate, op. cit., p. 508. 15. Ibid., p. 546. 16. Ibid., p. 549. 17. Ibid., p. 554. 18. Heywood S. Hansell, Jr., Strategic Air War Against Japan (Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama; Air War College 198), p.51. 19. Ibid., p. 48. 20. Ibid., p. 51. 21. Ibid., p. 51. 22. Craven and Cate, op. cit., Vol. V, p 564. 23. Hansell, Strateaic Air War Aaainst Japan, p. 139. 24. Craven and Cate, op. cit., Vol. 5, p. 570. 25. Ibid., p. 570. 26. Coffey, op. cit., p. 358. 27. Haugland, op. cit., p. 450. 28. Ibid., p. 451. 29. Peck., op. cit. 30. St. Clair McKelway, A Reporter with the B-29s (New Yorker Magazine June 23, 1945), p. 27. 31. Wheeler, op. cit., p. 167. 32. McKelway, op. cit., p. 36. 33. Ibid., p. 37. 34. Craven and Cate, op. cit., p. 615. 35. James M. Boyle, XXI Bomber Command, a Primary Factor in the Defeat of Japan (Aerospace Historian, April, 1964), p. 49. 36. LeMay, op. cit., p. 352. 37. Baltimore Sun, March 10, 1945, p. 1. 38. Craven and Cate, op. cit., p. 625. 39. Ibid., p. 626. 40. Ibid., p. 626. 41. Peck, op. cit. 42. Mac Miles Link and Herbert Coleman, Medical Support of the Army Air Forces in World War II (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1954), p. 962. 43. Hansell, op. cit., p. 61. 44 Thomas B. Buell, The Quiet Warrior (Little, Brown, 1974), p. 324. 45. R.J. Overy, The Air War - 1939-1945 (New York: Stein and Day, 1981), p. 100. 46. Craven and Cate, op. cit.. Vol. 5, p. 631. 47. Wheeler, op. cit., p. 171. 48. Craven and Cate, op. cit., Vol. 5, p. 632. 49. Ibid., p. 623. 50. E.B. Dalton, Nimitz (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1976), p. 372. 51. Haugland, op. cit., p. 458. 52. Craven and Cate, op. cit., p. 634. 53. Dalton, op. cit., p. 372. 54. Boyle, op. cit., p. 51. 55. Ellis A. Johnson and David A. Katcher, Mines Against Japan (White Oaks, Maryland: Naval Ordnance Laboratory, 1973) 56. Boyle, op. cit., p. 56. 57. Craven and Cate, op. cit., p. 637. 58. Ibid., p. 640. 59. Eighth Military History Symposium, op. cit., p. 187. 60. Arnold, op. cit., p. 567. 61. Coffey, op. cit., p. 367. 62. Craven and Cade, op. cit., p. 674. 63. Wheeler, op. cit., p. 180. 64. Craven and Cate, op. cit., p. 701. 65. LeMay, op. cit., p. 387. 66. Craven and Cade, op. cit., p. 710. 67. Ibid., p. 710. 68. LeMay, op. cit., p. 388. 69. Craven and Cate, op. cit.. p. 675. 70. Statement of Military Service, op. cit. 71. Ibid. Chapter 4 - Post World War II 1. LeMay, op. cit., p. 398. 2. Arnold, op. cit., p. 599. 3. LeMay, op. cit., p. 401. 4. Statement of Military Service, op. cit. 5. Avi Schlaim, The United States and the Berlin Blockade (Berkley, CA.: University of California Press, 1983), p. 110. 6. Ibid., p. 121. 7. Ibid., p. 204. 8. Richard Collier, Bridge Across the Sky (New York: McGraw, Hill, 1978), p. 176. 9. Schlaim, op. cit., p. 205. 10. Collier, op. cit., p. 101. 11. LeMay, op. cit., p. 429. 12. J.C. Hopkins, The Development of Strategic Air Command (Office of the Historian, Headquarters, Strategic Air Command, July 1982), p. 1. 13. Ibid., p. 7. 14. Ibid., p. 12. 15. Hansell, Strategic Air War Against Japan, p. 6. 16. Richard G. Hubler, SAC (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1958), p. 153. 17. Ibid., p. 162. 18. Hopkins, op. cit., p. 19. 19. Ibid., p. 29. 20. LeMay, op. cit., p. 495. 21. Ibid., p. 504. 22. Ibid., p. 509. 23. Hugh Sidney, John F. Kennedy. President (New York: Atheneum, 1964), p. 214. 24. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., A Thousand Days - John F. Kennedy in the White House (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, Co., 1965), p. 912. 25. LeMay, op. cit., p. 398. 26. Janes All the Worlds Aircraft, op. cit., 1963-64 edition, p. 254. 27. Ibid., 1966 edition, p. 275. 28. David Detzer, The Brink (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Publishers, 1979), p. 130. 29. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Robert Kennedy and his Times (Boston: Hougton Mifflin Co., 1978), p. 547. 30. Alfred Steinburg, Sam Johnson's Boy. A Close up of the President from Texas (New York: MacMillan and Co., 1968), p. 761. 31. Schlesinger, Robert Kennedy and his Times, p. 468. 32. Theodore C. Sorenson, Kennedy (New York: Harper and Rowe, 1965), p. 608 33. William W. Momyer, Air Power in Three Wars (Washington, D.C.: Superintendant of Public Documents, 1978), p. 73. 34. Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, Lyndon B. Johnson: The Exercise of Power (New York: The New American Library, Inc., 1966), p. 539. 35. LeMay, op. cit., p. 351. BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary Sources AAF Statistical Digest. USAAF Office of Statistical Con- trol, December 1945. Air Power and Warfare. Proceedings of the Eighth Military History Symposium. USAF Academy, 1978. Air War - Official Report of the Commanding General of the Army Air Forces to the Secretary of War, January 4, 1944. Peck, Bills Col. USAF. Historical Documentation of General Curtis E. LeMay. USAF Oral History Program, 11 March 1965. Souilliere, Edward J., Col., USAF. Statement of Military Service Headquarters, US Air Force, ref. no. AFCAG- 61-M LeMay, Curtis E. dated 22 December 1955. Unit Diary of 306th Bomb Group, Office of Air Force His- tory, Bolling Field, Washington, D.C. United States Army Air Material Command. Aircraft Accident Reports 1 June 1919, 24 October 1944. Office of Air Force History, Washington, D.C. Secondary Sources Books Arnold, H.H. Global Mission. New York: Harper, 1949. Buell, Thomas B. The Quiet Warrior. (Biography of Adm. Raymond A. Spruance), Little, Brown, 1974. Coffey, Thomas M. HAP. New York: Viking Press, 1982. Copp, DeWitt S. A Few Great Captains. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1980. Copp, DeWitt S. Forged in Fire. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1982. Craven, Wesley Frank, and Cate, James, Eds. The Army Air Forces in World War II. Chicago: The University Press, 1953. Dalton, E.B. Nimitz. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1976. Detyer, David. The Brink - Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Thomas Y. Cronelle Publishers, 1979. Development of Strategic Air Command 1946-1981 (A Chron- ological History). Office of the Historian, Head- quarters, Strategic Air Command. 1 July 1982. Evans, Rowland and Novack, Robert. London B. Johnson: the Exercise of Power. The New American Library, 1966. Freeman, Roger A. Mighty 8th War Manual. London: Jones, 1984. Hansell, Heywood S., Jr. MGen. USAF(Ret). The Air Plan That Defeated Hitler, Atlanta, Georgia: Higgins- McArthur/Longino & Porter, Inc., 1972. Hansell, Heywood S. MGen. USAF(Ret). Strategic Air War Against Japan. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Air War College, 1980. Haugland, Vern. The AAF Against Japan. Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1948. Hubler, Richard S. SAC. New York: Duell, Sloan Pierce, 1958. Jablonski, Edward. Wings of Fire. Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1972. Johnson, Ellis A., and Katcher, David A. Mines Against Japan. White Oaks, Maryland: Naval Ordnance Labora- tory, 1973. LeMay, Curtis E., with Kantor, McKinley. Mission With LeMay. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, 1965. Link, Mac Miles, and Coleman, Herbert A. Medical Support of Army Air Forces in World War II. Department of the Air Force. Maurer, Maurer, Ed. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force World War II. Albert F. Simpson Historical Research Center and Office of Air Force History, Headquarters USAF, 1982. Middlebrook, Martin. The Schweinfurt-Regansburg Mission. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1983. Momyer, William W., Gen., USAF(Ret). Air Power in Three Wars. Superintendent of Documents. Morrison, Wilbur H. The Incredible 305th. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pierce, 1962. Overy, R.J. The Air War 1939-1945. New York: Stein and Day, 1981. Ranenstein, Charles A. Organization of the Air Force. Albert F. Simpson Historical Research Center, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, 1982. Sallager, Fredrick M. Lessons from an Aerial Mining Cam- paign (Operation Starvation). Rand Corporation, April 1974. Schlesinger, Arthur M. A Thousand Days - John F. Kennedy in the White House. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin Company, 1965. Sidney, Hugh. John F. Kennedy, President. Atherium, New York, 1964. Sorenson, Theodore C. Kennedy. New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1965. Spiller, Roger J., et al. Dictionary of American Military Biography. Volume 1. Westport, Conneticut: Greenwood Press, 1984. Steinberg, Alfred. Sam Johnson's Boy - A Close Up of the President from Texas. New York: MacMillan and Com- pany, 1968. Target: Germany. The Army Air Forces Official Story of the VIII Bomber Command's first year over Europe. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1943. Taylor, John W.R. (ed). Janes All the Worlds Aircraft. Janes Publishing Co., Bucks, England, various years. United States Army Air Corps. The United States Strateaic Bombing Survey. "Effects of Incendiary Bomb Attacks on Japan. A Report of Eight Cities." April, 1947. Wheeler, Keith. "Bombers over Japan," Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia, 1982. Articles Baltimore Sun. March 10, 1945. Bonner, Walter T. "Chiefs of the Army Air Force 1907-1957," Airpower Historian, July 1960. Boyle, James M., Capt., USAF. "The XXI Bomber Command," Airpower Historian, 2 April 1964. McKelway, St. Clalr. A reporter with the B-29s. New Yorker, June 23, 1945. Click here to view image



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list