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U.S. Marine Corps - Small Wars Manual (1940 Edition)




Types					9-3
Reconnaissance aircraft			9-4
Combat aircraft				9-5
Transport aircraft			9-6
Organization				9-7
Movement to theater			9-8

9-3. Types.-The composition of an air force organized for small wars operations cannot be definitely prescribed, nor can its comparative strength in relation to the ground force be determined prior to a careful estimate of the situation in each case. Much depends upon the character of the campaign, and upon the nature of the theater of operations. The final choice will be influenced by the type of air units immediately available. The discussion contained in this chapter assumes a typical situation wherein an independent brigade or force is supported by a composite group of aircraft.

9A. Reconnaissance aircraft.-Primary consideration should always be given to reconnaissance types in the organization of a small wars air force. Due to the advisability of operating in small formations and to the frequent calls for air reconnaissance to be expected from the commanders of independent columns and patrols, at least twice the number of observation or scouting airplanes will be required for the support of a force engaged in a campaign of this nature as would suffice for normal operations.

9-5. Combat aircraft.-The inclusion of combat types of aircraft in addition to the dual-purpose scouts may be advisable or necessary in many small wars situations. In making a decision as to what types to include in the air force, consideration should be given to the existence of objectives which are beyond the capabilities of the dual-purpose scouting airplane.

9-6. Transport aircraft.-This type of aircraft has proven indispensable for small wars operations. The lack of railroads, improved motor roads, and navigable waterways in some of our probable theaters of operation makes the supply and transportation of troops by air more or less mandatory. Two types of transports are standard: the multiengined cabin land plane; and the multiengined cabin amphibian. Both should be included in the air force; both are included in the organization of the present utility squadron. The ratio of land planes to amphibians will depend upon operating conditions to be encountered.

9-7. Organization. -The present squadron organization of the Marine Corps is satisfactory for small wars operations. The only problem of organization is the selection of the units which are to compose the group. One headquarters and service squadron, one utility squadron, and two scouting squadrons may be considered as the minimum basic force for the support of a brigade or similar unit. To these should be added such additional transports and combat units as the situation demands. The composite group is flexible and can take care of several operating squadrons without additional overhead.

9-8. Movement to the theater of operations.-Aircraft should always be flown to the theater of operations whenever distance and the situation will permit. Air units so transported arrive in the minimum of time with less hazard of damage en route and are ready for immediate action upon arrival. This method presupposes available landing fields within the theater of operations protected by Marine detachments from naval vessels, or by friendly native troops. In most cases intermediate refueling stops must also be available, either on foreign airdromes or on board own aircraft carriers.

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