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Chapter Sixteen


Figure 130.

Chapter 16


Air control during an amphibious operation is conducted from carriers, command or amphibious ships, cruisers, destroyers, and shore bases. The number of such ships varies with the size of the operation and the number of amphibious task groups approaching the objective.

Air control in such an operation is handled by a great many different units before the over-all responsibility for air defense is formally assumed by the forces ashore.


The amphibious operation is under a Commander Joint Amphibious Task Force and this force is composed of the necessary groups and units to accomplish the mission.e The Joint Amphibious Task Force may contain one or more Attack Forces, each under its own commander.

Under the Commander Joint Amphibious Task Force is the Tactical Air Commander who is charged with operational control, in the objective area, of all the aircraft assigned to support the Joint Amphibious Task Force. He performs this-mission through the Tactical Air Control Center. At the next echelon below the Joint Amphibious Task Force, commanders have Tactical Air Direction Centers to perform delegated air functions in their areas of responsibility.


Air control and air warning functions are performed for the Commander Joint Amphibious Task Force by the Tactical Air Commander through the Force CIC Officer. The Tactical Air Commander (afloat) retains this responsibility during the approach and assault phases, and thereafter until the Tactical Air Commander (ashore) is directed to relieve him of these duties.

The Tactical Air Commander designates the air control ships and units which are to exercise primary, secondary, or standby control. He also designates their areas of responsibility and recommends stations for such ships and units from time to time so as to secure the most effective coverage.

He initiates all requests to the carrier support group for aircraft for combat air patrols and for emergencies.


In addition to the CIC organization afloat there are also shorebased air control and air warning units in the assault and consolidation phases. These units set up ground control intercept (GCI) stations as soon as possible. In addition, tactical air direction centers are set up ashore to control and coordinate the activities of these GCI stations in their respective assigned areas, as soon as possible.

Over-all air control and air warning responsibilities are usually the last to pass from afloat to ashore control. This control is not passed until there is practically complete radar and radio coverage, until practically all CAP aircraft are shorebased and in adequate strength, and until the air control and air warning system ashore is complete. Emergencies such as forced withdrawal of naval forces might necessitate transfer of control before this set-up ashore is complete.

These units ashore should, during the interim period, cooperate closely with the air control units afloat, receiving instructions from the Force (Group) CIC officer. When over-all control of air passes ashore, the air control units afloat usually stay in the air control system, receiving instructions from the air defense controller while they remain in the area of responsibility of the TACC (ashore).

All air control units should be notified when the Tactical Air Commander (ashore) has assumed control.


The carrier support group supporting the operation is under the Commander Joint Amphibious Task Force.


The force CIC officer has his battle station in the CIC of the force flagship.

His duties and responsibilities are more of an advisory nature than operational control.

(a) He recommends to TAC which air control ships should exercise primary, secondary, and standby control during each phase of the operation.

(b) He recommends areas of responsibility where more than one CAP is employed.

(c) He disseminates to air control ships information all phases of air operations affecting air control.

(d) He initiates requests through the TACC for additional fighters when the tactical situation requires them.

(e) He is responsible for the efficiency of the air control and CTC organization on the com-mand ship.

(f) Control of the CAP in an amphibious operation requires organized assignment of responsibility. It is significant that all CAP'S are assigned to the force CIC officer for initial control, and he in turn delegates the various CIC units to control specific divisions of the CAP.

(g) Requests for additional CAP, permission to secure existing CAP, permission to use CAP for direct support missions and requests for use of direct support fighters as CAP are also handled by the force CIC officer. Working with the TACC, the force CIC officer requests changes of CAP from the escort carrier group through their respective group CIC officer.

(h) The force CIC officer, when authorized by the TACC, initiates air warnings and


controls antiaircraft fire both ashore and afloat for the Commander Joint Amphibious Task Force.

(i) He disseminates these reports to all units ishore and afloat over the warning nets.

(j) He coordinates the reporting of all radar contacts so that all air control ships and radar guard ships employ the necessary conversion to the fleet center or designated reference points and further use the accepted grids when applicable.

(k) He should coordinate all air control units under the accepted air control plan for the operation and in general serve as liaison between the TACC and the air control teams.


The group CIC officer's duties and responsibilities are similar to those of the force CIC officer as they affect his group. The group CIC officer is responsible to his immediate TAD and to the force CIC officer.


A CIC team may be attached permanently to an air control ship, or it may be assigned to the ship for a particular operation.

(a) The CIC officer of the ship exercises tactical control of the CAP assigned to him for the defense of all forces in his area of responsibility.

(b) He intercepts all unidentified air contacts threatening own forces so far as the fighters available permit.

(c) He maintains a careful check of fuel, duration of patrol, effective fighting time and approximate distance to fighters' base so the fighters may be returned safely.

(d) He initiates appropriate warnings.

(e) He maintains a plot of all information affecting the air defense of own forces.

(f) He trains the ship's CIC organization to the highest degree of efficiency.


Special air control units may operate in LST's, cruisers or battleships in coordination with the advance force air operations during the preinvasion bombardments or with destroyers supporting mine sweeping or underwater demolition operations.


The duties of a CIC officer differ in the three phases of an amphibious operation: approach, assault (or attack), and consolidation.

Figure 131.

1. Approach Phase

In the approach phase the duties of the CIC officer may or may not include air control, depending upon the location of the carriers furnishing the air cover. If they travel in the same convoy with the transports, air control may be retained by the carriers themselves. If, however, the carriers are operating independently some distance from the formation, or-if the CAP is furnished from nearby land bases, then the responsibility of defending the force from air attack falls upon the CIC organization which has been set up to operate in the vicinity of the objective.

During the approach, the duties of the CIC officer are practically the same as those of a carrier CIC officer charged with the defense of a carrier task force except that the number of planes available will probably be smaller. The size of the CAP on station underway will depend on the probability of attack in the area and the number of planes available to protect all forces in the area.

Since it is imperative that the location, size, composition, course, and speed of the force be kept secret, the CIC officer during the approach is vitally interested in snoopers and shads. They must be destroyed before they can report the position of the force.

A low flying antisnooper patrol may be stationed over the force or on each flank. In the latter case the patrol may be controlled by a


ship in that vicinity. In the event of the approach of low-flying enemy planes, these ships would be best suited to intercept through visual air control.

Figure 132.

2. Assault (or Attack) Phase

At the objective, control of all planes over the Joint Amphibious Task Force shifts to the command ships and air control destroyers. As the carriers are usually stationed at a considerable distance from the enemy-held objective, a separate combat air patrol will be controlled by them for their own protection.

During the assault phase of an amphibious operation, the CIC officer normally faces his heaviest task. Both day and night air raids are a practical certainty. The CIC officer must protect the ships at anchor, the troops and equipment ashore, search planes at anchor and aloft in the area, and at times independent surface units operating separately but in the same general area. The latter may include forces retiring from and approaching the objective. This responsibility rests with the force CIC officer at a time when, in all probability, there is no landing strip for shore-based planes and little or no radar gear ashore. He may be called upon to protect a rather large area with a small CAP and with little likelihood of obtaining more planes in time to repel a large attack. This requires that the CIC officer exercise caution and judgment in the use of his planes, their ammunition, and their fuel.

In designating station for the air control ships, the following factors should be considered :

(a) Air control is concerned with the defense of the area including the ships of the task force and our own troops ashore.

(b) Owing to the proximity of land, no single ship may have 360° of radar vision. Therefore, these stations should be chosen so as to provide the maximum radar coverage possible under existing conditions.

(c) The air control ships should be stationed within radio communications range of the command ship and the shore bases so that all air control teams may work closely with each other in handling the combat air patrol.

(d) When it becomes necessary for an air control ship to leave its station, provision should be made for another ship to relieve it on station prior to its departure.

During the assault phase the technique of radar reporting takes on added importance. A large portion of the ships of an amphibious force depend upon information put out by air control ships because of different instrumentation. With ships dispersed in a wide area around an objective, positioning of contacts with relation to the reporting ship is confusing. Therefore, a common geographical reference point, known to all ships, is used. A jutting spit of land, a high mountain or other landmarks affording good radar fixes are often chosen. All ships must know at all times their position with relation to the reference point. Ships under way at the objective should keep the point plotted on the DRT to insure up-to-date positioning at all times. Thus a ship picking up a contact converts the position of the contact to the reference point before putting it out over the air for consumption of other ships in the area. The reference point is used not only for aircraft radar reports but also for all position reports around the objective, including search and rescue, surface contacts, etc

There are generally primary, secondary, and stand-by air control ships operating with each attack group having air cover.

Primary Air Control Ship

This ship is designated by and responsible to TAC, and it is responsible for air control in a specified area.

Secondary Air Control Ships

The secondary air control ships are also designated by and responsible to the TAC and automatically assume control of the CAP and all


other duties and responsibilities of the primary air control ship in an emergency or when directed by the force (group) CIC officer.

Destroyer Air Control Pickets

A large percentage of air control work may fall to air control destroyers in connection with an amphibious operation. Controllers and their teams are assigned to designated air control destroyers for the specific operation. Such teams generally consist of two officers: A CIC officer and a controller. Such teams also include several enlisted operators. This personnel is in addition to the regular ship's company CIC team aboard. Close cooperation between this team and ships' company CIC personnel must be maintained. Both work for the commanding officer of the picket vessel who has an assigned mission to accomplish.

Areas of Defense

All air control ships are instructed as to the forces and areas, including sea and land area, which they are required to defend. Whenever there are separate CAP'S employed to defend a carrier force and to cover the objective area or to cover separate forces operating in close proximity to each other, each air control ship would be instructed as to its primary area of defense by the Tactical Air Commander. This provision is intended to designate the ship which will undertake the interception of any small unidentified contacts where there is a choice as to which ship would be responsible. In any event it should be understood that it is the responsibility of all air control ships operating with any force to intercept every enemy contact where his own force is endangered.

3. Consolidation Phase

After the attacking forces have established a sufficient beachhead, shore based air control units are set up as quickly as possible. The fighter airstrip is rushed to completion so that the combat air patrol can operate from it and thus relieve the supporting carriers.

When the shore based air control units are set up and ready to assume control of the CAP, the TADC (ashore) notifies the TACC. The TAC, after consulting with the Force CIC officer would then recommend to the Joint Expeditionary Force Commander that the TADC (ashore) assume control.

Figure 133.


Any instructions for the control of aircraft during an amphibious operation must include a brief description of the important aircraft circuits. CIC personnel should bear in mind the fact that monitoring these circuits is not their responsibility, but on occasion they may be required to do so.

It is the responsibility of the force CIC officer on the flagship to see that interested CIC personnel on all ships receive the necessary information from these circuits.

1. Tactical Air Request (TAR).--This net links Tactical Air Direction Centers with Tactical Air Control Parties, and is used for tactical and general information.

2. Tactical Air Direction (TAD).--This net links the controlling TACC, TADC, or TACP with the Tactical Air Coordinator Airborne and aircraft assigned to offensive missions. It is used for controlling aircraft in flight on offensive missions and is only for air-ground and air-air communications.

3. Tactical Air Observation (TAO).--This net is used for communication between aircraft or observation or reconnaissance missions and Tactical Air Control and Direction Centers.

4. Tactical Air Command (TAC).--This net provides communication between the TAC, the TACC, TADC's and the airbases and carriers furnishing aircraft for TAC.


5. Fighter Air Defense (FAD).--This net provides direct communication between aircraft in flight assigned to defensive missions and the Fighter Defense Controller and Directors.


The operating procedure is carefully planned well in advance, for control of aircraft in such large groups requires painstaking preparation. When a scheduled strike group arrives in the target area the leader reports in to TADC for instructions, giving the flight leader's call, number and type of planes, time .available, armament, and location. They are then directed by the TADC in execution of an assigned mission.

Because of the increasing number of aircraft participating in all phases of an amphibious operation and the growing difficulty of properly identifying these aircraft, an approach-identification procedure is often introduced to simplify the problem for the TACC and the force CIC officer. Approach channels are often designated for all itinerant'aircraft coming into the area and an operating area is defined (usually 50 to 75 miles in radius from the reference point). All aircraft before coming into the operating perimeter must call the TACC, giving position, nature of mission, composition of flight. The TACC then designates approach route, orbit points, etc., for aircraft. The force CIC officer notifies all air control ships of flights coming into the area in an attempt to simplify the identification procedure. The air coordinator--always an important assignment--perfects the timing of the groups from his position in the air over the target. The flight leaders direct the movements of their groups as ordered by the air coordinator and the TACC.

After scheduled strikes are completed against prescribed targets, the flight leaders report to the TACC in the same manner and await further assignment of targets or instructions to return to base. These targets (outlined the first few days in the operation plan) are designated by the landing force commander through air liaison parties and air observers or by the naval attack force commander. It is also an important responsibility of the TACC to recommend control of shore bombardment and artillery fire to avoid danger to support aircraft.


Air observer, air coordinator, and photo recon planes work closely at all times with the TADC and observe the results of the attacks and spot new targets for further strikes. New schedules are made from this information as soon as possible.


The joint operations room aboard the flagship (generally an AGC) of the force is the controlling center for all support aircraft operations. As an operation processes, the landing force may take over some of these duties ashore. Recording strike compositions, target information, front lines and many other items of tactical information, front lines and many other items of tactical information are done by the flagship.


An example of a typical strike illustrates the various controls exercised:

On the tactical air request circuit at 0800 air laison party No. 3 asks of the TADC ("Warhorse") a strike to support an infantry advance in the Agana sector (Guam). Strike is to knock out pill boxes. Grid position--Guam Sheet 2, Target Area 851 Dog. At 0830 strike Able, part of which is 15 VSB (SB2C) from the Franklin ("Hellbender"), arrives on station. At 0825 the following transmission is heard on the tactical air direction net (TAD):

"Warhorse. This is 61 Hellbender with 15 Hell divers on strike Able. Time of departure from area 1000. Carrying one 1,000-lb. bomb and two 250-lb. bombs. We are approaching Point King at Angels 8. Request instructions. Over."

This transmission is recorded and the information put on the status boards in joint operations. TAO decides to use this flight to bomb the pill boxes as requested by landing forces. He answers on the TAD net:

"61 Hellbinder, this is Warhorse. Orbit Point King, Angels 8. We have a mission


for you. Guam Sheet 2. Target Area 851 Dog. Bomb pill boxes, observing front lines marked by Panels 2,000 yards south. Drop 1,000-lb. bomb first run, 250-lb. second run. Report to Copper 2 (Air Observer over target area) for direction. Acknowledge. Over."

61 Hellbender wilcoes. By this time the air coordinator has the information. He knows that at 0845, 12 VTB's finished dropping frags several miles west of the area, and since then the air has been clear. When 61 Hellbender reports in for instructions, Copper 2 tells him on TAD net:

"61 Hellbender, this is Copper 2. Approach target from Point King. Make your bombing run from west to east. Do not pass over own front lines. Attack must be completed by 0915. Pull out over Eastern shore and rendezvous Point Mike. Report when you are commencing run. Acknowledge. Over."

The flight leader wilcoes and gathers up his group for the attack. He may give them instructions concerning push-over point, pull-out altitude and other instructions. The air coordinator, who has been over the target area since daylight, may have additional information on heavy AA areas and other important data. If the flight leader has trouble locating target, the air coordinator may even make a dummy run.

Before the attack is carried out, the TAC checks with the gunnery officer in joint operations to make sure there will be no firing in the area which would endanger the aircraft in their runs. He will closely coordinate the ceasing of gun fire with the start of the attack.

During the actual attack the air coordinator, or possibly an air observer or a photographic plane, may move to the target area to observe and record results. All parties report the results to the TAC. The TAC may then order the strike to return to base or remain at orbit until other strikes are returning.


The TACC controls antisub patrols during the approach and the assault phases. On completion of the scheduled patrol, often these aircraft are used in special strikes on targets of opportunity.

Many other special air missions arise which also require coordinated and close control by the TACC. "Smokers" report on station to the TACC for missions as needed. Photographic planes, special flights for dropping propaganda pamphlets, supplies, arms, and other missions report to the TACC for coordination with strikes and for air traffic directions. Artillery spotters in carrier aircraft--other than Grasshoppers--are also coordinated by the TACC, although they are controlled directly by their batteries. Cruiser and battleship spotters are not controlled directly by the TACC but by their respective ships or those to which they are assigned. Aircraft with message or photo drops report in to the TACC before entering the objective area.

Passengers flights made by sea planes or land planes are cleared by the TACC until facilities ashore are set up to handle such operations. The TACC is responsible for all rescue Dumbo missions in the objective area.

It can be said that the TAC during the early phases of an amphibious operation actively controls or coordinates every phase of air operations. The purpose of the organization is apparent--to coordinate and to make the most efficient use of all aircraft and armament available in direct support of troop movements and defense of the force.


A number of specialized problems arise in administering control of the CAP. The force CIC officer seldom handles the CAP himself. The flagship CIC may control the CAP if they are in a better position as to location, communications, and radar information, but usually the " flagship CIC is more concerned with the tactical responsibility attendant to acting as the combat information center for the entire force.

Generally the force (group) CIC officer will shift control to one or more air control ships (AGC's and DD's). It is also possible for the LST units equipped with altitude determining radar and trained CIC personnel to control the


CAP. This type of control is generally in or near the target area with emphasis on the control of night fighters.

(a) Source and Type of CAP

In explaining control of the CAP during an amphibious operation it should be remembered that there are several possible sources of CAP. The CAP is furnished primarily by the carrier support groups. Where additional strength is needed, fast carrier groups operating in the area may supply CAP. The night CAP is usuallv from the fast carrier group.

The CAP over an extended period may be furnished by as many as dozen different fighter squadrons and include several different types of fighters. The amphibious controller should know the characteristics of every type of fighter plane--Air Force or Navy--and should be prepared to control any or all of them at any time.

The amphibious controller is seldom acquainted with the fighter squadrons he controls. He does not know the individual characteristics of the pilots nor the experience and qualifications of each.

(b) Reinforcements

In an emergency the amphibious "controller cannot scramble another division of fighters but must request them through the proper channels, realizing that the carriers may be under attack and unable to comply. In the defense of the force this factor must not be forgotten--reserves may be limited.

In some operations the TAC may make provisions for turning over certain "call strike" aircraft to the force CIC officer for use in an emergency. From D-day until several days thereafter, the TAC normally has several groups of straf ers on station at various points awaiting a request for a direct support mission from the landing force ashore. Thus, if an emergency arises and the force CIC officer needs additional aircraft immediately, it is often possible for him to turn to the TAC and request the use of fighters which are awaiting a call strike mission.

(c) Reporting in of Combat Air Patrol Because of the number of air control ships in the area, the reporting combat air patrol may not know which ship has control at the time of its arrival over the area. The CAP generally reports in to the force (group) CIC officer. He then turns them over to the ship having the air control duty at the time.

(d) Stationing of CAP

A successful interception may depend upon the manner in which the CAP is stationed.

Depending on the radar coverage, the CAP usually should be anchored to land in preference to a point over water. Orbiting over the transport area is seldom the best practice. If convenient, landmarks can be selected for the fighters to use as anchor points. It will facilitate station keeping. In addition a quick vector from a land mark may be more accurate than one from over water.

In mast cases the CAP over the target area is assigned geographical orbit points or ordered to patrol between two points to afford complete visual coverage of radar blind spots.

(e) Duration of CAP

Dawn alert on the morning of D-day finds most of the amphibious CIC officers embarked in destroyers near the beach and the transport area awaiting instructions. A CIC officer may start his day with orders from the force CIC officer that he is to "control 16 plane Combat Air Patrol." This may be the extent of his instructions. He may have no specific information as to the carrier from which they will come. Regardless of their source it is probable they will be flown in from the escort carriers who are in an area often as much as 50 or more miles from the objective. Later, when local fields are secured, land based fighters will fly combat air patrol. In any case in the early stages of the assault phase the amphibious CIC officer may have a minimum fighter cover from the escort carrier. Also because of the distance flown from their own group, their effective fighting time at the objective is greatly restricted. Fuel must always be conserved for returning the CAP to their base and for target missions at the objective when relieved from CAP. The


possibility of a relief flight being held up due to operational difficulties makes the problem of maintaining air cover over the objective more difficult as the operation progresses.

(f) Before the combat air patrol is relieved, it contacts the force (group) CIC officer to determine whether the TAC has a support mission for the CAP prior to returning to base. If there is no support mission for the CAP, the controlling ship so instructs the flight leader as directed by the force (group CIC officer).

If the flight leader asks for a steer home, the CIC officer would give him a vector to his base.

(g) Types of Control

Once control of the CAP has been assumed by the TAC and his CIC officer, the type of control to be used must be determined. When radar information is adequate, the regular method (the directive method) of vectoring CAP to intercept is used.

Often due to land echoes at the target area and unsuitable radars, control of CAP can best be accomplished by giving CAP reports of bogey from established reference or orbit [joints. This is often referred to as the informative method. The CAP then vectors itself in line with points mentioned conducting its own interception solely on reports of bogey's location in respect to established points.

(h) Visual Control

Visual air control is used primarily by air control pickets or screening air control destroyers to knock down low-flying snoopers or attacks. This method is useful in conjunction with the CAP's visual patrol in areas of poor radar information.


The use of night fighters over the target area is highly desirable, and control can be accomplished by the following methods:

1. Land based air control and search radar.

2. Specially equipped LST's.

3. AGC's with air control and search radars.

4. DD's with air control and/or search radars.


The interception itself may be conducted along lines not adaptable to air control in normal carrier operations. The fighters are vectored out in the general direction of attack and their angles increased on the first warnings. If the raid appears to be crossing, the fighters may be orbited or held back at a position 25 miles from the base in the direction of the attack or anchored to an island or some other geographical point at this distance from base. Since the amphibious forces must be protected before any other group, the CAP is held back until the last possible momente It must be certain the raid is closing the amphibious force and not going elsewhere before the CAP is released. The raid may turn and close on the escort carrier whose CA P has been vectored to intercept.

In giving the fighters information, it should preferably be in reference to easily identified landmarks. If the bogey can be described as over "X-ray bay" for example, the fighter will have a better understanding of the bogey's position . In the absence of an altitude determining radar and as the fade chart is reliable only up to a certain point, more frequent stacking of the fighters is required when working with several divisions. This action may be necessary even at the risk of decreasing the effectiveness of the CAP. Radical changes in the altitude of the CAP may be necessary to overcome fade chart limitations.


High cover as well as low at the objective is advisable. When visibility is limited, a section at mattress may be good insurance, particularly in the event of a chase for a snooper. When operating near land masses off an objective, low cover may be required and sometimes visual control must be employed.

If the amount of CAP available permits, a "defense in depth" is advisable. If CAP is sufficiently backed ap by other divisions, the fighter director can afford to attempt fast head-on interception with "front-line" CAP, knowing that he still has a "backstop" CAP with which


to stop the attack in the event an early Tally-ho is missed.


Amphibious operations require coordination and teamwork above everything else. In the use of orbit points, reference points, and in many other ways amphibious control resembles land based air control. The duties and responsibilities are manifold and versatility is the keynote.


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