Chapter XXVI
Support Aircraft in Amphibious Operations


Section 1. Objective of an Amphibious Operation
Section 2. Amphibious Forces
Section 3. Amphibious Command
Section 4. Functions of Support Aircraft
Section 5. Support Aircraft Forces
Section 6. Strike and Troops Support Aircraft
Section 7. Sources of Support Aircraft
Section 8. Commander Support Aircraft
Section 9. Headquarters
Section 10. Relief Headquarters
Section 11. Commander Support Aircraft's Deputy Ashore
Section 12. Air Coordinator
Section 13. Fighter Direction
Section 14. Anti-Submarine Patrol and Hunter Killer Direction
Section 15. Air Liaison Parties
Section 16. Air Observer
Section 17. Spotting Planes
Section 18. Command and Coordination
Section 19. Maps and Charts
Section 20. Commander Support Aircraft, Pacific Fleet
Section 21. Communications
Section 22. Principal Support Aircraft Circuits
Section 23. Tactical Employment of Support Aircraft
Section 24. Tactical Employment of Air Coordinator
Section 25. Tactical Employment of Air Observer
Section 26. Strafing
Section 27. Bombing
Section 28. Bombs and Fuzes
Section 29. Rockets
Section 30. Selection of Targets
Section 31. Photographic Planes
Section 32. Smoke Planes
Section 33. Combat Air Patrol
Section 34. Anti-Submarine Patrol

Section 1. Objective of an Amphibious Operation

  1. A beachhead, island, or atoll in enemy dominated territory is the objective of an amphibious operation. The operation is usually a tactical part of a larger operation. This larger operation usually involves preliminary and concurrent operations against the enemy by naval, air, and land forces, including several amphibious operations.


Section 2. Amphibious Forces

  1. The combined naval, air, and land forces employed in the amphibious operations are organized into a Joint Expeditionary Force. Those combined forces employed at each Objective are organized into Attack Forces.

Section 3. Amphibious Command

    1. Commander Joint expeditionary force commands all task organizations employed in the amphibious operations at all Objectives through interrelated Attack Force Commanders. He is normally embarked in his Headquarters Ship with his Commander Support Aircraft and the Commander Expeditionary Troops to insure the proper coordination of the combined naval, air, and land forces.

    2. The Commander Support Aircraft for the Joint Expeditionary Force acts as Commander Support Aircraft for the entire operations under Commander Joint Expeditionary Force, and as Commander Support Aircraft for such Attack Force as is commanded directly by Commander Joint Expeditionary Force.

    3. The Commander Attack Force at each Objective is also Commander Naval Force. He is normally embarked in a Headquarters Ship with his Commander Support Aircraft and the Commander Landing Force.

    4. The Commander Attack Force commands all aircraft on station over the area of operations of the Attack Force at the Objective through the Commander Support Aircraft.

    5. The Commander Attack Force commands the Landing Force at the Objective through the Commander Landing Force.

    6. When the Commander Landing Force determines that the status of the landing operation permits, he will assume command on shore and report that fact to the Commander Attack Force. Requests for Naval Gunfire support and Support Aircraft will be made to the Commander Attack Force by the Landing Force Commander or his unit commanders.

    7. Commander Support Aircraft will continue to exercise command of all aircraft on station over the area of operations of the Attack Force at the Objective, directly or through his deputy ashore, so long as Commander Attack Force retains control of the area of the amphibious operations.

Section 4. Functions of Support Aircraft

  1. Support Aircraft in an amphibious operation have two broad functions:

    1. Protection of friendly forces at the Objective from enemy air and surface attack.

    2. Support of Landing Force in assault on Objective.


Section 5. Support Aircraft Forces

  1. Support Aircraft consists of all aircraft on station over the Expeditionary Force and the Objective for the support of an amphibious operation. This includes Combat Air Patrol, Anti-Submarine Patrols, Hunter Killer Planes, Search Planes, Strike and Troop Support Aircraft, Smoke Planes, Photo Planes, and liaison Planes. these aircraft may report on station as the result of Scheduled flights or "On Call" flights. Scheduled flights are provided by a pre-arranged plan. "On Call" flights are retained at base until specifically requested by Commander Support Aircraft. Normally after reporting on station, no Support Aircraft should leave station until properly relieved and ordered by Commander Support Aircraft to perform a mission or return to base, except for shortage of fuel or other emergency.

Section 6. Strike and Troop Support Aircraft

  1. Strike and troops Support missions may be flown by all types of aircraft. Strike missions are flown against the Objective prior to and simultaneously with the landing by the Landing Force. Troop Support missions are flown in direct support of the advance of the Landing Force ashore on request of the Landing Force Unit Commanders through the Air Liaison Parties. All strike missions occurring during the presence of the Attack Force, altogether with all troop support missions, are controlled by Commander Support Aircraft until relieved. It is desirable that directions to Support Aircraft on Strike or Troop Support missions should be given by an experienced aviator.

Section 7. Sources of Support Aircraft

  1. Support Aircraft for an amphibious operation may be provided by planes from carriers, tenders, battleships, and land bases.

Section 8. Commander Support Aircraft

    1. Commander Support Aircraft commands all Aircraft on station over the area of operations of the Attack Force at the Objective during the amphibious operation. Prior to reporting on station and after departure for base, the Support Aircraft are under command of their respective carrier, group, unit, or base commanders.

    2. In order that the Commander Support Aircraft may be cognizant of all aircraft operating in area of operations of the Attack Force, search planes, transport planes, ambulance planes, and other itinerant aircraft shall report to Commander Support Aircraft prior to entering the area.

Section 9. Headquarters

  1. Commander Support Aircraft normally is embarked with a Support Aircraft Control Party in the Headquarters Ship. It is from the Headquarters Ship that all Support Aircraft normally are directed.


Section 10. Relief Headquarters

  1. A Support Aircraft Control Party under command of an experienced aviator is embarked in the Relief Headquarters Ship to act as Relief Commander Support Aircraft. Upon direction of Commander Support Aircraft, activities of Support Aircraft in whole or in part may be directed from the Relief Headquarters Ship. If the Headquarters Ship is disabled, Support Aircraft Activities will be directed from the Relief Headquarters Ship.

Section 11. Commander Support Aircraft's Deputy Ashore

    1. If the tactical situation should call for the direction of troop support missions from ashore, the Commander Aircraft may order ashore an experienced aviator to act as his deputy with such additional personnel as may be required. He will direct such troop support missions as ordered by Commander Support Aircraft.

    2. The Division Air Liaison Party (or in case of an operation employing less than a division, one of the regimental Air Liaison Parties) should be equipped to furnish a headquarters for Command Support Aircraft's Deputy ashore.

    3. If an operation plan calls for the establishment of corps or Army Headquarters ashore during an Amphibious Operation and if Commander Support Aircraft is controlling aircraft on a corps or Army basis, then the corps or Army Air Liaison Party should be equipped to furnish a headquarters for Commander Support Aircraft's Deputy ashore.

Section 12. Air Coordinator

  1. An Air Coordinator in flight is normally on station in the vicinity of the Objective. He should be an aviator with the experience of a group or squadron commander. The Air Coordinator coordinates such strike and troop support missions as directed by Commander Support Aircraft. He will also provide pertinent information on the ground and air tactical situation.

Section 13. Fighter Direction

    1. Fighter Direction in an amphibious operation is conducted from Headquarters ships, Carriers, destroyers, and Shore based teams. It is necessary that these units have experienced FDO's, adequate equipment and personnel, and coordinated briefing.

    2. As the direct representative of the OTC, the Commander Support Aircraft, through his staff Fighter Director, is responsible for air defense and has control of Fighter Direction during an amphibious operation.

    3. Insofar as practicable the Commander Support Aircraft submits recommendations as to the organization of the various Fighter Direction Units and endeavors through his staff Fighter Direction Officer to coordinate the final briefing of the various units.


    1. Insofar as the plans of the Garrison and Landing Force Commanders permit, mobile early Fighter Directions and Air Warning Units should go ashore with the Landing Force and be established at the earliest practicable moment. These units should be closely coordinated with the Commander Support Aircraft's Deputy ashore.

    2. The Commander Support Aircraft designates the primary, secondary, and standby Fighter Direction Bases. The Fighter Direction Base in the Headquarters Ship keeps Commander Support Aircraft informed of the Fighter Direction tactical situation.

    3. Combat Air Patrol, when relieved from scheduled patrol, are available for strikes or troop support missions. Unless otherwise directed, the planes which are relieved report to Commander Support Aircraft, for further orders, on the Support Aircraft Direction circuit set forth in the Communication Plan of the operation.

    Section 14. Anti-Submarine Patrol and Hunter Killer Direction

    1. Commander Support Aircraft directs Anti-Submarine Patrols from the Headquarters Ship or controls Anti-Submarine Patrols through designated Anti-Submarine Direction Bases in the ships of the Anti-Submarine screen.

    2. Commander Support Aircraft assigns planes to ships of the Anti-submarine screen in the areas of submarine contacts for Hunter Killer tactics.

    3. Anti-Submarine Patrols and Hunter Killer planes, when relieved from scheduled patrols or duties, are available for strike or troop support missions. Unless otherwise directed the planes, when relieved, report to Commander Support Aircraft, for further orders, on the support aircraft Direction circuit set forth in the Communication Plan of the operation.

Section 15. Air Liaison Parties

    1. An Air Liaison Party is attached to the Headquarters of the Commander of each division, regiment (combat team), and the battalion (Landing team) engaged in an amphibious operation. Each Party consists of an Air Liaison Officer and enlisted personnel as assigned, with all necessary communications equipment. These Parties are components of a Joint Assault Signal Company, trained by Commander Amphibious Training Command, Pacific Fleet and assigned to each amphibious division. If an operation plan calls for establishment of corps and Army headquarters ashore during an amphibious operation, each corps and Army Headquarters so engaged should equip itself with an Air Liaison Party.


    1. The Air Liaison Officer acts as Liaison between his Landing Force Unit Commander and the Commander Support Aircraft. Through him the Landing Force Unit Commander may request direct air support. As a shore-based operational assistant of Commander Support Aircraft, the Air Liaison Officer advises his Landing Force Unit Commander relative to direct air support.

    2. The Air Liaison Officer should have complete understanding of the capabilities, limitations, tactical employment, and availability of aircraft.

    3. It is the duty of the Landing Force Unit Commander and the Commander Support Aircraft to furnish the Air Liaison Officer with intelligence data, Target Maps, Operation Plan, Air Support Plan, and Air Support section of Communication Plan for the amphibious operation.

    4. The Air Liaison Officer goes ashore with the Landing Force Unit Commander to whom he is attached. If the Headquarters of the Landing Force Unit Commander goes ashore ahead of the Commander, the Air Liaison Officer goes in with the Headquarters.

    5. The Air Liaison Officer transmits to Commander Support Aircraft the request of the Landing Force Unit Commander for Support Aircraft. A request for Support Aircraft must indicate:

      1. Type of air support desired.
      2. Target description.
      3. Location of target by reference to target maps or landmarks.
      4. Time limit of requested support.
      5. Location of friendly troops with respect to targets and other information or special instructions.

    6. The higher echelons monitor the requests of lower echelons. A senior Landing Force Unit Commander will inform the Commander Support Aircraft immediately if he desires his junior commander's Support Aircraft request cancelled. A senior commander's silence will be construed as concurrence.

    7. Support Aircraft requests will be given priority over other transmissions, unless otherwise directed.

    8. The Air Liaison Officer receives Commander Support Aircraft's decisions on requests for Support Aircraft and relays them to the Landing Force Unit Commander.

    9. Commander Support Aircraft, under Commander Expeditionary Force and in collaboration with Commander Landing Force, either complies with or rejects the request for Support Aircraft based on:

      1. Whether or not its compliance will best support the task Force Plan. This includes coordination with Naval Gunfire support and Artillery support.

      2. Whether or not it is suitable aircraft target.

      3. Availability of Support aircraft and number of aircraft required to accomplish the mission.


      1. Allowable time to comply with request.

      2. Type of ammunition required.

      3. Weather conditions.

    1. The Air Liaison Officer may designate targets and own front lines to friendly planes through Commander Support Aircraft by:

      1. Display of fluorescent panels.
      2. Colored smoke shells or grenades.
      3. Rockets, flares, and Very lights.
      4. Signal lights.

    2. The Air Liaison Officer will be informed by Commander Support Aircraft of beginning and end of attack and when possible will report results of the attack.

    3. The Air Liaison Officer must indoctrinate troops in removing panels used to mark front lines when they advance after an air attack.

    4. The Air Liaison Officer keeps the Commander Support Aircraft informed of the tactical situation on the ground and at the front. He will keep his Landing Force Unit Commander informed of such intelligence data as may be transmitted by Commander Support Aircraft.

    5. The Air Liaison Officer will keep his Landing Force Unit Commander informed of observations of the Air Observer and transmit requests for air observations through Commander Support Aircraft.

    6. The Air Liaison Parties should carry only necessary equipment.

    7. Communications with the Air Liaison Parties should be controlled by an officer with air liaison combat experience.

    8. The Air Liaison Officer should coordinate his activities with those of the Naval Gunfire Liaison Officer and Artillery Liaison Officer at unit Headquarters.

    9. When the Landing Force occupies a narrow front and the tactical and command situation permit, one or more battalion Air Liaison Parties may be withdrawn.

Section 16. Air Observer

  1. An Air Observer in flight, under the control of Commander Support Aircraft, reports observations of military significance on the ground situation for the Commander Attack Force and Commander Landing Force in the Headquarters Ship and the Landing Force Unit Commanders ashore.

Section 17. Spotting Planes

  1. Naval Gunfire and Artillery Spotting Planes will normally operate under control of parent ship or base. Spotting planes should endeavor to execute assigned missions and withdraw from Objective area as soon as practicable in order to avoid interference with Support Aircraft. Liaison with these planes shall be maintained through Naval Gunfire Control and Artillery Control Officers. Carrier based planes assigned to spotting missions must be equipped


    with VHF Radio for reporting to and receiving instructions from Commander Support Aircraft, and MHF Radio for spotting gunfire.

Section 18. Command and Coordination

  1. The closest liaison must be maintained in the Headquarters Ship between Commander Attack Force, Commander Support Aircraft and Commander Landing Force in order to coordinate the employment of the forces under their command. It is particularly important that Naval Gunfire Control and Artillery Control maintain the closest liaison with Commander Support Aircraft if the maximum employment of the three weapons is to be attained. Closest liaison must likewise be maintained on shore between Air Liaison Officers, Naval Gunfire Liaison Officers and Artillery Liaison Officers.

Section 19. Maps and Charts

  1. To aid in the coordination of attacks by the Naval, Air, and Land Forces it is essential that all maps and charts used in an amphibious operation be based on a uniform system of gridding or target designation.

Section 20. Commander Support Aircraft, Pacific Fleet

    1. A Support Aircraft organization has been established for forces under the Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas.

    2. Commander Support Aircraft, Pacific Fleet and all Support Aircraft Control Groups under his command are included in the type command of Air Force, Pacific Fleet, for training and for administration. They are assigned as task groups to the amphibious forces for operations.

    3. A Support Aircraft Control Group consists of a Commander Support Aircraft for an Attack Force and his Headquarters Ship Support Aircraft Control Party and Relief Headquarters Ship Support Aircraft Control Party, including such personnel from these parties as may be sent ashore to Control Support Aircraft ashore.

    4. The duties and responsibilities of Commander Support Aircraft are considered to be:

      1. Air Operations.
        Control of the assigned Support Aircraft during an amphibious operation in accordance with this doctrine and directives of higher authority.

      2. Doctrine.
        Recommend the tactical doctrine for the employment of Support Aircraft in an amphibious operation. This will envisage the coordination of the various parties involved, including Air Groups furnishing Support Aircraft,


        Air Liaison Parties, Fighter Direction Bases and Air Warning Units.

      1. Planning.
        Prepare the Air Support Plan for amphibious operations. Collaboration with agencies concerned in planning the preliminary photographic reconnaissance and air neutralization of the Objective and its supporting bases. Close coordination of Naval Gunfire and Artillery plans is essential.

      2. Liaison.
        Maintain close liaison with the many agencies training for perspective amphibious operations and engaged in amphibious operations to coordinate their activities with Support Aircraft.

      3. Training.

        1. Advise the responsible agency regarding training of Air Groups in Support aircraft operations. This will be conducted in conjunction with Army and Marine Corps units engaged in landing exercises.

        2. Coordinate and advise in the advance training of Air Liaison Parties, Fighter Direction and Air Warning Parties.

        3. Prepare and issue standard instructions regarding the organization, functions and advance training of Support Aircraft Control Groups.

      4. Development.
        Advise the responsible agency regarding the development of aircraft equipment and armament for use in Support Aircraft operations.

Section 21. Communications

For an illustration of the principles below, see the Communications Plan Annex for the Leyte Operation. --HyperWar
    1. Control of Support Aircraft is dependent upon radio Communications.

    2. The Air Support section of the Communication Plan of an amphibious operation will set forth all frequencies required for Support Aircraft. The number of Support Aircraft frequencies employed in an amphibious operation should be held to a minimum consistent with efficient communication. A minimum of perfectly functioning and maintained circuits is preferable to a large number of ineffective ones.

    3. All Support Aircraft communications should be transmitted in plain language unless specified to the contrary in the Communications Plan.


    1. In order to reduce communications traffic to a minimum, all personnel must be thoroughly indoctrinated in voice procedure and radio discipline as prescribed in USF-70, Combined British-American Radio Telephone Procedure, special directives of Commander Support Aircraft, and the Communication Plan.

Section 22. Principal Support Aircraft Control Circuits

    1. The following circuits are normally the principal Support Aircraft control circuits (additional circuits as needed and subtractions of the circuits listed herein will be set forth in the Communication Plan of each amphibious operation):

      1. Support Aircraft Request Circuit (SAR).
        Support Aircraft Request Circuit is used by Commander Support Aircraft for communications with Commanders of Carrier Task Groups, Commander Land Based Aircraft (if feasible), and Air Liaison Parties.

      2. Support Aircraft Request--Land Based Circuit (SAR-LB).
        The Support Aircraft Request--Land Based circuit is used by Commander Support Aircraft when requesting aircraft from Commander Land Based Aircraft, if Commander Land-Based Aircraft is unable to guard the SAR channel above. The frequently assigned as the Major Air Tactical circuit for the respective area involved will normally be used as SAR-LB circuit. CW only will be used on this circuit. Messages will be enciphered using the effective edition of CSP 1270 or other appropriate means.

      3. Support Aircraft Direction Circuit (SAD).

        1. The Support Aircraft Direction circuit is used by Commander Support Aircraft for communications with all planes reporting on station over the Expeditionary Force or over the Objective, including transport planes, ambulance planes and search planes operating in vicinity. This circuit is used by Commander Support Aircraft to control Support aircraft missions and to turn support missions over to airborne Air Coordinator or Commander Support Aircraft ashore for further direction.

        2. The Air Observer, Naval Gunfire and Artillery Spotting planes, Combat Air Patrol, Anti-Submarine Patrol and Hunter Killer planes shall report in initially on the circuits assigned them. The Combat Air Patrol, Anti-Submarine Patrol and Hunter Killer planes, when relieved from their initial duties and unless instructed to return to base, shall report to Commander Support Aircraft on the Support Aircraft Direction circuit.


        1. All planes reporting to Commander Support Aircraft for strike or troop support missions shall give the following information:

          1. Flight leader's voice call.
          2. Number and type of planes in flight and mission.
          3. Time available for use on station.
          4. Armament.
          5. Location and altitude.

        2. Air Coordinator or flight leaders shall report beginning and end of every mission.

      1. Support Aircraft Direction--Emergency Circuit (SAD-E).
        The Support Aircraft Direction--Emergency circuit will be available for EMERGENCY use by Commander Support Aircraft and the Support Aircraft for all forces. This circuit is normally VHF. It may be used ONLY:

        1. In case of communication failure of the Support Aircraft Direction circuit.

        2. In case that the Support Aircraft Direction circuit is being used by Commander Support Aircraft to direct a flight of planes in an attack and the transmissions concerning the attack are utilizing the SAD circuit in such a way that newly arriving flights cannot check in to Commander Support aircraft to report their arrival, the SAD-E circuit may be used. this may be done only if flights cannot "get thru" on the SAD circuit.

        3. In case planes are not equipped with HF radio equipment.

        4. By carrier-based Spotter Planes for reporting to and receiving instructions from Commander Support Aircraft.

      2. Fighter Direction Circuit (Island Objective).
        The Fighter Direction Circuit (Island Objective) will be used by Fighter Direction Bases, afloat and ashore, under Commander Support Aircraft, for direction of Combat Air Patrol over Island objective.

      3. Support Aircraft Observation Circuit (SAO).
        The Support Aircraft Observation Circuit is used by the Air Observer in flight to present an over all up to the minute picture of the ground situation. The Air Observer is a ground force officer. While this circuit is controlled by Commander Support Aircraft, pertinent information will be disseminated to the other Commands aboard the Headquarters Ship. Division, Regimental, and Battalion Air Liaison Parties monitor this circuit and are responsible for the dissemination of pertinent information to the commanding officers of


        the respective units to which they are attached. The Air Observer will be ordered by Commander Support Aircraft to make specific observations and report thereon in addition to reporting general facts which he observes.

      1. Inter Force Air Warning (Central Pacific HF Warning) Circuit.
        The Inter Force Air Warning circuit will be used by the various Attack Force commanders to re-broadcast warnings received over local circuits, which they respectively control to warn all Attack Force commanders of the expeditionary Force. The circuit will be guarded by the following:

        1. The Attack Force commanders.
        2. All carrier task group commanders.
        3. All ships and units not in company with the various Attack Force Commanders.

      2. Local Air Warning Circuit (LAW).
        The Local Air Warning circuit will be used for Anti-Submarine Patrol (ASP) and Hunter Killer (HK) communications as well as the HF Local Air Warning net. Screening vessels must establish immediate communication with aircraft over the Local Air Warning primary (or secondary if so ordered) when ordered to conduct Hunter Killer operations in conjunction with aircraft. Likewise screening vessels must immediately report submarine contacts over this circuit (if radio silence conditions permit) so that HK planes can be assigned to assist without undue delay.

      3. Inter Fighter Director Warning (IFD).
        The Inter Fighter Director Warning circuit will be used by Fighter Direction units ashore or afloat to communicate with each other and exchange information regarding enemy aircraft detected by radar. The Fighter Director Control reports the status of CAP and keeps Commander Support Aircraft informed of any changes in the CAP status. Fighter Director Control informs Commander Support Aircraft of flights of planes being relieved from CAP which will be available for direct support missions. If communications cannot be established on this circuit, the Local Air Warning primary may be used in an emergency.

    1. The Division Air Liaison Party should be equipped to control the Support Aircraft Request, Support Aircraft Direction, Support Aircraft Direction-Emergency, and Support Aircraft Observation circuits in the event that


      Commander Support Aircraft sends a deputy ashore. The Division Air Liaison Party will be coordinated ashore with the advance shore based Fighter Direction and Air Warning Unit. This unit will normally be equipped to control Local Air Warning, Fighter direction, and Inter Fighter Director Warning circuits.

Section 23. Tactical Employment of Support Aircraft

    1. The basic doctrine for the tactical employment of Support Aircraft in an amphibious operation is contained in FTP 167, FTP 211, and in previous chapters of USG-74-B (Tentative). It must be remembered, however, that amphibious warfare is a constantly evolving science. The tactical employment of Support Aircraft is not static. Below are set forth certain tactical orders and doctrine as an amplification of the above publications to include latest methods and practices, tested and proven in recent operations.

    2. All forms of support used in an amphibious operation have definite capabilities and limitations. Each is complementary of the other. In order to coordinate all forms of support, it is essential that all parties concerned have a clear understanding and appreciation of their own and each other's weapons.

    3. Individuals who control or assist in the control of Support Aircraft are limited by certain factors outlined below:

      1. Commander Support Aircraft is on a Headquarters Ship making command decisions under Commander Attack Force and in collaboration with Commander Landing Force. In making his decisions he is dependent upon preliminary intelligence gathered from various sources and concurrent intelligence supplied by Air Liaison officers ashore, Air Coordinator, Air Observer, flight leaders, photographic missions, military and naval sources, and target information supplied by pilots to Air Combat Information Officers after returning to base. If this target information is of immediate military significance, it should be forwarded to Commander Support Aircraft over the Support Aircraft Request Circuit.

      2. Air Liaison officers ashore are limited in their information by the general confusion existing during a land battle. They are normally operating either in the front lines or at the command post of the unit to which they are attached. In any event their communications equipment is usually at the command post, and they are dependent for


        communications between the front lines and the command posts upon small portable radio sets, land wire telephones, visual signals, or runners, all in the thick of battle. The land wires are frequently destroyed by our own personnel and equipment as well as by enemy action. Tanks often get ahead of the infantry and radio communications fail. One sector advances ahead of another and contact is lost. The front is fluid and constantly shifting. It is seldom if ever a straight line. All these factors limit the information of the Air Liaison officer. His limitations are also those of Commander Support Aircraft.

      1. Observation by Air Coordinator, Air Observer, flight leaders and pilots is subject to the natural limitations of aerial observation.

    1. Air Coordinators and flight leaders should report to Commander Support Aircraft the errors they discover in information furnished them, such as:

      1. Tanks or troops in areas where missions have been requested.

      2. Targets which are not in areas designated.

      3. New targets.

    2. The importance of timing cannot be overemphasized. Support Aircraft attacks must be on time. They must not be made before or after a given time limit. The same rule applies if troops or boats have moved from a given position. Troops may be using Support Aircraft to cover an advance. Attacks beyond a specified time limit may very likely hit our own forces.

    3. Pilots must know the exact nature and location of their assigned target. They must know that they will hit the target. Bombers must pull out without releasing, and fighters must hold their fire if they are not on the target. Wind drift must be taken into account in bombing into the smoke and dust caused by the bomb drops of the previous plane. The smoke and dust may blow back over our own lines.

    4. No surface craft should be attacked by aircraft in the vicinity of the Objective unless it has been positively identified as enemy. If identity is doubtful, the presence of vessel should be reported to Commander Support Aircraft.

    5. Bombing and strafing should not be initiated except on order of the Commander Support Aircraft or those acting under his direction.


    1. Planes must report on station at the initial point designated and if ordered to move to another initial point they must do so immediately. Certain course rules will be laid down for the vicinity of the Objective. These course rules must be scrupulously obeyed. Upon completion of missions, planes must not engage in sightseeing or loitering. In addition to interfering with subsequent Support Aircraft missions, the offending plane is in danger of injury by artillery and naval gunfire. Spotting planes must be alert not to interfere with strike and troop support missions and should leave the immediate area after spotting. Planes should not fly over friendly troops or vessels unless required by a mission to do so. If it is necessary to fly over a friendly vessel do so in a manner which clearly indicates the plane's friendly character. (See USF-10-A, Sec. 3545 and USF-70A, Sec. 5230). Planes must keep clear of the line of fire of artillery and gunfire. Maximum ordinate should be given in Air Plan of each operation.

    2. Pilots should be alert to the possibility of surprise enemy air opposition developing. They must not allow their formations to become spread out or be slow in reaching the rendezvous point.

    3. If Combat Air Patrols and Anti-Submarine Patrols are to be used for strike and troop support missions after being relieved from patrol, schedules for the relived patrols should be so arranged that they will have one-half hour's fuel to spare for such missions as may be assigned by Commander Support Aircraft.

    4. Pilots should be thoroughly briefed before an operation in the general operation plan of the naval, air and land forces. They should be familiar with the location and type of all the major enemy installations in the vicinity of the Objective and with the identification features of enemy surface and aircraft which might be encountered. They should have a thorough understanding of the target maps and charts and system of target designation to be used in the operation. Preliminary information is sometimes faulty and upon arrival over target area, pilots should carefully observe and identify the targets.

    5. When a Support Aircraft mission is being coordinated with a ground attack, notification of completion of attack is essential. This usually is accomplished by the last pilot in the last plane being directed by Commander Support Aircraft to fire a previously designated pyrotechnic signal as he completes his attack


      which will be the "All clear" signal for the ground force to advance. At the same time Commander Support Aircraft must be notified by the Air Coordinator or flight leader of the completion of every attack. He in turn should immediately notify the Air Liaison Officer concerned.

    1. Strike and Troop Support Missions are normally flown by aircraft from regular Support Aircraft Groups, which report on station at regular intervals during the amphibious operation. Special Support Aircraft Groups are sometimes used for strike missions, such as DAWN or PRE-H-HOUR strikes.

Section 24. Tactical Employment of Air Coordinator

    1. When several flights or missions have to be coordinated, the Air Coordinator usually is given general instructions for an attack, such as location and type of target, by Commander Support Aircraft. In most cases he is better qualified to give the detailed instructions to the pilots and control its execution. If only one flight is to be employed in a mission, the Commander Support Aircraft may order the flight leader to assume direction of the mission.

    2. If there is a time limit on the duration of the attack, due to lifting of artillery or surface fires, it is essential that the Commander Support Aircraft give his instructions well before the attack is to commence. Commander Support Aircraft then keeps the Air Coordinator and flight leaders posted as to the time when the attack shall commence and when it shall cease. Perfect timing is essential in order that continuous fire may be maintained on the enemy.

    3. The Air Coordinator's duties are considered to include the following:

      1. Know every detail of a target area by advance study of all available intelligence data and by personal observation after arrival over the objective.

      2. Know the capabilities of the pilots in the Support Aircraft Groups.

      3. Spot the bomb drops for the Support Aircraft Groups. This induces a spirit of competition among the pilots, improving the bombing results.

      4. Coordinate the attacks of Support Aircraft Groups upon direction of Commander Support Aircraft.

      5. Report new targets to Commander Support Aircraft for disposition by Commander Attack Force.

Section 25. Tactical Employment of Air Observer

    1. It is recommended that all Air Observers for an operation be embarked in the same carrier to enable them to compare information. VB aircraft are considered the most suitable for Air Observers.


    1. Air Observers should have the best information possible concerning the military situation prior to relieving on station.

    2. The Air Observer should be trained to recognize developments of military significance in order that he may limit his transmissions to essential and pertinent material.

    3. While it is recognized that the Air Observer's speed and altitude will be governed by the enemy situation, a rather slow air speed is usually necessary for thorough and accurate ground observation. Generally this will be regulated by making many maneuvers without reducing power. It has been found helpful to open landing flaps partially in order to obtain greater stability. In general an altitude of 400-500 feet has been found to be best for investigating an object or a small area; however, a higher altitude should be used in scanning a large area or in searching for heavily travelled trails or roads.

    4. The technique of flying an Air Observer so that he may be in the best position for observing, is dictated largely by the blind spot formed by wings and fuselage. It seems best to fly out to the side of the area being observed, but on some occasions it may be necessary to be almost vertically above the immediate spot being observed. Therefore steep turns are necessary, and it has been found that the best method is to make a definite "S" turn while scouting along a line of observation. This technique has the added advantage of making the plane a more difficult target for enemy fire.

    5. Scanning of an entire area in the attempt to find suspicious activity has been found to be much more effective than singling out and looking at each small area as it is approached. It is best to look at a whole area and try to pick out the color differences, or some mark of suspicious activity, or movement. A slight hole breaking the symmetry of the even tops of trees, or several trees cut out of a row of palms may lead to the discovery of enemy activity. The observer should not look at the tops of the trees, but force his eyes to focus at the level underneath the trees.

    6. After a particular spot is discovered that appears to be suspicious, angle and light play a great part in the investigation of it. The angle of observation is usually found to be the most limiting factor in the attempt to see anything distinctly, especially when it is well hidden under tall trees. Any angle of elevation of about 45° or slightly less has been found better than a steep angle in locating small clearings under the trees, and objects in these clearings.


Section 26. Strafing

    1. The importance of accuracy in Support aircraft strafing cannot be overemphasized from the standpoint of target neutralization and safety of our own troops. There is no standard strafing doctrine for the support of the initial landing in an amphibious operation. The element of risk from ricochets among troops must be considered in determining how close strafing can be conducted to the first wave of our landing craft.

    2. In many cases where natural growth and good camouflage make it impossible to see targets, strafing is resorted to in an effort to neutralize the positions. Strafing attacks are frequently made immediately before and after bombing attacks on gun positions. Personnel are caught seeking cover and returning to their posts from cover at such times and make excellent strafing targets.

    3. Fuel and ammunition dumps, troop concentrations, vehicles, small boats, light fortifications and gun emplacements afford suitable targets for strafing attacks. Enemy aircraft, which appear to be operational, should always be destroyed.

    4. In the event that a separate Combat Air Patrol is not on station providing intermediate and high cover, strafing planes should have direct cover within their own group. This can be done very well within a 12-plane group. Eight planes should begin strafing immediately on arrival over the specific target, diving by sections, leaving one four-plane division to cover them directly. When the first division to strafe has recovered and joined up, they become cover, and the original direct cover division proceeds to strafe, thus each division relieves the other as cover on recovery from each strafing run in rotation.

    5. Fighter sweeps should be varied in their position as well as direction. No two should follow the same pattern.

    6. For the most part, strafing attacks are initiated from a high altitude in a 45° to 60° angle at high diving speeds with pullouts at not less than 1000 feet. It is suggested that the strafing of trenches and antiaircraft positions be made from a steep dive of at least 60° in order to pin-point the fire into trenches from a vertical position. Flat strafing runs on zig-zag trenches will only take the sand away from the edges.

    7. In attacking ammunition dumps, to avoid being caught in the blast, the angle of dive should not exceed 40° and the pullout should be effected at not less than 2000 feet. Pilots should make their runs individually and so spaced to prevent getting caught in an explosion caused by the fire of the preceding plane.

    8. Shallow dives are normally more effective in strafing small boats, water-line hits being most destructive in this case.


    1. Buildings made of light material are easily set afire by .50 caliber and 20MM incendiaries. The numerous wooden sea-going cargo sampans also are easily burned.

    2. Camouflaged positions are more easily seen in low angle strafing attacks conducted at medium speed. However, these runs are more dangerous due to the fact that the muzzle blast from rifles and small caliber automatic weapons is not visible at any appreciable distance. While low altitude strafing runs may be necessary to neutralize some positions, pilots should realize the extra risk which may be involved.

    3. In attacking enclosed gun emplacements, individual flat strafing runs firing towards the openings are considered most effective. If possible, the Air Liaison party should notify the pilots the direction of openings in these emplacements.

    4. In a steep dive, fire normally commences at 4000 feet. When shallow dives are made at reduced speeds, firing should commence at about 2000 feet and continue to tree top level. Pilots must remember to fire in short bursts during long and intensive strafing runs. The guns will not take long uninterrupted bursts. Overheating may cause "cook-off" fire which may be disastrous to friendly planes. Pilots must know the dispersion of their bore-sight pattern from 4000 feet on down.

Section 27. Bombing

    1. The importance of accuracy in Support aircraft bombing in an amphibious operation cannot be overemphasized from the standpoint of target neutralization and safety of our own troops. It its therefore recommended that only targets such as buildings, fuel and ammunition dumps, and large gun emplacements that are easily seen and identified by pilots be selected for dive or glide bombing attacks. While near misses in bombing probably keep the enemy below ground and forces gun crews to seek shelter, relatively few personnel are killed and few guns damaged except as the result of direct hits. Since range errors are normally greater than deflection errors it is desirable whenever the tactical situation permits that bombing runs be made parallel to our front lines.

    2. When there is no air opposition and AA has become ineffective, the speed with which bombing is carried out is, within reasonable limits, an unimportant factor. Bombers should be deliberate in the execution of their attacks, maneuvering into the best possible positions from which to make their runs on the targets, carefully observing the target area, and allowing smoke, dust and debris to settle as much as possible before releasing their bombs. A full minute bombing interval between TBF attacks is recommended.


    1. Dive bombing planes should normally stand by at an altitude not lower than that from which dives are to be initiated. If dives are made in glide from less than 7000 feet, necessary accuracy for pin-point targets cannot be expected.

    2. When circumstances permit on Support Aircraft missions it is believed that more hits will be scored by individual drops in several runs than by dropping in train on one run.

    3. Where enemy installations are not identifiable and AA is light, VT should normally make the first bombing attacks on and behind the landing beaches with VB remaining on the alert for targets of opportunity such as AA firing or guns firing at landing craft. VB attack normally should follow closely that of VT, followed in turn by VF strafing attacks as the boats come close to the beach.

    4. Horizontal bombing by carrier based aircraft is not recommended except in certain instances where AA is heavy.

    5. VFs have been successfully employed as fighter bombers, carrying either 500 lb. or 1000 lbs. bombs. Over the target, fighter bombers normally follow VB in the dive; the angle of the VF dives varies between 45° and 60°, with speeds in excess of 300 knots attained at the average release of 2000 feet. After dropping their bombs, the VFs may resume their role of fighter escort for the bombers. Although skip-bombing by VF on pin-point targets is more accurate than glide-bombing, in the hand of trained and experienced pilots VFs will make successful glide bombing attacks providing there is no enemy interception nor heavy AA.

Section 28. Bombs and Fuzes

    1. Selection of Bombs and Fuzes should be in accordance with "Selection of Bombs and Fuzes to be used against various targets", OPNAV-16-V #A6, March, 1944 and such supplementary and subsequent doctrine as may be developed.

    2. The following procedure has been recommended as supplementary to strafing and gunfire support for neutralizing enemy positions immediately prior to landing. VTB should be equipped with 12-100#GP or fragmentation clusters. Three minutes prior to landing (when first wave is approximately 500 yards offshore) the Air Coordinator should call off gunfire by parachute flares, after which two flights of VTB should cross the beach areas dropping by intervalometer. The flights to be in line abreast with the flight leader along the beach, and the other planes inboard.

    3. A suggested method of attacking and neutralizing an enemy airfield is outlined below. The VTB armed with incendiaries and fragmentation clusters are launched


      well before daylight and navigated to the target by radar. One night fighter armed with a 250# bomb accompanies the VTB. Its function is to bombard and strafe searchlights and to divert AA fire. The night fighter can also strafe any enemy planes that might attempt to take off after the VTB attack. A strong fighter strike is then launched, arriving at the target just as the VTB are retiring. The VF cover the withdrawal of the VTB and act as an offensive fighter patrol over the field to strafe aircraft attempting to take off from or fly into the enemy base. These in turn are followed by a strong strike of torpedo planes and dive bombers arriving at the enemy field shortly after sunrise when the light is sufficient to permit the accurate selection and bombing of targets. Incendiaries and fragmentation clusters for planes and revetments plus 500# and 1000# bombs for runways are carried in this strike. To prevent ricochets, it is recommended that VTBs release bombs against runways while in a steep glide that only the .01 tail fuze be used. The last afternoon strike should provide for laying a few more heavy bombs on the runway and a dozen 250 pound bombs with 2, 4, and 6 hour delay fuzes. This will discourage night takeoffs or repairs to runways. It should be remembered that DA bombs should not be used in areas soon to be occupied by our ground troops.

    1. Fragmentation bombs are especially designed for the destruction of grounded aircraft, exposed personnel, motor vehicles and light structures. For minimum altitude bombing, the bombs are equipped with parachutes so the plane can get clear before the burst, and so the bomb will be suspended vertically when it explodes.

    2. Frequent instances have been reported of bombs hanging up in the bomb bays. It is therefore recommended that the racks be sighted from the bomber's position after the attempted release and the pilots be informed of any bombs remaining. It is sometimes possible to release these bombs against additional targets.

    3. Incendiary clusters are recommended to be used against numerous tightly packed small buildings. They spread over a large area and are very effective against typical Japanese barracks areas.

    4. Mixed loads of 100# GP and incendiaries for predawn initial strikes are excellent; the incendiaries provide illumination at the target.


    1. The 500# bomb is selected for most bombing purposes against defended positions where troops will not be in the open, because this bomb seems best to meet the requirements of both size and quantity, permitting full utilization of the payload of both the VTB and VSB planes.

    2. For strikes against runways, 500# bombs with .01 fuzes is recommended. The craters from these bombs are difficult to fill, and in the case of concrete surface, cause it to bulge up around the crater, making field repair a difficult matter.

    3. The best fuze plan appears to be divided into two parts, one plan for the mass bombing strikes immediately prior to landing, and the other for called bombing. In the strikes immediately before landing, very little time can be allowed, and it must be anticipated that the bombers which go in first, where many planes are used, will have the only chance at accuracy because of smoke and dust. They may well be given 1000# GP bombs with .025 fuzes. Good results may be attained if these planes are followed immediately by VTB, each loaded with 3-500# GP instantaneously fuzed, and 1-500# GP with .01 fuze. The theory behind this is to get a combination of demolition, fragmentation, and blast effect. In actual combat the results have been gratifying. Fuzes generally used for called bombing should be .01 for three reasons. The first is that this bombing is intended to be more accurate, and more direct hits are expected when objectives are definite and can be seen. The second is that a substantial number of instantaneously depth bombs may become available from ASP planes at the end of their patrol and these are considered sufficient to handle numerous cases of called bombing where blast and clearing effect is desired, and where only a few bombs are desired. The third is that where targets can not be seen because of the trees, it is to be expected that a fair percentage of these bombs will explode prior to hitting the surface, with an effect somewhat similar to a daisy cutter.

    4. Pilots should be briefed on minimum speed and altitude necessary to arm the bombs and depth charges they carry on each mission. Many fuzes have been discovered in an unarmed condition due to the lack of sufficient air travel to arm them.

Section 29. Rockets

    1. Rocket firing, generally, has proved more accurate than either dive or glide bombing. If possible targets should be pinpointed by the Air Coordinator or flight leader. If a large target area is assigned rather than a specific target pinpointed,


      the natural advantage of rockets is wasted. Rockets should therefore be employed against small, individual targets such as fuel tanks, ammunition dumps, revetted planes, gun emplacements, small buildings, etc. Gun positions in the side of a hill, difficult to hit by a bomb, are suitable targets for rockets.

    1. In using a combination of glide bombing and rockets, bombs should be dropped first, and while at low altitude the pilot should carefully observe small appropriate targets for rocket use on following runs. Against infantry accompanied by tanks, it is felt that a joint attack with fighter planes would be effective, with the VFs strafing personnel and the VTB using their rockets against tanks.

    2. Tactics for rocket guns is normally to start the run from 4500 to 4000 feet, dive at a 20°-35° angle, fire from an altitude of from 1000-1500 feet, and a slant range of 1200 to 700 yards, and level out at from 800-1000 feet. There should be no limiting altitude to initiate glides, but speeds should not be in excess of those prescribed for the aircraft.

    3. Instantaneous Fuzes are recommended against personnel, aircraft on ground, small unarmored vessels and open gun emplacements.

    4. Delayed Fuzes are best against DDs-AKs or armored vehicles or craft. Likewise, they should be employed against concrete pillboxes, covered or turreted coastal defense and dual purpose guns.

    5. Planes relieved from ASP will in many cases be equipped with rockets in addition to depth charges and will be available for strike and troop support missions. ASP planes normally will be equipped with 4 HE and 4 sold head rockets. Sold head rockets are not suitable for land targets. Planes equipped with special ASW weapons will not be available for support aircraft missions.

Section 30. Selection of Targets

    1. In considering the part to be played by carrier aircraft, it should be noted that the weapons they carry run from the .50 caliber machine gun to the 2000# bomb. Consequently, aircraft can be equipped for attacks on any type of target. Furthermore, due to their mobility they can quickly gain position to attack targets in any area. Their volume is limited, however, and consequently they should be used primarily against targets that cannot be seen or fired at by ships; against targets particularly vulnerable to either machine gun fire or heavy bombs and against targets required to be brought under fire very quickly. This should be the primary basis in the selection of targets for them.


    1. The accuracy required to hit a revetted gun position is not usually obtained. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of dive and glide bombing could be greatly improved by concentrating on specific targets rather than dispersing bombs over a wide area.

    2. When smoke is used for designating a target, it is essential that the planes be over the target area ready to make their run, and that the ground forces be notified through the Air Liaison Parties that the planes are watching for the smoke signal to be fired.

    3. It should be remembered that all enemy material and personnel constituting reinforcements for the defense of an island, unlike a mainland operation, lie close at hand. Pilots should be on the alert to locate and report these targets.

    4. It is likely that gun positions that have not previously been revealed by reconnaissance, may be detected by planes from their flashes.

    5. Pilots should always verify their targets.

    6. In selecting targets for support aircraft and assigning priorities, it is important that consideration be given to the effect on future operations of the smoke and dust caused by the strafing and bombing of such targets.

Section 31. Photographic Planes

    1. Normally, high altitude vertical photographs will have been taken by VD Squadrons preliminary to an operation. During the pre-D Day strikes, low altitude obliques will be taken by carrier based planes.

    2. Negatives should normally be developed on the carrier where facilities and personnel are better equipped to do this type of work. Prints can then be made and later delivered to the Headquarters Ship. If the film is required on the Headquarters Ship a set of prints should be retained on the carrier in case the film is lost in dropping.

    3. Photographs will normally be taken in accordance with a pre-determined schedule and specifications as to types of photographs set forth in the Air Support Plan. Every effort must be made to obtain photographic coverage in accordance with the plan so that the coverage will be complete and not sketchy. Provision for satisfactory delivery of photographs to the Headquarters Ship should be made in advance.

    4. If low altitude oblique and vertical photographs are to be taken of enemy installations protected by light and medium AA, simultaneous diversionary flights should be arranged. Carrier planes normally are better adapted for taking low altitude photographs of landing beaches and defense positions and for evaluation of damage during strike and troop support missions than heavy photographic planes.


    1. VFs modified for photography are being delivered to carriers. If properly employed they should be able to obtain any type of photographic reconnaissance desired.

    2. Examination of stereo pairs of photographs of the objective is recommended as a part of the pilot's briefing.

    3. Properly trained pilots should be assigned for photographic reconnaissance in amphibious operations.

    4. Hints for Pilots and Photographers.

      1. Do not dive from high altitude to drop bombs or strafe and expect to get photographs afterwards. The lens will fog up and will not clear for at least 45 minutes if the plane had been at altitude long enough for the camera to become thoroughly chilled.

      2. Do not fly through rain squalls if avoidable as the lens will fog up.

      3. Avoid flying through clouds of heavy moisture content.

      4. Do not open camera doors until necessary.

      5. Do not be in a turn, dive or climb when photographing. Fly on instruments.

      6. Do not take photographs within two hours of sunrise or sunset if it is expected to get a good quality photograph. Photographs can be obtained outside of these limitations but their quality will generally be very poor.

      7. Always use black and white film of the highest emulsion speed available (200) early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

      8. Always use black and white film for the primary coverage.

      9. Note indicated altitude, outside air temperature and time of photography for photographic data sheet.

      10. Compute true altitude for photography from indicated altitude and outside air temperature.

      11. After complete coverage has been obtained and circumstances permit, take large scale photographs of possible landing beaches, channels, defenses, airfields, industrial areas, etc.

      12. Pilots of photo planes fly over geographical points cut by flight lines as drawn on chart and note compass course for use in flying the remainder of the flight lines.

      13. Areas to be photographed are quite often oriented improperly so an endeavor to fly flight lines by compass course without first checking would not obtain the coverage desired.


      1. After the compass course has been determined for the first flight line, successive adjoining flight lines should be flown as a compass course so that portions of the area will not be left uncovered.

      2. All pilots should know, if possible, the radio calls of other photo pilots so that they can be contacted if any plane fails to get its assigned coverage.

      3. Plan the coverage which will require the minimum number of flight lines.

      4. Always use film which has been out of refrigeration for at least 24 hours and 48 hours if possible so that sweating will not occur.

      5. Always remove cameras for cleaning and drying after each flight.

      6. Never leave loaded magazines in plane over night.

      7. Never leave cameras installed any longer than absolutely necessary.

      8. Avoid hours to 1100 to 1300 when taking verticals to show coral heads and reefs as sun glare will probably be so intense that the photographs will be of no use.

      9. To show detail on the beaches the sun should be shining on to the beach at an oblique angle at time of photography.

      10. When taking oblique photographs avoid shooting through plexiglass if possible.

    1. For further technical instructions and information refer to Air Force, Pacific Fleet Confidential Letter 6CL-44.

Section 32. Smoke Planes

    1. Pilots of smoke planes should be especially trained in smoke laying techniques suitable to an amphibious operation.

    2. The Air Coordinator or the flight leader of the smoke planes should determine the wind direction immediately prior to the laying of a smoke screen on order of Commander Support aircraft. Before a smoke screen is laid, provision should be made for planes to fill in "Holidays".

Section 33. Combat Air Patrol

    1. Normally when Combat Air Patrol is relieved, unless ordered to return to base, flight leaders shall report to Commander Support aircraft giving the following information:

      1. Flight leader's voice call.

      2. Number and type of planes in flight and mission.


      1. Time available for use on station.

      2. Armament. Location and altitude.

Section 34. Anti-Submarine Patrol

    1. Normally when Anti-Submarine Patrol is relieved, unless ordered to return to base, flight leaders shall report to Commander Support Aircraft, giving the following information:

      1. Flight leader's voice call.

      2. Number and type of planes in flight and mission.

      3. Time available for use on station.

      4. Armament. Location and altitude.

    2. Planes equipped with special ASW weapons will not be available for Support Aircraft missions.


Table of Contents  *  Previous Chapter (25) *  Next Chapter (27)

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation