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Chapter VII
Comments and Recommendations

Responsible ship, type and fleet commanders, fully appreciating its gravity, have given considerable thought and study to the suicide problem.

Many comments and recommendations have been made, some of them impracticable, but others well considered.

Representative excerpts from action reports are classified according to subject matter. The subjects include: Use of AA. weapons; dispositions, speed and maneuvers; target acquisition; training; lookouts and recognition; AA. and fighter defense.

Use of AA. Weapons

DesDiv 120 -- (Comdr. J. C. Zahn, Commander)

"It has been suggested that local control of 5-inch mounts on ships attacked by suicide planes might be more effective than full director control. This suggestion might be developed further by leaving one mount on director control and firing Mark 32 fuzed projectiles from the others in local control on the theory that the patterns would be greater and that one direct hit from a 5-inch gun would accomplish the purpose. The addition of Mark 14 sights for use in local control of the 5-inch mounts would further increase the effectiveness of such a plan."

(NOTE: Five-inch guns on DD's have alternate control from adjacent Mark 51 heavy machine gun directors installed for this purpose.)

"It is further suggested that 20mm. guns have proved ineffective against determined suicide planes and that greater protection would be afforded by the substitution of either single or twin 40mm. guns for the 20mm. groups."

(NOTE: On ships carrying 40mm. in quantity this weapon tends to rob the 20mm. of kills. Smoke from adjacent 40mm. also increases the visibility problem. However, ships with only 20mm. automatic weapons and many that have 40's too, continue to make a high percentage of 20mm. kills.)

Air Force, Pacific Fleet -- (Capt. F. W. McMahon, Chief of Staff)

"Combining of the factor prohibiting Combat Air Patrol from entering a certain radius from the center of the fleet disposition, with maximum employment of all AA. guns available. Greater usage of 5-inch Mark 32 ammunition when these conditions maintain."

DesRon 55 -- (Comdr. A. E. Jarrell, Commander)

"The ship being attacked is its own best defense, since it does not have a difficult deflection problem. Other ships particularly should avoid harassing the ship under attack by nearness of friendly gunfire. Heavy and early


gunfire from the ship being attacked and nearby ships often results in the plane's withdrawal, if it is not destroyed, for a later attempt from another sector. Jap pilots, even suicide pilots, prefer to attack a ship that is not firing at them to one that is making it hot. Even fanatical suicides want their deaths to bring definite results."

USS Portland -- (Capt. T. G. W. Settle, C. O.)

"Early gunfire to point out the plane and force him to hurry or sheer off.

"Automatic weapons fire is not able to stop these planes once the final approach is started.

"Five-inch fire is not noticeably effective due largely to the evasive action of the attacking plane.

"For low-flying targets employ a fixed barrage placed at 5,000 yards."

(NOTE: Early gunfire is an essential. Automatic weapon fire has been effective in about 57 percent of the suicide dives. The Mark 37 type director system suffers at close range when evasive action is taken. Shift should be made to other forms of control. The lethal area of a 5-inch VT fuzed projectile is some 50 times that of a 40mm. bullet.)

USS Kitkun Bay -- (Capt. A. Handley, C. O.)

"Experiment with converging or diverging boresight patterns on AA. weapons.

"Make similar research with range setting and deflection devices.

"Try the elimination of all tracer and all 5-inch except Mark 32 or similar marks to deny pilot the knowledge of where the AA. is and relieve gunners of the confusion of many bursts which tend to hide the plane, particularly at twilight. Tracers did not appear to assist our own gunners, and many guns apparently fired at 5-inch bursts."

(NOTE: The optimum pattern of AA. weapons varies greatly with the control, the weapon, the ammunition and the action of the target. It is under constant study . . . Tracerless 40mm. and 20mm. are available in the fleet. VT fuzes have no tracer. If the control is adequate the suggestion has considerable merit, although there is an undeniable psychological effect of tracers, both on the gunner and the attacking pilot.)

USS Montpelier -- (Capt. H. D. Hoffman, C. O.)

"The most basic elements of defense against this attack are:

"(a) A heavy 5-inch barrage to prevent careful positioning for dive and


in hope that even if direct hits are not obtained, structural weakness may be caused.

"(b) A withering fire from the 40mm. as soon as the plane comes within range."

USS Blessman (APD 48) -- (Lt. (jg) D. A. Dollar, Gunnery Officer)

"Since this vessel mounts guns which are only controlled by lead-computing sights it is proposed to use the following systems of control for the various batteries:

" (a) The 5-inch battery (one Mark 30 mount) -- Full automatic Mark 51-3 director control using only Zone 2 and 4 barrages, utilizing a three-to-one Mark 40 to Mark 18 fuze ratio. Longer barrages cannot be seen and might confuse large firing ships.

" (b) The 40mm. battery (three twin mounts) -- Full automatic Mark 51-2 director control. Range will be set at 2,400 yards when fire is opened and be reduced by detent clicks to minimum, during the firing, with the emphasis being placed on reaching the minimum setting quickly as well as smoothly. It has been observed that too frequently 'smoothly' is interpreted to mean 'slowly'.

" (c) The 20mm. battery (six Mark 10 mounts) -- Full Mark 14-6 control. Range will be set at 1,200 yards while the first magazine is fired and will be changed to 400 yards while the magazines are being shifted. Since the 20mm. guns are the last batteries to open fire, they are under a serious handicap. The sky is filled with bursts and tracers making even the location of the target difficult. The din is terrific and the personnel tension is high. It is felt, therefore, that this simple system will be more reliable and produce more hits."

(NOTE: Proposed doctrine of AA. control appears excellent because of its simplicity.)

USS Mississippi -- (Capt. H. J. Redfield, C. O.)

"The ship's doctrine has been revised to keep all (four) 5"/25 guns on a side and at least one sector of 40mm's pointed into the sun at all times."

USS Abner Read -- (Comdr. A. M. Purdy, C. O.)

"It is believed that the 5"/38 and 5"/25 batteries are the only weapons that surface vessels possess which offer any promise, by total destruction of the plane at a respectable range of stopping this type of attack. Using Mark 32 fuzed projectiles, and with the accurate direct fire or line of sight barrage which the present 5-inch fire control installations are capable of, four or more 5-inch guns should offer a high probability of effective hitting outside of 1,500 yards range.


"I do not know to what extent the destroyers attacked used Mark 32 fuzed projectiles, nor do I know the relative accuracy of the 5"/38 fire control. However, I in no case saw a defending ship obtain a truly destructive 5-inch hit. Abner Read, in the morning, obtained one 'close' Mark 32 5-inch hit on the plane diving on Claxton, but it merely set it on fire; it did not disintegrate it. In the afternoon attack on Abner Read, although Mark 32 fuzed projectiles were used, main battery control was very late in getting on target as a result of their previous tracking of the second (rather than the diving) plane. Consequently, when the main battery opened fire the director was in 'slew sight control' and the computer was set for a 'dive barrage' (advance range set to 2,300 yards). Advance range may have been inside the minimum range of Mark 32 fuzed projectiles."

USS Franklin -- (Capt. J. M. Shoemaker, C.O.)

"The best defenses would appear to be, first, interception at considerable distance from the force before the fast run is started, and second, a very heavy volume of fire, particularly 40mm. fire. In one instance the control surfaces of the plane were destroyed by AA. fire before it could reach its target and the plane tumbled into the water short of its mark. In several other instances it is believed that heavy fire by 40mm. so damaged the plane as to destroy the accuracy of the dive.

"The 5-inch battery was not used as its effective range in the initial attack because of friendly fighters near the targets. However, 5-inch batteries should be used irrespective of the friendly planes because of the effectiveness of this type of AA. fire in destroying the attacking planes or of at least bouncing them about to such an extent that their flying control, hence aim, will be poor."

(NOTE: The problem of when AA. should commence in the presence of friendly fighters varies considerably with the situation. Paragraph 4561 of USF 10A has a general prudential clause covering this. Fighter pilots should be briefed carefully on the effect of VT fuzes and warned to keep clear of the trajectory by at least 100 yards.)

USS Montpelier -- (Capt. H. D. Hoffman, C. O.)

"In this ship it is believed that a mistake was made in attempting to set up target angles and speeds in order to get a 'solution'. The 5-inch battery tracked on the approach, but throughout the period when the enemy indulged in aerial acrobatics it was at a loss to take effective action to make any particular setup. It is impossible to do so on a target engaged in violent acrobatics. It is considered that this target is analogous to a 'surprise burst', with the burst represented by a rain cloud over the formation. Therefore, if target angle and speed are discarded and the cloud considered a gigantic 'burst', an overwhelming volume of 5-inch fire appears to be the answer. In his acrobatics within the cloud, sooner or later the Nip is bound to 'walk into' a burst.


"It is fully realized that with all ships concentrating on a target at the center of the formation there is danger of fragments hitting own ships. The responsibility therefore which is placed upon a commanding officer is naturally a deterrent to opening fire. Yet if fire is withheld on a determined enemy intent upon a suicide crash dive, the graver consequences of a badly damaged ship will result."

(NOTE: In the situation described attempts at computer solution are futile. Higher probability of hitting is obtained by use of the machine gun directors, or slew sight control, with VT fuzes.)

Dispositions, Speed, Maneuvers

TransDiv 103 -- (Comdr. W. S. Parsons, Commander)

"It is believed that the best defense against suicide attacks is the closest, tightest possible formation with a single circle of screening vessels equally spaced. Screening vessels should be about 1,000-1,500 yards from nearest ships screened with 1,000 yards between screening units."

DesDiv 48 -- (Capt. J. B. McLean, Commander)

"Certainly one of the best defensive measures against dive and suicide bombers is the use of high speed and turn movement ... It is recommended that formation speed of a force composed of heavy ships should always be increased to the maximum available to the slowest heavy ship when air attack is imminent and that turn movements be initiated prior to the moment that any plane can reach a release or dive point and continued during the attack.

"Fifteen hundred to 2,000 yards from nearest heavy ships is the distance stipulated by USF 10-A for the antiaircraft screen. I believe this still remains the best distance. It allows room for individual maneuver and offers mutual protection by gun power between heavy ships and the screen. A destroyer that is too close to the heavy ships loses its defensive advantage of speed. If over 2,000 yards from the heavy ships it loses much of the heavy ship gun power assistance and becomes a good target for suicidal planes. "

USS Manila Bay -- (Capt. F. Lee, C. O.)

"The antiaircraft dispositions in these instances appeared to be quite effective and consisted of an inner circle of carriers surrounded by a single screening circle of heavy ships, with destroyers on the chords between heavy ships. In the suicide attacks of 4 and 5 January in the Lingayen operations a 4R-0 disposition was used as the Victor (antiaircraft) disposition. Carriers were disposed on the 2.5 circle, heavy ships on the 3.5 circle, and an out screen of 27 destroyers were equally spaced on about circle 7 ...

"It is suggested that if such large numbers of destroyers are present the two-circle Victor disposition be used, with heavy ships and destroyers on a tight circle around the carriers, and with extra destroyers as pickets on


Circle 17 or 18. This would permit heavy ships, with their comparative wealth of AA. armament, to have a clear range and a firing angle of about 200 degrees, while the destroyers on the chords with lesser armament would still have a clear angle of about 160 degrees. The pickets would provide an excellent warning net against low-flying attacks, and could profitably be used in visual fighter direction of the anti-snooper patrols protecting our own main body."

USS Portland -- (Capt. T. G. W. Settle, C. O.)

"Maneuvering the ship by radical use of speed and rudder. In this, due consideration must be given to the effect on the gunners of the following:

  1. "The smoke resulting from a sudden and radical increase in speed.

  2. "Continuous circling of the ships results in the AA. directors, which are following or searching for the target as the ship turns, becoming 'wound up' and eventually being checked against the train stop. This results in a shift to local control while the director slews around to unwind itself, locate the target anew and repeat the process.

  3. "The more difficult footing afforded to ammunition passers and gun crews while the ship is in a violent turn.

"Maneuver to keep the 5-inch guns bearing and to avoid attack, but not the point where tracking the target becomes impossible to the 5-inch directors."

USS Kitkun Bay -- (Capt. A. Handly, C. O.)

"Test the value of a very tight screen, possibly with escort vessels closing to 200 yards upon Red alerts, to concentrate firepower, bolster morale, reduce deflection and reduce the masking of fire when low attacks fly between ships.....Place OBB's in the center of CVE formations."

Task Group 77.4 -- (Rear Adm. T. L. Sprague, Commander)

"A tip for the officer at the conn of vessels subjected to this form of attacking is that Japanese aircraft in general become extremely stiff on the controls at high speeds. Any maneuver which will require the pilot to attempt to increase his angle of dive will improve the chances of a miss. If the hit is forward and the ship is headed into the wind a turn to the left should be made to clear fire from the island."

DesDiv 120 -- (Comdr. J. C Zalin, Commander)

"The Jap pilots appear to favor attacks on detached ships where fire power is less than can be brought to bear by a formations It is suggested, therefore, that wherever possible at least two ships be sent together on all detached missions in order to increase AA. fire power and provide a less attractive target than that of a single, unsupported unit ...


"It is believed that 1,000 to 1,500 yards between screening ships is ample for evasive maneuvering and, where possible, the distance between stations should not be greater than this during an air attack."

Task Group 38.4 -- (Rear Adm. Ralph Davidson, Commander)

"The maneuver of placing a single diver abeam appears best for two reasons:

  1. "It presents a narrow target in range;

  2. "It affords the best bearing for volume of antiaircraft fire."

USS Chandler -- (Lieut. F. M. Murphy, C. O.)

"It is deemed advisable to head into the wind or sun and increase speed when attacked by suicide planes. It was noted that many suicide planes missed down wind. Speeding up and heading into the wind may help in some cases. Turning into the sun may blind a low-flying pilot."

USS Wichita -- (Capt. D. A. Spencer, C. O.)

"The formation must maneuver at high speeds to present the minimum target and to keep the sun on disadvantageous bearings for the attackers."

USS Kalinin Bay-- (Capt. J. B. Williamson, C. O.)

"Maneuvers to flatten out the attacking planes' dives will be effective."

USS Abner Read -- (Comdr. A. M. Purdy, C. O.)

"One other measure which may be taken for defense against suicidal attacks is the use of speed and rudder. If the heavy units of the formation remain on base course at 10 knots, station keeping for the screening destroyers at 25 knots becomes so difficult that there is a great temptation to slow. But ships' speed must be maintained at a maximum and constant rudder used if they are to have any appreciable effect in causing a diving Val to miss. Circling at high speed by all units of the formation has been used in the past with success, and is the recommended procedure."


USS Montpelier -- ( Capt. H. D. Hoffman, C. O.)

"Against suicide dive attacks a high volume of well-controlled 40mm. fire is the ship's life insurance.

"Intensive training and indoctrination of machine gun and director personnel is a requisite. The following training devices proved to be exceptionally useful:


"The Mark 1 Trainer (Bishop's Hat) -- to impress gunners and director operators with the need for smoothness in tracking and to develop ability to do it.

"The Mark 3 Trainer -- to develop teamwork in operation between gunner or director pointer and the sightsetter, and to practice the procedure of picking up targets quickly, developing a good track, followed by firing and spotting and shifting to new targets."

Air Force, Pacific Fleet - (Capt. F. W. McMahon, Chief of Staff)

"Continued training and practice in the use of all AA. firepower against all types of targets" is recommended, including "greater usage of drones in training for high angle dive defense."

USS Kitkun Bay -- (Capt. A. Handly, C. O.)

"The best attempt to train was a number of simulated surprise attacks conducted by our embarked planes which afforded our gunners, lookouts and CIC personnel an opportunity to improve their alertness making dry runs. These drills were effective, but did not enable us to stop the last attack ...

"It is suggested that immediate research be pursued along the following lines by appropriate activities:

"Develop a target for realistic gunnery exercises. This could be a water fillable bomb with a target sleeve attached, and containing a radio controlled device to explode the bomb harmlessly before it could strike the firing ship after being launched by a dive bomber. Radio-controlled gliders or drones, similarly equipped, would be still better."

USS Washington -- (Capt. R. F. Good, C. O.)

"The major defect in defense against suicide plane attack is inability to identify and get on the target while there is still time to put up fire of effective volume and accuracy. Concentration on training of lookouts and fire control teams by conducting all recent antiaircraft target practices as 'surprise' practices, has produced some improvement and may be expected to produce more. The addition of IFF reception to AA. fire control radars is, however, an item of urgent necessity."

Task Unit 79.3.2 -- (Capt. S. P. Jenkins, Commander)

"The real defense to these attacks would seem to be accurate gunnery. It has been suggested that the suicide planes can withstand phenomenal punishment That may be true, but no plane, however armored, can withstand the withering barrage that we can give. On the two occasions on "S" day when the Jap planes appeared in Lingayen Gulf our gunnery left much to be desired. There is indicated an immediate need for more intense training of all gunnery personnel, supplemented with special training for all lookouts on the probable methods of approach and attack."


Task Group 38.4 -- (Rear Adm. Ralph Davison, Commander)

"Every opportunity for exercising at repelling this type of attack should be taken by conducting drills with our own planes."

USS South Dakota -- (Capt. C. B. Momsen, C. O.)

"It is believed that valuable training could be obtained at sea by better utilization of routine dawn and dusk periods at general quarters. To provide suitable targets for antiaircraft tracking, it is suggested that arrangements be made for routine simulated torpedo plane and dive bomber attacks during the periods from one hour before sunrise to sunrise and from sunset to dark. Planes should keep running lights on during darkness to permit tracking with automatic weapons. These routine exercises would, of course, be cancelled when in areas where enemy attacks are expected or when interference with launching or recovery of strikes might occur."

USS Boston -- (Capt. E. E. Heermann, C. O.)

"Emphasis recently placed by CinCPac and the fleet and task force commanders on the matter of training makes it evident that this requirement is nowhere underestimated. On the other hand, it is felt that the desired emphasis on antiaircraft training still lacks by a large margin the implementation necessary to effect it. Ample opportunity does occur in the normal course of operations to conduct practically all varieties of non-firing training, and these opportunities are fully exploited. Opportunities for actual firing are, however, very limited, and in the opinion of the commanding officer do not as yet even closely approach the requirements for gaining from our batteries their full capabilities. It is especially true of the automatic weapons batteries that only actual firing will ensure the development of techniques which are absolutely essential to the successful use of the fire control equipment of these batteries. Steady tracking under the shock and vibration of gunfire, familiarity with the problems created by muzzle smoke, and a ready response to fire discipline under firing conditions, are qualities of paramount importance in the automatic weapons batteries which can be attained to a satisfactory degree only by actual firing.

"An analysis of the Boston'S experience during the three months preceding the termination of the present operation (23 January) shows that during this time there were 6 firings, during which this ship participated in a total of 46 firing runs. The average numbers of firings for individual mounts during this 3-month period were: 5-inch - 3½ per mount; 40mm. - 21/3 per mount; 20mm. - 1½ per mount. In the automatic weapons batteries the averages are less than required to give each of the 3 condition watch crews one firing per quarter, and in the 5-inch battery this low standard is barely made. The Boston during this time pursued and stretched every opportunity to fire, and it is felt that its experience probably lies on the high side of a more general average.

"Failure to net a better return from the emphasis placed by CinCPac and the fleet and task force commanders on this type of training has resulted, it


is believed, from failure, (1) to accord such training adequate priority during operating periods, and (2) to furnish towing equipment on a large enough scale. With a few exceptions, firing periods have been confined to periods just preceding entry or just following sortie. These are appropriate periods, but they fall short of providing adequate time for firing; they are often cut short by other business associated with sortie and entry. The rare opportunities for firings during the operations themselves are usually characterized by relatively early loss of towing services due to faults in the towing gear and lack of replacement planes.

"Whatever emphasis on AA. training may have been warranted heretofore deserves now to be doubled and redoubled. The recent trend of enemy aircraft tactics points clearly to a need for the utmost in fire power from our AA. batteries. It is submitted that our AA. batteries, and particularly the automatic weapons, are now delivering, in the average case, only a small fraction of their potential power. This fraction has often been sufficient to turn away an attack, or to knock down planes committed to a conventional bombing or torpedo attack; it has usually been insufficient to stop the suicide attack. The latter demands a large measure of increase in hitting; this increase is available and requires but to be extracted by increasing the proficiency of our gunners.

"It is submitted that no substantial increase in AA. firing training will be forthcoming until this training is assigned commensurate time in its own right; in other words, until it is scheduled as a 'must' in the same sense that fueling, provisioning, aircraft replacement, flight training, etc., are so scheduled. At the time the Boston was attacked on 21 Jan., none of its AA. guns had fired in over 3 weeks, and all of its port 20mm. guns and most of its port 40mm. guns had not fired in over two months; it is taking too much for granted to expect batteries so long out of firing to hit and hit hard in the few seconds they may have to knock out a suicide attacker. It took too long to knock this one down.

"In order to increase training opportunities during the course of an operation, it is proposed that time for the same should be scheduled approximately as often as fueling is scheduled, probably the fueling days themselves could be used to partially fill this need, but if not, it should be recognized that the need still exists and time allowed to meet it. To permit full utilization of time that becomes available, it is proposed that the regular carrier complement of planes equipped for towing should be radically increased, not to do so is poor economy, for it will inevitably result in a decrease of combat planes available due to increase in damage to carriers. It has been proposed elsewhere that towing services might be furnished during fueling periods by CVE's, this might indeed prove to be very profitable employment for one of these vessels.

"The menace of the suicide attack, developed into multiple and perhaps massed attacks, is great enough to warrant unusual and drastic measures to bring our AA. batteries to a peak of efficiency which has heretofore rarely been achieved. Our AA. batteries are coming to closer grips with the enemy than ever before, and their steel needs sharpening!"


(NOTE: The subject of training requires continued emphasis. There is no new development in AA. weapons in sight that will approximate the increase in AA. effectiveness that is presently available by adequate training of the crews with the weapons they now have.)

Lookouts and Recognition

USS Montpelier -- (Capt. H. D. Hoffman, C. O.)

"There is no substitute for well-drilled, well-disciplined and alert lookouts."

USS Mississippi -- (Capt. N. J. Redfield, C. O.)

"It is felt that in view of the demonstrated Japanese suicide tactics the importance of sun lookouts cannot be overemphasized ... The chance of an enemy plane 'getting by' a lookout in a sector not handicapped by the sun is considered remote as compared with the chance of such a plane sneaking in from the sun sector. Furthermore, a mistake in failing to pick up a plane of the former type tends rapidly to be rectified as the plane approaches, while in the case of a plane coming in from the sun it is possible for the plane to continue undetected until it is almost on top of the ship. Thus, the greater the number of sun lookouts, and the less the time required to get guns pointed and trained into the sun, the better will be the chances of the individual ship against this type of attack."

Task Group 38.1 -- (Rear Adm. Ralph Davison, Commander)

"As a defense the following measures are suggested:

"Increasing the alertness of our visual lookouts and insuring prompt transmission of their sighting information to the batteries.

"Increasing the alertness of the gun and director crews."

DesDiv 120 -- (Comdr. J. E. Zahm, Commander)

"The continued success of Japanese suicide planes in achieving their goal presents the most critical problem of unit defense at the present time. The first step in solving this problem is, of course, alert, trained lookouts. Too frequently fire has been opened at ranges under 2,000 yards."

USS Pennsylvania -- (Capt. C. F. Martin, C. O.)

"The performance of the sky lookouts, both condition watch and general quarters, again merits the highest praise. Enemy planes were picked up and identified at extreme visual ranges. In some instances this was done early enough to warn the fighter director units of their presence and to vector the combat air patrol to the enemy planes prior to their attack. The results achieved by sky lookouts, control parties and gun crews are considered exceptionally good."


USS Kadashan Bay -- (Capt. R. N. Hunter, C. O.)

"Plane recognition has been stressed in the past four months and classes have been held for all gun crews. The recognition officer was placed in charge of the lookouts and has given particularly intensive drills in recognition and also training as lookouts. Their work has been excellent. Nevertheless, when the plane hit the ship there was considerable diversity of opinion as to whether the plane was a Zeke or Oscar."

AA. And Fighter Defense

Air Force, Pacific Fleet -- (Capt. F. W. McMahon, Chief of Staff)

"Define limits at which Combat Air Patrol must break off pursuit and allow ships' AA. fire to take over attempted destruction of a target with no fear of interference, or prohibitions to the use of 'influence' type projectiles, because of friendly planes mixed in with bogeys."

USS Kitkun Bay -- (Capt. A. Handly, C. O.)

"Enforce with a shoot - regardless policy, a doctrine prohibiting friendly pilots from making any but the prescribed approach to a formation of ships. Time cannot be wasted on positive identification."

Task Group 38.4 -- (Rear Adm. Ralph Davidson, Commander)

"Increase the Combat Air Patrol and station the additional divisions out a short distance from the task group, where they may themselves act as lookouts to catch the attacker in his glide, and at the same time be clear of our antiaircraft fire."

USS Vincennes -- (Lt. (jg) R. A. Johnson, Fighter Director)

"It is believed that when raids actually get within gunnery range, all friendlies must be ordered away from the formation from the standpoint of the safety of the planes and also to clarify the gunnery situation. This was done almost immediately during the attacks but it clouded the screen even more at ranges from 10 to 35 miles."

USS Hoggatt Bay -- (Capt. J. A. Briggs, C. O.)

"During every attack made on ships of this formation the presence of friendly aircraft around and over the formation was noted contrary to the instructions contained in the operations order which provided that upon the sounding of 'flash red' friendly planes were to vacate the area and not approach within a minimum slant range of 10,000 yards from the formation. The presence of friendly planes during said attacks, who were obviously not in pursuit of enemy planes, invariably distracted control personnel and the gun crews from making more accurate observation of approaching enemy planes and created a situation which could have been disastrous. However, if attacks occur during launchings, obviously, friendly planes will be in the vicinity."


USS Essex - (Capt. C. W. Wieber, C. O.)

"That a small, short range, wide beam search radar be provided to locate intruders near but not visible to the dispositions; that this radar be operated by the gunnery organization; and that carriers be given priority of installation in the event that this recommendation is approved. SN or SQ radar is suggested as an idea as to size and type of operation."

Task Group 38.4 -- (Rear Adm. Ralph Davidson, Commander)

"A thorough short range radar search inside a general melee."

Air Force, Pacific Fleet -- (Capt. F. W. McMahon, Chief of Staff)

"To possibly employ AI gear, or other airborne search and intercept radar when cloud cover is intense, or other elements obscure visibility and make establishment and maintenance of visual contact difficult....

"Constant maintenance of both radar and visual control over our returning aircraft to such an extent that there can be the least possibility of allowing bogeys to infiltrate with them undetected."

DesDiv 48 -- (Capt. J. B. McLean, Commander)

"Destroyers should always be in condition One Easy in landlocked waters where air attacks are frequent and early warning not always possible. This condition is not a hardship for a destroyer if properly organized and it is recommended that the senior destroyer commander present be enjoined by directives to enforce this as a rule."

USS Minneapolis -- (Capt. H. B. Slocum, C. O.)

"As soon as the landing forces succeed in setting up their shore radar installations, enemy planes no longer approach dangerously close to our formations without the ships being appraised of their approach. It is the interim period between areas for bombardment and landing operations, and the time shore-based search radar installations are put into operation that our ships are in most danger.

"As a method for providing an effective early warning search during this interim period the following suggestion is offered for consideration. It is suggested that a number of large aircraft, such as the PBY or PBM, be equipped with this radar would patrol in the vicinity of ships and keep the CIC's informed of the approach of all bogies, giving frequent bearings and ranges for plotting purposes. It is conceivable that a fighter direction team could operate in the plane."

USS Pennsylvania -- (Capt. C. F. Martin, C. O.)

"A new and additional duty was placed on the VO aircraft attached to this ship. These planes were used as picket aircraft over land where this ship's


radar experienced difficulty in picking up enemy planes. On two occasions these planes reported enemy planes headed for the formation. This is considered excellent usage, when planes are so available, particularly when ships are operating in landlocked waters."

USS Suwannee -- (Capt. W. D. Johnson, C. O.)

"The greatest difficulty in intercepting bogeys was found to be the lack of altitude information. This occurred because:

  1. "Ships operating as close as 30 miles to large land masses resulted in the radar screen being blocked up to 180 degrees.

  2. "Failure of actual 'fitting' fade charts in use were constructed and based on many radar calibration runs.

"The second serious problem presented during most 'close-in' interceptions was the large numbers of friendly planes (singles and groups) in the area. Many 'tally-ho's' were made on ASP planes and returning strike groups of this diversion and other carrier divisions in the vicinity; during this time the bogeys either faded or opened.


  1. "There should be some type of SM radar on each carrier, or at least on one carrier of each division.

  2. "The carriers should operate at least 75 miles from large land masses.

  3. "Local CAP should be increased from eight to 12 planes in the bogey area."

CruDiv 12 -- (Rear Adm. R. W. Hayler, Commander)

"During the whole operating period, repeated air attacks made heavy demands on antiaircraft fire control and air search equipment. This equipment generally performed as well as its present limitations permit. Two inherent limitations of air search equipment acted as handicaps to our air defense:

(1) The inability to track planes over surrounding land masses, and (2) the inability to follow planes that are in 'fade' zones of the antenna patterns. Possibly a part of the effectiveness of the enemy's suicide dive attacks is due to his. approach in a gliding dive from high altitudes, remaining for long (and critical) periods within these 'fade' zones."

USS Washington -- (Capt. R. F. Good, C. O.)

"The major defect in defense against suicide plane attack is inability to identify and get on the target while there is still time to put up fire of effective volume and accuracy. Concentration on training lookouts and fire control teams by conducting all recent antiaircraft target practices as 'surprise' practices, has produced some improvement and may be expected to


produce more. The addition of IFF reception to antiaircraft fire control radars is, however, an item of urgent military necessity."

USS Mobile - (Capt. C. C. Miller, C. O.)

"The problem of radar tracking of high altitude planes was emphasized by this action. It was found impossible to track three out of the four enemy planes fired upon, and the fourth (the one that did not dive) was not tracked until picked up at about 18 miles. In general, it can be stated that the SK radar is inadequate to cope with high altitude (20,000 to 25,000 feet) enemy planes. Bogeys are detected at 30 to 35 miles, then promptly fade. They may reappear at close ranges, but more often they do not.

"Until a better solution for the problem, possibly in the form of redesigned radar equipment, is available, it would appear that the present answer is a combination of a vigilant CIC watch, prompt reports by all ships to the task group fighter director, early investigation of all bogeys by the CAP, and alert lookouts."

Task Unit 77.4.1 -- (Rear Adm. C. T. Durgin, Commander)

"While operating in close waters with our present radar and with the small number of fighters available for local combat air patrol it would seem that it is impossible to stop all of the suiciders from getting through to attack. A height-finding radar aboard at least one ship of each division would ultimately lead to more interceptions."

USS Morris - (Lt. Comdr. R. V. Wheeler, Jr., C. O.)

"The search, though difficult, was still effective; but the problem of coaching gunnery control on a target was increased to a degree entirely out of proportion to the difficulties encountered in detection. The presence of shipping in unprecedented concentrations, high land masses, and second sweep land echoes made the FD operator's job an extremely difficult one. Where the plane was high over either land or water, combat was able to coach control on target with customary dispatch, but when the plane was at low to moderate altitudes results were most unsatisfactory. Only in occasion when the target angle was 000 or 180, and the resultant high range rate was present, could the plane's echo be determined by the operator. However, it is felt that FD radar ranges could have been used more often on some of the air targets. Additional training under difficult conditions is needed."


Zeke, with tail and part of wing shot off by AA. fire, before crashing astern of the Petrof Bay (CVE-80) on 26 October.


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Transcribed and formatted by Larry Jewell & Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation