The London Gazette, March 11th 1948 (Second Supplement)

range at 150 plus, bomber and fighters— an rffort of (say) 100 plus. They were disposed as follows: — Prachaub G irik h a n ........................10 Mesoht T ak / ............................. ........40 • Bangkok ... ... ... 70 + Lampang \ ............................. Chiengmai J J Our effort on the 31st January was 35 plus. 51. Reinforcement of the enemy air force took place during February. The strength of the enemy air force which joined action with up rose to.200 plus— an effort of (say) 140 plus — disposed at: — B h isa n u lo k e ................ 20 + Bangkok ................ 30 + Nagorn Sawan 20 + Tak and Mesoht 20 + Moulmein ................ 30 Chiengmai ................ 40 + Lampang 40 + Our effort on February 14th was 53 plus. 52. Singapore fell on the 15th February and Rangoon on the 7th March. During this period and up to the 21st March the enemy had again brought up reinforcements, bringing his total air force, based largely on our airfields in the Rangoon area South of Tharrawaddy and Toungoo, to 400 plus— an effort of {say) 260 plus. This was the opinion of the Intelligence staff at Burwing. I considered it on the high side. 53. Some corroboration for this, however, is provided b y the fact that intelligence from China and other sources has since indicated the presence in Burma and Thailand of some 14 air regiments of the Japanese Army Air Force. This would comprise a force of 420 to 500 plus aircraft. Our total effort on March 21 st when the Magwe action commenced was 42, of which 14 were at Akyab. 54. Japanese Fighter equipment. — Of Japanese fighter equipment there were three types: the Arm y 97 with a fixed undercarriage; the Army 0.1 (an A 'm y 97 with slightly im­ proved performance and a retractable under­ carriage) and the Naval “ 0 ” fighter. The former two were manoeuvrable with a top speed of 270 miles an hour at 15,000 feet and a climb of 2,500 feet per minute. Armament consisted of 2 machine guns. No self-sealing tanks and no armour were fitted. Similarly, the N avy “ O ” had neither armour nor self-sealing tanks. It had, however, two 20 millimetre machine guns in addition to 2 machine guns of the Vickers’ type. This aircraft was much superior in performance to the Army 97, having a tnp speed of 315 miles an hour at t o .000 feet, a good climb and good manoeuvrability. It was, however, slightly inferior to the P .40 and the Hurricane II, part’cularly at medium heights. At heights above 20,000 feet the Hurricane II was definitely superior. 55. All three types were convertible to long range fighters with a radius of over 500 miles. Two jettlsonnble petrol tanks were fitted. Even without such tanks both types were superior in range to our short range interceptor fighter having a radius of act’on of over 250 miles instead of the 135 miles of the Hurricane II. 56. Japanese Bomber equipment.— In respect of bombers, the Arm y 97 heavy bomber was mostly employed. It had a cruising speed of about 200 miles an hour, a radius of action of 700 miles and a service ceiling of 25,000 feet. With a full load of petrol its lift was tons of bombs— a formidable bomber. Indeed such range and bomb lift placed great flexibility in the hands of the enemy air command. This type was used for day bombing and occa­ sionally for night bombing operations, and had a crew of 7. No self-sealing tanks nor armour were fitted. 57. Although air fighting frequently look place over scrub or jungle country, 32 crashed enemy fighters and bombers were located on the ground up to the fall of Rangoon. Technical examination of these— although many were burnt or otherwise destroyed beyond recogni­ tion— established the quality of equipment about which little was previously known. 58. Effect of equipment.— Thus the enemy with their long range fighters were able to reach out over great distances and to destroy our first line aircraft on the ground. There were de­ cisive instances of this kind in the Malayan campaign. Consequently unless airfields, both for bombers and fighters, had a good warning system— i.e. a time warning the equivalent of at least 50 miles— the enemy fighters, achieving surprise, would come in and by deliberate low flying attacks and good shooting could be relied upon to cause great damage to first line air­ craft, if not indeed to destroy them all. This form of attack could well be met by a good ground defence, including an adequate number of Bofors (predictor controlled), automatic weapons and P .A .C ., but in the campaign in Burma we were extremely weak in these forms of defence. 59. As regards bombers, such range and bomb lift gave the enemy a wide choice in the selection of objectives and great flexibility. If warning of such attacks, particularly those carried out at high altitude, was not adequate, a bomb lift of considerable weight, accurately aimed, could be expected on the objective. Operating in formations of not less than 27, such a pattern of "some 27 tons of small light A.P. and H .E. bombs causes great damge to first line aircraft and P .O .L ., even though dis­ persal and anti-blast protection has been pro­ vided. If such protection is not provided results may well be decisive and the provision of such protection requires time and labour— two needs that in the hurried movement of war m ay not be available. 60. Comparison of Air equipment.— Thus we were much inferior to the enemy; in the first place in numbers, in the second place in the vital factor of restricted range in our fighters, in the third place range, bomb lift and speed of our bombers. The enemy, on the other hand, suffered the grave disadvantage of not having armour and self-sealing tanks, both charac­ teristics of all our types, while from the point of view of the air battle, the Hurricane II was a much superior fighter to the Arm y 97, slightly superior to the Naval " 0 ” and quite decisive against such ill-defended bombers as the Armv 97. The P .40 was comparable to die Hurricane IT, particularly in medium altitude fighting. With its fine clean dive and armament of .5's it could be relied upon to do as much
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