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

73-Scale of attack brought to rest.— Between 23rd and 29th January a second attempt was made to overwhelm our small fighter force the enemy inputting a total of 218 plus— mostly Infighters. the air battle of those 6 days our fighter force claimed a total ol some 50 enemy bombers and fighters destroyed Heat once went back tonight operations and continued these until his third and last attempl to achieve air superiority over Rangoon on the 24th and 25th February. On those two days., when he put on a scale of attack of 166 bombers and fighters, he sustained the heavy loss of 37 fighters and bombers which were claimed destroyed with 7 probably destroyed. On the second day, the 25th, the P.40’s of the A.V.G claimed no less than 24 aircraft shot down This terminated the air superiority battle ovei Rangoon. 74. Such wastage had been inflicted on the enemy that thereafter he n-ever attempted tc enter our warning zone round Rangoon until the city was captured and the airbases in his hands. 75. Result.— This had a critical influence on the course of our land operations and on the security of our convoys bringing in final re­inforcements. These and the demolition ol our oil and other interests in the port and the final evacuation by land or sea were completed without interference from enemy bomber 0 1 fighter aircraft. 76. Thus up to the last moment the P .40’ =of the A.V.G .and the Hurricane force were able to provide a state of absolute air superiority over this wide and vital area against a con­siderable weight of air attack. 77. Conclusion.— To sum upon the aii superiority battle over Rangoon, for a force of 1 Squadron of P.40's of the A.V a.G., half Squadron of Buffaloes and the equivalent of 2 Squadrons of Hurricanes .commending to arrive in January and continuing to half-wa} through February, a claimed loss of 130 enemy bombers and fighters was inflicted on the enemy with 61 claimed as probably destroyed— the greater proportion falling to the guns of the A.V .G .Counter-offensive action by our fighters and bombers to reduce the scale of attack had inflicted a loss of not less than 28 enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground, not counting those destroyed bv our bombing attacks. Air superiority was overachieved Rangoon and maintained until it fell on 8th March. The A.V.G .—first in the field— fought with ready devotion and resolute gallantry. Fighting Tactics. 78. In regard to the major tactics employed in the air battle over Rangoon, in the first place the warning was good. As long as the telephone lines remained in our hands the Burma Observer Corps provided this with high war efficiency. The R.D .F .set from Moulmein had been sited in Rangoon overlooking the main avenue of enemy approach. Thus encm\' plots were accurate and frequent until the line of the Sittang was threatened. 79. Fighter deployment.— inFighters the correct proportion could be deployed against the enemy scale of attack. The A.V.G .and the Hurricanes fought together. The Wing leider system was introduced. The pilots of the A.V .G .had considerable flying experience Some of the pilots, particularly the leaders in the Hurricane force, had considerable war experience against the G.A .F .Consequently, the force fought well together. In the operations room there were two R/T .sets for the control of the air battle on different frequencies— one for the American fighters and one for the Hurri­canes. 80. The general principles of fighting the aii battle were agreed between myself, the Wing leader and the Commander of the A.V.G .Pursuit Squadron, and the major tactics employed were those generally exercised in the Western theatre the single point of difference being that on account of the manoeuvrability of the Japanese fighter (which was the only advant­age it had over our aircraft), the best method of attack was a dive, taking advantage of height and the sun, breaking away in a half roll or aileron turn before resuming position tu carryout the attack again. 81. Enemy escorted bomber raids were met 011 first interception, the bombers were attacked with a suitable proportion of our forces while the fighters were attacked and drawn off b they remainder. Against the fighter formations of (say) 40 to 60 plus, which so frequently appeared at height with the object of drawing up our fighters and shooting them down before they got their height, the P.40’s and the Hurri­canes leant back on Rangoon and delivered their attack when the enemy fighters either losi height, with the object of carrying out aground attack, or turned for home. 82. Throughout this air action from the 21st January onwards the fighter force in addition to defending Rangoon had also to meet its overcommitments the battle area, providing security for our bombers and carrying oui "round attacks on enemy concentrations in sup­port of the Army. 83. Night Fighting.— As regards night bomb­ing, there were no facilities for night inter­ception. Although the enemy bombers were operating without flame dampers, and at first with navigation lights burning, the P.40’s and Buffaloes were notable to intercept. On the arrival of the Hurricanes!, trained in night fighting, however, some success was achieved. On the first night an enemy bomber was shot down inflames at 0,000 feet over the aerodrome at Mingaladon, the aircraft, with bombs, ex­ploding close to the airfield. Two furthei successful night interceptions were made, both enemy aircraft being shot down inflames. With pilots at constant readiness throughout the hours of daylight, however, it was impos­sible in view of our limited resources to put the Hurricanes up each night. 84. I have no doubt that on moonlight nights —and the enemy bombed noon other— con­siderable success would have been obtained from the “fighter night ”system, had Rangoon held. 85. Assessment of Fighter Results.— There was a little feeling in the A.V.G .on the assess­ment of results. Consequently I held a meeting with the A.V.G .Squadron Commander, and the Wing leader and Squadron Commanders at which it was agreed that the standard o! assessment should be that obtaining inFighter Command at home. Colonel Chennault was informed. Combat reports bv pilots were
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