Douglas Macarthur: 4 screw ups?

Sep 2012
1,171
Tarkington, Texas
MacArthur had them lined them up at Clark Army Air Force Base and then did not fly off the B-17's because it was near lunch time. The Japanese Air Force took off from Formosa which had no fog problems and arrived over Clark while The
Fly Boys were at Lunch. The Army Air Corps had thoughtfully lined up the aircraft at Clark in straight lines so "bandits" could not sabotage them!

Later on after the IJA had landed, a Brigadier told some Tank Officers that he wanted them to line up on one side, of a Sugar Cane field sweep through it to eliminate any Japanese hiding there!

Pruitt
 

aggienation

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Jul 2016
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MacArthur had them lined them up at Clark Army Air Force Base and then did not fly off the B-17's because it was near lunch time. The Japanese Air Force took off from Formosa which had no fog problems and arrived over Clark while The
Fly Boys were at Lunch. The Army Air Corps had thoughtfully lined up the aircraft at Clark in straight lines so "bandits" could not sabotage them!

Later on after the IJA had landed, a Brigadier told some Tank Officers that he wanted them to line up on one side, of a Sugar Cane field sweep through it to eliminate any Japanese hiding there!

Pruitt
Okay. So let's say Mac authorizes they hide them or whatever on Day 1. Then what? What were those bombers supposed to do?
 
Sep 2012
1,171
Tarkington, Texas
There was an Airfield on Mindanao that was out of range of the Formosa aircraft. The Fighters had dispersal airfields that were spread out all over Luzon. He could have given the Army Air Corps personnel Sandwiches as a bag lunch. There were two commercial airfields in Apari and another town nearby that should have been demolitioned, Instead the Army ordered them abandoned and no one blew up the bombs and fuel there. There were also a large number of civilian construction vehicles in North Luzon that were pressed into IJA service. People forget sometimes that Mac was in charge of the Army Air Corps in the Philippines.
 
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Sep 2012
1,171
Tarkington, Texas
I wonder. What was MacArthur supposed to do with his bombers in the Philippines?
There was a famous incident in the Twenties when Colonel Billy Mitchell ruined an exercise where his Bombers sank some German Battleships that were anchored as targets. The Air Corps was supposed to drop a bomb and allow an inspection team go aboard to inspect the damage. Colonel Mitchell instead ordered his pilots to continue bombing until the targets were destroyed. A second incident happened in the Thirties when B-17's intercepted an Italian Ocean Liner off the East Coast. Proving that B-17's could find targets off the coast. I think Hap Arnold was one of the Pilots. MacArthur assumed the IJN Battle Fleet was coming
to the PI instead of Pearl Harbor.
 

Lord Fairfax

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Jan 2015
3,445
Changing trains at Terrapin Station...
There was an Airfield on Mindanao that was out of range of the Formosa aircraft. The Fighters had dispersal airfields that were spread out all over Luzon. He could have given the Army Air Corps personnel Sandwiches as a bag lunch. There were two commercial airfields in Apari and another town nearby that should have been demolitioned, Instead the Army ordered them abandoned and no one blew up the bombs and fuel there. There were also a large number of civilian construction vehicles in North Luzon that were pressed into IJA service. People forget sometimes that Mac was in charge of the Army Air Corps in the Philippines.
Or, if air operations in the PI were unsustainable, the air assets could be withdrawn to the DEI, to help defend the Maylay barrier
 

aggienation

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Jul 2016
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There was a famous incident in the Twenties when Colonel Billy Mitchell ruined an exercise where his Bombers sank some German Battleships that were anchored as targets. The Air Corps was supposed to drop a bomb and allow an inspection team go aboard to inspect the damage. Colonel Mitchell instead ordered his pilots to continue bombing until the targets were destroyed. A second incident happened in the Thirties when B-17's intercepted an Italian Ocean Liner off the East Coast. Proving that B-17's could find targets off the coast. I think Hap Arnold was one of the Pilots. MacArthur assumed the IJN Battle Fleet was coming
to the PI instead of Pearl Harbor.
His exercise failed until he finally rigged conditions to get the results he wanted, which rightly pissed off his political enemies who'd been watching the teat and saw he cheated.

WW2 saw numerous episodes of heavy bombers attacking fleets, like Midway. It doesn't work. Mitchell's theories were almost all proven wrong. As most of the interwar bombing doctrine, that was cornerstone for WW2 doctrine, ended up being proven wrong. Douhet, Baldwin, Churchill, Harris, Arnold, Spaatz, etc. All massively wrong.
 
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aggienation

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Or, if air operations in the PI were unsustainable, the air assets could be withdrawn to the DEI, to help defend the Maylay barrier
That's not how it works. One is not subject to a surprise attack and declaration of war, to then move hundreds of planes across the South Pacific, with infrastructure and ground crews and equipment, to serve under a command that doesn't exist, to essentially give them to an Ally that isn't even a real ally yet.

If Mac's bombers weren't destroyed on Day 1, they'd have been destroyed some other way. They'd not have done any actual good, because there wasn't time and conditions to implement any sort of effective bombing missions that early in the war.

The closest to doctrine and capability would be attacking Formosa, which would have been a suicide mission.
 

royal744

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Jul 2013
10,736
San Antonio, Tx
In my experience in this forum, Opana Pointer usually knows very much what he is talking about. True that he does not have a great deal of patience with those who do not share his point of view but c;’est la vie.
 

Sam-Nary

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Jun 2012
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Mitchell's theories were almost all proven wrong. As most of the interwar bombing doctrine, that was cornerstone for WW2 doctrine, ended up being proven wrong.
I'm not really sure "wrong" is the right word. As much of what Mitchell wanted to prove was that aircraft could sink ships, and this would be proven throughout World War 2...

The thing that really hit Mitchell's argument and legacy was the attempt to try and apply it to heavy bombers. Heavy bombers would have the bombload to sink just about anything, but because they were often so high up, if the ship turned, the bombs dropped would likely miss. Which is ultimately why the raids on the Tirpitz in Norway were about the only times that heavy bombers were used to hit a warship and had some degree of success, as the Tirpitz was largely a stationary target. Just as the German ships that Mitchell sank between the wars to prove his theory. A stationary target is easier to hit and thus easier to sink. A moving target is harder to hit and thus harder to sink...

And given that much of the heavy bomber tactics of WW2 had the heavy bombers at high altitude in order to avoid most of the AA fire, it would be difficult to hit a moving target once under those circumstances, let alone the multiple times that it might take... given what ship would be targeted.
 

aggienation

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I'm not really sure "wrong" is the right word. As much of what Mitchell wanted to prove was that aircraft could sink ships, and this would be proven throughout World War 2....
Mitchell was going far far far beyond aircraft sinking ships. His argument, his side of the PR war of theory that was happening, was purely that bombers, specifically heavy, could win wars alone, and thus required all the national funding and support.

No one at the time could argue that the USAAC would play a big role in future warfare. But Mitchell's faction weren't arguing just for a larger slice out of it, the proponents of strategic bombing were flat out telling everyone who'd listen that ground forces weren't even really necessary. They didn't want a slice, they wanted the whole Army pie. They believed that if they were allowed to build a large fleet of heavy bombers capable of "precision" accuracy, they could defeat any enemy without the needs of infantry, cavalry, artillery, or tanks. That right there made every other officer in the Army who didn't believe the theory into his enemy and adversary, legitimate as Mitchell was using all sorts of nefarious ways to try to influence the public and Congress that he was right. It was like a religion inside the USAAC, and Mitchell was its Prophet. And if Mitchell got his way, WW2 would have been the worst disaster in history.

He didn't just contain himself to the USAAC winning ground campaigns alone, he then started up with a theory that bombers could replace a strong Navy too. Remember, Mitchell was not arguing for carrier fighter bombers, which WW2 woul prove made obsolete most of the surface warfare Navy. But when Mitchell did his famous "experiment" there were no real carriers in existence. He was wanting to use land based medium and especially heavy bombers could sink ships easier than destroyers, cruisers, battleships.

When he finally got a chance for the test, he effectively failed it, trying to sink an old ship, anchored and relatively stationary, to the point he needed to go far beyond an agreed upon number of attack runs and hits before finally sinking it. The experiment proved he was full of crap, there was almost no way he'd have even hit a moving ship besides luck, and with working damage control crews responding. But what did Mitchell do? He went and ran his mouth to his sources about how it was a grand success, proving he was the genius he'd been telling everyone he was, and thus he needed most/all of the funding. He should have been court martialed for that...

Overall, Mitchell is one of those guys in history that the more I learn about, the more I wish I could go back in time just to punch in the face. Had he not been so pushy, the US Army ground forces would have had much better funding in WW2, been much better supported by the USAAF, which wouldn't have been run at the highest levels by Mitchell's bomber mafia acolytes. That man is responsible for quite a few American grave stones...