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The Air Force Story - Superfort

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The Air Force Story It is the job of all the people to know and understand what the airman has done and is doing today.... For only with full public knowledge and understanding can we have the support we need to carry out our mission. It is a big mission and an important one. It involves the future well-being of every American - the peace of the world. Sincerely, Your Air Force Chapter 21 - SUPERFORT, August 1943 - June 1944 August, 1943. Canada. At the first Québec Conference, allied chiefs were planning new strategy. Expecting European victory in a year, the allies now marshal their forces against Japan. The president knew that distances had put a premium on long-range airpower. To strike Japan, he had a new weapon. Roosevelt promised 200 B-29 Super Forts by March 1944. Inside the Château Frontenac at the Joint Chiefs conference, Gen. Arnold proposed to pierce the inner zone of Japan's homeland with the unbuilt bombers from bases to be erected in China. It was a bold plan. At the time of the Québec Conference, we only had 11 Super Forts. Hap Arnold's motto was to become famous. He announced: “The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer.” There were only seven months to keep the promise. It was a race with time. "THEY'RE PROMISED - LET'S DELIVER 'EM!" We aircraft workers came from all walks of life. A few of us had built planes in World War I. We were a part of the strength of America now working for Boeing, Bell and Martin. Their factories had sprung up across the country, in Georgia, Kansas, Nebraska and the state of Washington. Things had certainly changed. In 20 years, America's aviation industry had come of age. Unskilled workers became highly productive because the cranes and jigs and tools were so designed. Boeing engineers helped us make a new wing that could carry more weight faster and higher than any we’d ever built. In each plane there were 55,000 numbered parts. Thousands of miles of wiring. A million rivets. From its transparent nose to its tail, this was a complicated machine. Nevertheless, the air force ordered the assemblies like pieces for a giant jigsaw puzzle. By December, only four months after the president's promise, we put together 35 Super Forts. Then, every hour of every day, identical miracles of modern machinery were brought together. We workers witnessed an inspiring sight. A welding of vision and reality. Of free men and their need for peace. Of national defense and American industry. Building the Super Fort was the climax in the history of man's conquest of the air. We had helped bring to reality the dreams of Billy Mitchell and Frank Andrews, the plans of Hap Arnold and Tuey Spaatz. Thus the 99 foot long aerial giant spreading 141 foot wings was born. By the end of January, 142 Super Forts were accepted. Three quarters of America's promise and our pipelines were full. Here were 65 tons of fighting fury. The biggest, fastest and most powerful bomber in the world. Now our sons and brothers could take the B-29 to war. In sharp contrast, halfway around the world in China, the other half of the Super Fort miracle unfolded. Armies of laborers were building a network of airbases almost by hand. These lean, sinewy Chinese, measuring their work by the remaining earth pyramids, wrote a magnificent chapter in the saga of the Super Fort 2000 years after their ancestors had built the Great Wall for the defense of China. Here were the same primitive methods: baskets and hoes, muscles and good will, and wheelbarrows which squeak to keep imaginary devils away. With the machinery of only their million hands, stone by stone was patiently set. A modern Chinese wall was taking shape. Under the direction of 26 American officers and enlisted men and at a cost of $150 million, 1000-men gangs following their own flagmen rolled out 4 great airbases. April 24th became a day for us in the 20th Bomber Command to remember. General Saunders and Colonel Jake Harman lead the B-29 parade into Chengdu. Nearly all the immense airfields were ready for business. They had been built in only three months. Here was our Super Fort. It had hopped the Atlantic, Africa and India. If flew from Kansas to China in a week. It didn't seem possible, but only a year and a half after the first experimental B-29 was flown, a fleet of American aerial dreadnoughts were arriving in China. Next up: Japan. Within 10 days our Asiatic strength was 130 Super Forts. Directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff because of our long range in power, we were the first units of the 20th Air Force. The president's promise was being kept. With more Super Forts on the way, the runway builders never stopped. In China, a land of miracles, unskilled hands were pounding out a path to victory. Meanwhile in Japan, 1500 miles to the east, other hands had forged a modern war machine. Geared for war since 1928, their production rolled on. Like the Germans, they believed their empire invulnerable. Since Pearl Harbor, steel capacity had doubled. One third was hammered into ships; ships to exploit conquered lands. Ships to support far-flung military forces. Though suffering from shipping sunk by the Allies, Japan maintained the world's third-largest merchant fleet with continued launchings. Their island empire with Korea and Manchuria, connected by an efficient merchant marine, formed an industrial empire three times larger than Germany. Their ground forces had expanded to 5 million fanatics, nearly 4 times their strength at the time of Pearl Harbor. As the conquerors of half a billion people, they had to be stopped. By June, our bases in China were working around-the-clock. The Joint Chiefs of Staff had ordered an attack on Japan. How many bombers could be sent? Our answer was 50. Not enough. Get at least 70. A maximum effort was necessary. It would relieve enemy pressure on East China, help the invasion of Saipan, our future Pacific base. Our target was Yawata, Japan's heavily guarded Pittsburgh. Yawata, which made one fifth of all Jap steel. Gen. Wolfe was winning the big gamble. His idea to train our crews while we tested the experimental B-29 was putting both men and planes in combat six months sooner. We were doing the impossible. Gen. Stratemeyer, the theater air commander, and Wolfe, watched 68 Super Forts become airborne. Almost the entire force ordered for this historic mission. We followed the lead ship named Lady Hamilton. We followed Gen. Blondie Saunders and his pilot, Colonel Howard Engler. We followed the Marines, who landed on Saipan this morning. We headed out high over the Yangtze River. Guided by our navigators we began the long hop across the Yellow Sea. Landfall. Japan. The enemy was waiting. Up came heavy, bursting flak. Nearly 5 miles below lay the sprawling mills that arm the Japs. Jimmy Doolittle had said we'd be back, and we were. Two and half years after Pearl Harbor, our Super Forts had struck Japan. Land-based planes dropped bombs through clouds on Yawata. Damage was done to the Kokura arsenal. Punishment to the steel industry was not extensive, but the B-29 blitz was underway. A global bomber and a global air force were in operation. The beginning of the end of the Japanese empire was underscored in exploding bombs that reminded the Japs of Pearl Harbor. The growing, systematic waves of destruction had started. From China, and later from Saipan, the allies were forging a huge nutcracker to crush the enemy. Gen. Arnold's determined order - make 'em the biggest, get 'em the heaviest, and fly 'em the farthest - was carried out. He warned the enemy: "No part of the Japanese Empire is now out of our range." "No war factory too remote to feel our bombs." "The battle for Japan is is now underway, with full speed ahead."

Video Details

Duration: 13 minutes and 57 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 265
Posted by: japanairraids on Sep 19, 2010

The Air Force Story, Chapter 11 - Superfort, August 1943 - June 1944. Propaganda film produced by the United States Air Forces, 1949. Source: National Archives via Public.Resources.Org.

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