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Guadalcanal - An Airfield Too Far?

Discussion in 'Air War in the Pacific' started by bronk7, Jul 1, 2020.

  1. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ...why didn't the Japanese choose to build an airfield closer to Rabaul, than Guadalcanal was? for more effective support---?.....was it just an afterthought after taking Tulagi?
    .. was Rabaul the closest Japanese airbase to Guadalcanal Aug 1942
    ..did not the long distance affect the Japanese air attacks on The Canal? or not much?...wouldn't more pilots have been saved if shot down ''nearer'' a friendly base? more fuel time/etc
    ...looks like the US kept well within fighter range as they moved up the Solomons
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    I suspect it was a number of issues. The long range of front line aircraft likely played a part. The expectation that they would already be further south (Port Moresby) before any allied counter attack. Beyond more space they would have more time (another 6 months to a year before any allied effort) to secure satellite bases between the two points. A accelerated schedule of conquest/occupation based on better than expected early victories (victory disease). A limitation of logistics (shipping, construction equipment, materials, troops) can't build everywhere they might want at the same time so you prioritize targets.
     
  3. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The Japanese scouted other locations, but Guadalcanal required less field work, so could be built faster, remember the Japanes did not have the machinery that the SeeBees had, so most of the work needed to be done by hand.


    No, Tulagi was taken, because it was a good area for a floatplane base that would provide air cover while the air field was being built. Also, the larger seaplane could operate from Tulagi, a and that would provide necessary air reconnaissance for the area.

    Yes. The Japanese were constructing satellite airfields closer to Guadalcanal, but they took some time to complete.

    Yes, much.

    The distance practically precluded the use of the Aichi Val divebomber. IIRC, the Kate was questionable. Distance was also brought severe fatigue on the pilots. Not to mention, it was that much further for a damaged aircraft/wounded pilot to fly.

    Ideally, yes more pilots would be saved/recovered. However, it is the jungle & ocean, so nothing is guaranteed.

    Yes they did. There were very few long hops taken.

    Excellently covered in this book.
    A "Go To" on the subject.
    Fire in the Sky
     
  4. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    good points ..good calls..thanks....especially the Victory Disease angle
     
  5. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..thank you for the replies...I'm pretty sure I did read that--but long ago....now that you mentioned it, I was reading a few days ago about building US airfields in the Solomons, and sometimes they did take a ''long'' time to build--even with the SeaBees /machinery/etc
    ...I've got some books on Munda and The Canal for the long weekend...Into the Valley for one--by Hersey...I'm looking forward to it as it is one of the most memorable for me --a ''personal'', small unit story
    ...just off hand, I thought I just read where the Japanese left behind a ''grader or roller''? a small train system and trucks at The Canal? but as you might have meant, I didn't think Henderson had ''much to it''
     
  6. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    A "long" time for SeeBees was about 30 days. Now, the Japanese airfield at Kahili, begun before the Guadalcanal invasion, and rushed to completion after the Americans invaded - opened for business on October 20, 1942. So, even being rushed to completion took the Japanese almost 3 months.


    I have seen photos of a roller, but don't remember a grader. They did have a narrow Gauge railway and some trucks.
     
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  7. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ....roger that --I think that's about exactly what I read--about 30 days for one of the airfields--ok --22 is ringing in my ears--but close to 30---it could've even been 30---and, I think I read it went to ''30'' because of delays/''problems''---weather/etc
    ..so yes--30 was '''long''
     
  8. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ....o and--I was reading specifically on the construction of the fields---and they gave specific, detailed lists on operable and non-operable equipment/etc.....and the problems encountered.
    ...I really enjoy the construction/logistic aspect of the battles --maybe more so than the battles themselves

    ..here it is--link below--I find very interesting
    ---page 28 list of equipment status
    --lots of rainfall hampered construction
    here we have some of those ''realistic issues'' I always talk about:
    ---it also talks about men being ''inoperable'' and sent home for medical reasons--the South Pacific was not nice on material and men--I've always wanted to do a thread on that vs Europe...

    start of Segi field construction 30 June---operable 9 July
    https://dc.etsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3339&context=etd
    ...I can't find the link I think that says ''30 days'' to complete a field---but the link above says:
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
  9. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Sometimes it was weather, sometimes it was drainage.
     
  10. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..what was Henderson--not packed coral, was it? just leveled and rolled? they finally put in Marston matting?
     
  11. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Marston matting was in place by the October battleship bombardment, but I have not found a date when it was placed.
     
  12. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ty --roger that
     
  13. Takao

    Takao Ace

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  14. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    must've been a lot of matting.....not an easy job
     
  15. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    Henderson Field and Fighter 1 were muddy quagmires without matting.

    Part, if not all, of the impetus on the part of the Japanese were yet to be crystallized plans for further advancement to the south towards Espiritu Santo and then New Caledonia; necessary moves if they were to even think seriously about impeding shipments to and from Australia. If they were firmly established with a working airfield at Guadalcanal then Espiritu Santo is more than well within striking range. After all, if you can F4Fs from Espiritu Santo to Henderson Field, then you could certainly go the other way in A6Ms.
     
  16. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..thank you...so if I get you right, and I think I have read about this = it's something akin to planning and various plans being discussed as to which is the best---kind of like the US had a variety of plans/options/ideas--not all of which could be the ''right'' or most effective choice .....?
     
  17. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    stepping stones . . . just like the US did in the central and south Pacific . . . one step at a time.
     
  18. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Were not the F4Fs going one way though. IIRC, it was 560 miles to Esprito from Henderson. Which would put the A6M2 at the edge of it's range to fly & fight, and was probably out of range for the A6M3. I have not crunched the numbers, but it would be a close approximation to Rabaul to Henderson.
     
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  19. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..now that I think about it, the Victory Disease--- and quick victories-- had an effect on planning--as belasar points out...they moved and won so much so fast, their planning was not ''up to date'''...? = ''what do we do now''?
    ..bulk of /major attack to Moresby or Solomons?
     
  20. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..so they could not effectively support each other.......?
     
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