以下文字節錄自Army Air Forces in World War II Volume 5: The Pacific Matterhorn to Nagasaki, June 1944 to August 1945這本書。
The following is adapted from Army Air Forces in World War II Volume 5: The Pacific Matterhorn to Nagasaki, June 1944 to August 1945.
原本美國陸軍第20航空隊對日攻擊的首要目標是煉鋼所需的焦碳工廠，但是到了1944年夏天，第20航空隊總部開始把目標轉移到日本的航空工業上。9月初，陸軍航空隊司令阿諾將軍（Henry Harley “Hap” Arnold）的幕僚通知第20轟炸司令部司令李梅將軍（Curtis LeMay），接下來會把日本帝國位於大村、奉天、渡邊、岡山的航空工業列為主要攻擊目標。這幾個地方的工廠並非日本航空工業的核心，但它們都位在從成都起飛的B-29的航程範圍內。這項指示在9月13日下達，幾天後，台灣的岡山就被指定為第20轟炸司令部下一次任務的轟炸目標。
During the summer of 1944, opinion at Twentieth Air Force Headquarters had veered from coke toward the aircraft industry as the top-priority objective, and by early September staff planners had about decided to modify the bomber command’s target directive. The staff of Army Air Forces Commanding General Henry Harley “Hap” Arnold informed the Commander of XX Bomber Command, Major General Curtis LeMay of a possible shift in objectives which would give top priority to aircraft plants at Omura, Mukden, Watanabe (near Fukuoka), and Okayama. These were not the most important Japanese airplane plants, but they were the best within range of B-29’s at Chengtu. This message was dispatched on 13 September, and within a few days Okayama was scheduled as target for the command’s next mission.
Source： NARA via Fold3.com
On 22 September the JCS submitted to the several theater commanders concerned an outline plan for the bomber command’s effort in support of the Leyte show, two closely spaced maximum missions (170 sorties in all) against Okayama, plus VLR (Very Long Range) reconnaissance on request from Pacific commander. The B-29 missions were to be coordinated with strikes by Mitscher’s fast carriers, scheduled to attack Okinawa on 10 October and Formosa on the 12th and 13th. The combination of carrier and VHB (Very Heavy Bomber) attacks on air installations was designed to minimize air reinforcement of the Philippines as MacArthur closed on Leyte. At CINCPOA’s request, Mitscher was to go it alone on the two days of his sweep; Arnold ordered the B-29’s to attack on the 11th and 14th, but when 10 October weather forecasts were pessimistic, these strike dates were postponed to the 14th and 16th.
This photo of Okayama Aircraft Plant was taken on October 13, 1943, during Task Force 38’s strike. Source： NARA via Fold3.com
10月10日，米歇爾的第38特遣艦隊（Task Force 38）對琉球外圍300英哩的圓弧範圍發動攻擊，並在11日對呂宋島進行佯攻，之後就把目標對準台灣。在日軍頑強抵抗之下，這次為期兩天的大規模對台攻擊相當成功，不過也沒有讓後攻的李梅完全失去攻擊的對象：位於岡山的飛機修護與組裝工廠與機場並沒有遭受嚴重的破壞，仍然需要再徹底的掃蕩一番才能避免讓日軍做為支援菲律賓的基地。
On 10 October Task Force 38 struck along a 300-mile arc centering on the Ryukyus, feinted with a fighter sweep over Luzon on the 11th, then turned on Formosa. The wide-ranging 2-day attack on the island failed to surprise the Japanese, who reacted vigorously, but it was highly successful. This might seem to have left poor gleaning for LeMay but his targets had not been spoiled. Mitscher’s planes had damaged Okayama, but not critically. The aircraft repair and assembly plant, with its adjacent air base, needed a more thorough working over to deny its use as a staging field to the Philippines.
Close-up study of the photo above reveals that Okayama facilities had been only slightly damaged. Source： NARA via Fold3.com
On 14 October, 130 B-29 got off without incident, though carrying an average of 6.8 tons each of 500-pound GP’s and incendiaries. During the noon hour 104 bombers dropped about 650 tons on Okayama. Weather was good and so was the bombing, though late arrivals were hampered by smoke. The damage appeared so heavy that LeMay considered it unnecessary to send back all of the available planes for the mop-up on the 16th. At Washington’s suggestion, LeMay divided his forces: the 444th and 462nd Groups were to return to Okayama on 16 October while the 468th hit Heito. Next day the 40th Group was to bomb Einansho Air Depot near Tainan. Howeever, the twin mission went off less smoothly than that of the 14th.
Source： NARA via Fold3.com
Damage assessment at Okayama made on the basis of photo reconnaissance confirmed enthusiastic reports by aircrews. XX Bomber Command had added vastly to the havoc, especially on the first mission. After 16 October only six small buildings at the assembly plant remained intact; nine had been damaged, sixty-five destroyed. At the air base the B-29’s had destroyed two hangars and sixteen buildings (out of thirty-two) and damaged nine. A total of 116 aircraft had been hit in the 2 areas by Navy and XX Bomber Command planes. Damage assessment at Heito and Einansho was less specific for want of good photos and was less spectacular. Elsewhere a number of other targets had been hit accurately but with little weight.
This enlarged version of the above photo reveals that Major Scherck was pointing at Tainan. A line was drawn connecting Okayama and the island now named Chimei. Source： NARA via Fold3.com
As to the effects of the strikes on the Leyte operations, the (post-war) Japanese historians were less reassuring. “Intercepting land-based aircraft,” they said, were deployed in Kyushu, Okinawa, and northern Formosa, and hence the Okayama attacks “had no direct effect on the defense of the Philippines.” But because the Okayama air depot performed maintenance for aircraft used for training, its destruction caused “a considerable hindrance . . . to training of airmen.” And so, ironically, PAC-AID (missions in direct support of Pacific operations) brought little aid to Pacific forces but accomplished a minor strategic job with admirable thoroughness.
The next series of posts will focus on the three-day strike on Formosa by US Navy’s Task Force 38 in October 1944. Stay tuned.