Frisky’s Thoughts of the Pacific

Although this is wandering out of Frisky’s area of operations in the European Theater of Operations a bit to mention, today, 19 July 2015, is the scheduled release date for Check Six! A Thunderbolt Pilot’s War Across the Pacific, from Casemate Publishers. To find out about the Thunderbolt’s role in the Pacific, often overshadowed by the P-47 in Europe, or perhaps learn something new about the P-47 Thunderbolt in the Pacific you didn’t know before, check it out! http://www.casematepublishers.com/title.php?isbn=9781612002996

The cover of Jim Curran’s Check Six! shows P-47 Thunderbolt pilots of the 341st Fighter Squadron assembled for a picture in 1944.  (Courtesy Casemate Publishers)

The cover of Jim Curran’s Check Six! shows P-47 Thunderbolt pilots of the 341st Fighter Squadron assembled for a picture in 1944. (Courtesy Casemate Publishers)

As for any link this new book might have with the 371st Fighter Group, it would be the words “P-47” and “Pacific.”  In the summertime Europe of 1945 it was still anyone’s guess as to which USAAF units would be headed from Europe after VE-Day to the Pacific to join the war against Imperial Japan which still raged in the Far East.  As plans were being made in July, 1945, for the invasion of Imperial Japan, in the aftermath of the bloody Okinawa campaign, it was clear that any landings on the Japanese Home Islands would result in similar death and destruction, at perhaps far, far greater levels.

Two Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment during fighting at Wana Ridge during the Battle of Okinawa, May 1945. On the left, Davis Hargraves provides covering fire with his M1 Thompson submachinegun as Gabriel Chavarria, with a M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle, prepares to break cover to move to a different position.  (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Two Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment during fighting at Wana Ridge during the Battle of Okinawa, May 1945. On the left, Davis Hargraves provides covering fire with his M1 Thompson submachinegun as Gabriel Chavarria, with a M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle, prepares to break cover to move to a different position. (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Rumor had it in the 371st Fighter Group that the outfit would be returning to the States for a brief period and then going overseas again, and the China-Burma-India theater was specifically mentioned.  No details of such a plan including the 371st are known to the writer of this web log, but additional air units were headed for the Pacific in the summer of 1945.

Perhaps the 371st would have been re-equipped in the United States with the latest Thunderbolt, the P-47N with the greater range capability.  That certainly would have helped in the long distances often encountered in the Pacific.

Two Republic P-47N Thunderbolt fighter planes in flight. The P-47N featured an uprated engine and extra fuel contained in a redesigned, larger wing for very long range operations.  It was the last variant of the famed Thunderbolt fighter, ending production in October 1945, as thousands more on order were cancelled with the end of the war.  (U.S. Air Force photo, via Defense Media Network)

Two Republic P-47N Thunderbolt fighter planes in flight. The P-47N featured an uprated engine and extra fuel contained in a redesigned, larger wing for very long range operations. It was the last variant of the famed Thunderbolt fighter, ending production in October 1945, as thousands more on order were cancelled with the end of the war. (U.S. Air Force photo, via Defense Media Network)

Whether the 371st would have gone to China with Fourteenth Air Force is debatable, given the incredible logistics challenge of supplying the air units already there, even with the Stilwell/Ledo Road opened and operating.

Perhaps there would have been a role for Frisky with the USAAF Tenth Air Force in Southeast Asia, with planned Allied efforts to liberate Malaya (Operation Zipper) and Singapore (Operation Tiderace) in the offing.

Or would the 371st have become a part of strategic air operations with the Eighth Air Force, which had moved its headquarters to Okinawa in July, 1945 and was growing in strength for the planned invasion of Japan?

Who can say what would have happened with the 371 st Fighter Group had the war in the pacific continued?  Thank God it did not, for the sake of American military and naval personnel, of all the people in countries occupied by Imperial Japan, and for the Japanese people as well.

But wherever Frisky went, he was prepared to accomplish the mission, as demonstrated in an incredible combat record in the ETO.  As things turned out, the 371st never went to the Pacific in World War II, and the group participated in the Occupation of Germany for several months before returning to the United States in November, 1945.

References

Check Six, A Thunderbolt Pilot’s War Across the Pacific, at: http://www.casematepublishers.com/title.php?isbn=9781612002996

Battle of Okinawa, Wikipedia entry, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Okinawa

Operation Tiderace, Wikipedia entry, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Tiderace

P-47N image at: http://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/flying-the-p-47n-thunderbolt/

P-47 Thunderbolt, Wikipedia entry, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_P-47_Thunderbolt

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