Sunday, January 15, 2017
He was churning up inside. On the outside he was as cool as you can be, but inside he was producing all sorts of chemicals and his body was not in balance with what he was thinking. His mind was overtly controlling how he was perceived but his inner chemistry was jacked up. The cause was his concern for the bombing crews he had sent out this morning. They were going to try a new and very risky operation. LeMay had warned him that if the planned Wiley Coyote maneuver ended up in tragedy, he would personally see to Twining’s courts martial. But, that really wasn’t his main concern.
He was genuinely worried about his crews, about the boys he saw everyday walking to the briefings and standing in the chow line. He didn’t care what anyone said. They were his boys and his responsibility. If he had done anything to increase the chances of them not returning to their mothers and fathers then he would never forgive himself.
In other words, he was a good commander and an outstanding leader. His men could sense that and they would have followed him to Moscow if he ordered it. On the other hand, they knew he would not put their lives in needless danger so they didn’t question his leadership. He had, himself,
experienced ditching an airplane. He spent six days in a life raft during the last war when the plane he was on had engine trouble in the Pacific between Guadalcanal and Espiritu Santo. He knew what it was like to feel abandoned and forsaken.
The fighters appeared first as usual. They were the lowest on fuel and the fastest. A CAP was formed when they were about an hour out to prevent or as least harass the inevitable Soviet attempts at incursion over their base’s airspace. Without the strong CAP, the crazy Ivans would follow them all the way home and shoot them down as they landed. They had actually experienced that a few times. The VVS has sent flights of longer ranged Yak 9s at very low altitude towards their forward bases. They had done a good job of shooting up the place. So, now a strong CAP was SOP at low altitude to deter the Ivans in the future. For the most part, it worked.
He could tell from the radio chatter that morale was good. Improving morale was one of the main reasons he had let the development of the Wiley Coyote progress. The losses were not sustainable, yet the Pentagon kept ordering them in. The Soviets were losing pilots as well. But, they were flying fighters and a few medium bombers so every plane shot down by us only involved the loss of one man. Each of our bombers shot down was seven times worse. From all reports, the VVS was keeping up with trained pilots and fighter planes where we were not. We were losing more bombers than could be replaced in a timely manner, especially when it was the B-29. Even at full production, we only were able to produce 65 a month. Before SAC was given a breather, they were on pace to lose 100 a month.
The most maddening part was that the Soviet’s oil production was increasing despite the SAC’s best efforts. The slow but inevitable loss curve in bomber numbers had developed much like the one the Luftwaffe experienced with their fighters. Unless something changed, they were going to lose this fight.
He heard the first of the venerable B-24 Liberator bombers’ engines and decided to go back inside and wait for the reports. He was actually optimistic at least as far as morale was concerned. Temporarily, at least, the Wiley Coyote had done the trick.
A few hours later, the reports were added up and he was looking at them with renewed hope. Twenty squadrons had pulled a Wiley Coyote and only three were hit by a SAM. Seventeen had successfully evaded the missile shot at their mission leader’s plane. This was very good news indeed. Losses were actually sustainable for a change and hovered around 6%. Very close, but sustainable when America’s manufacturing finally hit its stride.
The corporate leaders had finally been shamed into making the switch once again from consumer products to military production. It seems the US was out of money. Being the good capitalists they were, it took some arm twisting to get them to support the war effort. Ford was poised once again to pump out B-24s and it looked like they would be the workhorse once again. The B-17 got the headlines while the Liberators did the work.
It was kind of interesting that this war had been mainly fought using the last war’s equipment. He supposed that if the war dragged on more and more sophisticated machines would be fighting it out. For now, it was still the propeller vs. the propeller for the most part.
You just couldn’t crank out jets as fast as you could piston engines. You could shoot them down as fast however. He mused that future wars will be fought and won or lost very quickly due to the fact that it was eventually going to be quality over quantity that would win the day. Today it was still quantity and they were fighting an opponent that was second to none in producing good-enough equipment in massive quantities. Quantity had been the issue for the Germans. Their equipment was superior to ours but they lacked the industrial capacity to match us. Their superior jets and tanks were not superior enough to overcome our greater numbers. But now we were in a war with an opponent who could potentially keep pace with our production.
The Soviet Union and the US had something in common. Unlike the Germans and the British, our means of production were almost impossible to attack at the moment. Hell, we didn’t even know where their facilities were located. For the most part their manufacturing sites were so far inland and hidden that it was very similar to us having the Atlantic Ocean between us and their attacking forces. Their ocean happened to be the vastness of their country. We executed a very well planned attack on their oil fields and refineries before they could react, but they closed that window surprisingly fast.
His mood took a turn for the better as he read the After Action reports. They were very positive and the Wiley Coyote maneuver was a qualified success. It had increased morale as well as shaved a point or two off of the losses. The reduced losses meant that on a 500 bomber raid another five or ten crews made it to base and 35 to 70 Americans made it home. 70 less letters that had to be written, and 70 more men would not be ripped from their families and shipped overseas, and that was worth it.