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Black cat question.

Aircraft Requests Discuss Black cat question. in the Aviation forums; Guys, was wondering if USN "black cats" undertook mine laying operations in the PTO? After April '43, RAAF black cats ...

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    Senior Member Wildcat's Avatar
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    Black cat question.

    Guys, was wondering if USN "black cats" undertook mine laying operations in the PTO? After April '43, RAAF black cats were heavily employed in this role, but what of the US PBY's? I know they were highly successful in the anti-shipping role, was it simply a case of the USN concentrating on anti-shipping duties while the RAAF took care of the aerial mining of enemy harbours and shipping lanes? and if so, what importance did US forces place on these mining operations?




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    Senior Member Wildcat's Avatar
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    Anyone?



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    Senior Member R Leonard's Avatar
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    While the “DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL AVIATION SQUADRONS - Volume 2 - The History of VP, VPB, VP(HL) and VP(AM) Squadrons” has many, many references to aerial mining, the vast majority of them refer to post WW2 operations with P2Vs in the Korean War era or mission capabilities of P-3s in the modern era

    Generally, Black Cat missions are generally associated with the PBY, however there were other USN patrol type aircraft involved, some only peripherally, in mining operations during WW2.

    In the squadron history of the first VP-29, during the period of its designation as VP-72 (1 July 1941 to 1 October 1944), page 195:

    “11 Nov 1943: The NAS Kaneohe detachment joined the rest of the squadron at Funafuti, with tender support provided by Curtiss (AV 4). During this period the squadron was assigned sector searches, night antishipping patrols, and mine-laying and Dumbo missions. By 1 December 1943, the squadron’s mission shifted solely to Dumbo missions, with one to two aircraft detachments at Funafuti, Nanomea, Apamama, Tarawa and Makin islands.”

    and, for the same squadron:

    “1 Jan 1944: The new year brought with it an unusual change of duties for the squadron. The PBYs were adapted for aerial minelaying. Several missions were conducted throughout the month, mining approaches to bypassed Japanese island garrisons to deny them resupply by sea.”

    The wording here strikes me as a little odd . . . I am wondering just how “unusual” the change of duties is and how were the PBYs “adapted” if they were doing the same sort of mission less than two months before.

    On page 240 under the history for the third VP-43, during the period of its designation as VP-28 (1 July 1944 to 1 October 1944):

    “1 Jul 1944–Oct 1944: VP-28 was established at NAAS Harvey Point, N.C., under the operational control of FAW-5. The squadron was allocated 51 officer and 166 enlisted billets, but was not brought up to a full manning level until the end of the month. The squadron received the first of 15 PBM-3D Mariner seaplanes on 9 July. Within the week, all of the aircraft were evacuated to Banana River, Fla., to avoid damage from a large storm front entering the area. Training had scarcely recommenced when it became necessary to evacuate half of the aircraft again on 1 August 1944 due to a second hurricane. The seven aircraft returned from NAS New York three days later, and the squadron attempted to restart the disrupted training syllabus. Ground school training was given to all hands, with aircrews receiving antisubmarine warfare, torpedo, mine laying and gunnery training. Accidents occurred, but no fatalities. On 17 August 1944, one crew was forced to ditch in rough open seas, damaging the aircraft beyond economical repair. A hurricane disrupted the training schedule again on 19 October 1944, but did not prevent the squadron from meeting its 29 October 1944 deadline for completion of training.”

    Note though this is a PBM squadron not a PBY squadron, and its history has no further mention of mining operations/

    In the entry for VPB-113, during the period of its designation as VP-13 (1 July 1940 to 1 October 1944) on page 410 there is:

    “17–18 Apr 1944: VP-13 conducted five mine-laying sorties (Mark 10/Mod.6 mines) from Eniwetok in the waters surrounding the island of Truk. It was found that the external wing mounts for the mines so affected the handling and airspeed of the Coronados that they could scarcely attain an air speed of 116 knots.”

    Note a PB2Y squadron, not PBY.

    On page 522 there is VPB-109 while in its designation as VB-109, flying PB4Y-1s:

    “28 Dec 1943–13 Jan 1944: The squadron was transferred to Apamama, Gilbert Islands and conducted its first combat patrol on 31 December 1943. On 1 January 1944, Lieutenant John F. Bundy made the squadron’s first kill, sinking a 2,000-ton cargo vessel near Mille. The squadron’s arrival was greeted the next evening by an enemy air raid that destroyed one aircraft, damaged two others and wounded three personnel. Throughout the month of January the squadron continued attacks on enemy shipping with good results; dropped mines at Maloelap Atoll, Wotje and Kwajalein; and served as fighter escort for photographic planes from VD-3 on low-level missions. On 13 January 1944, Lieutenant Samuel E. Coleman and his crew failed to return from a patrol.”

    VPB-118, another PB4Y squadron on page 540:

    “2 Jun 1945: The squadron was ready to return to Okinawa from Tinian when disaster struck. One aircraft caught fire while undergoing last-minute maintenance, and one more was destroyed and two others damaged when a crippled B-29 crashed into the parking area. All the squadron welfare and recreation gear plus most of the personal baggage was lost. The aircraft were quickly replaced and after only a few days’ delay, VPB-118 was back on Okinawa by 7 June 1945 continuing its antishipping patrols, conducting strikes on land targets and dropping mines in harbors throughout the Korean coastline and Kamine Shima.”

    There are a couple of references to other squadrons dropping the Mark 24 mine, but, as you are no doubt aware, that weapon is not really a mine.

    Rich
    hmmm ... I wonder what this switch does ...

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    Senior Member Wildcat's Avatar
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    Excellent, thanks for the info Rich, I appreciate the effort mate! So would it be safe to say the USN didn't see much worth in these mine laying operations? I find it interesting because the aim of the RAAF was not only to sink enemy shipping and cause disruptions and delays to Japanese held ports, but by mining the shallow waterways and straights etc this forced the Japanese out into deeper waters and therefore exposing them to US subs which could operate more effectively in these waters.
    Also Rich, do you happen to know what method the USN used for these missions ie, were the mines simply dropped over the designated target area (harbour), or were precision drops (planting in RAAF terms) used. For example the a/c would arrive over the tgt area in darkness, then they would locate a pre determined datum point from which they would fly over straight and level on a pre determined course. The a/c would usually be flying relatively slowly and at a height between 100-200ft. Once a set amount of seconds had been flown (usually timed by the Nav.), a mine would be "planted", the second one was then dropped after another set time (seconds) had elapsed maintaining the same course, speed, height etc, until all mines were dropped. This was obviously done under fire and probing search light beams. seeing that these missions took 20+ hours to complete, I have much respect and admiration for the skill and daring shown by these airmen.
    Any more info from the American side of things would be appreciated.
    Last edited by Wildcat; 07-29-2007 at 02:25 AM.



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    Wildcat, you have obviously done a lot of research on this subject and I have little to offer. Stewart Wilson's book, ''Catalina, Neptune and Orion in Australian Service', briefly discusses the RAAF's Catalina minelaying operations and has this to say about the technique:

    "The mines were carried under the mainplanes of the Cats and whereas today (1945) we use 'chutes for all of them, in the early days we dropped British Mk.4s without 'chutes. The normal dropping height was between 200 and 400 feet. An error of only 10 per cent from dropping datum was allowed in up to 20 fathoms of water. Usually we remained in the target area for about 10 minutes at low height".

    I have much respect and admiration for the skill and daring shown by these airmen.
    Totally agree.

    Off topic, but interesting, photo of RAAF Catalina A24-104 being fitted with JATO bottles. Known as the 'Jet Cat', possibly the only(?) Catalina to be fitted out as such. It was presented to the Netherlands Government at the end of it's career in the early 1950's.

    Last edited by Graeme; 07-29-2007 at 03:33 AM.

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    Senior Member Wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graeme View Post
    Wildcat, you have obviously done a lot of research on this subject and I have little to offer. Stewart Wilson's book, ''Catalina, Neptune and Orion in Australian Service', briefly discusses the RAAF's Catalina minelaying operations and has this to say about the technique:
    Not really mate, just been doing alot of reading about RAAF cats lately. Incidently if your interested get a copy of "Black cats" by A.E Minty. Basically a book written by former aircrew and their experiances during the war - great reading. Also "Cats at war" basically the same thing, all being written by former RAAF aircrew.

    Quote Originally Posted by Graeme View Post
    "The mines were carried under the mainplanes of the Cats and whereas today (1945) we use 'chutes for all of them, in the early days we dropped British Mk.4s without 'chutes. The normal dropping height was between 200 and 400 feet. An error of only 10 per cent from dropping datum was allowed in up to 20 fathoms of water. Usually we remained in the target area for about 10 minutes at low height".
    Yep, an error of 10 yards was allowed. This was because the position of every mine dropped was plotted so that the allies knew of the exact whereabouts of each mine so that they could be disposed of when the harbour/waterway was in allied hands.


    Quote Originally Posted by Graeme View Post
    Off topic, but interesting, photo of RAAF Catalina A24-104 being fitted with JATO bottles. Known as the 'Jet Cat', possibly the only(?) Catalina to be fitted out as such. It was presented to the Netherlands Government at the end of it's career in the early 1950's.
    I reckon the Americans might have also trialled this. Breadroll posted these trials a few months back, have a squizz here http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/oth...boat-8106.html (RAAF ARDU RATO Trials on a Catalina Flying Boat)



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    Member In Perpetuity ccheese's Avatar
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    Another good book on the subject of Black Cat’s is “Black
    Cat Raiders of WW-II”, by Richard C. Knott.

    In it there is a story of a Lt. Merritt (VPB-33) who was bombing
    a 7,000 ton freighter. In trying to get close, he hit the kingpost
    of the ship with his wing. The kingpost broke and the wing
    held. Shortly after, ComFleetAirWing 17 wrote a letter to
    Lt. James F. Merritt (A-VN) USN, via the CO of Patrol
    Bombing Squadron 33. The subject of the letter was:

    “Ramming Tactics - Plane versus Ship - Disapproval Of”

    The letter was signed C.B Jones

    This book goes into great detail about their missions, and
    it’s recommended reading.

    Charles








    Real airplanes have round engines and two wings !

  8. #8
    Senior Member Wildcat's Avatar
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    Thanks Charles, I"ll keep an eye out for that one.



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    Member In Perpetuity ccheese's Avatar
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    Wildcat..... send me a PM with your address..... I'll send you my copy.
    I've read it several times.

    Charles
    Last edited by ccheese; 08-01-2007 at 09:20 AM.








    Real airplanes have round engines and two wings !

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