Welcome to the Bushmasters 100th Anniversary news page.

Flight of P-47 Razorbacks of the 78th FS

A flight of P-47 Razorbacks of the 78th Fighter Squadron, the “Bushmasters” of the “Pineapple Air Force” stationed in Hawaii.At the end of 1944, in preparation for deployment, the 78th and her sister squadrons spent six weeks transitioning from P-47s to P-51Ds.They left Bellows Field,Hawaii for the final time on 20 Jan 1945.(rudeerude)

 

Over the next few months we will be updating this site with exciting news of our upcoming 100 years served!

 

<——-WWII 78thFS Patch

 

DATE: Feb 2018, exact dates TBD

LOCATION: Las Vegas, Exact location TBD

Current List of Attendees: To be announced

 

 

SEE LINEAGE of 78th CLICK

 

Enjoy some history below

 

While only one of the many squadrons serving in the AAF in Hawaii during World War II, the 78th along with the 47th FS were the longest continually serving fighter squadrons here, and as such, the 78th is the main focus of this page.

The 78th started WWII as part of the 18th Fighter Group, based at Wheeler.  They remained in Hawaii for three and a half years, primarily guarding the islands from an anticipated repeat attack or invasion.  During the course of their stay in Hawaii, they were based for short periods at Kaneohe, Midway, Barking Sands, Stanley Field (Schofield Golf Course), Mokuleia and Bellows.  After the start of the war they transitioned through P-39s, P-40s, P-47s and P-51s.  The squadron was transferred to the 15th Fighter Group in March of 1943 while on patrol duty in P-40Ks at Midway Island.  Most of the months spent in Hawaii were used for training combat pilots as replacements in other units fighting to the South with the 13th and 5th Air Forces.   Those training months were filled with high intensity, high performance flying with the inevitable losses of pilots and aircraft as a result.

Finally, at the end of 1944, in preparation for deployment, the 78th and her sister squadrons spent six weeks transitioning from P-47s to P-51Ds.   They left Bellows Field for the final time on 20 Jan 1945.  Upon leaving, they buzzed the field in a grand goodbye before  landing at Ford Island.  At Pearl Harbor the aircraft and some of the pilots were then loaded on the USS Sitkoh Bay  for the trip to Guam and Saipan.   The ground echelons departed on the USS Berrian, a Navy transport ship.  The balance of the pilots departed Hickam in early February via ATS aircraft to Guam and Saipan.

The 78th aircraft and pilots arrived on Iwo Jima 16 days after D-Day.  They flew in from Saipan on 7 Mar 45, following the 45th FS who had arrived earlier.   Major Van De Hay, squadron commander was leading “Red Flight” and Major Jim Tapp, executive officer and first P-51 Ace of the Pacific was leading “Blue Flight”. 

On Mar 10th the squadron started flying close air support for the marines who were mopping up the tenacious Japanese resistors.  

In April of 45 the Group began the series of famous VLR (very long range) missions to the heart of the Japanese homeland that finally ended on the last day of the War, 14 Aug 45.  1st Lt Philip Schlamberg of the 78th was the last pilot KIA over Japan.  The squadron landed back in Iwo Jima 2 hours after the war ended

For a close online look at the 15th Fighter Command of the 7th Fighter Command, go to:  http://www.7thfighter.com/  The webmaster, Mark Stevens is an acknowledged authority on the 7th Air Force.

7th AF Patch

The comprehensive book by John Lambert THE LONG CAMPAIGN, (available from Schiffer Books) provides an in depth view of all of the squadrons, campaigns and personnel of the 15 Fighter Group: 

 

 

MIDWAY ISLAND INTERLUDE

In January 1943, the 78th Fighter Squadron made aviation history in the planning and execution of the longest over-water flight of single engine, land-based airplanes ever attempted. It had been known for some time that the 76th Squadron was to replace the 73rd Fighter Squadron, then based at Midway Island. Although the airplanes of the 73rd had been transported to Midway by aircraft carrier, it was decided that the 78th would fly their planes in a mass over-water flight from a staging base at Barking Sands, Kauai.

This hazardous undertaking, involving a non-stop over-water flight of approximately 1100 nautical miles, was very carefully planned under the direction of Col. Aaron lyre, 18th Group Commander, and Major Buckland, 78th Squadron Commander. Extensive tests were flown by all planes and pilots to determine fuel consumption and the effect of pilot fatigue under various flying conditions. Planes, pilots, and a skeleton crew of maintenance men were moved to Barking Sands to a wait favorable weather for take-off. Because of predicted head winds of some forty-five miles per hour along the proposed flying route, the airplanes were forced to remain at Barking Sands until, January 23, 1942, when weather conditions were reported to be favorable and the air lanes took off. In the mean­time, the ground echelon had proceeded via the Haleakala from Honolulu on January 12, 1943, and arrived at Midway January 18, 1943.

 

There they waited, “sweating out” the arrival of the planes.

The flight from Barking Sands to Midway was made by twenty-four P-40K1 airplanes, led by Colonel Tyre and Major Buckland, in an average time of seven hours and fifteen minutes. All airplanes made the flight successfully, inspite of adverse weather conditions encountered enroute. Altitude flown was 10,000 feet for the first half of the trip, and from 200-1000 feet for the last half. Flying was against an average head wind of thirty-five (35) knots par hour. At one time the flight flew at 180° to the charted course for s. period of fifteen minutes, due to bad weather.

Gasoline consumption per airplane ranged from 260 to 290 gallons, some airplanes landing at Midway with a margin of only five gallons. The flight was accompanied by four LB-30 airplanes, carrying Air Echelon personnel. The details of the flight may be found in Appendix U, attached hereto.

The squadron remained at Midway from January 23, 1943, until April 21, 1943. The mission of the squadron was the protection of the island, its garrison and fortifications, the submarine and communications base, from enemy attacks. Although no direct contact was made with enemy aircraft or surface task forces, the squadron gained valuable training in dawn and dusk patrols, and in special alerts and scrambles to identify “bogies”, which usually proved to be friendly navy airplanes coming in with IFF turned off.

  • see Appendix 4-, Letter to Commanding General, VII Fighter Command.

– 10 –

 

The principal problems encountered in operating at Midway were those inherent in the nature of the base and its location. Life on a coral atoll is at best a difficult problem because of sun, sand, and sea, but in addition to these, there was the problem imposed by the presence of hundreds of gooney birds in the take-off and landing pattern. The distance of the island from other bases; lack of recrea­tional facilities and irregularities of mail delivery presented very real morale problems.

The problem of the ever-present gooney bird proved to be a very
real one. The following excerpts from the Operations Log Book, a day-
by-day account of the operations activities of the squadron, will be of
interest is this connection.
7 February 1943:

Had one gunnery mission this morning but

didn’t have any this P.M. One of the planes struck a gooney bird and damaged the prep spinner. We sure are getting those gooneys regularly. At one time today we had nine planes out of commission. Still do not have the use of the Blackout Hangar as the Mar­ines are using it, so we can’t work at night. The alert flight uses on this island today and they had quite a number of element scrambles. Lts Moore, Birk, O’Hare and Mar­tens were the alert flight; this is the first time that a flight has consisted of four 2nd Lieutenants. They did OK.

 

– 11 –

22 February 1943

 

 

I forgot to mention yesterday that #64 went out of commission because of a damaged wing caused by a gooney bird; the wing was really smashed, and I don11 mean maybe. The gooney bird was smashed some too. We sure are having our troubles with gooney birds.

 

16 March 1943

 

 

This morning after flying a gunnery mission, Capt. Kearney was coming in to land and hit a gooney bird, damaging a wing. The plane will be out of commission a week or two. This morning five B-24’s came in from Oahu 4000 lbs. of mail but there wasn’t much for us.

Not all the grief was caused by gooney birds, however, as these excerpts will testify:

 

27 February 1943

 

 

Capt. Downies flight was supposed to go on dawn patrol but didn’t because of weather; solid overcast. a FBI ran into one of our planes taxiing; one prop blade was bent and, as we don’t have any more props, we are supposed to take a blade from an old prop. It will be a tough job, but we believe it can be done. The regular PBY from Oahu

 

– 12 –

 

 

was cancelled because of weather; this means we mil have to wait a while longer to see if we have some mail coming.

24 March 1943

The enlisted men were paid today, but there weren’t many happy faces to be seen. Money doesn’t mean much around here. We did receive some mail though.

On February 25, 1943, while the squadron was still on Midway, Major Buckland was transferred to Group Headquarters and was succeeded in command by Major Gordon Hyde. On March 6, 1943, the 78th Fighter Squadron was detached from the 18th Group and attached to the 15th Fighter Group, by General Order No. 5, VII Fighter Command.

The freedom of dress permitted the men, plus good food and fairly regular mail delivery, contributed greatly toward good morale while the squadron was on Midway. Members of the squadron expressed a new respect for the Navy as a result of their tour there because it was the Navy that delivered the mail from Oahu and supplemented the Army rations drawn on the island. Appreciation was also expressed for the maintenance and construction work done by the Seabee battalion there.

On April 5, 1943, the ground echelon embarked on the USS Henderson for the return trip to Barking Sands. Belly tanks were fitted on the P-40K’s and preparations were made to fly them back. Twenty-two out

– 13 –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

of the original twenty-four planes flown from Barking Sands to Midway were flown back. Only two airplanes were lost operationally on Midway, a phenomenal record for the amount and kind of flying done at that base. One airplane was totally lost when controls “froze” while on a mission and the pilot was forced to bail out. The pilot was recovered. The other airplane was a partial loss when it crashed on landing with a 30 knot cross-wind at 30 degrees to the runway. The pilot of this plane suffered only minor injuries.

The return flight from Midway was made April 23, 1943. The flight was accompanied by three LB-301s and one P3Y. The flight was uneventful and was made at an average speed of 170 M.P.H. at 10,000 feet, except for the last hour when the altitude was 1000 feet. The average flight time was seven (7) hours and three (3) minutes, as contrasted with seven (7) hours and fourteen (14) minutes on the flight to Midway. The

r

addition of a PB2Y rescue plane as an escort contributed greatly to pilot reassurance on this trip,    Also,  oxygen was used fifteen minutes out each hour to lessen pilot fatigue.    Average gasoline consumption was 37.42 gallons per hour, as contrasted with 37.2 on the flight out to Midway. No explanation for this slight increase is found in the flight records.

Complete records of this flight, including flight plans, rescue plan,  armament,  gas load, pilot equipment,  etc., will be found in Appendix 5.See Appendix 5, Report of Flight of P-40Kl’s from Midway to 3arking Sands, Kauai 21 April 1943.

– 14 –

 

 

78TH FIGHTER SQUADRON APO  959

 

10 February 1943

 

 

SUBJECT:    Gas Consumption for P-40K1.

 

TO

Commanding General, VII Fighter Commend, Thru Commanding Officer, 18th Fighter Group.

 

1.In accordance with instructions, the following information is
submitted regarding this squadron’s flight from Barking Sands, Kauai,
to Midway Islands on 23 January 1943

Air Corps

 

Squadron

 

Pilot

 

Total

 

Gal/hr

 

flying!

 

Serial §

 

#

 

Consumption

 

Time

 

42-45756

 

354

 

Col . Tyer

 

263

 

37.6

 

7:00 hra.

 

42-45759

 

363

 

Maj . Buckland

 

265

 

37.4

 

7:05 hrs.

 

42-46178

 

356

 

Lt. Wells

 

268

 

37,8

 

7:05 hrs.

 

42-46197

 

373

 

Capt. Kearney

 

263

 

37.1

 

7:05 hrs.

 

42-46365

 

362

 

Lt. Mannon

 

258

 

36.4

 

7:05 hrs.

 

42-46221

 

376

 

Lt. Harper

 

265

 

37.4

 

7:05 hrs.

 

42-46223

 

374

 

It, Bridge

 

258

 

36.0

 

7:10 hrs.

 

42-46175

 

361

 

Lt. Voss

 

261

 

36.5

 

7:10 hrs.

 

42-46168

 

364

 

Capt. Thomas

 

268

 

37.5

 

7:10 hrs.

 

42-46195

 

367

 

Lt. Johnson

 

268

 

37.5

 

7tlO hrs.

 

42-46217

 

353

 

Lt. Strihafke

 

277

 

33.8

 

7:10 hrs.

 

42-46204

 

366

 

Lt. Tapp

 

263

 

36.2

 

7:15 hrs.

 

42-46164

 

371

 

Lt, Vande Hey

 

272

 

37.5

 

7:15 hrs.

 

42-45757

 

372

 

Lt. Mollan

 

267

 

36.8

 

7:15 hrs.

 

4? -4622 5

 

365

 

Lt. Downie

 

262

 

36i2

 

7:15 hrs.

 

42-46186

 

368

 

Lt. Moore

 

269

 

37.1

 

7:15 hrs.

 

42-46220

 

358

 

Capt. Hyde

 

257

 

35.2

 

7:20 hrs.

 

42-45760

 

351

 

Lt. Crispen

 

267

 

36,3

 

7:20 hrs.

 

42-45755

 

370

 

Capt. Jones

 

279

 

37.9

 

7:20 hrs.

 

42-46166

 

355

 

Lt, Obenshain

 

278

 

37,8

 

7:20 hrs.

 

42-45761

 

352

 

Cart. Heath

 

278

 

37.8

 

7:20 hrs.

 

42-46229

 

377

 

Lt. Markham

 

279

 

37.7

 

7:25 hrs.

 

42-46215

 

360

 

Lt. Farnham

 

269

 

36.3

 

7:25 hrs.

 

42-46209

 

357

 

Lt. Collins

 

282

 

38.1

 

7:25 hrs.

 

 

37.2
7:14 hr’s
Average
268.7

 

 

2, The following additional information is submitted for considera­tion in evaluation of these figures.

  1. An average head wind of twenty five (25) Knots -was encountered,

 

 

  1. approximately one-half (1/2) of the flight was at ten thousand (10,000) feet, the ‘last half at two hundred to two thousand (200-2,000) feet. About one (1) hour tight formation flying was necessary to maintain contact in weather.
  2. There was considerable variation from a bee-line to avoid weath­-
    er. Compass reading at one time was one hundred eighty degrees (180°)
    for a period of fifteen (15) minutes. .
  3. The first plane landed after seven (7:OO) hours in the air. All others varied from seven zero five (7:05) hours to seven twenty five (7:25) hours. This was taken into account in the gal/hr calculations.
  4. Indicated airspeeds of P-40K1 averaged 10 M.P.K, above that of the LB-30. This necessitated flying at 4-6 inches manifold pressure greater than expected. On consumption tests prior to take-off 22-25 Hg produced the required airspeed, while on the actual flight 28-31 in Hg was necessary. This raised actual consumption above expectations. It is believed that greater range can be secured at the lower power,
  5. The capacity of the fiber 170 gal. belly tanks varied from 150 gals, to 169^ gals. 165 gals. was used in calculations.
  6. The usable capacity of the belly tank is 1 1/2-3 gals, less than
    measured capacity.
  7. Wheen the belly tank is exhausted until the fuel pressure drops,
    the engine misses and cuts out alarmingly for about five .(5) minutes It is
    recommended for safety that the belly tank not be run dry while at low altitudes. i
  8. E. Buckland

Major, A.C. Commanding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

78TH; FIGHTER SQUADRON,  AAF APO 959

 

28    April   1943

 

 

SUBJECT.:    Report of Flight of P-40Kl’s- from Midway to Barking Sands, Kauai
21 April  1943 TO

 

S-2, 15th Fighter Group, AAF AP0 959.

  1. At. 0639, Midway time, twenty-two (22) P40Kl’s and escort of one (l)
    PB2Y and three LB30’s left Midway-by non-stop flight to Barking Sands;. All planes were airborne at 0645 and lost about; twenty (20) minutes locating
    escort. Weather condition overcast.
  2. Planes were divided into three (3) flights: Red, Flight leader; Major Hyde, consisting of eight (f0) planes, with one (1) LB30 In lead. White Flight Leader, Captain Kearney, consisting of eight (8) planes and one (l) LB30 following, to the left of Red, Blue, Flight leader, Captain Strihafka, con­sisting of six (6) planes, with one (1) LB3C following, to the rear, and on the right of Red, PB2Y, carrying Flight Surgeon, left Midway approximately 0605, as a weather observer, reporting back at fifteen (15) minute intervals.
  3. The rescue plan consisted of the LB30 circling the area in the event a P40 was forced down, sending out an MO, and the PB2Y, which was never more than thirty (30) to forty (/p) minutes away from the flight, would return; and pick up pilot. Radio contact was maintained at all times by the planes.

k

  1. All P40’s were stripped down to two (2) inboard guns with combat load
    to balance weight of belly tank carrying approximately one hundred seventy (170) gallons of fuel
  2. Pilots were equipped: with AN type seat-life raft, life jacket, ,jungle : pack, parachute type, 45, with tracer ammunition,; stainless steel mirror for flashing, bottle of malted milk tablets, canteen of water, and chocolate bars, candy, fruit juices, and a few sandwiches as desired by the pilot.
  3. The average flight time was seven (7) hours and three (3) minutes, all planes landing at Barking Sands. All planes maintaining an average speed of approximately one hundred seventy (170) miles per hour, and an altitude off ten thousand (10,000) feet, except for the last hour when an altitude of one thousand (1,000) feet was necessary because of weather.
  4. This flight being on£ of the longest for P-40K’s and being over water at all times, pilot fatigue was very heavy. It was necessary to maintain tight formation in heavy weather, which added to fatigue. Pilot’s confidence was increased by assurance that rescue would be immediate in the event of a forced landing, and all pilots were trained in the procedure to follow in the event of a forced landing. In order to lesse3n pilot fatigue, pilots used oxygen fifteen (15) minutes out of every hour and it was suggested that oxygen be used the last half hour, since fatigue is greatest at that time and extra care had to be taken in landings.  Visual acuity is not at its’ highest and depth perception is considerably off.
  5. Average gas consumption of 37.42 was a little higher than the average of 37.2 used on the flight out, January 23, 1943. Time was decreased from seven (7) hours and fourteen (14) minutes to seven (7) hours and three (3) minutes. A plan for the use of gas was submitted to all pilots prior to flight.  Attached is a copy of the engineers report covering gas consumption.

GORDON R. HYDE

Major, Air Corps, Commanding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SQUADRON       A.C. NO.    BELLY.            AIRPLANE                            TANKS

 

LEFT IN              LEFT  IN                BELLY                AIRPLANE

 

IN TANKS

 

TIME  FLOWN  TOT AL GALS.    SERVICED IN             AVERAGE CONSUMED

CONSUMED     PLANE AT KAUAI

#10        |42-46220 170 Gals.      5 Gals.

 

48

 

Gals.

 

7:OO

 

265

 

Gals .

 

100

 

Gals,

 

37.3

 

Galsals.

 

#11

 

42-46168 168

 

5   “

 

56

 

 

7:00

 

255

 

92

 

%,4

 

.#12

 

42-46195 168

 

2   “

 

43

 

7:10

 

271

 

105

 

38.6

 

#13

 

42-45759 168 1/2

 

2 ½ “

 

42

 

7:00

 

272

 

106

 

38.8

 

#14

 

42-45756 169

 

3   “   _

 

54

 

7:OO

 

260

 

94

 

37.1

 

#21

 

42-46204  166

 

2   “

 

44

 

7:00

 

260

 

104

 

38.3

 

#23

 

42-46210  169

 

4   “

 

62

 

 

7:00

 

251

 

86

 

15.8

 

#24

 

42-46209167

 

2   “

 

53

 

 

7:00

 

260

 

95

 

37.1

 

#31

 

42-46225 167

 

8   “ 37

 

6:40

 

270

 

111

 

36.7

 

#32

 

42-46197 170

 

4   “

 

46

 

7:00

 

268

 

102   w

 

38.2

 

$33

 

42-46186 169,

 

10  “

 

37

 

 

7:00

 

270

 

111

 

38.5

 

#34

 

42-46215 169

 

2   “

 

58

 

 

7:00

 

257

 

90

 

36.7

 

#41

 

42-46164 169

 

4  “

 

46

 

6:55

 

267

 

102

 

38.6

 

#43

 

42-46223 169

 

10 “

 

48

 

7:00

 

259

 

100

 

36.9

 

#51

 

42-4621?  169

 

2  “ 42

 

7:00

 

27?

 

106

 

39.0

 

#52

 

42-46175  170

 

5  “

 

55

 

 

7:10

 

258

 

93

 

36, n

 

#53

 

42-46165  169

 

1  “

 

’34

 

7:10

 

282

 

 

114

 

39.3

 

#54

 

42-45755  170

 

15 “

 

37

 

7:10

 

266

 

111

 

°-7.9

 

#61

 

42.-4622l 173

 

 4     “

 

48

 

7:15

 

?69

 

100

 

?6.8

 

#62

 

42-45761  167

 

2   “

 

60

 

7:00

 

253

 

88

 

36.1

 

#63

 

42-46229 169

 

2   “

 

58.

 

7sOO

 

257

 

90

 

36.7

 

#64

 

 42-46166  174

 

10 “

 

52

 

7:10

 

260

 

96

 

36.2

 

 

SQUADRON

 

AVERAGE

 

TIME  7

 

Hours 3

 

Minutes

 

SQUADRON   AVERAGE FUEL GONSP     37.42 Gals.