Date: 3 May 2003
Subject: Bogie Passes Over Fleet, Feb. 7, 1945; Alethea, Pacific
Here is an interesting WWII incident found while looking for information on the USS Essex radar trackings during the Korean war.
We ate a little breakfast and reported to the Operations shack for instructions. After being briefed, we packed our headaches and queasy stomachs into our planes and took off. Our assignment was to be on station at Angels 20 (20,000 feet) directly over the Fleet. At 20,000 we were on oxygen, and that helped reduce the pain in the throbbing heads.
About an hour after take off, the Fighter Director vectored us to a spot approximately 15 miles west of the Fleet where the Radar had picked up some Bogies (enemy planes). We set off at full speed to get the beggars. When we arrived at the point of contact, no planes were to be seen. Circling, we could see something flashing in the sunlight as it fell toward earth. After reporting our find to the Fighter Director, we were informed we had seen "Window" floating to earth. Window consisted of metallic chaff (metallic material cut into slim elongate strips) which when dropped out of a plane produced blips on the Radar screen resembling blips caused by planes. Window is dropped to lure Fighters from the area where they are providing a safety umbrella. The enemy plane, or planes, drop the Window and then leave the area at full speed. Shortly after we had been sent on the Wild Goose Chase, more Window was dropped in several places around the area, but the Fighter Director failed to respond to the same trick. All flights continued to orbit above the Fleet, but saw no enemy planes.
At Noon we landed to refuel and eat. That enabled us to walk around and stretch our legs. While we were waiting for the planes to be refueled, one of the mess boys brought our lunch in a jeep. He spread the delicious repast out on the hood of the jeep. One look at the meal was enough to sicken anyone. The sandwiches consisted of thick slabs of white bread with thick slices of SPAM between. No mayonnaise, no mustard, no anything - just dry bread and meat. The drink provided was a large pan full of a green liquid that tasted very much like citric acid. After a few bites were crammed down, we all crawled back into our planes for the afternoon patrol.
During the afternoon, we had one alert. The Fighter Director indicated that a bogie had registered on the Radar screen at 30,000 feet some 10 miles to the west. We were to climb to 30,000 feet and intercept the bogie. By the time we got to 30,000 the bogie had passed over the fleet and turned and headed back west. The Fighter Director was constantly exhorting us to add speed and close on the bogie. We had all advanced our throttles past the normal stop into the range where we were using water injection, but the bogie continued to widen the distance. An object was seen, at a distance, moving away at great speed, but it could not be identified. In the years since, I have wondered if this could have been one of the early Japanese jets being used for reconnaissance.
At last the day came to a close. We landed and crawled from the planes, a mass of tired, sore muscles, after spending the day cramped in the cockpit on oxygen. A good meal at the Officer's Club and a pleasant boat ride back to the Carrier prepared us for a good night's sleep.
It might be well to clarify the above reference to "Water
Injection." Each F6F carried a 5 gallon tank containing a mixture
of alcohol and water. When the throttle was advanced beyond the
normal "Full Throttle" stop, the mixture of alcohol and water was
injected into the carburetor along with the air-gas mixture. This
mixture permitted a 15% increase in power available without doing
any damage to the engine. A cooling effect was created by
evaporation of the alcohol-water mixture.