U.S.A.A.F. "DUMBO" MISSIONS


In August 1943, the USAAF drafted plans to organize seven air-sea rescue squadrons, each to be equipped with Consolidated OA-10 Catalinas for rescue operations with Vultee L-5's for liaison, and Beech AT-7 or AT-11's for utility purposes. The program was scheduled for completion by the spring of 1944. All seven were to be assigned to the Pacific Air Forces. The problem was the Pacific was Navy turf and there was a difference in the assignment policy of air-sea rescue units. The Navy favored a principle of area coverage, with rescue units assigned for operational control to a variety of area or island commands. The USAAF insisted that it's air-sea rescue units be assigned to a theater air force. This difference in policy was escalated to the Joint Chiefs of Staff but was never resolved. Only two of the seven squadrons were in operation by the summer of 1944. Another had become operational by the end of 1944, in the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA), but the others did not become operational until 1945 and some of them only at the end of the war. The Eighth Air Force in England, primarily used the established RAF air-sea rescue system but in May 1944, the 65th Fighter Wing designated Detachment B as an air-sea rescue unit. On 26 January 1945, this unit was designated the 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron.

In the Mediterranean, the USAAF assigned three or four worn-out Catalinas to ASR in the summer of 1943. Administratively, they were assigned to the Twelfth Air Force; operationally, they were under the Northwest African Air Force's Coastal Command. In late 1943, the crews were sent back to the States to serve as instructors at the newly established Emergency Rescue School at Keesler Field, Biloxi, Mississippi. The first unit formed, the 1st Emergency Rescue Squadron was sent to the Mediterranean in April 1944; early in 1945, two of its three flights were reassigned to India as the nucleus of a newly established 7th Emergency Rescue Squadron assigned to the Tenth Air Force. In July 1944, the 2nd Emergency Rescue Squadron was sent to the SWPA under the Fifth Air Force; in September 1944, the 2nd was reassigned to the Thirteenth Air Force and the 3rd Emergency Rescue Squadron was assigned to the Fifth Air Force. In April 1945, the 4th Emergency Rescue Squadron began supporting the B-29s of the Twentieth Air Force with three of it's OA-10s at Peleliu and the remaining aircraft on Iwo Jima. The Navy also supported the B-29 raids with submarines and surface craft. As the end of the war approached, the 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron was scheduled to be re deployed from England to the Pacific. The 6th Emergency Rescue Squadron was assigned to the Fifth Air Force and part of the squadron began operations from Okinawa. In August 1945, two flights of the 7th Emergency Rescue Squadron were transferred from India and were assigned to the Seventh Air Force on Okinawa.  Jack McKillop

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