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 Post subject: US materiel contributions to Australia in WW2
PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2019 12:44 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 12:21 pm
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Were the Americans a bit on the parsimonious side? For example, of the 18188 B-24 Liberators produced during the war, Australia received just 287.


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 Post subject: Re: US materiel contributions to Australia in WW2
PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2019 6:09 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:39 pm
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Served in: catylist
I believe we got what we asked for, especially transport vehicles to support our logistics train.

We, funny enough supplied uniforms to the marines ( made to US spec) and manufactured uniforms or supplied woollen material for the US Army. Ike jackets were one of the items as well as canvas leggings.

Can't recall the book that details our unheard of contributions to Allied logistics.


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 Post subject: Re: US materiel contributions to Australia in WW2
PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2019 10:31 am 
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Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 4:49 pm
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Location: Back in Bris-vegas, lost in the bright lights of the big smoke.
Served in: Former ARES Infantry & Dashing Lighthorseman.
The reality is, we couldn’t have survived without their logistical assistance.


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 Post subject: Re: US materiel contributions to Australia in WW2
PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2019 7:24 pm 
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22F wrote:
The reality is, we couldn’t have survived without their logistical assistance.

For the sake of argument, I’m prepared to accept that. Let me state the question more explicitly: why were our airmen sent into battle in obsolescent Vultee Vengeances, Lockheed Hudsons and DAP Beauforts, when there was a much better alternative available in much greater numbers? Politics might’ve played a role in the case of the locally produced Beaufort, except that did not save the underperforming Boomerang from being relegated to secondary duties...


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 Post subject: Re: US materiel contributions to Australia in WW2
PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:28 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 4:49 pm
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Location: Back in Bris-vegas, lost in the bright lights of the big smoke.
Served in: Former ARES Infantry & Dashing Lighthorseman.
Remembering that in politics State actors have interests but not necessarily friends....

Would you send the best gear to someone that you’re not sure of politically?
Given that we were a minor player at the time, our political reliability was actually quite suspect (concerning socialist leanings of our government).

Also remember that our political (both civil and military) masters are exactly the same as they are now, they can be offered the latest and greatest by others but still remain stuck on what they know.


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 Post subject: Re: US materiel contributions to Australia in WW2
PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 6:44 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 12:21 pm
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22F wrote:
Remembering that in politics State actors have interests but not necessarily friends....

Would you send the best gear to someone that you’re not sure of politically?
Given that we were a minor player at the time, our political reliability was actually quite suspect (concerning socialist leanings of our government).

Also remember that our political (both civil and military) masters are exactly the same as they are now, they can be offered the latest and greatest by others but still remain stuck on what they know.

Suspect? In what way? We had been in the war from the start and there was never any
suggestion we wouldn’t see it through. And I doubt the Americans based foreign military assistance decisions on the complexion of our government. After all, they supported the Soviets.


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 Post subject: Re: US materiel contributions to Australia in WW2
PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 4:37 pm 
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For the moment lets’s take a step back from sweeping generalisations about early 1940s Australian and American politics. Let’s try to answer TanukiHugh’s original questions about Australian aircraft and airpower in WW2’s economic, logistical and operational contexts.

Firstly, it isn’t glib to say that Lend-Lease is the strongest possible demonstration that the Americans were not parsimonious in supporting the Allied cause in WW2. From the Wikipedia article:
Quote:
A total of $50.1 billion, equivalent to $697 billion today (emphasis added), worth of supplies was shipped, or 17% of the total war expenditures of the U.S. In all, $31.4 billion went to Britain, $11.3 billion to the Soviet Union, $3.2 billion to France, $1.6 billion to China, and the remaining $2.6 billion to the other Allies.
Secondly, none of the Allies were fully prepared to repulse and defeat attack when WW2 started, albeit most were scrambling to meet the perceived threats. They had to fight initially with what was at hand, hence the RAAF started without top-of-the-line aircraft (but it had embarked on an expansion and upgrade program). However the Allies rapidly mobilised their industrial capacity to build their military capacity. In the case of the RAAF:
Quote:
On 29 August 1945, a fortnight after the war against Japan ended, the RAAF had 173 622 personnel personnel operating 5585 aircraft. A majority, almost 132 000 (including the 17 243 women in the WAAAF), were serving in the Pacific. That theatre was also the focus for all but 20 of the RAAF’s 75 flying squadrons.

This represented a fifty-fold expansion over the size of the air service which Australia had maintained at the start of World War II (emphasis added). In September 1939, the RAAF had 3489 officers and airmen in uniform, manning 12 flying squadrons with a total of 246 aircraft—164 of them operational (though obsolescent) types. [Pathfinder Issue 119, Sep 2009, airpower.airforce.gov.au]
It is important to note the vast majority of aircraft were supplied by Britain and the USA. This was because Australia’s:
- economy was small
- economy was still recovering from the worst world depression in the industrial era
- export sector was based on agriculture
- population was not sufficient to support a large industrial manufacturing sector

Australia’s economy was actually so small that it could not support the size of force built up during the fear of Japanese invasion. So after 1942 Army numbers in particular were reduced to transfer manpower to industry and agriculture. This was a better use of our resources in the Allied cause, e.g. most food and much clothing supplied to US forces in the SWPA was produced in Australia.

diggerhistory.info has a table of RAAF aircraft of WW2, with numbers and date of entry into service. This table and Wikipedia entries on various aircraft in RAAF service provide some general answers to TanukiHugh’s points.

Note for example that although the Vultee Vengeance was not top notch, it didn’t enter RAAF service until the Japanese are very much on the defensive in the South West Pacific after their naval defeats at Coral Sea and Midway in mid-1942, and land defeats at Guadalcanal and Buna-Gona in the second half of 1942. And by the second half of 1942 Curtis P-40 Kittyhawks are available in increasing numbers to protect more vulnerable aircraft.

To address TanukiHugh’s question about the good availability of better aircraft, we must consider Allied strategic priorities and particular operational theatre requirements (but again note the good numbers in diggerhistory for Beaufighters, Spitfires, Mosquitos and Kittyhawks from 1942 onwards).

After Japan’s entry into the war Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed that the defeat of Nazi Germany was the first priority. Hence the European theatre took priority for materiel, even though the USA itself had been attacked by Japan in the Pacific. Japanese defeats in the South West Pacific Area of Operations by the end of 1942 eased the urgency of Allied material priorities there.

The nature of air operations in the SWPA determined the type of aircraft the RAAF used. So Beaufighters were good for shipping interdiction and ground support, Mosquitoes for reconnaissance and shipping interdiction, Spitfires and Kittyhawks for air combat and ground support. B-24 Liberators were useful for attacking Japanese land strongpoints, but Australia was (geographically) not in a position to conduct long-range strategic bombing against Japan or its occupied territories in South East Asia. So the fact that we received 1.6% of B-24 production simply indicates that the Allies decided that aircraft’s capabilities could be better used in other theatres.

When we in the early 21st century use our 20-20 hindsight to judge the airpower that the RAAF should have had in 1939 we should remember that:
1. Australia from 1939-41 did not have the financial, industrial and personnel resources to raise, train and maintain the capability we might wish they had.
2. Australian airpower was designed and managed as a contributory element in an Empire-wide defence strategy.
3. Despite these drawbacks the Australian government and military responded quickly and appropriately (sure, with some bumps) to the political and military dynamics of WW2 enabling us to make an effective contribution to Allied victory.


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 Post subject: Re: US materiel contributions to Australia in WW2
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:09 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 12:21 pm
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Midway wrote:
...Australia was (geographically) not in a position to conduct long-range strategic bombing against Japan or its occupied territories in South East Asia.

But I thought the bombing of oil production and storage facilities in the Dutch East Indies was precisely one of the more important roles of the RAAF’s Liberators?


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 Post subject: Re: US materiel contributions to Australia in WW2
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:43 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 5:52 pm
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Location: ACT
Served in: RNSWR
No, because:
- McArthur had assigned the RAAF to tactical ground support and maritime roles in the SWPA [The Australian Experience of Airpower, 2nd ed, AAP 1000-H, pp 68-76]
- B-24s did not become available in numbers until the first half of 1945 [Wikipedia article on RAAF No 82 Wing]
- the oil facilities at Palembang in Sumatra were beyond their range
- the oil facilities in at Balikpapan in Borneo were at the extreme limit of their range [http://www.combinedfleet.com/BorneoOil.htm]
- Australia did not have long-range fighter escorts for bombers [first trial P-51 Mustang handed to RAAF June 1945 - RAAF Museum website Mustangs page]
- US and British forces were successfully attacking oil facilities in the Dutch East Indies; US raids in October 1944 stopped Balikpapan production for 6 months [http://www.combinedfleet.com/BorneoOil.htm, Wikipedia article on Operation Meridian]
- the destruction of the Japanese merchant marine by the USN, especially its submarines, had essentially cut oil transport from the DEI to Japan


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 Post subject: Re: US materiel contributions to Australia in WW2
PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2019 8:15 am 
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Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 4:49 pm
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Location: Back in Bris-vegas, lost in the bright lights of the big smoke.
Served in: Former ARES Infantry & Dashing Lighthorseman.
Ah Midway, you are sooooo much better at this than me :stoked:


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