This is one of the kinds of bombers used by the Japanese. They were called by the American GIs, the “Flying Zippo.” Their fuel tanks were poorly protected and exploded easily, especially when hit.
Were a medium range bomber, with the range of close to 3000 miles and it airspeed of around 270 mph. They were manned by a crew of seven. They were able to carry over 1, 700 pounds of bombs.
This is a photo of the document I found in my father’s things. It is a schedule as an aircraft observer. The date is 1943. You see at the top of the page it was addressed to a man named Webster as well as my father.
Maurice Webster was a lifelong friend of my father’s I remember him well. When we lived in El Centro and drove up to the city of Oxnard to visit with the family, we would stop at his house in West Covina. That whole area was pretty for me to watch. The whole sky glowed. Businesses and streetlights, headlights and taillights filled my eyes with wonder.
We would drive through the neighborhoods of West Covina until we arrived at the house of Mr. Webster. My father called him “Webb.” It seemed like every house glowed with Christmas lights every window had a Christmas tree sparkling with different colors.
Back in El Centro, we could see the stars from our front porch. Even with the houses lit up with Christmas decorations and Christmas lights there were still a lot of dark. That was the world I was familiar with until we would drive through the LA basin and filled my eyes with wonder.
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto said this about the attack on Pearl Harbor, “I fear all we have done to awaken a sleeping giant and fill them with a terrible resolve.” Of course, maybe he only said that in the movies but it’s a good quote.
From San Diego all the way into Alaska our Pacific Coast was vulnerable to a Japanese attack. Everyone stepped up. My mother’s two brothers did their part. One was in the Army. He was in the Army for five years and was at the Battle of the Bulge. The other brother was in the Navy and was stationed at Fort Hueneme. My father’s two brothers enlisted they both served in the Pacific campaign.
My father tried to enlist but he had skills that were required here at home. Or maybe it was his leg broken into 23 pieces that gave him a limp when he walked, or perhaps it was the encephalitis that put him in a coma for months. It could be that he was well over 30 years old at that time with three children to take care of.
Many of my uncles enlisted, older cousins as well. I was five years in the future so I don’t know everyone’s exact story.
I found this piece of paper among my father’s things. I was surprised to learn that he was an aircraft observer, along with his friend Webb.
They were a part of The Aircraft Warning Service. Japanese bombers had a range of over a thousand miles. That means the threat was real. On both East and West Coast close to a million volunteers took part in the program.
They watched the skies for possible enemy aircraft. The observation posts were manned in two-hour shifts, 24 seven. They had charts that they would use to identify enemy aircraft.
The program came to an end in 1944. It became clear by then that we were under no threat from the skies any longer.
My father never mentioned doing this, being a part of this program. He had lots of stories to tell and he wrote many of them down. You can read most of them at this Word Press location. I also compiled a collection of his stories called Dust of the Moon, available through Amazon books.
Save yourself a few bucks and read his posts here for free.