SUBJECT:   Interview with Organization Commanders.
TO     :   Commanding General, USASAF, APO #234, c/o
Postmaster, San Francisco, California.
1. In compliance with Letter, AF 314.7, Headquarters USASAF, Subject: Interview with Organization Commanders, dated 24 August 1945. Attached find subject interview.
JOSEPH F. FISCHER,
Captain, Air Corps,
Incl 1: Five (5) Copies of Interview.
Interviewer: 1st Lt. Arnold Holme.
Date and Place of Interview: 11 September 1945, Office of the Commanding Officer, Hq., 501st Bombardment Group.
Question:   What, in your opinion was the most hampering element in the accomplishment of our mission? Were there others? What methods were used to eliminate them?
Answer:   The most astringent draw-back, which includes the bulk of difficulty encountered, was the fact that the construction of every facility necessary to carry out our mission was not only barely started during our combat tour, but was of necessity carried out during that tour. The runways were not entirely complete at the outset of operations -- barracks, mess, and administrative building were not ready. Command functions found it necessary to spend a good deal of its time on these obstacles, thereby diverting attention from the prime mission of the unit. To cope with the situation it was ncessary for everyone in the Group as a whole to double efforts to accomplish the dual task.
Question:   To what extent was the T/O either short or over, balanced or unbalanced, in personnel? In equipment?
Answer:   With the Group operating as a unit on the same Base with four Groups, with Wing as a Base Command, we definitely had overages of personnel in some categories, and duplication of effort in some instances. Our function in many agencies, was minor in nature compared to what the T/O set it up to be.
Question:   Was this true in training?
Answer:   No. There we acted under Second Air Force policies and the T/O fit the purpose. The T/O was adequate and generally well proportioned and arranged for the training program. Under the same T/O in the theater of operations we found that it made the Squadrons an excess staff in function with the Group operating consolidated under a Wing. Organizational equipment suffered no major shortages. The T/O and E proved adequate. All requests and requisitions for expendable supplies were made from the Groups to 315th Wing Headquarters, which agency, gave its full support. One difficulty which we encountered was the shortage of enlisted personnel in supply, not so much to man it on a "set up" basis, but to pack, crate, and ship all the organizational equipment overseas. There, in turn, to deliver, uncrate, unpack, and set up again.
Question:   Administratively, S-1, S-2, S-3, and S-4 generally how well was the paper and policy "department" carried out, both in training and combat, attaining their end?
Answer:   Administratively, both in training and combat, we were at no time seriously handicapped or hampered to comply with directives emanating from higher echelons. While we were at Harvard AAF, our own policies in administration of our training program, as set forth by Second Air Force, were laid down whereby we completed that phase very satisfactorily.
Prior to coming overseas, however, we did lack to a certain degree, knowledge of Wing policies. These, however, were received in ample time to adequatley comply without any great degree of discomfiture. By the consolidation of the four Groups to form a Base Command under the 315th Wing, a major change was naturally incurred in the organizational administration of the Group overseas. As a basis for futher improvement, it might be suggested that further study and planning with the view of placing adequate personnel in higher echelon than Group level, so that they are properly manned, thus preventing the necessity of their drawing on the Groups for administrative personnel and organizational equipment. The T/O lacked provision for the Wing to operate as the administrative command unit that it was, which forced the Groups to sacrifice personnel in vital administrative activities.
Question:   Do you believe that this Group has definitely contributed to future improved methods of strategic heavy bombardment with the use of instruments as applied during our combat operations?
Answer:   With the use of the APQ 7 this Group as a part of the 315th Wing has whipped weather. We have proved that we can bomb as accurately if not more accurately at night and through overcast than was done by daylight visual bombing. The last mission was a shining example -- we had a solid undercast, black night, no moon, and on this one mission the target was 95% destroyed. We can also navigate by radar. The radar operator could put us through the least turbulent area of a weather front resulting in less danger to aircraft from strain.
Question:   What outstanding successes do you believe were accomplished by this unit, and to what do you attribute them?
Answer:   In my mind, there are two outstanding successes of this organization: 1. Effectiveness of our bombing. 2. The fact that we flew fifteen missions without loss of an airplane or any personnel. I attribute the success of the former to two things: 1. Superior equipment in the APQ 7 radar set and the stable platform offered by the B-29 aircraft. 2. The pride and air discipline of our crews. The latter succeeded, I believe, for several reasons: 1. The training received by the crews -- particularly in cruise control. 2. Superior maintenance and excellent Wing tactics. 3. Naturally there was some luck in that the Japs did not score a fatal hit in the target area.
Question:   To what specific over-all extent do you feel the purpose and mission of your Group was accomplished?
Answer:   Our purpose in the air war against the Japanese, I believe, was no doubt carried out to its fullest degree. We flew a total of fifteen missions against nine targets; all of them designed to reduce the fuel refinery and fuel storage facilities of the enemy. At the cessation of hostilities all nine were destroyed, some of them upwards of 95%.
Question:   Do you think we could have done better? If so, how?
Answer:   Yes and No! It is hard to say how. We did all we could without any alibis -- even if line maintenance could have been set up for us and without the adverse condition experienced in setting up. We had only one thing that didn't bother us -- disease. We didn't let anything deter us from our main effort. Every field order was carried out to the letter.
We started with new equipment; never tried. We undertook actual practice of that equipment, both airborne and in briefing aids and improved as time went on by experience of both crews and briefing teams. Further practice by a few more missions could and probably would have shown still better results.