August Militaria, Autographs, Collectibles & Toys Auction

CONFIDENTIAL XX U.S. BOMBER COMMAND OPERATION MATTERHORN

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Start price: $300

Estimated price: $600 - $800

Auction house commission: 25%

Confidential tactical bombing document for use at XX Bomber Command base in Chengdu, China in WWII during Operation Matterhorn. This confidential document is one of a number of unknown copies given to group commanders. Operation Matterhorn was developed by Brigadier General Kenneth B. Wolfe for use in XX Bomber Command at Chengdu, China. XX Bomber Command was one of many bases made for Operation Matterhorn. A gamble was taken in 1941 to sign a $3 billion dollar contract with Boeing for new planes. The B-29’s were finally released in 1943 and were primarily used for the Pacific Theatre. The Command was built near Chengdu, China in June 1944 and was under the command of the Twentieth Air Force. Wolfe was reassigned from an operational position at the Twentieth Air Force to this designated command position. The odds were stacked against Wolfe going into his operation at Chengdu because of untested aircraft being manned by under-trained men tasked with flying the planes to the limit of their endurance to bomb uncertain and cloud-covered targets with radar intended for navigation not bombing. The first mission was a minor success, with only 24 of 98 planes bombing on target. Subsequent missions were failures for Major General Kenneth B. Wolfe. Supply issues crippled the base in Chengdu due to proximity to Himalayan Mountains. Wolfe was essentially fired from the position by General Henry H. Arnold. Wolfe was temporarily replaced with Brigadier General LaVern E. Saunders until Major General Curtis E. LeMay was able to come from Europe. LeMay was known for being a troubleshooter and problem-solver in Europe. LeMay used tactics found in this document, like staggered formations, for his attacks. His operations were successful only 5 percent of the time. LeMay gained support in his attacks by Chairman Mao who offered locations in Northern China for other bases. LeMay declined. Most successful mission was the bombing and subsequent three-day burning of the town of Hankow, China which was under Japanese occupation (now one of three cities turned into modern-day Wuhan). After the capture of the Marianas Islands, most of the command was transferred there due to its proximity to Tokyo as well as its ability to be more easily supplied. XX Bomber Command stopped being operational in March 1945. Following the move to the Marianas, LeMay revised the tactics again to lower altitude daytime bombings due to Japan’s likelihood of cloudy skies at night. Documents are dated between 3 August 1944 (under Wolfe’s command) to October 1944 (under LeMay’s command). Some diagrams from September 1944 were made by LeMay after he assumed command in August 1944. The document includes tactics for take-off and assembly, instruments, formation assault and defense, communications and signals, navigational procedures, and emergency procedures. Six visual diagrams. Mimeograph copy. 54-page document. 12 x 8.5 inches. Soiling on left side front cover. Oxidation of metal clasps. Minor inscriptions in pencil and ink.

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