New Year’s Eve, 31 December 1944, was a quiet time, operationally speaking, according to 35PRS records. No missions are noted in the logs for “E” Flight at Chihkiang, “G” Flight at Yunnanyi, or “H” Flight at Suichwan.

However, pauses in activity were not always attributable to any holiday schedule. Being in China, the 35PRS shared the hardships of other units in the CBI, with being on the distant end of the global supply line.

There was the supply of gasoline, which could be a problem curtailing operations. Every gallon of fuel had to be laboriously transported over the Hump, the Himalayas Mountains. And a voracious consumer of aviation gasoline was now present in the Chengdu area of China in the form of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress very heavy bomber, At times there just wasn’t enough gasoline to go around, and 35PRS operations were restricted.

A Boeing B-29 Superfortress very heavy bomber at a dusty airfield in the CBI, 1944 (LIFE, via CBI Theater website)

A Boeing B-29 Superfortress very heavy bomber at a dusty airfield in the CBI, 1944 (LIFE, via CBI Theater website)

There was also the issue of spare parts for aircraft. The F-5 was only used by two photo recon squadrons in China, small numbers compared to other theatres of war such as the ETO or MTO. Given the time and distance factors, remedial actions to repair an aircraft requiring parts could either be satisfied by cannibalizing another aircraft of the same type, or through the supply system, and things took time.

Then there was the weather, which could sock-in a given Redhawk flight, or even frustrate a mission if the recon targets were obscured by the weather. And it did get cold and frosty in China during the wintertime, affecting the ground echelon as well as the pilots.

Nevertheless, even during these pauses in operations, squadron members sought to continually improve their operations. For example, E” Flight at Chihkiang noted some significant activity at the end of December, 1944. According to the monthly history compiled by 2nd Lt. Donald L. Dance, Flight Admin Officer,: “The close of the month found the 18th Photo Intelligence Department* setting up in a tent next to the (photo) lab, which makes the value of photo reconnaissance here much greater. This permits the desimination (sic) of intelligence reports to be greatly speeded up to the advantage of the entire China theatre.”

*Probably the AAF 18th Photo Intelligence Detachment of 14th Air Force

He also added mention of an airfield infrastructure improvement: “Also towards the end of the old year, work was begun on the Alert shack. A little weather stripping here and a little nailing of boards there, to make the shack a little more comfortable during these long, cold, and windy days. With a few pin-ups around, it will be almost like home- – – – – – – well, almost.”

Example of pinup art by George Petty.  (Courtesy Petty Project website)

Example of pinup art by George Petty. (Courtesy Petty Project website)

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