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Author Topic: Government Surveillance Flight Theories  (Read 70527 times)

Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #30 on: December 21, 2010, 05:09:51 PM »

Your observation of the nature of how things are heard and retold, especially by a guileless child seem spot-on to me.  ... The advantages of the L10E over former models could easily have fit that train of thought - it would have been 'Buck Rogers' stuff to a kid at the time. 

I saw a great line in a biography of St. Augustine that I've been reading this week.  Something like, "To children, everything is big."
LTM,

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Sheila Shigley

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #31 on: December 21, 2010, 06:52:56 PM »

It may in fact not be visual data the Navy was after, but signals intelligence (or both).

"Overflight" isn't necessarily as important a word as "nearflight" . . . am trying to find references to any Imperial transmitters on Truk in 1937, and why any Truk transmissions may have been sought (meaning, was the Japanese military code already broken then--I believe most forms weren't yet--and would the data therefore have been to provide more raw input for cryptanalysts; or were there unencrypted or diplomatic transmissions of interest...)

One immediate question I have is this:  would Earhart's radio equipment, in conjunction with the Itasca's, provide any unprecedented signals intelligence capability?  I'm a radio enthusiast but sadly not a good techie - - would there have been a unique benefit, in this region which likely involved sensitive Japanese transmissions, of having American receivers both in-air and at-sea simultaneously?

I did find one reference stating that the US Navy began shipboard radio intercepts in 1937.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signals_intelligence_in_modern_history

One thing to keep in mind is that the government's involvement in AE's flight isn't in question - the Navy was already involved, the Coast Guard was already involved - it's more a question of in how many ways they were involved.

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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #32 on: December 21, 2010, 07:14:00 PM »

One immediate question I have is this:  would Earhart's radio equipment, in conjunction with the Itasca's, provide any unprecedented signals intelligence capability?

The only such purpose would be to triangulate a source.

To support the rest of your hypothesis, you have to study the recording technology available in 1937 and get it aboard the Electra before it leaves on the first round-the-world attempt.  How much would the machines weigh?  Where were they placed in the plane?  What difference would that make in the range of the aircraft?
LTM,

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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #33 on: December 21, 2010, 08:43:39 PM »

Whatever the course of AE's own disaster, it surely cannot be denied that the Japanese element in the western Pacific was real and capable of being a menace (and an interest for us to spy on, somehow).
 

Yes it can. According to a postwar study, "How Japan Fortified the Mandated Islands" published in Unites States Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. 81, No. 4, April 1955:

The Japanese military aviation element in the Western Pacific in 1937 consisted of -
An airfield and seaplane ramp on Saipan, Marianas (completed in 1935)
A seaplane ramp in Palau, Western Carolines (completed in 1936)
That's it.

Two airfields and a seaplane ramp on Truk were not completed until 1941.
Construction of airfields and seaplane ramps in the Marshalls didn't even begin until 1940.

The buildup that author Malcolm Muir describes in the passage quoted by Sheila is battleship construction in the home islands. The "Earhart As Spy" fraternity has long peddled the fiction that the Japanese permitted no one to enter the area around the Mandated Islands, thus creating the need for American espionage.   In 1937 the Mandates were not closed-off military installations.  They were commercial outposts for the NanYo Cho (South Seas Company). See Prof. Mark Peattie's excellent history "Nan Yo - the Rise and Fall of the Japanese in Micronesia, 1885 - 1945" (Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1988)
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Daniel Paul Cotts

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #34 on: December 21, 2010, 09:50:27 PM »

A slight quibble with Tom who stated
Quote
Tabituea, the island the natives claimed to have seen/heard the Electra, is about 275 miles south of Tarawa---and we know that Japan had fortifications there.
Recall that in 1940 Gallagher sent the recovered bones to his next higher headquarters at Tarawa. The Japanese captured it from the British some time after that.
http://tighar.org/Projects/Earhart/Archives/Documents/Bones_Chronology.html
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Sheila Shigley

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #35 on: December 21, 2010, 11:42:52 PM »

Have been focusing on Navy; worth checking Army Air Corps docs to see whether ORANGE included any proposals for joint air-sea invasion and if so, what speed/weight of aircraft were proposed.  Miller has:

Thus marine planners again raised the issue of air support again in 1937.  To attain three-to-one air superiority over Truk, all 392 planes of Blue's expanding carrier wings would be needed....The planners of the mid-1930s could not solve the problem of attacking heavily defended islands beyond range of shore-based aircraft.  (War Plan Orange: The U.S. Strategy to Defeat Japan, 1897-1945 By Edward S. Miller)
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #36 on: December 22, 2010, 03:58:07 AM »

A slight quibble with Tom who stated
Quote
Tabituea, the island the natives claimed to have seen/heard the Electra, is about 275 miles south of Tarawa---and we know that Japan had fortifications there.

Recall that in 1940 Gallagher sent the recovered bones to his next higher headquarters at Tarawa. The Japanese captured it from the British some time after that.
http://tighar.org/Projects/Earhart/Archives/Documents/Bones_Chronology.html

Gallagher didn't send the bones to Tarawa.  Dr. Walter Lindsay Isaac Verrier intercepted the shipment on his own authority, apparently because he found the small coffin attractive.  The destination was always headquarters in Suva, Fiji.
LTM,

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Tom Swearengen

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #37 on: December 22, 2010, 05:29:13 AM »

You're right Daniel---Tarawa was siezed after Pearl Harbor.




A slight quibble with Tom who stated
Quote
Tabituea, the island the natives claimed to have seen/heard the Electra, is about 275 miles south of Tarawa---and we know that Japan had fortifications there.
Recall that in 1940 Gallagher sent the recovered bones to his next higher headquarters at Tarawa. The Japanese captured it from the British some time after that.
http://tighar.org/Projects/Earhart/Archives/Documents/Bones_Chronology.html
Tom Swearengen TIGHAR # 3297
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #38 on: December 22, 2010, 06:23:32 AM »

Have been focusing on Navy; worth checking Army Air Corps docs to see whether ORANGE included any proposals for joint air-sea invasion and if so, what speed/weight of aircraft were proposed.
If the Air Corps had a type of aircraft in mind in 1937 for an imagined raid on Truk, it sure as heck wasn't the little Lockheed Electra regional airliner.

Miller has:

Thus marine planners again raised the issue of air support again in 1937.  To attain three-to-one air superiority over Truk, all 392 planes of Blue's expanding carrier wings would be needed....The planners of the mid-1930s could not solve the problem of attacking heavily defended islands beyond range of shore-based aircraft.  (War Plan Orange: The U.S. Strategy to Defeat Japan, 1897-1945 By Edward S. Miller)

In 1937, achieving three-to-one air superiority over an island that had no aircraft should not have been a big problem.  The numbers the War Plan Orange planners were playing with  must have been purely theoretical.

If we accept that, in 1937, the U.S. was curious about what the Japanese were doing in the Mandates, we still have zero evidence - not even the slightest suggestion - that Earhart's world flight was seen as an opportunity to satisfy that curiosity.  She was going nowhere near Japanese territory and those in the military who had had occasion to deal with Earhart in the past had a low opinion of her ability to even make it to Howland.

Unless someone can come up with primary source evidence that Earhart did anything but fly a direct route from Lae to the general vicinity of Howland Island, I think discussions of Government Surveillance Flight Theories are nothing more than baseless speculation.
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Tom Swearengen

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #39 on: December 22, 2010, 06:29:12 AM »

I think that we've shown,by radio position reports, that she dis not fly over the mandated islands.
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Sheila Shigley

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #40 on: December 22, 2010, 01:56:36 PM »

I think my use of "surveillance flight" paints an immediate picture of "overflight collecting photographic evidence." Had I thought a little more carefully, I would have tried to come up with something that didn't box it in so much.

Have to say one last time - I'm not interested in tying any surveillance to Japanese capture theories, nor to getting away from Niku as the landing spot.  I don't discount any particular theory; my interest, on this thread, is pursuing theories of whether or not AE and FN were given any instructions whatsoever, by any US agency or office, to report information for the purpose of furthering US military and/or intelligence knowledge.  The immediate followup question is whether or not they were given any additional equipment, to include something as "small" as an additional radio frequency to use.

I don't presume any special skills on AE's part for this theoretical effort; she spoke English, could fly a plane, and knew how to use a radio, which is well beyond the skills of many civilians who've been tasked by Uncle Sam.

But some primary evidence would now be prudent...I'll see if I can find some of the actual documents related to this concept.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2010, 02:34:29 PM by Sheila Shigley »
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #41 on: December 22, 2010, 04:36:56 PM »

The immediate followup question is whether or not they were given any additional equipment, to include something as "small" as an additional radio frequency to use.

It was not a "small" thing to add an additional frequency to AE's radio:

From "Radio equipment on NR16020."  See that link to pick up the footnotes.

Design

"The Western Electric Model 13C radio transmitter was a fifty-watt output, crystal-controlled unit. The original design of this transmitter produced amplitude-modulated (A-M) voice (A3 emission) signals only. The transmitter aboard NR16020 was factory-modified to incorporate Morse code (C-W) transmission capability (A1 emission) as well.

"Model 13C was the factory designation for a three-frequency transmitter operating in the 2500-6500 KHz range. A 1939 source (Morgan) illustrates a Model 13CB, a three-frequency radio with C-W and low-frequency (325-500 KHz) capability. Earhart’s Model 13C was factory-modified to include 500 KHz operation, and was probably the prototype for this later off-the-shelf version."[3]

"AE’s rig worked from 12 volt DC power."[4]

Selecting transmission bands

"The 13C was originally designed to operate in the high-frequency (H-F) range of 2000-6500 kilohertz (KHz), on three independent channels. Each channel employed its own frequency-control crystal, and tuned circuitry in all three radio-frequency stages.

"Channel shifting was accomplished by means of a multi-gang switch to select crystals and tuned circuits for each channel. The switch was activated from a crank on a remote control head located in the cockpit, linked to the transmitter through a flexible tach-shaft resembling an automotive speedometer cable.

"All tuning adjustments were inside the transmitter cabinet and were set by a technician prior to flight. No operator-adjustable tuning controls were employed."[5]
LTM,

           Marty
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #42 on: December 22, 2010, 05:33:55 PM »

Agree - although by additional radio frequency use I included the possibility of additional gear altogether.  And radio mods would probably be justifiable under the circumstances, regardless (i.e. nothing else about the preparations for this flight was particularly easy, either, and it was an exceptional route which included exceptional destinations).

But some evidence is nonetheless in order!

Yes.  Name, weigh, and measure the mystery equipment.

Show when, how, and by whom it could be added in the cockpit.

Describe the antenna(s) needed for the proposed new equipment and frequencies (one size does not fit all).

Bear in mind that the fact that someone can imagine such equipment being installed is not the same thing as providing evidence that it was, in fact, installed.

If you have never personally picked up a tube-based radio, you might go somewhere where you can.  It may help you to understand the difference between radio in the 1930s and radio as we know it in 2010.



LTM,

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Bill Lloyd

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #43 on: December 23, 2010, 08:34:55 AM »

Quote
Unless someone can come up with primary source evidence that Earhart did anything but fly a direct route from Lae to the general vicinity of Howland Island, I think discussions of Government Surveillance Flight Theories are nothing more than baseless speculation.
Agree 100%

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Sheila Shigley

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #44 on: December 23, 2010, 05:51:37 PM »

I would just mention again that surveillance isn't limited to visual surveillance.  Unfortunately the term often implies this in lay usage, and maybe a better choice would be "data collection," which covers radio data and doesn't therefore limit surveillance activity to, for example, an "overflight of Truk."

Visual surveillance doesn't necessarily limit the conversation to an overflight of Truk, either; war plan ORANGE named multiple islands in the region as possible forward areas.  We have to keep in mind that the function of the Mandate islands (as ORANGE saw it) was to serve as the launchpad primarily for the Philippines, and secondarily for other destinations contingent on Japanese movements.  The US (or rather, ORANGE supporters, which numbered many) believed at the time that in the event of war, supporting the native defenses on the Philippines was the best chance of holding back the Japanese until the full might of the American war machine could be unleashed.

The Navy in 1937 was an incredibly powerful force in American policy-making.  The plans as they stood then called for the Navy to be in charge of (calling the shots of) the bulk of the war effort--a reality not everyone was happy with, to be certain, but reality nonetheless.  Nowadays I think we tend to look at the various branches of the armed service as somewhat balanced in power, but this was not the case in the 1930s.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2010, 06:05:35 PM by Sheila Shigley »
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