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Author Topic: Government Surveillance Flight Theories  (Read 75607 times)

ken jay brookner

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #45 on: December 23, 2010, 06:50:37 PM »

Yes, but this was an American peacetime Navy with all that embraces.  Further, there was intelligence coming back on the Japanese navy already in the form of eyewitness accounts, generally through American and British naval attach├ęs stationed in Japan.  The main problem was that the folks at Perl and in Washington D.C. did not believe most of it.  There was racial bigotry on both sides of the Pacific.  The Americans did not believe the Japanese capable of doing what they were actually doing insofar as the aircraft and ships being built there and the Japanese believed the Americans to be quite lazy and uninterested in global affairs.  And then there was signals intelligence, but that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

I doubt anyone in Washington was even interested in having EA/FN gather any kind of intelligence--if it even occurred to anyone.  Most Americans at that time were asleep at the wheel.

Combined Fleet Decoded, by John Prados is good reference, as are others like A World at Arms, by Weinberg.  I did some graduate research in this area some years ago and can post a reading list if there's interest.  American intelligence gathering at that time, though staffed with some very competent people, was a bit broken at the point where the intelligence should have come together in aggregate for the "big picture."  Army Intelligence competed with Naval Intelligence, they didn't share much info between them and duplicated a lot of effort.  The rivalry was so bad that prior to our entry into the war one service would brief FDR on even numbered days and the other on odd.  Difficult to imagine...

kenb

« Last Edit: January 06, 2011, 08:34:24 AM by ken jay brookner »
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Walter Runck

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #46 on: February 08, 2011, 11:01:05 AM »

The value of this flight to the US Government in general and the Navy in particular was realized before she ever took off.  By giving Roosevelt a domestic and internationally acceptable excuse for inhabiting Howland and building an airfield there, it strengthened the territorial claim and the validity of trans-Pacific aviation, which could provide cover for future surveillance work if necessary.  Remember, we only had a few islands in the Northern Pacific at the time; the rest were held by the Japanese. 

Suppose someone floated the idea of having her take a few pictures of Truk or intercept radio communications en route.  You have to believe that they thought they/she could:

1.  Convince her to become a spy.  A civilian engaged in military espionage.  Internationally recognized as a capital crime.
2.  Equip the plane to bring back something worthwhile.
3.  Train her and FN to use the equipment.
4.  Extend and complicate a flight plan already on the ragged edge of plausability.
5.  Allow the flight to proceed without a comm plan that would coordinate frequencies and schedules.
6.  Execute the mission without getting caught.
7.  Return to US territory safely.
8.  Keep it secret.

If they wanted to try this on the first attempt, it meant also having the additional crew in on the deal; Manning and Mantz survived the flights with no later indication of any espionage involvement.

If they wanted to stick with the idea after the Luke Field performance, they only had a matter of weeks to retool the mission to go in the opposite direction.

None of the above things can be demonstrated to be impossible, therefore they are possible, but the idea that the administration would risk war with Japan by running those kinds of odds borders on ludicrous. 

Find the plane and check for spy cameras or recording equipment.  It shouldn't be hard to find, here was the state of the recording art less than five years before the flight (from wikipedia entry on magnetic tape.):

"On Christmas Day 1932 the British Broadcasting Corporation first used a tape recorder for their broadcasts. The device used was a Marconi-Stille recorder, a huge tape machine which used steel razor tape 3 mm wide and 0.08 mm thick. In order to reproduce the higher audio frequencies it was necessary to run the tape at 90 metres per minute past the recording and reproducing heads. This meant that the length of tape required for a half-hour programme was nearly 3 kilometres and a full reel weighed 25 kg. For safety reasons these machines would only be operated in a locked room by remote control. Due to the tape's speed, springiness and razor-like sharp edges, if the tape broke while in operation, it could unspool, fly off and cause serious injury. Besides this, the methods of recording could lead to massive data loss and poor audio quality because of their nature."

Magnetic tape was developed by BASF during the thirties, but the US didn't really get into the game until after WWII.

Of course the government had interest in the flight; they spent a bunch of money to support it.  It's just asking an awful lot with very little supporting evidence to accept that she had an intelligence tasking for this flight.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #47 on: February 08, 2011, 01:01:24 PM »

The value of this flight to the US Government in general and the Navy in particular was realized before she ever took off.  ...

Of course the government had interest in the flight; they spent a bunch of money to support it.  It's just asking an awful lot with very little supporting evidence to accept that she had an intelligence tasking for this flight.

Great post, Walter!  Much appreciated.  I didn't realize that audio recording was so primitive in the 1930s. 
LTM,

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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #48 on: March 01, 2011, 03:17:04 PM »

There is a beautiful map provided in the article on the Matsungan Island aircraft wreck.



The map was drawn by William H. Stewart, "Military Historical Cartographer."

Steward calculated the legs for a spy mission over Truk using great circle routes:

Lae to Truk: 868 nm
Truk to Jaluit: 1063 nm
Jaluit to Howland: 878 nm

Total: 2,829 nm

He calculates the direct flight path as 2,227 nm.

So the jaunt to Truk would add 600 nm to the route.

Stewart outlines various theories about AE's fate.  In the end, he is fairly non-committal, although he repeats many of the Saipan anecdotes.
LTM,

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« Last Edit: March 01, 2011, 03:23:14 PM by moleski »
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Don Dollinger

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #49 on: March 02, 2011, 10:47:48 AM »

Quote
AE, an established pacifist, deliberately undertook to reconnoiter for the U.S. gov'ment

Only problem with that is the U.S. Government would have had to have kept it a secret all these years.  Thats too much of a stretch for me...

LTM,

Don
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #50 on: September 11, 2011, 01:45:44 AM »

There is a beautiful map provided in the article on the Matsungan Island aircraft wreck.



The map was drawn by William H. Stewart, "Military Historical Cartographer."

Steward calculated the legs for a spy mission over Truk using great circle routes:

Lae to Truk: 868 nm
Truk to Jaluit: 1063 nm
Jaluit to Howland: 878 nm

Total: 2,829 nm

He calculates the direct flight path as 2,227 nm.

So the jaunt to Truk would add 600 nm to the route.

Stewart outlines various theories about AE's fate.  In the end, he is fairly non-committal, although he repeats many of the Saipan anecdotes.

-----------------------------------

I have put up a more detailed analysis of the flight planning and navigation of the spy flight scenarios which are in agreement with this chart but with more detail here:

https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/discussions/flight-planning-aspects-relating-to-a-possible-earhart-s-spy-flight

Also see:

https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/discussions/was-earhart-a-spy

gl
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richie conroy

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #51 on: October 06, 2011, 04:32:14 PM »

1 of the interviews av read ov the japan story i.e sapian the person said they took jewelry off the woman but amelia didnt wear any so that deffo not her logic
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richie conroy

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #52 on: October 06, 2011, 04:49:37 PM »

also at that time japan wud av bragged about such an event, not hide it as they were about to commence battle with america an that would av been 1 - 0 to them ?
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Monty Fowler

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #53 on: October 07, 2011, 09:50:14 AM »

Quote
Only problem with that is the U.S. Government would have had to have kept it a secret all these years.  Thats too much of a stretch for me...

LTM,

Don

Kept it secret, or simply ... lost the files???

I know, my bad.

LTM,
Monty Fowler
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Don Dollinger

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #54 on: October 07, 2011, 10:58:42 AM »

Quote
also at that time japan wud av bragged about such an event, not hide it as they were about to commence battle with america an that would av been 1 - 0 to them ?

The US was not primarily in their sights in '37 and they would've been more likely to keep it secret not flaunt it and bring international scorn and attention down on them.

As far as a way back post concerning the mechanic upgrading the plane for this "supposed" spy mission...  Having worked with military secrets for many years it would've been on a need to know basis and it is a stretch that they would reveal a "secret" mission to an aircraft mechanic.  If and this is a big if, there was any need to justify to him WHY they needed to retrofit the Electra with the bigger engines, increased fuel capacity, etc., they surely would've had a cover story to explain that.

With all the woulda, coulda, shoulda stuff that would have had to happen to make this a reality the theory is a good Oliver Stone script but in my minds eye too far of a stretch as too be considered as anything short of wishful thinking for anyone but the conspiracy theorist amongst us.

LTM,

Don
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Tom Swearengen

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #55 on: October 11, 2011, 10:37:25 AM »

My thought about this is the US NAVY could not afford to put a number of assets in the area without attracting alot of attention. This was supposed to be a civilian flight. FDR could have ordered the Navy to put acouple of more ships out there as a 'courtesy', but he didnt.
 If the 'idea' was to get 'lost' and have the ship search fro her, then those assets would need to be alot closer than Hawaii. I dont recall the condition of the Pacific fleet in 1937, but probably not enough ship to cover the route. IF it was a government supplemented flight, wouldnt FDR have postitioned ships and other assets all along the route, incase Amelia ran into trouble? Those ships could have 'spyed' as they were moving into postion. BTW===were there any usable runways in the Gilberts she could have used incase of a inflight problem? I'm thinking not, but if there was, it would have been great insurance to have put a few support people along with fuel and medical supplies there.
Any thoughts??
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #56 on: October 12, 2011, 05:31:56 AM »

There were no airfields in the Gilberts or anywhere else between New Guinea and Hawaii.  That's why the strip at Howland was built.
Earhart's relationship with the U.S. Government is well documented.  Nothing remains classified. No FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request for information on Earhart has ever been denied.  The haphazard, totally unplanned way the U.S. Navy search for Earhart came about is also well documented. It's all in Finding Amelia.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2011, 05:39:54 AM by Martin X. Moleski, SJ »
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Rich Ramsey

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #57 on: October 12, 2011, 02:35:30 PM »

Is that a book or something? :P  JK!!!! ;D
"Hang Tough"
Rich
 
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Sheila Shigley

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #58 on: October 12, 2011, 10:35:31 PM »

Hi folks - I've missed you!  Congratulations to the Tighar team for all the excellent new discoveries and analysis this past year!

I continue to investigate crossovers of military and civilian activity in the region - even if only as a sidetrack that might accidentally light up something more relevant (to AE).

I whacked out this Google map today - I'm sure it's been done a million times over, but because so many island/atoll names come up when cross-referencing AE's last flight with the Navy's prep for WWII, I found it helpful and enlightening to have a visual.  Posting just in case someone else finds it useful.

The cross-reference in this case is Earl Ellis' "Advance Base Operations in Micronesia," the prescient 1923 plan that (accurately) foresaw how Micronesia would be used in a war with Japan.

"A" is Lae - had to cut it off to make room for Tarawa in the end :)

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USMC/ref/AdvBaseOps/index.html#contents




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Chris Johnson

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #59 on: October 13, 2011, 04:24:08 AM »


http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USMC/ref/AdvBaseOps/index.html#contents


Thanks for that, its an interesting historical read, I love his view on the differences between the 'Nordic' and 'Asian' types.  Seems those views were ignorant and contributed to some of the early setbacks in the war.

Its also interesting how the Japaness learned from their mistakes in the defence of the islands and changed tacticks.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2011, 04:30:02 AM by Chris Johnson »
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