In Nov 43 RNZAF 4 SQN underwent several days of anti-submarine training in co-operation with USN submarine S-38. S-38 was a S-18 Class Submarine (Holland-type) laid down on 15 January 1919, at Union Iron Works, San Francisco, CA.; Launched, 17 June 1919 and commissioned, USS S-38 (SS-143), 11 May 1923; Decommissioned 14 December 1944 and struck from the Naval Register, 20 January 1945; Final Disposition, sunk as a target, 20 February 1945, off San Diego, CA. S-38 was awarded three battle stars for her services in World War II.
Despite being of WWI vintage at the begin of WWII the S-18 glass submarines (“pig boats”) fought valiantly in the pacific until Gato class submarines were produced in sufficient numbers. In 1941 and 42 S-38 enduring the dangers and challenges of opposing the Japanese navy in the pacific. She sunk two transport ships Hayo Maru (5445 tons), 22 December 1941, and Meiyo Maru (5628 tons), 8 August 1942 and was awarded 3 battles stars. By 1943 the increasingly temperamental and outdate S-38 was assigned to antisubmarine warfare training duties in the pacific. In November S-38 reached Fiji to undertake traing with 4 SQN. The following is an excerpt from the Summary of Operations of S-38 (https://issuu.com/hnsa/docs/ss-143_s-38)
“Summary of Operations of U.S.S. S-38 for Period 1 November to 4 December 1943
The bombing done by the Hudsons of Squadron 4, RNZAF was by far the most accurate yet witnessed by this vessel.
The miniature bombs were dropped on a total of 120 runs. Direct hits were scored approximately 86% of the runs, many runs resulted in straddles or near misses. IN addition countless dry runs were made.”
Crew of the S38 load a Mark 10 torpedo using a block and tackle (all manual in the pig boats). The Japanese flag painted on the lower tube port marks the sinking of Hayo Maru in Dec 41. (photo copywrite US Navy)
Page from my fathers log book (4 SQN Nausori 1943). He was required to fly two mock bombing run attacks against S38 on 27 Nov 43. In between he was required to spend half a day submerged in S38 to observe his squadron colleagues attacks from a submariners perspective. He remembered the claustrophobic hot interior and the stale air of the sub. His respect for submariners never left him after this limited experience.
One of my late uncles (Thomas Arthur Duxbury) was stationed at Espiritu Santo in mid-1944, on strength of 12 SU. He was befriended by a member of the crew of one of the US Navy's pig boats (S-31) after Tom had repaired his personal radio, and after refusing payment, he asked the American if he could somehow arrange for him to get a ride on their sub (date, 6 April 1944); the American replied that he could do this, but could Tom arrange for him and another American, to get a ride in one of the RNZAF's PV-1s. These details were worked out, after consultation with US Navy officers and the A/S exercises took place (in fact several RNZAF Venturas were involved). Sadly one of the Venturas (NZ4538) was seen to flick out of a steep turn, and dive into the sea - there were no survivors. It transpired that this was the aircraft which the two Americans were aboard, one officer and one sailor. A very sad ending so far as Tom (who happened to be very nearby but under the sea at the time) was concerned, as he felt somewhat responsible for initiating this string of events. In fairness though, it seems that these types of "local arrangements" were not uncommon as the half dozen or so aging "S" class subs moved around the Pacific bases to supply much appreciated and realistic anti-sub training for Allied naval and air forces. I think that sub captains had quite a bit of discretion as to whom they might accept aboard on such occasions, as did the RNZAF when in receipt of requests from Allied military personnel for permission to accompany NZ crews on training flights such as these. David D
RNZAF No 9 BR Squadron PV1 NZ4538 crash 6 April 1944 at 12:27 local time
The crew was engaged in a bombing exercise over the Palikulo Bay, off Luganville. NZ4538 left Luganville in the morning, and while performing a turn, the pilot lost control of the aircraft that overturned and dove into the sea few yards off shore. All seven occupants were killed.
F/L Gordon McLachlan,
F/L Bernard O'Fagan,
F/O Maxwell Harwood,
F/O Lionel Wood,
P/O Augustine Thurston,
FRESE, Raymond Leonard, Lieutenant (jg), USNR (DoB 10 Sep 1917).