17 November 2009

The Germans weren't the only ones to fit sirens on their Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers for psychological effect when attacking troops on the ground. In 1943 the USAAF stationed Curtiss P-40 Warhawks in the Assam Valley in eastern India to protect departing transports headed north over the "Hump" to bases in China. As the heavily laden C-47 and C-46s left India, they had to travel over Burma and since the Japanese controlled the Burma railroad, prowling fighters preyed on the lumbering aircraft.

The 89th Fighter Squadron's P-40s were marked with a red spinner and a large white skull on the side of the nose. Knowing that many Japanese soldiers were superstitious and a good number of ground attack missions were flown, the squadron fitted 18-inch air raid sirens to the Warhawks and turned them on as they made their attack runs, calling them the "Banshee Wail".

Source: World War II Air Combat (Flight Journal supplement), Winter 2008. "Burma Banshee Brawl" by Colonel Philip R. Adair, USAF (Ret.), p72-77.

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