The following notes on light antiaircraft have been extracted from a New Zealand Army
Training Memorandum, prepared by a field officer with a New Zealand Force operating
against the Japanese in New Guinea. American forces fighting on similar terrain, and
against the same enemy, will be especially interested in his suggestions.
2. THE LIGHT AA LAYOUT
a. Your layout will depend on the topography of the area to be defended. Don't decide on your
layout until you have made your reconnaissance. If you neglect to follow this rule, you will
always be disappointed in the results.
b. Don't try to make a symmetrical layout. Place all guns so that the volume of fire is where
you want it.
c. In hilly country don't place all the guns above the target area. If you do, aircraft at
low altitudes will be difficult to engage, and your gun pits will be in constant danger from your
d. Hilly country gives ideal protection for director control, inasmuch as most guns are
emplaced in hillsides, and protection of the guns' dead arc is insured. But the
difficulty of sighting in time is a great disadvantage.
e. Never place guns too near the vulnerable point. Depth in layout is essential. If possible, place
guns 800 yards from the vulnerable point. If this can be done, fast low-flying targets can be
engaged effectively, and your equipment will be less vulnerable to pattern bombing.
f. When high-level pattern bombing and fast low-flying attacks are to be expected, it is
believed that the conventional distance of 400 yards between guns is neither practical nor
g. Another reason why 800 yards has proved the ideal distance from the vulnerable point
is that tracer does not show up for the first 400 yards. If the guns are too close, the
layers can't observe the tracer.
h. If you are closer to the vulnerable point, low-flying attacks flash in at maximum
speed. They are too fast to engage, because the layers cannot traverse fast enough. This
can be countered by pushing the guns back and giving depth of layout.
i. Cover all avenues of approach. Once a plane comes in and commences to strafe, the enemy
pilot is watching his own tracer and seldom veers off. But in every case in which our
fire tackled him before he started his run, he didn't have the guts to come through. This
was an important lesson and led us to alter our layout.
j. Don't believe that the Jap is a suicide merchant. He hasn't demonstrated it here.
k. If possible, establish the command post at a point from which all battery positions
can be seen, but far enough from the vulnerable point to avoid unnecessary risk.
l. Telephone communication to every gun is absolutely essential.
m. A scheme of night barrage should be thought out. Flash will definitely blind the layer at
the forward area sight. Director should be able to lay continuously on an illuminated
target. However, a night barrage scheme to suit the layout is recommended.
3. CAMOUFLAGE AND CONCEALMENT
a. Although we have paid every possible attention to camouflage and have achieved
excellent results, we have given first priority to protection whenever protection
and camouflage have clashed.
b. To date, we have not found a quick-release net that we have liked well enough to
adopt, and we have tried most varieties. Our chief objection to them is that during
an alert the guns must be ready to open fire at an instant's notice. Also, the movement
of a quick-release net betrays the gun position.
c. The rule that we have followed thus far has been to conceal the position entirely
until the first engagement, and this has been successful. From then on speed and
accuracy are everything. The enemy knows you are there, and will try to flash through, relying
on his speed. Under these circumstances nets are a hindrance.
d. A track plan for vehicles and personnel must be controlled from the start. Study of
aerial photographs here convinces us of this. High grass shows every track.
e. Dummy positions require constant attention. Look out for the lazy chap who is fond of
borrowing sandbags from the dummy positions.
f. In the beginning, one of our pits was attacked and strafed from two directions
simultaneously. Our men had made no attempt at concealment. But as soon as a single
man had been hit, they learned their lesson. They moved to a bomb crater, then to a
gravel pit, and then to a group of cactus. In every one of these positions they
were well concealed.
g. Men without shirts are more conspicuous than men with shirts.
h. The parapet of a bomb crater blends easily if each bag is smeared with mud. It may seem
like a long job, but it's definitely worthwhile.
i. Keep the garnish on your nets in first-rate condition.
j. When your living quarters are nearby, they will always give away your gun position. The
answer is dispersion. You have two guardian angels. Camouflage is one, dispersion is
the other. It is hard to tell which is the greater saver of lives and equipment.
k. If you can possibly arrange to do so, go up and view your positions from the air.
4. IDENTIFICATION AND WARNING
a. Contrary to expectations, no difficulty has been experienced in identification.
b. On one occasion a Kittyhawk dived through thick oil smoke (just after a heavy bombing) with
three Zeros on his tail, and was fired upon. He came to the gun later and
apologized, explaining, "It was entirely my fault. Believe me, I was a lot more nervous
about the tracer coming up to meet me than I was about those Zeros. But I was going too
fast to get into reverse."
c. We can't always rely entirely on plane markings or types. In this particular area, the
Japs have not yet resorted to their trick of coming in with landing lights on; nevertheless, we
don't intend to be caught napping.
d. The secret of identification is in having an intelligent spotter on every gun. His tour of
duty is only half an hour. He must be on the job all the time and must realize how terrific
his responsibility is. The only thing he can expect is the unexpected.
e. Planes at high altitudes are always suspect.
f. Don't expect warnings of a strafing raid. It may be all over before you receive them. The
spotter should always play safe. Unless he is certain, "Take post" should be given.
g. Duty detachments should be within 5 seconds of the gun. Generally the warning is good. But
we can't rely on it.
h. Watch out for the surprise fighter attack after the bombing raid, or after the "all clear." It
amuses the Japanese; but an alert spotter spoils the joke.