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John S. "Jimmy" Thach

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CrashTailspin #1 Posted 31 January 2012 - 02:53 AM

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John Thach


Nationality:  United States

Born:  19 April 1905

Died:  15 April 1981 (age 75)

Branch of Service: United States Navy

Years of Service: 1927 – 1967

Rank: Admiral

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John Smith “Jimmy” Thach was a World War II naval aviator, air combat tactician, and United States Navy Admiral.  He is credited for developing a tactic known as the “Thach Weave”, in which a flight formation can counter enemy fighters of greater performance, and the “Big Blue Blanket”, an aerial defense against Kamikaze attacks.

John S. Thach was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.  In 1927 he graduated from the United States Naval Academy and spent two years serving aboard battleships before training as a naval aviator in 1929.  During the next ten years Thach served as an instructor and test pilot, gaining a reputation as an expert in aerial gunnery.

Thach was placed in command of Fighting Squadron Three (VF-3) in early 1940.  At the US Navy fleet gunnery competition that year, eight of the 16 VF-3 pilots qualified for the gunnery “E” award for excellence.  During his time in command of VF-3, Thach met Edward O’Hare, a later Medal of Honor recipient.

Lieutenant Commander Thach and Fighting Squadron Three flew from USS Lexington (CV-2) in the early part of World War II, and was later assigned to USS Yorktown (CV-5) during the Battle of Midway in June 1942.


On the morning of 4 June 1942, Thach’s six-plane flight discovered the main Japanese carrier fleet while escorting a strike group from Yorktown.  They were immediately attacked by 15 to 20 Japanese fighters.  Utilizing his trademark maneuver, Thach was able to shoot down three enemy Zeroes, and a wingman accounted for another, marking the first use of the “Thach Weave” in combat.  Thach is credited with destroying six enemy aircraft during World War II.

Thach commanded USS Sicily (CVE-118) during the Korean War and USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) in 1953-54.  In 1958-1959 Thach was placed in command of an antisubmarine development unit, “Task Group Alpha”, with USS Valley Forge (CVS-45).  As Commander-in-Chief, US Naval Forces, Europe, starting in 1965 Thach became full Admiral, retiring from the Navy in May 1967.

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buddha222 #2 Posted 16 April 2012 - 05:13 PM

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Later in the war Thatch came up with an idea he called the "big blue blanket" to keep the kamikazes away from the vulnerable ships of the U.S. fleet.

Thatch, serving on Admiral Halsey's and Admiral McCain's staff as air operations officer, developed a plan that called for the constant presence of the blue-painted Hellcats and Corsairs over the fleet at all hours. He recommended larger combat air patrols (CAP) stationed farther away from the carriers, dawn to dusk fighter sweeps over Japanese airfields, the use of delayed action fuses on bombs dropped on runways to make repairs more difficult, a line of picket destroyers and destroyer escorts placed 50 or more miles from the main body of the fleet to provide earlier radar intercepts, and improved coordination between the fighter director officers on board the carriers.

The system left the picket ships extremely vulnerable to kamikaze attacks, but gave more protection to carriers and troopships.

The system had an immediate effect. During its use in the liberation of the Philippines, "Despite an unopposed dry landing, 'suicide boats' and two hundred kamikazes made Mindoro's D-plus days as costly as Anzio's. Only saturation flights (the "Big Blue Blanket") over Luzon airfields by Halsey's Task Force Thirty-Eight secured Mindoro."

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Jaxsin #3 Posted 23 September 2012 - 04:39 AM

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He also created the "Thatch Weave" where two planes would do a scissors back and forth to prevent any single enemy aircraft to be able to get a good firing angle on eaither aircraft.

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