AIRIND - AIR INDUSTRY SECTION
ALLIED AIR FORCE
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII

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AIRIND was an Allied Research Intelligence unit which had its beginnings in the Allied Air Intelligence Organisation in Victoria Barracks in Melbourne in April 1942 commenced by Wing Commander Norman B. "Tinny" Tindale, an anthropologist from Adelaide.

During the 19 February 1942 Japanese air raid on Darwin a Japanese Zero crash-landed on Melville Island near Darwin and its pilot was captured by aborigines. Parts of the plane were taken to the RAAF Directorate of Intelligence at "Redholme", Domain Road, South Yarra and, in April 1942, they were inspected by Pilot Officer Norman Barnett "Tinny" Tindale (284483) under the supervision of Squadron Leader Robert Henry Wreford (281964). The intelligence potential on the Japanese aircraft industry that this analysis offered was quickly recognized. The aircraft inspected was a Mitsubishi Type "O" Carrier based Fighter Model 21, Serial No. 5349.

The ongoing analysis of the Japanese Aircraft Industry was then allocated to Pilot Officer Tindale in April 1942 as part of the P.O.W. Section in the Directorate or Intelligence, RAAF Headquarters at "Redholme" in Domain Road, South Yarra, Melbourne.

The December 1942 Military Telephone Directory for Brisbane shows the following personnel in the "P.O.W." section of the "Air Intelligence Center, RAAF Command in Rooms 134, 135 and 136:-

P.O.W.
F/Lt Heyting
Lt. Edon
Capt. D.L.M. MacFarlane
P/O Tindale

On 14 July 1942, the P.O.W. section became the "Japanese Information" section and transferred to the Directorate of Intelligence, Allied Air Forces, SWPA, in Brisbane. The section promptly began organizing the collection of data, principally maker's plates, from crashed or abandoned Japanese aircraft. These were translated, analysed, sorted and reproduced for filing in six categories.

The October 1943 Military Telephone Directory for Brisbane shows the following personnel in the "Japanese Information" section in the Directorate of Intelligence, Allied Air Force in rooms 207 and 208 of the AMP Building:-

JAPANESE INFORMATION
F/Lt Heyting W.J.
F/Lt Tindale N.B.
Capt. MacFarlane D.L.M.
F/O Ritchard G.F.
P/O Wiadroski M.A.A.
S/O Taylor P
 

Norman Tindale recollected that he had a total of six personnel initially in Brisbane reporting to him as follows:-

Lt. George Bamber Edon (NX193895) (AMF)
Cpl Y. Yamada (Army of the Philippines)
LAC Walter Victor Abraham (74141) (RAAF)
Cpl. Winnifred McPherson (103677) (WAAAF)
Miss Patricia Renshall
Miss Irene Thomas

LAC Abraham and Miss Patricia Renshall initially performed translation duties.

In December 1943 AIRIND or Air Industry section was formed from the former Japanese Information Section. AIRIND had an establishment of 24 personnel by this time.

The May 1944 Military Telephone Directory for Brisbane has the following entry for AIRIND.

ALLIED AIR FORCE

    DIRECTORATE OF INTELLIGENCE

        AIRIND:
                F/Lt. Tindale, N.B.    208   AMP 136
                Lt. Graustein, A.R.   208   AMP 136
                Clerks                     208   AMP 135

AIRIND was located in Room 208 on the 2nd Floor of the AMP Building which was used as General Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area.

The five core RAAF members of AIRIND were as follows:-

Wing Commander Norman B. Tindale
Pilot Officer Ernest Duncan
Flying Officer Walter V. Abraham
Warrant Officer Ian Grimmond
Sergeant Alan J. Sanderson

Other RAAF and WAAAF personnel who worked for AIRIND at various times included:-

Cpl A.J. Hart - Possibly Albert James Hart (44063))
LAC H. Irving -P ossibly Howard Thomas Irving (A18156)
LAC W. Waldron - Possibly William Arthur Waldron (120337)
LAC L. Dunn
LAC T. McCaffrey - Possibly Thomas Jospeh McCaffrey (11162)
F/Sgt Nell Davis (WAAAF)

US personnel included:-

Lieutenant Luther Stringham

AIRIND's role was to reveal the structure, productivity and locations of Japanese aircraft industry and determining target for future bombing raids.

AIRIND was eventually reorganised into several subsections due to the increasing volume of material requiring processing, translation, and analysis. Initially AIRIND was only responsible for analysis of data for the Southwest Pacific Area but through informal agreements with other Theatre Commanders they obtained data from other Theatres and provided Intelligence gained back to those Theatres.

Six US Army Nisei translators joined AIRIND in early 1944.

Col. W. M. Burgess, American Air Forces, Washington. D. C. and Dr. N. Meiklejohn of Foreign Economic Administration, Washington, D.C. inspected the work of AIRIND and Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit in early 1944. The strategic importance of the achievements of these Sections was quickly realised and it was recommended that AIRIND be transferred to the War Department General Staff in Washington, D.C. and that a Technical Air Intelligence Centre be established at Naval Air Station Anacostia, near Washington D.C.

In July 1944, AIRIND became a combined U.S. and British Section within the Military Intelligence Service, based in the Pentagon, in Washington D.C..

After the war, key Australian RAAF members of this section deployed to Japan as part of the US Strategic Bombing Survey. This group inspected the damage inflicted upon the Japanese Air Industry and evaluated the Allied intelligence produced on this industry during the war comparing estimated production rates against actual production rates.

By the end of the war more than 35,000 plates from all Pacific and Asian theatres of war had been processed and reports disseminated on the nomenclature, technical details, production rates and factory locations of the Japanese aircraft industry. This provided valuable target information and also enabled an assessment of the impact of allied bombing raids on the Japanese production rates.

AIRIND worked closely with the Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit ATAIU based in Hangar 7 at Eagle Farm Airfield. The ATAIU were charged with seizing captured Japanese aircraft and obtaining as much Intelligence from them as they could. Part of their operation including harvesting Nameplates or "Jamtins" from components on captured Japanese aircraft. This operation was know as "Jamtinning".

These nameplates containing a lot of useful intelligence. They contained the name of the factory where the component was manufactured, the name of the town, and the month and year of manufacture. These "Jamtins" were passed on to AIRIND for target identification and the dates were also used to determine the output rate of various factories sand they could also be used to determine the impact of Allied bombing raids on the factories output.

The analysis of Japanese aircraft name plates allowed AIRIND to estimate Japanese aircraft production rates and identify the location of Japanese factories. AIRIND's analysis concluded that Japanese aircraft engine production facilities were the key factor in the manufacture of aircraft and therefore became a priority target on bombing target list.

AIRIND began to operate as a separate entity in the middle of 1943 though still nominally under JAPIS control. In early 1944 two senior members of the U.S. Foreign Economic Administration inspected AIRIND's operations and, recognised the strategic importance of their work. AIRIND was then transferred to the War Department in Washington D.C. in June 1944. It became a research unit within the Military Intelligence Service in the Pentagon. After the war, key Australian RAAF members of this section deployed to Japan as part of the US Strategic Bombing Survey. This group inspected the damage inflicted upon the Japanese Air Industry and evaluated the Allied intelligence produced on this industry during the war comparing estimated production rates against actual production rates.

Besides the above RAAF Personnel, AIRIND comprised US Army personnel, including Nisei translators, plus US Navy and Royal Air Force personnel and American War Department civilian employees. 

AIRIND was organized into seven "Desks" in the Pentagon as follows with Wing Commander N.B. Tindale as the Chief of AIRIND:-

  • Aircraft Production Desk - In charge of the Desk was 1st Lt. William B. Cunningham & his Assistant was Sergeant A.J. Sanderson
  • Aircraft Nomenclature Desk - In charge of the Desk was 1st Lt. Richard J. Bookhout (US Army)
  • Aircraft Component Desk - In charge of the Desk was 1st Lt. Luther W. Stringham (US Army)
  • Factory Evaluation Desk -  In charge of the Desk was Flying Officer W.V. Abraham
  • Translation Desk - In charge of the Desk was Pilot Officer E. Duncan
  • Mechanical Collation Desk - In charge of the Desk was Warrant Officer I.D. Grimmond
  • Document Collation Desk - In change of the Desk was Flight Officer Evelyn M. Hanscom (WAAF)

When the war in the Pacific was over, eleven key personnel from AIRIND were selected to form an Air Industry unit in the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey which surveyed the damage to Japanese Air Industry and compared it with the damage estimates that had been obtained from their earlier intelligence work. Five other personnel remained in Washington D.C. until 31 March 1946. Wing Commander Tindale and Flying Officer Abraham were part of the 11 man team that went to Japan. Pilot Officer Duncan, Warrant Officer Grimmond and Sergeant Sanderson completed their roles with AIRIND in Washington D.C. on 30 September 1945.

American documents showed that two senior RAAF members of AIRIND "contributed materially to the success of the Allied War Effort" through their work on the structure and activities of the Japanese Aircraft Industry. Their work also "furthered the strategic bombing of the source of Japanese air power."

 

The following is a Brief Summary of AIRIND's role
written by Flying Officer "Wally" Abraham

A brief summary of a RAAF contribution to Allied Intelligence in World War II.

During the 19 February 1942 Japanese air attacks on Darwin one marginal event occured which, due to RAAF initiative, contributed significantly to the achievement of allied objectives throughout the Pacific war. A Japanese Zero crash-landed on Melville Island near Darwin and its pilot was captured by aborigines. Parts of the plane were taken to the RAAF Directorate of Intelligence at "Redholme", Domain Road, South Yarra and, in April that year, they were inspected by RAAF personnel and the intelligence potential they offered was recognized.

The incipient AIR INDUSTRY SECTION (AIRIND) was formed and, in July 1942, transferred to the Japanese Intelligence Section (JAPIS) of the Directorate of Intelligence, Allied Air Forces, SWPA, in Brisbane. The Section promptly began organizing the collection of data, principally makers plates, from crashed or abandoned enemy aircraft. These were translated, analysed, sorted and reproduced for filing in six categories. At war's end more than 35,000 plates from all Pacific and Asian theatres of war had been processed and reports disseminated on the nomenclature, technical details, production rates and factory locations of the Japanese aircraft industry.

Just out of school and with a background of prewar years in Japan, I joined AIRIND as a linguist in November, 1943. I recall being astonished that, after a year at war, the Allies knew almost nothing about enemy aircraft. Under the leadership of (then) Fl/Lt. Norman Tindale the staff totalled eight including four linguists (of the sixteen or so then available in Australia). The Section expanded during that year, partly with US Army 'Nisei' (2nd generation Japanese) linguists, achieved independent status and moved into the AMP Building in Queen Street - then General Mac Arthur's HQ.

Early in 1944 two senior members of the U.S. Foreign Economic Administration inspected the Section's operations and, recognizing AIRIND's strategic importance, recommended that it be transferred to the Military Division of the War Department General Staff in Washington D.C. By June we had settled into the Pentagon as a research unit of the Military Intelligence Service of the WDGS and within a few weeks had grown to forty civilian and military staff from the UK, Canada and the US. From Australia there were five RAAF members in key positions with Wing Commander Tindale as Chief.

AIRIND reports were distributed to Allied units throughout the Asia/Pacific and used to determine the types and quantity of Japanese planes which might be met in future operations and by the Joint Target Group to select aircraft industry targets in the Japanese homeland. By then the 21st Bomber Command, USAAF was based in the Marianas.. The design of its long-range B-29s had been initiated as early as 1938.

In August,1944, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a directive largely based on AIRIND studies establishing the Japanese Aircraft industry, specifically aircraft engine factories, as the top priority target for air attacks on the Japanese homeland. This priority, equalled for a time by Urban Area arracks, remained throughout the war. With recent first-hand knowledge of Japanese towns and countryside it fell to me as head of AIRIND's Factory Evaluation Desk to initiate target recommendations to the Joint Target Group

Following the end of the Pacific war on 15 August 1945, eight of its members including Tindale and I were seconded to the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS). This Survey was established by President Roosevelt in November 1944, to study the effects of aerial attacks on Germany. President Truman called for a similar study of the effects of all types of air attack against Japan.

USSBS staff comprising 300 civilians and 850 military personnel interrogated more than 700 military, government and industry officials between September and December, 1945, and its 15 Divisions (including our Aircraft Division) implemented their survey programs. All major aircraft industry plants were inspected and production statistics obtained at source generally confirmed AIRIND's wartime estimates with one major exception. There had been no data on the confusion and interruptions generated by the plant dispersal forced on the industry by the precision bombing during 1945. Thus AIRIND estimates for the last months of the war were substantially higher than actual production.

AIRIND's assessment of the relative importance of Japanese combat aircraft producers was confirmed as quite accurate. Except for two Australians, USSBS staff were home for Christmas and from January to May 1946, the Survey's research teams documented their findings from the field and produced 108 separate reports. Tindale and I were discharged shortly after returning home in June 1946. Official American citations stated that the work of the two senior RAAF members of AIRIND "contributed materially to the Allied War effort" and "furthered the strategic bombing of the source of Japanese air power". For those involved the nature of the task entailed a high level of satisfaction and learning which more than compensated for the absence of whatever recognition AIRIND might have attracted had it been a field or operations unit and had its highest level of security not been so rigorously maintained.

Walter V. Abraham - reprinted with permission

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

AIRIND in Retrospect, a RAAF contribution to Allied Intelligence 1942 - 1945
by Walter V. Abraham

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Walter Abraham and David Glerean for their assistance with this web page.

 

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This page first produced 7 January 2017

This page last updated 07 January 2017