Airfield, claiming three planes burned on the
By the end of the operation that day, the
U.S. air groups were so depleted from losses and
damage that single-plane missions were flown.
The ceasefire went into effect that morning—
the 24th anniversary of the armistice ending the
Remaining aircraft had little rest, however, as
German submarines arrived to replace the French
boats. U-boats attacked three carriers and a cruiser,
while a transport was sunk off Fedala. Finally,
on the 12th, the U-130 conducted a devastating
attack that destroyed three transports.
A joint Army-Navy evolution also was integrated into the Torch plan. U.S. and British escort
carriers ferried the 33rd Fighter Group to the
invasion area, where they would launch P-40s
to land ashore. The Army pilots received a brief
indoctrination on the east coast, but both services
expressed concern about the process. Army fighters were heavier than carrier planes and lacked
catapult fittings, which had to be installed. Additionally, the Warhawks launched with minimal
fuel and equipment to reduce weight.
The escort carrier Chenango (CVE- 28) embarked
77 P-40s to fly into Port Lyautey once the field
was secured on the 10th. The poor condition of
the field, however, required a delay until engineers could improve the runway two days later.
Even so, 17 Warhawks were damaged on landing
and two crashed en route.
Thirty-five more pursuits flew ashore from
HMS Archer on the 13th, with four aircraft
lost. The group’s ground staff followed by transport ship.
The Algerian Flank
While the Americans landed on the Atlantic
coast, British and U.S. forces conducted the eastern portion of Torch with two operations around
Algiers and Oran. Supporting the effort were
seven Royal Navy carriers, flying a variety of tailhook aircraft: Sea Hurricanes, Seafires, Martlets
(Wildcats), Fulmars, and Albacores. HMS Avenger
and Argus operated off Algiers with 31 Seafires
and Sea Hurricanes, while Furious, Dasher, and
Biter supported the main operation at Oran with
55 fighters embarked. HMS Formidable and
Victorious stood off six fighter squadrons and two of
One of three Piper L-4s
operating off of the Ranger,
“Elizabeth” was flown by Capt.
Ford A. Allcorn with observer
Capt. Brenton A. Devall. On
its first mission on invasion
day, French antiaircraft fire
wounded Allcorn, forcing
him to crash—the first Army
Air Forces casualty of the
campaign. (Photo courtesy
of Stan Piet)