German U-boats were sinking merchant ships and oil tankers within sight of coastal communities along the East Coast. With the Army and Navy lacking the necessary patrol aircraft and vessels, losses of merchant vessels skyrocketed. The military authorized the CAP to establish coastal patrol flights, according to Swain.
CAP patrol flights, composed of two aircraft each, canvassed the costal shipping lanes of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.
The flights forced enemy submarines to remain submerged and hidden while merchant ships safely transported oil, war materials, and soldiers.
In May 1942, the military armed CAP light personal aircraft with demolition and depth bombs, Swain said.
The CAP served in other missions on behalf of the war effort. CAP pilots towed aerial gunnery targets for live-fire anti-aircraft training and nighttime tracking missions for searchlights; CAP aircraft patrolled the Rio Grande to prevent illegal border crossings; a search and rescue service used CAP units to search for lost military aircraft; and many other activities.
Image courtesy of Library of Congress.
Image courtesy of Civil Air Patrol.