As we sit back to have a look at where we've been last year and where we're going next, there's not much doubt about what the Big Aeronautical Story of 1939 was. It was not so much what did happen, as that the Great Air War hasn't happened so far, at least in western Europe, on a scale anything like what was promised.
The natural reaction to the failure so far of air power to live up to its advance billing has already led to a state of mind in England, the chief prewar worrier, that a good many Britishers regard as over-optimistic. The man-in-the-street is forgetting to take his gas mask with him, he is kept on a pretty steady newspaper diet of how the Hurricanes are invincible and how all the German ships lose their wings in a dive, and certainly a severe raid now on himself or anything British would upset more than it would have in September when he was sure he was going to catch it.
Aside from the actual fighting, the big military event of the year was the rise of the British and French air forces to a position that at least puts them on fighting terms with the Germans. In England the shadow factory system really began turning out ships about the middle of the year, while the French recovered a long way from the hangover from nationalization of the aircraft industry and too much concentration on politics instead of production. Our guess is that combined British and French production is now up to the prewar German peak; if the Germans have pushed their production rate up to the maximum possible (and there are lots who say they have) they should be out in the lead.
Unless you count the German mine-laying planes that appeared last month, there haven't been any surprise types on the scene yet. The Germans have sent some of their new Dornier Do-215 bombers over the North Sea, but there have not been any authentic reports of Junkers Ju-88s, their latest and hot- test, being in action. Although the Germans say they've used some Messerschmitt Me-110 two motor fighters in the West (they saw lots of service in Poland, even using their shell guns on ground targets) the Allies claim they haven't run into any of them.
This is excerpted from the "Aviation Abroad" column in the January, 1940, issue of Aviation magazine, vol 39, no 1, p 66.
The remainder of the original column dealt with airline activities. There were also 3 photos.
Photos credited to International, Acme.