The Washington Windsock

by Blaine Stubblefield

Quick Watson! The Jewels!

Nine British airmen. aboard the first of six Boeing clipper boats delivered to Pan American, indicated it is one of the three that PAA has turned over to the British. It crossed from Los Angeles to Miami in 12 hours 52 minutes. Opinion still is that Britain will use the boats to ferry pilots back to the US.

A Messerschmitt 110, two engines; two 20-mm cannon and four machine guns, rated at 365 mph at 19,000 feet, is in the hands of Vultee for study. It was shot down in Britain. The Messerschmitt was first noticed in Poland, in 1939, when it wrecked locomotives en route with its shells.

General Motors now is a full-fledged aircraft manufacturing concern, turning out airplanes, engines, and propellers — North American bombers, pursuits, and trainers; Allison power plants; and GE hydraulic pitch-controlled propellers which will come into production in July.

By Spring. 1943. England will have accumulated, above losses, around 100,000 war planes, including US exports. It is doubtful, the experts say, whether ground facilities would handle that many. But it is anybody's guess where the vortex of war will be by that time. The British can attack from Africa if they can hold it.

We hear that Martin is developing a new and different plastic for broader fabrication of aircraft parts. The story is that the company doesn't expect it to figure in the present war, but expects great things later on. No statement could be obtained from Martin officials at this writing.

If all the world tights. as now seems likely, a large proportion of its surface shipping will be sunk. Some aircraft manufacturers, a bit hopefully perhaps, think that new oversea air cargo ships can pick up the load and carry on.

You've been hearing that further "refinements" of air war will see bombers operating from 40,000 to 50,000 feet, beyond the reach of AA guns and pursuit and interceptor fighters. Reason given by the experts is that pursuits are not easily pressurized. It's difficult to hold even pressure in a small enclosure, and uneven pressure is damaging to pilot behavior.

Don't forget the jewels. If you think it's simple to run a defense boom, please note that the government has had to go out with $45,000 and expand a plant to make more jewels to make instruments to equip airplanes.

A new night interceptor is being developed by the Air Corps, especially adapted to night fighting. Two experimental jobs are being built by an aircraft manufacturer. Externally, it looks like any other interceptor, an expert said. Probably the design is based on British experience. The British have been working on air-carried sound detectors for aiming at night, and on powerful air-carried searchlights.

The Stubblefield Award goes to Northwest Airlines for a two-page news release breaking all records; it has nothing to do with aviation. It's all about a stewardess named Jeanie Lafitte who is looking for a pirate's cache and if she finds it she'll be "happy, oh, so happy."

This column was originally published as a part of the "Aviation News" feature of the May, 1941, issue of Aviation magazine.
The original column includes a thumbnail portrait of the author.