A true friend of every reader of this column and himself a crusader for years for air power, William B Ziff (in the May issue of American Mercury) insists that we use the British Isles as our advance base and bomb the Nazis until they are on their knees and begging us for mercy.
He will be happy to read the statement Air Marshal Harris, commander in chief of the British Bomber Command, made this month in the midst of his nightly raids on Germany: "The time is coming when Great Britain and the United States will send such a force of bombers over Germany that the Germans will scream for mercy. If I could send 20,000 bombers to Germany tonight, Germany would not be in the war tomorrow; if I could send 1,000 bombers to Germany every night, we could end the war by autumn."
Air Marshal Harris had been here in Washington until three months ago when he returned to England with blood in his eye. And the daily press reveals how his determination and his limitless morale and gallantry obtain results. He is the advocate and user of the two-ton bomb. He drops them every night in great numbers. The two-ton bomb, by actual photograph, has a spread of blue flame a half-mile in diameter; its effect in complete disintegration of objects is 600 square yards and its concussion kills people, causing complete lung collapse.
A statement by a man of experience like this must be given weight. To us over here it will be a source of hope and comfort especially when one reads from the copy of a letter I have before me, written August 2, 1940, by this same great leader. The Battle of Britain, the one great Victory of Great Britain and the outcome of which many here in Washington claim actually saved civilization by giving us and our allies time to prepare, followed shortly after Air Marshal Harris wrote:
" we are no longer regarding invasion as a major risk. (Ed note: invasion of England following Dunkirk.) If the boche likes to try it, he will get it in the neck. (Ed note: the boche tried it and lost 185 airplanes in one day.) As for the Air War, we are well on top. The boche has been prodigal in throwing away his trained men so much . As for crews, we are miles ahead of him and when we come up against him in the air it is simply a matter of how much ammunition we can carry and how fast the boche can run away whether we knock them all down or only half of them . In summary, therefore, in the air the boche just can't take it and he's certainly getting it . I wish you could sit in my chair here a bit or come around my station and get the real story. We are just giving him Hell from the Baltic to the Alps and what's more he can't stop us though he's tried everything."
The tide is turning now. It must turn. Your correspondent has prejudice first his belief in air power; second, his faith in the morale of the American flyers if given a chance.
The people here in Washington are beginning to get more faith in victory. An old Latin proverb Fides no timet (Faith has no fear) is as true today as it was in the time of Caesar. Let us implore more to have faith and there will be no fear. "The only thing we have to fear," according to our President, "is Fear."
The statement by Marshal Harris, who is admittedly one of the greatest airmen in this war, should give us faith and courage in both air power and victory.
One hesitates to advocate doing away with battleships, as a taxi driver down here recommended recently (and this column reported). But an observation made this week by an authority of high standing down here is worth recording. He said, after the announcement that the German battleships Gneisenau and the Tirpitz were out of action for months, "England has Germany licked on one score already her ability to hide away her battleships from the devastation of air power."
Col George W Goddard of our own Air Forces, who is recognized as the inventor of night aerial photography and many other tricks in that field now being used almost exclusively for observation, will be glad to find out that his pet ideas are helping to win this war. Official reports reveal that the camera is the main reliance of the air observer in uncovering the deception of camouflage by night and day. Colonel Goddard's stereoscopic camera has pierced many German ruses. Infra-ray employed just as Goddard did when he took a picture of Detroit in 1928, from near Cleveland, OH (from the old Verville high altitude ship used by "Shorty" Schroeder in setting a world's record), now is almost indispensable in modern war. Goddard has a goodly portion of the German people working for him now. They are making false runways, painting factories to look like housing developments, building fake bridges and airplanes by the score, dummy airfields and dozens of artifices to deceive, but they do not get by Goddard's devices (nor the two-ton bombs either).
Plenty of argument down here in Washington these days on types of pursuit planes. W L White, writing in a national monthly and advocating four (types, revived this old chestnut. Your correspondent, with old Bill Tipton (who has kept up his flying ever since the last war when he flew with an American squadron attached to the British in Belgium), sticks to two types one a high altitude, radial-engined, maneuverable, heavily armed single-seater fighter; the other a climber and diver with liquid cooled in-line engine that can fly a few feet off the ground for miles (without burning up) when the hedge-hoppers come over in droves too low to be caught by the .30-caliber or .50-caliber machine guns or 20-mm cannon, but an easy prey for such interceptors when all the ground antiaircraft guns can do is talk and say, "Whew, look at those babies travel."
Charles Malone, pilot, Federal Reserve System officer and a glider authority, has just been called back into active Army service as a major. He took the secretary of one of the highest ranking Army officers to lunch recently (not to get her influence in getting him his commission, but because she is a swell little lady). At the next table sat a Naval officer wearing his summer uniform, but with Army insignia thereon.
"My," she said, "wonder why he is wearing Army insignia."
"Oh," said Malone, "didn't you hear the Army is taking over the Navy?"
"Really, so soon?" inquired his charming luncheon guest. "Won't it be grand to have the two making up for unity of command."
"Yes," replied Malone, "but just wait after that transition is over, the Air Forces will take them both over."
Her face dropped in wonderment.
It is quite true that air power is gradually being recognized. What a thrill the statement of Adm William V Pratt, USN (retired) would give Billy Mitchell were he with us today. Admiral Pratt stated here recently: "Our air power, now building for essential air supremacy, has an independent function additional to cooperation with the Army and Navy."
There is not a reader of Flying who was not thrilled to learn of Jimmy Doolittle's heroic and dramatic leadership of the Army Air Forces' air raid on the Japanese mainland; his advance in rank to brigadier general and the action of President Roosevelt in personally presenting to him the Congressional Medal of Honor. His contribution to speed flying, modern airplane technique in airframes, motors, instruments, accessories and appliances has been constant through all the years.
Now we can look toward seeing him applying his creative talents to strategy and tactics with pep and vigor. A man with Jimmy's diversified talents can be expected to worry the Nazis and Nippons like a dog that has tasted lamb's blood worries a flock of sheep. The writer, for one, is mighty glad he is on our side. Jimmy never did relish either praise or publicity. When one would try to congratulate him in the past on any of his achievements, he would smile bashfully as though he felt anything he did was only his duty, nothing more than taking things in their stride and anything but cause for personal glory.
Plenty of chatter down here these days centering about the bills introduced in Congress for the establishment of a Women's Auxiliary Corps. Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt predicted eventual passage of the bills now before the Senate to establish units of both the Army and Navy but declared "anything new takes time." Once, near Fere-en-tardenois in World War I when Donald Hudson shot down two ships right over the shifting front lines and the bodies of the boches could not be removed for days, the rumors came back that the observers were women. Some of us making a "Cook's Tour" of the front were naturally quite curious. But they weren't women. The two observers, heavily clothed in flying suits, but not quite black from the rays of the hot July sun, wore dainty patent leather shoes. We concluded that this peculiar daintiness was the cause of the rumor.
The Ligue International des Aviateurs presented its scroll to Col Arthur Ennis, Chief of Public Relations of the Air Forces, at the Hotel Mayflower last month. While the trophy for actual flying has been awarded annually, often presented by the President of the United States, this is but the third time the scroll has been given for purely aviation achievement. Close to 1,000 high officials, including several General Staff officers, attended. Air Vice Marshal W F McNeece Foster, CB, DSO, etc, was present with his staff. Even hard-boiled publicist William Van Dusen of Pan American Airways reported to your correspondent that it was one of the best affairs of its kind. Officers and war workers who are too tired and overworked to attend ordinary social functions welcomed this occasion to pay homage to Colonel Ennis.
Flying instructors are in great demand. It is suggested that anyone of any age who feels he can attend a refresher course and brush up so that he can qualify for this work should volunteer at the nearest office of the Civil Aeronautics Authority. If accepted, he will be performing a real work for the cause.
Jack Vilas, former president of the Early Birds, has been made an executive officer of the Civil Air Patrol. Watch out now for a real showing. Not only has the CAP the services of Jack, but funds (long recommended by this column) at last are forthcoming. The CAP will do forest fire patrol and other useful jobs before this war is over.
Congressman Jennings Randolph, the old warhorse of aviation, introduced a bill (HR 7069) on May 11, for the establishment of a division of aviation education in the US Office of Education.
As usual with Jennings, this was no flash in the pan, no overnight bright idea. For some months now, within the District of Columbia (Randolph is chairman of the House District Committee), he has been trying out the idea on eight white high schools and three colored. It has worked out wonderfully. Tying this in with the announcement of Commissioner Studabaker, of three or four days before, wherein Studabaker announced contact with some 26,000 high schools throughout the country, this movement would appear to be fraught with great possibilities.
There has been a good deal of feeling lately that something should be done about terminologies in keeping with the technical advances of the various services. For instance, it is so cumbersome to describe a caterpillar tread, or the armored forces, or to give real identity to such phrases as Naval aviators and Army aviators. There is something forced and strained about such descriptive phrases and much to be said for the use of coined words such as panzers, submarines and other phrases which manage to stick familiarly to the tongue. Col Royal B Lord, of the Board of Economic Warfare, suggested recently that in the interests of good psychological effect we boldly cut through all the swathing which holds us to double-jointed words and descriptive phrases. "Why not refer to Naval aviators," says he, "simply as Naviators? It is an artificially coined word, but it justifies its existence." Colonel Lord suggested that if someone would dig up a comparable word to substitute for such phrases as Army Air Forces pilot, land-based aircraft or carrier-based aircraft words comparable to Stuka in their drive and effectiveness he would be doing the whole nation a favor.
This column was originally published in the July, 1942, issue of Flying and Popular Aviation magazine, vol 31, no 1, pp 34, 103, 104.
The original column was illustrated with a thumbnail portrait of the author.
The photo is not credited.