From Headquarters

by Lieut Col Harold E Hartney (AF Res)

We are already half way through the autumn of 1942 and the Axis have not yet won this war!

This is the best news from headquarters that could be written, for it means that we will win this war!

The most significant development of the last month has been the universal recognition of air power. William B Ziff's book, The Coming Battle of Germany, seems with its logic and its broad basis to have sold the last die-hard. It would be fatuous in wartime to join in the chorus going about Washington now, that "everyone is trying to get aboard the band wagon," — air power — but to a degree this is correct. Kaiser and his cargo plane proposition may have met with discouragement, but he, too, helped to awaken both the public and the Government agencies to a recognition of what is in store for this world and for civilization as and when air power has won the war.

The Army Air Forces have grown far beyond all expectation. From one Post alone of the American Legion (Aviators Post No 743), no less than 152 officers are already on active duty, and this includes one lieutenant general, two major generals, four brigadier generals, nine full colonels, twenty-three lieutenant colonels, fifty-eight majors and fifty-five captains and down, all officers. September 15, 1941, I attended a meeting of this Post in New York City and one member got up and said, "Forget it, boys! We old codgers will never be called up or given a chance — this is a young man's war!" That member now is in Africa and the other 151 are scattered all over the globe. If anyone thinks things are not moving fast down here, he is all wrong. Air Service Post (No 501) has likewise contributed some 20 per cent of its smaller membership.

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The freezing of manpower as applied to aircraft industries by Assistant Secretary of War Robert P Patterson, insofar as voluntary enlistment will be prohibited to employees of aircraft factories, indicates a wise and just decision in this regard and is looked upon favorably here. It is perfectly obvious that if we are to have 10,000 planes a month production, as Wendell Willkie announced on his recent visit to Turkey, somebody has got to make them. Underlying this situation is the human desire to choose one's own destiny if possible, and enlistments from the aircraft industries group undoubtedly spring from a desire not to be drafted. This is understandable, but on the other hand this balancing of manpower in our all-out effort will be solved in due time. Everybody will have his job to do, and he will do it where it is considered he will be of the most value to the Government. This may not suit the individual's idea sometimes, in his own estimation of what constitutes value, but requirements are exacting these days and we must all pitch in and do our share regardless of what we personally might think about it.

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As we write this, the first loss of Flying Fortresses in raids over Europe is reported. The record these ships are piling up on the European front compares in like degree with that of this ship's performance in the Pacific. The Boeing B-17E is driving the Goering "nuttier than a fruit cake," and his orders to "stop those things at all costs" indicates the deep concern felt by the German high command. The Japs could have told Herr Goering what he was in for, but we doubt they've had either the time or the inclination. Nine raids over a hot front without a loss of a ship is a record no nation has hung up before, and if this performance indicates the ratio of losses to be expected, then the B-17E is truly a winged savior. They have proven they can take on the best the Luftwaffe has to offer. To the crews of these ships goes the country's gratitude, for they are really raising hob with the enemy.

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Got a kick out of the report that American and British crews are busily swapping equipment. This is only history repeating itself. Reports have it that the Yanks prefer the British flying boots to their own and swap whenever they get the chance. The British, on the other hand, like the low cuts of our issue and enviously eye our leather flying jackets. It is said that on the basis of reports of this character, some changes may result in our flying equipment to conform to pilot's and crewmen's desires. This happened in World War I. It was difficult to distinguish between an American and British flying officer at the time of the last Armistice.

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The famed Lancaster is here, and from all reports this plane really is something. A demonstration model was flown over here by Captain Clyde Pangborn, who landed the big ship at Bolling Field. Washington newspapers gave it a big play and we were lucky enough to see it come in. One certainly is impressed with the size of the plane that has done so much to blast Germany in recent deep raids. To begin with, the Lancaster is a production marvel. Only eight months were consumed from the time original blue prints were available until she was in the air. The Lancaster is not as fast as our B-17E, but she carries four of the big two-ton "block busters" and a real battery of machine guns. If I had known Clyde Pangborn was flying anywhere near here, I am confident I could have named him as the pilot, for the big ship banked and maneuvered in for the kind of a landing as only that old-timer can perform.

This column was originally published in the November, 1942, issue of Flying including Industrial Aviation magazine, vol 31, no 2, pp 34, 138.
The original article is illustrated with a thumbnail portrait of the author.
The photo is not credited.