Cannon which fire armor-splitting shells now adorn some Hawker Hurricanes in Africa to the detriment and destruction of German tank units and motorized vehicles. These specially equipped planes are used for special jobs, or emergencies, as they are not widely practical. The British do not regard it as the most effective method for combating enemy armored forces.
German have not used Zeppelins or other lighter-than-air craft during the present war; but evidence that they were still considering them in 1938 was discovered on a patent now in possession of Alien Property Custodian covering apparatus for condensing water given off in the exhaust of the engines, which water is accumulated as ballast, to offset losses of weight through fuel use. It is a smaller, more compact affair than condensers previously tried for purpose, having less head resistance and drag.
Developed by Goodyear since Pearl Harbor, synthetic rubber called Chemigum, now used as airplane coolant hose, is superior to natural rubber in resisting leaks and seepages of the special antifreeze fluids used in planes which fly in high altitudes.
P-47s, Republic Thunderbolts, according to tests, are capable of diving at 725 mph from a height of 36,500 feet, which is faster than the speed of sound at that altitude. At sea level, the speed of sound is about 736 mph. So test pilots have had the strange sensation of hearing themselves coming after they have leveled off. Pilots who made these tests said the controls became solid and they had to ease out of their dives by means of the crank-handle operating the elevator trimming tabs. Level flight was resumed at 25,000 feet.
The miraculous science of electronics has added another wonder to its contributions to technology. The problem of measuring and controlling the volume of oil, gasoline, crude, or any petroleum liquid in tanks, vats, stills, rectifiers apparently has been solved by the new Faratron electronic gauge and control for oil and gasoline, designed to operate in any oily or volatile liquid or combinations efficiently and effectively. One or more steel and Bakelite electrodes are mounted in the container to be controlled. If two, the action is as follows: when the oil or gasoline in the tank rises to contact the short or "full" electrode, the circuit is activated and the signal given; and when the contents drop below the short electrode the signal is "off"; then when the contents leave the end of the long or "empty" electrode the empty warning signal is "on."
One lone fighter pilot was the solitary defense for the entire British Eastern Mediterranean Fleet during the early part of the war, the Admiralty, in its booklet, "East of Malta and West of Suez," disclosed recently. The now mighty fleet was without aircraft carriers for the first nine months of war. When, in May, 1940, the relic Eagle arrived from the East Indies, she had two squadrons of torpedo-carrying Swordfish planes and later acquired four Gladiator fighters as incipient fighter squadron. But not a fighter pilot was aboard her, so it was necessary for the flying skipper of the Eagle, Commander C L Keighley-Peach, to defend the entire fleet. The Admiralty's First Lord, A V Alexander, was recently accused by Liberals of complacency and vanity in his administration of Admiralty affairs.
From the Commanding General of the Army Air Forces Flying Training Command, Major General Barton K Yount comes a top-drawer record for safety in flight training 360,190 flying hours without a fatal accident or, for those who dislike abstract figures, the equivalent of 14,627 flights between Chungking and Tokyo, 24,012 round trips between London and Berlin, or 1,157 times around the earth at the equator. Two primary training schools hung up this record: Carlstrom Field, Arcadia, FL, operated by the Riddle Aeronautical Institute; and Thunderbird Field, Glendale, Arizona, operated by Southwest Airways.
A German courier plane, recently forced down in North Waermland, Sweden, en route from Finland to Norway, was the provocation for a heated debate in a packed Lower House in Stockholm as to whether or not international law had been contravened. Foreign Minister Christian Gunther, answering a Socialist interpellation, said that the privileged status of the courier plane probably would not be jeopardized, as the plane which landed, although loaded with uniformed soldiers, was unarmed, its machine guns dismantled.
Lately, air travel between Mexico City, Leon, Zacatecas and Durango was temporarily suspended because of lack of gasoline in the north and central regions of Mexico, the result of transportation difficulties and lack of tankers, which has also caused a curtailment of industrial activity and automobile traffic.
In a recent statement to Congress, Secretary Knox informed them of his belief that navigators are inadequately trained for the tough ordeals ahead of them in battle zones, and asked for an additional $800,000 for naval training stations. He said, "I do not want any man out there flying a plane in that area who has not had training which is adequate to enable him to come back,"
Corrigible reasons for washouts among pilot trainees are being rectified by the CAA for the Army, Navy and Marine Corps. Alibis of lagging students that written exam questions were misleading are proved valid or invalid because electric scoring machines now grade CAA examinations. The "crutch" of students that change in instructors was disconcerting is being nullified by two books, Patter for Elementary Flight Maneuvers and Fundamentals of Elementary Flight Maneuvers, whose purpose is to provide a mutually understandable phraseology.
Army Air Forces basic training center at Atlantic City announced recently the inauguration of a school for illiterate soldiers of sound mind and body to enable them to do more than menial kitchen tasks. They will be taught reading, writing and arithmetic.
William T Marcollo, 22, of Richmond, CA, at the completion of his nine-weeks' basic training course at Goodfellow Field in San Angelo, had the unprecedented honor of hanging up an average of 99 in navigation, radio communication, meteorology, radio code, visual code and aircraft identification, Formerly a steamfitter welder in the Kaiser Ship Yards, he is an ex-student of the University of San Francisco and University of California.
On March 25, 1942, German Deutschlandsender announced: "An illusion died last week. It was the illusion that the USA and Britain, with their military power, could hold out until 1943 or 1944. The concentration of German efforts for the offensive against Soviet Russia forces the United Nations to face the fact that the war will be lost in 1942." On March 28, from the Radio Luxembourg came: "Over all the British demands for initiative of their own and for military action on a grand scale there looms the fatal word, 'impossible.'"
A P-40 delivers mail daily to one of the US squadrons stationed on the front lines in Africa, except when its epistolary load is too great. Then a transport plane escorted by fighter planes does the job. A mobile financial unit provides service to combat units also, and at one time, the month of December, 1942, issued 744 money orders for a total of $52,930.60.
Under wartime powers, the British government recently invoked its privileges and took full charge of Short Brothers, Ltd, makers of four-motored Stirling bombers and Sunderland flying boats, the oldest manufacturing concern in Britain. It was understood that production and management of the plant had lagged for some time, and dissatisfaction on the part of the government had caused the resignation of H O Short, managing director, who, since 1913, had taken a leading part in the direction of the firm's airplane design and manufacture.
Phillips and Powis Aircraft, Ltd of England report that experiments in using blind ex-service men for certain tasks in building Miles Master trainers has met with astonishing success. Some months ago, a sightless veteran from St Dunstans, an institution for the rehabilitation of the blind, was employed as a small parts inspector. He did his work so successfully that more veterans from St Dunstans were employed on more complicated tasks, such as wood wing-rib assembly. By building special guides and safety cages, the men can now operate routers, cutters, and similar mechanical devices.
This column was originally published in the May, 1943, issue of Air News magazine, vol 4, no 5, pp 44, 46.