Canine colonels are no longer a joke; war dogs, members of the Army's K-Z9 Corps are rapidly seeing action, proving themselves as worthy additions of the AAF. Within the next few weeks, all AAFWFTC stations in the eleven western state command will be answering to canine sentries. Many accompany guards on night tours of duty, where keenness of hearing, smell make the job of safeguarding air installations a more complete one. Attack dogs, who protect fenced properties, interiors of buildings, are equally praised by commanding officers. Dogs for Defense has not yet projected a bill to draft these important warriors but many thousands of volunteers will be needed and soon.
The B-24 Liberator becomes an even more powerful fighting machine as new, more deadly aids to destruction are added. Flight photo of the Modified Liberator bomber displays the innovated nose electric gun turret, mounting two .50-caliber guns that fire synchronously. Note the new Sperry ball belly turret lowered and ready to fire. America's most destructive heavy bomber now can train a total of 13 guns on the enemy at once.
When a sky battle is blazing, fighters are swooping down, machine guns are bursting, there's little time to debate whether that "other ship" is Allied or Jap. The War Department has announced that all US military planes are changing airplane wing insignia to avoid any possibility of mistake. White star on a circular field of blue with a white rectangle attached horizontally at both right and left sides, and a red border enclosing the entire recognition seal was the second decision. The red border, caught at a flash in air action, sometimes resembles the Jap insignia, so a third change is now incorporated, substituting a blue edge for red. Jap insignia, simply a red ball painted on wings, fuselage, is referred to by American pilots as "meatball."
Pilots flying point to point missions of military aircraft in the US are now provided with all available weather and traffic information. Designated the Pilots' Advisory Service, Flight Control personnel can immediately advise Army pilots in any region of sudden weather changes, emergency revisions of orders, approach of large formation flights. Activation of new control centers means that twelve units are now in operation, with focal points at Boston and Seattle. If, in spite of complete precaution, accidents occur, control officers can more effectively speed rescue ships to the scene.
The old adage "More accidents happen in the home" proves more true each day. In more than a million Army parachute jumps not one chute has failed to open. Parachute engineers look forward to automatic timing devices which will permit chutes to be released from high altitudes with almost the accuracy of bombs. In terms of postwar living this enables speedy delivery service of men and materials where landing fields are not available. A machine tool maker in Cincinnati could deliver a badly-needed part to an auto manufacturer in the midst of Detroit's industrial area. Utility companies could land repairmen quickly to fix broken lines, newspapers could drop daily editions far off the beaten path. The applications of timed parachuting are endless. Wright Field laboratories are researching now on containers for sky-dropped cargo. Proven already are corrugated paper boxes placed inside tight-fitting canvas bags. The parachute may even become an air brake, offering stiff competition to helicopters for instantaneous halts. Crowner of this experimentation would be to open a parachute for the entire plane when the ship is crippled in midair. Timorous air passengers will be able to relax, should not fear flight in tomorrow's world.
Although operating fewer aircraft of comparable size to those domestic airlines utilized on the Washington-New York route, the ferry and transport service of the Eighth AAF Service Command has established passenger, freight, mail service that turns the isle into an area smaller than the New England states. About 20,000 miles are embraced in this system headed by Col Leslie P Arnold, formerly an executive under Eddie Rickenbacker at Eastern Airlines. Highly probable is the incorporation of this network into a British Kingdom commercial air service after the war. Poor flying weather, one of Britain's main air problems will be completely alleviated by navigational aids that will guarantee year-round flying service.
Ferry service by the Eighth Air Force Service Command ranges from transportation of mail to movement of wounded men to hospitals. Combat crews arriving from the US, flown to their stations by the intra-island airline, are referred to as "VIP " very important passengers. Apply the same initials to "very important planes" or "very important parts," and that's the gist of the job that is carried on by this service. Most spectacular flying is done by those pilots who fly damaged planes to depots for repair. Planes land at coastal air fields, are temporarily fixed, then taken to the nearest large repair station.
This column was originally published in the November, 1943, issue of Air News magazine, vol 5, no 5, p 41.
Photo credited to Rudy Arnold Photos.