From Headquarters

by Lieut Col Harold E Hartney, Army of the US (Inactive)

Everyone welcomes the new policy of Army and Navy, listing the types of our planes by names instead of alphabetical designations. How much better to have everyone using the name Liberator, instead of having the Army call it the B-24 and the Navy and Marine Corps the PB4Y. How much better to call the Douglas light bomber the Havoc, instead of the Army A-20 and the Navy BD. Before long, the Republic P-47, with its eight .50-caliber machine guns, will be literally sawing enemy aircraft in two. How much more fitting to name it the Thunderbolt. The Messerschmitt, Focke-Wulf and Zero will appear sand-lot stuff in big league play!

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Two good books for you since last writing: Wings Over America by Harry Bruno and The Fight for Air Power by W B Huie. Both are musts for anyone who plans on a career in aviation.

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Another "must" are the 10 commandments of Gill Robb Wilson, president of the National Aeronautic Association, called "What Can I Do to Help?" It is a small one-page poster and I keep it on the wall in front of me. Among other admonitions is: "Thou shalt stay out of Washington." Evidently the civilian agencies here agree with this, for they have thrown up guards for themselves a la Army and Navy, making it so difficult to gain admittance that one would think people down here actually relish the job of calling on them in these busy times.

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Who is going to call a halt to some of the silly, petty things that go on in the overflow training program? For example, in the CAA's War Training Service (formerly CPT), they claim that it will be impossible to train both Army and Navy trainees, one reason being that the former has a circular or oval traffic pattern, whereas the latter has one that is rectangular. Is it any wonder our elders feel that flyers will never grow up?

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The British Empire has several independent and efficient air forces. Each has its own uniform, promotion list and traditions. There are the Royal Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal Indian Air Force, the South African Air Force and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. Each is as separate and distinct from each other or from the army and navy of their respective commonwealth as is our Army from our Navy. In fact, the RCAF has 2,000 airmen in the Middle East alone, and has recently set up a Middle East establishment with administrative personnel, auxiliary services and officers and men of other specialist categories. Some Canadian navigators, aerial gunners and radiomen (called "wireless operators") are serving temporarily with our own US Army Air Forces.

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Birds of a feather flock together. So do flyers. They work in greater harmony and get results. When the three branches — Army, Navy and Air — are of equal status, it's a cinch to obtain unity of command, no matter what the genesis of the commanding general and his staff.

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The true picture of air power in this war today is becoming clearer. The picture is somewhat like a negative one develops slowly in the darkroom. Here are some of the items of that negative:

An American aviation industry backed up by a half-hundred-billion-dollar war industry. From these tremendous plants will come Flying Fortresses capable of flying half again as fast as Civil War cannon balls — 300 mph — nonstop from New York to Paris. These planes will carry a bomb load of eight tons.

Round-the-clock-bombings which will keep the foe on edge day and night, week by week and month by month. This product of the Flying Fortress and other giant bombing planes will shatter morale and destroy enemy supply lines.

Perhaps in the background of this negative, but playing just as important part, is the development of the huge cargo carrying plane. Day in and day out these flying boxcars will shuttle war goods from the factory to the front.

This picture, too, includes the training of vast armies of pilots, observers, gunners and ground crewmen. Fighters, observation planes, trainers and all ground equipment are part of the picture.

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There are indications that when the veil is lifted over Germany to reveal the damage done by large-scale bombing, as recommended in the "Ziff Plan," the picture will be more shocking than that which we received when, one year after Pearl Harbor, details were given out.

So many locomotives have been destroyed by bombing that the new locomotive program of construction has reduced the German's tank-building program. Plant dislocation has been so great that the Germans are moving them back towards Russia. Stalin, however, may soon start bombing from the eastern rim and so catch the Nazis "coming and going." None of the expected oil is coming into Germany from Russia because of transportation disruption coupled with the failure in the Caucasus.

This column was originally published in the March, 1943, issue of Flying including Industrial Aviation magazine, vol 32, no 3, p 62.
The original column is illustrated with a thumbnail portrait of the author.
The photo is not credited.