Just two years ago, Pearl Harbor was in flames. Allied aircraft was impotent against the enemy. Today, all US combat aircraft have proved the world's best. A box score by the Army alone shows 7,312 enemy planes shot down against an American loss of 1,867 planes in all theaters of operation since Pearl Harbor. OWI revealed that American Army combat planes flew a total of 223,758 sorties (missions by a single plane) in which they dropped a total of 105,649 tons of bombs. Box scores tell only half the story. A plane which destroyed strategic bridges, tanks or a ship, adds testimony to our aircraft excellence.
Type by type comparisons demonstrate that Army bombers in the heavy and medium classes are superior to anything the Japs and Germans are putting in the air today. In the light bomber class, the Douglas A-20 Havoc is in a class by itself. The Jap Mitsubishi 99, popularly called the Lily, is not as fast, rugged, or heavily armed as the Havoc. The OWI report predicts a powerful, new light bomber for the future, equipped with interchangeable noses for various types of operation. This plane will be three or four years ahead of the A-20.
Skip bombing leads the way in new tactics. Bombs with delayed action are tree-top level, sighting being done by the pilot rather than by the bombardier. The bomb hits the ground, then glances towards its target. Amazing accuracy has been achieved. Safety has been increased as the pilot can release his bomb flying at a higher speed than is possible in dive bombing.
Despite our record and clear-cut superiority at this stage of the game, there's no assurance that our planes of today won't be surpassed by planes the enemy may produce tomorrow. Our one retort must be constant change to keep ahead of our enemy.
A young American Thunderbolt pilot today probably holds the record for the fastest speed ever attained by man 840 mph. Second Lieutenant Robert H Knapp, of Norwich, NY, had this experience accidentally and lived to tell the tale. While escorting Fortress bombers in a raid over Emden, Germany, Knapp began a vertical dive at 28,000 feet; his throttle and controls froze. At 17,000 feet he tried to pull out but nothing happened. Finally at 10,000 feet, the plane started to level off, and really came out of the dive at 5,000. Pilot Knapp didn't even black out. Although the Thunderbolt instruments will only register 600 mph, intelligence officers calculated that the plane was flying at 840 mph, faster than the speed of sound.
A prototype of the helicopter that you'll use for family excursions, weekend jaunts to the country has been successfully demonstrated by a trip to the country club. Mr Frank Piasecki, president of P-V Engineering Forum, Inc, flew to his golf club, landed near the first tee, joined his waiting friends, and teed off.
The P-V2 resembles a modern sports coupe, has a large windshield of trans- parent Lumarith, a tough, light weight, and highly transparent material. The P-V2 is different from other helicopters in that it is a simplified version, easy to run. The three-blade rotor has a 25-foot diameter with a top speed of approximately 350 mph. Landing speed is zero it can cruise at 85 mph, back up at 20 mph. With a gross weight of 1,000 pounds, including the pilot plus two hours' fuel, it will develop 95 mph forward speed yet it can land in a clearing only 50 feet in diameter.
This column was originally published in the January, 1944, issue of Air News magazine, vol 6, no 1, p 48.