Many of the strategy and planning articles, and several of the progress reports, were penned by high-ranking military officers. The credits listed here represent their rank at the time that the article was written. Most of the military authors were promoted during the war.



It should be remembered that "Our Warplanes are Best!" was written before American-designed and -built planes had seen much actual combat. The concern at the time — and for some time later — was the effect on morale of aircrew trainees and the potential impact on enlistment of the negative articles being written at the time.

Early exposure of US warplanes to combat, anecdotes of bravery and virtuoso fighting performances notwithstanding, did not yield sterling results. American planes were specified and designed to fight a particular kind of war in a particular operational structure. Those particulars turned out not to be the same as the war that was ultimately fought. The RAF, which did most of the fighting with American-designed and -built planes before Pearl Harbor, had a different operational structure than the USAAC and, as a result, did not use the planes so as to maximize their abilities. So the B-17 was considered a "flaming coffin" or "flying target" until feedback from the fighting front led to the changes that made the B-17E an effective air warrior.

It seems to have been a characteristic American trait to feel inferior to the Europeans — and to resent the feeling and therefore act in the brash fashion that created the stereotype American image. Some of that, some one-upsmanship by some Brits, some resentment that the highly-touted (and rather expensive) planes we shipping over there didn't make everything better right away, and some attitude that we shouldn't have let ourselves be dragged into another European war, were probably all factors in creating a lot of negative press about American planes. The reaction to this came in the form of what I call here "morale pieces" — articles with photos, spec-sheet numbers and anecdotes of successful encounters designed to create a more favorable and optimistic attitude among the American public toward the war effort.

It must be remembered that in the first year after Pearl Harbor, the war was still in doubt. It was mandatory to get the American public and workforce on board with the war program. Apart from the necessity to ramp up to the largest military production capability in history, civilian support of the military effort was critical; the Italians were already showing the effect on an army when the civilian population doesn't support the war they are waging. The Doolittle raid and the Battle of Midway stopped Japanese expansion toward our West Coast, but the first offensive actions over Europe (which was considered the greater threat and got most of the attention, both military and press) didn't occur until mid-1942 and the invasion of Africa not until November. With the dearth of good news from the fronts, it was necessary to counteract the negative views that were being disseminated. Hence, the "morale pieces," which constituted a good portion of the overview articles through 1942.