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United States........................................................................................ 566
Inventors’ Ideas—Coast Guard and Radio—Garand Rifle Excellent —Alaska-Offensive War Base
Great Britain........................................................................................ 569
Surprise Raid—Seesaw in Libya—Malta’s Defenses—Talisman’s Exploits—Aerodrome Defense—From Captors to Captives—Various Notes
Arms Plants Speeded Up—Aircraft Industry—Research
Invasion Methods—Army Strength—Sea and Air Losses
Other Countries Sweden
Ford Engines Pass Test—Bombing
Normandie-A Costly Lesson—The Morner Suit
Reserve Flying Route to Australia—Military Rockets—New Torpedo Protection
UNITED STATES Inventors’ Ideas
New York Herald Tribune, February 22. —One of the most heartening developments of the war, it was revealed today by Thomas R. Taylor, director of staff of the National Inventors’ Council, is the way in which the best minds of America have busied themselves since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in turning out “beat-the-Axis” inventions. Mr. Taylor has figures, drawings, and descriptions to prove his point. While some of the suggestions come from cranks or crackpots, most of them are from engineers and other experts who have been submitting ideas of high quality. “They range,” said Mr. Taylor, “from plans for gadgets for use as part of the equipment of soldiers in the field to blueprints for what the sponsors believe to be revolutionary weapons.” “Do any of the blueprints for such weapons hold any real promise?” Mr. Taylor was asked. His answer was: “They really do.”
The nature of most of the inventions is, of course, a military secret. But the N. I. C. did 'give clearance on a few already accepted or being worked out. They are:
(1) An amphibian car, capable of tremendous speed on land and of “respectable” speed on water. The inventor already has a trial contract to build six for the Army.
(2) An incendiary torch, devised by a fountain-pen manufacturer who found himself with plastics for the cases but no metal for the points and no rubber for sacs. The torch can be used for everything from kindling fires to sabotage. It weighs a quarter of an ounce and the flame cannot be blown out.
(3) A ceramic material so hard it may replace commercial diamonds in civilian industry, freeing them for war-factory use. The material can withstand 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Tests indicate it can be substituted for watch jewels.
Those are just three of thousands of ideas offered when America’s men of brains responded after danger threatened. The speed with which they acted is demonstrated by statistics. In November 2,002 letters were received. In the week before the December 7 attack on Pearl Harbor, the number was 1,105. In the next week the total was 2,167. From then on, the story is told in 2-week totals. There were 4,306 letters in the last two weeks in December. There were 4,849 in the first two weeks of January. Then came the peak—7,459 for the last two weeks in January.
For the first two weeks in February the total slumped a little, to 6,169. That was not because of a decrease in interest but because most of the letter writers had worked hard under the first fever of war and had rushed their plans into the council’s offices. This Thursday 1,000 came in during the day. The council itself is made up of eminent scientists who serve at a dollar a year. The chairman is Dr. Charles F. Kettering, of General Motors Corp. Dr. Thomas Midgley, of the Ethyl Gasoline Corp., is vice-chairman. Conway P. Coe, Commissioner of Patents, is another member. Others are William D. Coolidge, vice-president of General Electric; Dr. Fred Zeder, of the Chrysler Corp. engineering staff, and Dr. Fin Sparre, director of development of E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Inc. How the council works was described by Conder C. Henry, assistant commissioner of the Patent Office, at a hearing before a House subcommittee on the appropriation bill. “We have arbitrarily assigned A and B ratings to the suggestions,” Mr. Henry said. “Those rated A are needed immediately and may have been asked for by the Army or Navy. These may be sent directly to the council member of the appropriate committee or to the full council. When the council meets once a month the suggestions are evaluated. There is a representative of both the Army and the Navy on the council. The suggestions usually are sent to both places. The Navy takes the viewpoint that anything that is good enough for the Army the Navy ought to have, and vice versa.” Mr. Henry, incidentally, was explaining why this subdivision of the Patent Office asked only $120,000 for 1943, a reduction of $30,000 from $150,000, and his answer was: “The reason is because we are getting services free from these patriotic men.” Mr. Henry had an answer for the ever-present fear of inventors that some one is going to swipe their ideas. “For instance,” he said, “a very pressing problem at the present time is to find the place in space at night where the bomber is, so as to get an aim on it automatically by a gun. Let us say that John Doe invents something and reduces it to practical form. He submits it to the National Inventors’ Council. The suggestion goes to the appropriate committee chairman. John Doe can immediately file an application to patent his invention in the Patent Office and secure the protection afforded by the patent laws. The inventor is not restrained in any way.” Mr. Henry testified also as to the percentage of good ideas. “Three thousand have been adopted by the council,” he said.
Representative Louis C. Rabaut, Democrat, of Michigan, asked, “Out of how many?” “Out of 45,000.” This hearing was held five weeks after Pearl Harbor. Since then almost 20,000 more suggestions have been received. Mr. Taylor says that the percentage of acceptable ideas has been even higher since then. At the same appropriation hearing, Mr. Taylor revealed that quick action is possible. “Just three weeks ago,” he said, “a paper-box manufacturer from Denver came in with a new design of a carton for small-arms ammunition and a machine for putting small-arms ammunition into cartons. I have not had a formal report from the Ordnance Department, but I believe they are installing his system in the Frankfort Arsenal and they also have suggested he visit the small-arms ammunition plants through the country and install systems there.”
While no publicity is being given to most of the new developments, the War
Department has circulated a list of “inventive opportunities.” It wants, among other things:
Hydrocarbon vapors as an explosive.
Air, centrifugal, and electromagnet guns.
Aircraft catapults and retarding devices.
Remote-controlled aerial and marine torpedoes, land vehicles and ships, and remote control for other combat weapons.
The list is long and the opportunities wide open. And America’s inventors are working on them.
Coast Guard and Radio
U. S. Coast Guard Alumni Association Bulletin, January, by Rear Admiral James F. Hottel, U. S. Coast Guard (Retired).— The first vessel of the United States to make practical tactical use of radio was the revenue cutter Grant, Captain Dorr F. Tozier, U.S.R.C.S., commanding, cruising in the Straits of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound. Ship to shore communication on regular schedule between the vessel, her headquarters at Port Townsend and the bases of two attached “launches” for the purpose of expediting information and coordinating operations in anti-smuggling campaign was initiated April 1, 1904. The smuggling situation was acute. The boats for the traffic were drawn from the large local fishing fleet which made every fisherman a suspect. The short distances involved and the numerous channels and landing places available made it an up-hill fight for Captain Tozier with the Grant and the two 65-foot launches—the Guard at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island and the Scout at Port Townsend, each in charge of a commissioned officer.
Early in 1903 the Pacific Wireless Telegraph Company was organized for the
(In the Saturday Evening Post for January 24, 1942, there is a picture of the first Navy Wireless Station, built by De Forest in 1905. It would seem, on the basis of Admiral Hottel’s article, that the Revenue Cutter Service’s first wireless installation antedated the Navy’s by about a year.) purpose of extending telegraphic communication in the rapidly developing Northwest. The prospectus provided for a main station at wire end, Port Townsend, a substation at Victoria, B. C., and additional stations when and where conditions warranted. Captain Tozier saw at once the advantages of a hook-up with this outfit which would enable him to keep constantly in touch with his sources of information in Victoria and Port Townsend and to direct the movements of the two launches while the Grant was cruising. He contacted Mr. A. L. New, the General Manager of the Company who enthusiastically welcomed this unexpected government business and support and agreed to the addition of a station to serve the San Juan Islands at Friday Harbor. Together they sold the plan to the Collector of Customs and as a result a proposal for service was drawn which provided for the location of the main station in the Custom House at Port Townsend, the installation of equipment and an operator on the Grant and schedules with Port Townsend, Victoria, and Friday Harbor, the service to be extended to new stations as installed without additional cost. This proposal received the approval of the Treasury Department in August, 1903.
Most vessels of the service at that time were without electric plants and the Grant was no exception. To supply this deficiency a dynamo supplied by the company was mounted in the upper engine-room, belt driven from the fly wheel of the circulating pump in the lower engine room, through an opening cut in the deck for the purpose. The aerial was much the same as later became so general except that at the foremast head two coils 3 feet in diameter of several strands of heavy copper wire were mounted, one fore and aft, the other athwartships. A radio shack was built on deck abaft the foremast. The apparatus in the radio-room was of the simplest: for sending, an adjustable spark gap with key and necessary appurtenances; for receiving, a box about the size and shape of the ordinary table radio fitted with plug-in for head phones, a push-pull switch or two and a turning knob and dial. Considerable mystery attached to this receiver. The cover of the box was fitted with a lock, the key to which was never out of the possession of the company’s technician, and the box itself was kept under lock and key in the radio-room when not in use. The “in- ards” were an unknown quantity to any on board (the writer was attached to the vessel at the time). The operator, a Morse Code man from the local telegraph office, knew nothing of the mechanism.
The erection of the Port Townsend station and the installation of the apparatus on the Grant was accomplished without undue delay. As soon as these two were able to operate experimental work was started and many adjustments aboard ship and ashore during the next few months were found necessary before satisfactory results were obtained and reliable communication could be maintained. At first, on a still night, the spark could be seen and heard almost as far as the radio signal would carry; ultimately range to cover the usual cruising ground of the vessel, about a hundred miles, was obtained although moderately high land close to the vessel between it and a station would completely block traffic.
Hard luck and delay were encountered at Friday Harbor where the first masts were blown down in a gale. However, late in March the Company was in position to comply with the terms of its contract and regular paid service was started on April 1, 1904. While this date marks the start of regular scheduled traffic, practical use of the apparatus had been made on numerous occasions several months prior, messages of a confidential nature being handled in an improvised code.
After a few years, the Pacific Wireless Telegraph Company drifted out of the picture and in 1906 the Grant went the way of old ships. No one at the time realized the part they played in the history of radio which should entitle them to mention in the chronology of important radio dates.
Garand Rifle Excellent
New York Herald Tribune, February 23. —A report of “excellent” performance by the rapid-firing Garand rifle under actual combat conditions on the Bataan peninsula has been received from General Douglas MacArthur. General MacArthur told the War Department, officials said today, that his fighting men found that the weapon operated with no mechanical defects and did not develop stoppages from dust or dirt when used in fox holes. In some instances, he added, the Garand had been used in almost constant action for as much as a week without cleaning or lubrication. The Philippines commander suggested no modification in parts or assembly, the department added.
Ordnance experts say the gas-operated, clip-fed Garand has about three times more fire power than its predecessor, the bolt- action Springfield. The average rifleman fires about 40 shots a minute with the Garand. Officially known as the United States rifle, caliber .30 MI, the Garand was sponsored by Major General Charles M. Wesson, the Chief of Army Ordnance. With it a soldier can fire 8 shots as rapidly as he can pull the trigger. He does not have to bring the rifle off the target by handling a bolt between each shot, as is necessary with the Springfield. The Garand fires the same ammunition as the old Springfield and as all standard United States caliber .30 machine guns. The ammunition is loaded by hand clips containing 8 cartridges each. Now in mass production, the 9-pound weapon was invented by John C. Garand, a civilian employee of the Army Ordnance Department’s Springfield, Mass., Armory. It was standardized for use by the Army in January, 1936, and by the Marine Corps in February, 1941. Ordnance officials say it is “rugged, hardy and simple in construction.” As far back as last July, the Army was turning out Garands at the rate of 1,000 daily at the Springfield Armory. The present output is a military secret. While praising the Garand, ordnance officials also had a kind word for the older Springfield, the doughboy’s standard weapon in the World War. Pointing out that it had been conceded “the best quality production military rifle of its day,” the War Department added: “Nothing in General MacArthur’s report indicated that the older Springfield rifle was not living up to the matchless reputation it had enjoyed before the advent of the Garand.”
Alaska—Offensive War Base
New York Herald Tribune, February 15. —Conversion of Alaska into a mighty offensive base for hammer blows against the Axis is progressing, Governor Ernest Gruening, territorial chief executive, said Friday night after conferring with President Roosevelt. He said Alaska is being thought of “in terms of offensive warfare rather than defensive.”
Governor Gruening flew from Juneau for consultations with the President and other officials. He declined to be specific about what is being done to meet a possible Japanese attack, but emphasized that “it is the offense that has got to be bolstered.” The northern territory, which extends to within bombing range of Japan, is viewed in expert circles as both America’s most promising base of future operations and its most exposed frontier.
GREAT BRITAIN Surprise Raid
Baltimore Sun, March 1.—With faces blackened, even to their teeth, the British parachutists who were landed on the French coast at Bruneval, 12 miles north of Le Havre in the early hours of this morning, had covered half a mile and were nearly at their objective before a shot was fired at them. It was only after the essential part of the operation was completed and the troops were making for the beach where the Navy was to embark them that they came up against serious oppositions. They overcame and silenced the beach defenses, sent out a signal to naval craft waiting a little offshore and in a matter of minutes were heading across the Channel back to England.
One of the parachutists told me they got away just in time. “The Germans had an armored division about 50 miles away and as we left the beach I saw a column of headlights coming toward us, though still some distance off,” he said. Our casualties in killed and those who failed to reach the beach were light. This combined operation was the climax of weeks of organization, training, and waiting—and both the RAF and Navy had parts to play which were vital to the success of the raid.
The RAF took the parachutists, and the Navy brought them back, while the infantry provided crews which protected the returning boats. The combined operations present complex problems—the head of the operations described himself as one third soldier, one third sailor, and one third airman—and their three dimensional quality demands weather conditions which suit all three services. Parachutists cannot drop in high wind, the RAF cannot find the right spot without good visibility and the Navy must watch the tide. For some days all those who took part had waited. As each day passed with high wind or thick mist and the period when the tide and moon suitably shortened, so spirits sank in the wardroom of the ship in which I had lived during the final training rehearsal.
Then glumness and depression were rapidly transformed into jubilation when word came round late Friday afternoon “The job’s on tonight.” While the flotilla steamed steadily to the French coast those who were to man landing craft blacked their faces with burnt cork and paraded in the wardroom in sheer high spirits, giving imitations of well-known, black-face comedians. We were well within enemy waters when light landing craft left the mother-ship and went on with their escort. Small dark shapes in a double line, they looked against the moonlight sea like a team of huskies on a trail. Just before they left, echoing through the ship came the stirring melody “Land of My Fathers,” sung by Welshmen who formed a large part of the soldiers’ protection crews.
Small and defenseless though the landing craft seemed, yet stowed away within them were guns and ammunition sufficient to deal harshly with either an air or E-boat attack. Also on board were duffle coats for parachute troops on the way back, bull beef, biscuits, condensed milk, jam, and large reserves of gasoline. At that moment all was activity on airdromes where parachute troops were climbing into Whitley bombers which were to drop them. So excellent were the conditions, so skillful the RAF crews, that all went smoothly. They not only found their small appointed place but found it at exactly the right time.
Dropped from only a few hundred feet, the parachutists landed. In a few minutes all of them were on their exact place, except one, which though not scoring a bulls’- eye, managed to join up. When originally asked if he could put parachutists down on that spot, an RAF officer had said: “It’s a piece of cake.” And so it proved to be. All the craft returned to their base. RAF support of the operations did not end here. As the returning craft neared England in the growing light of dawn a strong fighter cover was given them. In the words of one of the boat’s officers, there was “a lane of fighters.”
A few hours later all crews of aircraft which had dropped the parachutists came to the ship to await the return of the parachute troops. The air force men had a strong Empire flavor. Among them were seven Canadians, some New Zealanders, an Australian in the dark blue of the RAAF, Welshmen and Englishmen. From the beginning to end the operation took something over two hours. When getting away from the beach the enemy fired down on the parachutists from cliffs but fire from the landing craft quickly silenced them.
The officer of the first boat back stated that while his craft was lying offshore waiting for the signal to go in two German destroyers and two E-boats passed on patrol about 2 miles away well within visibility in the clear moonlight. Scotland can well be proud for many of those who contributed to the success of the operation were her sons. Major J. D. Frost, the parachutists commander, is a Scot though born in Poona. Many of the Scots were from Gla- bog, but there were quite a number of Highlanders.
Seesaw in Libya
Field Artillery Journal, March.— The November, 1941, issue of The Field Artillery Journal carried an article which discussed the campaigns in Libya of 194041. It described Wavell’s advance to El Agheila, Rommel’s counteroffensive and the retreat of the British back into Egypt, and the action at Solum in June. At its conclusion the article suggested that renewed action might be expected in the near future. This remark was soon verified, for on November 18 the British began a new westward push into Libya. Although the details are still far from clear, and the campaign has by no means been completed, it seems worthwhile to briefly review the events to date.
During the summer and fall of 1941 the British made extensive but well-concealed preparations for an offensive which subsequently was launched in November. The preparations were under the direction of General Sir Claude Auchinleck. Great quantities of material, and especially tanks and planes, were obtained from the United States. The task force designated was the Eighth Army. The latter had been formed from a part of the old Army of the Nile (the remainder was sent to Syria under Sir Henry Maitland Wilson). Large reinforcements were collected from all over the Empire, and Lieutenant General Sir Alan Gordon Cunningham was assigned as commander of the Eighth Army. He had been knighted only the previous May for his success in Somaliland and Ethiopia. His brother, Admiral Sir Arthur Browne Cunningham, directed the fleet which was to support the land forces, while Air Vice Marshal Arthur Coningham commanded the air forces.
In the extent of its preparations and the elaborate detail of its planning the proposed offensive resembled the carefully mounted Great War operation. It was necessary, therefore, to take extreme precautions to preserve secrecy. It was known that Rommel’s troops had worked months in developing a fortified area from Solum south through Halfaya Pass to Sidi Omar. The previous campaign had shown that in order to secure final victory—capture of Tripoli and the complete conquest of Libya—Rommel’s forces would have to be surrounded and destroyed in Cyrenaica. The year before the Italians had re-formed behind El Agheila, a strong point barring the way to Tripoli which could not readily be by-passed because of the marshes by which it is flanked. Safe at this point, the Italians had awaited the German reinforcements, and the ultimate result had been the failure of the British campaign.
Prime Minister Churchill put the British goal quite plainly: “The object of the British and Empire offensive is not so much the occupation of this or that locality but the destruction of the armed, and primarily the armored, forces of the enemy.” To achieve this, it appears from the newspaper accounts that in its essentials the British plan called for an attack along the line of Rommel’s entrenchments accompanied by a wide turning movement south of Sidi Omar, to be carried out by armored troops. Once Rommel’s line was by-passed, the armored forces apparently were to head northwest for a junction with the British garrison at Tobruk. When this movement was completed, Rommel’s army would be encircled, and its westward retreat blocked.
By the night of November 17, the British troops were in position, and the attack began at dawn on the 18th. A heavy rain had turned the desert dust to mud, and the weather was unusually cold. In spite of this, the turning movement made good progress in the first days. Following Churchill’s announcement of the opening of the campaign, in the words of the New York Times, “widespread jubilation was evident throughout Britain.”
It soon became evident, however, that Rommel had not been taken completely unawares. His armored forces were quickly concentrated and used to meet the British envelopment. By November 21, a great tank battle had developed around Rezegh, south of Tobruk. In general, the battle moved from southeast to northwest, and at times groups of tanks would move parallel to each other, firing continuously, much as ship-against-ship action proceeds at sea. The fighting was very confused; many of the British units had become separated in the course of their wide turning movement, and by concentrating his forces Rommel was able to destroy some of the British units in detail. For prolonged and bitter fighting, this tank battle has had few equals in the war. By the 24th it was apparent that, temporarily at least, Rommel was going to be able to hold his own, and thus keep open a line of retreat to the west. A shortage of gasoline prevented him from undertaking any extensive counteroffensive. The same day Auchin- leck arrived at headquarters at the front.
On November 25, the British 31,000-ton battleship Barham was sunk off Solum, with an estimated loss of about 500 lives. It was reported that she had been torpedoed by a submarine while shelling the coast. The next day Auchinleck relieved Cunningham, and replaced him in command of the Eighth Army by Lieutenant General Neil Methuen Ritchie. Of the Middle East commander Churchill later remarked: “During nearly the whole time Auchinleck has been at battle headquarters, and I have no hesitation in saying that for good or ill it is Auchinleck’s battle.” Of this first phase of the battle, Churchill said: “The Libyan offensive did not take the course the authors expected . . . there have been some unpleasant surprises and some awkward things have happened”; and he added, “our losses in tanks were a good deal heavier than we expected.” The tank battle around Rezegh was continued with increased severity, but the British were unable to completely close the gap.
November 26, Rommel pounced on a South African brigade southwest of Rezegh, and sent raiding parties south of Sidi Omar into Egypt. Prisoners taken this day included Harold Denny of the New York Times, Godfrey Anderson of the Associated Press, and Major Michael Buckley, Jr., FA, an American observer. Four days later the British captured their first German general officer while he was making a reconnaissance near Rezegh. The latter was General von Ravenstein, the commander of the 21st Panzer Division (there were two German armored divisions in Libya: the 15th and the 21st). The same day the British sent a raiding party to the Gulf of Sidra, south of Bengazi.
On December 2, the British fell back south to Bir-el-Gobi to reform. Rommel’s troops thereupon began their withdrawal to the west. Rommel had succeeded in evading the trap which had been set for him. For the British there now remained two tasks: to follow up and attempt to intercept Rommel, and to mop up the strong points he had left in their rear. December 10, Tobruk was finally relieved, and Gambut was taken. The British pushed on, their progress hampered by sandstorms. Many German planes were wrecked on the ground, reportedly because of a shortage of gasoline. Rommel’s troops conducted a delaying action, and on Christmas day the British occupied Ben- gazi. Heavy rains returned, and on December 27, the New York Times reported that “there was a growing belief among London observers that Germany and Italy were rushing heavy reinforcements to Tripoli.”
January 2, South African troops captured Bardia. Six days later Rommel evacuated Agedabia, and fell back in the direction of El Agheila; by the 13th he was reported to have taken his stand at that point. January 17, Halfaya Pass surrendered to the British.
On January 22, Rommel’s counterattack began. The next day he retook Agedabia, just 15 days after he had evacuated it. By the 26th he had pushed forward to the northeast to Msus, from which point he could threaten either Mekili to the east or Bengazi to the west, on January 29, the Germans announced that they had retaken Bengazi, and the same day the German radio reported that Rommel had been made a field marshal for his victory. Considerable supplies of gasoline were captured by Rommel, which relieved him of his most pressing difficulties on this count.
On January 27, Prime Minister Churchill summed up the campaign so that date: “This battle would have been lost on November 24 if General Auchinleck had not intervened, changed the command, and ordered the ruthless pressure of the attack to be maintained without regard to the consequences. But for this robust decision, we should have been forced back to our original line. . . . Cyre- naica is regained; it has still to be held . . .
in this battle we have lost in killed, wounded, and captured about 18,000 officers and men, of which the greater part are British. We have 36,500 prisoners in our possession. I cannot tell what is waiting for us at the present moment in Cyre- naica. We have a very daring and skillful opponent against us—and I may say—a great general.” And that is about where the operations stood at the end of January.
London Times, January 20.—A senior officer home from Malta spoke yesterday about life on the island, the bombing of which is so constantly in the news. While he did not belittle its intensity or effect, he declared that both the services and the civil population objected to the picture sometimes painted of terrible conditions and unrelieved strain. They did not consider that they lived in such conditions, and wondered how words would be found to describe their situation in the event of really serious air bombardment if all the strongest words were used now.
A year ago, when the Illustrious was in, the bombing was undoubtedly very heavy, and much damage was done. When the Germans departed in the spring, however, it slackened off and did not become at all formidable until about mid-December, when the Luftwaffe was again in action. The Italians came over often enough, but they were anxious only to get rid of their bombs as quickly as possible and get back to Sicily. Malta put up one of the most impressive barrages it was possible to see. Our Hurricanes had been known to dive through it after a hostile bomber, but the practice was strongly discouraged.
The officer also pointed out that all the houses were of cut stone and stood up remarkably well to bombardment. Some of the troops were now also quartered in stone huts, which gave a considerable measure of safety. The men of the static defenses had well-built and roomy pillboxes, near which they kept their chickens and tended small gardens. The troops were given ample local leave, whenever possible 24 hours a week and in addition 3 days a month. For these leave periods special camps were run by the R.A.F. in which the mornings could be spent in learning something about the work of the sister-service and the afternoons in relaxation. Amenities included a well-equipped “fun fair,” clubs, a young officers’ rest house not open to anyone above the rank of captain, and the British Institute, housed in a fine old Hospice of the Knights, which provided a library, lectures, and amusements for all ranks with an annual subscription of 10s.
He had often, he said, been asked whether there was not a shortage of supplies. While some things were now unobtainable, in general the inhabitants were very well off owing to the fertility of the southern part of the island. In some parts three crops of potatoes could be grown annually; tomatoes were plentiful; and oranges and lemons were to be had. He also spoke appreciatively of the tunny. The spirit of the troops, both Maltese and “English Army” ' —the term “British” is not used to mark the division in Malta because the Maltese forces consider themselves part of the British Army—was high, though he admitted that they sometimes grew impatient with their role, and it had to be impressed upon them that the Army in Malta was doing invaluable work in keeping open the ring for the other services. Naturally he would not say that Malta was impregnable, but he was convinced that any attempt at invasion would cost the aggressor extremely heavy losses.
London Times, January 20.—Some details of the work of British submarines in the Mediterranean were told tonight on board a submarine depot ship by Captain
S. M. Raw, who attributed the entire credit for our successes to his commanders, who are day and night unceasingly patrolling the Mediterranean. One submarine commander, Lieutenant Commander F. Willmott, operating in the Talisman, between sinking a surfaced U-boat and attacking an enemy destroyer, the latter of which he mistook for a submarine, attacked and sank a 15,000-ton Italian troopship. Firing five torpedoes at this troopship, Lieutenant Commander Willmott registered 4 hits and dispatched the ship in exactly 12£ minutes. The Talisman was cruising on the surface on a pitch- black night, close in to hostile shores, just returning from a routine patrol. Suddenly a U-boat was sighted, also on the surface, about 700 yards away. Both tried in turn to attack. The U-boat gained a slight advantage, and slammed in two torpedoes which shot past the Talisman, making near misses. Although it was pitch-dark the Talisman’s crew brought her guns into action, and in a few seconds fired two rounds, the second of which scored a direct hit.
The gunnery was amazing. The trainer of the gun never saw the U-boat: he was directed entirely by the gunlayer. By this time the vessels were only 15 ft. apart, and both commanders were juggling with their engines. Then the U-boat attempted to dive. Lieutenant Commander Willmott saw a big red glow inside the U-boat’s conning tower. She suddenly dived with her lights blazing. The Talisman's gunlayer evidently knocked out the men in the conning tower, and the U-boat disappeared with the hatch open. On another occasion the Talisman was on patrol on a very dark night when she sighted what was thought to be an enemy U-boat. Three torpedoes were fired from the Talisman, but missed. The target turned out to be a small destroyer instead of a deep-draught submarine. Nevertheless the Talisman's crew was so alert that the 3 torpedoes were fired in three minutes. The Talisman, which was on the surface, then fired her guns in exactly 4 minutes after the first sighting and got 4 direct hits. In addition, 120 rounds of Lewis gun fire were sprayed on the destroyer’s deck—all this before the submarine realized that she was up against a destroyer. The destroyer then attempted to ram the submarine, but missed her by 50 ft. The Talisman thereupon made her escape.
London Times, January 9.—Yesterday a new policy for the defense of aerodromes was announced in both Houses of Parliament. Due weight will be accorded to Mr. Attlee’s statement that it was necessary before acting to take into account the lessons of military exercises; but it will be felt none the less that the new policy has not been put into effect before it was time. The anxiety on the subject mentioned in a recent article by our Military Correspondent has been reflected in numerous letters which, though not suitable or indeed not intended for publication, have revealed widespread disquiet over known or suspected gaps in our existing armor. The new plan provides that the defense of aerodromes must be treated as a part of the defense of the territory in which they are situated. As such it is primarily a responsibility of the Army, in this country of the Commander in Chief, Home Forces. The first line of local defense, however, will be a force raised and administered by the R.A.F. and known as the R.A.F. regiment, supported by the R.A.F. ground staff. Major General C. F. Liardet, previously Inspector-General of Aerodrome Defenses, has been appointed Director- General, Ground Defences in the Air Ministry and commandant of the new regiment; and his staff will include experienced army officers seconded to the R.A.F. In the event of invasion these local defense forces will come under the command of the appropriate military commander, who will have at his disposal the necessary mobile forces and will embody the defense of the aerodrome in question in his general plan of operations.
The thesis that the defense of an aerodrome cannot be divorced from that of the territory in which it is situated is perfectly sound doctrine, so long as the attitude to purely local defense is not halfhearted, and so long as the determination that no aerodrome shall fall into the enemy’s hands if it be humanly possible to keep him off it is treated as a consideration of overriding importance. Mr. Attlee’s remark that defense could not be conducted wholly or mainly from the aerodrome itself might be open to misinterpretation. There are few plots of ground whereon men are so thickly concentrated as on an aerodrome. If it be assumed that every aerodrome is a fortress to be held at all costs, it will be a very much more practicable task for mobile military forces to relieve an aerodrome which is effectively holding out than to retake it after the enemy has installed himself upon it and organized his defenses. Forethought, ingenuity, and training will suggest any number of devices for providing cover from fire and view, for planning unpleasant surprises for the attacker, and for enabling the defender to maintain himself for a considerable period even if supplies should be cut off and movement should be rendered temporarily impossible by attack from the air.
The execution of the plan requires complete unity and co-operation between the departments concerned—in itself never an easy matter; and its merits, like those of every other plan, depend mainly on the efficiency with which it is carried out. The Director-General himself, an able Territorial officer who has commanded a division and has already had considerable experience of the problem with which he has to deal, inspires confidence. The delay in reaching that decision should at least have ensured full digestion of lessons of diverse kinds. But no more of them can be afforded. It is exceedingly fortunate that we have enjoyed so long a respite, and we must go forward with the determination that there shall in future be no avoidable holdups and with the knowledge that there is no further room for inertia or mistakes. In particular the training of the R.A.F. ground staff should be pushed forward as rapidly as possible; for full preparation may make all the difference between victory and defeat. The whole question concerns one of the most important developments of modern warfare and one of the most insistent threats to the security of these islands. Nor does it stop there. It extends to every theater of the war in which our forces may be operating.
From Captors to Captives
New York Herald Tribune, February 1. —Shot down into the Mediterranean, 19 crewman of an R.A.F. Sunderland flying boat have reached their base with 100 Italian prisoners after swimming to shore through rough seas and hiking across the Libyan desert with the captives. The British plane was attacked by two German Messerschmitts. One was shot down and the other damaged and driven off, but the Sunderland also was hit, and its starboard engines stopped. The big craft hit the sea hard, bounced 50 feet and finally came to rest 4J miles off the African shore. One passenger had been killed in the attack and a gunner was wounded critically. The crippled craft drifted inshore and finally sank. The gunner was placed in a rubber dinghy and the others—19 men and a dog—swam beside it to shore near Apollonia. There the unarmed Britons encountered an isolated party of 40 or 50 Italian soldiers, who claimed them as prisoners. The mixed band started along the coast, carrying the gunner on an improvised stretcher. The next day they met 20 Italian officers. Embittered because, they said, the Germans had made off with their vehicles, these officers proposed that in return for their help they should receive favored treatment if they fell into British hands.
After that it became difficult to distinguish between captors and prisoners. An Italian major publicly flogged an Italian soldier who had made off with the wounded gunner’s flying boots. Next day the gunner died and the Italian major conducted a military burial.
Then the major proposed that his party head for Bengasi, leaving the British with rifles to fend for themselves. The R.A.F. leader insisted Bengasi had fallen to the British. The Italians at first were skeptical, but finally were convinced and gave up the idea of trying to regain the Axis lines. Then the whole group set out eastward toward the British lines. From time to time other straggling Italians joined the party. Eventually the R.A.F. men trudged in with a full hundred prisoners. Perhaps one of the oddest angles of the adventure was that an R.A.F. sergeant who had a small camera made a photographic record of it— and the Italians were as anxious to get into the picture as were the British.
The British Admiralty announced today that the former American destroyer Belmont has been sunk. The Belmont, 1,190 tons, was one of 50 destroyers traded to Great Britain for Western Hemisphere bases. She was finished in 1919 and was formerly named the Satterlee. The loss of three other destroyers obtained from the United States has been announced heretofore by the British. They were the Broadwater, formerly the Mason; the Stanley, formerly the Bailey; and the Bath, formerly the Hopewell.—Baltimore Sun, February 28.
GERMANY Arms Plants Speeded Up
The Aeroplane (London), January 30.— Furniture factories in Central Germany are being increasingly employed as subcontractors to the Aircraft Industry in the making of wooden airplanes. Mortenbau W. Kratzsch of Gossnitz, until recently known as a builder of miniature petrol motors for model airplanes, has taken up the manufacture of small motors for gliders and sailplanes. Arado Warne- miinde is increasing its production of seaplanes.
The Sachsenberg A.G. of Dessau-Ross- lau and Neumunster, which manufactures floats for seaplanes, recently opened a dockyard in Holland. The present Managing Director of the firm is G. Sachsenberg, a Pour le Merite ex-naval pilot, who was for many years the Managing Director of the Junkers Air Transport Company. The People’s Car Factory near Fallersleben, which is owned by the German Labour Front, increased its capital to 150 million marks (£7.5 millions at par). In addition to the small “People’s Car,” which is now used for reconnaissance, the Company manufactures tank caterpillar tracks, and does subcontract work for several aircraft factories. The Frieseke and Hopfner Company of Babelsberg, Grossbeeren Strasse 106 to 117, manufacturers of electrical equipment for aircraft, has taken up the production of precision instruments, such as gauges, of its own design. The firm appears to be interested also in the manufacture of apparatus intended for use in radiolocation. The two directors were formerly on the Board of Directors of Junkers, and their new enterprise doubtless comes within the Junkers combine.
Junkers Aircraft Works are still expanding. A recent report from Germany indicates that the Company has taken an interest in one of the largest German machine tool manufacturers, the Pittler Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik Aktiengesell- schaft at Leipzig-Wahren. Pittlers have long been specialists in machine tools for the Aircraft Industry; with the assistance of the Bank for German Aviation, they established a plant which works only for the German Aircraft Industry. Another big
German engineering firm now serving as an aero-engine “shadow” works is the Klockner-Humboldt-Deutz A.G. This concern is also interested in Pittler.
Messerschmitt A.G., Munich, the central plant of the South Bavarian group of works of this Company, is preparing a further extension of its factories. Erla Maschinenwerk G.m.b.H., of Leipzig N-24, is working a new plant in occupied France. The Hirth Aero-Engine Works, Stuttgart- Zuffenhausen, and the Daimler Benz Works of Genshagen, intend to set up new plants. Both firms are increasing their personnel.
The co-ordination of aircraft manufacture in allied, neutral, and occupied territories with that inside the Reich is directed and supervised by General Engineer Heinrich Bauer, one of Germany’s earliest aircraft engineers. Bauer is nearly 66 years old and was responsible for the reorganization of the Italian Aircraft Industry to meet the needs of the Luftwaffe. The German Aircraft Industry recently set up a new aircraft insurance company, which according to its report, will eventually become the only European firm to insure aircraft and aircraft plants. The Company’s headquarters are at Dessau.
New York Herald Tribune, February 19. —The Germans are now making “the most ruthless and single-aimed production drive in the world,” and although changes in the German civil constitution have been made to increase war production and reduce civil consumption, German morale is higher than it has been for months, a Ministry of Economic Warfare official said today. He said the call-up of boys 17 years of age into the Army and the increased manufacture of gliders presages “a gigantic offensive” in the spring. “Frantic efforts are under way to find additional labor,” he added, because of the inability of German troops to return to factories during the winter months, as they had in previous years. Although the Germans are shifting workers from the textile industries to war factories, recruiting juvenile labor and allowing sufferers from tuberculosis to return to factory work, the official said German morale is high because the people know this special drive is a “do or die” effort to properly mount the coming spring offensive—or else face disaster
Changes in the wage policy have been made to encourage production and efficiency rates and bonuses have been introduced. In the building trades, for example, deductions are made from salaries when the work falls below a certain standard. This, the official said, will probably spread to all other industries. In addition, the Germans have instituted a comb-out of workers, particularly workers aimed at getting skilled men for the forces. It is believed foreign workers will soon be conscripted to increase the labor force, thus depleted. Reports reaching the Ministry said the Agricultural Youth Service is being increased from 20,000 to 200,000. Reports showed that blind persons are being specially trained for war work and that workers suffering from tuberculosis have suddenly been allowed back into factories. “This is a decision that no government would take in peace time, and Germany is the only country where this is allowed in war time,” the official said.
The Aeroplane, January 23.—Tremendous efforts are being made in Germany to increase production to counteract both the losses in Russia and the effect of America’s entry into the war. These production efforts are being pushed forward not only in Germany but also in all the occupied countries, particularly in France, where a big new program was begun. One result of the new production drive is that the bringing of new types into service is delayed in order to concentrate on the maximum output.
Most of the present aircraft production is on improved versions of familiar airplanes —such as the Me 109f, the He lllHaE and the Ju 88a6. Nevertheless a few new types such as the Fw 190, the Do 217 and the He 177 are now in service and more are being brought to the production stage. Behind all this desperate industry on the production front a great deal of research is being conducted throughout the German Aircraft Industry and at the DVL. Authenticated information on the nature of some of this research has reached us recently. The data which follow can be taken as accurate. They indicate the lines of thought rather than the actual production at present.
One of the most widespread subjects for exploration in Germany at present is that of high-flying. Arado, Dornier, Focke- Wulf, Heinkel and Messerschmitt are all experimenting with pressure cabins. The Arado Company has designed a special valve for regulating the pressure inside a supercharged cabin. The object of this valve is not only to regulate the pressure as the airplane climbs but also to counteract the effect of leaks caused by bullet holes. The Dornier concern is studying problems of high-flying airplanes at its research institute at Manzell. A low-pressure chamber similar to that developed in the U.S.A. by the Boeing Company is used for continuous tests. At the Focke-Wulf Aircraft Works, Doctor-Engineer Kurt Tank, the Company’s Chief Designer, has designed a pressure cabin for use on a development of the Fw Kurier. This differs from other designs in that each member of the crew works in a small pressure cabin of his own, connected to the others by air locks. The pressure inside each chamber and the air locks can be regulated centrally or individually. The object of this subdivision does not seem obvious and the weight must be greater than the single chamber. Probably the idea is to prevent the whole crew passing out if one portion
of the airplane is damaged in action.
Much attention is being paid to submerged engine installations and shaft drives with the idea of improving aerodynamic efficiency. Apparently the four motors of the new Heinkel long-range bomber are not mounted in tandem as was thought at one time, but each pair are, in fact, mounted side by side and drive a single airscrew through a short extension shaft. Two DB 601 motors mounted in this fashion are termed a DB 606. The arrangement is used for the He 177 and also for a new Heinkel fighter, designed by Siegfried Gunter. In this instance the motors are mounted in the fuselage in much the same way as the Allison in the Airacobra. Messerschmitt’s greatly augmented research staff has been working on the same problem and appears to have reached rather the same conclusion. Two projected designs are in course of development. The first is a 2-motor monoplane with both motors side by side in the fuselage, presumably the DB 606 again. The second is a 4-motor bomber also using the DB 606 or developments of them. In this design the inner unit of each pair is mounted in the fuselage and the outer unit in an enlarged fillet of the center-section of the wing. Such an arrangement suggests that the projected design may be a tailless type, especially as Herr W. Lip- pisch is associated with it. Reports indicate that Messerschmitt has developed also a new general-purpose airplane, but no details are known about it yet.
Dr. Dornier has instituted a special department of Dornierwerke for the production of two new types of airscrew blades. Both are designed for ease of construction. Both types have metal roots from which sprout four thin ribs, two of them the leading and trailing edges of the blade. In one type of construction the blade is built up on this framework in the manner of a stressed skin wing with metal ribs and a metal covering. The blade is welded throughout. The other type of blade has a plastic covering in place of the metal skin. The design of an electrically operated controllable pitch airscrew has been completed by the Allegemeine Elek- trizitats Gesellschaft (A.E.G.) of Berlin. This concern is a great electricity combine which, like Siemens, has been interested in aeronautical work for many years. A.E.G. founded the old Ago Company and financed Dorniers in its early days, and built airplanes of its own design in 1917—18 at Henningsdorf-Berlin and Wildau. Since 1933 A.E.G. has concentrated on electrical equipment. Reports speak also of much research work by the Company on the design of steam engines for use in aircraft—again with high flying in view.
Apart from the new types of airplane now coming into production in Germany a number of new designs are in course of development and several prototypes are flying experimentally. For instance, Diploma-Engineer W. Blume, of the Arado concern, has developed a new twin-boom military airplane at Brandenburg. There are no details yet about its purpose or the number or type of motors, but reports say that “great attention was paid to the best method of engine installation.”
Professor Ernst Heinkel, Germany’s oldest constructor of seaplanes has set about the replacement of the He 114 now that this type has become obsolescent. In addition he has produced a new seaplane fighter for catapult operation from warships. The chief feature is semi-retractable floats. At the same time Engineer Siegfried Gunter, Heinkel’s chief designer, has turned from the landplanes, with which he is more familiar, to the design of a new flying boat. Few details are known about it except that the monoplane, high-wing, with motors attached, can be varied in incidence. The forces are counteracted to some extent by the fact that as the wing is raised it moves backwards at the same time. What happens to the C.G. is not explained. The
Junkers Company is studying in particular the transport of light tanks, armored cars and field guns by air. Towed gliders are one way of solving this problem, but Junkers has also modified the Ju 52\3m transport in an extraordinary manner. The rear part of the fuselage is hinged and can be folded upwards so that the whippet tanks and 10-cm. and 15-cm. guns can be driven in without dismantling.
At least seven different types of glider are in production in Germany at present, several of them of very large size indeed. A recent review of the methods of towing gliders mentioned that either the tailfirst or tailless type of glider proved most satisfactory because of increased stability. This view lends especial significance to the new Horten V tailless monoplane recently completed by Horten Bros, of Bonn. Numerous experiments have been made with this airplane, which has two 80-hp. Hirth HM.60R motors. A new and more powerful type is now flying. The suggestion is that large tailless airplanes for troop-carrying should be built equipped with fairly low-power motors to assist them to select their landing place when slipped over enemy territory.
Baltimore Sun, February 21.—From a variety of Far East battle areas where the Japanese have made successful landing of sea-borne troops there now has come, through official sources, a great amount of detailed information on the landing techniques generally employed on the Luzon shore, Malaya and elsewhere. As might have been expected, the landings are planned with great care, precisely timed in execution. They represent an accumulation well in advance of all necessary material, in great volume, and of methodically trained men in great numbers.
There is apparent expectation of heavy losses at the outset, but a determination to accept those losses in order to gain the objective as soon as possible. Also in the cases noted there is a complete co-operation of land, sea, and air forces, both in preparation for the attack and in carrying it through. In particular, the Japanese technique calls for a complete local domination of the air before the landing operation is started. Without that, all the other preparations might be insufficient. In all this perfection of detail there is an approximation of Nazi thoroughness, whether or not in conscious imitation.
The likeness exists not only in the matters of planning, training of men, accumulation of material, co-ordination of services, and assurance of airplane superiority, but in one other notable respect—even with all that, the enterprise is “rehearsed.” That is, the whole technique has been developed over a period of years and then it has been practiced against the Chinese coasts, much as the Nazi Army employed seven years for its methodical development, and then held its “practice” wars in Spain and Austria before engaging in the grand-scale war against the world.
The landings studied since December 7 have been strikingly similar in pattern. Always there has been a thoroughgoing aerial reconnaissance, so that shorelines, land contours, possible enemy positions are thoroughly understood. The aerial reconnaissance often serves to show how much enemy air power there is to be overcome. The landings are timed not only against the enemy dispositions and not only with the clock, but also with an eye to the wind, the weather, and tide. Rain or fog is welcome, as either one will aid in the surprise which is sought.
Because the landings are planned for dawn, the calendar is watched, so that, if possible, there will be chosen the day when high tide on that shore also comes just before dawn. That makes it possible to bring the landing barges up to a firm shore line. The troop ships are convoyed toward the selected shore by a large force of destroyers and cruisers and patrol boats and at least one plane carrier—not merely to protect the troopships en route, but to have their guns and planes on hand to support the landing party. The approach of the convoy is so timed that it can be pushed forward rapidly during the night and brought to the designated spot— perhaps a mile offshore—well before dawn. Thus troopships can be in position to unload their landing barges while it is still dark. The troopships are of many sorts, including fast vessels which are able to make long journeys at great speed. But for landings there is employed a special barge carrier. This carrier suggests the modern “whaler-factory,” which has a great end- hatch through which a whale’s carcass is hauled for processing. In the case of the Japanese troop-barge-carrier there are broad side-hatches through which can be slid the landing barges already loaded with men and their equipment, ready to start for the shore under their own power. The barges are of several types. The largest will carry 120 armed men and equipment. Its forward bulwark is hinged, so that it can be let down and used as a platform down which artillery can be rolled. The barge has twin keels, which serve to hold it firm and level, as an aid to landing.
There are smaller barges, carrying 50 or 60 men each. One of them, designed for landing in shallow waters, works on the hydroplane principles, its aerial propeller lifting its bow clear of the water and aquaplaning the vessel so that its stern draws only 2 feet of water. Still another type, armed with several machine guns and quite speedy, is intended to provide local protection for the troop-barges. In typical cases, the barges have moved away from the ships as near to the shore as they can get without detection. Once they are spotted, and the surprise possibility is ended, the naval vessels go into action with direct fire on visible targets and a general covering fire on assumed positions back from the shore. The planes of the aircraft carrier also go into action, their bombers striking the enemy positions, and their fighters waylaying the defending airplanes as soon as they take the air.
The supporting fleet makes large use also of its own anti-aircraft guns, not only to protect the fleet’s elements but to afford a curtain of fire to protect the landing barges from defending airplanes. The men in the landing parties are equipped with weapons which combine lightness with effectiveness for close-range fighting, that is, grenades and automatic pistols and carbines. Long-range fighting is left largely to the ship’s guns. Leaders carry radio for constant communications with the higher command. To a considerable degree these techniques are common to many armies. There is no doubt that the Japanese not only know them in theory but are applying them with extraordinary skill, the result of which is painfully apparent on a good many shores of the Far East today.
London Times, January 9.—The strength and dispositions of the Japanese Army must perforce be to a certain extent a matter of guesswork, especially when it comes to counting by divisions. This, the normal method, does not work out very well where Japan is concerned, because her Army contains a very large number of independent reinforced brigades, which are small formations capable of acting on their own in minor operations. Some of these may already have been formed into divisions. At all events it may be taken that, including the independent brigades, Japan has at her disposal the equivalent of about 80 divisions, perhaps rather more. The divisions and independent brigades alone would account for 1,600,000 men. The numbers to be added for army and corps troops, garrison and training units, cannot easily be estimated. They have been put as low as 600,000 or 700,000 men, making a total of 2,250,000, but modern armies usually include a much larger proportion than this of troops outside the divisional organizations. These figures do not include armored divisions. The Japanese had none in time of peace, and there is no information available as to whether they have since formed any. The largest tank unit was the regiment, containing about 150 tanks, for the most part of the light type. The Japanese Army is believed to possess 15 tank regiments, which would be the equivalent of 1\ or 5J armored divisions, according as one reckons the establishment of an armored division at 300 or 400 tanks. There are two regiments in China and about six in Manchukuo.
The bulk of the Japanese divisions and independent brigades are at present stationed either in Manchukuo and Korea, watching the Russians, or in China. The former of these two masses may amount to 30 divisions, the latter to 18 or 20 divisions. To place the remainder is difficult, because they are moving and some may be in transports. When Japan entered the war she had 4 or 5 in Indo-China, 2 in Hainan, and 5 or 6 in Formosa, a total of 11 to 13 in the “Southern Seas” area, but it has since been publicly estimated that four of these are now in western Malaya, while we know that there is a strong force in the Philippines and another in North Borneo. Some Chinese observers take the apparently paradoxical view that the Japanese Army might prove more formidable against British, American and Russian troops than against the Chinese. They base their reasoning on the depression induced by the length of the war in China, its indecisive nature, and the astonishment among the Japanese troops at their own continued unpopularity and the absence of support for their puppet governments. The Chinese in no way underrate Japanese military qualities. They consider their foes to be well equipped and well trained and to possess a frugality and endurance which makes them highly mobile, especially when these qualities are allied with a good service of supply and transport. No army is likely to be better served by its own nationals in countries where it is expected to be called upon to fight. Japanese organizations have worked with skill and persistence in all these countries, at least since the signature of the Washington Treaty. The authorities of the Netherlands East Indies were the first to realize the extent and complication of the web of espionage, and it may be taken that they, if anyone, are well prepared to meet fifth column activities.
Sea and Air Losses
Baltimore Sun, February 27.—Although both Army and Navy remain cautious about officially asserting any damage to the enemy which they cannot verify precisely, figures made available here today permit a tabulation, believed to be correct, of all known destruction imposed by the the United States Army and Navy on Japanese ships and planes. Partial summaries of ship injuries alone have been given out officially this week. Figures on Japanese planes destroyed are not given officially because of obvious inability to be entirely sure of the results. A plane seen spinning very close to the ground or sea almost surely is lost, but no official claim can be made. Likewise, a heavy bombing or shelling of a row of 20 planes may fail to destroy every one, but it is impossible to determine whether to claim 15,18 or all 20.
Both services state that their errors, if any, are on the side of understatement. Both believe also that further destruction has been achieved in the past week, but not yet reported. The tabulation, including official claims published up to and including February 26, follows:
Type of Vessel
In addition, the Navy reports the destruction of 92 Japanese planes. The corresponding figure for the Army is 245. The figures do not include enemy planes “believed” destroyed. Two-thirds of the Japanese planes destroyed by the Army were knocked down in the Philippines, most of them by anti-aircraft fire.
Sweden’s greatly increased defense preparations while not depending on any new happenings have, nevertheless, darkened the political horizon and made the whole outlook more gloomy. Sweden must prepare to face anything with the beginning of the belligerents’ new campaigns in the spring. Consequently, large-scale winter maneuvers have been held in the Province of Jamt- land, close to the Norwegian frontier, where new equipment and clothing have been tested with special emphasis being placed on winter transport problems involving the use of skis, sledges, and tanks. Even heavy artillery has been geared to new, big snow plows.
Large bodies of troops on skis have been practicing big-scale encircling movements during the nights with the temperature at 35 degrees below zero. Some of the troops have marched 165 kilometers in two days and nights over roadless terrain and through difficult forests, carrying their food and heavy automatic weapons. The only casualties were a few minor injuries from frost. Soldiers from the northern provinces have been familiar with the use of skis since childhood but now every conscript entering the Army is being trained in this winter warfare. The Swedish Army for years has been regarded as the best trained and best equipped for winter war and it is exerting every effort to hold this leading position.
During the maneuvers a whole province had an experimental blackout and the evacuation of one town was tried. Children under 15 were required to go to railway stations to await trains to their parents’ country homes. Others had to go to the evacuation bureau where they were supplied with the names of the homes they were to go to in the country as well as with railway tickets. Each child carried his own luggage and food for two days. Due to the excellent organization the experiment was hailed as a complete success. Persons over 15 were not required to leave but were permitted to arrange for quarters in the country. Many youths have been receiving training as auxiliary firemen, in first-aid work, and as airraid wardens. Preparations were made for the removal to places of safety of valuable art treasures from the museums, state documents, and important papers.
Women have been trained as nurses, ambulance drivers, military cooks, and for work in the military bureaus. More than 500,000 women are ready to take men’s jobs should the emergency arise. Already watchers have been stationed in towers along the coast and the frontiers prepared to report the approach of foreign or hostile aircraft. The impending 5-year defense plan will not only improve the quality of the Swedish Army, but will also greatly strengthen the air force, according to Defense Minister Per Edvin Skold. The air organization is to be strengthened, with greater emphasis on the combat and torpedo arms. Additional planes, aerodromes, concealed hangars, fuel, and ammunition are to be provided, together “with everything else needed to give it endurance in a struggle against a certainly superior enemy.”
As for the Swedish Navy, Minister Skold said:
“Sweden cannot join in the battleship-building race. The torpedo is the main attacking arm of the Navy. In view of the influence the airplane has had on war at sea, the main striking arm of the Navy during the day is torpedo planes and submarines; cruisers, torpedo boats, and destroyers at night.
“Since we may need to use surface ships in the day, they must have very strong anti-aircraft equipment. The firing power and the armor of our cruisers is so strong that even an encounter with ships carrying heavier guns need not be a catastrophe.”
The whole defense plan, Minister Skold said, was devised with special attention to the events of the present World War, as well as “based on an intensive study of our own needs and resources.
“The plan,” he said, “appeals to the best qualities of the Swedish nation—drive, and power, and new ideas—and if we carry out this reforming of our defense, we have a right to say that we have done all in our power to give backing to our determination to maintain our peace and liberty.”— Baltimore Sun, March 1.
Ford Engines Pass Test
Baltimore Sun, February 15.—The first airplane engines made by the Ford Motor Company passed their flight tests yesterday with flying colors in a demonstration staged at the Glenn L. Martin Company airport. War Production Board officials, army representatives and Ford and Martin executives watched with critical eyes as the test pilot, Carl Hartley, took a Martin B-26 bomber equipped with the new motors through its trial run, Martin executives said. The engines are the first produced by the automotive industry to be installed in United States fighting planes. Performance of the motors, regulation Pratt & Whitney engines manufactured under license by Ford, was termed “phenomenal” by experts.
Hartley, flying with a half load, put the medium bomber through its paces for a half hour, stunting the big ship like a fighter. “The plane handled beautifully and had plenty of reserve power—even in a steep climb,” said Hartley after the test. “The motors are highly satisfactory.” Officials withheld the speed of the ship and rate of climb as military secrets, but even the aircraft experts present gasped as the plane left the ground after an unusually short run, bored skyward in a steep, straightaway climb, roared back in a power dive over the field, and zoomed upward again. Captain Donald Perry, Army Air Corps inspector at the Martin plant, said the test was “very successful.” Merrill C. Meigs, chief of the aircraft branch of the WPB, and Major Eric Nelson, former Pratt & Whitney executive, now with the aircraft branch of WPB and a director of British Overseas Airways, flew here from Washington for the demonstration.
A party of Ford executives, headed by Benson Ford, son of Edsel Ford and grandson of Henry Ford, and Charles Soronsen, Ford production chief, flew from Detroit to watch the test. Martin executives did not disclose how many Ford- made motors had been received at the plant, but emphasized that the motors had been in production for some time and that enough were on hand for steady producton of bombers. Others in the group which watched the tests and afterward toured the assembly line in the No. 2 plant, where bombers for the Army are made, included: A. M. Wibel, Ford vice-president; M. L. Bricker, Ford plant superintendent; Major W. S. McDuffee, Army Air Corps representative at the Ford plant; Glenn L.
Martin, Joseph T. Hartson, executive vicepresident of the Martin Company; W. Kenneth Ebel, Martin vice-president; Harry F. Vollmer, also of the Martin organization; J. W. Connolly, H. M. Cunningham, and William Pioch, Ford representative.
The Aeroplane, January 9 .-i—Much discussion has taken place recently on the merits of different forms of bombing attack—a matter still highly controversial. The appended table is an attempt to clarify the issue to some extent. The classification is inevitably arbitrary and the layers chosen to distinguish the different bombing levels are in themselves open to controversy. In compiling the table we assume that, normally, bombing is not performed at heights between 500 ft. and 7,000 ft. The layer bounded by these two heights is that in which A.A. fire is likely to be prohibitively accurate over heavily defended areas. Where the A.A. defenses are less powerful and cloud cover is available, bombing from any height to suit the prevailing weather is common practice and gives the best results. The relative merits of the different kinds of bombing depend upon the nature of the target. In the table the more obvious targets are listed with the kind of bombing that is most effective against them. Strictly speaking, the torpedo and the heavy cannon should not appear in the table, but they have been included for completeness. Against certain types of target the torpedo and the cannon are far more effective than the bomb. Recently, in the Pacific, the torpedo has scored notable successes, which give some indication of the future possibilities of this weapon. A cannon-armed “tank buster” is urgently required. (See table p. 586.)
MERCHANT MARINE “Normandie”—A Costly Lesson
Marine Progress, February.—It’s not a pleasant sight, the vast hulk of the Normandie lying on her side in the slip between two piers in New York Harbor. Second largest ship in the world, the Normandie was taken over by the United States government several months ago, and her conversion as a troop carrier was nearly complete. Her costly decorations and furnishings which made the Normandie the world’s most luxurious passenger vessel had been removed. Thousands of workmen filled her every compartment at the time she caught fire. Equipment and supplies for transporting troops had been brought aboard, and it was this circumstance which, it is believed, resulted in the fire. It is claimed that sparks from a blow-torch or an acetylene cutter ignited a stack of burlap-covered kapok life preservers. Whether this was the exact cause has not yet been determined, but certain it is that conditions were ideal for what happened. The supplies were stacked about the ship wherever space was available. Fireproof doors were probably uncloseable because of the presence of temporary electric cables and air hose strung throughout the ship. Earlier in the conversion, the fuel on which the fire fed might not have been present. Later, with supplies stowed away, the fire might not have occurred or would have amounted to practically nothing. But there comes a time in every job of shipbuilding or conversion when the hazard is at its greatest, when the time is ripe for carelessness or sabotage—and each is the partner of the other—to wreak its potential damage. The Normandie had reached that point on February 9. Considering the need for ships to transport troops and supplies, the loss of the Normandie, if only even for a few months, is a most serious setback. Indeed, at the time of writing, it has not been determined whether the vast ship can be raised at all. That is a matter for the salvage experts, and in this we are fortunate for we possess the best brains and ability the world affords in this respect. If special equipment is needed, we have the
Type of Bombing
Targets for Which Best Suited
Substratosphere (above 30,000 ft.)
Little danger from A.A. fire
Small risk of interception (if the bomber does not go too often to the same place at the same time)
Great penetration of bombs
Psychological effect high
Very inaccurate Only small loads possible Acute discomfort of crews Only possible in good weather
High level (15,00025,000 ft.)
A.A. fire relatively inaccurate
Great penetration of bombs
Big loads possible
Only moderately accurate
Risk of interception
Medium level (7,00015,000 ft.)
Accurate bombing possible
Good penetration of bombs
Big loads possible
Heavy A.A. fire very accurate
High risk of interception
Docks, Factories, Warships
Low level (less than 500 ft.)
High accuracy Element of surprise
Poor penetration Light A.A. fire accurate Only small airplanes: light loads
Factories, Aerodromes, Merchant Vessels
Very low level (less than 50 ft.)
High accuracy A.A. fire difficult Fighter interception difficult
Poor penetration Small airplanes: light loads
Booby traps possible
Factories, Aerodromes, Merchant Vessels
Steep dive with dive brakes
High accuracy Fair penetration
Very vulnerable to light A.A. fire
Very liable to fighter interception
All small targets
Shallow dive (without dive brakes)
Fairly accurate Fair penetration
Light A.A. fire accurate Liable to fighter interception
Torpedo (low level)
High accuracy One torpedo: decisive against small warships and merchant vessels. 3-5 torpedoes: sufficient to dispose of even largest warship
A.A. fire accurate Small airplanes: one or two torpedoes only
All Shipping, Dams, Docks, Lock Gates
Heavy cannon (low level)
High accuracy High penetration
Small explosive charge
Tanks, Railways, Road Vehicles, Aircraft on the ground
facilities to produce it. But even though it may be found impossible to raise the Normandie, the experience should have some value in that it should serve to teach a lesson—a number of them, in fact—for future application. First, eternal vigilance is the price of safety. When workmen enter a compartment to use torches or any equipment generating flame or sparks, they should be accompanied by sufficient portable fire extinguishers to take care of any eventuality. If necessary, one workman for each gang should be the “fireman” with no other duty than the prevention or extinguishing of fires. This may sound expensive, but it would be worth it. Second, the utmost care should be exercised in the placing of inflammable supplies. There is no reason why life preservers in any quantity should have been on the Normandie at the time of the fire. They could have been stored just as well on the pier, or better yet, in some near-by warehouse from which they could be delivered when the place for their stowage was in readiness for them. Third, it appears that guards to prevent sabotage were not available in sufficient number. It is true that guards may get in the way of workmen and thus impede progress, and their hire may add to expense, but a few thousand dollars extra for security is preferable to the loss of a ship worth millions. Fourth, if fire or any other accident should occur, take nothing for granted. It is realized that hindsight is always better than foresight and the best suggestions always come after the disaster had happened. But if the Normandie had been permitted to sink alongside the pier when thousands of tons of water were being poured into her superstructure, the ship probably would not have turned over on its side. Later, when her capsizing appeared imminent, it was too late to send below to open the sea-cocks.
By the time the fire had been extinguished, it was low tide, and the Normandie probably was resting on the river bottom alongside the pier. As the tide rose, the stern floated, but the bow was supported by the accumulation of silt always present at the shore end of the slip. This accumulation is probably of considerable size, as the slip has not been dredged or its muddy bottom disturbed for more than two years while the Normandie has been tied up. So as the stern rose, the bow apparently slid sideways off the silt accumulation, the ship listed further, the tons of water in her superstructure rushed to the port side, and the ship went over. This theory is borne out by the fact that the Normandie lies on the bottom, her bow is away from the pier while the stern is almost tight against the end of the pier toward the river. There are other lessons to be learned from the Normandie disaster, but the greatest is the need for constant vigilance at every stage of the game.
The Morner Suit
Marine Progress, February.—In recent months, after some years of success in Scandinavia, the Morner lifesaving suit made its appearance in the United States. Developed by Count H. B. Morner, outstanding authority on lifesaving equipment of Stockholm, the suit has been the prime cause of saving many lives of seamen who have been thrown into the sea by the force of a torpedo explosion, or who have been abandoned to open boats by a hardly less humane submarine commander who then proceeded to shell their vessel to obliteration. Time after time in late weeks there have been announcements of vessels sunk. Tankers have been the special prey of the “wolf packs” of submarines which are said to roam our fruitful coastline seeking out ships that mean the continuation of the lifestream of defense materials pouring into the country. But the desire to sink tankers has not let other types of ships escape the devastating blast of a secret torpedo or the sudden shelling in the darkness of a winter night.
There must be many measures of different natures brought out to defeat these attacks and not the least of them will be the one that salvages merchant sailors from almost sure death from drowning or from exposure. We must take them from the water and put them on another ship so that the supplies of raw materials will continue to pour into the country or the made materials of war go out to the harassed fighting fronts. The man is as important as his ship and grievous as the loss of the vessel may be the loss of the crew is even greater. To save the crew and keep it in sound condition while waiting rescue requires more efficient, more intelligent methods than have heretofore been made. There must be the realization that death does not come only from drowning but that lives are lost through exposure to the elements which exercise their numbing assassinations on underclad, underfed castaways too cold and too weak from hunger to care for anything other than release.
It was to counteract the severities of nature that Count Morner developed his suit and invented the patented slide fastener that brings it to perfection. Today’s Morner lifesaving suit shows the result of such experimentation. It is sturdily constructed into a single piece from the heavy built-in boots to the rubber hood that fits closely over the head. There is no break anywhere, even the mittens are as one with the sleeves. Inside the suit is a kapok vest, so designed and so attached to the suit that the wearer is supported head and shoulders out of the water. In addition to the waterproof and buoyant properties, the Morner suit utilizes natural laws of insulation, of heat conservation, that keeps the wearer warm, dry, and comfortable in water that may be many degrees below freezing. The suit is large enough so that the air space between it and the wearer is warmed by body heat, making in effect a blanket of warmth as a protection against the sea. All this is accomplished in the details of construction of the suit, from its design through the manufacturing processes to the point where it is completed, using partially cured rubber requiring only hanging in the curing ovens to make it the homogeneous garment that has been such a success in so many ways.
The success of the Morner lifesaving suit has been an earned success. Testimonials from rescued seamen attest their enthusiastic acceptance and orders for ten thousand of them have been filled prior to Count Morner’s arrival in the United States and since he has been here two large tanker operating companies have ordered suits from him. One of the orders calls for the delivery of three thousand suits. There are still other advantages to the suit that make it desirable. Situated high up on the chest are watertight pockets for food, cigarettes, valuables, etc., the kapok vest, by keeping the seaman’s body so high out of water permits access to these pockets without endangering the seaman’s life by opening the suit to the sea.
The desirability of salvaging papers and valuables was forcibly impressed upon Count Morner when he lost money, passport, and patent papers on his suit in the torpedoing of the tanker Josephina Thor- den. The destruction of the vessel came with such suddenness and with such speed that he had barely time to put on his suit. Following that experience he began work that brought to the fore the Morner Safety Bag. Of no great size, this bag has un- thought-of capacities. A change of light clothing can be carried, also food and papers, cigarettes and matches. All are safe from loss or damage from seawater. If heavier articles are wanted the buoyancy of the bag can be increased by introducing air through a non-leak valve situated in an accessible position. With this added safeguard the fully packed bag can still support two adults in the water.
The bag, however, is designed for individual use. Across the bottom is a small
kapok filled collar, attached there, out of the way until needed. In the water the collar is unsnapped, lifted over the head and placed at the back of the neck. In that position it keeps the head out of water and even an unconscious person is maintained in this position through its use. Like the suit, the Morner bag is made of rubberized fabric but where the construction of the suit is heavy and black, the bag is of lighter construction and tan in color. The watertightness of both is absolute, both utilize the watertight slide fastener which the Count invented. This fastener is composed of two pieces of strong rubber, one piece channeled, the other tongued. They are joined by a sliding part that forces the tongue into the groove much in the same way the parts of the familiar “zipper” are joined. With the tongued part slightly larger than the edge of the groove a tight fit is assured through forcing one into the other.
In this equipment lies the answer to one of our more pressing problems connected with the transport of war materials and the operation of ships. The Morner lifesaving suit saves lives and the lives of trained seamen are doubly precious now.
MISCELLANEOUS Reserve Flying Route to Australia
Baltimore Sun, March 1.—The most practical route by which landplanes could fly to Australia and the Indies is by way of the Atlantic Ocean and not the Pacific. This is the little-publicized Empire Reserve Route, first projected in 1938, across Africa and the Indian Ocean via three groups of island steppingstones. Much more than a route, it has become a vital military factor in the air control of the Indian Ocean. The three island groups are fortifiable and within easy flying distance of each other by light bombardment planes. Their proximity to Ceylon and the Bahrein Islands facilitates their supply with oil and other essential materials.
Western terminal of the Reserve Route, as projected, was to be Mombasa, principal port on the African east coast between Durban and Suez. Relay stations were to be (1) Victoria, on the Seychelles Islands; (2) the Island of Diego Garcia, in the Chagos Archipelago; (3) the Cocos Island group, 581 miles off Java Head. Australian terminal, the town of Onslow near the Northwest Cape of the island continent. There are three distinct advantages inherent in such an air route to Australia as compared to the route across the Pacific: First, stages are shorter, second, every one of the steppingstones is a populated and fertile island with various technical facilities and, third, the Indian Ocean, despite the fall of Singapore and the Malayan Peninsula, is less exposed to enemy raids than the Pacific.
Stages on the pre-war Pan American Airways line to New Zealand and Australia across the Pacific were: San Francisco- Honolulu (2,400 miles), Honolulu-King- man Reef (1,566 miles), Kingman Reef- Pago Pago, on Samoa (1,558 miles), and Pago Pago-Auckland (1,800 miles). The southwestern stages of the present military route are not public information. Reasons of commercial competition which formerly prevented American air lines from calling at certain British islands no longer exist. Distances between relay stations may thus have become somewhat shorter, but they are still considerable. On the Indian Ocean route, on the contrary, the first two stages in the direction of Australia are only 840 and 990 miles, respectively, and the two following stages 1,470 and 1,200 miles.
Kingman Reef has no resources of its own and no commercial harbor facilities. Not a natural base, but an artificial depot, it must be constantly provisioned by sea and air. Its land surface is so small that it can be used as a regular relay station by flying boats only. There is no room for a runway for large land-based bombers. The islands in the Indian Ocean, on the other hand, are to a large extent self-supporting and well suited for the construction of long runways, with the possible exception of the Cocos Islands; but even here there is sufficient space for an emergency runway several miles long.
Samoa, in the southern Pacific, must be supplied with oil by sea over a distance of more than 4,400 miles, whereas the islands in the Indian Ocean can be provisioned from the Persian Gulf over much shorter distances. The Seychelles Islands have a population of over 32,000, thriving upon the export of tropical products and phosphate of lime. The harbor of the capital city, Victoria, can accommodate ordinary cargoes.
Diego Garcia, in the Chagos Archipelago, offers access to the largest ships. The Chagos Islands have about 30,000 inhabitants, sturdy fishermen and sailors who frequently serve among the Lascar crews of British Indian vessels. The Cocos Island group is the smallest of these three steppingstones in the Indian Ocean. The largest island is only 5 miles long and the total population less than 1,500. The main island has certain technical installations as a cable relay on the direct cable route from the Cape to Australia. The two terminals of the Empire Reserve Route are excellently located. Mombasa, close to the islands of Pemba and Zanzibar—Britain’s oldest strongholds in East Africa—is the port of Kenya and is connected by rail with Nairobi and Lake Victoria.
Its populous hinterland produces supplies of all kinds. Mombasa is a key point on the air line from Cape Town to Cairo. Two regular air routes extend northwest and southwest into the Belgian Congo. The terminal of the northwestern line is only a few hundred miles from the eastern terminal of the Congo air lines. American bombers crossing the South Atlantic from Natal, Brazil, to Bathurst or Freetown in West Africa (about 1,800 miles) could follow the regular pre-war air route southward along the coast of Africa to Brazzaville, in Belgian Congo, which is located almost on the same latitude as Mombasa on the east coast. The Australian terminal Onslow is much closer to Port Darwin, on the north coast of Australia, than such east coast terminals of the Pacific route as Brisbane and Sidney.
Although Onslow itself has not much of a hinterland, it can be supplied from Perth, the one large city on Australia’s west coast, which is less than 500 miles away. The Empire Reserve Route is not only a direct air connection between East Africa and Australia. Diego Garcia, the central steppingstone, is but 1,050 miles from Colombo, the capital of Ceylon. Air patrols between Diego Garcia and Colombo could operate against enemy ships attempting to penetrate into the Arabian Sea and the western part of the Indian Ocean with its supply routes to Egypt, India, and the Middle East. Another barrier line (800 miles) extends from the Cocos Islands to Batavia.
Unfortunately, the British have been very slow in developing this route. Although the former editor of Britain’s foremost aeronautical weekly, the Aeroplane, C. G. Grey, constantly urged the British Government to equip the island relay stations and to operate a subsidized air service across the Indian Ocean, the Chamberlain Government and commercial interests in London did not heed his warnings. They preferred to rely upon the old horseshoe route to Australia by way of the Eastern Mediterranean, the Near East, Iraq, the Bahrein Islands, the coast of Baluchistan, Karachi, and Singapore. Grey was one of the few men in England who foresaw that the entire Near and Middle East, India, the Malayan Peninsula, the Indies and North Australia might one day become so many danger zones. What he feared was not German aggression, but an attack by Soviet Russia allied with Popular Front France.
Grey’s political opinions have caused
controversy, but, like so many technicians, he has shown exceptionally clear—if sometimes prejudiced—understanding in his particular field. He foresaw in his theoretical conception that Japan would take advantage of any serious trouble in the eastern Mediterranean to strike simultaneously against India, the Indies, and Australia for her own purposes. The actual situation in the Indian Ocean today, with Germany exerting pressure through the Near East, presents—from a standpoint of military communications—problems not unlike the ones he feared. The initiative for the development of the Empire Reserve Route was not taken in London, but in Australia. Its most ardent promoter, Captain P. G. (Bill) Taylor was the same daring Australian aviator who navigated Charles Kingsford-Smith’s single-motor airplane on his pioneer flight from Australia to America across the Pacific. Only in the beginning of 1939 did the Commonwealth grant credits for the surveying of an Indian Ocean air route. The British Government eventually contributed exactly £3,500 to the vital enterprise. Even then the survey would not have taken place had it not been for the assistance of Dr. Archbold, wealthy American explorer and biologist, who placed his American flying boat and his American crew at the disposal of the Australians. The first inspection trip was made two months before the outbreak of the war. According to the schedule recommended by Bill Taylor, the mail plane would have left Mombasa at 10:00 p.m. for the run to Victoria in the Seychelles (840 miles), arriving at day light. After refueling at Victoria, the plane would depart for Diego Garcia (990 miles), clearing this second point before midnight and arriving on the Cocos Islands in the forenoon of the next day (1,470 miles). The Australian mainland at Onslow would be reached in a second night flight (1,200 miles). Large bombers could reach Australia from Mombasa in about 24 hours, without stopping at the Cocos Islands, the straight distance between Diego Garcia and Onslow being approximately the same as that between San Francisco and Honolulu. The war, however, interrupted plans for the mail line.
Scientific American, February, by Alexander Klemin.—Writing in the Military Engineer, H. Franklin Pierce, President of the American Rocket Society, suggests several war uses of rockets. It is possible to criticize some of the suggestions and some of the methods recommended, but it must be admitted that the article is valuable and thoughtful. In the struggle with aggressor nations, every possible type of weapon should be canvassed. What would a simple rocket for military use look like? Rocket and motor are schematically illustrated in the diagrams, reproduced by courtesy of the Military Engineer. The rocket derives its power from the combustion of alcohol or gasoline in combination with liquid oxygen. The two propellants are carried in separate tanks of simple construction. A third tank carries compressed nitrogen, admitted to the fuel tanks through a suitable regulator, and producing pressure which forces the fuel into the rocket motor through a system of valves and feed lines, at a pressure of about 300 pounds per square inch. The rocket motor, shown in the second diagram, is merely a combustion chamber provided with a nozzle for the escape of the exhaust gases whose reaction provides the driving force of the motor without the intervention of propeller or other device. Fins at the rear give stability during flight. A control chamber could be equipped for radio reception and wireless control of the rudder and hence of the direction of travel. Nothing very formidable in all this, though a rocket is not cheap as compared with a shell.
Now as to the various possible military uses of rockets: Today’s 3-inch anti-aircraft shells are not very effective and do not reach the required altitude. The Ger-
man bombers were able to reach London again and again in spite of a tremendous concentration of anti-aircraft guns, which were slowly brought into position beforehand and whose fire was tremendously expensive. Rockets, “fired” from a light launching rack would be more mobile, they could reach great altitudes, and they could carry aloft trapping devices such as a wire mesh provided with parachutes. A
rocket barrage with parachute-supported wires would be a formidable obstacle.
A rocket starts from the ground with zero velocity and accelerates as long as its fuel lasts. After the fuel is used up it behaves like a shell. Thus a rocket could readily be designed to reach 30,000 or even 40,000 feet. Perhaps there is here a formidable weapon against enemy bombers? The author recalls that the rocket played a part in destroying Napoleon’s invasion fleet against England. Perhaps large rocket shells could become a species of long distance artillery?
Another application of the rocket which has received much attention is its use in weather prediction. A rocket of the liquid fuel type could carry a radiometeorograph, rise to altitude more rapidly than a sounding balloon, and would return for refueling with the aid of a parachute. Another advantage of a rocket over a sounding balloon would lie in more ready recovery of the apparatus.
Finally, the rocket, inefficient as it is for propulsion at the present speeds of the airplane, could be used to give an enormous thrust to planes at take-off and thus permit our long distance bombers to be greatly overloaded.
There are many difficulties, and space will not permit their lengthy discussion. Yet it must be admitted that these are not idle visions but serious, well-thought out, plausible suggestions which deserve to be carefully considered by our military authorities.
New Torpedo Protection
New York Herald Tribune, February 7, Melbourne, Feb. 6 (UP).—Torpedoes soon will be ineffective in sea warfare, Franklin G. Barnes, inventor of the magnetic antimine device for ships, said today on his return from England. “I have a device now that will prevent any torpedo from reaching its target,” he asserted. Barnes said his latest invention would be even more revolutionary than the degaussing girdle for defense against magnetic mines. His plan to defeat torpedoes was perfected during the trip from England, he added. Barnes also said he has an idea for reducing gun recoil to such extent that an 8-inch gun can be substituted for one- half that caliber. A mobile pillbox equipped with cannon and machine guns is another “possibility,” he revealed. To “beat” night bombers, Barnes said he was working on a “reflector device” to aid night fighter planes.