In the interest of sparing
Major Fred Lord major embarrassment, I have not reproduced his entire article outlining
what he would do if he were appointed head of the Army Air Corps. Almost without
exception, everything he posited in this January 1941 piece from Flying Aces
magazine turned out to be wrong - as evidenced by the way events unfolded after
America entered World War II. Reading the predictions and suggestions offered
in just the opening paragraphs makes you wish you could have given the poor guy
a crystal ball to spare himself the humiliation that often comes with proclaiming
a knowledge superior to everyone else's. One good thing to come out of the article
is a cool photo of the Boeing plant where B-17s were being assembled. If anyone
wants the rest of the article, send me an e-mail and I'll post it.
See also the "How
Boeing Builds Them" feature in the May 1941 issue of Flying Aces.
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Assembly Line
"Imagine the hours that would be expended in repairing bullet holes in a Flying
Fortress! According to the author, these ships - shown here on the Boeing assembly
line - are too expensive for service." - Maj. Fred Lord
Per Major Fred Lord in his article, "If I Were in Air Corps Chief..."
"When you hear the word "streamlined" you
automatically think of airplanes. American airplanes are streamlined and our air
services should be - but aren't. They're still modeled after the aviation of the
first World War. One of the errors of generals always has been to predicate the
future war on lessons learned in the last one; such-and-such a tactic was good then,
they think, so improve on it and it should go over even better in the next fracas.
They seem to lack vision and imagination and only soar physically; ancient theories
and army manuals have their mentality rooted to earth.
Our Army is being remodeled along modern, mobile requirements - streamlined,
the doughboy says. But, alas, the air services aren't. Well, let's have some fun,
tear them to pieces, and then rebuild them as a fighting unit instead of a glamorous
So pull up your chair to the round-table. Your companions are Billy Mitchell's
dauntless spirit, a French minister of that humbled nation, an RAF ace, a German
air-general, and a Loyalist Spanish warbird. From this group we should learn of
mistakes in organization and procurement and of victories of imagination and coordination.
Today, the airplane is acknowledged to be the weapon of aggressive warfare. In
Hitler's conquests, air-power has played a major role. And in Hitler's army, no
admiral or infantry general tells the Air Force what to do, or how. But in our air
services, the admiral orders one group of flyers and the general another. Each cooperates
with the other about as much as the doughboy with the gob when there's a pretty
girl in sight. But they've got to get together or the girl will walk off while they're
struggling to see who gets her.
So it is In the air. The general and the admiral must get together under one
command-a command by an air-man. What America needs is an Air force, independent
of both the Army and the Navy. And as those two services have theirs, so should
this Air Force have its own Secretary of Air in Washington. Direction would then
be unified under one head and many bureaus of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps would
be eliminated. This would tend toward both efficiency, economy, and expeditiousness.
If I were Air Corps Chief - or better still, Secretary of the Air - I'd certainly
kick over the apple cart, and then do some bringing up to date. That is, of course,
if any authority went with the title. Let's suppose it did; that politics, bureaucracy,
and opposition had been eliminated.
America is trying to build up the most formidable of all air services. What could
we do to aid that and speed up production of necessary planes, pilots, and observers?
Time is short; it's another bottleneck. We don't know when we'll be dragged into
war... either on the Pacific or the Atlantic side - or both - so we must hurry.
The photographs of our National Guard at maneuvers must be a tantalizing temptation
Posted August 1, 2015