Skip to comments.BRITAIN IS SEEKING WAR PLANES HERE (Real Time + 70 Years)
Posted on 04/14/2008 6:42:45 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
London, April 13. Finding that it cannot catch up with Germany quickly enough in the race for air supremacy, the British Government announced today that it had decided to make inquiries for military aircraft across the Atlantic.
Definite exploratory action is being taken in regard to the possibility of the supply of aircraft for the Royal Air Force both from the United States and Canada, Earl Winterton, Under-Secretary of State for Air, told questioners in the House of Commons.
Cheers from all parts of the House greeted the announcement, which followed pressure from influential quarters in recent weeks.
No orders have yet been placed except for training planes from the Boeing branch factory at Vancouver, B. C. It is understood, however, that a mission will leave this country within ten days to discover how many airplanes can be built for Britain across the Atlantic and how quickly they can be delivered.
What Britain needs above all at the moment and hopes to obtain from the United States is a fleet of heavy long-range bombers. According to well-informed aviation experts, there is not a single bomber in the Royal Air Force today which is capable of flying to Berlin and back.
Undoubtedly the German conquest of Austria was the greatest single factor in forcing the British Government to look across the Atlantic for these bombers. A contributory cause, however, is believed to be the unexpected trouble the government is having with the engineering unions in its effort to speed up the rearmament program.
The unions thus far have shown themselves deeply suspicious of the governments intentions and reluctant to change their rules so as to permit the dilution of skilled by unskilled labor in armament factories. The government is still confident of winning the unions help, but at the same time it fears that negotiations between the employers and the unions will take a long time.
Accordingly, the Cabinet has decided to look elsewhere and explore every available source for new airplanes, even if it means going outside the country. For, without help from outside, the British Government now fears, it may find itself in a position of serious inferiority if a war should come.
The British are not too hopeful at the moment of getting what they need from the United States. They are aware that American aircraft factories are busy with American armament orders, and they also understand the political difficulties that may stand in the way of British orders.
Similar inquiries made in the United States and Canada eighteen months ago produced such discouraging replies that the British dropped the idea of help from across the Atlantic and called upon their own aircraft industry for a redoubled effort.
But the British Government now wonders whether substantial orders will not be more welcome to the United States in the midst of a trade recession than in the booming Autumn of 1936. Moreover, it feels that nothing could have a more sobering effect upon Europe than the spectacle of American factories turning out airplanes in large quantities for the British war machine.
Commenting on Earl Wintertons announcement in London that the British Government was exploring the possibility of obtaining warplanes from this country and Canada, officials said that there was not the manufacturing capacity in this country for quick delivery of anything like 10,000 planes, but that there was a reasonable margin between orders in hand or in prospect and manufacturing capacity.
Obviously certain equipment developed by the American aviation services and of a secret military character, such as superchargers, controls and special types of armament, could not be made available to Britain, but officers said that, while this equipment was desirable, it was not vital.
Shadow factories, it was explained, were those that had been surveyed by the government with a view to ascertaining their potential productive capacity of armaments. A survey completed in Canada by the National Defense Department some time ago embraced more than 700 Canadian concerns.
Already some Canadian plants are turning out war material for the British Government, shells for the new 3.45-inch field gun being made by the National Steel Car Company of Hamilton.
As far as British purchases of aircraft in Canada are concerned, nine Canadian concerns are building planes for the National Defense Department, all of them types employed by the Royal Air Force. These include the speediest fighters and bombers.
Some of those companies have representatives at present in London and they are believed to be advancing to the War Office the advantages of having efficient aircraft factories established remote from centers that might be destroyed by aerial bombing in the event of war.
The unions acceptance of this recommendation will probably enable strike leaders to save their faces, as only a part of the workers struck and many have already returned to work.
The press is unsympathetic to the strike, which is attributed to professional agitators led by Diego Luis Cordoba, a Negro Communist and a former member of Congress.
You will soon bow down to your German masters.
(This comment was also about 70 years too late.)
Back then, the NYT was against communists - as opposed to today.
According to well-informed aviation experts, there is not a single bomber in the Royal Air Force today which is capable of flying to Berlin and back.
Here is a question for the military experts among us. Did any nation have heavy bombers capable of an England-Berlin round trip? In production quantities, that is.
The unions thus far have shown themselves deeply suspicious of the governments intentions and reluctant to change their rules so as to permit the dilution of skilled by unskilled labor in armament factories.
Hitler did not have to worry about labor problems. The Party eliminated unemployment by assigning everyone a job and rendered negotiations unnecessary by setting wages and conditions.
Ah yes, back when American had an industrial base to offer...
Yeah, the U.S. had thirty B-17s ready to go when Hitler invaded Poland in September 1939.
We did. In 1938 I believe early models of the B-17 were entering service. I’m not sure when the early-war British bombers like the Wellington and the Halifax were in service with the RAF, but in any case, those were twin-engine medium bombers and probably did not have the range to make a trip to Berlin. And in any case, even in 1938, they would’ve been slaughtered by the Luftwaffe.
Germany never really developed a decent heavy bomber at all. General Weber, their strongest proponent, was killed in an air crash. The only true heavy bomber the Luftwaffe ever had was the Heinkel He 177, and it was as dangerous to its crews as it was to anybody under its bombs.
And Goering is reported to have believed that large numbers of smaller planes would impress the Fuhrer more than a smaller number of large ones.
I don't know about that. Check out some of my posts about the Spanish Civil War. A Times reporter named Herbert Matthews was a big cheerleader for the Loyalist (Soviet sponsored side.) He later performed the same service for the Castro revolution in Cuba.
One of the more salient differences between the German and the British/American bombing campaigns is that the Germans never developed a production heavy bomber.
The Lancasters and Liberators totally outclassed the Heinkel, Dorniers etc.
(But again, neither ally developed V2 rockets).
That’s right. Hitler never cared about what, he only cared about how many. Plus Goering and a lot of the other German high commanders (and Hitler) had a lousy grasp of grand strategy. They saw the Luftwaffe as a tactical force to support the Wehrmacht, not as a strategic asset in its own right. They didn’t have anybody with the brains and balls of an Arthur “Bomber” Harris or Curtis Lemay.
The RAF did buy some B-17s, IIRC, but I think they all ended up with Coastal Command as maritime patrollers. By the time we got into the war and the improved B-17F and B-17G were coming out, the RAF had their own heavies like the Stirling and Lancaster, and either didn’t want ours or we couldn’t produce any spares to sell them.
They had one, the He 177. Heinkel tried something very odd with that plane...to cut down on the drag of a four-engined aircraft, they tried using two engines to drive one prop. So it looked like a big twin-radial-engined airplane, but each “engine” was actually two big Daimler-Benz liquid-cooled V-12s sharing a common gearbox and prop shaft, surrounded by a round radiator. They were also going to try to use condensation steam cooling, routing coolant through panels in the wing skin.
It was an engineering disaster. The engines regularly caught fire or tore themselves apart with vibrations, and many crews were killed. The plane never came close to the performance of any American or British heavy bomber.
The Germans did not see the advantage in 4 engine bombers because they really didn’t have to fly that far. The FW 200 Condors were the long range workers.
I forget to add "in 1938" to my question. So in April 1938 the Brits couldn't have just gone down to the long-range heavy bomber factory and placed an order for a few hundred to be delivered next year. They were still in the development phase.
On a related question, back on March 6, 1938, the Times posted the following article, which I posted 70 years later:
WHEELING, W. Va., March 5 (AP). Louis A. Johnson, Assistant Secretary of War, said in and interview tonight that the army had perfected an automatic landing device which eliminates the danger of fogs at airports.
Reporting more than fifty successful landings by this method he said:
The pilot merely sits in the ship, keeps hands and feet off the controls, and the plane is landed by men operating the device from the ground.
He said that he made a recent flight from Chicago to Washington in two and a half hours in an army stratosphere plane flying 368 miles an hour at 25,000 feet.
In an address here tonight at the midwinter conference of the Legion of Honor Mr. Johnson, former national commander of the American Legion, said that it was time for those who love America to pledge themselves anew to the sound and healthy principles of Americanism.
I am skeptical about this story. We did not have radar at the time. How else could someone on the ground see what the pilot couldn't? My theory is the army planted this story to give our future opponents something to think about. Anything to this remote landing capability thingie? And how about the speed and altitude figures cited?
Thanks for the interesting post: that sounds like a monster.
IIRC the Germans produced a large number of wild late-war designs, including four-engine Jets like the He 343, and the various “Luftwaffe 46” hybrid rocket/jet/planes one sees on the Discovery Channel.
Wasn’t there also a super-heavy prop bomber developed for bombing New York? Made of wood? Like a Luftwaffe Grey Goose?
True, but the Condor wasn’t strong enough to be a heavy bomber since it was just a converted passenger aircraft. After the addition of a little armor, the guns, gondolas, equipment for maritime patrol, etc., several of them broke their backs on hard landings. I don’t know that they ever fixed the structural weaknesses.
The Germans had a few halfway decent heavy bomber designs like the He 277 (basically an He 177 with four separate engines), Ju 290, etc., but they never focused on them. By the time they realized how useful they were—mainly by the RAF and the Eighth Air Force raining death on them every day and night—they were in no position to need a strategic air force anymore.
You ever heard of Walter Duranty?
They had another land-based four-engine heavy, the Junkers Ju 290, that I think was primarily built as a maritime patrol bomber. At some point, they lengthened the wings and put two more engines on it to make the Ju 390. One of those supposedly flew from Germany to within 12 miles of New York City, and back, nonstop, in 1944.
There was a Heinkel heavy bomber design, the He 274, called the “Amerikabomber,” but I don’t think it ever got past a couple of prototypes. I don’t remember if it was made of wood or not. The Germans tried to do a ripoff of the famous wooden British Mosquito, but unfortunately for them, they found out (the hard way, via a crash at a demo for Nazi bigwigs) that the glue they were using to hold the plane together actually ate through the wood and weakened it.
They didn’t lack for design creativity, but between having their industrial base bombed into the Stone Age, and the incredible idiocy of Hitler and his cronies, they couldn’t translate that creativity into manufacturing. Fortunately!
This sounds like the use of multiple radio beacons throwing out different signals which interfere to give a continuous tone along certain lines. This established a cone for the plane to fly down.
The "battle of the beams" during the British/German bombing campaigns used somewhat similar principles to get bombers to roughly the right areas.
Ah the “Amerikabomber”, yes that was it! Thank you Moose!
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