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Forgotten Fighters/2 and Experimental Aircraft U.S. Army 1918-1941
By Peter M Bowers
Publisher: Arco Pub. Co 1971 98 Pages
PDF 14 MB
When America entered the First World War, our domestic aviation industry was far behind Europe in the design and production of high-performance aircraft. Our best of early 1917 were barely equal to the 1914-1915 efforts of European manufacturers. In truth, we had no combat aircraft worthy of the name. Because of this technical lag, and the pressures generated by the public, press and government alike, it was decided between the U. S. Aircraft Production Board and the Allies that time would be saved if American production capacity was devoted to building proven English and French designs. The alternative of building and testing entirely new types without benefit of combat experience or knowledge of up-to-date construction techniques appeared to be a major obstacle.
By early 1918 it became obvious that building foreign models was a mistake, and American industry was allowed to work up new designs. Although many were started, and some completed, few of them actually flew before the end of the war. For practical purposes, American production of Army fighting planes dates from 1918, the starting point for this book.
With both the Army and Navy fighting for headlines and meager appropriations, attention was focused on the more glamorous types, namely fighters. Often, the press reports attendant to new designs was more formidable thar the performance of the planes themselves. Nonetheless, as fighters, they held the limelight. A few, such as the long-lived P-1/P-6 Curtiss "Hawks" and the Boeing P-12 became classics along with later designs such as Boeing's P-26.
While these more famous models deserve their dominant place in the between-wars history of Army aviation, they were by no means the only designs to see active service. Other lesser-known models were put into production and in some cases enjoyed relatively long life, but passed into obscurity without distinguishing themselves in military action. Some aircraft shown here were procured only in small quantities for testing but were never put into quantity production. Still others were experimental models which did not make it beyond the prototype stage. These were not necessarily always single models; the Army often ordered several examples of a new type for both flight and static tests.