Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Assembly Line
January 1941 Flying Aces
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.
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 social fraternity.
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, airpower 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 airman. 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,
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 for..."
Posted August 1, 2015
(Seize the Day!)
Even during the busiest times of my life I have endeavored to maintain some form of model building activity.
This site has been created to help me chronicle my journey through a lifelong involvement in model aviation,
which all began in Mayo, MD. There
is a lot of good information and there are lot
of pictures throughout the website that you will probably find useful, and might even bring back
some old memories from your own days of yore. The website began life around 1996 as an EarthLink screen
name of ModelAirplanes, and quickly grew to where more server space
Copyright 1996 - 2022
BSEE - KB3UON
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patents, and other rights of ownership to images and
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are hereby acknowledged.
of Model Aeronautics