Category Archives: World War II

Fielding New Army Air Forces Fighter Aircraft for World War II


During the 1930s the United States fell behind other nations in the development of fighter aircraft. This was explained in part by the Army Air Corps’ concentration on developing long-range bombers. At the opening of the war the U.S. relied … Continue reading

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The NACA, World War II, and Jet Aviation


The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) entered the effort to achieve victory in World War II by pursuing aeronautical R&D across a broad front. Overall, the NACA was justifiably pleased with its contributions in terms both of applied and fundamental … Continue reading

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Willa Brown: Out from the Shadows of Aeronautical History


Willa Bernice Brown was an aviation pioneer and flight instructor, but she is unknown to almost all, even those knowledgeable about the history of flight. Born in Glasgow, Kentucky, in 1907, her parents gave her more opportunities than most other African Americans … Continue reading

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The Great NACA Fact-Finding Trip to Germany in 1936, and its Results


Last week I presented a discussion of the political process whereby two additional NACA laboratories were created. Here is the pre-history of that set of decisions. In the first part of 1936 John J. Ide, the NACA’s European representative since 1921, … Continue reading

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The NACA and New Research Laboratories in World War II


As the United States moved into the World War II era its military forces called upon the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) as never before to provide the aeronautical technology necessary to win the war. It was not easy … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “Exit Berlin”


Exit Berlin: How One Woman Saved Her Family from Nazi Germany. By Charlotte R. Bonelli. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014. This is both a fine historical study and a strikingly intimate portrait of one individual’s efforts to help … Continue reading

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The NACA’s Quietly Effective Director of Research: George W. Lewis


I have been researching the early history of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) and decided to share some information about one of its formative leaders. Very few people today have heard of George W. Lewis (Mar. 10, 1882-Jul. … Continue reading

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The Origins of Air/Sea Rescue in World War II


The idea of establishing a specialized and elite force for the rescue of downed aircrews grew out of three interlocked circumstances just before the Second World War: (1) a deep‑seated belief in the sanctity of life, (2) the high expense … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “The Stars Are Back: The St. Louis Cardinals, the Boston Red Sox, and Player Unrest in 1946″


The Stars Are Back: The St. Louis Cardinals, the Boston Red Sox, and Player Unrest in 1946. By Jerome M. Mileur. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2013. In honor of the opening of the 2013 World Series between the St. … Continue reading

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John J. Ide: The NACA’s “Spy” in Pre-WWII Europe


Most people have never heard of John Jay Ide (Jun. 20, 1892-Jan. 12, 1962), who was an international aviation pioneer and European representative for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). Born at Narragansett Pier, Rhode Island, he was the son … Continue reading

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