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Old 16 January 2000, 06:17 PM   #1
HORRIDO!
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Something I do not understand. The aircraft was invented in the USA. I know also the Amis did early work to develop military uses of aircraft. But still when the USA entered the war in 1917 they had no good fighting machines. I know Europeans had three years of war time to develop fighting machines but did not the USA watch this development and try to keep up? How did they allow themselves to fall so far behind in research?

Please understand I mean no disrespect but this seems very foolish to me.

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Old 17 January 2000, 12:14 AM   #2
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Why invest tons of money into a development that would likely be outclassed some month later?

Especially when there was no real need for it. Any such development would likely have been seen as a preparation to enter the war in Europe, and without an actual declaration of war this was next to political suicide. Just my opinion, of course

regards

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Old 17 January 2000, 03:38 AM   #3
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Actually, I think the US quickly lost its lead in aviation to Europe, particularly to France. Flying, as a fad, never caught on till the twenties in the US, whereas in Europe air racing was quickly becoming a sport in the early teens. Add to the fact that the US, in general, was pretty isolationist and did not foresee external military actions, especially using new-fangled contraptions and I think you get the picture. The Americans were (probably) the first to fly but the laurels for early development have to go to the Europeans.
 
Old 17 January 2000, 05:53 AM   #4
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Shortsightedness among the general staff and the politicians. The airplane was seen as a toy, or at best, an observation platform.
Additionally, the military budget was not geared to incorporate new technologies. Historically, the US was never prepared for any war she fought until after WWII.
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Old 18 January 2000, 03:39 AM   #5
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Horrido,

Obviously no disrespect is meant, and it's an intriguing question. As has already been stated, the answer mostly lies with the US’s ardent isolationism. We didn’t want to get involved in WWI, military spending was very low, and frankly, I think most private money was going into manufacturing of one sort or another.

Also, at the same time airplanes were …um…taking off (*grin*), America was putting a lot of energy into automobiles. It could be that talent that might have worked on planes was actually working on cars. This is especially ironic because that meant US engines were potentially great aircraft engines -- had an airframe been built for them. If I recall correctly, the Liberty engine, which was used quite successfully in D.H.4s, developed 300 HP and weighed less than the Hisso engines used in SE5s and Spads.

Had the US gotten into the war earlier, then we too would have had to create better and more effective aircraft than our enemies. This could have resulted in truly great all-American fighters or bombers.

-Drew

P.S. Kugelfang, it’s good to see you over here!
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Old 18 January 2000, 03:51 AM   #6
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Horrido,

Obviously no disrespect is meant, and it's an intriguing question. As has already been stated, the answer mostly lies with the US’s ardent isolationism. We didn’t want to get involved in WWI, military spending was very low, and frankly, I think most private money was going into manufacturing of one sort or another.

Also, at the same time airplanes were …um…taking off (*grin*), America was putting a lot of energy into automobiles. It could be that talent that might have worked on planes was actually working on cars. This is especially ironic because that meant US engines were potentially great aircraft engines -- had an airframe been built for them. If I recall correctly, the Liberty engine, which was used quite successfully in D.H.4s, developed 300 HP and weighed less than the Hisso engines used in SE5s and Spads.

Had the US gotten into the war earlier, then we too would have had to create better and more effective aircraft than our enemies. This could have resulted in truly great all-American fighters or bombers.

-Drew

P.S. Kugelfang, it’s good to see you over here!
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Old 18 January 2000, 11:37 AM   #7
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The Liberty v-12 was of 400 HP as used in the DH4, DH9, and other Allied ships. There had been an effort to develop a 300HP v-8. It was not successful.

I had nrver heard that the Liberty weighed less than other engines. i had thought, rightly or otherwise that it was pretty hefty and could only be used in bombers. I din't remember the v-12 version in any production fighters.

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Old 18 January 2000, 01:44 PM   #8
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The Liberty engine was manufactured under license by the Buick Motor Division, General Motors Corp. in Flint,Michigan along with auto chassis for various military uses. All this while building cars for the US consumer market.

In February 1942, this same factory (the largest US auto plant at the time)switched from full-capacity civilian production to full-capacity military production in less than 7 days.

Somewhere I have an article describing the recent recovery of a pleasure boat powered by a Liberty engine that has since been completely restored.

Best Wishes,
Gary
 
Old 18 January 2000, 04:14 PM   #9
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Buick wasn't the only builder of Liberty Motors. I know for a fact that Marmon Motors of Indianapolis was also a builder and I believe several other aut manufacturers built them.
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Old 19 January 2000, 03:52 AM   #10
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One area in which the US was leader was seaplanes--Curtiss made a wide variety of "hydro-aeroplanes"as they were called, and they were used world-wide, including the Entente nations even before the war started. Austria and Germany & Italy had a few, as well.

The US Congress would not appropriate money for defense (something like $100,000 in 1913) and the military had nothing to spare on aviation. Hence the selling of aircraft overseas by Curtiss & others.

This was nothing new. As has been pointed out, for a nation that had invented powered flight, we were certainly slow to make use of it. Then again we weren't in an arms race, either. Nothing like military competition to spur research!

The US was in a bad fix in 1917--we had to use French artillery (none of our own) and apart from seaplanes, the JN-4 and Liberty Engines, the US was decidedly behind.

Chalk it up to traditional US politics regarding the armed forces & peacetime policy in absence of a direct military threat.
 
 

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