Prototype Mustang being flight tested at Wright Field.
Credit Dan Patterson Archival Collection
Seventy years ago, the country was deep into World War Two, and the US was on the offensive in the air. Commentator Dan Patterson says that the big US four engine bombers were being shot down in shocking numbers.
Think about this: on one mission, we lost sixty bombers. That's six hundred men. It was just too much.
The US needed a fighter plane with long pegs, one that could go all way deep into Germany and protect the bombers, essentially win the air war and provide the long sought after supremacy of the air.
The Russian Antonov- 25 at Pearson Army Air Field in Vancouver, Washington, 1937
Credit Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA
Russia has our attention now, with the Sochi Winter Olympics about to open on February 7th. This got our aviation commentator Dan Patterson thinking about the vast country and how it is connected by flight. And Dan brings us back to the early days of aviation when the Russians were building and flying unique aircraft to shorten those distances.
History is broken down into the moments we remember about our own lives, like weddings and birthdays and graduations, and then there are days when we pause to remember together, as a nation, an event that affected us all.
Pearl Harbor Day, just passed, when Japanese pilots attacked American navy ships north of Honolulu, is one of those, even though it's now more than 7 decades passed. Commentator Dan Patterson finds himself finds himself turning it over and over in his mind.
2014 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the beginning of World War One. Millions of soldiers and untold numbers of civilians died on European battlefields during that conflict which was called "the war to end all wars," which, of course, it was not.
We tend to remember the trench warfare of World War One, but it was the first conflict in the history of the world that included an air war as well. Dan Patterson has some thoughts.
The shadow of a B-24 Liberator in flight. These bombers were used by the U.S. Army Air Force in WWII
Credit Dan Patterson
Seventy years ago, World War 2 was in full cry. American was in combat across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In Europe, during 1943, the US Army Air Force was engaged against Hitler's Germany. The fall was a crucial time for battle, and October was a cruel month.
Defeating an enemy only with air power was experimental back then. The American plan was this: equip large bomber with heavy machine guns, fly them in a tight formation with hundreds of identical planes and no long range fighters as escorts. Could it work?