Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Genesis for the New Space Age with John Leith - CHPT IV - United States Readies Round Wing Planes for Possible Conflict with Germans

This particular part of the narrative makes way more sense than i would like to admit regarding German spying and the likely response.  

Using aerodynamics and 1940's alloys and tooling to produce a successful craft as is been described here is an impossibility by any thing that i am aware of.  That anything actually flew is also highly unlikely.  Yet it is also true that a real effort was underway however unpromising to do just that in the private sector.  For that reason it is plausible that a government funded project did go down that road.  

 It could then have morphed into something practical under an umbrella of secrecy.  Not all such programs actually succeed either

What is important is that secrecy protocols are getting well practiced and this included the Manhattan Project... 

At the same time or later at least, much effort was expended in attempting to make round wing aircraft and engineers did a lot of obvious stuff even when confronted with the clear technical superiority of UFOs that had nothing to do with aerodynamic methods..

 Chapter IV  
United States Readies Round Wing Planes for Possible Conflict with Germans  

Before World War n, the rise of militaristic regimes in Japan, Italy, and Germany had alarmed the democracies, but the war policies of Britain and the United States had not yet been formulated.

 France built the Maginot defense wall, Britain preferred to appease the Germans by compromise and prominent American politicians tried to pull a blanket of isolation over the national perspective. Whatever the response by which the democracies sought to resist the dictators, the Nazis under Hitler were encouraged to establish illicit and aggressive information gathering services abroad. 

Thus by 1936, a strong German spy apparatus had already begun to function in the U.S.A. The espionage system had been easy to implement. German nationals were able to hide their activities without undue suspicion by recruiting new members from organizations like the German Bund or by drawing sympathizers from naturalized German - Americans, enthralled by Nazi ideologies. 

But notwithstanding the presence of those Nazi sympathizers on the fringe of certain German communities, the bulk of the German descendants disdained the advances of the Nazi adherents and spurned their racial philosophies. 

In fact, loyal German- Americans not only opposed, but were foremost in fighting the Nazis at home and abroad, as intelligence files later confirmed. Cognizant of this foreign espionage activity, the U.S. Army/ Air Force officers who first interviewed Caldwell in 1936, quickly realized that this young man was on the brink of perfecting the greatest aerial marvel in the history of aviation. 

Although the first Glen Burnie roto-plane flew slower than 100 miles per hour and operated with a conventional small two-cylinder four cycle aircraft engine, the design of the machine and the airflow it induced was totally different than anything ever conceived and flown by earthmen in their skies. A cumbersome but necessary rudder often caused unwieldy flight patterns in cross winds, and while the machine still required a short runway for takeoff, it was apparent that its future potential in speed, hovering and maneuverability might literally allow it to reach the stars if adequate scientific help were provided. 

Political unrest in Europe had alerted U.S. foreign service watchers, and their observations of a new arms build-up had been passed on to the military. Gradually there began a shift from isolationism to uneasiness, following Hitler's occupation of Austria, and later in March 1936 his march into the Rhineland. While watching Germany, France began to overspend on re-armament, and Britain and America began to show alarm at signs of German expansionism. War clouds were obviously appearing over Europe, following what amounted to international failure to promote disarmament; and a reliance on peace treaties that became mere scraps of paper. 

Taking a hard look at her research achievements in the air, the U.S. suddenly realized that although there existed on the market new scientific breakthroughs in destructive weapons, America herself had produced no significant aerial developments since World War I. But the continuing use of the aeroplane as an effective weapon of war had not been obscured in the directives of the U.S. Army/Air Force advisors as they prepared reports on how Spanish towns were levelled by German dive bombers in 1936 or how the air-cover of Italian planes lent support to their troops and tanks in Mussolini's 1935 subjugation of Ethiopia. Thus, with prognostic military awareness of the possible evolution of aerial warfare, there occurred top level re-assessments of Caldwell's first rotoplane, out of which national security advisors became doubly concerned about espionage, particularly by the Germans. 

Orders went out from the executive branch to relocate the Caldwell program away from the potentially prying eyes of a wave of German spies. The new premises, operated under the supervision of Caldwell, would be located at Wright Patterson Field, outside Dayton, Ohio. In a comer of hanger number 2, in December 1936, Caldwell began again. 

He first set up a small machine shop and was given a fulltime machinist and welder. Caldwell was also provided with an assumed name which he would change twice again in the years ahead. Also added was the additional luxury of an office girl to complete the constant reports required in written communications with the new Army/Air Corps sponsor. For Caldwell and his wife, Olive, there would be the protection of constant security police. The Caldwell children, a boy and a girl, both in their teens, complained that their dates and friends were watched and the backgrounds of the families of their new friends were checked. The privacy for which they so often longed was gone forever. 

 Under Caldwell's supervision, a new machine with modifications was begun in late 1936. Plans called for it to be 33 feet in diameter and to hold a crew of six. Emphasis would be on using the lightest weight components obtainable. The structure would be thin, steel tubing built around a center cockpit. Initially a silk-covered plywood veneer was intended, but that was rejected for a silk-over-cotton covering. This skin was used for the first new models tested until replaced by dura-aluminum from a formula developed by Dr. Bolton B. Smith of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Rejection of this aluminum skin also took place when it became obvious that it possessed a too-low heat point, making it unsatisfactory for high speed travel. 

The skin finally perfected on the rota-plane covering was an outer layer of paperthin, stainless steel, bonded to an inside layer of dura-aluminum with a film of glued silk between. The new covering would be standard specifications on all U.S. round wing planes of the future, till outer spacemen would provide a perfect skin formula for American machines. Caldwell gave all his time to the project. Each spare moment he thought on how to improve the craft. 

One night, while working late under strict guard surrounding his home, a knock came at his study door. Caldwell's own vicious police dog outside the door did not stir. As Caldwell opened the door, he saw standing before him a tall man in a silver space suit and black calf-high boots, waiting with an outstretched hand. The German Shepherd looked up at the stranger and wagged his tail. As the visitor was invited to sit down in front of Caldwell's desk, the inventor, still uncertain of his polite intruder, covered with a book a diagram on which he had been working. The stranger spoke: "Don't worry about those plans lying under the book. The problem that vexes you is one of propulsion. Actually, the heart of the problem is not only one of design; rather it is mathematical." The stranger then handed Caldwell a folder with seven sheets inside, including a new carburetor design and fuel formula. Caldwell offered his new friend a cup of coffee. 

They talked for fifteen minutes and the stranger explained how Caldwell could overcome the existing difficulty he was encountering in the new round wing plane. The spaceman departed, and as Caldwell re-read the plans more carefully, he noticed a "formula of seven ingredients, which when later added to the kerosene fuel for the jet engines then being tested, gave such an improved performance that the added horse power and mileage range were unbelievable. (Up to that time, there had been no need for a highly combustible fuel. The simple additive of lead to gasoline was adequate to run the piston engines.) 

 German espionage agents had lost the trail of Caldwell and his amazing machine late in 1936, much to the relief of security personnel. In their new Wright Patterson quarters, the Caldwell crew were free to come and go from their workshop, but their presence in the community of Dayton would of course ultimately be discovered. German agents, undeterred, were already searching the country for their lost quarry. 

In the meantime, earlier work by Caldwell on a jet engine was now being completed with help from Northwestern University and advice from the outer spaceman. Caldwell's jet was an improvement on an earlier model invented in France. Plans were made to replace the conventional aircraft engine in the round wing plane with the newly developed jet. (Early versions of Caldwell's jet plans were stolen by German agents and first installed in their new Messerschmidt 109.) 

The scope of the project was enlarged when the full military application of the plane was recognized. In January 1937, Northwestern University provided physicists and contracted to do all the lab work in design, metalurgy and chemistry for the Caldwell project. Facilities in Wright Patterson Hanger No.2 began with a total of ten people helping Caldwell in the make-shift factory. The crew grew monthly. A governing board was appointed consisting of the Officer Commanding the air field, plus two other officers, along with Caldwell as supervisor. Caldwell had narrowly missed being killed more than once in flying his new contraption; therefore, two test pilots from Kelly Field, Texas, were brought in to keep the inventor on the ground. 

The name roto-plane was now dropped in favor of the round wing appelation, and in official correspondence the project ceased to be called the Long Island project in preference for the new code name JEFFERSON. Jefferson quickly was placed under the highest security in the U.S.A. For the new personnel, their movements outside the hanger would be subject to closer scrutiny, and their social and family contacts would be monitored 24 hours a day. But the new vigilance came too late. 

The German espionage agents had narrowed the Caldwell trail to Dayton. German agents reported their discovery to their military attache, and quietly a plan was drawn up to catch the Americans involved in the Jefferson project in a way security authorities would never suspect. German espionage teams carefully laid out their new net. 

 By early 1938 Project Jefferson had covered 20,000 feet of Hanger No. 2, plus an adjacent hanger. There were now 102 employees sworn to silence by oath, who operated under the jurisdiction of an expanded ten-man governing board. The employees were paid top wages and often were seen at a particular bar in downtown Dayton, where the best drinks were served and affable waiters and attractive decor made an evening at the cocktail lounge a most enjoyable event. For patrons who liked the thrill of gambling, the waiters would discreetly whisper that a special room was located at the back. For patrons from Wright-Patterson Field, IOU's were honored and inducements extended to bet heavily. 

It was during this period that reports from the north-east began appearing at police stations, newspaper offices and air force installations of strange, unearthly looking aircraft that streaked across the horizons at unbelievable speeds, faster than anything ever seen in the skies before. (World records in 1938 for propellor driven fixed wing planes were in the vicinity of 300 mph.) And with the sightings of these novel craft, often there was also reported a bright luminosity. The light was purely reflective, the plane's surface being so highly polished as to show a mirror-like reflection in the moonlight or perhaps a blinding flash in the bright sun which obscured its shape. The planes took off and landed at Wright-Patterson Field - generally at night. 

But now the Germans had competition in their American espionage activities. Just as interested in the new aerial phenomena were the Japanese. World War U was only a year away, and international military jitters were spreading around the globe. Had the curious sky watchers known the truth, they would have learned that the newly seen night craft were American made. 

They were in fact almost totally new versions of Caldwell's first rotoplane. Of course, they were round, 33 feet in diameter, with a cabin on top in mid center. The heart of the propulsion was now a kerosene fed jet motor that could provide the plane with a top speed of 750 miles per hour. The jet sucked air into its chambers, heated it and dispersed it through a system of ducts that gave the sudden maneuverability in all directions which ground viewers had observed and reported. Ten of these beautiful machines stood hidden in a hangar in Wright-Patterson in September 1938, approximately two years after Caldwell had flown his first canvas-covered craft the 45 miles to Washington. 

But September 12 was a special day. Caldwell himself took the controls of one of the planes as it was wheeled out. Before daybreak he took off after a dozen maintenance men checked out the ship and gave it clearance for departure. The jet could not lift the mass and weight straight up, but once airborne it could hover. Up like an arrow shot in an oblique line of flight at 35 degrees the round wing plane rose into the covering darkness. Less than two hours later, as morning broke over Washington, D.C., alert onlookers saw a strange object hovering over the White House stationary, and emitting a muted whine. 

 The appearance of the plane over the home of the President was a combined salute to the Chief of the U.S.A., President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, from Jonathon E. Caldwell and the Army/Air Corps, which had helped him build the world's first operational round wing plane. But not only was the American President and his staff watching, so was the German military attache. After that 1938 recorded inaugural flight, there would be renewed interest by foreign embassies in America, particularly German, concerning the most unconventional aeroplane the world had ever produced. 

The Germans hurried up their scheme to obtain plans on the amazing American invention, an updated version of the 1936 Caldwell rotoplane. It was less than a month after the Washington fly-over by the round wing plane that the new, posh downtown cocktail and gambling lounge in Dayton was staked out by the FBI. Reports began coming in that gambling debts would be forgiven if indebted players of the games of chance provided information about actitivies at Hangers 2 and 3 at Wright-Patterson Field. It was soon ascertained that the bar was German-owned and was the trap by which they planned to obtain the secrets of the new American round wing plane. Briefly, these developments of counter intrigue took place. Two FBI men, masquerading as draftsmen on the new round wing plane, ran up debts on the German gambling room. The bar was closed and all personnel connected with the premises were arraigned and placed in jail under the severe statutes of treason; they were detained till further World War II emergency powers were invoked. Then these spies were summarily executed. 

The last attempt had failed by which the Germans intended to obtain the revised plans to America's revolutionary plane. But the American intelligence authorities had learned a valuable lesson. From then on, all loose talk about the new plane must be stopped. Furthermore, the round wing plane facilities must be relocated again. And this must be done quickly. Government and military apprehensiveness mounted. The Secretary of War wrote Caldwell to expect a move in the autumn of 1938 to a new location. Orders were given to dismantle and crate the machinery and equipment. 

At a scheduled time, a long train pulled into Wright-Patterson Field where it was loaded, after which Caldwell, his wife, and teenage son and daughter boarded a pullman car. Their family possessions were packed also and on a flat railroad car went Caldwell's canvas covered personal automobile. Railroad men along the line called it the "X" special because it moved with the same priority as a Presidential train, requiring all other trains to stand by on siding till the "X" train passed through. All switches along the route were spiked to prevent tampering and key points were guarded by armed soldiers. 

Well before the year 1938 ended, on October 23, Hangers No. 2 and 3 in Dayton's Wright-Patterson complex were emptied and closed, and only the ghosts of Jonathon Caldwell and his builders of a new aerial empire lingered behind. The next location selected for continuing development of the round wing plane was in a military town near the continental divide in New Mexico. At an army center near the town of Los Alamos the complex was hastily made ready; a railway spur line was run in and new facilities added for the elite company of men and women about to arrive. 

 As the special "X" passed through Los Alamos, the engineer found himself riding on newly laid track. Cavalry units guarded the new rails. While the train pulled into the final destination site, the Caldwell entourage beheld a regiment of soldiers surrounding the enclosure. After the train was unloaded and vacated, the dining and pullman cars were pushed into sealed sheds which then were filled with cyanide gas in case a spy remained hidden on the train. Such was the security surrounding the second move of the Caldwell group known officially as Project Jefferson. 

The new headquarters were self contained insofar as the life style which prevailed during non- working hours. Total security would be maintained in a setting of barbed wire and electric fences. Elaborate precautions were taken to prevent unauthorized outsiders from getting past the guards. Any truck or other vehicle leaving the Los Alamos installation from the moment of the Caldwell arrival would be thoroughly searched and torn apart if the security inspectors so decreed. For the new inhabitants all amenities were provided, such as private tutoring and school classes, library, church services, films, restaurants, clothing, food. There was only one stipulation. No access to the outside world was tolerated, all outgoing and incoming mail was censored and telephone conversations monitored. The personnel of Project Jefferson were prisoners. And wherever Caldwell and his family went, their constant protection by Secret Service personnel would be greater than that required for the President of the United States. 

In the year 1940, in the nearby town of Los Alamos, a group of merchants provided maintenance for the fast-growing personnel living in the adjacent area, engaged in production facilities for a fleet that was being hurried to assume a role in the skies should neutral America become involved in the European war which had broken out in September of 1939. 

But beside the merchants who provided station provisions, there moved into Los Alamos another type of resident. This was the dogged German and Japanese who listened for casual information about the close-by activities and whose high powered binoculars and cameras scanned the clear skies for any unusual man-made phenomena. Americans were unaware, but all the nation's industrial and scientific endeavours including the Manhattan project were now secondary to the deployment of the country's brain power in the Jefferson Project. 

Then in 1941, another trauma of defense consciousness occurred with the arrival of Japanese bombers over the U.S. mainland, after which it was feared the new Los Alamos round wing plane site might be bombed. Three bombs had already been dropped in Northern California. Some Japanese field workers in Hawaii had been found guilty of espionage acts that had pointed a path for planes toward Pearl Harbor installations. Authorities asked themselves, "How vulnerable to air attack was the Los Alamos site and were Japanese espionage agents operating nearby?" Although total military vigilance was maintained around the Los Alamos site, secret security personnel monitored the establishments which the soldiers favored while in Los Alamos. 

On one occasion, seven soldiers went into an "off limits'' bar. As drinking increased, two of the soldiers began loudly bragging about their activities to the waitress. Within minutes, a squad of military police rounded up the group and they were returned to base. All off duty soldiers in town and at the site were also recalled. That afternoon, the two soldiers were court martialed and sentenced. The same day they dug their own graves in full view of their regiment. A squad of 12 men was called out and a firing squad executed the two who had boasted about the project in public. Such was the sensitivity to secrecy built around the round wing plane development which continues to this day. 

A short time after Pearl Harbor in December 1941, traffic suddenly disappeared in and out of the Los Alamos complex. Dignitaries and visitors were seen no more, and bids to provide food and beverage were no longer asked from the merchants of the town. Also missing were the bewildered foreign espionage agents. High in the sky above Los Alamos, one winter night in late December, 1941, a fleet of over 60 round wing planes with their trained combat crews of over 400 men, disappeared into the blackness of the unknown. 

By all evidence, the great American project surrounding the round wing installations had been abandoned, to be heard of no more. Of course, by the end of 1941, the United States was at war with the axis powers of Germany and Italy and had declared war on Japan. Hostile planes had been sighted over San Francisco and war in the air was approaching potentially closer to home. 

But as for the American war effort in the skies, all the public learned that year came from the mouth of National Defense Chairman William B. Knudsen, who said for the record: "The U.S. will soon double its present 900 monthly plane production of fighter and bomber craft, in an air re-armament drive." The new aircraft fighter hope, apparently, was still a conventional fuselage with one fixed cross wing called a R40, clocked across the Buffalo airport at 320 miles per hours. 

Were the 60 round wing planes that reputedly could fly at speeds in excess of 750 miles per hour too untried to mention? Or were they classed as secret weapons being held in abeyance til America would enter the war and one day bring Hitler, the new master of Europe, to his knees?

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