National Geographic : 1965 Sep
one else. It's as true today as it was when George Washington said, "If we desire to secure peace... it must be known that we are at all times ready for war." Technology plays a vital role in maintain ing that readiness. If you draw a curve on graph paper representing the performance of the airplane since it was invented about 60 years ago, the curve rises very slowly at first, then begins to soar at a steeper and steep er angle. Right now that curve is shooting straight off the paper. For example, the B-52's engines-and those of all other Air Force jets-have a ratio of thrust to weight of about 5 to 1; that is, the engines have a thrust in pounds five times as great as their own weight. Backbone of the Air Force: Men Although it may take ten years or more, our research and development program can now promise engines with a ratio of as much as 15 to 1. This will obviously mean huge increases in range and load. Contractors are already planning the C-5, a wonderful cargo plane that should be able to lift 100 tons from a short runway or carry as many as 600 troops. Speed, too, is going up rapidly. Operational aircraft have been lagging about a decade behind the experimental rocket-powered X-15, which flies today at more than 4,000 miles per hour.* Therefore, in the decade ahead, we will probably be approaching the X-15's present performance. When you get to such speeds, fantastic tem peratures on the surface of the plane would soften aluminum airframes. New heat-resist ant materials are needed, such as titanium, or other metals impregnated with boron fibers. The XB-70, which uses titanium, pipes its fuel on the way to the engine through high temperature areas to help absorb the tremen dous heat of supersonic flight. We are now in the first crude, early stages of space exploration, about where aeronautics was in General Foulois's early days. No one then could foresee the fantastic weapons and materials we have today, and no one now can really foresee the most valuable things we will find and learn out in space. But we've got to get there and find out, and there's no doubt in my mind that we will. This is exactly why we will always need manned systems-manned planes, manned spacecraft. Missiles are spectacular and they play their role, but they have no sense of loy alty; they can't think; they can't be recalled. *See "I Fly the X-15," by Joseph A. Walker, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, September, 1962. 296 War is an art, not a science. No one today can say what the next war will be like, or where it will start. If there is a next war, we're going to be surprised. The enemy always tries to surprise you, to catch you off guard. There fore you must have some weapon systems that are flexible, so that when you are sur prised, you can do something about it. The missile is not very flexible, but a man can think and change his mind. I have always believed strongly in what men can do if they are trained and motivated properly. I remember, during my days at tac tical school, listening to a lecture on leader ship and discipline. The teacher told of a con versation with a German officer after World War I. The German said that he couldn't understand Americans. They had no disci pline. You had to give them orders, and then you had to explain why. I think the German officer missed the point. It has been my experience that if you explain why to an Air Force man, you don't have to give an order. You just get out of the way and let him get on with the job! * * * EKTACHROMEBY BRUCE DALE; U.S . AIR FORCE ) N.G.5 . His cigar a hallmark, General Le May attends a reception following retirement ceremonies. One of the Nation's most honored military men, he holds decorations of 20 lands. Rain of destruction: B-17 Flying Fortresses drop salvos of 500-pound ers during a saturation bombing of Hitler's Europe in 1944. In waves of hundreds, Allied planes shattered Nazi war strength with bombing tech niques-close formation and simul taneous drops-pioneered by LeMay.