National Geographic : 1942 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine Official Photograph IT. S. Navy Dive Bombers Peel Off for the Attack Dive bombing was first developed by the U. S. Navy. One after another, the planes wing over and head almost straight down for the target-soldiers ashore or a ship at sea. Antiaircraft fire can break up such formations and deflect the aim, but the only sure defense is a strong force of fighter planes. ~ireC vrsrb ~eC Scharnhorst and Gneisenau caught the carrier Glorious off guard during the Norwegian cam paign, June, 1940. Surprisingly, no battleship has been sunk by a battleship, excluding the Battle of Oran between the British and Vichy-French fleets. (The Hood, sunk by the Bismarck, was a battle cruiser.) Every Front Demands More Air Our wise and air-minded President Roose velt and his Navy chiefs have put carriers at the top of our naval building program. All admit that to win we must first gain superiority in the air. But how can we obtain this superiority unless we carry our fighter planes across the seas ready for combat, rather than in crates in the holds of ships? C. Yates McDaniel, of the AP, in his epic last dispatch from Singapore on February 11, 1942, reported: "I can see relay after relay of Japanese planes going into murderous dives upon our soldiers, who are fighting back in a hell over which there is no protecting screen of our own fighters." Famed C. B. S. war correspondent Cecil Brown broadcast from Sydney: "I've talked with dozens of American pilots in the Nether lands East Indies and others who got out of the Philippines. Everyone said: 'For God's sake, send us some aircraft.' " Today the same old plea comes crackling over the ether waves from other areas not yet occupied by the enemy. From Alaska to India and in the Near East, wherever the United Nations face the enemy one hears this cry, "More air!" We all know our factories are turning out planes by the thousands. Soon airplanes will fly off the assembly lines in such numbers that they will blot out the skies, "like geese bound south in the fall." "Then why do we not send the planes so desperately needed?" everyone asks. The answer is simple: lack of enough cargo ships to carry supplies, bombs, fuel, and huge crates of fighter planes to these distant lands. "Look at your map," said President Roose velt in his Washington's Birthday speech, "and you will see that the route (to the Southwest Pacific) is long, and at many places perilous, either across the South Atlantic around South Africa, or from California to the East Indies direct. A vessel can make a round trip in about four months, or only about three round trips in a whole year." Many Aircraft Carriers Are the Answer "Can't some way be found to get around this impossible situation?" asks the average citizen.