Appendices - Hirohito's War
APPENDIX N: THE ROLE OF OIL IN THE PACIFIC WAR
Interwar Development of the Aeronautical Industry: Before World War I, France’s General Ferdinand Foch described aviation as “good sport, but for the Army the aero plane is worthless.”10 In Britain it was a minnow of an industry employing just 1,000 people in the UK and producing a few hundred aircraft a year – a high proportion of them experimental prototypes. The next four years saw a rapid transformation. By the end of the war aircraft speeds had doubled to 120 mph while operating ceilings rose to 27,000 feet. From simple reconnaissance functions aircraft increasingly developed not only fiercesome machine gun firepower but also developed bombing capability. The rise in production was dramatic. By the end of World War I France had produced 64,000 aircraft, Britain 55,000, Germany 48,000 and Italy 20,000.
Post-World War I federal regulation had helped the development of the nascent aeronautical industry, which it recognized as essential both to national prestige and defense. The National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics had been established by Congress in 1915 and its engineers helped bring about critical technological advances including more efficient propellers, wing design, engines, instrumentation, wing flaps, new materials and streamlining. A new generation of metal skinned streamlined aircraft emerged including the Boeing 247D in 1933 and the Douglas DC-3 in 1935.
The Kelly Mail Act of 1925 authorised the use of private companies to fly mail for the first time. A Bureau of Aeronautics within the Commerce Department was established by the Air Commerce Act . Pilots were now licensed and aircraft had to be certified. As commercial passenger flights were developed safety became an issue. Rules were later established by the Civil Aeronautics Act  and regulation was further enhanced by the Civil Aeronautics Board and Civil Aeronautics Administration Act .
While passenger aircraft had begun to fulfill the commercial needs of America’s rapidly expanding cities, diffusion of aircraft also penetrated the countryside where crop spaying developed a cadre of rural flyers. The US Agricultural Department developed modern crop dusting with the Army Signal Corps. A first outing was made on 3 August 1921 by test pilot John Macready in a Curtiss JN4, who spread an arsenic formula designed to eliminate catalpha sphinx caterpillars outside Troy, Ohio. Crop dusting soon became ubiquitous on America’s vast midwestern farms. Curtis went on to develop more exotic military aircraft over the next twenty years.
The 1930s proved to be a golden era of flight exploration and daredevilry. Long distance flying, racing and air displays captured the public imagination. Fliers such as Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Jimmy Doolittle and Howard Hughes became some of the highest profile celebrity superstars of their era.
Jimmy Doolittle won the 1925 Schneider Trophy held at Chesapeake Bay. Flying the same Curtiss R3C the following day, Doolittle recorded a world record speed of 245.7mph. Curtiss would go on to become the United States’ biggest aircraft manufacturer during the war, producing famous aircraft such as the P-40 Warhawk fighter and the B-26 Commando (transport plane). Doolittle would go on to achieve even greater fame for his daring exploits in the Pacific War.