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Bombers_by_the_Pound

BOMBERS BY THE POUND Jti By HURD BARRETT t.in APHIC MEAL Big planes aren't stamped out like saucepans. Thousands of parts must each be fabricated and fitted by hand. Here, a workman,crouched in the leading edge of a Boeing Clipper wing, drills one of several hundred thousand rivet holes. THE first airplanes I ever saw were at the first airplane show ever held in New York. That was in either 1913 or 1914. I couldn't have been much over four years old, but I still remember the airplanes. I remember no details, except that, suspended from the ceiling by piano wires, were shiny things which looked like nothing I had ever seen before, and which, my father told me, flew through the air with a man in them. I took my first airplane ride in 1918, in an Army Curtiss JN4D, a Jenny. My father was a colonel in the Medical Corps, and he bootlegged the ride for us, quite unbeknownst to my mother, and this five minutes of vibration-filled, exhaust-laden breathlessness did more to bring on my more than twelve years in, on, around and under airplanes than anything else that ever happened to me. From that day forth I was a monomaniac. I wanted to be a pilot. Unfortunately, I shared this same ambition with almost the entire postwar generation, to the end that after several desperate years trying to make a living as a pilot, I gave up and went to work as a mechanic in an aircraft factory. That was seven years ago. Since then, I have toiled in three of the largest of the genial madhouses in which aircraft are built, at jobs varying from riveting and sheet-metal assembly, to Cost, Personnel and Production work. From these seven years, three factories and many jobs, I have drawn two conclusions: 1. We build the finest aircraft in the world. 2. The manner of their building is, of necessity, strictly screwball. Back in 1927, another fellow and I built—or rather rebuilt—an airplane of our own. That was fun. We Engineering department of a modern airplane plant. Often half a million man, hours go into the design of a plane before actual construction can be started. didn't work very hard, and we knew exactly what we wanted to do to it. Furthermore, our factory was a barnlike hangar in Tucson, Arizona; the sunlight filtered in and we had plenty of company— which had a way of turning into free assistance. Now they build airplanes in dusty factories, hidden from the sun, to the accompaniment of the banshee din of air-riveting hammers and the highpitched swearing of tortured souls. It's a nerveshattering existence—especially for Production men, which is the capacity in which I've passed my last four years. Production gets the brunt of it all. Their work is 100 per cent grief—untangling their own and the other fellows' boners. If anything's all right about the job, we never hear about it. Why should we? Not wish I'm rightOisnpltiitin complaining. ot g. But I still occasion- ally ali that fate had thrown me into some safe, sane, established industry, like, say, the movingpicture business. are severraall reasons for the chaotic conditions prevailing in the factories which make aircraft. But, except in a few isolated instances, none of the grief and confusion incident to getting a new model into production is the fault of the manufacturer. Neither is it the fault of the unmatchable procurement divisions ttihone Aenrgnmiyeaeo:l Nf athvey .air:olirneyse.t of the staff


Bombers_by_the_Pound
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