Page 1

Can_They_Bomb_Us

THE SATUR.D.RY EVENING POST Founded A91:01728 by Benj.Franklin Volume 212 5C. THE COPY PHILADELPHIA, PA., DECEMBER 2,1939 $2.00 By Subscription Number 23 '52 issues CAN THEY BOMB US? By FLETCHER PRATT 0.-COLOR 1'110 fot,R,PHS COURTESY OF V. S. NI:MN \IR CORPS These camouflaged Army pursuit planes are uncle Jam's newest single,seater fighters. OF ALL the great powers, the United States has the least effective system of ground defense against airplanes, whether considered on quantity or quality. Yet efforts to conduct a serious aerial offensive against America are foredoomed to failure for so far in the future that any large addition to our antiaircraft establishment would be more dangerous than useful. The situation is highly paradoxical. We are weak, but immune to attack; present efforts to strengthen ourselves throw our future safety into doubt. The leading elements in this strange state of affairs are 'three in number—the technical characteristics of aircraft, the United States Navy, and our apparently ineradicable national habit of making military preparations in a burst of energy, to which succeeds a long period of stagnation. The last of these is the most ominous—but for the future, not now. The danger is that the war in Europe will cause people in large numbers to wake up to the fact that our antiaircraft defenses hardly exist. They will then harry Congress into wishing on the Army a large amount of undesired antiaircraft equipment, and having done this, forget about it. Just about the time this equipment becomes obsolete someone will get around to bombing us. This is not vague and fancy theory. It is a statement of something that has happened repeatedly in the story of our national defenses—most recently in the Navy. In 1914, another European war focused attention on that arm, and it was realized that we were not in shape to protect our coasts and commerce in a war with a first-class power. There was a tremendous uproar about preparedness, culminating in the Wilson naval program, which gave us a magnificent fleet, built at hot speed. When the shadow of war began to fall across the closing years of the present decade, it became evident that this fleet had been forgotten till it all wore out at once, like the'wonderful one-hoss shay, and we had to build an entirely new Navy. What the responsible Army officers are worried about is that there will be another such scare and a vast building program in antiaircraft defense. The material for such a campaign of excitement exists, all right. There are just seven regular regiments— of Coast Artillery—on antiaircraft duty, with ten National Guard regiments assigned to the same work. The Philippines and the great Pacific naval bases eat up four of the regular regiments. The other three have the twenty-four guns which, less than a year ago, constituted our entire antiaircraft defense east of the Rockies. A War Department announcement of September twenty-second says that 338 new guns are now ready. Nothing has been said about the accompanying equipment of "jeeps," those marvelous mechanical brains that predict the movements of oncoming bombers and arrange for a shell to welcome them. Nothing has been said about the equipment of searchlights, which are perhaps more important than the guns themselves. The National Guard regiments have received no training to speak of, and even the regulars comparatively little practice at co-operating with defending aircraft around a big city. In equipment and experience the United States antiaircraft defense is behind the single city of London as of a date before the present war; for the London defense system not only comprised nearly as many guns but much heavier ones, with greater range than our Army's 3-inch artillery, which have an effective range of only 18,000 feet in altitude. Our ground defense is not much better than Poland's was or that of Turkey is. If a fleet of enemy bombers appeared over New York, Chicago or Pittsburgh, they would find their task pretty much of a pushover. Stated thus, it looks as though we ought to build some new equipment without delay. Yet this is precisely what the Army men are anxious to avoid. They cannot make effective use even of all the 338 new guns; there are no men to handle them. The enlistment and training of new troops on a scale commensurate with effective antiaircraft ground defense for our industrial areas would plunge us into something like national militarism. 5


Can_They_Bomb_Us
To see the actual publication please follow the link above