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7 The Twenty.Jeventh pursuit squadron, first pursuit group, in practice maneu. vers. Enemy bombers would have little chance to escape these fast fighters. guns and defending fighters. The appearance of such a weapon as the Bofors antiaircraft gun of 1935, with its long reach up into the sky, means that engineers must hastily revise bomber design, cutting down on load, speed and range, to keep their ships above this new lightning from the ground. All this is evident from the history of bomber ranges. They had reached 1000 miles by 1925. They remained at that figure till 1936 or 1937, with the improvements going into increased speed and climb, when the figure jerked up to 1500 miles. Recent experimental craft give promise of an 1800-mile bomber range within the next three or four years, and the stimulating influence war always has on military inventions may drive it up to 2200 miles within the next ten years. Beyond that, bomber ranges are not likely to reach for some time to come. Watchdogs of the Sea T ET us accept the uppermost of these figures as though it were of the tomorrow when some enemy power might try to bomb our cities, and redraw our danger circles accordingly—that is, for a bomber operating radius of 1000 miles. They now take in more of Mexico; they have added Newfoundland, Bermuda and most of the Bahamas. But none of this territory is really new. It is still controlled or dominated by the same powers as the 600-mile circles; the defense problem is the same. The fundamental fact that any potential attacker of the United States has to face is this: No bombing airplane can be moved into range of the big American cities without having the help of a ship. Even the Iceland-Greenland route from Europe, the most favorable and the most frequently suggested, will not quite do. Airplanes could make the separate hops all right, but they would require a firstclass base in Iceland, with storage and repair facilities, probably afloat, off the inhospitable coast of Greenland. Fuel and munitions for Iceland and Greenland would still have to come by ship. So would supplies for foreign bases in Bermuda, the Bahamas, Newfoundland, Lower California or the West Indies, if bomber ranges ever extend far enough to bring the last within striking distance of our industrial areas. This is where our Navy enters the picture. The potential attacker must first of all fight his way past our fleet to establish a base. But not even the defeat of our fleet would render the base secure. Supplies of fuel and munitions must still come to the base by water, in the face of savage opposition from our light forces—submarines, destroyers, cruisers that can run at more than forty miles an hour, airplanes that can fly at nearly 350. Convoying slow, vulnerable supply ships to an airplane base near our shores in the face of the opposition we could put up would be so dangerous an operation that any military strategist would rather risk a direct invasion and a landing force on our coast. Let us imagine, however, that such a base has been established. Suppose the capture of the immense new air base built by the British government at St. John's, Newfoundland; the establishment in Mexico of an armed state, the puppet of some foreign power or ideology inimical to us; the seizure of one or more of the West Indies by the European partner of a coalition while our fleet is engaged in the Pacific— none of them hypotheses more outrageously impossible than those with which the present war began. Would any of these suppositions mean that the defense of our cities would be thrown on our present insignificant ground artillery? By no means. All the circles include large amounts of blue water; on this water float Navy ships, armed with the new 5-inch gun, terribly effective against aircraft. From its shore stations the Navy operates patrol squadrons of the giant flying boats that gave such good account of themselves in recent maneuvers, not unlike the Clippers (Continued era Page 34)


Can_They_Bomb_Us
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