Charles Lindbergh Civilian Technician WW2 Pacific

Discussion in 'Biographies' started by liverpool annie, Mar 22, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Charles Lindbergh was the son of a liberal Republican congressman from Minnesota. He was a mechanical engineering student, left to enter flight school, flew exhibition, and entered the US Air Service Reserve to fly mail with the rank of lieutenant. He secured backing to have the Spirit of St Louis built and flew it for New York City to Paris, solo, 3,610 miles in 33 ½ hours winning the Orteig Prize and world acclaim in 1927. Awarded the Medal of Honor by Congress, he embarked on worldwide goodwill flying. He later won a Pulitzer Prize for literature in writing of his adventures. Little is told of him after his son was kidnapped in the "crime of the century in 1932."

    Lindbergh disagreed with Roosevelt's plan to nationalize the airmail and to assign the Army to carry it. Lindbergh earned the dislike of the administration when he testified before the Senate, saying that Army pilots were not trained for all-weather flying or night landings. His testimony was proven true when five pilots were killed in the first week with six more injured.

    He performed airpower surveys in Germany, France, England, and the Soviet Union as an Army Air Corp colonel prior to the start of the war in Europe in 1939. Along with middle America, armed with his firsthand observations, he became a leading anti-war spokesman. He made the points that our nation was not at risk and that a million lives could be lost if we crossed the ocean to fight in Europe's war. Offered the position of Secretary of Air if he would shut up, he refused and was subjected by criticism by President Roosevelt; he resigned his commission rather than not speak.

    Japan attacked in the Pacific and her allies, German and Italy, declared war on the United States, bringing us into the European war that he abhorred, as well as the Pacific. The press looked for negative things to say about isolationist views expressed before the war. One line of one speech by Lindbergh is quoted over and over on which he is pilloried. It was perfectly true, but a few weeks later Lindbergh's antiwar views of the preceding year were on the wrong side of the situation. The infamous line was, "The only people who want the United States in the war are the English, the Jews, and the munitions sellers." He did not want American dead included in the 35MM people destroyed by WW2 – never was he other than a patriot.

    He immediately applied for a re-commission in the Army Air Force to fight. But Roosevelt had wanted to get us into the war against Germany, and Lindbergh had made his goal harder to obtain -- Lindbergh was rejected out of hand.

    There was a need for his services. He was asked by Henry Ford to help turn Willow Run into an assembly line for B-24 bombers, he redesigned parts for the plane to improve mass production. He worked with the Mayo Clinic on high altitude research on the effects on the human body. He determined there were a few seconds between the symptoms of black out and unconsciousness, helped design jumping equipment that saved many fliers. Republic had him test fly the P-47 Thunderbolt. United had him test the F4U Corsair. Working below the visibility of those in the upper Washington circles, he arranged to test the Corsair under combat conditions. Arriving in Pacific April 1944, he showed how to take off with double the rated bomb-load and then showed that dive bombing with that load was out of the question, so he wiped out a gun emplacement with horizontal bombing.

    MacArthur immediately heard of his unannounced arrival in the theater and ordered him to Australia where he was assigned to extend the range of the P-38 Lightning in New Guinea operations. Lindberg was able to return from combat missions with his tanks half full when others returned empty. He was able to teach how to add 500 miles to the P-38's range. It had been considered to be 400 miles, Lindbergh's techniques let the Lightning appear hundreds of miles from where the Japanese expected to find them. He flew missions to Balikpapan, Mindanao, even led a 4 plane raid on Palau, considered out of range of land based fighters, a base defended by 200 enemy fighters.

    There is more than one way serve one's country. Lindbergh flew as a civilian technician. His teaching approach was "hands on" training by example and he made 50 combat sorties, with 1 Japanese Zero kill, the same number of missions asked of a military pilot. He was offered a colonelship and an appointment to Macarthur's staff, but Lindbergh turned it down for "political reasons" and returned late Sept 1944. Gen Kenney said of his efforts, " . . . This let the United States get to the Philippines much sooner than planned. . . . Lindbergh's contribution shortened the war by several months and saved thousands of American lives."

    After the war, Lindbergh became a consultant with the new US Air Force and was commissioned as a reserve Brigadier General in 1954.

    In October 2002, the Mayo Clinic released information about his previously unreported contributions to high altitude research.

    Charles Lindberghm, civilian technician
  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

  3. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    I have seen the documentary on his work with the P-38's in the Pacific. He generated amazing fuel economy advantages.
  4. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    For some reason I thought he'd gone to New Guinea and the P-38s earlier. Learn something new every day!
  5. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    There is another page on the site Annie linked in post #2 that goes into more detail about the extension of range

    Charles Lindbergh and the 475th Fighter Group

    An interesting point is made about the physiological affect of sitting in a cramped cockpit for so long.

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