Page 3742

3742 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

made to correct weaknesses that developed,

and many months elapsed before the motor

was really completed. Furthermore, it was

soon learned that the Liberty Motor was

not suited for battle planes but merely for

bombing planes and other heavy craft. At

the close of the first year of the war, the

Senate Committee on Military Affairs reported that the aerial situation was "gravely disappointing." A great outcry arose

throughout the country. A well-known

sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, was permitted

by President Wilson to make an informal

investigation of aircraft production and his

report was most disquieting. He attributed

the failure in part to incompetence, in part

to dishonesty and pro-Germanism in certain quarters. A later investigation made

at the President's instance by Ex-Justice

Hughes also showed that there had been

grave mismanagement, but the Hughes

report was less sensational in its charges.

American feeling regarding the aircraft

situation was stirred late in February, 1918,

by the following dispatch from an Associated Press correspondent with the American army in France:

"German aeroplanes come and go over

the American lines almost at will. The

chance of hitting an aeroplane with anti-aircraft shells is so remote that the enemy

aviators calmly fly along as if on. a pleasure

tour. They take pictures, make observations, and do virtually whatever else

they desire. It would be possible to

carry quotations from virtually every

officer at the front, urging a speedy appearance of large numbers of American aeroplanes with American pilots. There is

only one way to wrest control of the air

from the enemy-that is to fight him

for it in the sky and to relieve him of it

by force of overwhelming numbers.

"Any officer will say that the safety of

individual soldiers depends upon keeping

the enemy from doing as he pleases overhead. For days the Germans have been

flying over some towns where American

troops have been resting after periods

in the trenches. Once or twice these

daylight observation tours have been

followed the same night by visits by

enemy bombing planes. So free and

unrestricted are the German airmen that

in some towns the commands are under

strict orders to disappear under cover

the moment a German aeroplane is sighted.

Moreover, officers say, more and more

German aeroplanes are appearing in the

sky, and in various quarters there is a

growing belief that these are the first of

the machines which the Germans have

been building to offset the large number

of expected American aeroplanes in accordance with plans announced in the United

States. Whether this belief is true or

not, the fact remains that American troops

are holding the sector and are endangered

daily because there are no American

aeroplanes with them. The question most

asked from one end of the American

front to the other is: 'When are some

American planes coming here?'"

Just before this dispatch was published,

Secretary Baker announced that the first

American built battle planes were then

en route to the front in France. These

planes, he said, were equipped with the

first Liberty Motors, and he declared

that "engine production, which began a

month ago, is now on a quantity basis,

and the peak of production will be reached

in a few weeks." His language was optimistic, but he refused to deny or confirm

the statement in the dispatch.

On April 12, 1918, a majority report

of the Senate Military Affairs Committee

painted a more gloomy picture. It declared that the evidence showed that

the twelve-cylinder Liberty Motor was

"just emerging from the development

or experimental stage." Many changes

had been found necessary. "Within the

last two months changes of considerable

importance have been made which, it

is hoped, will make the. motor serviceable

for combat planes of the defensive type

and for bombing and observation planes.

Of the 22,500 Liberty Motors ordered,

only 122 had been completed for the army

and 142 for the navy. The shipment

of motors to France, which Secretary

Baker had announced, numbered only four.

Of the engines already finished, some