Page 3743

3743 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR,

were being altered to remedy defects.

"The production of combat planes in the

United States for use in actual warfare

has thus far been a substantial failure

and constitutes a most serious disappointment in our war preparations."

A minority report did not dispute

the figures given above but emphasized

the magnitude of the task and the difficulties encountered. It also brought out

the fact that 6,100 combat planes had

been ordered in France and that to aid

in this foreign manufacture the Signal Corps had shipped to France

11,000 tons of various materials and

had sent 7,000 mechanics to release

for French factories making planes for

American fliers an equal number of

French workers on motor transports.

Critics of this program insisted, however, that the plan involved "robbing

Peter to pay Paul," and that, although it might ultimately produce

planes for our fliers, the number of

planes fighting the Germans would not

actually be greatly increased.

The requirements for aeroplanes fell

into two classes, those for training

purposes and those for actual fighting.

The production of training planes

and engines proceeded without much

difficulty, and the general public was

often confused regarding the aeroplane

situation by the publication of figures

on the production of planes and engines fitted only for training purposes.

The plans for the Liberty Motor

were changed so much that its production was greatly delayed. However, in

the summer and fall of 1918, production

attained large dimensions and by the end

of the war 15,131 had been built. About

as many other engines, most of them for

training purposes, were constructed during

the war. Some of the Liberty Motors

were supplied to foreign governments

while others were used for American planes. However, comparatively few

American built battle planes actually took

part in the fighting. Most of the battle planes on the American Front were French

or British built, and, up to the very end

of the fighting, the American supply of

planes was inadequate.

As finally developed, the Liberty Motor

was an excellent engine for certain purposes. It was capable of delivering 440

horsepower and weighed, without water

or oil, only 860 pounds. Had the war

lasted a year longer, it would doubtless

have played a considerable part in the conflict. As it was, its name will always call up

thoughts of mismanagement, inefficiency,

and controversy.

Fortunately, the training of American

aviators proceeded more rapidly than

the building of engines and planes. With

the assistance of foreign aviators and of

Americans who had been in the Allied

air service, thousands of America's young

men were trained to fly and to fight in

the air. Some of these men won high

distinction by their exploits. When the

armistice was signed the total strength of

the air service was over 190,000 men,

including about 20,000 commissioned officers and over 6,000 cadets under training.