19 JULY 1940, Page 5

At a time when Blenheim bombers and Hurricane and Spit-

fire fighters figure in Air Ministry communiqués every day of the week, we owe as a matter of decency (an aviator friend suggests to me) some acknowledgement to two personages whose initiative and liberality did more than anything else to make our principal bombers and our principal fighters what they are. One is Lord Rothermere, the other that strange woman, the late Lady Houston. The last Schneider Trophy, race was flown, I believe, in 1931. There would have been no British entry then but for Lady Houston, who, when the Government decided not to find money for aircraft and engines capable of keeping Britain in the van, made herself responsible for the total cost of the race—estimated at about L250,000. The result was the production by the Rolls-Royce firm of an engine that was the direct prototype of the Merlin engine which gives all our foremost types of fighters their pre- dominance today. What Lord Rothermere did was to com- mission the Bristol Aeroplane Company to produce a commer- cial aeroplane of outstanding performance as a demonstration to the Air Ministry of what could be done. The direct descendant of that machine is the Bristol-Blenheim bomber of today.