3 MARCH 1939, Page 22


[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR]

SIR,—To Mr. Nigel Tangye's excellent article, " British and German Air-Power," of February 17th, might be added one more consideration of importance. It concerns simplicity of construction, a point to which the German mind would seem to have given much careful thought in its application to mili- tary aircraft. In the production of aeroplanes and their ancillary equipment there appears to be a distinct discrepancy of approach between British and German methods. The British undoubtedly build a machine to last for an extended period of service, but by coveting dependable reliability a certain sacrifice in simplicity of design and jig erection is often entailed.

Jn the event of war between two major Air Forces of com- parable technical performance, an aeroplane's life of action will be estimated in a matter of few weeks, so that the frantic replacement of types, durable for their purpose, would be- come an essential to air parity. Ease of manufacture, besides saving time in the fabrication of the individual aeroplane, also increases potential output, due to the facility of adapting premises and uninitiated men to aircraft construction. So that if Germany has been working on the principle of making simplicity of greater importance than running duration or even flying performance, as reports would indicate, she is necessarily at a distinct advantage when the dire emergency for numbers arises. A myriad of material specifications and stringent requirements are not conducive to speed of manu- facture or adaptability.

Mr. Tangye picks, rather unfairly I think, on the case of an American engine modified to German material resources. This may, as he says, have proved a failure, but it would be a foolish conclusion to regard this instance as symbolic or totally applicable to the design and practice adopted for the German aero-engine. In the sphere of compression ignition engines alone, it is clear that Teutonic genius is not altogether wanting We did learn lessons in the Great War (Bosch magneto?) which should limit any under-estimation of their technical prowess.

From personal knowledge, I could make some defamatory but true statements concerning British aero-engines of a cer- tain type, but, similar to Mr. Tangye's quoted instance in Germany, they would represent only the few disappointments that accompany any specialised engineering product.—Your

faithfully, R. TOWERS. Lawnville, Gosforth, Newcastle-on-Tyne.