American Aircraft Making the USA Independent of Foreign Aerial Technology

The Glenn Martin Company earmarked itself a sporting history by producing the first truly American designed aerial heavy bomber to be procured by the military quantity during the First World War era, with the first delivery to the military taking place during October 1918. All previous US heavy aerial bombers were simply patents licenced derivatives of European origins to be locally manufactured. The plane carried a model designation of Martin MB-1, generally called the Glenn Martin Bomber; it was to become the United States Army Air Service mainstay for a relatively short period of time. This heavy weapons airframe received a two engine powertrain configuration with mechanicals supplied Liberty with the two 12A water-cooled piston engines straddled the space between the lower and upper wing assemblies, with each of the three engines reportedly developing 400 hp.

Glenn Martin Company

Three open cockpit crew stations were required to effectively man the plane for battle operations, defensive armament consisted of 57.62 mm calibre fully automatic machine guns situated in tactically feasible positions around its fuselage, with at least one gun in the forward nose mount. Its explosive ordnance capacity could accommodate a total of 2000 lb in offensive firepower. The aircraft was intended to replace the O/400 series of bombers from Handley Page of British origin, as well as the Caproni bombers from Italian origin.

The Lewis & Vought Corporation established in 1917 delivered a Vought VE-7 Bluebird in the same year to the United States army, designating the plane as a two seated training craft. During its testing phase Brigadier General Billy Mitchell rated the aircraft’s flying capabilities favorably, granting them a rating at least as good, or perhaps even better than any of its current air-fighters deployed by the USA. The airframe derived its motive clout from a HS-8A Wright Hispano-Suiza power-plant delivering 145 hp, at the time reported by test pilots to be insufficient, Marc Birkigt a Swedish engineer increased maximum power to 180 hp. Eventually approximately 50,000 of these HS-8A engine types were produced creating a legacy for itself as superior to other engines of the same type, the same engine powered the renowned SPAD French fighter biplanes.

Vought VE-7 Bluebird

At the end of the war the United States army cancelled an order for 1000 aeroplanes, however the Navy remained interested in the company’s VE-7 requiring it to become the wing’s first fighter craft. The very first two fighter squadrons tasked to the United States Navy consisted of VE-7 Bluebirds, it was also the first ever US Navy squadron operating as VF-1, established on 1 July 1922 and continuously operated until 1 July 1934. The second Squadron operating as VF-2, established on 23 September 1921 as Combat Squadron Four, operating from a home base at the San Diego, California Naval Air Station. Squadron Four officially re-designated to become VF-2 on 1 July 1922 and received fully equipped Vought VE-7 fighter planes.