America's Hundred Thousand
by Ken "Major Lee" Golden
Book Title: America's Hundred Thousand
Author: Francis H. Dean
Published by: Schiffer Publishing Ltd. Copyright 1997
Article Type: Book Review
Article Date: March 9th, 2001
Cover Art from America's Hundred Thousand
America's Hundred Thousand is a core holding in my library, and it should be in your own collection. This book is 606 pages of solid information about the eleven most produced fighters in the United States World War Two arsenal; the P-38, P-39, P-40, P-47, P-51, P-61, P-63, F2A, F4F, F4U and F6F. Total production of these types totaled 100,090 units. This book consists of five chapters:
To say that much detailed information is presented in this book would not be telling the whole story. Let's go chapter by chapter....
- Fighter History
- Fighter Factors
- Fighter Figures
- Fighters Compared
Chapter 1, "Introduction"
Each of the eleven featured aircraft is given a very good overview in the Introduction chapter. In fact, these short, eight to ten paragraphs, introductions, provide a unique overview perspective about each of the types represented. The typical introduction contains not only commonly known facts about each types production and use, but also many little known and obscure facts that you probably won't find anywhere else. Comments like this are common: "One pilot commented, after flying a Corsair in a mock with an FM2 (GM produced F4F), there was no way he could stay on its tail." (America's Hundred Thousand, page 23)
Chapter 2, "Fighter History"
The second chapter of America's Hundred Thousand, deals with the development of fighters following the First World War. Over two dozen production types are examined, along with numerous prototypes, are examined in this chapter. The perusal of fighter aircraft produced during the inter war years is relevant and shows the shape of things to come. You can see the evolution progress as you observe the fighters gradually transform into all metal, low wing monoplanes of increasing sleekness and complexity. The shape of the Seversky P-35 and Curtiss P-36, demonstrate the family traits that would carry on in the later P-47 and P-40s.
Curtiss Turkey Hawk (Photo by R. Besecker)
In the middle of "Fighter History", is a short section called "Fighter Production", and displays a chart showing the ever growing rate of production of aircraft shortly before, and during World War Two.
The second half of chapter 2, is called "Fighter Failures". This section deals with many varied and odd looking aircraft. Included here are such classics as the Curtiss XP37, Seversky XP41, Bell XFL-1, and some not so classic models, such as the Curtiss XF5F-1 "Skyrocket", Grumman XP-50, Northrup XP-56, Curtiss XP-55 "Ascender", Fisher P-75A "Eagle", and the Curtiss XF15C-1. The latter models are some of the strangest aircraft that have ever flown.
P-75 Fisher Eagle (Photo by Jon Davis)
If you are unfamiliar with these types, get America's Hundred Thousand, and be amazed at the bravery of the pilots who actually left ground in these ugly ducklings! "...it is amazing that in just a fourteen year period, 1931 to 1945, there was such a formidable array of thirty-one different fighter monoplane prototypes put forth..." and "...never again will there be so many experimental fighter projects with so much diversity of character..." (America's Hundred Thousand, pages 96 and 97)
Chapter 3, "Fighter Factors"
This chapter is thirty-seven pages of varying technical data to explain how aircraft performance is measured, and covers the "standard atmosphere", thrust and propellers, drag, lift, linear acceleration, compressibility, weight, center of gravity, stability and control, and armament.
Abundant illustrations and technical data
Each of these topics is covered with several pages of text and multiple charts and illustrations. Among the most interesting sections of this chapter are the charts which display the "Projectile Throw Weights". If you ever wondered about how much the bullets weighed fired from the six fifties on many on an F4-U Corsair, check out the chart on page 135. If you want to know more about the notorious center of gravity shift on the P-51 models, read pages 126 and 127. This section is very important for flight sim flight model designers.
Chapter 4, "Fighter Figures"
This 454 page chapter is the real heart of this book. It covers the eleven major U.S. fighter types during World War Two. Each aircraft type is covered in-depth on thirty to fifty pages. Every aircraft is detailed with extensive charts covering physical data, measurements, capacities, and production variants. Scaled drawings are given of each type, showing three views, and many cut away and isometric drawings are included. Numerous graphs are included showing various aspects of performance, from takeoff distance, range, speed at altitude, and roll rate. The information in this chapter is invaluable for flight model designers.
Corsairs on deck, ready for take-off. (USN photo, H. Andrews)
Every aircraft is chronicled with a play by play listing of relevant dates in that type's history; from first design work, to prototype flight date, to extensive combat usage, each plane is detailed chronologically, from design to post war surplus. Each aircraft is detailed with numerous detail drawing, exploded view drawings, and dozens of photographs. There is more information in this chapter than most people would have ever thought available, let alone gathered into one book. If you really need to know the rate of climb of a P-39Q at 20,000ft, this book will tell you.
Three view drawing of P-51D
Chapter 5, "Fighters Compared"
This chapter may be the most interesting of the entire book. In it, a number of comparisons are offered between the various aircraft detailed in the book. Comparisons include: drag coefficient, power ratings, power loading, speed at altitude, rate of climb, range, takeoff distance, turning and acceleration. Perhaps the most interesting part of this book, is the presentation of the Joint Fighter Conference, held at the Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Maryland, on October 16 - 20, 1944. Compared for "best or worse" ratings, were the F4-U1D, F6F-5, P-51D, P-47D, P-61B, FM2, P-38L and the P-63A. The evaluations were done by the large group of pilots at the conference, and they voted for best or worse in a variety of categories, such as cockpit, canopy, visibility, armor, ailerons, elevators, rudder, best all around fighter above and below 25,000ft and best strafer. The results may surprise you.
I heartily recommend America's Hundred Thousand. It is a cornerstone work, and should be in any aviation enthusiast's library. The volume and depth of data makes this book a necessary tool for 3D model makers and flight model designers. I give this book the following ratings based on relative usefulness to each type of activity:
|Historian || |
|For the numerous scale drawings of the aircraft |
|3D Shape Maker || |
|For the numerous scale drawings of the aircraft |
|Aircraft Skinner || |
|Because of the lack of color illustrations, and the use of factory fresh pictures |
|Flight Model Designer || |
|For the extensive performance charts and relative comparisons between the aircraft |
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