Air Cargo, Inc. only flew cargo from December, 1941 (when Pearl Harbor was attacked) through November, 1944. At that time, Siddiqi explains that individual airline companies authored their own freight services, and on page 2 the author of this article notes that in time the major passenger airlines began offering freight forwarding service and that pretty well eliminated the need for a whole fleet of airline companies that just forwarded freight (Siddiqi). Only Flying Tiger stayed aloft as a strictly air freight company until the 1980s when Federal Express entered the picture. More on FedEx later in this paper.
The Literature -- the History of Air Freight Transportation -- Berlin Air Lift
When the long, bloody war was over it was time for the winning Allies to divide up the territory that once was Nazi Germany, the negotiated, agreed-upon divisions gave the Allies (U.S., Britain, and France) the Western sections of Berlin and the Soviets were to have East Berlin in their camp. But the Soviets pulled a power play and tried to control all of Berlin; they did it by cutting off surface traffic to and from West Berlin. Their apparent strategy, according to the historical materials in the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum (Giangreco, et al., 1970), was to starve out the population, slam the door shut on any commerce the West Berliners might be able to muster, and gain complete control.
But President Truman and the U.S. Government launched an airlift campaign and brought live-saving food and supplies into West Berlin (Giangreco, p. 1).
On the night of June 23-24, 1948, the Soviets had cut off not only the roads leading into West Berlin, but the rail lines as well, and they cruelly cut off electricity too. That totally isolated West Berlin, a city that only had enough supplies to last about five weeks. The strategy that Joseph Stalin pursued was designed to starve those 2.5 million people in West Berlin, hoping the Allies would give in and let the Soviets have West Berlin. One rather extreme idea was put forward by U.S. General Clay, the High Commissioner handling the Allied details in post-war Germany; Clay's idea was to "…force an armored convey through Russian Germany" that would bring food and supplies to isolated West Berlin, but that could have "provoked full scale war" (Wilde, 2005).
A better, less risky idea was to launch an airlift into West Berlin. The problem was, according to Giangreco, writing in the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum, there were only two airfields in Berlin; one was the Tempelhof airstrip, in the U.S. sector, and the Gatow airstrip in the British sector of West Berlin. As well appointed as Tempelhof was, it was difficult for pilots to fly in there because there were high-rise apartment buildings that the pilots had to avoid, and a 500-foot ceiling was needed in foul weather. Moreover, the runway's steel mats took a pounding and needed constant upkeep once the airlift began in earnest. Still, by January, 1949, the Allies were bringing in to West Berlin between 5,600 and 8,000 tons of supplies, including coal, food, and other needed supplies (Wilde, p. 1-2). By the end of the airlift the U.S. And Britain had flown over 250,000 missions bringing supplies into West Berlin on air cargo planes.
The Literature -- Berlin Airlift -- Air Cargo Assets Utilized
On July 22, 1948, General Clay told the National Security Council (NSC) that he could move the necessary amount of food and supplies (including tons of coal to prepare for the European winter) into Berlin if he had "an additional 75 four-engine C-54 Skymaster transport aircraft" (Barlow, 1998, p. 1). Clay already had 52 C-54s and 80 twin-engine C-47 Dakotas, Barlow explains, but he insisted that he needed those 75 addition assets to be able to move the needed materials into West Berlin.
The Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Hoyt Vandenberg, wasn't immediately eager to provide General Clay with those transport planes. He worried that moving those aircraft away from "…worldwide Military Air Transport Service (MATS) operations" would be disruptive of those activities, but President Truman and the NSC agreed to give Clay those aircraft to use in the airlift (Barlow, p. 1). Hence, on July 29, Vandenberg...
And Britain were flying dozens of air cargo planes into West Germany daily. But on September 10, Barlow explains, Clay asked for 116 more C-54s for the airlift. He wanted 69 of them to be ready on October 1, and the rest to be available by the first of December, 1948. The reason Clay made such a huge order for air transport planes is that he wanted to "…build up a stockpile of supplies for the winter months" -- it was reasonable to assume the winter in Germany could be brutally cold and the 2.5 million or so civilians -- who had just been through an agonizingly long, terribly cruel war -- were going to need plenty of coal and food, plus other provisions, Barlow continues.
Although Clay didn't get 116 C-54s from Washington right away -- the president and NSC did agree to provide 50 more C-54 aircraft -- in time, after "…conducting a thorough reappraisal of U.S. objectives in Berlin, and after a "restated" appeal by Clay, the additional 66 C-54 planes were delivered to the general on October 22, Barlow continues. The U.S. Navy, which had been furnishing fuel for the cargo planes, got involved in the airlift on the 27th of October when two of their squadrons of C-54 aircraft were assembled and moved to the Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany by November, 1948 (Barlow, p. 2).
The Navy is clearly proud of the contribution its fliers made to the overall success of the airlift; according to Barlow's report on page 3, the two Navy squadrons (24 aircraft) racked up a total of 45,990 hours and delivered 129,989 tons of cargo into Berlin -- amounting to 7.3% of the total tonnage delivered to West Berlin citizens (Barlow, p. 3).
The Literature -- Berlin Airlift -- Douglas C-54 Skymaster (DC-4) Transport
The workhorse for the Berlin airlift was of course the C-54 Skymaster, which was actually a Douglas DC-4 commercial aircraft that was converted into an effective air cargo plane. The DC-4 had been designed to be a "technologically superior successor to the DC-3," but the builders struggled when trying to make the plane pressurized so in order to get the aircraft into mass production, it was non-pressurized (Military Factory). The C-54 Skymaster used 4 Pratt & Whitney "Twin Wasp radian engines" which each produced 1,290 horsepower.
The length of the C-54 Skymaster aircraft was 93.83 feet, the width was 117.49 feet, and the height was 27.49 feet (Military Factory data). The top speed of the C-54 Skymaster was 265 MPH; the maximum range was 3,899 miles and the service ceiling was 4.2 miles (21,982 feet). The C-54 Skymaster weighed 37,000 pounds when it was empty.
The Literature -- Berlin Airlift -- Congressional Resolution 50 Years Later
On June 26, 1998, fifty years to the day after the first American cargo plane took off with supplies for war-torn and politically isolated West Berlin, the U.S. Congress honored those Americans who took part in this humanitarian campaign. U.S. Senator Coverdell asked and received unanimous consent for his resolution to be entered into the record, a resolution that acknowledged that the lives of "78 allied airmen, of whom 31 were United States fliers," had been lost in the Berlin airlift (Congressional Record, 1998). The Resolution reported that the airlift saved the lives of "2,000,000 inhabitants of West Berlin, with 2,326,205 tons of supplies delivered by 277,728 flights over a 452-day period" (Congressional Record).
Moreover, the Resolution continues, it was recognized by Congress that this "…massive allied effort to provide relief to a post war Berlin held hostage by the Soviet Union displayed to the world, the resolve of the western world to fight oppression and began a long fight against Soviet Communism that culminated with the collapse of the Berlin Wall" (Congressional Record). The Resolution noted that during the height of the airlift, "…airplanes were taking off every three minutes, twenty four hours a day…" (Congressional Record).
The Literature -- Visionaries' Ideas for Flight & the Air Cargo Industry
The very first man of "high scientific attainment to investigate the problem of flight" was Leonardo Da Vinci, writes John Skilbeck, referenced earlier in this paper. Da Vinci made highly detailed studies of how birds fly and he conducted research into the power and functions of propellers, Skilbeck explains (p. 20). Da Vinci even drew a sketch of a helicopter in the 16th century albeit no one saw that sketch until the conclusion of the 19th century because the artists' manuscripts were lost until then. Hence, Da Vinci did not have a profound impact…
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