National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Aeronautics and Astronautics Chronology, 1940-1944

SOURCE: Eugene M. Emme, comp., Aeronautics and Astronautics: An American Chronology of Science and Technology in the Exploration of Space, 1915-1960 (Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1961), pp. 39-49.


January 19: Maj. James H. Doolittle elected president of the IAS.

February 1: Capt. G. E. Price flew Bell Airacobra through flight tests.

February 24: BuAer issued contract for airborne television equipment capable for use in transmitting instrument readings obtained from radio-controlled flight tests, and for providing target and guidance data should radio-conrolled aircraft be converted to guided missiles.

February 27: Based upon research of former NACA engineer, Charles H. Zimmerman, Navy initiated development of the Flying Flapjack with award of contract to Vought-Sikorsky for design of the VS-173. Design promised high speed with low takeoff speed.

February 29: Navy BuAer initiated steps that led to contract with H. O. Croft, State University of Iowa, to investigate the possibilities of a turbojet propulsion unit for aircraft.

March 9: Beechcraft AD-17 biplane flown to altitude of 21,050 feet over the Antarctic to measure cosmic rays for the U.S. Antarctic Expedition, piloted by T. Sgt. T. A. Petras (USMC).

March 16: First civilian casualties in Britain due to air raids, during Luftwaffe attack on Scapa Flow.

March 22: Naval Aircraft Factory established project for adapting radio controls to a torpedo-carrying TG-2 airplane.

March 26: U.S. commercial airlines completed a full year without a fatal accident or serious injury to a passenger or crew member.

During April: British commission gave North American Aircraft 120 days to produce fighter prototype to specifications, which resulted in the highly successful P-51 Mustang, the first aircraft to utilize the NACA low-drag wing based on prolongation of laminar flow. Low-turbulence wind tunnel tests (completed in 1938) had led to five different families of low-drag wings by the end of 1939.

May 14: German Luftwaffe bombed Rotterdam.

May 15-16: First large-scale RAF raids on German industrial targets when 93 bombers attacked objectives in the Ruhr.

May 16: President Roosevelt called for U.S. production of 50,000 planes a year.

May 28: Robert H. Goddard offered all his research data, patents, and facilities for use by the military services at a meeting with representatives of Army Ordnance, Army Air Corps, and Navy Bureau of Aeronautics arranged by Harry Guggenheim. Nothing resulted from this except an expression of possible use of rockets in jet-assisted take-offs of aircraft.

May 29: Chance Vought F4U Corsair Navy fighter with inverted full wing made first test flight.

June 8: Paris office of the NACA was closed.

June 26: Congress authorized construction of the third NACA laboratory near Cleveland, Ohio, which became Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory. In 1948, it was named for George W. Lewis, NACA Director of Aeronautical Research, 1924-47.

June 27: National Defense Research Committee (NDRC) created by the Council of National Defense.

July 8: First commercial flight of the Boeing 307-B Stratoliner, Burbank, Calif., to Long Island, N.Y., the first commercial flight to use a pressurized cabin, in record time of 12 hours 18 minutes.

During July: National Defense Research Committee established Jet Propulsion Research Committee under Section H of Division A, at Naval Powder Factory, Indian Head, Md., to conduct fundamental research on rocket ordnance. C. N. Hickman, who had worked with Goddard during World War I, was named as head.

August 2: Beginning of the Battle of Britain, which raged until the end of October.

During August: Sir Henry Tizard, scientific adviser to the British Ministry of Aircraft Production, headed mission of leading British and Canadian scientists to brief official American representatives on devices under active development for war use and to enlist the support of American scientists. This was the beginning of very close cooperation of Anglo-American scientists in many fields, including aeronautics and rocketry, and enabled American laboratories to catch up with war-accelerated progress.

August 20: Smith J. DeFrance appointd Engineer-in-Charge of the NACA Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, Moffett Field, Calif.

August 25-26: First RAF bombing of Berlin.

During September: Royal Air Force used AA rockets against Luftwaffe planes in the Battle of Britain.

---: First test firing of NDRC rocket program, at Naval Proving Ground, Dahlgren, Va., a rocket-propelled bomb to pierce 14-inch armor requested by BuOrd.

November 25: De Havilland all-wood Mosquito bomber made first flight, large-scale production of which began in July 1941.

During 1940: Committee of the National Academy of Sciences reported that operation of turbine wheels at temperatures up to 1,500°F might soon be possible because of U.S. and foreign development of high-temperature alloys.

---: Dr. Heinz von Diringshofen of Berlin, Germany, "discovered" the effect of weightlessness during flight maneuvers with high performance aircraft.

---: N. W. Thorner and F. H. Lewey demonstrated destruction of certain brain cells in experimental animals by short and severe exposures to hypoxia induced by inhalation of pure nitrogen.

---: Graf Zeppelin I and II were intentionally destroyed and their metal used for the Reich war effort.


January 11: Army Air Corps announced the control of robot planes, either by radio from the ground or from another plane, had been tested successfully.

During January: RCA proposed to NDRC design and developoment of rocket-propelled, radio-controlled aerial torpedo with TV nose, which was given code name "Dragon." The National Bureau of Standards was assigned the task of developing a suitable airframe.

February 5: Bureau of Standards developed photoelectric detector to simplify measurement of height of clouds.

During February: Army Air Corps initiated development of radio-controlled aerial gliding torpedoes, gliding bombs, and aerial mines.

March 24: Classic NACA report prepared by Robert R. Gilruth which provided basis for subsequent aircraft development (NACA Report No. 755, "Requirements for Satisfactory Flying Qualities of Airplanes").

During March: NACA established Special Committee on Jet Propulsion to review early British reports on the Whittle engine, which subsequently aided development of TG-100 turboprop engine by GE and the 19-B turbojet by Westinghouse. Dr. W. F. Durand was called out of retirement to head this committee.

April 15: Igor Sikorsky piloted a Vought-Sikorsky in the first officially recorded single-rotor helicopter flight longer than an hour in the Western Hemisphere; flying time, 1 hour 5 minutes 14.5 seconds; at Stratford, Conn.

April 19: Naval Aircraft Factory initiated development of a Glomb (glider bomb), to be towed long distances by powered aircraft and released over target and guided by radio control and target-viewing television.

May 15: First official flight of British turbojet, Gloster E28/39 with Whittle WIX jet eingine, at Cranwell, England, flown by Flight Lt. Sayer for about 17 minutes.

---: British De Havilland Mosquito equipped as night fighter (W4052) made its first flight with AI radar.

May 21: Army Corps Ferrying Command, forerunner of AAF's Air Transport Command, was created. By V-E Day it possessed 2,461 transports, of which 798 were 4 engined.

---: Navy Engineering Experiment Station, Annapolis, Md., directed to undertake development of liquid-fuel rocket JATO for large flying boats.

May 29: Naval Powder Factory, Indian Head, developed and successfully tested 4.5-inch AA rocket.

During May: Republic XP-47 Thunderbolt made first flight.

May-June: First satisfactory spark plugs (ceramic insulated) for high-performance U.S. aircraft engines such as the P&W R-2800 were ordered in mass quantities. Plugs were developed under direction of T. T. Neill, Air Corps ignition engineer at Wright Field.

June 20: Establishment of the U.S. Army Air Forces (AAF), comprising the Office of the Chief of Air Corps and the Air Force Combat Command (formerly GHQ Air Force), with Maj. Gen. H. H. Arnold as Chief.

June 22: U.S.S.R. was attacked by Germany.

---: Ceramic-lined rocket thrust chamber designed by Alfred Africano generated 260-pound thrust.

June 28: Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) in the Office of Emergency Management was created by President Roosevelt in Executive Order 8807.

June 30: Joint Army-Navy project contract given Northrop for design of an aircraft gas turbine developing 2,500 hp at a weight of less than 3,215 pounds.

During June: Col. Donald J. Keirn of Wright Field sent to England to study Gloster jet aircraft and its Whittle-I engine. AAF decision to produce Whittle engine made in September, and the XP-59 flew a year later.

July 1: First commercial television broadcast over WNBT, New York (first successful demonstration by C. F. Jenkens in United States and J. L. Baird in England was made in early 1920's).

July 16: Full-scale wind-tunnel tests of A-1 "power-driven controllable bomb" conducted at Langley Field.

July 24: Dr. Jerome C. Hunsaker was elected Chairman of the NACA and Chairman of its Executive Committee.

During July: Navy initiated development of Mousetrap, ship-based 7.2-inch mortar-fired bomb which became first USN rocket placed into fleet action in May 1942.

---: First successful U.S. jet-assisted takeoff accomplished in an Ercoupe at March Field by Lt. Homer A. Boushey (AAF), with pressed-powder propellant JATO rockets developed by Cal Tech.

---: Project TED (EES 3401) established at Naval Engineering Experiment Station at Annapolis by BuAer.

August 1: President Roosevelt prohibited export of aviation fuel outside of the Western Hemisphere, except to Britain and countries resisting aggression, an act aimed at Japan which normally imported large quantities from the United States.

---: NDL was requested to develop radar guidance equipment for assault drones, both to relay target information to a control operator and to serve as an automatic homing device.

---: Three successful tests of J. Wyld liquid fuel rocket motor were made at average thrust of 125 pounds. A year later, ARS members formed Reaction Motors, Inc., to continue development of this design.

August 12: Ercoupe impelled by 12 powder rockets of 50 pounds thrust each, piloted by Lt. Homer A. Boushey, first flew on rocket power alone after an initial boost from a towing automobile.

August 19: President Roosevelt announced that Pan American Airways would establish a ferry service to fly American aircraft to the RAF in the Middle East.

During August: Caproni-Campini jet-propelled plane, conventional engine with ducted fan, produced and test flown in Italy.

During September: Messerschmitt Me-163A powered by "cold" H. Walther rocket successfully flown at Augsburg, Germany, development of which had begun in 1937, but "cold" engine proved unreliable. Flights were also made in October which reached speeds of 1,003 km/hr, or Mach 0.85.

During September: Dr. Robert H. Goddard began work on liquid-propellant JATO under contract to USN and AAF, delivering a device to both agencies on September 1942.

October 27: Post of Air Surgeon was created within the Army Air Forces.

During October: Harriman mission made globe-circling flight of 24,700 miles from Washington to Moscow and return in B-24 bomber.

November 7: First flight of the AAF GB-1 guided glide bomb, containing preset guidance.

November 12: First launching of an experimental GB-8 glide bomb, incorporating radio controls.

November 30: Italian jet-propelled Caproni-Campini airplane flown 475 kilometers in 2 hours 11 minutes from Turin to Rome, by Mario de Barnardini.

November-December: Russians used AA rockets against Luftwaffe aircraft in defense of Moscow and air-to-air rockets on their Stormovik I1-2 fighters.

December 7: Japanese naval air units attacked Pearl Harbor.

December 30: USAAF requested NRDC to undertake development of controlled-trajectory bombs, the beginning of the development of Azon.

During 1941: Navy Bureau of Aeronautics created JATO section to accelerate USN development.

During 1941: Aeromedical Laboratory, in collaboration with Dr. E. A. Hooten of Harvard University, initiated anthropometric surveys of AAF flyers to facilitate design of weapons and flying gear.

During 1941: Research facilities at NACA's Langley and Ames Laboratories increased 100 percent over previous by the construction of new facilities for defense application.


January 13: Sikorsky XR-4, single-rotary wing, two-man helicopter, made its first successful flight.

During January: P-38 first placed under study of NACA Langley Laboratory to assess flow changes due to compressibility, later transferred to Ames Laboratory. Dive-recovery flap developed later applied to P-47, XP-59, F-80, and FR-1.

---: "Frigitorium" for cold testing aircraft equipment for arctic operations became operational at Wright Field.

During February: Douglas DC-4 Skymaster first flew, becoming prominent in the generation of four-engined American transports which revolutionized long-haul air transportation.

April 7-24: Douglas A-20A completed 44 successive takeoffs using liquid-propellant JATO developed by Cal Tech's Frank S. Malina.

April 9: Radio-controlled TG-2 Navy drone made torpedo attack on destroyer Aaron Ward in which television camera mounted in the drone was utilized, directed by control pilot Lt. M. B. Taylor of Project Fox.

April 18: First American raid on Tokyo, by 16 North American B-25 AAF medium bombers flown off carrier Hornet, led by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle.

April 19: Two feasibility tests using drone aircraft conducted by Navy in Chesapeake Bay, the most successful being Project Fox BG-2 drone equipped with target-viewing TV camera, which was crash dived into a moving raft while under an airborne control pilot 11 miles away.

May 8: Research begun at the NACA Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory at Cleveland.

May 26: Jet-assisted takeoff of a Brewster F2A-3 using five British antiaircraft solid-propellant rockets demonstrated at NAS Anacostia, Comdr. C. Fink Fischer as pilot.

May 30-31: First 1,000-plane raid by RAF Bomber Command on Cologne, Germany.

June 13: First test of the German A-4 (V-2) rocket unsuccessful at Peenemünde, Germany.

June 17: National Defense Research Committee initiated development of an antisubmarine guided missile, the Pelican, under Navy BuOrd, which was a glide bomb with radar homing guidance.

June 27: Naval Aircraft Factory was directed to participate in development of high-altitude pressure flying suits, thus joining Army which had sponsored earlier work.

June 30: Brig. Gen. James H. Doolittle awarded the 1942 Guggenheim Medal "for notable achievement in the advancement of aeronautics."

During June: Joint Committee on New Weapons and Equipment (JNW) appointed subcommittee to review all guided-missile programs, out of which came the placement of responsibility for all controlled missiles in Division 5, Missiles, in the National Defense Research Council. Division 5 of NDRC served as principal agency outside the military services involved in U.S. missile development for the remainder of World War II.

July 3: First airborne test firing of a retrocrocket at Goldstone Lake, Calif., from a PBY-5A piloted by Lt. Comdr. J. H. Hean (USN).

July 6: 4.5-inch rocket (M8-type) fired for first time in flight from a P-40.

July 18: German Me-262 turbojet fighter flown on spectacular flight test, concluding a series begun in May.

During July: First U.S.-designed jet engine successfully demonstrated at Langley Laboratory, the NACA Jeep, which was never flown but proved invaluable for continued NACA research on gas-turbine jet propulsion.

---: 9-inch supersonic tunnel providing airspeeds up to mach 2.5 put into operation at Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.

September 21: Boeing XB-29 Superfortress made its first flight, an indispensible aircraft in the Pacific campaign of World War II.

During September: After completion of liquid-fuel JATO device for AAF and Navy, Robert H. Goddard worked on liquid-fuel engines of variable thrust while Director of Research in Jet Propulsion at Annapolis until his death in August 1945.

October 1: First U.S. jet-propelled aircraft flight, by an Airacomet Bell XP-59A (powered by two I-16 engines developed by General Electric from the British Whittle prototype), made at Muroc Dry Lake, Calif., with Robert Stanley as pilot.

October 2: Maj. J. G. Kearby reached an effective, simulated altitude of 60,200 feet in Aeromedical Laboratory altitude chamber at Wright Field, as a part of an investigation of "full pressure" suits.

October 3: First successful launch and flight of 51/2-ton German A-4 rocket (V-2) at Peenemünde, which traveled 120 miles.

October 22: Westinghouse Electric authorized to construct two 19A axial-flow turbojet powerplants, thereby initiating fabrication of first practical jet engine wholly American in design.

December 2: First nuclear chain reaction successfully accomplished at the University of Chicago.

December 5: Edward R. Sharp was appointed Manager of the NACA Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory at Cleveland.

During December: AAF conducted first flight tests of a full-pressure altitude flight suit at Eglin Field, Fla.

During 1942: Aerosol bomb for disinsectation of aircraft developed at Aero Medical Laboratory by Lt. William N. Sullivan, subsequently adapted for use in foxholes, bomb shelters, barracks, and other dwellings.


Junuary 8: First aircraft takeoff in United States with permanently installed JATO rocket powerplant, an A-20A at Muroc Army Air Base, Calif.

January 27: First American bomber raid on Germany by USAAF against Wilhelmshaven.

January 28: Dr. Hugh L. Dryden, Chief of the Mechanics and Sound Division of the National Bureau of Standards, elected president of the IAS.

During January: Lockheed C-69 Constellation first flown, a successful postwar transport with pressurized cabin.

February 17: 10 German A-4 (V-2) rocket traveled 121.8 miles after launch from Peenemünde.

During February: Navy Engineering Experiment Station Annapolis completed development of rocket engine for Pelican radio-controlled pilotless aircraft (never used operationally).

March 5: Fifth prototype of Gloster Meteor, developed from the first British jet aircraft, first flew, powered by Halford H-1 turbojet engines, forerunners of the De Havilland Goblin.

During March: First turbojet engine developed from American design by Westinghouse, the X19A, was completed. It was the precursor of the J30, J34, J40, J46, and J54 engines.

April 2: Research building of the AAF School of Aviation Medicine opened officially, housing 27 officers and 35 civilian staff members, and 4 altitude decompression chambers.

April 11: California Rocket Society tested first hybrid rocket design in United States, using oxygen and carbon.

April 15: Prime Minister Winston Churchill of England [Great Britain] was informed of reports on German experiments with long-range rockets.

May 22: German Messerschmitt Me-262 turbojet fighter prototype flight tested at Rechlin. Test flights continued during the year on interceptor type, while series production did not begin until spring of 1944.

During May: A PBY Catalina, fitted with two liquid-propellant JATO rockets developed at Annapolis, took off with 20 percent reduction in run. Liquid-propellant JATO was abandoned by Navy in 1944.

May-June: Germans operationally test fired over 100 V-2's from Blizna, Poland, launching 10 on one day, only a small number of which were fully successful.

June 24: Lt. Col. W. R. Lovelace, AAF Aeromedical Laboratory, made world record parachute jump from 40,200 feet at Ephrata, Wash.

Mid-1943: Navy initiated development of FR "Fireball" fighter, the only U.S. jet-and-propeller-engine fighter produced in any quantity before the end of the war. Developed by Ryan, prototype was accepted in October 1944 and production authorized in December 1944.

July 5: First turbojet engine completed for the Navy, the Westinghouse 19A, completed its 100-hour endurance test.

July 7: Adolf Hitler gave the German V-2 program highest military priority.

July 19: Naval Aircraft Factory authorized to develop the Gorgon, an aerial ram or air-to-air missile powered by a turbojet engine and equipped with radio control and a homing device. The Gorgon was later expanded into a broad program embracing turbojet, ramjet, pulsejet, and rocket propulsion, and a variety of structures and guidance systems.

July 24-August 3: German city of Hamburg subjected to a series of massive RAF attacks, totaling 3,000 planes, which exploited first use of "chaff" or "window" to saturate radar early warning and resulting in a severe "fire storm."

During July: Naval Air Material Center established at Johnsville, Pa., to include Naval Air Factory, Naval Aircraft Modification Unit, and Naval Air Experimental Station.

---: Serious training of units for field employment of V-2 begun at Peenemünde. In January 1944, operational command of V-2 operations given to Gen. Richard Metz, leaving Gen. Dornberger in charge of V-2 development.

---: Jet propulsion static test laboratory constructed at NACA Laboratory in Cleveland, and full studies of jet propulsion for the Army and Navy were underway by the fall.

Summer 1943: Messerschmitt Me-163B rocket interceptor powered by Walther "hot" engine successfully flown at Bremen, Augsburg, and near Leipzig, Germany. Over 300 Me-163B's were produced by Junkers by the end of 1944.

August 7: German turbojet fighter, a Messerschmitt Me-262, demonstrated before Adolf Hitler in East Prussia.

August 17: AAF Schweinfurt-Regensburg deep-penetration daylight raid by 376 B-17's, with heavy loss of 60 bombers.

August 17-18: Royal Air Force attacked Germany's Peenemünde Rocket Research Center, causing heavy damage and delaying V-weapon program by weeks or months.

During August: Navy initiated development of McDonnell Phantom XFD-1 fighter, first pure-jet aircraft developed for USN.

During August: German aircraft launched first HS-293 radio-controlled glide bomb against British ship in Bay of Biscay, the beginning of guided-missile warfare.

September 1: 123,000 airplanes and 349,000 airplane motors were produced in the United States between May 1940 and this date.

During September: Rocket Development Branch created in Army Ordnance to direct and coordinate development on rockets.

---: U.S. Bell Airacomet first flown in England at Moreton Valenee, result of exchange for first production model of a Meteor Mk I (EE210) sent to the United States.

Late September: Aberdeen Ballistic Research Laboratories' Study entitled "Development of Long-Range Rocket Projectile" was submitted by the Army to the National Defense Research Committee. The project was accepted by NDRC.

October 2: First U.S. military rocket-powered airplane, the Rocket Ram, was tested as a glider by John Myers. It was equipped with an Aerojet XCAL-200 engine, using monoethylanline as fuel.

October 3: First afterburner for turbojet engines in America, built at NACA Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory.

October 10: USAAF demonstrated television control of a drone aircraft.

October 15: Details of gyro fluxgate compass, giving accurate readings despite violent aircraft movements, made public by Bendix Aviation.

During October: Division 5 of NDRC suggested to AAF the appointment of general officer to coordinate entire AAF guided-missile program.

---: Army General Staff created new Weapons Division to coordinate research and development studies and plans among the Army and other divisions.

---: Navy BuOrd established facility for testing rocket motors at Naval Gun Factory, Washington, D.C.

November 8: Secretary of the Navy approved Naval Ordnance Test Station to be located on west coast and to be under cognizance of BuOrd. In December, its site was selected at Inyokern, China Lake, Calif.

November 30: Department of Aviation Medicine and Physiological Research was authorized at NAMC Philadelphia.

During November: Gen. H. H. Arnold, Chief of Air Staff, directed and authorized emphasis on research, development, and procurement of guided missiles, as indicated by known German advances.

---: Theodore von Kármán submitted proposal to Army Ordnance for developing long-range surface-to-surface missiles.

---: In response to military characteristics established by the Coast Artillery Board for a radio-controlled antiaircraft projectile, Frankford Arsenal conceived a guided-missile system based on existing fire-control knowledge.

December 24: The first major Eighth Air Force assault on German V-weapon sites was made when 670 B-17's and B-24's bombed the Pas de Calais area.

During December: The rocket aircraft research program conceived by NACA's John Stack, to investigage the flight characteristics of an airplane flying beyond the speed of sound or Mach 1.

---: First turbojet light bomber flight, the German Arado Ar-234B, which was powered by two Junkers .004 engines.

During 1943: First jet-propelled rotor helicopter flown, the Austrian Doblhoff No. 1.

During 1942-43: Cal Tech studied pumping of liquid rocket propellants, particularly nitric acid, resulting in successful design in 1945, which was set aside for future use because of decision to concentrate on gas-pressurized fuel systems.


January 1: At request of Army Ordnance, Cal Tech's rocket laboratory started research and development program on long-range missiles, called Project ORDCIT, which resulted in development of Private "A" and Corporal missiles.

January 8: First flight of Lockheed XP-80 at Muroc, which was powered by British Halford turbojet engine, the first U.S. airplane designed from the beginning for turbojet propulsion. Rushed through development in 145 days by Lockheed's Clarence L. ("Kelly") Johnson, the P-80 was not distributed to tactical units until December 1945.

January 11: First U.S. combat use of forward-firing rockets made by Navy TBF-1C's against a German submarine.

February 28: First firing of Nazi Germany's Wasserfall antiaircraft missile.

During February: Army Ordnance and AAF initiated development of surface-to-air high-altitude supersonic guided missile, subsequently became XSAM-A-7 Nike I.

March 16: At seminar at NACA Langley Laboratory, attended by AF, Navy, and NACA personnel, NACA proposed on the basis of considerable study that a jet-propelled transonic research airplane be developed. This proposal ultimately led to the X-1 research airplane project.

During March: First operation of a turbojet engine in an altitude facility was conducted at NACA Lewis Laboratory during tests of P-59 propulsion system, ensuing program making major contributions to U.S. turbojet engine development.

May 9: First flight of aircraft modified to demonstrate high-lift boundary layer control made by Lt. Col. R. E. Horner, a project initiated in May 1942 by USAAF contract.

May 10: Bell helicopter made an indoor demonstration flight at Buffalo, N.Y., Floyd Carlson as pilot.

May 28-June 1: U.S. Navy airships K-123 and K-130 completed the first nonrigid transatlantic crossing from Boston to Port Lyautey, via Newfoundland and the Azores.

May 31: First launching of the experimental VB-7 vertical bomb, incorporating television.

June 13: The first German V-1's fired in anger, launched from France against England with 4 of the 11 striking London.

During June: Remains of V-2 which impacted in Sweden were flown to England for Allied analysis.

July 5: The MX-324, first U.S. military rocket-powered plane built by Northrop, was flown by test pilot Harry Crosby, at Harper Dry Lake, Calif.

July 29: First successful test of Pelican guided missile, two of four launched were hits against target ship 44 miles offshore from NAS New York.

During July: Robert R. Gilruth of the Langley Flight Research Division, prompted by the need for an experimental method of gathering aerodynamic data at transonic speeds, conceived the wing-flow method (utilizing the transonic-flow field over the top surface of the wing of a high-speed subsonic airplane, usually a P-51 fighter, as a "flying wind tunnel" for testing small semispan wing and airplane models).

---: First positive identification of German turbojet interceptors used against Allied bombers.

---: RAF formed first Meteor jet squadrons for use against V-1's.

Summer 1944: Geman "Reichenberg" program began for use of manned V-1's air launched from He-111's for suicide missions; test flights were made at Peenemünde.

August 4: The first Aphrodite mission (radio-controlled aircraft carrying 20,000 pounds of TNT) was flown against rocket sites in the Pas de Calais area.

---: Meteor EE 216 became first British jet fighter to destroy an enemy aircraft, the destruction of a German V-1 Flying Bomb by tipping it with a wingtip.

August 13: Two GB-4 glide bombs, incorporating television and radio control, launched against E-boat pens at Le Havre, France. Four additional GB-4's were sent against targets in France and Germany between 17 August and 13 September 1944.

During August: German Me-163B Komet rocket-powered fighters first attacked American bomber formations over Europe. The Me-163 had sweptback wings, Walther liquid-fuel rocket motor, speed of 590 mph, and powered flight duration of 8-10 minutes.

September 3: Torpex-laden Liberator drone flown from airfield at Feresfield, England, by Lt. Ralph Spaulding (USN), who set radio control and bailed out, after which drone was guided from parent aircraft to German airfield on Helgoland Island.

September 6: Navy awarded contract to McDonnell Aircraft for development of the Gargoyle or LBD-1, a radio-controlled low-wing gliding bomb fitted with a rocket booster and designed for use with carrier-based aircraft.

September 8: First German V-2 fired in combat exploded in suburb of Paris; the second struck London a few hours later.

September 14: Successful flight into hurricane for scientific data was made by Col. Floyd B. Wood, Maj. Harry Wexler, and Lt. Frank Reckord in a Douglas A-20.

September 18: Navy Pelican guided missile production terminated and project returned to developmental status because of tactical and logistic problems.

During September: Brig. Gen. W. A. Borden, Chief, New Developments Division of the War Department, made known that Ordnance would develop wingless ballistic-type missiles and the AAF would develop winged pilotless-aircraft-type missiles with mutual cooperation in the development of warheads and other equipment.

---: USAAF accelerated development of JB-2 robot bomb based on design of German V-1.

During October: Dr. H. J. E. Reid, Engineer-in-Charge of the Langley Laboratory, became scientific chief of the War Department's Alsos Mission charged with picking up as much information as possible on the enemy's scientific research and development.

During Fall: Preliminary studies were made of velocity gradients above wings of high-speed subsonic airplanes to determine feasibility of utilizing the wing-flow method in transonic model tests, at NACA Langley Laboratory. This led in the following winter to tests of a series of small airfoil models by this method, and later to use of rockets in flying aircraft models.

November 1: Nation's first center devoted to the research and development of rocket propulsion systems, founded at Cal Tech in 1936, reorganized and renamed the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

November 1-December 7: Representatives of 52 nations (excluding Axis nations and U.S.S.R.) met in the International Civil Aviation Conference in Chicago; they turned down "blue skies" legal concept and reaffirmed doctrine of national sovereignty in air space, and established the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization (PICAO) to regulate international air commerce.

November 7: Gen. H. H. Arnold requested Dr. Theodore von Kármán to "investigate all possibilities and desirabilities for postwar and future war's development as respects the AAF." Dr. von Kármán organized the AAF Scientific Advisory Group for this purpose.

November 15: Army Ordnance initiated Hermes program for research and development of ballistic missiles with a prime contract with General Electric Co.

November 17: Navy BuAer undertook feasibility studies of JB-2 Army version of Geman V-1, which subsequently became the Loon.

During November: First flight use of a radio telemeter for transmitting research data at transonic speeds, by the bomb-drop technique at NACA's Langley Laboratory.

December 1-16: At Camp Irwin, Calif., 24 Private "A" rockets were launched by JPL, only 11 months after the start of Project ORDCIT.

December 13-14: In an AAF-NACA conference, Air Force representatives indicated strong preference for use of rocket engines instead of jets in X-1 research airplane project.

During December: Army Ordnance made plans under the Hermes program to study the German V-2 missile.

---: Glenn L. Martin granted $1,700,000 to the University of Maryland for establishment of a College of Engineering and Aeronautical Sciences.

During 1944: NACA established Special Committee on Self-Propelled Guided Missiles to recommend and coordinate research related to guided missiles.

---: USAAF VB-1 controlled-trajectory air-to-surface bomb (Azon) produced and used in European and Burma theaters.

---: Supersonic wind tunnel (Mach 1.7) completed at Aberdeen Proving Ground for use in ballistic research and development.

---: Initial contracts for rocket research aircraft development let by the AAF for the XS-1 with Bell Aircraft and by the Navy with Douglas Aircraft for the D-558-I, with NACA providing technical support under cooperative agreement.

During 1944-1945: First full-scale supersonic propulsion wind tunnel (8 by 6 feet) was conceived, designed, and directed by Abe Silverstein at NACA Lewis Laboratory. Capable of accommodating full-scale supersonic aircraft engines, it was the first of its size to have a flexible-wall test section, which allowed variations from Mach 1.4 to 2.

---: Japan launched approximately 10,000 Fugo balloons (30-foot diameter) carrying incendiaries and aimed at the North American continent.

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Last Updated: January 27, 2005