By on March 22, 2013

Facing tough German competition, the people at General Motors come up with a large-displacement supercharged contender that outpowers but also out-weighs the BMW-and-Benz-powered entries. The look of their new model is controversial, but we’re told that it has to be that way due to existing platform constraints. And, of course, they’ll need a massive cash injection from the United States Government to make the whole thing happen, and they’ll get it, even though the aforementioned government wants them to build something completely different.

Wait a minute. Did you think I was talking about the CTS-V? Pas du tout! Set the wayback machine for the big band era, and let’s hear a story about how General Motors (allegedly) sabotaged the strategic plans of the United States in order to further their own economic interests.

The story goes like this: The year was 1942. While the man on the street still fretted and fussed about victory over the Japanese, and plenty of those men on the street would yet leave the street and return in zippered canvas bags, the men who ran the country could read production charts and they knew the war was as good as won. Sure, a lot of people would have to die in the realization of said victory, but in the long run the Japanese could build maybe one tank or bomber or aircraft carrier for every ten the Arsenal of Democracy could crank out. The smart money and the long-term thinkers were already considering the much more important war for market share after the shooting war ended in 1948 or thereabouts.

With that in mind, the War Department’s order that GM retool the Fisher Body facilities to focus on B-29 Superfortress production seemed unnecessary. GM didn’t plan to be in the plane business after the war. It would be better to leave the plants as they were, building B-29 nacelles in makeshift locations. Meanwhile, the bulk of the tooling slumbered, waiting for the future when steel-bodied cars, not aluminum-bodied aircraft, would be the product in demand. And yet GM wasn’t quite in the position to refuse the government’s demand. Only something more important than the B-29, which was pretty damn important and had taken almost as much time and money to engineer as the atomic bomb, could stand between GM and a very annoying bit of reconfiguration.

Enter the XP-75 “Eagle”. The idea behind the Eagle can be summarized as follows: Jet fighters? Yeah, man, they’re, totally, like, not ever gonna work. In order to win this war, we will need the fastest, highest-powered, piston-engined aircraft possible. So we’re gonna put two V-12 engines together, dude, and we’re, like, gonna supercharge ‘em, and then we’ll stuff the whole thing in a fighter plane. But check this, bro, the airplane is totally gonna be made up of parts of other airplanes, so we don’t have to design anything new!

The fifty-six-liter Allison V-3420 consisted of a pair of Allison V-12s put together to produce 2,600 horsepower. Kind of like the way Aston Martin created that ultra-exclusive V-12 of theirs out of two Ford Taurus Duratecs. Originally intended as a makeshift engine for B-29s just in case the advanced radial engine that was under development failed to arrive in time, the V-3420 had very little reason to exist in an world that already recognized jet power as the propulsion unit of the future. To put this whole thing in perspective, the XP-75 Eagle and the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star, which was the country’s first jet-powered fighter, were developed pretty much at the same time. Still, the V-3420 already existed, which meant it was tailor-made for GM’s purposes. More importantly, tooling for the V-3420 could be paid for by the War Department, and after the war that same tooling could be used to build cars. What a great idea! Instead of being stuck with an airplane factory after the war, the General could build an additional engine plant on the public dime!

The XP-75 itself was designed in-house by GM. A hodgepodge described by Wikipedia as “the outer wing panels from the North American P-51 Mustang, the tail assembly from the Douglas A-24 (SBD), and the undercarriage from the Vought F4U Corsair in a general layout much as in the Bell P-39 Airacobra,” the XP-75 was revised during early prototyping to use the cheaper and simpler wings from the P-40 Warhawk. The amount of unique engineering required to design this plane was presumably much less than it took to make the Buick Verano out of the Daewoo Lacetti.

The GM public-relations machine took the case for the XP-75 to the American people, who to a man were singularly ignorant of what jet power would mean for the skies of 1946, and the government acquiesced to their ideas with predictable rapidity. The B-29 project was denied the use of additional Fisher Body facilities, those facilities being earmarked for Allison V-3420 and XP-75 production. The stage was set for the XP-75 “Eagle” to be an all-American rip-roaring success.

Or not. While it’s documented in several sources that the purpose of the XP-75 was to spare GM from doing B-29 production, the assertion I’m about to make is a step beyond that and is entirely my own theory. I would suggest that the GM honchos never wanted the XP-75 to succeed. After all, full XP-75 production would still have been an annoyance for GM, even if it would have been considerably less troubling than building B-29s. The best thing that could have happened would have been for the XP-75 to fail spectacularly at government expense, leaving the plant idle.

And that is, indeed, what happened. In flight tests, the XP-75 understeered at the limit like whoa. The fit and finish was reprehensible. It weighed too much, consumed too much fuel, and didn’t appear to be durable. In short, it was a typical GM product (wink, wink). In 1944, the project was canceled and production facilities designated for the XP-75 were not reassigned. The War Department paid GM nine million bucks (about $120M today, or the price of four thousand new base-model Cadillacs of the era) for the dozen or so planes that were completed.

It’s possible, of course, that the above story is completely unfair to the General Motors leadership of the era. The XP-75 may have been a good-faith effort that simply failed to compete effectively, like the current-generation Malibu or the new Impala. In any event, the war ended ahead of schedule, the B-29s that would have been produced by Fisher were never truly necessary, and as Bob Dylan famously sang, everybody was forgiven and became friends. The ungainly Eagle itself has a kind of odd musclecar sexiness to it. Can’t you just imagine a group of them taking off from an airfield near San Francisco, gleaming aluminum and twenty-four cylinders of majestic power, roaring into the clouds to face long-range bombers from Japan? Ringing the airspeed indicators to five hundred miles per hour, the C5 Z06es of their day, charismatic, flawed, and visceral? It’s a lovely thing to consider. It’s as American as a CTS-V chasing down 911s around the Nurburgring, huh?

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128 Comments on “Great Moments in GM Marketing: The XP-75...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Yeah well that’s like, just your opinion man.

  • avatar
    akitadog

    Whoa! I think this one belongs under Ronnie’s Automotive Conspiracy Theories!

  • avatar
    Fordson

    Mid-engine like a P-39 and with counter-rotating 3-blade props. Coupled with the fat-cross-section, high-drag wings and tail (instead of laminar-flow ones) from a P-40 and Dauntless that would probably not even go 500 mph.

    Hot stuff.

    Even if this was not GM’s scheme, that’s a pretty sad airplane.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    The airplane even has an unusually long overhang in front of the wheels, making the proportion a bit odd and nose heavy, just like GM cars in the 80s and 90s.

    • 0 avatar
      TheSlowLane

      The wings and main gear are set back because the engine was behind the pilot and a drive shaft was used to turn the propeller. The weight of the engine being that far back caused the wings and gear to be moved back also.

      Airplanes were moving toward jet engines at this time but many in the military didn’t completely trust that jets were the future power plants of aviation, so many “interesting” projects involving piston aircraft engines were undertaken; the Lycoming XR-7755 for example.

  • avatar
    BMWnut

    A very interesting take on a forgotten mongrel from the history of aviation. And it is done in a manner that is still relevant on a site dedicated to cars. I really enjoyed reading it.

    The article made me think of the Hughes H4 Hercules, a.k.a. Spruce Goose. After years of delays and micro management, it only managed a short hop while climbing to a breath taking 70 feet. Was it even capable of climbing to altitude and cruising at speed? Or was there an ulterior motive involved, as here?

  • avatar
    thelaine

    My buddy had one that was totally reliable so I don’t know what the hell you are talking about. It ran great until he flew it into a mountain. If I could find one with a stick shift I would go out and buy one right now. Mitsubishi Zero this, Mitsubishi Zero that, you guys just hate Detroit iron.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    Crap, that thing even had contra-rotating propellers? What a maintenance nightmare if that beast ever was deployed in combat!

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      The British tried contra-rotating propellors on late, Griffon-engined versions of the Spitfire. Pilots liked them because they eliminated the torque which tries to roll the aircraft. They also used them on the Seafang which was a naval version of the Spitfire’s successor, the Spiteful. By the time the Seafang was ready for operational deployment, interest had switched to jets.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        That was my understanding too — there were British, American, and Russian planes with contra-rotating propellers largely in prototyping phases, but the technology was largely abandoned when people wanted to use jets. I believe the Russians had a few that made it well beyond the prototyping phase and were in wider use.

        That said, didn’t Antonov make a plane with contra-rotating propellers back in the 90s?

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          I was certain you were correct on that one corntrollio, but I thought is was even earlier than that. I checked either my awesome memory or google and came up with the Tupolev Tu-95, which entered service in 1956 and is, supposedly, expected to remain in service until 2040!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Tu-95 (NATO: Bear) is essentially the Russian B52, the last of the big bombers.

            Here’s a fun fact, in the late 80s the Soviets began to retrofit the Tu-95s as an aerial nuclear cruise missile platform. The idea is, position these things in international airspace a few hundred miles from target and let them fly… pretty slick since they just big loud lumbering targets otherwise.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            The TU-95 is really a pretty impressive aircraft. DOUBLE the range of a B52, and really no more of a target than one. Not like either one can run or hide from anything. Double the range means getting the job done even if your tanker is shot out of the sky…

            Also supposedly about the LOUDEST aircraft in the sky. And the passenger variant is still the fastest prop plane to ever fly.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I wasn’t aware of its extreme range, all the more reason to use them as aerial launch platforms. Gotta give the Soviets credit where it’s due.

        • 0 avatar
          mistrernee

          The Tu-95 certainly made it well past prototyping phase.

          Not to mention Kamov, but those are helicopters…

          Russia were the only country to really figure out how to make them work. They used them on the Bear because the turbojets of the day didn’t have the range they wanted.

          No piston engined examples I know of though.

          • 0 avatar
            rdeiriar

            The Avro Shackleton, a post-war derivative of the Lancaster bomber used in the maritime patrol role, had four Rolls-Royce Griffon V12 engines with contra-rotating propellers. 185 where built in three series from 1951 to 1958. It had a very long career with the RAF, the last one being retired in 1990

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            A lot of Soviet stuff is amazingly durable and well designed .

            The details and Q.C. can be pretty iffy but , none of my Russian Motos have been overly troublesome and I ride ‘em very hard indeed .

            -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            Advance_92

            Along with the Shackleton there’s the Fairy Gannet which was used for ASW work in the 50s and 60s like the Navy’s Tracker.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Excellent article Jack, really appeals to history and automotive buffs such as myself, keep them coming.

    One thing though, I enjoyed your sobering assumption by the powers that be WWII was in the bag as early as 1942. If any of the three key events of 1942 had gone differently, the war could have easily ended in a stalemate:

    1. Battle of Stalingrad
    2. Battle of Midway
    3. Battle of El Alamein

    One and three were tied to each other because even IF Rommel had won he was ill equipped for an invasion of Egypt. Now if the Egyptians rose up as was planned Rommel could have taken Cairo and threatened the Sinai, or if Stalingrad had fallen forces may have been transferred out for the Afrika Korps. Obviously if we had lost our carriers at the Battle of Midway we’d be at a severe disadvantage and on the defensive, Japan may have sued for peace and we may have just accepted and ceded Guam, Hawaii, and the Philippines to the new Japanese empire. The war was much better “wrapped up” in 1943 than 1942. Oh and God help us all if the Germans or Japanese had beat us to Trinity with an atomic weapon… that’s where as they say the plot would have thickened.

    • 0 avatar
      George Herbert

      HistoryWonk hat on, but 28-cars-later writes:

      2. Battle of Midway

      Midway was June 1942. The US only commissioned the original Essex in 1942, but in 1943 commissioned 6 more Essexes and 9 Indepencence class light carriers, and in 1944 commissioned 7 *more* Essex class, including a few long-hull variants, and it would have been 9 more big carriers (8 Essex and the first Midway) in 1945 if they hadn’t started cancelling orders. Plus the 78 escort carriers built during the war years.

      Japan built 4 in 1943 and 5 in 1944.

      If it had not been Midway in mid-1942, it would have turned in 1943 or at the absolute latest in early 1944. It’s not credible that Japan would in the end have won. The US attitude was not to consider suing for peace; we knew going in that we’d outbuild them by a 2:1 ratio or better for Pacific deployments. Unless they’d been the ones to develop nuclear weapons first, they had no credible way to win the war.

      • 0 avatar
        Aaron Whiteman

        We knew and they knew too. Well, those that actually were paying attention knew. Yamamoto certainly did.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        With a decisive Midway victory the Japanese would have been in a position to threaten Hawaii. If the Japanese would have invaded Hawaii in say Fall 1942 and destroyed what was left of the Allied navies, I could see a cease fire or armistice… especially if the Germans had fared better at Stalingrad (or even taken Leningrad).
        I see the point you and JB made about American industrial capacity vs the Axis powers, but you could have five times the carriers, but without Hawaii no place to refuel them after leaving the West Coast.

        • 0 avatar
          bill mcgee

          Many historians think that the main effect of a Japanese victory at Midway would have been the possible derailment of the “Germany First” strategy that Roosevelt would have been determined to follow but American public opinion might have demanded otherwise- and as stated above it would have been difficult to supply Hawaii if Midway had fallen . Japan’s lack of resources would always have been a problem . Hitler’s biggest mistakes probably took place in the winter of 1941 , by not promptly taking Moscow and needlessly declaring war on the U.S. , tho there is ample evidence that Roosevelt wanted to declare war on Germany immediately after Pearl Harbor anyway but felt he didn’t have enough public support for that .

        • 0 avatar
          MZ3AUTOXR

          Japan had no where near the transport capacity to even support Midway if they had invaded and captured the island.

          Had they captured Midway they would have been able to harass Hawaii, but an invasion would not have been possible. Japan was already over-extended and they had not yet invade New Guinea.

          Loss of the carriers would have meant more for the Southern Pacific, as the next 3-4 carrier battles all raged around the Battle of Guadacanal. No US carriers probably means no landing at Guadacanal in 1942 and another year added to the war. Maybe.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Interesting points, gentleman.

          @Bill

          I agree total victory was unattainable for the Germans by mid-fall 1941, but if Stalingrad had not been a disaster its possible the war in the east may have ended differently. Assuming the German failures I stated and a Japanese victory at Midway, I think you’re right in saying the public would have demanded/expected more of a fight against Japan. I’m not sure the public was “in” the European war as much in 1942, they were still reeling from Pearl Harbor.

          @MZ3AUTOXR

          You’re right in saying the Japanese were already overextended (esp with the Chinese Nationalists & Mao resisting them in China) hadn’t really crossed my mind. Given the state of things in 1945, I wonder how long the public would have gone along with the Pacific war though. The supposed reason of dropping the bombs on Hiroshima/Nagasaki was to prevent the needless loss of life in the planned invasion of Japan (Ops Olympic/Coronet in 1945/46) but I suspect much of that involved morale issues of the time.

          So in 1942 after potentially losing another decisive battle could the public have understood our industrial capacity and just went along with “the war will be just a little longer” or demanded some sort of diplomacy (irrespective of the strategic weakness of the Japanese empire at that time)?

          • 0 avatar
            probert

            Prior to the dropping of the atomic bombs on civilian targets the Japanese had already offered to surrender. What hadn’t been offered was the abdication of the emperor. This was the reason for the horror that ensued.

            although to be fair, the fire bombing of tokyo and other cities killed more civilians than the atom bombs. Who’se to debate whether it’s better to be imploded by a vacuum (firebombing) or watching your skin slough off over a period of a few days. Tough one.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Plus, Truman bombed a bubble-gum factory in Pasadena because orphans used to tour it and he thought he could wipe them out. He also liked to put kittens in blenders and serve them up to his wife. Although to be fair, he is generally credited with inventing the smoothie. I learned this in college.

        • 0 avatar
          George Herbert

          28-Cars-Later wrote:
          If the Japanese would have invaded Hawaii in say Fall 1942

          I liked this theoretical scenario enough as a book idea to apply my military analyst background and wargaming experience to see what could be done from Japan’s side.

          Despite some others’ skepticism here, Japan could have taken and held Midway, but it would have been under pretty constant bombing from Hawaii. Not sure if they’d be able to hold the airport usably open.

          If the IJN had managed to totally absorb their Army’s fighting strength and applied all of its transport to the task, they could have landed on and taken and held one of the Hawaii islands. Perhaps two. Not all of them, credibly, with the US ground troops already there. They would have been under continuous bombing from airfields on the remaining ones, unless they could sub/air/surface fleet interdict all logistical support (fuel tanker, bomb supplies, etc) to the remaining US held island(s). It is possible but not probable that they’d be able to eventually win that scramble.

          However, the diversion of resources here means that they would not have had enough army and transport left to take Indonesia’s oilfields and hold them, and keep Australia from deploying airfields to hold those and the Japanese navy in the region at risk. And they were running out of oil.

          I cannot see a scenario that holds up for them winning the war – or suing for a neutral peace – that way. Even if we lost Hawaii, the remaining US fleet falls back to San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, our B-29s hold Hawaii bases at risk and any fleet and transport activity there at risk, our Subs hold fleet and transport activity there at risk, our eventual shift to an aerial mine program will effectively deny resupply / transport around the Islands, we retake them shortly after.

          There’s no there there, in the idea. It doesn’t hold up.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Excellent analysis. I would argue how much would the American people put up with and for how long (and then demand peace), but if things has transpired as you described it would have taken place over a year or so. Japan may have simply collapsed in on itself in the scenario you describe from lack of oil to fuel their empire.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Certain people had very definite ideas about what America’s industrial capacity could achieve early on. It was Churchill who told his people they would “carry on the struggle until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

      An aide to Charles DeGaulle, when he informed the general that America had entered the war, quoted him as replying, “The war is won. There will be battles and campaigns, but this is an industrial war, and nothing can match American industrial output.”

    • 0 avatar
      kkt

      You might add the relief of Malta to the list of 1942 must-win battles for the Allies. If Malta had been lost, Rommel’s supply problems would be solved, and Rommel would have won El Alamein and could have rampaged through Egypt, closed the Suez Canal to the allies, and controlled Iraq’s and Saudi Arabia’s oil for Germany.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        That’s an excellent point, although I’m on the fence with Rommel having the forces to accomplish all of those feats without additional forces (irrespective of resupply) or an Egyptian revolt against the British (which I imagine would have occurred as he neared Cairo).

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Professor Terguson: You remember that thing we had about 30 years ago called the Korean conflict? And how we failed to achieve victory? How come we didn’t cross the 38th parallel and push those rice-eaters back to the Great Wall of China?

          Professor Terguson: [rips a desk apart] Then take the fucking wall apart brick by brick and nuke them back into the fucking stone age forever? Tell me why! How come? Say it! Say it!

          Thornton Melon: [incensed] All right. I’ll say it. ‘Cause Truman was too much of a *pussy* to let MacArthur go in there and blow out those Commie bastards!

          Professor Terguson: Good answer. Good answer. I like the way you think. I’m gonna be watching you.

          Thornton Melon: [chuckling to his classmates] Good teacher. He really seems to care. About what I have no idea.

  • avatar
    55_wrench

    “if it looks right, it’ll fly right”

    This poor thing didn’t have a chance.

    Germany tried the siamese Daimler-Benz V-12 sharing a common exhaust manifold between the engine blocks and put it the Heinkel HE177 bomber with disastrous results. Oil dripping on a red-hot manifold = inflight fires most of the time.

    But when they but tandem DB03s in this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dornier_Do_335

    they had a very impressive aircraft, fortunately for the allies it never made it into production.

  • avatar
    James2

    The thing sounds like the Fiero of WW2 fighters.

  • avatar
    skor

    I saved this to my hard drive, just in case I ever find a used B-29 on Craigslist.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    General Motors did produce a few thousand airplanes through their Eastern Aircraft Division, manufacturing FM Wildcats and TBM Avengers (both Grumman designs). The boondoggle of the Fisher XP-75 was one of those hair-brained ideas that didn’t pan out like several other failed projects such as the Vought XF5U Flapjack, McDonnell XP-67 Moonbat, Budd RB Conestoga, Bell XP-77, and the Hughes HK-1 Hercules (aka “Spruce Goose”, even though it was made of birch wood). When the original spare-parts bin idea of the XP-75 was revealed to be a tremendously poor performer, the airplane was redesigned from the ground up and proposed as a very long range escort fighter. The tragedy of the project was that it tied up valuable resources and funding that could have been applied to other more worthy designs, but hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it?

    • 0 avatar
      Conslaw

      There is no question that the XP-75 Eagle was a pure turd, one of the worst aircraft of all time. The Vought XF5U Flapjack wasn’t so much a failure as a plane that didn’t prove itself before the need had abated.

      Leek, you are right in pointing out the importance of General Motor’s production of the TBM Avengers and FM Wildcats. These planes were critical in the defeat of the U-Boats. General Motors produced more than a half million “deuce and a half” 2.5 ton 6×6 trucks which were at least as important to the war effort as any tank model. General Motors also took a controlling interest in North American Aviation in the 1930s. With GM’s backing North American was able to build itself into an aviation powerhouse in a relatively short period of time, winning contracts for the AT-6/SNJ trainer, the B-25 bomber and last but not least, the P-51 Mustang. General Motor’s Allison engine division provided V-1710 engines to not only the early Mustangs, but also the P-38 Lightning, P-40 and P-39 fighters. Allison-engined fighters constituted the bulk of American fighter production through early 1943.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Shhhhhhh…you’re getting in the way of the story.

        Anyway my Komet can kick anything GM built into the ground, when it isn’t trying to kill me.

        • 0 avatar
          niky

          Bull. I know Nader criticized the supposed propensity of the Komet to burst into flames when rear-ended, but that rocket was the ultimate anti-tailgate device.

          • 0 avatar
            Flipper35

            Actually, Nader didn’t kill the Komet. It was the serious lack of range and refueling infrastructure that killed it. Once the buying public realised that you were a glider after 5 minutes and it took a long time to refuel with a time consuming procedure the marked died. If the public would have given it a chance to develope its range and infrastructure it would have been more successful. Don’t forget that they didn’t have an alternate fuel tax credit either.

        • 0 avatar
          LeeK

          Just make sure to keep the T-Stoff and C-Stoff away from each other. :)

      • 0 avatar
        SVT48

        Keep in mind, the P-51 really didn’t shine as a fighter until the Allison was replaced with the Rolls-Royce Packard “Merlin” engine hot rodded by Packard with a turbocharger and other refinements.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Yup. With the original Allison engine it was a bit of a dog.

        • 0 avatar
          0menu0

          The original Allison v1710 only had a single speed supercharger, and as such the so equipped Mustangs were fine performers up to only about 12 k feet or so. This rendered them useless for the high altitude escort role. When fitted with the Merlin which was equipped with a 2 speed 2 stage supercharger (not a turbocharger) the aircraft was transformed into the fine high altitude performer that we are all familiar with today.

      • 0 avatar

        Interestingly, at the GM Heritage Center in the section devoted to historic GM engines, there’s a Chevrolet Tonawanda plant built Pratt & Whitney “Double Wasp” 18 cylinder rotary engine, but no Allison.

      • 0 avatar
        daiheadjai

        Hmmm… that must be why the P51 was considered an underperformer as a fighter until they swapped in the Merlin…

  • avatar
    iceman_pl

    Dude author

    you are talking about an airplane designed 60 years ago using a motor used in 4 or 5 other prototypes. Have you been in a world war situation, using methods used 60 or more years ago? And you’re talking about about a division of GM 60 years ago. Trying to link to link the CTS-V to the planes made then… 60 years man

    Dude you got no clue…

    Find something more interesting to wirte about, like how your grandfather worked and thought this was the plane who could win the war. I do not understand what you are trying to prove here. Can you imagine the engineers using slide rules under pressure trying to design this plane with this motor during a world war? They had no abaqus, they had no inventor, so I mean dude, stfu.

    PL

  • avatar
    iceman_pl

    I just want to say more, author:

    There was a team 60 years ago who used slide rules. They designed this airplane and they thought it would be the best. But back then, there was no computers to confirm. And it was a flop, and so was 4-5 other airplanes.

    Can you blame the team that made this plane, the team that used slide rules to design this plane and thought that it would protect the country, 60 years ago!? Have you been in a engineering firm lately? I mean, how can you bash this airplane behind your computer screen without knowing what the design team went thru… can you imagine war time pressure and obligations, like what your grand father went thru…

    I mean come on, these guys wanted to protect America at all cost, why bash them on a design we can not analyse…

    PL

    • 0 avatar
      chrishs2000

      The engineers, sure. But this isn’t about the engineers. It’s about the GM executives. If you were an engineer, you’d understand that we are only taking orders and direction from management.

      You don’t believe that GM knew that the war was in the bag and only wanted to improve their post-war standing? Fine, but it’s not exactly a ridiculous assertion based on history.

      And for the record, I loved the CTS-V analogy.

  • avatar

    oxymoron.

  • avatar
    SixDucks

    The XP-75 was designed by Donovan Berlin of P-40 fame to produce a heavy fighter out of components from obsolete aircraft. Needless to say, it was a flawed concept that did not result in a successful aircraft. The scope of the B-29 project was such that the original plan called for many companies in addition to Boeing to produce the plane. However, as the war progressed it became apparent that the existing B-17′s and B-24′s (in addition to the R.A.F.’s fine Lancaster and Halifax) would suffice for Europe with Germany going down before Japan, and B-29 production plans were scaled back. However, continuing problems with the B-29′s Wright radial engines prompted the A.A.F. to explore alternatives, and the most promising was the Fisher XB-39. The XB-39 was a GM built B-29 powered with 4 of the same twin V-12 Allisons the XP-75 used. The XB-39 was successfully flown, but the Wright radials on the B-29 were developed enough to go into a rather troublesome service, and the XB-39 was not pursued with. I think GM would have gladly built B-29′s or B-39′s if asked, as it would have been a very profitable undertaking. As for Allison, I doubt very seriously that they had any desire to continue to sell relatively inexpensive V-12 reciprocating engines when they were very much involved with the design and manufacture of expensive jet engines. In fact, A.A.F’s first jet fighter to reach service, the P-80, was powered by an Allison turbojet. Not only were other GM divisions involved with Allison engine production during the war, but the practice was continued long after hostilities ended. Both Buick and Oldsmobile divisions produced jet engines an components not only for Allsion but also for other avaition engine manufacturers as well. I would unfortunately have to say that this editorial is not totally supported by history……

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    The P-75 came into being as in 1942 the Army Air Force found itself in urgent need of a fighter with an extremely high climb rate, and in desperation accepted GM’s offer…A flying Frankenstein made up of pieces of existing aircraft. Needless to say it never worked exactly as promised…it was unstable, the engine didn’t deliver full power, the aircraft’s handling was poor and engine cooling was inadaquate. The U.S. government did order 2,500 of these contraptions but was at least smart enough to specify if the first production model did not meet all requirements the complete order could be cancelled. Most of the flight testing was largely confined to eliminating the various troubles suffered by the design. General Motors effectively proved it had no business in aircraft design.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Needless to say it never worked exactly as promised…it was unstable, the engine didn’t deliver full power, the (aircraft’s) handling was poor and engine cooling was inadaquate

    Wow. Sounds like my CJ-7.

  • avatar
    niky

    I think this is conclusive proof that mid-engined front-wheel drive doesn’t work. Poor traction, massive understeer…

  • avatar

    I don’t understand all the hate for this plane. Sounds to me that it accomplished exactly what they wanted it to.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    Great story Jack. Maybe you should branch off into TTAWII? I always found it fascinating to read about all the really weird aircraft both the US and Germany came up with during WWII, mostly prop driven. I suspect the aircraft engineers saw the writing on the wall re/ jet engines and were desperate to preserve their piston/prop world. Hitler could have the ME 262 in 1943 if he hadn’t listened to the established aircraft manufacturers.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      +1 darkhorse. I think this applies to all of the strange and unusual vehicles of the war, not just aircraft, especially the ones that were miserable failures.

    • 0 avatar
      LeeK

      The issue with the Me 262 was the chronic unreliability of the Jumo 004 engines, with a mean time to failure measured in single digit hours. A good pilot who nursed the engines could stretch that out to 20 to 25 hours of flying time. Despite the baited breath assertions of the History Channel about Hitler’s insistence of the folly that the 262 be deployed as a bomber rather than a point defense fighter, it really didn’t make any difference in the outcome of the war. Germany did not have the metallurgical resources to make their jet engines more reliable and as the war progressed the disruption of industry made the task impossible.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Read my mind, I saw the comment and the first thing I thought of was the Jumos.

      • 0 avatar
        Dirk Stigler

        Not that anyone will see this comment at this point, but prototype Jumo 004s ran through endurance tests just fine. The Germans knew which materials they needed to build reliable production engines, they just didn’t have them. They tried to get by with less temperature-resistant alloys, and compensate by changing the engines every few hours. This worked much better than you’d expect.

        As for the 262′s combat performance, its problem wasn’t that it was reinforced to carry bombs, so much as that each one taking off could expect to find tens of allied fighters coming after it from liftoff to landing. Especially liftoff and landing — to the point that the Luftwaffe deployed its best piston-engined fighters to fly CAP over the Me262 bases just to give them a chance to reach altitude. Read a book like “Aces of the Luftwaffe” sometime and pay particular attention to the descriptions of bomber interception missions in the last 6 months of the war. It doesn’t matter what you’ve got when you’re outnumbered literally 100 to one in the field.

  • avatar

    between the Hellcat tanks, Liberty aircraft engines and munitions made by AC, it is fair to say that General Motors, it’s employees who worked in the plants and served in the armed forces and war administration, were instrumental in our nation’s victory. as much as I criticize them for various issues, this is a wonderful company with a rich heritage of contribution to the American way of life.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, and Charlie Wilson, GM’s president and later CEO, ran the War Production Board. Still Jack’s premise that business decisions affected how companies contributed to the war effort is not an unreasonable one.

      It’s not like he was accusing GM of making defective armaments as in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons.

      Also, while undoubtedly a lot of companies and individuals profited off of the U.S. war effort (DuPont started as a gunpowder company), it should be said that a lot of individuals and companies got screwed by the U.S. government regarding war materiel. After WWI, one reason why Henry Leland lost control of Lincoln to Ford was because he got screwed on his contract building Liberty engines for the gov’t. American Bantam got screwed in the Jeep deal. In Canada, the Canadian government stole tracked-vehicle patents from Bombardier.

      So before we start judging businesses on how they fiddled with the war effort to improve profits, let’s remember that it wasn’t just a one way street and that the gov’t has shafted more than a couple of military suppliers.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    “Plying Fiero” and a misshapen “parts bin” “badge engineered” fighter plane, complete with secret nefarious plans to screw the taxpayer after the war. Since this is about GM, TTAC will spare no effort to devise a smear.

    Similarly, there will NOT be a shred of editorial balance describing the critical role Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes and Audi played in eagerly providing the satanic machinery of holocaust necessary for the murder of 6 million Jews, the systematic butchery of Western Europe, and the rape of Stalingrad.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    Mr. Baruth,
    Now that you’ve satisfied yourself with another anti-GM screed, will you kindly write about World War II’s Axis powers’ relationships with Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, Toyota and Nissan. (All I hear are crickets…)

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    Mercedes had a bloody and ghastly contribution to the extermination of Europe’s Jews. From Wikipedia:

    “During World War II Daimler-Benz employed slave labour. The slaves “toiled eighteen hours a day; cowering under the lash, sleeping six to a dog kennel eight feet square, starving or freezing to death at the whim of their guards.”

    BMW thoughtfully provided many of the high-performance airplane engines, installed in Nazi fighter planes, that butchered allied bomber crews and provided the necessary air cover for the functioning of the extermination camps. And this evil company simply expropriated jewish owned companies, wickedly engaging in the enslavement of 50,000 jews to engorge itself in wild war profiteering: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2042405/Family-dynasty-BMW-admits-using-50-000-slave-labourers-Nazi-era.html;

    http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2007-10-10/bmws-quandt-family-faces-its-nazi-pastbusinessweek-business-news-stock-market-and-financial-advice

    “We were treated terribly and had to drink water from the toilets. We were also whipped,” said Takis Mylopoulos, a forced laborer who worked in Quandt’s (BMW) Hannover plant.

    Another BMW subsidiary was particularly bloodsoaked in its zealous committment to wild war profiteering:

    “Afa had factories in Hannover, Berlin, and Vienna and was supplied with slave laborers from concentration camps who died by the hundreds, according to the documentary. One former Danish slave laborer testified in the film that he and other survivors, who were deported to a German concentration camp and sent to work at Afa, returned to Germany in 1972 to plead for financial support from the Quandts, since the harsh working conditions at Afa had resulted in lifelong ailments.”

    Volkswagen sprang whole cloth from the satanic mind of the prince of darkness himself, Adolph Hitler, and has finally agreed to compensate the 20,000 enslaved victims it abused:

    “Last August, holocaust survivors filed a class-action lawsuit in the U.S., against some of Germany’s biggest and best known corporations, accusing the firms of profiting from Nazi-era slave labor. One lawsuit named Volkswagen, and a second action named VW along with its Audi subsidiary, and electronics giant Siemens, auto makers BMW and Daimler-Benz (maker of the Mercedes Benz), steelmaker Krupp-Hoesch, engineering group MAN, photo equipment group Leica, and weapons maker Diehl.
    These companies used more than 2 million slave laborers during the Nazi era, and yet they are active, doing business today, with no stigma whatsoever. The lawsuit asks for $150 million in damages, which does not include millions more that will be due, for attorneys fees. Approximately 12 days later, Volkswagen made a total about face, and announced that it was setting up a $12 million private relief fund to compensate the slaves it used to establish the corporation in the world markets. Volkswagen is Europe’s biggest car maker, and it was established in 1938 with a mission from Adolf Hitler to create a “people’s car,” hence “Volkswagen”; its factories also churned out grenade launchers, land mines and V1 rockets during World War II.
    For years, Volkswagen (which deployed as many as 20,000 slave laborers) argued that it had no legal duty to pay back wages to slave laborers, because those laborers were forced upon them by the Nazis. ”

    And Audi was a major wartime supplier of war material, probably delaying the liberation of the extermination camps by years.

    However, pursuant to TTAC’s editorial bias, I must add that none of these Nazi war suppliers would be so gauche as to build a parts bin airplane, and one most likely with a sh!tty interior at that.

    • 0 avatar
      chrishs2000

      You should work in the advertising department for GM. I’d happily sit through a 30 second “VOLKSWAGEN DROVE THE JEWS TO THE CAMPS AND BMW SLAUGHTERED THEM” commercial.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @ I’ve been waiting for two days,for someone to come up with that. I just hope that niether you, or your comment gets axed for stating the truth.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Funny story.

    GM is also totally responsible for the housing bubble and the world financial crisis as well.

    Of course war brings out rapid technological advances. Check out what was done during the American Civil War and every war since.

    If you want to trash GM – which I am really sick-and-tired of, fine, but realize that the US gov’t was responsible for sticking with the Sherman M3 tank – they were cheaper than developing a better tank -which was quite inadequate to deal with the Panther and Tiger tanks of Germany – the strategy was to gang up on the German tanks of around 5 to 1 – sacrificing two, three or even four until it was knocked out, not to mention human lives…

    A better tank was developed too late in the war to have any effect – the M26 Pershing – The US just threw more stuff at the enemy, adjusted tactics and won by sheer production and overwhelming force. I’m sure somehow, that was GM’s fault, too – NEVER Ford or Chrysler, heaven forbid.

    Lots of decisions regarding machines and technology were made – good and bad. Aircraft advancement really made tremendous strides during and after the war.

    My favorite X-plane? Check out the “Flying Flapjack”!

    W bodies rule!

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    This is a hardcore VW enthusiast website, so not one single word, not one colorfully-worded rant will be spoken about the following:

    “To speed along production, VW used as many as 20,000 slave laborers – the vast majority being foreign prisoners from Russia, Poland, France, Belgium and Holland. At Volkswagen, the foreign workforce was subjected to incessant beatings, malnutrition and early death.

    VW’s founder, Ferdinand Porsche, was an SS activist and chairman of the Panzer committee which developed innovations in armored vehicles. He also played a key role in developing the Fi 103 flying bombs which were used indiscriminately against civilians.

    Statements taken from the U.S. Army War Crimes Investigation report about the VW hospital facilities: “In the opinion of this officer the function of this organization was nothing more than a death chamber for children of slave workers and veiled by the term ‘maternity hospital.’” “The infants literally rotted away with the same sequence of symptoms, vomiting, diarrhea, emaciation, distended blueish colored abdomens and death. The nursery was loaded with bedbugs and flies. The infants cried all night while being bitten by the bedbugs. . . . One mother attempted to take her child from the nursery in a hand bag.”

    And here is a more colorful description of Daimler-Benz’s savage acceptance of Nazi exterminist ideology:

    ‘DAIMLER-BENZ started using foreign workers and Soviet & French POWs as forced labor in early 1941, and were heavily dependent on them by the end of that year. The forced laborers were housed in barracks at the plants and worked horrible shifts doing the most back-breaking tasks. Many of the Soviet workers refused to work, and engaged in strikes. Daimler-Benz sent the “ring-leaders” of these strikes to concentration camps.
    In December of 1944, Daimler-Benz was using 26,958 forced foreign workers, 4,887 POWs, and thousands of concentration camp inmates under the most brutal conditions to build the Luftwaffe and other weapons of the Nazi war machine. However, this number does not take into account the number of workers who had previously escaped, died, or had been sent to concentration camps. As the war progressed and it became obvious that Germany would lose, Daimler-Benz factories became even more cruel, using more and more prisoners, and sending greater numbers of dissident workers to the camps.

    Using Daimler-Benz’s own archive to research it’s activities under Hitler, Neil Gregor wrote an exhaustive account called Daimler-Benz in the Third Reich. Referring to Daimler-Benz and other companies using forced labor, Gregor states:
    “Insofar as industrialists and managers did drift into barbarism, they did so in any case because they broadly accepted National Socialist ideology and had allowed it to permeate the culture of the company…”

    …..
    “)
    “Daimler Benz avidly supported Nazism and in return received arms contracts and tax breaks (Note: TTAC’s policy Re: GM is to derogatorilly call these policies a “bailout”) that enabled it to become one of the world’s leading industrial concerns. (Between 1932 and 1940 production grew by 830 percent.) During the war the company used thousands of slaves and forced laborers including Jews, foreigners, and POWs. According to historian Bernard Bellon (Mercedes in Peace and War, 1990), at least eight Jews were murdered by DB managers or SS men at a plant in occupied Poland. There was a report that Daimler-Benz built mobile poison gas vans” (I quickly note here: Pursuant to TTAC’s editorial bias, those vans most likely had impecably finished interiors)

    And it appears Volkwagen received (were this a discussion about GM, it would be called a “bailout”) a massive financial boon from the Nazi house of hell itself:

    “In 1991 the head of the investTigative team, Bochum University history professor Hans Mommsen, declared at a symposium, “It’s quite clear that Porsche was responsible for hiring concentration camp inmates for the factory’s labor camp.” Porsche contacted SS leader Heinrich Himmler directly to request slaves from Auschwitz, Mommsen said.”

    The staunch support of industrial murder is not limited to German companies

    After the surrender of Japan, (the president of Nissan) was arrested by the American occupation authorities and incarcerated in Sugamo Prison for 20 months as a Class A war criminal”

    And Toyota shared in the enjoyment of a monopolistic and blood-soaked mandate to assist in the economic rape and pillage of wartime China, through its holding company Mitsui:

    “As part of the Japanese plans for the exploitation of China, during the 1930s and ’40s the subsidiary tobacco industry of Mitsui had started production of special “Golden Bat” cigarettes using the then-popular in the Far East trademark. Their circulation was prohibited in Japan and was used only for export. Local Japanese secret service under the controversial Imperial Japanese Army General Kenji Doihara had the control of their distribution in China and Manchuria where the production exported. In their mouthpiece there were hidden small doses of opium or heroin and by this millions of unsuspecting consumers were addicted into these narcotics, while creating huge profits. The mastermind of the plan, Doihara, was later prosecuted and convicted for war crimes before the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, sentenced to death; but no actions ever took place against the company which profited from their production. According to testimony presented at the Tokyo War Crimes trials in 1948, the revenue from the narcotization policy in China, including Manchukuo, was estimated in 20 million to 30 million yen per year, while another authority stated that the annual revenue was estimated by the Japanese military at US$300 million a year.[4][5]
    During the Second World War, Mitsui employed American prisoners of war as slave laborers, some of whom were permanently maimed by Mitsui employees.”

    So at first blush, it might seem to the casual observer that GM’s wartime misdeeds (real and imagined……”Flying Parts Bin Fiero!!!!” “secret Bailout” etc etc) might arguably pale next to the satanic orgy of mass murder rabidly supported by the German and Japanese automakers during the same period, you have to hand it to TTAC: It is absolutely unrelenting and mulishly consistent in its anti-GM bias.

    • 0 avatar
      kkt

      So your argument is German and Japanese industry in WW II used prisoner labor in inhuman ways, therefore it’s okay that GM took lots of money on a war project that made money for GM but was useless at best for the war effort? Is that really your argument?

    • 0 avatar

      “you have to hand it to TTAC: It is absolutely unrelenting and mulishly consistent in its anti-GM bias.”

      Unrelenting and consistent, eh?

      So if TTAC has an editorial policy of being unfair to GM why on earth did TTAC publish a series that I wrote on the Arsenal of Democracy that highlighted, in complimentary fashion, GM’s contribution to the U.S. war effort during WWII?

      Likewise, why, if TTAC hates GM, did we run a post about my experience building a LS9 engine at GM’s Performance Build Center that was highly complimentary to General Motors and their employees at that facility.

      I’m Jewish and seriously so. The Nazis murdered 1/4th of my extended family, the entire Smolinsky family, may God avenge them, save for my maternal grandfather, Henry J. (with a grandfather with that name no wonder I like cars). Derek and Steve, two of the other editors also Jewish. You think we’d still be here if the site had a policy of whitewashing the crimes of the Third Reich and those who aided them?

      • 0 avatar
        Larry P2

        So when am I going to see, in the interest of editorial balance, a full-scale expose’ of Volkswagen’s (founded by proud Nazi Waffen SS Officer, one Ferdinand Porsche) active and enthusiastic participation in Nazi war crimes and its unwavering support of the Holocaust? When is there going to be a series on Volkswagen’s “Deadly Sins?” (there’s PLENTY of material out there, after all one blogger /owner here suggested VW’s truly phenomenal and outrageous maintenance and repair requirements was akin to being “ass raped” by the dealer) When is there going to be an expose’ of the big advantage VW has from Germany’s socialized industrial policy? (GM would be lambasted for receiving “bailouts” if awarded similar commanding advantages and concessions). When is TTAC going to investigate its own extreme editorial bias favoring Volkswagen, in light of the profusion of VW advertisements this site displays? (Road and Track has been absolutely trashed for its bought and paid for enthusiasm for BMW’s)

        Surely you jest that the rare articles about building the LS9 and the complimentary stories about GM’s huge wartime contributions somehow balances out the unending scornful venom that is heaped on the company the rest of the time?

        Of course, the answer to my questions is: “Never”

        • 0 avatar

          Where on earth did you get the foolish notion that Ferdinand Porsche was a Waffen SS Officer? The only source that I’ve found that mentions any connection between Dr. Porsche and the SS is in his Wikipedia entry that says “Porsche joined the Nazi party on his own free will in 1937[citation needed], and was an SS activist[citation needed]“, hardly a reliable source.

          I happen to think that Dr. Porsche was terribly amoral in his dealings with the Nazis and he indeed served the German war effort, designing tanks and other weapons, but the man was 64 years old in 1939. The Waffen SS was a fighting force (as opposed to the Totenkopf i.e. Death Head, SS, which ran the concentration and death camps)and didn’t need any senior citizens.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Many of the “hot shot” in the regime joined the Party and were given SS commissions, I just last night saw a documentary where Dr Werner von Braun was given an “honorary” major commission in the SS.

            However I agree Dr. Porsche would NOT have been given a Waffen-SS commission as these were front line soldiers under control of a political party. People like Porsche and Von Braun were not expected to lead troops in combat, they were given political rewards by the regime, no different if Stalin, Mao, Kim Jong Il or Saddam make you a “general”.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            *hot shots
            *made you

          • 0 avatar
            Darkhorse

            Most of the tanks he designed were so complex and difficult to build that they never went into production. The company should keep that in mind for the next 911.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Don’t let the trolls , fanbois and nattering nabobs of negativity get to you .

        Generous Motors Corporation has many fans with good reason , they also have many haters , also with good reason .

        Me , I’m a Bowtie Guy , right down to my toes .

        I’m keenly aware of the cheap crap that made Chevrolet such a popular brand but I still love ‘em , if others don’t ~ drive something else , no worries .

        The overall input here is terrific , don’t let the occasional childish ad hominum attacks (or my bad spelling & grammar etc.) allow you to veer off the path .

        -Nate

      • 0 avatar
        alexndr333

        Ronnie,
        It’s articles like this and the one about some Yahoo writing about the Impala that reinforces the idea that an anti-GM attitude is part of TTAC’s DNA. In this case you have a speculation about GM’s motives 70 years ago that only makes sense if you already don’t like the company. The paltry admission at the end that the story may be completely unfair to GM would give anyone else but TTAC pause about posting it in the first place. That Impala story is another bad bit of business. One obscure critic cashing in on being a day ahead of anyone else makes the most of his early post by saying the worst he can about the car. TTAC compounds the error with a title, “Impala Can’t Outrun Its Critics”. Critics? As in more than one? How many? Oh, right – only one. But a headline that reads, “Impala Can’t Outrun Its Critic” would sound dumb.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Theres a very good reason why Jack didn’t mention any of that, its irrelevant to the article at hand.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    It should also be noted that much of the US space program was designed and overseen by the folks from Peenemunde and that USAMRIID received much data from the IJA Unit 731. Big difference though in how the information was used, in deterrence and in preemptive defense against bio-terror.

    FYI, you can search on ME-262 and find the US outfit that built 5 reproductions – with US tail numbers and everything. Want to become type certified? Bring lots of cash. The planes use a GE engine hidden in Jumo castings for an authentic look…..

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      About twelve years ago I was on a road trip to Oregon. Somewhere around Weed, CA, on I-5, I spotted far ahead of me on a straight stretch of highway, a wingless airplane on a flatbed. After a few seconds of casual study, I suddenly realized I was looking at an ME-262, and my right foot hit the floor. I pulled up and looked it over for a while (long enough to get a good once-over, but short enough to avoid pissing off the truck driver). Full camo paint, all lettering in German, correct-appearing markings, and showing signs of a lot of weathering. I concluded is was almost certainly authentic.

      Later research and conversations with wing-geek friends led to the conclusion that what I’d seen was a genuine 262 being delivered from a museum in Texas to the builders of the replicas, presumably for study and measurements.

  • avatar
    Styles79

    “The ungainly Eagle itself has a kind of odd musclecar sexiness to it.”

    No, there’s nothing sexy about that abomination. The idea of a gajillion-litre V24 with superchargers, yes. That particular aircraft, no.

  • avatar
    SixDucks

    And these days it would probably be the 911 chasing the CTS-V……

  • avatar
    jetcal1

    After several starts;
    Time to put some of this to rest. The V3420 was designed for the XBLR program in 1936. It was supposed to be used in the Douglas XB-19 (XBLR-2) and the Sikorsky XBLR-3. (Not built.)
    Testing was delayed because there were no test cells or propellers capable of handing the torque. It was not designed as a back-up to the Wright R3350. Even the back-up to the B-29 (Convair B-32) used the R3350.

    In the US jet engines were being thought about, in 1942 but only for bombers, not for fighters, the state of the art made their fuel consumption made them unsuitable for fighters. (One Lockheed design does seem to be the exception to the rule. The L-133 Canard.)

    (The XP-75 was supposed to be built in the same factory as were the B-29 nacelles were being built. And when it was submitted in Feb 1942, nobody knew where the war was going to be in a few months, let alone when it was going to end.)

    The XP-75 was designed to have a range of 2500 miles. (About 4-6X the average European fighter.) Based on the reference material I have, (Vee’s for Victory, Schiffer and the sales brochure for the XP-67. ) I assumed the following: A radius of action of 1000 miles (Including the following: reserve fuel for warm-up, taxi, take-off and 15 minutes at War Emergency Power). We’re talking about 666 GPM at WEP, and probably about 80 GPM at cruise of around 200 knots so we’re talking about 1,000 gallons of fuel onboard.
    Now let’s talk about the radiators needed to handle the 300-400 GPM of coolant flow required by the engine and the 30 GPM for oil.

    All this was in a rush job design that was supposed to weigh in at only 18,000 lbs. The XP-75 was supposed to be an interceptor like the P-38 not a fighter like the P-51. By comparison, the ME-262 had a range of about 600 miles and a gross weight of about 14,000 lbs.

    Quick….name the aircraft that were designed after WWII started that made it into production and saw combat…………
    You will find that the list very short compared to the number of aircraft that were prototyped.
    And the Germans were the worst of anybody, especially when you factor in the number of unsuccessful engine programs they tried to manage. Anybody want to discuss their W24 engine the DB 610?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Thank you for the detailed information, I eat this sort of thing up.

      • 0 avatar
        jetcal1

        28-Cars-Later,
        If you can find it, buy “Plane Speaking” by Bill Gunston. Spend the money. (I checked on Amazon, it’s about $20.00.)
        You will be entertained entirely out of proportion to the money spent. I have well over a 1,000 books in my collection. And this is the one that I lend out when I want to upset someone’s view of aviation history. It’s that good.

  • avatar
    SixDucks

    Correct, the V-3420 was not specifically designed to be a back-up to the Wright R-3350, but was considered as a substitute during the B-29′s development.

    A combat aircraft designed after the war started that did see service before the war ended? All I can think of is the Grumman F6F Hellcat and Douglas A-26 Invader.

    BMW’s 14 cylinder radial of WWII was based on a Pratt and Whitney design.

    The DB 610 had a propensity for catching on fire. The 2 center cylinder banks shared an exhaust manifold, and the inverted design positioned the exhaust manifolds on the bottom where leaking oil would collect. Daimler should have copied GM on that one……

  • avatar
    grzydj

    No mention of the Opel Blitz truck? It was one of General Motors more successful contribution to the war effort.

    Had it not been for GM executives sitting down with Nazi officials and figuring out a production run for the Blitz truck, Operation Barbarossa would have never materialized.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    The ability of the Japanese auto companies to whitewash their World War II liaisons with the Imperial military machine borders on the obsessive. Ask anyone about it in Japan and no one speaks. At least the Europeans, including Opel, reluctantly admit to their own histories. But, look up Toyota or Nissan on Wikipedia and the war years are completely blotted out. I’m sure TTAC has more than one article about how image is more important that truth in GM’s history, but the Asians are masters at image manipulation. And their fan-boys remain blissfully clueless.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      “And their fan-boys remain blissfully clueless.”

      Actually, many are fan-girls.
      And some of us have done research in the matter, particularly Nissan in Manchukuo for me.

      What’s your point, that giant industrial groups should take a moral stand against their government in times of war? Let me know when you find a historical example of that.

      • 0 avatar
        alexndr333

        Summicron,
        If I started saying “fan-person” I’d likely be the only one on this web-site doing so, but your criticism is noted. As for my point, it has nothing to do with whether GM, Mercedes or Toyota should have taken a moral stand against their governments in times of war. It’s that TTAC is selective in how it singles out GM for it’s behavior – based on a unsubstantiated theory – but stays silent on far worse examples in Germany and Japan. The old adage is still true – you’re never a hero in your home town.

      • 0 avatar

        “What’s your point, that giant industrial groups should take a moral stand against their government in times of war? Let me know when you find a historical example of that.”

        Okay, here’s one historical example. Henry Leland left Cadillac in a dispute with Billy Durant, a pacifist, over Leland’s desire to build Liberty engines for the U.S. gov’t during World War One. Durant did not want to supply war materiel. Likewise, Henry Ford famously was a passenger on the “Peace Ship” and opposed U.S. involvement in the European hostilities. Once hostilities started, though, Ford did build ships for the Navy – the first construction at Ford’s Rouge complex was done in order to fill those government contracts. When asked about the apparent hypocrisy, Henry Ford said that he opposed the war but that he was a patriot who supported his country. Of course nobody ever accused Henry of being a moral avatar.

        • 0 avatar
          Summicron

          Typo? Did you mean Durant did not want to supply war material?

          I’m sure highly principled individuals will abound throughout history, but once hostilities start and the contracts flow they’ll be replaced or bypassed. The corporate entity will absorb those windfall opportunities like amoeba-food, even if under a different name or management group.

        • 0 avatar

          During World War I, Buick had built Liberty aircraft engines and Red Cross ambulances (the division used to display a letter of thanks from Great Britain’s then minister of munitions, Winston Churchill, to Durant for war production).

          In World War II Buick helped make Flint the “arsenal of Democracy” by building aircraft engines, Hellcat tank destroyers and other military hardware. Buick
          was awarded more than 30 separate military contracts and Buick-built material could be found at virtually every fighting front.

          by WWII Durant was no longer active in business, either in production or on Wall Street.

    • 0 avatar
      chrishs2000

      As a Honda fanboy, I can happily report that Honda Motor as an actual organization was not founded until 1946.

      Sure, Soicihiro probably made some piston rings and seals for Kamikaze pilots, but what else was he supposed to do?

  • avatar
    Summicron

    @alexndr333

    Yeah, I was nitpicking… just wanted to note how important female customers are to any manufacturer’s success nowadays.

    I agree that this was an egregious bit of GM-bashing. Jack is highly skilled and appreciated here, but why he decided to reach back into a complicated and desperate time like WWII and presume to understand the motives of a giant corporate entity like GM is puzzling.

    Actually, I’d rather be puzzled by that than to admit the obvious and common-sensical Occam’s Razor answer.. he hates GM.

    • 0 avatar
      alexndr333

      Summicron,
      A well-stated response. “…complicated and desperate time…” Spot on.

      Occam’s Razor? On TTAC??? Perhaps you have hit on the obvious explanation for Jack’s actions, but to label it so raises my estimation of the B & B here by a factor of 10. Well done.

      (And all I’m doing is thinking of a gender-neutral way of identifying uncritical fans. “Fanistas”?)

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    This post reverted to Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogies in no time whatsoever. Given the subject matter, how could it not? And let’s all agree, war sucks, horrid, unspeakable atrocities occurred, and that it’s time to steer the conversation onto something cool about WWII planes.

    Ah, got it. I love WWII aircraft nose art.

    My favorites, of course, are the pinups. Witchcraft. Yellow Rose. Yankee Doodle. Playmate. Heavenly Body.

    All really cool stuff. /wishIcouldpostpics

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    It really sticks in my craw to point out and challenge the very obvious GM hatred on this site, since I work in an occupation where large corporations tend to be viewed as the enemy. In addition, my obsession with sporting/hot rod cars was singularly developed outside the fold of GM-mobiles. First a Ford Mustang GT, then Italian and British roadsters, then Miatas….and only recently started accepting the validity of GM products….especially the latest Corvettes and GTOs. My actual experience with the latter cars is diametrically opposed to the conventional wisdom of TTAC (The C4 Corvette, unfairly lambasted on these pages as a “Deadly Sin” must be by far the easiest and cheapest early-80′s design to upgrade into viciously fast and otherworldly-handling and modern in every way supercar performer).

    And to this day, Volkswagen churns out expensive repair and maintenance nightmares that easily rival the worst mishaps that spewed forth from GM, in GM’s most malaise-ridden era, yet the company gets an editorial pass on this site. Which causes some very unfortunate and costly mistakes for folks who come to a site, imagining they are getting objective analysis for their car-buying recommendations.

    • 0 avatar
      chrishs2000

      My God dude, we get it already.

      Everything is black and white. “We” are the good guys and “they” are the bad guys. Germans and German corporations are evil, Jew killing bastards. The SS stopped using death by CO2 asphyxiation in the concentration camps and started using Zyklon B because their trucks were so unreliable that they wouldn’t stay running long enough to kill the entire.

      I for one liked the article because it was thought provoking and different. Maybe you should stick to Motor Trend or CNN so that you can listen to the same news reel repeat over, and over, and over again.

    • 0 avatar
      kkt

      Quote: “And to this day, Volkswagen churns out expensive repair and maintenance nightmares that easily rival the worst mishaps that spewed forth from GM, in GM’s most malaise-ridden era”

      I’m going to have to ask for a citation to this assertion. Cars of all makes have gotten much more reliable since the malaise era, GM and VW included.

    • 0 avatar
      Yeah_right

      It’s a blog. Only a neophyte would go to a blog expecting “objective analysis.” Hell, even the news media can’t pull off objective analysis.

      So Jack skewers GM. They certainly have assembled a portfolio of POS autos over the years, suitable for consideration.

      Personally, I thought the story was an interesting insight about the insider poker that any big organization was going to engage in, even in a time of national peril. No need to conflate “GM did some skeevy things during the war” into diatriabes about the site being apologists for mass murderers.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    Recall the old line that “History is written by the victors”. If Germany and Japan had won WWII I’m sure many GM executives would have been executed along with “Bomber” Harris for Dresden.

    War is a crappy business.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Somehow I think the GM execs would have escaped a formal firing squad. You need people who can help you run your conquered country, at least for a time.

      US Gov’t officials maybe not so much.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    I think you are being a bit too hard on GM. From what I have been able to learn, the entire country pulled together to help our military defeat the Germans and Japanese. There were countless examples of peace-time competitors co-operating with each other to increase production. There was a lot of cross-licensing. All military contracts during WWII were cost-plus (I think it was 5%)and this was rigorously enforced. And to think we won the production battle, not with computers, but with slide-rules and index cards.
    The XP 75 does look like it was designed by a committee. Pilots are known to say that if a particular aircraft looks good, chances are pretty fair that it will fly good.
    As previously noted, GM owned North American Aviation (B-25, P-51) from 1933 to 1948. Those were some fine aircraft.
    Lastly, on the Jumos and engine wear problems: the Jumos, being an axial flow design had greatly increased operating temperatures as compared to the British Whittle centrifugal type. Most modern jets are axial flow.

  • avatar
    wmba

    I rate this article on a par with some of Baruth’s previous LLN stories which have been reprinted over the years in TTAC. Enthusiastic but wide of the mark simply because it is his personal summary of history, that is, what makes sense to him. Not necessarily what actually happened.

    Of course, it’s also fun to take a rise out of the perpetually apoplectic GM boosters, full of high blood pressure about to burst their veins who have already forgotten the bankruptcy, and press us to believe TTAC is VW Central Marketing. So there’s that.

    And then a whole pile of bleating follows in the comments like the people who think that engineers back before WWII were folk blindly groping along in the technical dark, clasping sliderules to light the way. Gosh, Math wasn’t even invented! How did those guys build the Golden Gate Bridge without CAD? The real question is, how do present day guys build stuff with only a faint idea of the principles involved? All they know is how to turn the workstations on. I speak as a recently retired engineer, so take my outlook on things for what it’s worth.

    Hopefully, there will be enough brainy folks left as time goes on to translate principles into computer programs that are actually accurate, so that the average technical drone can design useful things that work.

    The XP 75 was a typical WWII project. No time to genuflect, you gotta get a move on. Some projects work out, some don’t. Recognize the failures and get on with something that does work. Recriminations happen years later when all sorts of conspiracy theories are dreamed up by people with an axe to grind, but little knowledge of what it was like to live through the sharp end. I would be highly surprised if GM management tried to actively fiddle with war production for their stockholders’ benefit. The guys Roosevelt had running things tended to walk right over the but-what-if guys, and if they persisted had their balls for bookends. Quite right, too. The war needed winning.


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