|Birth name||George Lewis Schwartz, Jr.|
|Born||May 10, 1918|
Wawaset Park, Wilmington, Delaware, US
|Died||October 12, 1954 36) (aged|
Palmdale, California, US
|Service/|| United States Army Air Corps |
United States Army Air Forces
|Years of service||1939–1944|
|Unit|| 47th Fighter Squadron |
36th Fighter Squadron
80th Fighter Squadron
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards|| Distinguished Service Cross |
Distinguished Flying Cross (3)
Air Medal (2)
|Other work||Test pilot|
George Schwartz Welch (May 10, 1918 – October 12, 1954) was a World War II flying ace, a Medal of Honor nominee, and an experimental aircraft pilot after the war. Welch is best known for having been one of the few United States Army Air Corps fighter pilots able to get airborne to engage Japanese forces in the attack on Pearl Harbor and for his work as a test pilot. Welch resigned from the United States Army Air Forces as a major in 1944, and became a test pilot for North American Aviation.
George Schwartz Welch was born George Lewis Schwartz, Jr. to George Lewis Schwartz, Sr. (November 15, 1887 – May 30, 1972) and Julia Ann Welch (April 29, 1891 – May 21, 1974), but his parents changed his name to avoid the anti-German sentiment that stemmed from World War I. His father was a senior research chemist for Dupont Experimental Test Station at Wilmington, Delaware. He had a younger brother named Dehn Schwartz Welch (March 31, 1920 – November 1, 1999) served with the U.S. Army from 1941 to 1945. He attended St. Andrew's School (1936). He completed three years of a mechanical engineering degree from Purdue University, before joining the Army Air Corps in 1939. While attending Purdue, he was initiated as a brother of Delta Upsilon. USAAC flight training schools that he attended included: Brooks Field, Kelly Field and Randolph Field in San Antonio, Texas, as well as Hamilton Field in Novato, California.
After receiving his wings and commission in January 1941, Welch was posted to the 47th Pursuit Squadron, 15th Pursuit Group, at Wheeler Field, Oahu, Hawaii in February 1941.
At dawn on December 7, 1941, 2nd Lieutenant Welch and another pilot, 2nd Lieutenant Kenneth M. Taylor, were coming back from a Christmas dinner and dance party at a rooftop hotel in Waikiki, that ended in an all-night poker game. They were still wearing mess dress when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Welch telephoned the auxiliary Haleiwa Fighter Strip on Oahu's North Shore to have two Curtiss P-40B Tomahawk fighters prepared for takeoff. Taylor immediately drove his Buick at high speed to Haleiwa to join the air battle.While climbing into their P-40s, the crew chiefs informed them that they should disperse their planes. "To hell with that", Welch said.
Taking off with only .30-cal ammunition in the wing guns, Welch claimed two kills of Aichi D3A Val dive bombers over Ewa Mooring Mast Field.The first Japanese aircraft was only damaged and made it back to its carrier, while the second was finished off by Ken Taylor, shortly before he landed at Wheeler Field to get .50-cal ammo for his two cowl guns. On his second sortie, Welch shot down a Val (which was behind Ken Taylor, and crashed in the community of Wahiawa) then one Mitsubishi Zero fighter about 5 miles west of Barbers Point.
Both Welch and Taylor were nominated for the Medal of Honor by General Henry H. Arnold, but were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second-highest US Army medal for valor, for their actions.
After Pearl Harbor, Welch returned to the continental United States to give war bond speeches until being assigned to the 36th Fighter Squadron of the 8th Fighter Group in New Guinea. Despite his aerial victories on December 7, 1941, Welch was dissatisfied with flying the poorly performing Bell P-39 Airacobra. Welch shot down a Zero and two Aichi D3A “Val” dive bombers on December 7, 1942, the first anniversary of Pearl Harbor. When asked by a journalist what aspect of the P-39 he liked, then seven-victory ace George Welch said, "Well, it's got 1200 pounds of Allison armor plate." This was a reference to the center-mounted engine (i.e.: behind the cockpit) rather than to actual armor plating. When Welch inquired as to when his squadron (the 36th FS) would receive Lockheed P-38 Lightnings, he was told, "When we run out of P-39s."He repeatedly appealed to be assigned to the 80th Fighter Squadron (which flew P-38s) until he was granted a transfer. Between June 21 and September 2, 1943, flying a P-38H, Welch shot down nine more Japanese aircraft: two Zeros, three Ki-61 Tonys, three Ki-43 Oscars, and one Ki-46 Dinah. Welch flew three combat tours (a total of 348 combat missions with 16 confirmed victories, all achieved in multiples) before malaria brought an end to his time in combat.
In the spring of 1944, Welch was approached by North American Aviation to become a company test pilot. With the recommendation of General Arnold, Welch resigned his commission in the United States Army Air Forces and accepted the job; his rank was as a Major in the Air Reserve 13 November 1944 to 1 April 1953.He went on to fly the prototypes of the Navy's North American FJ-1 and later the Army Air Forces' XP-86. North American originally proposed a straight-wing version of the XP-86 and the Army Air Forces accepted this on May 1, 1945. On November 1, North American, with the aid of captured German technology, proposed and was given permission for a major redesign of the XP-86 to a 35-degree, swept-wing configuration. This was new technology and the USA's first high-speed, swept-wing airplane and a significant advance over Republic Aviation's XP-84. Welch was chosen as chief test pilot for the project.
In September 1947, the first of three XP-86 prototypes (AAF Ser. No. 45-59597) was moved from North American's Mines Field (later Los Angeles International Airport) to the Muroc North Base test facility (now Edwards AFB), the same base at which the Bell X-1 was being tested. The maiden flightof the XP-86 was on October 1, 1947, flown by Welch.
After about a 30-minute flight, Welch lowered the flaps and gear to land. At this point, the nose gear would not extend completely. For 40 minutes, Welch unsuccessfully tried everything to extend the nose gear.When he reached a low-fuel state, he elected to land on Muroc Lake Bed without a fully extended nose gear. Upon touchdown, in a nose-high attitude, Welch cut the engine, and as the XP-86 slowed, the nose gear snapped down and locked. The aircraft was undamaged.
Secretary of the Air Force 4,000 ft (1,200 m) per minute. North American, however, had already contracted with General Electric for more powerful J47 engines for the production P-86As.Stuart Symington had instructed North American that they were not, under any circumstances, to break the sound barrier before the X-1 achieved this milestone. He could exercise his authority in this regard because both the XP-86 and X-1 were Air Force programs. Welch's only complaints about the aircraft was the J35 engine lacked power and the rate of climb was only a disappointing
In his book Aces Wild: The Race for Mach 1 (1998), fellow North American test pilot Al Blackburn speculates that Welch may have broken the sound barrier 2 weeks before Chuck Yeager in an early flight of the XP-86 prototype. Welch himself never made that claim. Blackburn based his contention on interviews of eyewitnesses, former North American employees, and access to contemporary historical accounts. 45,114 ft (13,751 m) with the engine at 100.8% Military RPM (i.e. maximum power). North American conducted this test, their "High Mach Number Investigation", on November 13. The USAF verified all North American results and this test Mach number in their own Phase II tests conducted in December 1947.Robert Kempel, author of The Race For Mach 1 contradicts the claim, contending for Welch's aircraft to break the sound barrier with an underpowered engine was impossible. He notes that the XP-86 airframe was capable of transonic flight, but the interim low-power J35-C-3 limited its performance. The late Bob Hoover, chase pilot for Welch and Yeager, had also disputed the Welch story, stating that Welch was not flying that day because his plane was being repaired. The highest Mach number reached by Welch in 1947, as indicated by official flight test records, was about 0.93, in a maximum power dive from
By the end of 1947, the XP-86 had logged 29 hours and 23 minutes of flight test time, most flown by Welch.On October 14, 1947, Captain Charles Yeager exceeded Mach 1 in the Bell X-1. The claim of the XP-86 passing Mach 1, with Welch at the controls, was not made until April 26, 1948, five and a half months after the X-1 supersonic flight. Blackburn, however, maintains that a record on the Muroc radar theodolite, of the two flights Welch made on November 13, 1947, indicated supersonic flights, as well, noting 20 minutes before the X-1 broke the record, a sonic boom was heard over the desert, centered on the Happy Bottom Riding Club, dude ranch restaurant and hotel operated by Pancho Barnes.
Welch went on to work as chief test pilot, engineer, and instructor with North American Aviation during the Korean War, where he reportedly downed several enemy MiG-15 Fagots while "supervising" his students. Welch's kills were in disobedience of direct orders for him to not engage, and credits for the kills were thus distributed among his students.
After the war, Welch returned to flight testing; this time in the F-100 Super Sabre, with Yeager flying the chase plane. Welch became the first man to break the sound barrier in level flight with this type of aircraft on May 25, 1953. Stability problems were encountered in the flight test program, and on Columbus Day, October 12, 1954, Welch's F-100A-1-NA Super Sabre, AF Ser. No. 52-5764, disintegrated during a 7-G pullout at Mach 1.55 from 45,000 ft (13,500 m) and crashed in Rosamond Lake in the Mojave Desert about 45 miles (72 km) north of Los Angeles.When he was found, Welch was still in the ejection seat, critically injured. He was evacuated by helicopter, but was pronounced dead on arrival at the United States Air Force Plant 42 hospital. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
In the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora! , Welch was portrayed by actor Rick Cooper.
His decorations include:
|USAAF Pilot Badge|
|Distinguished Service Cross|
|Distinguished Flying Cross with two bronze oak leaf clusters|
|Air Medal with one oak leaf cluster|
|Air Force Presidential Unit Citation with bronze two oak leaf clusters|
|American Defense Service Medal with one service star|
|American Campaign Medal|
|Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with six campaign stars|
|World War II Victory Medal|
Charles Elwood Yeager was a United States Air Force officer, flying ace, and record-setting test pilot who in 1947 became the first pilot in history confirmed to have exceeded the speed of sound in level flight.
The Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star was the first jet fighter used operationally by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). Designed and built by Lockheed in 1943 and delivered just 143 days from the start of the design process, production models were flying, and two pre-production models did see very limited service in Italy just before the end of World War II. Designed with straight wings, the type saw extensive combat in Korea with the United States Air Force (USAF) as the F-80.
Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) is a United States Air Force installation in California. Most of the base sits in Kern County, but its eastern end is in San Bernardino County and a southern arm is in Los Angeles County. The hub of the base is Edwards, California. The base was named after World War II USAAF veteran and test pilot Capt. Glen Edwards in 1950; prior to then the facility was named Muroc Air Force Base.
The sound barrier or sonic barrier is the large increase in aerodynamic drag and other undesirable effects experienced by an aircraft or other object when it approaches the speed of sound. When aircraft first approaches the speed of sound, these effects are seen as constituting a barrier, making faster speeds very difficult or impossible. The term sound barrier is still sometimes used today to refer to aircraft approaching supersonic flight in this high drag regime. Flying faster than sound produces a sonic boom.
The Bell X-1 is a rocket engine–powered aircraft, designated originally as the XS-1, and was a joint National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics–U.S. Army Air Forces–U.S. Air Force supersonic research project built by Bell Aircraft. Conceived during 1944 and designed and built in 1945, it achieved a speed of nearly 1,000 miles per hour in 1948. A derivative of this same design, the Bell X-1A, having greater fuel capacity and hence longer rocket burning time, exceeded 1,600 miles per hour in 1954. The X-1, piloted by Chuck Yeager, was the first manned airplane to exceed the speed of sound in level flight and was the first of the X-planes, a series of American experimental rocket planes designed for testing new technologies.
The McDonnell XF-85 Goblin is an American prototype fighter aircraft conceived during World War II by McDonnell Aircraft. It was intended to deploy from the bomb bay of the giant Convair B-36 bomber as a parasite fighter. The XF-85's intended role was to defend bombers from hostile interceptor aircraft, a need demonstrated during World War II. McDonnell built two prototypes before the Air Force (USAAF) terminated the program.
The Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket is a rocket and jet-powered research supersonic aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the United States Navy. On 20 November 1953, shortly before the 50th anniversary of powered flight, Scott Crossfield piloted the Skyrocket to Mach 2, or more than 1,290 mph (2076 km/h), the first time an aircraft had exceeded twice the speed of sound.
This is a list of aviation-related events from 1947:
Hans Guido Mutke was a fighter pilot for the German Luftwaffe during World War II. He was born in Neisse, Upper Silesia.
Robert Anderson "Bob" Hoover was an American fighter pilot, test pilot, flight instructor, and record-setting air show aviator.
The Convair XF-92 was an early American delta wing aircraft. Originally conceived as a point-defence interceptor, the design was later used purely for experimental purposes. However, it led Convair to use the delta-wing on a number of designs, including the F-102 Delta Dagger, F-106 Delta Dart, B-58 Hustler, the US Navy's F2Y Sea Dart as well as the VTOL FY Pogo.
The Air Force Test Center (AFTC) is a development and test organization of the United States Air Force. It conducts research, development, test, and evaluation of aerospace systems from concept to deployment. It has test flown every aircraft in the Army Air Force's and the Air Force's inventory since World War II. The center employs nearly 13,000 people, and controls the second largest base in the Air Force.
The Northrop XP-56 Black Bullet was a unique prototype fighter interceptor built by the Northrop Corporation. It was one of the most radical of the experimental aircraft built during World War II. Ultimately, it was unsuccessful and did not enter production.
Colonel Jackie Lynwood Ridley was an aeronautical engineer, USAF test pilot and chief of the U.S. Air Force's Flight Test Engineering Laboratory. He helped develop and test many Cold War era military aircraft. He worked on the Bell X-1, the first aircraft to achieve supersonic flight. He was highly respected among fellow test pilots, most notably Chuck Yeager, for his engineering skills.
Chalmers Hubert "Slick" Goodlin was the second test pilot of the Bell X-1 supersonic rocket plane, and the first to operate the craft in powered flight. He was the pilot of the project's second plane, and nearly broke the sound barrier.
Arthur Warren "Kit" Murray was a United States test pilot. He flew test flights on the Bell X-1 and the Bell X-5 aircraft.
Kenneth Marlar Taylor was a United States Air Force officer and a flying ace of World War II. He was a new United States Army Air Corps second lieutenant pilot stationed at Wheeler Field during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Along with his fellow pilot and friend George Welch, Taylor managed to get a fighter plane airborne under fire. Taylor claimed to have shot down four Japanese dive bombers but only two were confirmed. Taylor was injured during the incident and received several awards for his efforts, including the Distinguished Service Cross and the Purple Heart.
Fred J. Ascani was an American major general and test pilot of the United States Air Force. He was one of the "Men of Mach 1" and was considered father of Systems Engineering at Wright Field.
Squadron Leader John Douglas Derry DFC was a British test pilot who is believed to be the first Briton to have exceeded the speed of sound in flight.
Kenneth O. "K.O." Chilstrom is a retired United States Air Force officer, combat veteran, test pilot, and author. He was the first USAF pilot to fly the XP-86 Sabre, chief of fighter test at Wright Field, commandant of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, and program manager for the XF-108 Rapier. Chilstrom was a pilot in the first jet air race and delivered the first air mail by jet. He flew over eighty combat missions in the Italian Campaign of World War II and tested over twenty foreign models of German and Japanese fighters and bombers to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.