Archive for June 5th, 2009

05
Jun
09

World War II American Fighters: Chance-Vought F4U-4 Corsair

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Warplane development during World War II produced many interesting designs.  The Chance-Vought F4U-4 Corsair with its gull-like wing design proved to be one of America’s best designs.  Fighting in the Pacific Theater, in the hands of capable pilots, it outclassed the best the Japanese had to offer, destroying over 2,000 enemy aircraft with an impressive 11 to 1 kill ratio.

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The gull-like wing design, created to accommodate the massive four blade propeller, gave the Corsair a low profile and exceptional lift.  The Corsair could also absorb an enormous amount of damage — even more so “than the tank-like P-47” as reported by the EAA Airventure website.  It had one major drawback, however, in that if an inexperienced pilot gave it too much throttle on take-off, the powerful Pratt-Whitney R2800 engine produced so much torque that it could flip the plane over. 

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Usually armed with six fifty caliber machine guns, Corsairs fought in World War II and the Korean Conflict, though in Korea it served mostly as a ground attack bomber.  In the roll of ground attacker the Corsair had a larger payload than most twin-engine designs.  With superb speed, rate of climb and a large payload, Corsairs served their pilots well.

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This warplane can be found at the EAA Airventure Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

For more information on this plane see:  Corsair

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05
Jun
09

On This Day, June 5: The Marshall Plan

June 5, 1947

George Marshall calls for aid to Europe

In one of the most significant speeches of the Cold War, Secretary of State George C. Marshall calls on the United States to assist in the economic recovery of postwar Europe. His speech provided the impetus for the so-called Marshall Plan, under which the United States sent billions of dollars to Western Europe to rebuild the war-torn countries.

In 1946 and into 1947, economic disaster loomed for Western Europe. World War II had done immense damage, and the crippled economies of Great Britain and France could not reinvigorate the region’s economic activity. Germany, once the industrial dynamo of Western Europe, lay in ruins. Unemployment, homelessness, and even starvation were commonplace. For the United States, the situation was of special concern on two counts. First, the economic chaos of Western Europe was providing a prime breeding ground for the growth of communism. Second, the U.S. economy, which was quickly returning to a civilian state after several years of war, needed the markets of Western Europe in order to sustain itself.

On June 5, 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall, speaking at Harvard University, outlined the dire situation in Western Europe and pleaded for U.S. assistance to the nations of that region. “The truth of the matter,” the secretary claimed, “is that Europe’s requirements for the next three or four years of foreign food and other essential products–principally from America–are so much greater than her present ability to pay that she must have substantial additional help or face economic, social, and political deterioration of a very grave character.” Marshall declared, “Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos.” In a thinly veiled reference to the communist threat, he promised “governments, political parties, or groups which seek to perpetuate human misery in order to profit therefrom politically or otherwise will encounter the opposition of the United States.”

In March 1948, the United States Congress passed the Economic Cooperation Act (more popularly known as the Marshall Plan), which set aside $4 billion in aid for Western Europe. By the time the program ended nearly four years later, the United States had provided over $12 billion for European economic recovery. British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin likened the Marshall Plan to a “lifeline to sinking men.”

George Marshall calls for aid to Europe [Internet]. 2009. The History Channel website. Available from : http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2689 [Accessed 5 Jun 2009].

 

On This Day

1637 – American settlers in New England massacred a Pequot Indian village.

1752 – Benjamin Franklin flew a kite for the first time to demonstrate that lightning was a form of electricity.

1884 – U.S. Civil War General William T. Sherman refused the Republican presidential nomination, saying, “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.”

1933 – President Roosevelt signed the bill that took the U.S. off of the gold standard.

1968 – U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy was mortally shot in Los Angeles by Sirhan Sirhan. Kennedy died early the next morning.

June 5, 1967

Six-Day War begins

Israel responds to an ominous build-up of Arab forces along its borders by launching simultaneous attacks against Egypt and Syria. Jordan subsequently entered the fray, but the Arab coalition was no match for Israel’s proficient armed forces. In six days of fighting, Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, the Golan Heights of Syria, and the West Bank and Arab sector of East Jerusalem, both previously under Jordanian rule. By the time the United Nations cease-fire took effect on June 11, Israel had more than doubled its size. The true fruits of victory came in claiming the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordan. Many wept while bent in prayer at the Western Wall of the Second Temple.

The U.N. Security Council called for a withdrawal from all the occupied regions, but Israel declined, permanently annexing East Jerusalem and setting up military administrations in the occupied territories. Israel let it be known that Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai would be returned in exchange for Arab recognition of the right of Israel to exist and guarantees against future attack. Arab leaders, stinging from their defeat, met in August to discuss the future of the Middle East. They decided upon a policy of no peace, no negotiations, and no recognition of Israel, and made plans to defend zealously the rights of Palestinian Arabs in the occupied territories.

Egypt, however, would eventually negotiate and make peace with Israel, and in 1982 the Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt in exchange for full diplomatic recognition of Israel. Egypt and Jordan later gave up their respective claims to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to the Palestinians, who opened “land for peace” talks with Israel beginning in the 1990s. A permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement remains elusive, as does an agreement with Syria to return the Golan Heights.

Six-Day War begins [Internet]. 2009. The History Channel website. Available from : http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5066 [Accessed 5 Jun 2009].




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