Artillery and Gliders

As a recent subscriber to Aviation History, I found two articles in the July 2006 issue of great interest. Regarding Kelly Bell’s feature “Mustang Wrangler George Preddy,” I am quite sure the unit that shot him down was the 555th Antiaircraft Artillery, which was attached to the 104th Infantry Division, the “Timberwolves.” I was a member of that division and remember seeing online articles about that incident in a Web page as well as the division paper. That artillery unit was armed with quad .50-caliber guns.

I’d also like to comment on Robert Guttman’s article about the use of gliders in combat, “Costly Assault Vehicle.” He correctly pointed out that U.S. glider pilots, unlike their British counterparts, were not expected to engage in combat in World War II. But they often did so, especially in the course of crossing the Rhine River. The glider pilots were formed into a provisional company and defended the brigade headquarters against several counterattacks by German troops supported by armored forces. Almost 40 years later, some of those glider pilots were awarded the Bronze Star by the U.S. Air Force.

Colonel Richard L. Jones

U.S. Army (ret.)

Melbourne, Fla.

Kudos From a Veteran Collector

I am very pleased to be a subscriber of your fine magazine.As an 81-year-old veteran of the U.S.Army Air Forces who served during World War II, I have been dropping a number of my subscriptions, but I have no plans to give up Aviation History. I am always pleased with its contents and the quality of the writing. Of course, with contributors like Walter Boyne and C.V. Glines, what else could I expect? Since the article on antique toy planes, “Priceless Childhood Memories,” appeared in the September issue, I have corresponded with its author, Scott Fisher, about my own collection. It includes four toys representing a very rare aircraft, the American Gyro AG-4 Crusader, a futuristic art deco plane of the 1930s. I’m including a snapshot of one of them (above).

I would really enjoy seeing an article on the Crusader, which was designed by Tom Shelton of Denver and first flown by Ray Wilson, who later founded Frontier Airlines. He and I have both been honored by the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame.

Charles W. Holmes

Greeley, Colo.

Lawsonomy Remembered

I read C.V. Glines’ article “Alfred Lawson: Visionary or Crackpot?” in the July 2006 issue with great interest. I have sometimes wondered why historians have ignored his theories and achievements. If it was because he was so eccentric, then how did people like Nikola Tesla get so much publicity?

As the child of Sicilian and Spanish parents who worked the swing shift at Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank, Calif., during World War II, I became involved with a chapter of Lawson’s disciples. My younger sisters and I were accompanied to meetings by our Spanish-speaking grandmother, and I can remember how difficult that was for me, since I had to explain whatever was going on to her in Spanish—and much of the time I didn’t really know what was going on!

Meetings revolved around Lawsonomy. His theories on creation were nebulous and fuzzy to me at best, but I do remember an illustration depicting swirling matter that intertwined with each other into eddies. The Lawsonomy Fountain of Intelligence chart that you included in your article was posted on the wall where we met. We put on plays, all of which had one theme: the life of Alfred Lawson. I presume my mother felt the training would be good for us, since the chapter leaders fostered public speaking as well as benevolent behavior and eating wholesome food.

Lawson’s obsession with aviation was great for me, since I collected the airplane cards inside Wings cigarettes just like other kids collected baseball cards. In fact, I’m still an aviation history buff to this day. The Lockheed factory had an open house once a year, and it was the highlight of my life to get to touch a P-38 or a Hudson bomber. I can remember asking about Lawson’s designs, but no one I talked with had ever heard of him.

Somehow when I was about 10 my family’s affiliation with Lawsonomy was severed—for reasons I can’t recall. Years later, I graduated from the Northrop Institute of Technology and became a mechanic for Douglas Aircraft.

Thanks for providing more information on Lawson than I’d ever dreamed of knowing.

Phillip A. Purpura

Torrance, Calif.

I thoroughly enjoyed the article on Alfred Lawson in the July issue. However, there is one minor error in the account. Lawson did not receive an order from the U.S. Army for 100 of his M.T.2 military trainers. In 1918 the Army requested that prototypes be built and tested at McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio, before any production contract was given. Lawson received neither an order for prototypes nor for production planes.

Bob Casari

Chillicothe, Ohio


Originally published in the March 2007 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here