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ar in the stratosphere, something new and memorable in the long history of battle, became a reality on July 25, 1941.

Boeing Flying Fortresses on that date rained bombs on the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in French ports from 35,000 feet. Though it was a summer day, the bombers were so high that they were covered with frost and the British Air Ministry announced that the attack took place at such a “fantastic” height that the scream of the bombs was probably the first warning. This news came as no surprise, however, to the United States Army Air Corps nor to Dr Sanford A Moss, a bearded little General Electric Co engineer of Lynn, MA, and recipient of the 1940 Collier Trophy for his outstanding contribution to aviation. They saw nothing fantastic in the big Wright-engined planes carrying full bomb loads so high they were scarcely visible from the ground. In fact, they had been planning for this sort of thing with a great deal of patience and ingenuity for 23 years. The Air Corps, especially the engineers at Wright Field, and Dr Moss pioneered the airplane supercharger, the device which permits aviation engines to “breathe” normally when aloft by forcing great power-producing quantities of air into their carburetors. To a very large degree, superchargers determine the height, speed and range of aircraft. These are vital factors in war and matters which the Air Corps and Dr Moss, who does not fly, have long pondered. Three are two kinds of airplane superchargers. One type is gear-driven by the shaft of the engine itself. In the


other, exhaust gases of the engine turn a turbine which operates a compressor sending air into the engine without appreciable drain on its power. The latter is know as the turbosupercharger. The Boeing Flying Fortresses which bombed the German battleships in July are equipped with this type. It was the first officially revealed use of the device in combat. With the exception of a few small pleasure craft, every American airplane is equipped with at least a gear-driven supercharger. Turbosuperchargers, besides being part of the equipment of the latest

Boeing bombers, are used in Republic's Lancer and Thunderbolt fighters and Lockheed's great interceptor pursuit ship, the P-38. The last named climbs a mile in the first minute and is designed to battle bombers above 35,000 feet. It is going to England as the Lightning. Boyhood service as a mechanic trained Dr Moss for work on problems dealing with air pressure. He was born in San Francisco on Aug 23, 1872, and at age 16 was apprenticed as a mechanic in a San Francisco machine shop which made air compressors for mine work. In this period, he first became interested

drove a delivery wagon and corrected examination papers. he studied mechanical engineering at the University of California. in the course of his work on it. NACA chairman. he swept out the university machine shops. France and Germany were also at work on the problem. To earn his expenses. MA. had been a member of the Cornell faculty during Moss's years there. and at the same time learned mechanical tricks which in later years gave him advantages in competition with scientists of only theoretical knowledge of the handling of air and gases moving with the power of a doing things with air. He continued to work on this project at the West Lynn. Something similar had been tried in France but had not worked. He received a BS degree in 1896 and an MS degree in 1900. It had to be postponed. notably a centrifugal compressor which found wide use in blast furnaces and iron foundries. read to a blind student. which was essentially just a combination of his compressor and the gas turbine which had been shelved. . he developed a number of devices. Dr William F Durand. Dr Moss's answer was a wooden model of the turbosupercharger. works of the company. but materials then available were not strong enough to withstand the strains in the proposed gas turbine. but. The scientists of England. Dr Moss was on of the men to whom the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics turned when the United States entered the World War for a solution of the problem of giving war planes greater power. A thesis on the gas turbine earned him a Doctor of Philosophy degree and a job with General Electric in 1903. Because of the success of his compressors. After completing his four-year apprenticeship.

We made the first flight of a supercharged engine before any other country had progressed beyond their ground experiments. a member of the famous Indianapolis motor car family. At that level his oxygen supply was exhausted and he plunged unconscious for five miles but miraculously regained control of the plane near the ground and landed safely. This was performed in six weeks beginning in September. However. including superchargers. Dr Moss. Major Schroeder soared alone to 38. As soon as he saw the plane. On these flights test projects were set up each 5. 1918. It was on Feb 27. authorized a mountain top test for the turbosupercharger in the thin atmosphere which it was designed to conquer by forcing great quantities of power-producing air into the engine. With the supercharger. “The first flight ended at about 20. the engineers said they had a device “to kid an airplane engine into thinking that it was at sea level.Col Howard C Marmon. then head of the Air Corps flight test section and now a United Air Lines vice president. was chosen as a site.” This was fitted to a Liberty motor and given a roaring ground test by Air Corps engineers at Dayton. The 67° below zero temperature which he encountered had . states: “The Armistice halted most World War research. Pike's Peak. “Dr Moss and myself worked continuously together to keep this project from being shelved. however. 1920. 14.000 feet.1009 feet high. which in turn caused a connecting rod to break out through the crank case. was then commander of McCook Field (now Wright Field). It performed so well that Col JG Vincent. with snow often covering the equipment. he authorized a working model and one was rushed to completion. Each time something was learned. an Army sergeant and four privates were designated for the test. Without the supercharger. which was the normal ceiling of the Le Pere biplane with an unsupercharged Liberty engine.000 feet due to over supercharging the engine.100 feet for probably the most dramatic record of all. In their own words. the flight test section of the Air Corps headed by myself kept the supercharger project open with the result that Dr Moss was able to continue his work to more definite conclusion. his assistant Waverly Reeves.000 feet starting at 20. who had succeeded to the McCook Field command. corrective measures taken and tests resumed. On every flight thereafter something would fail at high altitudes during supercharging. the engine actually produced 356 hp! Maj RW Schroeder. the Liberty engine which had given 350 hp at Dayton produced only 230 hp on the mountain top.

Capt Leonard F Herman was co-pilot. Orders and production have increased astronomically. Some three-fourths of the engines made in 1929 had geared superchargers. Dr Moss raises his pointed beard in his companion's face and looks at him through the lower lenses of his glasses. found some money for turbosuperchargers. CH Auger and other General Electric men also worked on the technical problems involved. but Dr Moss on January 1. Manifolds and turbine buckets were red hot while on the same drive shaft. trying to keep up with an agile mind. Production has already started on a new $5. particularly the turbosuperchargers. only a few inches away. and in the pages of technical magazines. Dr Moss. which is built into an airplane engine and which obtains its power by gears from the engine crankshaft. Advances in metals and manufacturing processes by that time had produced materials capable of withstanding the great stresses involved in this type of mechanical arrangement. did not despair.000 plant for this purpose at Everett. the editor of Mechanical Engineering once wrote: “Painstaking. operating under depression budgets.” It was difficult to appreciate the extraordinary engineering involved in the turbosupercharger. so equipped. Enthusiasts for the device. At the age of 69. Among the things presented to him at a dinner on his “retirement” were a score of new 25-cent pieces as material for his “matching” hobby. the impeller turns at 28. as a consulting engineer. All of which is a matter of quiet pride to bright-eyed Dr Moss. out of the Army by then.854 feet to make aerial photographs. “Then they said . Something of what had been achieved was revealed in 1939 when Capt CS (“Bill”) Irvine and Capt Pearl Robey flew a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress coast-to-coast in 9 hrs 14 ½ min. a pioneer in the making of turbines of all kinds. he is now helping a galaxy of production experts to turn out the equipment. and their use increased steadily until they became virtually standard equipment. Capts St Clair Streett and Albert W Stevens of Wright Field set a two-man record in a turbosupercharged plane by flying to 37. 1938. MA. where Dr Moss and four other men once turned out the country's entire supercharger production have been greatly enlarged. went into what he thought would be retirement without having all his dreams for these realized. were incidental to the turbosupercharger development which aimed not only to send a plane to high altitudes but to give it speed and power over a wide range of altitudes.000 supercharger plant at Fort Wayne. it could take a plane up to 15. the compressor handled atmosphere as low as 76 degrees below zero. The altitude records.000 rpm. IN. completed the crew. There was a much prompter welcome for Dr Moss's geared superchargers which first began to attract attention around 1926. MA. took honors at the Indianapolis Speedway. Lieut JA Macready took the same plane up to 40. aeronautical engineer. mostly in this field and argued for the supercharger. The General Electric River Works at Lynn. Of Dr Moss. A geared supercharger is a small centrifugal compressor. “First they told me it couldn't be done. one of the tiny buckets was subjected to a centrifugal pull of around 1. To this end. The Air Corps. In an effort to increase their popularity. He possesses that disarming characteristic of small boys with whom it is impossible to be angry for long in spite of sometimes exasperating behavior. In retirement. and cars. were not recognized as promptly as their Air Corps backers and Dr Moss would have liked. including several not in guidebooks. he has been matching quarters with his friends for many . never dropping below 20.000 rpm. Samuel R Puffer. The turbine revolved at 20.750 pounds.” he explains. The superchargers. WH Allen. 'What's the good of it?' and now what do they say? They say.” Nobody had ever flown so high. and General Electric is now starting work on a third $20. Gears range in ration as high as 14 to 1 and with an engine speed of 2.000 feet for an average of 267 mph for the 2.000 feet or so and was particularly efficient at the precise level for which it was geared. At 22. 1921. nervous.frozen his eyeballs and he spent some time in a hospital.000. and Louis Sibilsky. however.800 feet and Major Schroeder.” No account of Dr Moss would be complete without something about his hobbies. he fitted some automobiles with them. telegraphed congratulations on “winning the crown of icicles.000. On Sept 29. 'we were going to do it all the time'. Dr Moss began to devote himself to his numerous hobbies. Edward B Clarke. Later. While the geared supercharger did not hold the high altitude possibilities of the turbo type. His tongue. Fahrenheit. on a mass basis. ET Jones.500 degrees.000 rpm in a circle less than a foot in diameter. Dr Moss piled up a total of 45 patents.000 feet and flying for a time at 33. It was soon evident that it was a great advance over everything earlier in the commercial field and manufacturer to manufacturer redesigned his engines in accordance with Dr Moss's ideas and his company. usually weighing four pounds or less. however. In the interest of proving the law of probabilities. Adolph Berger. and weighing less than one hundredth of a pound.000 or more rpm from the pressure of exhaust fumes at 1.460 mile flight. is ready for a persistent barrage of embarrassing questions or a volley of explanations. The sequence of events unleashed by this took Dr moss out of retirement and back to his superchargers. One of these was searching for fragments of the wall that Romans built around London about 120 AD. Mark Koogler. but think of him in terms of warm affection. mechanic. one driven by Pete de Palo. and was in London working on the project the day the Munich pact was signed. supplied the high impellers to all. with Government officials and business executives. Opic Chenoweth and a succession of engineering and flying officers labored for years at Wright Field. secret as to the latest models. Until 1938 all were of the Moss designs and possibly 95 percent of those made today are his types. however. both of Wright Field. Once you have met him you never forget him. He had listed 30 of these. his eyes sparkling with fun or fury.

vol 30. 1942. At another time. .years. He insists that this is not gambling as. Genealogical research is on of his interests. in the long run. he will come out even. issue of Flying magazine. He once attempted to show by mathematical calculations that a policeman could not have overtaken him in such a short distance if he had been going as fast as charged. 121. 114. he gave his driver's license to an officer in the middle of the highway as required and then refused to pull over to the side as directed on the grounds that Massachusetts law forbids operation of a car without an operator's license and the officer had his license! This article was originally published in the March. He has prepared family trees of many of his own and his family's ancestral lines by ferreting out scores of distant relatives.” Dr Moss said no more. Dr Moss is also well known in New England for his encounters with traffic officers in the suburbs of Boston. The judge listened and said” “have you any more to say? It has cost you $5 so far. no 3. pp 36-38.