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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Lieutenant Commander Kenneth Whiting, Commander, Naval Air Stations 14 and 15, Killingholme

From: Sims

To:   Opnav

               5531, For Whiting.

               Long distance reconnoissance flight with flying boats over enemy territory1 have emphasized the necessity of providing adequate protection to gasoline tanks against machine gunfire. Strongly advise this important point be given every consideration and utmost effort made to provide necessary protection. British now investigating. Will report result.2 Self-sealing tanks recommended if they can be constructed. 5531.    24 Mar 1918                                  SIMS.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: For more on these missions, then being flown by British pilots, see: Sims to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, 24 March 1918.

Footnote 2: The British did create a heavier-armored long range aircraft. R. D. Layman, Naval Aviation in the First World War, Its Impact and Influence (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1996), 81-82. When put in service, the American H-16 flying boats, which “flew faster and climbed faster” than their British counterparts, were plagued by mechanical issues resulting from hurried production and inadequate testing. As a result, the Americans used British F2As when flying more than fifty miles out to sea. Rossano, Stalking the U-Boat: 174-75; 178-79.

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