To the editor:
I really enjoyed reading the article on the use of synthetic and/or manufactured soil stabilization materials in World War II by Mr. Gregory Richardson (Geosynthetics, February-March, “Lost in history: Geo-Airdromes”).
I am very much an amateur historian on WW II and have quite a collection of books on the subject. I am also a collector of model airplanes and vehicles of the period, as well as also collecting the real things. I have two military jeeps, a trailer, and other items.
My first hands-on experience with the “pierced steel planks” (PSP) came back in 1974 when I worked with the Metzgers at Terrace Gardens in Youngstown, Ohio. Both served in WW II and they had acquired some surplus PSP that we used to support tractors and tree movers in soft soil conditions.
I did, however, find one error in the article. Where the references are made to the aircraft that were using the newly created airstrip on the bluffs overlooking Omaha Beach, the fighter planes mentioned are [incorrect]. There was never a P-30 serving in WW II in the European Theater of Operations (ETO). That plane was the P-38 “Lightning” manufactured by Lockheed.
The P-38 was credited with more “kills” than any other fighter plane in our service in WW II. It was also the most-feared by the Axis forces, as mentioned by Gen. Fritz Bayerlein who was [German Field Marshal Erwin] Rommel’s Chief of Staff in North Africa, and later during the Normandy invasion and the ensuing ETO battles, when he commanded the elite German Panzer Lehr Division.
The ability of our Allied forces to quickly and effectively create forward airstrips in direct support of our ground troops was a major factor in defeating the Axis forces. This article certainly illustrates how critical it was to have the materials that allowed our forces to do what needed to be done—a most-interesting article and thoroughly enjoyed by this reader.
G.M. “Skip” McCullough
Certified Professional Landscape Designer
Meadowbrook Nursery and The Landscape Co.