Accession Number : AD1019696

Title :   The Forgotten Airman - Major General Oliver P. Echols and How He Won WWII

Descriptive Note : Technical Report


Personal Author(s) : Freeman,Michael A

Full Text :

Report Date : 01 Jun 2012

Pagination or Media Count : 195

Abstract : Major General Oliver P. Echols was the most important man in the mobilization and production of aircraft during WWII. His efforts led to a 4,476% increase in total poundage of aircraft produced between 1940 and 1944. He turned the latent potential of the US economy into the lethal and decisive weapon of war it became. Despite this, no one has published a book about him and few airmen even know his name, let alone what he did. His story, and the story of many great leaders that made their mark in the Materiel Command at Wright Field, remain untold, to the detriment of todays Air Force. He spent five and a half years of that time in five separate formal schools. He progressed through the Army Industrial College, the Air Corps Engineering School, the Air Corps Tactical School, the Army General Command and Staff School, and finally the Army War College. In these schools, he learned production, engineering, mobilization, air power strategy, and grand strategy. In addition his formal education, Echols spent the remaining seven and a half years gaining practical experience in the Materiel Division at Wright Field. He worked at all levels of the Division and within the majority of its departments. From experimental engineering to procurement and contract management, Echols learned the ropes at the nuts and bolts level. He rounded out his preparation with four years as the chief engineer. During this time, Echols made significant contributions to the development of the aircraft, such as the B-17, that the US relied on to win WWII.After the start of the war, Echols quickly rose to be the Air Force Materiel Chief and, through multiple reorganizations, remained General Hap Arnolds assistant Chief of Staff for Materiel until the war in Europe ended. He was so valuable that Arnold denied his numerous requests for reassignment to a combat theater. Echols relied on his experience, character, and leadership patterns to navigate the nearly impossible mobilization requirements.

Descriptors :   second world war , aircraft equipment , aircraft industry , military aircraft , military aviation , MILITARY ACQUISITION , procurement , air power , production engineering , MOBILIZATION

Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE