maternal uncle, Isadore Znamirowski, recently reconfirmed (30Oct02) a story he had previously told me about a
contribution he made in his military service during World War II.
He has subsequently (Dec 02) provided to me a signed written statement,
which I invite you to read: Please click here to read document.|
|sadore ("Izzy") was an engineer who learned
his skill through hands-on apprenticeship and self-study, rather than formal schooling,
beyond graduating from Baltimore Maryland's City College High School ("City").
In consequence, during World War II, Isadore served as an enlisted man in an
engineering design unit at The Bureau of Aeronautics (Washington, D.C.).|
|One day, an officer came and
assigned Isadore's unit the following task:|
|American fighter pilots were
shooting down their comrades because in the heat of battle,
against bright sky background, sunglare, etc. they could not easily distinguish in combat the
"Star-in-Circle" marking on American planes (above and right) from the circle
marking ("Rising sun", aka "Meatball") on Japanese planes (right).|
Design a new marking for American fighter planes that pilots could easily
distinguish from the Japanese marking, to reduce losses to "friendly fire".
he had a number of ideas, but he saw which one was the best answer, and he drew his design: The existing
circle marking, but with a rectangular bar added to each side. "I wanted something as simple as
possible. Leave the circle there and we can glue something on either side."|
|Isadore further explained that, as he was drawing
his design, an admiral [John Sidney McCain, Sr.] visited his group, and went from drafting table to drafting table,
in descending rank order, looking to find who had come up with a solution.
By the time the admiral got to Isadore's table, the admiral was frustrated that nobody -- i.e., no officer or
college educated engineer -- had come up with a solution.
The admiral looked at Isadore's design. He announced it was the solution, and he snatched
Isadore's not quite finished drawing away without giving Isadore time to sign it. The admiral
went off with Isadore's design, which became the new marking on all American
emailed The Naval Postgraduate School
and the Librarian sent me a webpage about the new marking:
The page includes a photograph comparing the new marking
with the Japanese and German markings, and also the old U.S.A. marking (See below). The new marking "was
estimated to be 60 percent more recognizable".|
|Isadore said that because
he was only an enlisted man, he did not get credit for his idea.|
|I hypothesize the reason Isadore's design was "the"
solution, is as he himself explained it to me: It made what the American pilots were already
looking for more easily distinguishable, instead of requiring them
to look for something different. The pilots' existing expectations were
reinforced, rather than the pilots being required to reorient themselves to something "different",
with the consequent interference with their "reflexes", plus initial degradation of performance during a
"learning curve" period of time. [I have not verified, but the design may also have had the logistical advantage
of not requiring existing markings to be re-painted-over.] My uncle's solution had no "downside".|
I have not been able independently to verify what my uncle told me. However,
Isadore is a person of scrupulously honest character. Consequently, I have no reason to doubt it.