The Bird with the 16-Mile Tail
Advertisements from the old magazines often help detail important parts of our history. This is particularly true
for the World War II era. America's great foundation manufacturing companies participated in, and were rightly
proud of the united war effort in which they and their patriotic employees engaged. We were under dire threat from
Axis powers that sought to dominate the free world. Stalwarts like General Electric, Westinghouse, Ford, General
Motors, Goodrich, Boeing, et al, routinely ran advertisements telling stories of their contributions to the war
effort. Here is one example from the September 1945 edition of Popular Mechanics, where Bell Telephone
Laboratories ran an ad titled, "The Bird with the 16-Mile Tail." A
C-47 Dakota was used to
lay down communications cable in otherwise isolated areas.
I OCRed this page from the September 1945
Popular Mechanics magazine and posted it below. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
wire you see with the parachute on the end of it is a telephone wire, being payed out from a C-47 cargo plane.
Bell Telephone Laboratories, working with the Air Technical Service Command of the Army Air Forces, developed this
idea. It will save precious lives and time on the battlefield.
A soldier throws out a parachute with the
wire and weight attached. The weight drops the line to the target area. From then on, through a tube thrust out of
"the doorway of the plane, the wire thrums out steadily sixteen miles of it can be laid in 6-2/3 minutes.
Isolated patrols can be linked quickly with headquarters. Jungles and mountain ranges no longer need be obstacles
This is in sharp contrast to the old, dangerous way. The laying of wire through swamps
and over mountains often meant the transporting of coils on the backs of men crawling through jungle vegetation,
and in the line of sniper fire. It is reported that in one sector of the Asiatic theater alone, 41 men were killed
or wounded in a single wire-laying mission.
Bell Telephone Laboratories is handling more than 1200
development projects for the Army and the Navy. When the war is over, the Laboratories goes back to its regular
job helping the Bell System bring you the finest telephone 'service in the world.
Exploring and inventing, devising and
for the Armed Forces at war and for the continued
economies in telephone service.