Search results



Book One World War Three 1946

Book One World War Three 1946
New Book Covers

Monday, April 22, 2019

Bird Brains

Dr. Skinner had been kept waiting by generals and admirals numerous times. This time he was particularly anxious due to the fact that every hour wasted, meant more American boys were dying. The unnecessary deaths didn’t seem to matter to these Pentagon types. Skinner had never been in the military, but even he knew that there were two kinds of soldiers, the Fighters and the Clerks. He was always being kept waiting by the Clerks. The Fighters on the other hand always got to the point, and more importantly got the point. The guy he was waiting for had to be one of the Clerks.

Finally, an aide to the Admiral motioned him into the inner sanctum of the most senior Clerk he had been privy to. The admiral was huge, both in girth and height. The Clerk introduced himself as Admiral Reinhardt. He was in a spotless uniform. Unusually, for a Clerk, he got right down to business.

He had a low voice that Skinner was sure could still be heard for blocks. “I’m going to be blunt Mr. Skinner, I was the one who pulled the plug on your bird brained idea the first time. I personally thought at the time that your proposal of pigeon guided bombs was one of the most lame brain ideas I’ve ever encountered. When the project came across my desk, I took one look at the initial proposal and immediately canned it. I never looked back.”

Skinner was about to explode on the man, but the officious Clerk held up his hand and continued. “I have since seen the error of my ways. It seems my right hand man races pigeons. When he came across your memo proposing that the Reds were using your unorthodox guidance system he became very, persuasive. Over a period of a few days, he harangued me on the virtues of your bird’s brains. He cited chapter and verse of your paper along with others, he brought to my attention, extolling the virtues of pigeons. He was certain that the Soviets had indeed taken the idea I rejected and created a “wonder weapon” that had stopped our bombers cold.”

“Quite frankly, he wore me out.” The Admiral pointed to the officer standing near the door. “Captain Claiborne this is Dr. B.F. Skinner. Dr. Skinner this is Captain Claiborne.”

Captain Claiborne rushed forward and grabbed the Doctor’s hand. “I’m very pleased to meet you finally Dr. Skinner. Your idea is brilliant and the facts all point to the Soviets using your theories” His enthusiasm went on for a good five minutes before the Admiral had had enough. Skinner himself could not get a word in edgewise and was very glad that Captain Claiborne was on his side in this discussion.

After Admiral Reinhardt put an end to the Captain’s filibuster, he once again got to the point.

“I think you can see how the Captain eventually was able to get me to take a second look at your theory, that the Reds are using your idea to shoot down our bombers and more importantly to me, how they will probably use the system to damage and sink our navy. Please arrange a demonstration for Admiral King, within a week, to assist us in convincing him to take your idea seriously. Don’t worry, Doctor, this time you will have expert assistance in exactly what you have to do in order to convince a jaded Admiral like me. Captain Claiborne will be attached to your side (and quite frankly away from mine) for the remainder of this project.

You will need to do two things. Present and then convince Admiral King of your theories and devise a way to counteract your own creation. Captain Claiborne here has assured me that this is a real and grave threat to any future and current naval operations. If the Commies are working on a guided missile that can outrange our guns and even planes we are in deep shit as you are fully aware.

For your information, we believe the Soviets’ have already tested shall we saya guided missile, on one of our ships near Sicily. Many of us thought it was a random hit from a stray Soviet SAM, but in light of your theories, we now believe it was indeed a guided missile. A guided missile that was deliberately sent to sink a freighter loaded with 7000 troops on their way to Egypt. By sheer luck, it went right through the ship and exploded after it exited the other side. 16 were killed, it should have been much worse. It would appear that the Reds have not perfected the warheadyet, but according to witnesses on the freighter it came from over the horizon and headed unerringly for their ship…‘like it was being flown’ were the exact words of the Captain of the ship and several others.”

The missile flew so fast that very few saw it or heard it until after it hit the ship, very much like the descriptions of the V2 rockets. That’s probably why it went right through the ship without exploding. Just too damn fast.”

Skinner finally got an opportunity to talk. “Admiral, may I have a copy of all the reports and testimonies of the witnesses? I will need all the information I can gather if I am going to fulfill the second part of your mandate. I will need everything pertaining to this project and access to all who have seen the weapon in action.”

“Of course, Doctor. Once again, I do not regret the decision I made the first time I laid eyes on your project. In my opinion, it was just too outlandish and too good to be true. I now admit that I was wrong and humbly ask for your help in ending this scourge of missiles. Give me a 16-inch naval shell the size of a small car and the smell of gunpowder over this guided bullet any day. That’s how a naval battle should be fought.”

Somehow, Dr. B.F. Skinner had a hard time picturing the Clerk getting anywhere near a 16-inch naval cannon or gunpowder, but left the room on a cordial note.

Opportunity in Crisis

Jim Crenshaw woke up looking at the biggest policeman he had ever seen sitting across from him. The Cop was not threatening in anyway, just sitting there looking at him. It un-nerved Jim that he was so sound asleep that he had just now woken up. Either this guy was very light on his feet coming down those squeaky basement stairs or Jim was deaf.

The two just looked at each other for a few more seconds and then the Cop spoke in a deep rumbling voice.

“Son, you are in a passel of trouble.”

This struck Jim as odd for two reasons. Nobody in the Washington area said “passel” and how could he be in trouble? He was in in uncle’s house safe and sound.

“What have I done officer?’

“You broke a long string of laws Boy! Trespassing, theft and what the hell are you doing with all these files rated “Top-Secret”? There is a war going on Boy, and you have a lot of explaining to do. This is a firing squad offense Boy, and you had better start talking and making some sense out of this.”

For the first time, in this endeavor Jim was scared, very scared. He started to stammer incoherent explanations that fell on deaf ears. Finally, the cop had had enough. He hustled Jim upstairs and into the waiting patrol car. His uncle’s neighbor, Mrs. Bode, looked on in horror as they pulled away. All she could think to say was, “Hi Jim.” He answered politely “Hi Mrs. Bode.” He was driven to the police station with sirens blazing.

He had one phone call and used it to call Skinner’s home. Yvonne Skinner answered and this helped to calm him down. He blurted out his story, almost coming to tears. Mrs. Skinner was very adept at calming him down. She assured him that Dr. Skinner would contact the police soon to straighten things out. Speaking with Mrs. Skinner helped focus Jim and he relaxed as he waited in his cell.

He was informed that the FBI was going to be there tomorrow and he should cooperate fully. Jim had no intention of doing otherwise.

Yvonne Skinner reached the Dr. Skinner at his office in-between his classes. He was horrified at what had happened to Jim. Mrs. Skinner had already booked a seat on the 12:30 train going east and had packed his bags. The Dr. Skinner thanked her for the dozenth time and prepared to leave. He made the train by 5 minutes and settled in to plan how he was going to approach this new situation. He was worried sick for Jim’s safety. Then, he remembered that Jim was a minor and that set his mind at ease somewhat.

24 hours later he was at the police station having a heated discussion with an FBI agent. Jim’s dilemma was turning into an opportunity. In Skinner’s desperation, he was dropping names left and right of people he knew in the Pentagon when by happenstance the agent mentioned that Colonel Miles Henderson was his neighbor.

The agent’s comment got the proverbial ball rolling. Soon Jim was released into Skinner’s custody and Henderson introduced Skinner to his commanding general. After relating the elder Crenshaw’s theory of how Skinner’s guidance system was being used by the Soviets, it took a while for the General to come around to the concept. Henderson was sitting in on the encounter and mentioned the feathers and parts of birds he had first written about and that seemed to pique the interest of the General.

Skinner was given immediate access to classified reports, flight crew interviews, and after-flight briefings by maintenance crews, etc. A pattern began to appear to someone who possessed an open mind and foreknowledge of his guidance system. It started to sink in, to Skinner just how much of a professional and personal risk he was taking in pursuing Jim’s uncle’s theory. Skinner was undaunted and determined to stop his work from being used to kill American bomber crews.

After the third day, he was dog tired and started to daydream about the Soviet leader who recognized the value of his guidance system. Who was he? How could he be in such a position to institute Skinner’s invention on such a grand scale?

On the fourth day, it became clear that there have been just too many instances of bird parts being found in bombers surviving missile strikes. To him, the evidence was overwhelming. Jim was having a good time in the hotel and ordering room service. Now all Skinner had to do was to convince the Pentagon to once again take his system seriously. He had to secretly admit that a pigeon guided missile did sound rather odd. He knew that he had to put such thoughts to rest and present his case with the utmost conviction.

His greatest fear was that his system would be used for its original purpose and that purpose was to sink ships. A ten percent hit rate on thousands of bomber is bad enough. He was sure the rate would increase to at least fifty percent and possibly higher if used against ships. A bomber had a crew of 9. A major ship had a crew of hundreds. A few hundred of these missiles could force the U.S. Navy to withdraw from European waters and end any hope of liberating Eurasia from communist rule.

Skinner was sure that the same mind that had grasped the concept of his invention and modified it to down bombers would also see the value of attacking the greatest asset to the U.S. had in this war. The Navy provided mobility and the ability to strike on any coastal waters. The U.S. Fleet had made the defeat of both Germany and Japan a reality and was vital to the defeat of Stalin. He could not sit idly by and let the best chance for defeating communism worldwide be destroyed. He had to put his reputation and career on the line.

In addition, he had to assist the navy in defeating his own invention. It was a development he had never considered and now must. He had no idea of what could possibly be done to keep his pigeons from winning the war for Stalin’s minions, none whatsoever.

Skinner’s Turn

Dr. Skinner hung up the phone and stared at his fingers. His wife had called him at his office in the university and passed on Jim Crenshaw’s news. Holy mackerel, he thought to himself the Red bastards are doing it. They have used my research to kill American and British bomber crews.

On one hand, he was proud that all his hard work had come to fruition. But, he was more than terrified at what the Soviets had done with his creation. He had never even considered using his pigeons on bombers. He had read in passing a few newspaper articles referring to the Reds use of the German SAM missile technology. Wasserfal was the German name for the ground to air missile.

Also, he had heard that the Soviets had modified another German super weapon, the X4 air-to-air missile. Skinner was sure his guidance system could be used for that missile as well.

The speeds of both missiles had to be incredible if they were based on the V2. The Germans must have figured out some kind of proximity fuse as well. He doubted his invention could maneuver that well at the speeds he was imagining. A fast fighter plane should be able to easily out turn a speeding bullet. Not, however, a whole formation of bombers.

He snapped out of his musing and knew what he had to do he had to get a hold of Colonel Miles Henderson. He needed to gather all the anecdotal stories and official reports on crash sites as well as bombers that survived missile attacks. He would call in all his markers and he had to do it very creatively and quietly.

First, he had to ask for personal leave. Luckily, the holidays were coming up and the new semester started late. He would over about 45 days to track down the reports and witnesses. Next, he needed to fabricate a hook so he could be seen as doing research for one of his projects.

How about “The Effects of Combat on the Behavior of Bomber Crews”? What better subject than that for the world’s leading behaviorist in time of war. He would be in a position to ask for all sorts of reports and papers on recent missions. His invented project would afford him the opportunity to track down Crenshaw’s theory. Also, the process of collecting the information could provide a segue to discussions about his guidance system and its possible use by the Reds.

He’d enlist Jim to assist and get him registered at the local high school. During Jim’s short stay his wife, Yvonne, had observed him, keeping Shinner’s youngest daughter Debora from harm a number of times. Jim seemed to enjoy playing with their daughters. His wife even suggested that they ask Jim to stay and they would help get him through high school and possibly beyond. “He seems to be a very bright and committed young man. It would be a shame to send him out in the world without a good education.” Yvonne had said after Jim had left to go back to the Washington area.

He planned to ask Jim to come back and live with them. In addition to room, board and helping him with his education, Jim could assist with the research and be a live-in babysitter. Skinner was sure Jim would excel, after all Skinner was an expert in human behavior.