Jewish Refugee Develops New Engine for First U.S. Supersonic Bomber
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Jewish Refugee Develops New Engine for First U.S. Supersonic Bomber

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The first United States supersonic bomber will be powered by a new jet engine whose chief developer is a Jewish refugee from Germany, Gerhard Neumann, it was revealed here today. The new engine, the J-79, was developed by Mr. Neumann at the General Electric Evandale plant here.

The 38-year-old engineer, whose father was a manufacturer in Frankfurt-an-der-Oder, exhibited his propensities at an early age, having won a prize for building a wind velocity indicator at the age of 13. He graduated from engineering school in 1938. Hearing that the Chinese Nationalists wanted engineers, he set out for China only to be interned in Hong Kong later as an “enemy alien” by the British when the war broke out. Facing internment in Ceylon, unless he could find a country to accept him, Neumann met an American, who took him to Kunming, China, as a mechanic. Eventually he met Claire L. Chennault, commander of the “Flying Tigers,” and wound up serving with them.

When the United States entered the war, Gen. Chennault got special permission from the Pentagon to have the “enemy alien” given a sergeant’s rating in the Air Force. Later Sgt. Neumann switched to service in the top-secret Office of Strategic Services, but even its commander, Gen. William Donovan, could not circumvent the rule barring “enemy aliens” from a commission. Sgt. Neumann went back to China to serve as a B-25 gunner. Just as he returned to the U.S. after the war, President Truman signed a special bill granting him citizenship.

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