Joined the “American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force” under Claire Lee Chennault (enshrined 1972) as a mechanic. It was there that he was affectionately nicknamed “Herman the German.”
Assembled a Japanese Zero from several damaged ones so its flight characteristics could be accessed. It was discovered the Zero had no protective armor for its pilot, no self-sealing fuel tanks, and no electric starter. Also, it could not dive fast because of its lightweight construction. As a result, American pilots were told to make a fast pass at a Zero and then drive away from it.
Joined the 5329th Air Ground Forces Resource and Technical Staff because he could speak the Chinese soldier’s G.I. language. For the next 11 months he reported the activities of both the Japanese and the Chinese ally. He made numerous trips close to or behind the enemy lines. He also directed air strikes against the enemy by giving radio instructions.
Became an engineer at the General Electric Company’s Aircraft Gas Turbine Division at Lynn, Massachusetts in 1948. As head of a Preliminary Design Group, he invented an engine compressor with “variable” stators that greatly improved its performance.
Elected a Corporate Vice President of G.E. in 1963.
Under his leadership, G.E. won a $459 million contract to provide an engine which saved 25 percent in fuel consumption for the huge C-54A military transport plane. G.E. also developed engines for the proposed B-1 bomber, and modified the C-5A engine into the commercial CF6 engine for the Douglas DC-10, the Airbus A300 and Boeing’s improved 747’s.
Spent several weeks in Vietnam in 1967 and 1969 to gain first-hand knowledge about the performance of G.E. jet engines, which he later shared with the Pentagon.
Became Group Executive of G.E.’s Aircraft Engine Group in 1968.
Received eight patents on his inventions and the nation’s three top aviation awards: the 1958 Collier Trophy for his work on the J79 jet engine; the 1970 Goddard Gold Medal; and the 1979 International Guggenheim Award.