Admiral Robert Byrd and the Antarctica expeditions
Admiral Robert Byrdís first expedition, where he flew to the South Pole and back and established the Little America Research base on the Ross Ice Shelf,
ended in 1930. 4 years later Byrd spent five winter months alone operating a meteorological station 123 miles inland from the Little America Research Center
called Advance Base, where he almost died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty heater. He was rescued after his colleagues back at Little America
noticed something wrong with his radio messages and made the treacherous trek across the frozen wasteland.
In late 1938, Byrd visited Hamburg and was invited to participate in the 1938/1939 German "Neuschwabenland" Antarctic Expedition, but declined.
Byrdís third expedition was the first backed by the US Government where the project included extensive studies of geology, biology, meteorology
and exploration. Because of the outbreak of WWII Admiral Byrd was recalled after a few months.
The Antarctic Snow Cruiser (aka Penguin)
Towards the waning months of 1939, a massive 55ft long, 75,000 lbs. vehicle rolled out onto Chicago streets en route to its final destination... Antarctica. The theory was that scientists would live and work while driving across the harsh frozen landscape on its huge tires. Unfortunately,
thatís not how it turned out.
The vehicle was designed by Thomas C. Poulter based on difficulties experienced during the rescue of the 2nd Byrd expedition. This vehicle,
designed for the third polar expedition, would support 5 people for one year and traverse 5000 miles. The vehicle arrived in Antarctica early
in January of 1940, where assumptions about traction were found to be wrong, as the giant wheels spun out most of the time and the Underpowered
Engines would overheat after traveling just a few hundred feet. The cruiser was abandoned when the expedition left Antarctica in early 1941.
Commander Gattiís expedition
Attilio Gatti, an Italian, World War I army officer, author, film-maker and explorer first set out to explore Africa in 1924.
By the time he set out for his "final expedition" in 1938 he had already led 9 previous expeditions, one of those resulting in the 1927
film Siliva the Zulu. It was because of these films, plus his adventure writings in magazines like the Saturday Evening Post
that he was able to obtain financing to further his travels. Exploits if his 10th expedition were later published in 1945 as South of the Sahara.
For this expedition into to Africa Congo, International Harvester specially produced the "Jungle Yachts" which were trucks and truck/trailer combinations.
The 5 vehicles combined traversed 66,000 miles, almost none of it on pavement, and only experienced minor breakdowns, totaling $38.00.
To prevent the expedition from becoming a political nightmare, Gatti pulled his expedition out of Africa after only 15 months when WWII broke out
Even the Nazis got into the exploration act. Himmler, a member of the Thule
society and leader of the SS, formed the Ahnenerbe (German Ancestry - Research and Teaching Society) in 1935. The organization's goal was to "promote
the science of ancient intellectual history", using scientific, anthropological and archaeological evidence to find the origins of the Aryan race.
This evidence was to be gathered by sponsoring various expeditions to find the Holy Grail and The lost cities of Atlantis and Shambhala.
These quests took the Nazis to South America to study Indian Medicines, Sweden to study ancient ideograms,
The Middle East to study the conflict between the Roman Empire and the Semites and finally in 1938 to Tibet under official invite by the
Tibetan Government who wanted to solidify their relationship with the Germans. Himmler went to Tibet believing it to be the likely home of the
survivors of the mythic Thule race.
Not to be outdone by the Americans, the Germans laid claim to a 232,000 sq mile area of Antarctica as "Neuschwabenland" in 1938.
Unlike the American's scientific bent to their expeditions, the purpose was to secure an area in Antarctica for a German whaling station,
to increase Germany's production of whale oil and to eliminate the need for importing the raw material from Norway.