Walter Stuart Diehl

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This article is about the American naval officer and aeronautical engineer. For the U.S. Navy ship, see USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO-193).
Walter Stuart Diehl
Walter Stuart Diehl.jpg
Born 3 December 1893
Jonesborough, Tennessee
Died November 21, 1976(1976-11-21) (aged 82)
Washington, D.C.
Occupation Naval officer, aeronautical engineer
Years active 1918-1951

Walter Stuart Diehl (December 3, 1893 – November 21, 1976) was an American naval officer and pioneering aeronautical engineer.

Early life[edit]

Diehl was born in Jonesborough, Tennessee, on December 3, 1893, as the oldest child of Wiliam P. and Lydia Showalter Diehl. He lived in Jonesborough until he served in the United States Navy during World War I, in which the United States participated from April 6, 1917 to November 11, 1918.

Personal life[edit]

Diehl married Zulime Summers in 1923 in Washington, D.C. They had two children, Zulime Whitney Diehl, born April 19, 1925, and Walter Colburn Diehl, born February 22, 1930.


Diehl was a pioneer of aerodynamics and aircraft design. Serving in the U.S. Navy '​s Bureau of Aeronautics, he directed the Navy's work in aerodynamics and hydrodynamics from 1918 until 1951. He was responsible for the funding, programs, and facilities of the Aerodynamics Laboratory. The author of the authoritative Engineering Aerodynamics, he actively participated in and strongly influenced continuing advances in aerodynamics and hydrodynamics.

He initiated action that led to establishment of the David W. Taylor Model Basin at Carderock, Maryland, the Aircraft Research Station at Chincoteague, Virginia, and the U.S. Navy '​s test flight unit at Naval Air Station Anacostia in Washington, D.C., which later developed into the U.S. Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent, Maryland.

Retirement and death[edit]

Diehl retired from the Navy in 1951 as a captain. He died in Washington D. C. on November 21, 1976.


A U.S. Navy fleet replenishment oiler, USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO-193), was named for Diehl. She was christened in his honor in New Orleans, Louisiana, on October 10, 1987 and entered non-commissioned service as a United States Naval Ship with the Military Sealift Command on September 13, 1988. She remains in active service.

External links[edit]