VINTAGE MODEL ENGINES
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Use these links to access articles further down the page
World War II caused a single purpose dedication in the American citizen's spirit that probably represents a zenith in American history for directed endeavors. No other time period since the conquering of the west witnessed the almost unanimous allegiance to one effort, in this case the winning of the war, in a way that pervaded nearly every facet of American civilian life in 1942-1945.
The "homefront" found virtually everyone, from school children to retired adults, involved in some sort of activity related to the war effort. From full-time defense plant workers to preteens gathering aluminum foil and pots and pans while saving their pennies to buy twenty-five cent War Bond Stamps, citizens mobilized and volunteered to perform acts, however important or however insignificant, which in one way or another contributed to a perceived common cause. The effect of World War II on the social fabric of America should not be underestimated. Today, anyone classified as "senior citizen" probably has an indelible recollection of 1942-1945 which is difficult to relate to conditions existing now within our country. Sadly, the war effort "spirit" is nowhere to be found nor is likely to ever exist again; the horrors of a world at war engendered dedication at an expense which none of us ever want to see duplicated. If only we could distill the "spirit" from that period and instill it in today's society! Societal ills were not avoided completely, however, and the impression should not be given that all was well on the "homefront"; there were "slackers", war profiteers, labor troubles, political shenanigans, cheaters on rationing, black marketeers, and the usual dark side of society, but on balance, people did work together for the war effort in a mostly cohesive manner.
The huge W.W.II war industry, the Arsenal of Democracy, which manufactured and developed an incredible array of products from socks to atom bombs, employed millions. While the majority of civilians not so employed in defense plants went about their business in a relatively normal manner, experiencing some shared minor discomforts due to gas and food rationing, blackouts and civil defense drills, the opportunities for volunteerism were abundant and people did respond with vigor.
Aviation attracted the public's attention as exploits of aerial warfare filled pages of periodicals and listeners of the living room Philco heard news of far off air battles. Two aviation related civil defense programs enlisted the help of hundreds of thousands of "homefront" volunteers almost immediately after the Day of Infamy at Pearl Harbor. Each of these programs, the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics National Model Building Program and the A.A.F.'s Aircraft Warning Service Ground Observer Corps are examples of wartime civilian endeavors aimed at promoting the "spirit" of contribution to the war effort through activities which gave people a sense of participation and which embraced the popular subject of aviation.
With the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics as sponsor, the U.S. Office of Education issued a memorandum (Misc. 2941) on January 30, 1942 to all State Department of Education offices asking for cooperation in the model program. Plans were drawn and distributed throughout the country and quotas were established to obtain 500,000 models. Incredibly, the program was in-place with scale-model planes rolling off the school "assembly lines" in less than 90 days; the March 23, 1942 Life magazine featured a cover photo of a schoolboy carving a P-39 model and a 4-page article which accurately observed that the Army and Navy hoped "..that boys who have worked long hours in class rooms, lovingly finishing miniature P-40's and PBY's, may someday join the services to fly the real thing.." The pattern drawings, sets A through G, for the U.S. Navy aircraft recognition model program for high schools are available from the Smithsonian by clicking Here.
The magazine of the Air Force Museum Foundation, Friends Journal, has an interesting identification model story entitled "Building Spotter Models for the War" in the Winter 2012-2013 issue. You can view this article by clicking here. Use the back arrow to return.
GROUND OBSERVERS AND THE AIRCRAFT WARNING SERVICE.
Over a half-million volunteer "spotters" manned observation posts and filter centers for the Aircraft Warning Service; these "Ground Observers" stood watch on both coasts to protect against air attacks on seaport cities. Makeshift towers and building top structures housed posts which were staffed by observers ranging in age from Boy Scouts to the elderly. As the war progressed and the danger (unlikely at best) of enemy air attack dwindled, the posts were placed on a standby status in November 1943. The AWS would continue to operate through May 1944.
The AWS was part of the Fighter Commands, I and IV, which protected the coasts. The Ground Observers were a link in the chain of the air defense structure; the reports from spotters of air activity to the Information Centers and Filter Centers were plotted on large boards and the results reported to the appropriate fighter control commands. The organization of the AWS was huge with swarms of volunteers scanning the skies. The actual benefits from the AWS activities were two-fold. Pilot training was enhanced by simulated interception missions and of most benefit, civilian morale was maintained by the psychological effect of having "protection" against coastal air raids. The large numbers of AWS volunteers spread the word throughout coastal communities that something was being done about sneak attacks.
He scans the skies by day and eventide,
The chill of morning mists, the heat of noon,
He know the biting wind, the fall of snow,
In battle or at home, his are the eyes
Robert C. Wigand, Post D, Staten Island, N.Y.
Artifacts from the wartime AWS and the model building program are on exhibit at the Friend or Foe? Museum of Aircraft Recognition in Santa Barbara, California. A WWII "training room " adds to the museum experience as the visitor is immersed in a typical aviation cadet training setting Call (408) 828-2810 for information. For a cyber-tour, go to the Friend or Foe? museum link at left.
I published a version of this short article quite a few years ago and got a terrific response; I guess a lot of people recognize themselves and their response to our overloaded and hectic world that we live in.
Are you a "scanner?" Commercial society is slowly turning into one huge shopping mall, the Wal-Martization of the country. Acres and acres are roofed over and materialize as a combination "discount center", amusement park, child care facility, and a collection of franchise shops that appear the same world-wide. Think about it: If you plunk yourself down in the middle of a "shopping center" anywhere in the U.S., you'll have a hard time figuring out where you are. We are so used to seeing the same stuff everywhere, we've lost the capability to discover the unique and regional. As you enter one of these behemoths, you are faced with tens of thousands of products - how can you look at all of them? Ah, but you've discovered the modern technique of "scanning." Right out of a science fiction novel, you turn on your "scanner" and presto, your eye never rests on any given object for more than a few microseconds, or maybe less if you're an advanced scanner. Trained to home in on that one object of your desire, you ferret out the single mauve T-shirt, size M, 50-50, brand X, from the trillions of data inputs picked up by your photo receptors and transmitted to your visual cortex. Now, how do you turn that damned scanner off?
You next visit your favorite museum, or maybe CollectAir, to enjoy something different, even unique. Can you slow down that impulse to look at everything, and NOTHING? I've observed people going through magnificent museums, such as the Air and Space or Air Force Museum, and doing it at a trot, scanner turned on high. What on earth have they SEEN? We're getting accustomed and conditioned to view everything in life in short bursts, without reflection and contemplation, and digesting data in quantities that quickly overfill our tanks. Willard Spiegelman, in his 2009 book, Seven Pleasures, invites readers to become more immersed in the viewing of art; he states that most museum-goers spend less than ten seconds in front of any given painting. The artist may have spent weeks or months creating a scene filled with nuances and the viewer is going to distill all that in ten seconds?
When you visit CollectAir, leave your scanner at home. Enjoy the art. LOOK at it.
Photos at end of this article. Professional model builder and fine wood artist Doug Emmons constructed an unusual, solid display model of the Hawker (Gloster) Typhoon which he crafted in the manner of a 1944 "bread and butter" lamination kit. Doug has written an article about the project for Fine Scale Modeler which will appear in the magazine in the future; for this website edition, I'll run an edited version along with some photos that I've taken of the Typhoon. This superb example of artistry in wood may be purchased from CollectAir; please contact CollectAir if you wish to discuss owning this outstanding wood sculpture.
But first, let's take a look at a brief history of solid kits. Scale, solid display models have been around for a long time but kits for solid models didn't appear in any number until around 1930. If you look in an early 30s Model Airplane News, most of the advertising is for scale, stick and tissue flying models with very few ads, if any, promoting solid scale. The Selley Mfg. Co. ad, for example, states, "Solid Wood, 12" wingspan, Introducing - a New Vogue in Fine Model Building," a very telling ad line. Fred Megow advertised two solid models for a mail order price of twenty-five cents in a 1930 Open Road for Boys and got a great mail order response. Ideal Aeroplane advertised a line of twelve "Miniature Replica Models" in 1932. Three-views were commonly printed in the magazines along with instructions for constructing a display model. For example, the May 1932 issue of Model Airplane News has a detailed plan for a solid model of the Supermarine S.6.B. with a 11 11/16" wingspan, at that time the world's fastest airplane at 408.8 mph. The S.6.B. is also featured on the cover painting.
One of my favorite kits in my collection was made by Golden Aircraft, with their "Ski-Ryder Planes", a 1934 solid kit of the Curtiss Swift - when have you ever seen a solid kit for the Swift? - several flying model kits were produced, such as one by Comet for this slick looking fighter. The Curtiss XP-31 was the first monoplane pursuit by Curtiss; this overweight, one-off airplane was to be competition for the P-26A. Powered by a Conqueror G1V 1570F engine, the lone ZXP-31 soldiered on with the Army until it was surveyed in late 1936. An unusual subject for a solid kit.
Most solid kits of the 30s were simple balsa block and template style until StromBecKer came along in 1936 with their precarved pine model line starting with the China Clipper (about eleven aircraft kits prior to our entry into WWII) which is fondly remembered by many a youngster of that era, including me. A history of the Strombeck-Becker Manufacturing Co. and their line of great pre-carved wood kits can be accessed by clicking the StromBecKer page here. A browse through the Model Aircraft Engineer of 1934 shows "solid replica kits" being offered by Heathe, Pittsburgh Scale Model Airplane (PGH.), Lennon Model Aero Club (5 cent solids with 4 1/2 to 5 in. wingspans), and Comet with "Comet's New 8" Replicas" at 15 cents.
Solid kits began to incorporate more sophisticated manufacturing techniques, such as StromBecKer's, as World War II approached with many kits being "pre-carved" (some quite elegantly such as the Deluxe Consolidated-Burkards) or cut to an outline profile shape with balsa being the most commonly used material. Hawk advertised their 1/4" scale solid models in 1934, but you can look through 1937 issues of Model Airplane News without seeing a single ad for a solid model even though many kits were on the market. M&L Sky Devil offered some simple solid kits in the early 30s. Comet solids came out in the early 1930s. By 1939, companies such as Megow's had large selections of solid scale models in their catalogs. In England, the 1:72 scale solid SkyBirds and Skyleada models were popular, beginning in the early 30s. The very first plastic scale models were introduced by the FROG PENGUIN line in 1936, predating American plastic kits by a good ten years. Duncan's Gold Seal (YoYo) had 6" balsa solid models in 1935 (originally associated with Joe Ott). National Model Aircraft had 1/4" scale solids in 1936 which included the pontoon equipped "Eaglet" of Bill Barnes' character, Sandy (would love to find that kit, or the plan). Polk's Hobbies had a whole catalog of nothing but solid models in the 1940s.
Solid models were most popular during World War II. The schoolboy 1:72 scale model building program, initiated by the Bureau of Aeronautics, introduced many a youth to scale model building as they were constructed ostensibly for recognition training purposes. Gas engines, balsa wood and rubber for flying models were limited during the war so there was an emphasis on solid scale as a diversion, many of which were made from pine or very low grade balsa as non-strategic materials.
Solid models eventually gave way to the plastic kits by the mid-1950s, but not before the solids matured into quite sophisticated kits which could rival the early plastics in quality but not in building time. Plastic or metal details, along with some carved parts, became part of kits manufactured by stalwarts such as Monogram (Super Kits), Testors, StromBecKer (XFV-1 VTOL, B-17), and Dyna-Models DMP line, plus others who hung on until all-plastic did them in. Every now and then, a brave manufacturer will put out a solid kit or two; the last ones that I ran across were some elegant wood and metal 1:32 kits by Air Corps Ace Model (1994) and some Megow reproductions by Scale Flight Model Co. at Penn Valley Hobby Center still being offered. The DMP P-47 Thunderbolt in 1/4" scale came out in 1947; these kits featured pre-carved fuselage and numerous metal detail parts such as cowling, landing gear, prop, cockpit etc. The DMP model pictured below was constructed over 50 years ago.
A beautiful 4-view drawing of a 20th Pursuit Group P-26A, rendered by the late Walt Jefferies, can be viewed by clicking here. This drawing is from the March 1954 issue of Air Trails. Use the back arrow to return to this page.
Doug Emmons ran across a squashed, wartime kit of the True-Build (by Joe Ott) Typhoon, Kit No. 606, 1:48 scale, with all kit parts in good shape. The True-Build line used a laminated build-up construction technique using thin sheets of poor quality wood (not plywood) to glue together to form a rough three-dimensional fuselage and wing. Doug points out that this technique has been used in ship model building as an accepted way of making hulls; it is described as a "bread and butter" construction.
Other manufacturers also used the laminated method during the World War II period. Ply-Wright models by the Wright-Dayton Co. and Plycraft Solid Aeroplane Models by Laminated Art Products are two examples. The Plycraft models were constructed from die-cut pulpboard and provided a "filler" to smooth out the laminations; it took thirteen layers to construct a P-40E fuselage in 1:72 scale. The models were promoted as being recognition models meeting Bureau of Aeronautics requirements. Dowels were used as an alignment tool and the sheets of wood or pulpboard were glued together to form a three-dimensional shape with little additional carving or sanding necessary.
Doug elected to not use the Typhoon kit parts because of the poor quality of the wood. Instead, he decided to use basswood and mahogany in contrasting layers and finish the model in natural varnish to be able to showcase the construction technique as used in these WWII solid models. He used the original wood for patterns and Elmers to glue the pieces together. Before completing the sanding to the corner of each lamination, he consulted other model plans for the Typhoon such as the 1943 Modern Hobbycraft and found the kits to be lacking in scale outlines. He relied on Arthur Bentley's superb plans and found the kit to have an over scale fuselage and under scale wings. Doug adjusted the laminated shapes to the correct scale.
There is no paint on the model; cockpit frames are paper backed 1/56" mahogany veneer, sanded. The chin radiator scoop is hollowed out and two circular intakes fashioned from brass tubing glued onto a fine brass mesh. Gear covers are sheet brass. Exhaust stacks are carved ebony and the wing cannon are sanded down birch dowels. The spinner is laminated just as the kit shows and the props are mahogany; the assembly rotates on a brass tube and brass rod shaft.
The model was first finished with six coats of Deft, a clear semi-gloss lacquer, sanded between every other coat. Doug placed only a minimal amount of insignia in order to place the emphasis of the construction technique. He wanted to preserve the original kit intent to use glue-on paper markings so he used a "retro" move by finding a modern decal sheet, photocopying it in color, cut to the edges and glued on the model. Two final spray coats of Deft were applied and lightly rubbed down with very fine steel wool to remove the gloss.
Doug writes, "The finished model is a nice representation of the way modeling was done more than half a century ago during the heyday of the Hawker Typhoon." Doug has an outstanding website which is devoted to his incredible wood model "sculptures", history of some master modelers, and Doug's philosophy concerning "scale" models. Go to DOXAERIE for a treat.
I would like to add the sad note that the most famous Typhoon pilot, Roland Beamont, died on November 19, 2001 at the age of 81. Wing Commander Roland Beamont flew fighters in the Battle of Britain and later developed Typhoon tactics for ground attack while assigned to Hawker as a test pilot before becoming operational again. Beamont later flew Tempests in 1944 against V1 "buzz bombs" and was very successful (accounting for 30 V-1 kills) until being shot down and crash landing in Holland where he was a prisoner until the end of the war. Beamont became Chief Test Pilot for English Electric and flew the Canberra, P1, Lightning (see recognition model for sale in display model page), and the TSR2. He was the first British pilot to exceed Mach 1 in level flight in the P1 and, in 1958, the first British pilot to exceed Mach 2. From 1965-78, he was the Director of Flight Operations for B.A.C. Preston and played a major role in the development of the Panavia Tornado. He was the author of a number of interesting books. A Robert Taylor limited edition print, "Canberras Over Cambridgeshire", signed by Beamont, is available at a special price of $195.00; depicts Canberras of 231 OCU over fenlands of Cambridgeshire. Also, another famous Typhoon pilot, Group Captain Charles Green DFC DSO, recently died at the age of 88. Captain Green pioneered low flying techniques in the Hawker Typhoon; he joined the RAF in 1938 and was posted to 500 Squadron (County of Kent) then 235 Sqdn. He commanded the 121 Wing and saw extensive action during the Allied advance. He was shot down in December 1944 and taken prisoner.
See excellent 1:72 painted pewter examples of the Typhoon and Tempest on the Diverse Images Page. Photos of Doug Emmons' wonderful "bread and butter" Typhoon are presented below. This model is on exhibit at the CollectAir gallery.
If you are interested in the origins and a complete exposition of all the variations of the British RAF roundels, click on the Type A-1 roundel below to get an excellent article from the Canadian Vintage Wings website entitled "Roundel Roundup." Use the back arrow to return.
To round out this article on solid models, I'd like to show a wonderful picture that came from a January 1943 publication, "Army Life in Hawaii," a "Life" magazine size that is "...a pictorial record of America's fighting forces on guard at this Pacific outpost." Shown seated at his desk is the late Major General Clarence Tinker, former Commanding General of the Seventh Air Force, who was lost in action during the Midway battle. The photo is a Seventh Air Force photo. Directly in front of the General is a StromBecKer model of the early B-17 which I would like to think that the General built himself. This is the same B-17 model that introduced me to model aviation. What wonderful memories a single model airplane can evoke.
The Flying Fortress model pictured below was built by professional model designer John Bell; this is an excellent example of how a solid wood model, built to standards long established, can create a visual impact which is every bit as effective as a modern plastic kit, perhaps more so. Photo by John Bell.
The Comet Air-o-Trainer model was widely advertised in model airplane magazines during WWII. The kit was copyrighted in 1942. The Air-o-Trainer was a pre-cut profile model with all parts finished, ready to assemble, designed to teach or instruct how control surfaces moved in response to cockpit control inputs. This is a large model, with a fuselage overall length of 21 1/5" including the movable rudder. The fuselage was cut from 5/16" clear pine. All flying surfaces are made from 1/8" sandwich material which consist of a wood core paper covered both sides, with an appearance and texture similar to masonite board. The stick and control horns are contained in a paper bag. Paper insignia was provided. A detailed plan and a "Basic Principles of Airplane Control" instruction booklet were included in the kit.
A kit in this condition is worth quite a bit to a collector today - I suppose $400 or $500 might buy this one. If you really want to cry, look at the following ad from a 1947 Polk's Model Craft Hobbies wholesale dealer's flyer which was offering "Never-before-equalled Bargains." Besides these super deals, the same page had Rogers 40mm Bofors Gun and a M-29C Weasel for 75 cents each (marvelous kits in pine) and an Ace M-4 Sherman Tank 1/2 inch scale for 50 cents!
The Berry Bros. "Berryloid" paint was used extensively on airplanes of the Golden Age. Colorful Berryloid ads began in March 1929 in Aero Digest magazine; these ads (twelve in all) featured a magnificent painting by Heaslip which depicted a current airplane model painted in the scheme of a particular bird. The first ad was inspired by the Redstart using International Orange, Moleskin Deep and Diana Cream paint colors on a Stinson. Oddly, this issue did not carry any advertising by Stinson! Named "The Berryloid Fleet," these ads were the premier use of full-color advertising (to any extent) in the aviation field. You can click on the small image below to get a high resolution file of this first ad which you are free to download - use it for your computer screen. Click on the image when it comes up and it will enlarge to full size.
I thought that this beautiful photo of one of the last "Connies" would not only commemorate this great airplane but also would be a reminder of the passing of Hangar 309. Hangar 309 was built for construction of the huge Constitution and later was used for commercial airplane manufacturing. Following this scene, the signs came down and Hangar 309 became the secrecy shrouded Skunk Works. The last 1649A was delivered in February, 1958; 44 Starliners were built. Check out the 1:72nd scale, L-749A Connie by Verkuyl on the Display Model Annex 4 link page. A Lockheed 1649A Starliner, N974R, was flown on October 25, 2001 from Sanford, Florida to Kermit Weeks' Fantasy of Flight Museum for display, probably never flying again.
The accompanying picture of fighter pilots is from The Luftwaffe Yearbook Number 5, 1967-1968, a German text, hardbound book containing current and historical Luftwaffe information. This gathering of fighter pilots was quite an assembly of international talent from WWII. The German caption which lists the pilots in the picture is reprinted here. I'll make a weak attempt to translate the general idea of the meeting: Famous Fighter Pilots Meet in Fürstenfeldbruck. On October 7 and 8, 1967, a group of around four hundred fighter pilots of the Second World War from Germany, America, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, and South Africa met with New German Air Force leaders and honored or remembered fallen comrades from the Second World War at the Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base. I have not seen this picture printed elsewhere.
Jahrbuch der Luftwaffe 5 1967-1968, page 202
Caption: Großes Jagdfliegertreffen in Fürstenfeldbruck. Am 7. und 8. Oktober 1967 trafen sich rund vierhundert Jagdflieger des Zweiten Weltkrieges aus Deutschland, Amerika, Spanien, Italien, Frankreich, Belgien and Südafrika mit der Führungsspitze der Bundesluftwaffe adn Angehörigen gefallener Jagdflieger im Fliegerhorst Fürstenfeldbruck zu kameradschaftlicher Begegnung und einem Gedenken an die toten Kameraden des Zweiten Weltkrieges. Alte erinnerungen wurden ausgetauscht, neue menschliche Beziehungen geknüpft. An dem Treffen nahm auch die Mutter des bekannten, in Afrika gefallenen deutschen Jagdfliegers Hans-Joachim Marseille teil. Die einzigartige Versammlung der "Asse" vereinte viele bekannte Namen von belden Seiten der Front. Auf unserem Foto ist eine Gruppe der namhaftesten von ihnen kameradschaftlich vereint. Von links: Generalleutnant Johannes Steinhoff, Inspekteur der Luftwaffe; Oberst Hartmann, erfolgreichster Jagdflieger des Zweiten Weltkrieges mit 352 Abschüssen; Oberst Barkhorn, auch wieder aktiv bei der 2. Alli-ierten-Taktischen Luftflotte in Mönchengladbach, im letzten Krieg mit 301 Luftsiegen der zweiterfolgreichste deutsche Jagdflieger; Oberst a.D. Falck, Zerstörer- und später Nachtjagd-Kommodore; Wing-Commander Oberst Robert R. Stanford-Tuck; Generalmajor Hrabak, der Starfighter-System-Beauftragte der Luftwaffe, 125 Luftsiege; der ehemalige Wing-Commandeyr der Royalk Air Force, Oberst Powell; Major a.D. Lindemann; Generalleutnant a.D. Galland; Oberstleutnant a.D. Andres, Kommodore der jagdergänzungsgeschwader der Luftwaffe und langjähriger Vorsitzender der Gemeinschaft der Jagdflieger; Oberstleutnant a.D. Schöpfel, der Nachfolger von Galland als Kommodore des ehemaligen Düsseldorfer Jagdgeschwaders 26 "Schlageter."
This is just a neat picture of a Republic SeaBee that I took in Minneapolis in 1947; it was a brand new airplane then. In around 1951, the Aeronautics Department (Institute of Technology) at the University of Minnesota bought a new (out of production for several years but this might have been a new unsold) SeaBee, ostensibly for training, but I think it was used mostly for UofM brass to go fishing. It was seldom used for us lowly aero students. The 1945 Republic prototype, NX41816, was originally named the "Thunderbolt".
One of America's greatest pilots, Tex Rankin, died in the crash of a Republic Seabee in Klamath Falls, Oregon on a routine business flight in 1947.
Frank Wootton has been an inspiration to generations of artists, collectors and enthusiasts and was a treasured asset to the commercial users of his outpourings of magnificent artwork, whether simple advertisements or magnificent illustrations. A legion of artists associated with the British Guild of Aviation Artists, founded in 1971 with Wootton as President, will attest to Frank Wootton's dedicated efforts to encourage and individually help anyone who asked for his assistance. His works have been exhibited at the National Air & Space Museum (1983) and at exhibits and museums all over England and Canada. He is reknown for his masterful technique, beauty of line and composition, and powerful use of color, whether painting aircraft or landscape or an equestrian scene. Anyone interested in aviation art, worldwide, is acquainted with Mr. Wootton's outstanding work and several books have been published featuring his paintings. Many limited edition prints of his scenes have been published with the Greenwich Workshop handling the U.S. editions.
A Sussex man, Mr. Wootton attended the Eastbourne College of Art, following which he was active in the 1930s doing commissioned art and book illustrations along with learning to fly. In 1939, Wootton volunteered for the RAF but instead was asked to become an official war artist. He painted RAF subjects from England to France and Belgium before travelling to South East Asia at the end of WWII. His famous little book, How to Draw 'Planes, was first published in 1941 (he was 27) and the dust jacket states that, "Frank Wootton is quite a young man, but he knows a lot about 'planes, and nobody questions his ability to draw them." Amen.
Wootton worked for de Havilland's advertising agency during the peak years for advertising art following WWII and up to about the time of the Comet's demise. Greats of the aviation art field were cohorts of Wootton at the agency; artists Terence Cuneo, Chris Wren and John Young. Browse the covers and D.H. ads of Flight and Aeroplane in the fifties and you'll discover treasures of artwork. Sadly, the photograph replaced the satisfying color artwork which regularly appeared in the aviation publications of the 30s, 40s and 50s.
Wootton was a dedicated foe of imperfection in painting - a warrior against the Modern School of aesthetic nonconformity. He wrote in 1989, "Through the centuries Art has reflected wide variations of taste and style, but hitherto however disparate these extremes of taste may have been, the expression of them has presumed a perfection of execution within the limits of contemporary competence." In How to Draw 'Planes Wootton wrote, "Try to get variety into your drawings by making the most of lighting and its effects."
The following scenes are presented for your pleasure. Perhaps someone can let me know what medium was used for these black and white paintings; were they done in color or monochromatic wash? My guess is that since he knew they were commissioned for publication in B&W, that they weren't painted in color. Does anyone have information to offer on this subject?
These impressions by Wootton of a speeding MiG-15 were illustrations for the July 1952 issue article, "Eyes, Speed and Altitude", written by USAF pilots experienced in Korea and familiar with the difficulties of spotting high speed aircraft in an enlarged combat sky because of speed. These impressionistic views still retain the technical competence expressed above by Mr. Wootton. Perhaps current artists could make use of this technique to provide some "belief" to their paintings or is it commercially necessary to freeze objects at a distance so that every rivet may be counted before they are allowed to continue on their way?
The Soviet Navy's Gordy Class Destroyer; the Gordy II with two stacks. From the June 1953 issue, "...Mr. Wootton's excellent portrayal of this destroyer on the centerspread in this issue will give you many good clues."
The Soviet Navy's Kirov I and II Class Cruisers from the January/February 1952 issue. Of interest is the lower left painting which is signed "Frank Wootton" contrary to his usual "Wootton" signature.
And as the final scene presented here from the journals, the tribute scene is shown from December 1954 entitled, "Operation Loyalty." The caption reads, "'Loyalty' was the Royal Navy's code name given to the operation of escorting Her Majesty The Queen in H.M.Y. Britannia from Gilbratar to the Nore. On Friday, 14th May, 1954 the Royal Yacht was escorted up Channel from near the Eddystone to the Needles Channel by ships of the Home Fleet. On parting company off the Needles the escorting warships converged upon and steamed past the Britannia at speed 'cheering ship' as they did so. To this exciting spectacle H.M.S. Vanguard provided a thrilling climax as she steamed past at 21 knots. We asked Mr. Frank A.A. Wootton if he could capture something of the thrill of that moment. This is his picture: we think he succeeds admirably."
Three more early examples of Wootton's work are shown below. The first is a 1941 or 1942 painting done for the A.V. Roe & Co., Ltd. of an Avro Anson of the Coastal Command downing a Dornier. The painting was published in The Wonder Book of the R.A.F. The second scene is a Alvis Limited advertisement for the Alvis Leonides radial engine used here in the Westland Dragonfly and the Percival Sea Prince. This ad is from around 1950.
The cockpit section shown below is from a Bristol Beaufighter 21, a former RAAF Mk 1c, A19-43, located at the Air Force Museum, a CollectAir photograph (no longer a mystery cockpit). The museum had an unused fuselage section in a crate which was the nucleus for this restoration effort. The fighter is now together (Spring 2003) on it's gear and will eventually be painted in the USAAF night fighter scheme of the 12th AF which operated these in the Mediteranean and Middle East theaters until the P-61 went into service. Notice the expansive cockpit, certainly one of the larger fighter offices. I believe that this is the only example of a Beaufighter in the U.S. This particular serial number was built by Fairey at Heaton Chapel, near Manchester, for the RAF as T5049, but was delivered in March 1942 to Australia. This information is from the May 2003 FlyPast magazine which has an excellent fold-out section on the Beaufighter. Update The Beaufighter was nearing completion in the photo below taken at the Air Force Museum's restoration facility in June, 2004. The completed Bristol Beaufighter (British s/n T-5049 and Australian s/n A19-43) was put on display at the museum in October 2006. A handsome airplane.
The current 2009 display of the Beaufighter 21 in the Air Force Museum is shown below.
Two more mystery cockpits - from the rudimentary simple to state-of-the-art. What aircraft? Let me know if you have the answer.
What airplanes do these cockpits below belong to?
Here's another cockpit beauty - can't you just hear the sound of those four engines!
For one of the largest cockpits around and one of the newest, click here to see a 360-degree view of the A-380 front office.
Who painted the scene below? Clue: this artist wrote, "Painting is a companion with whom one may hope to walk a great part of life's journey." Also, the artist is a well known personality who painted this scene many years ago.
The photo below of the beautiful F4U-5 Corsair, "WR", was taken at the 2002 "Gathering of Corsairs and Legends" at Mount Comfort, Indiana by Michael O'Leary, Associate Publisher and Editor of Air Classics magazine. Michael has kindly permitted CollectAir to display this photo.
The warbird was owned by Jim Read in 2002 but has been reported to have been sold in 2009.
Corsair #5 of the "Checkerboarders" is the subject of our "Gate Guard" at the gallery. This Corsair, (N179PT), flew in the UK with the Warbirds of Great Britain from 1992-1998. It was a former Honduras Air Force airplane. Corsair N179PT was based at the Porter County Airport in Valparasio, Indiana at the time of this photo.
From time to time I'll post some pictures here that I find interesting. If you have a picture that would be appropriate here, send it along.
Lockheed TV-2 at unknown Navy base. Barely distinguishable, the aircraft carries both U.S. Navy and U.S.A.F. designations below the canopy. The TV-2 was a Navy version of the T-33A; about 700 were delivered during the very early 1950s and were used as advanced and instrument trainers primarily. This airplane pictured could be a prototype inasmuch as gun ports are still evident as used on the P-80/F-80 (were these on all T-33s?). The Navy initially used single-seat F-80Cs as jet advanced trainers. An F-80 (fuzzy) is parked in the background. Can you add information about this U.S. Navy photo?
An unusual trio of ground-breaking airplanes; picture taken at the Air Force Museum Research & Development Gallery in June 2004. The Republic XF-84H (51-17059) with supersonic propeller is in the foreground; an interesting failure that I heard run at Edwards in 1955 - the fastest single-engine propeller driven aircraft ever built.
The amazing Chance-Vought LTV XC-142A tilt wing transport (Hiller Aircraft should also be mentioned) is the only four-engine transport to ever land multiple times on a carrier - a successful project; the only remaining example. And backed by what I believe to be the world's all-time greatest airplane, the Mach 3, North American XB-70 Valkyrie No. 1 (62-001). I find it sad that the museum moved this aviation giant out of their museum proper and relegated it to the handful of viewers that bus over to the R&D hangar. At least there is adequate natural light for pictures.
The two surviving Martin Mars flying boats (as fire bombers) are captured at Sproat Lake, just outside Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. Picture was taken by Steve Anderson of Qualicum Beach, located near the Mars base. Steve writes that. "This has been their home since 1959; we lost the other two in 1962 - one to a crash in Northwest Bay and the other to Hurricane Freda while down at Victoria Airport for work. You don't hear four Wright 3350 engines very often but during the summer fire season on Vancouver Island you do - quite the sight to see these pieces of history in action." Thanks to Wendy for correcting the spelling of place names. As of 2007, these airplanes are for sale. Note: The Mars have been sold to Coulson Aircrane and will continue to be operated.
A nice pen and ink drawing by Jack Frost of a Northeast Airlines Convair can be viewed by clicking here. This drawing is from a 1955 book of sketches around Boston.
The late Jim Wright's Hughes H-1 Racer reproduction was an exciting project - it permitted the modern enthusiast to view 1937 aviation history in action - and presented the aviation world with a close-up association with a flying machine that most of us would say is the most beautiful airplane design to ever come off an engineering drafting board and turn into aerial metal. For all his achievements and foibles, Howard Hughes should go down in aviation history for his magnificent H-1. Gene Hand of Oregon was asociated with Jim's H-1 project and has kindly permitted CollectAir to display some exciting H-1 photos in tribute to the ill-fated project. It is fortunate that the original H-1 is on static display at NASM, but a flying exhibition put the Racer in it's proper venue.
Here is an interesting sideline to the Howard Hughes saga. The January 1, 1945 Aero Digest magazine carried the following patent information: Design for an Airplane. Howard R. Hughes, Houston, Tex., Virginia E. Clark, Pacific Palisades, and Stanley A. Bell, Glendale, Calif., assignors to Hughes Tool Co., Houston, Tex. (139,438). The patent drawing is shown below:
This drawing is probably the origin of the XF-11 (original Hughes D-2) experimental photo-recon airplane. I have not been able to identify the other parties to the patent.
Howard Hughes made the first flight on the XF-11 on July 7, 1946. An oil leak forced one of the counter-rotating propellers to reverse direction. Hughes tried to save the plane by landing it on the Los Angeles Country Club golf course, but after clipping three houses in Beverly Hills, it crashes into a fourth. The fuel tanks exploded, setting fire to the house and surrounding area. Hughes, lying beside his burning airplane, was rescued by a Marine master sergeant who was visiting friends next door.
The injuries that Hughes sustained in the crash, which include a crushed collar bone, six broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a fractured skull and third-degree burns, affected him until his death. Many attribute his long addiction to opiates to the large amounts of morphine that was prescribed. The trademark moustache he wore in later life was an attempt to cover a minor facial scar from the crash.
A second prototype, XR-11A, had standard four-blade props and flew in 1947.
These scenes of a North American Aviation wind tunnel model of the B-25 were taken in October 1942. The color transparencies are part of the "American Memory" series ( WW2 section) at the Library of Congress. The entire series may be viewed at the LOC website.
The new NASM Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport is chock full of airplanes, helicopters and missiles and is certainly worth a day-long visit for the aviation buff. A large collection of CollectAir photos taken at the Hazy Center is available at Shutterfly - click here to view. Use the slide show option for the most entertaining viewing.
Germany's Three-Deck , Dornier D.X. flying boat has recently been launched at Lake Constance and will soon be establishing speedy mail and passenger service between Hamburg and the United Sates. This behemoth is featured on this month's cover of Popular Mechanics. What fun for passengers as the luxury plane skips along the waves!
Gracing the rear cover of the magazine is this "tasteful" ad for Camels which proves that smoking is certainly an upper class endeavor.
However, be advised, according to this short notice in the magazine, that you shouldn't throw your butts out of an airliner - maybe it would be ok for the passengers of the D.X.
The Freedom of Information Act has permitted the following information, heretofore classified as super duper secret, to be revealed to readers of this webpage. The U.S. Navy, in the 1970s, made a study to evaluate the vulnerability of super carriers of the Nimitz Class. After a controversial in-house computer simulation using banks of TI-99 home computers, nesting in groups of 100, and networking with dedicated rotary telephones linked to nuclear submarines via trained dolphins, the navy scientists concluded that if each carrier could be broken into about one-hundred parts and distributed over several thousand square miles then enemy missile effectiveness would be thwarted. Work began on January 22, 1978 in a prestigious Berkeley, California think tank, headed by Dr. I.B. Liberal PhD, to develop a radically new carrier force which would fit into the strategic thinking of the combined city councils of Santa Monica, Santa Cruz and Berkeley (soon after joined by Santa Barbara), acknowledged by many to be major players in U.S. foreign policy and defense planning.
The keel for the new "Rad Carrier", the first of the classified CVDUD Class, was laid, in fact laid several times, in a Berkeley boathouse. Simultaneously, a new carrier tactical attack airplane, the T/A-54 was coming together as a joint effort by a consortium of Hungarian aerospace companies, the low bidder. This superb aeronautical achievement featured a clipped wing with four jet engines in through-the-wing pods. A large fuselage, reminiscent of a C-54, was compartmented to allow weapon storage, cockpit management, and a commodious cabin with many windows to allow media persons to ride along and view the action first hand. A special Dan Rather chair was established in a prominent and elevated location.
On budget and on time, the CVDUD was launched and combat ready with a full complement of one T/A-54 and a deck truck loaded with missiles. The carrier carefully negotiated the slippery waterways in the San Francisco Bay Area with the assistance of a tug boat before going to sea. Having no engines, the CVDUD was designed to drift; the idea was that with hundreds of thousands of these carriers, the U.S. would be able to project power worldwide with CVDUDs, virtually littering the oceans. In addition, if each T/A-54 filled its seats with news people, just think how few media folk would be left on the mainland. Cleverly using a camouflage scheme which suggests a barge-like vessel, the CVDUD with T/A-54 on the flight deck, was captured on its maiden voyage in the rare 1980 photo shown below. Program funding for production wasn't released by the city councils and the prototype CVDUD remains adrift, whereabouts unknown.
FLASH! A recent satellite photo has disclosed the existence of a new version of the CVDUD weapons system - some sort of a sweptwing variant of the T/A-54, still with four jet engines. The "carrier" appears to be unchanged from the 1980 configuration but it has the look of a NASA vessel. Markings on this carrier borne fighter-bomber are G-BOAD. At the same time, another photo came in from London showing a similar airplane, but without wings. Marked G-BOAA, on a "carrier" plying the Thames. It is reported that the carrier has problems getting through the half-tide locks with wings so they are unbolted and stowed below decks.
The project was further advanced with an interceptor design offering CAP protection to the bombers. A photo of the secret project was recently discovered, as shown below. Please destroy after viewing.
The Swiss got into the act with their own fighter-jet carrier.
Another test version of the CVDUD appeared in WW2. In this case it was a high speed carrier with a low speed fighter - it was a tossup whether the airplane could catch up with the carrier for landing and whether takeoff didn't violate the "never-exceed-speed". See below for a secret illustration of this version, just recently released.
Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return. Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
MORE ARTICLES IN THE FUTURE.......
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