In the Museum: Mail Call
- By Rebecca Maksel
- Air & Space magazine, September 2008
(Page 2 of 3)
I seek all information relevant to the Curtiss P-40 used by the French forces between November 1942 and 1948.
Enclosed are proof images relating to ceremony at the transfer of Curtiss P-40 aircraft to the French Air Forces in Algiers on 1/9/43. While we have proof copies in our files, the photographs are only available from the National Archives Still Photos branch. We are enclosing the form U.S. Air Force Pre-1954 Still Photo Collection which provides contact information for obtaining copies of these photographs.
We are also enclosing images of the P-40, selected from our collection. These have U.S. markings, as we could not locate additional images with French markings in our collection. If you are interested, you can order copy photographs of these images using the enclosed Smithsonian Photographic Services form. Images will be of much better quality and will not have numbers imposed on them.
We are also enclosing two items, an article from the Air Age Technical Library and selected pages from Swanborough, United States Aircraft Since 1909 which provided descriptions and specifications for the P-40.
We hope this information will be useful to you for your archival project. If you need additional information we will be pleased to attempt to locate it for you.
Regarding the Spirit of St. Louis: Does the inside of the starboard side cowling bear the names of the Ryan Monoplane Company workers that built the Spirit of St. Louis, including a paw print of the dog that lived at the factory?
According to Bob van der Linden, one of our curators and the co-author of a book on the Spirit of St. Louis, there are names written all over the aircraft, but he is not aware of a group of names on the inside of the cowling as you describe. I could not find a photograph of the inside of the cowling in our image database. The Ryan staff did sign the main wing spar before the wing was covered with fabric. The fabric has never been removed, so there are no photographs of the signatures. They also signed the inside of the spinner—a photograph appears in Bob's book "Charles Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis." I'll mail you a copy of the page. I'm afraid there's no paw print, though.
What's the origin of the term "touch-and-go" as used in aircraft landing and takeoff practice?
We consulted a series of independently published aviation and dictionary phrase glossaries, and did not find the term listed in any of these, either in U.S. originated documents or foreign publications, prior to 1944. It appears therefore that the term must date from either the very late World War II era (1944-45) or post-war. We have been utterly unable to establish a firm "first year of use" for the term, and we suspect that it had local origins, possibly within either the U.S. Army Air Forces Training Command or the similar U.S. Navy aviation training system.
Could you please tell me the actual weight of the Wright R-1750 and the reasons why the R-1820 weighed so much more? Your help is sincerely appreciated.
Enclosed is a photocopy of a contemporary brochure from Wright Aeronautical Corporation on the R-1750 engine. The "dry" weight is listed as "760 lbs. approx."
In regard to your question as to why the R-1820 was so much heavier than the R-1750, this is a rather complex subject. To begin with, the R-1820 models weighed anywhere from 945 lbs (R-1820E1) to 1287 lbs. (R-1820G105A). In addition to the larger bore and different construction material/methods, much of the difference between the R-1750 and R-1820 was due to the addition of the supercharger. We have also enclosed a photocopy of a chart detailing the evolution off the R-1820; some design changes are indicated herein.
We hope this information will be of use to you in your studies.
Hello To Whom It May Concern:
I wrote to you concerning a picture of Amelia Earhart, Howard Hughes, Paul Mantz and two other ladies. The women I couldn't find out anything. They are a ? Maybe you could answer these questions, in the smaller picture she is holding something in her hand. Maybe an envelope or something? I'd really appreciate anything that you could find out.
Your photograph does indeed include Amelia Earhart (standing on the far right, wearing leis). On the far left (also wearing leis) is Paul Mantz, Earhart's technical adviser. This picture was taken in Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii, in March 1937. Earhart and Mantz, along with navigator Fred Noonan (not in the photograph), landed in Hawaii on the first leg of an unsuccessful around the world flight attempt that left Earhart's Lockheed Electra severely damaged. Earhart's second around the world flight attempt (undertaken June-July 1937) is the one in which she went missing forever.
Upon their arrival in Hawaii, Amelia Earhart and Paul Mantz went to the Waikiki beach house of two of his friends, Chris and Nona Holmes, who had arranged a party for them. This is when we believe the photograph you have was taken. The woman second from left (wearing leis) is likely Terry Minor, Paul Mantz's fiancée. The man and woman beside Earhart are most likely Chris and Nona Holmes. Howard Hughes is not in the photograph.
If you wish to learn more about Amelia Earhart's life, and her time in Hawaii specifically, you can read about it in the book Amelia Earhart: A Biography by Doris L. Rich. I have enclosed a photocopy of the book's title information and the page relevant to your photograph. I am also enclosing the copy of the photograph you sent to us.
I hope you will find this information helpful. Thank you for your interest in the National Air and Space Museum.
Regarding the DC-3: I would like to know what the appendage is on the right side of the fuselage in front of the intake and behind the copilot side window? This is very clear in the photo of the aircraft hanging from the ceiling of the museum. I believe that the air intake is for the cabin ventilation and thought the airfoil looking like thing may be a form of vortex generator. I have asked fellow pilots and all though we have flown in a "3" no one knew what it was or its purpose.
Your conjecture is basically correct. The airfoil shape is there to smooth the flow into the air intake immediately aft of it. Our Aero Curator indicates that this was found only on the "original" Wright-engine powered DC-3s, and is not on the Pratt-powered DC-3As/C-47s. Apparently, others have previously asked about this device. The NASM DC-3 is a Wright powered aircraft built in 1936.
I'm old enough to have flown in DC-3's still regional in airline service in the early 1960s, and I never realized that the earlier models had differences in addition to the Wright powerplants. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to add another tidbit to my store of aeronautical trivia. We hope to be of further service in future inquiries.