In the Museum: Mail Call

In the Museum: Mail Call

Incoming correspondence is "triaged," says volunteer Guy Halford-MacLeod, who tracked down the 1963 Ozark Airline timetable to answer a recent query. (Eric Long)
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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.

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