Combat on Canvas

Art and artifacts from the Marine front lines, now on display in Washington.


Light Bomber Wheel

(Eric Long, NASM)

Both of these fragments—the wheel and the piece of fuselage—are from Marine Dayton-Wright DH-4 light bombers that operated in Nicaragua in the 1920s. (This series of Central American and Caribbean conflicts, running from 1898 to 1934, would come to be known as the Banana Wars.)

"The wheel is a relic from an aircraft that was forced down by engine trouble in the jungles of Nicaragua," said Marine Corps museum curator Ben Kristy. "The crew walked away from the accident, but were captured by rebel forces and killed. The second piece—the fuselage skin—is from another aircraft. And you can see the 'protective coating' the aircraft had—it's plywood. Very thin plywood." The aircraft returned safely to base after being struck 22 times by enemy fire.

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