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New Scale Models added to the Museum’s Collections

April 29, 2010

Warning: This is a post about scale models. If you are not interested in scale models, with any luck you will be by the end of the article. If you are still uninterested, the blog holds no responsibility…

A collection of models by Dennis Gerber

One of the great things about working at a Museum is you never know what new thing you will see when you walk into work in the morning. A few days ago, a modeler named Dennis Gerber, who has been written about in Fine Scale Modeler magazine, donated a bunch of great looking models to the Museum. I took a few pictures to share with you.

These first picture is of an imaginary German jet-fighter from World War II. Seems like something the group Luft ’46 would make.

This next model is a Northrop YB-35. Designed as a flying wing heavy bomber with the payloads carried in the wings, only prototype and pre-production aircraft were ever built before the company moved on to the jet-powered, YB-49.

Model by Dennis Gerber

In the 1950s, the Air Force wanted a VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) aircraft. Below is a model of Mcdonnell’s proposed design, the XV-1 Convertiplane.

Model by Dennis Gerber

This last one is of a gunner ready for action. This just looks cool.

Model by Dennis Gerber

Many other models of tanks and planes were donated. I just did not want to create a post two miles long. However, if they were not so valuable, I could easily see myself playing a game of war with them.


Curtis P-40 Engine Preservation

April 27, 2010

Last week, our curatorial staff removed the cowling of our flyable P-40E Warhawk which covered the massive Allison 1710 V-12 engine within. This monster-of-an-engine produced over 1000 horsepower at a time when that was kind of a big deal. Though it was outperformed by later engines during WWII, it stayed in production in various aircraft (including turbo-supercharged versions in the famous P-38 Lightning) for the rest of the war.

Allison 1710 V-12 Engine inside of the Curtis P-40

The best thing about the engine and the P-40 itself, is that they both flew during World War II (at this time I cannot tell you if it saw combat, but it did fly) making it an artifact definitely worth preserving. So every few years, the curators change the preservative oil in the engine.

The whole process involves removing the cowlings and the valve covers and then connecting a pump to the oil pan to remove the old. Once the all old oil is drained, the new preservation oil is pumped in by turning the engine. You can see the turning of the engine below.

They then spray the valve train and rockers with oil and put it all back together. Most visitors never get to see the inside of the P-40, so I have posted some pictures of the process on our Flickr photostream. You can see those images by clicking here.

A da Vinci Goodbye

April 23, 2010

Sadly, our Curator of Special Exhibitions, Karen Lacy, is leaving us. For the past five years, she has helped bring our collections out from the basement and into the light of the galleries. Recently, she has been an integral member in the preparation and implementation of our special exhibitions. Before The Science of… Aliens moved in, Karen oversaw the construction, implementation, maintenance, etc. (you get the idea) of The Da Vinci Experience. So, we thought that the best way to say goodbye would be recreating one of da Vinci’s most famous works. She did not want to be the center of attention, so we luckily had a back up. Take a look and see if you can tell me which piece of art we have recreated.

Karen's Last Lunch

Karen's (on the far right) Last Lunch

We wish her the best at her new position at the Museum of Man and hope that she will return for a visit (She is only a ten minute, at the most, walk away).

New to the Collection: F4U Corsair Model

April 8, 2010

F4U Corsair Model

The Museum now has a F4U Corsair model on display to coincide with the restoration of an actual F4U Corsair currently taking place in the basement. Below is the description of the beautiful and meticulously built model:

This magnificently hand crafted 1/16th scale model F4U Corsair was fabricated from roof flashing material purchased at a hardware store. Each rib, longeron, and bulkhead is in place, visible on the cutaway side. Look very closely and you will notice fuel and hydraulic line, throttle and propeller cables, engine wires and even a sliding canopy. Ailerons, flaps, elevators and rudders are operational, driven by miniature chains exactly as the original, and the landing gear actually retracts. Built by Dr. Young C. Park, a retired dentist from Hawaii, the incredible detail of this model, and two others that Park has built, has amazed the modeling world.  More than 6000 hours and five years time were dedicated to creating his masterpiece. The Corsair has been loaned to the San Diego Air and Space Museum by the Craftsmanship Museum of Vista, CA.

New Spacesuit Display

April 5, 2010

For decades, our Gemini-era space suit has been displayed high on a wall as part of a spacecraft display. Now visitors have a chance to see it up close as a new addition to the spaceflight gallery in its own display case.

Gemini Era Spacesuit

Gemini Era Spacesuit

Gemini Era Spacesuit

SDASM Library & Archives on the Web

March 18, 2010

The Museum’s Library & Archives (L&A) is getting onto the web in a big way. In the last few years, L&A opened up an online photo store and put its catalog online under the name, AeroCat.

In 2010, L&A is getting social. You can now become a fan and read updates on L&A’s Facebook page: You can also read more in-depth articles on the new L&A blog: Below is th L&A’s first blog post on what you can expect:

Welcome to the new Library & Archives blog! Stay up to date with the Library & Archives by checking our blog often.

Some of the upcoming features we hope to make available

  • Picture of the Week
  • Upcoming Events
  • New SDASM Publications
  • Aviation articles
  • Library & Archives Newsletters
  • New Collection Materials
  • Volunteer and Staff news
  • Links to the online Library Catalogue & Photo Collection

Basement Chronicles – Boeing P-26 Peashooter Interview

March 10, 2010

Most don’t know that our museum has a full fabrication shop—an “aircraft factory”—in our basement, deep below our galleries. Down in the depths of the Museum, volunteers draft schematics (or blueprints), bend metal, shape wood, and drill, hammer and rivet to create some of the airplanes you see on our galley floor. Many of these volunteers worked for large aerospace companies and our now lending us their expertise. The Basement Chronicles will follow their work. This edition focuses on the Boeing P-26 “Peashooter.”

I had the chance to sit down with Jerry Orr, the lead for building our P-26 Peashooter aircraft, and ask him some questions on the progress of the airplane since my last update. Since then, our restoration volunteers have completed the wings and started to place them onto the fuselage. They are also working on finishing the cockpit. Soon after that, they will paint the Peashooter and it will be ready to be moved to its display.