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March 2023
WASP Elaine Danforth Harmon and the Battle for Arlington
The life of Elaine Danforth Harmon, a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) in World War II, inspired her granddaughter, Erin Miller, to successfully press for a law that recognized the WASP for inurnment in Arlington National Cemetery and to write a book about the experience.
After graduating as a WASP in Class 44-9, Elaine Danforth Harmon piloted the Boeing PT-17 Stearman, Vultee BT-13 Valiant, and North American AT-6 Texan trainers -- of which the Museum has examples -- and the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Her primary job was to fly with men who needed retraining in instrument flying.
Elaine Danforth Harmon was born December 26, 1919, in Baltimore, Maryland. She graduated high school in 1936, and subsequently earned a bachelor of science degree in bacteriology from the University of Maryland, College Park. She utilized those skills working as a hospital lab technician from 1940 to 1944. She married Robert Harmon in 1941 and they had four children, two sons and two daughters. Her husband Robert passed away in 1965.
While attending the University of Maryland, Ms. Harmon was accepted into the Civilian Pilot Training Program. Knowing her mother would disapprove, she sent her father the application forms at his office to sign; he responded immediately, and even included the forty dollars required to attend the program.
After earning her private pilot's license, Ms. Harmon was one of more than 25,000 applicants from across the country to join the WASP in 1943. 1,830 were accepted, and 1,074 earned their wings. Thirty-eight WASP lost their lives during the program.
Ms. Harmon completed six months of flight training and ground school. After training in 1944, she served at Nellis Air Force Base. Harmon's job was to fly with men who needed retraining in instrument flying — she said she served as a lookout.
In a 2004 interview with the Library of Congress Veteran’s History Project, Ms. Harmon stated, “I trained at Sweetwater, Texas, and Avenger Field, under the WASP program, Women Air Force Service Pilots, and afterwards I was stationed at Las Vegas at Nellis Air Force Base working in the instrument field.”
“Actually, it was a job a lot of pilots didn’t like because it could be very boring. I was the first pilot, and I would take another pilot up; I would take the plane off and I would land it. But while we were up in the air, the other pilot would be practicing his instrument flying, and since he was under the hood and couldn’t see what was going on I had to be there in order to make sure we didn’t go off into a spin, or run into another airplane, or a tree or something.” she said, laughing. “And then I would just land the plane afterwards.”
“In our training it was divided into three phases, 70 hours in each phase, and we had 410 hours of ground school. In the ground school we studied weather, and aerodynamics, engines, morse code, and a lot of mathematics with figuring out estimated times of arrival, departures, and fitting it all together the wind effect.”
When asked if she felt like being a WASP was unladylike or if she was doing something out of the ordinary, Ms. Harmon responded, “I certainly did not feel unladylike, but I did know that I was doing something unusual and I felt I was helping to set a precedent, and I tried to do everything according to the book.” 
When Elaine passed away on April 21, 2015, her last request was to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, but this and similar requests were denied by the United States Army, which runs the cemetery. Her daughter, Erin Miller, an attorney, mounted a campaign that resulted in a law to grant the wish of Ms. Harmon and other WASP. Representative Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), along with 191 co-sponsors, introduced H.R. 4336, the Women Airforce Service Pilot Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act in January 2016; it was signed into law by President Obama in May 2016.
In 2016, Ms. Harmon was also posthumously inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame. They noted, “The WASP were trailblazers by successfully breaking into the previously male dominated role of military pilots. In the many decades that have passed since the war, they have continued to be role models, and heroines, for aspiring young women across our nation.
The Library of Congress interview with Ms. Harmon can be viewed here: Elaine Harmon Collection | Library of Congress (
Erin Miller’s biography may be viewed at Erin Miller – Author & Speaker – National WASP WWII Museum (, and her book “Final Flight, Final Fight” can be ordered at
Don’t forget to visit our WASP exhibit on your next trip to the Museum!
Story Credit: Rich Tuttle and George White
What About the WAAC?
The WASP weren’t the only female volunteers to take to the skies during World War II!

During the war, laws were amended to allow women to serve in military jobs in addition to the services' Nurse Corps. Per the United States Army website, "Spurred on by the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Congress approved the creation of WAAC (Women's Army Auxiliary Corps) on May 14, 1942. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the bill into law on May 15, and on May 16, Oveta Culp Hobby was sworn in as the first director. WAAC was established "for the purpose of making available to the national defense the knowledge, skill, and special training of women of the nation."

The WAAC subsequently became the Women’s Army Corp (WAC) on 3 July 1943. Its members assigned for duty with the US Army Air Forces, sometimes called the “Air WACs”, had more than 32,000 women in more than 200 enlisted and 60 officer occupational specialties in 1945.

Per the United States Air Force Historical Support Division, “Women served as weather observers, cryptographers, radio operators, aerial photograph analyzers, control tower operators, parachute riggers, maintenance specialists, and sheet metal workers. About 1,100 black women served in segregated units, as did smaller numbers of Japanese-American (50) and Puerto Rican (200) women. More than 7,000 Air WACs served overseas in every theater of operations, and three WACs received the Air Medal.”

“At the end of the war, V-J Day on 2 September, 1945, the WAC as a whole had 90,779 members. Following the war, most Air WACs were discharged, and no WACs were transferred to the Air Force when it became a separate service in 1947. About 2,000 enlisted personnel and 177 officers continued to work in Air Force units, although they remained in the Army.

Story Credit: Rich Tuttle and George White
Lamborn Announces Service Academy Competition Nominees at Museum Ceremony
U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), in a ceremony at the Museum on Saturday, March 25, 2023, announced his nomination of 29 Colorado Springs high school graduates, chosen from a group of 106, to compete for appointments to the military service academies for the Class of 2027.
The annual ceremony at the Museum is, "by far, one of the most rewarding things I am privileged to do as a Congressman," Lamborn told an audience of the nominees' families and friends. Each of the 106 "bright, talented" applicants showed "that they are willing and ready to work hard and achieve great things, not only for themselves, but also for their country," Lamborn said. He thanked the parents of the nominees "for raising you all to be such great kids!"

Story and Photo Credit: Rich Tuttle
The Airfield
Stinson Reliant V-77 N65442
Welcome down on the Airfield, where this month's aircraft is the Museum's 1944 Stinson Reliant V-77, donated by former Tuskegee Airman Franklin James "Frank" Macon!

Frank, who made the donation on Veterans' Day in 2019, said at the donation event that "the best place for my airplane [is] right here.... I thought this would be a good home for it" because "this is where World War II airplanes are, and they all ought to be together."

"I'm hoping that this airplane will be here for a long, long time so that many can see it along with the other World War II aircraft," Frank said at the time. "I thought about it for a long time, and I was offered money for it from other people that wanted to buy it, and I said I just think I'll give it to this organization because it will have a nice home and I'm going to be happy about that nice home it's going to have."

Frank was a Colorado Springs native. He was born in Kansas in 1924 but moved to Colorado Springs as a child. He was an Original Tuskegee Airman who first learned to fly at Pine Valley Airport north of town. Pine Valley is now the U.S. Air Force Academy Airfield.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1943 and began his military flight training in 1944 as part of Tuskegee's Class 45A. Despite a severe head cold, he went flying during training and ruptured both ear drums, according to the Air Force Times. By the time he recovered, World War II had ended, but he continued his military service for several years, both on active duty and in the reserves, rising to the rank of Lieutenant. He later became a civil servant, where he spent over 20 years servicing and repairing aircraft, supervising maintenance operations across several states, and designing and fabricating modifications and improvements for several types of aircraft. He also served as a mishap investigator; his work led to improvements to landing instruments.
Bill Klaers, President and CEO of the Museum, said at the 2019 event that the Reliant had been kept in a hangar at Meadowlake Airport near Colorado Springs. Frank and three partners found the plane in about 1960 at another small airfield north of Denver. As the story goes, its owners at the time, based in Cleveland, Ohio, had acquired it in the 1950s from an individual in Chicago. That person had purchased it in 1946 from the United States government as World War II surplus.

"We called [the Cleveland owners] on the phone," Frank remembered in an interview at the 2019 event. "They wanted $1,500 for it" but it needed work. "We said...we'll give you $500, and they said, 'We'll take it'."

Frank and his partners did the work, including a fabric re-covering job. They got it running and flew it regularly. "Oh, yes," Frank said. "It's been all over." In the 1970s they even took it to what is now the Oshkosh air show, where it won an award. "They said we had a nice-looking airplane," Frank said. But before Frank donated it to the Museum, it had not flown for years. In 1998, it was registered solely to Frank, giving him the opportunity to make the donation in 2019.
In World War II, Stinson Reliants were used by the U.S. Army Air Forces and U.S. Navy as utility aircraft bearing the designation UC-81 and as trainers called AT-19. The British Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Navy (RN) also used them.

500 Reliants were built in 1942 and 1943, according to the British "Index of Naval Aircraft" website ( In February 1946, it says, some 415 Reliant Mark 1s "were returned to Norfolk, USA.”

Frank Macon's Reliant was one of 500 sent to the RN with the designation Reliant Mark 1, equivalent to the AT-19 and called UC-91 by the RN. Documentation with NC65442 shows something very interesting; this V-77 served with three militaries!
NC65442 was originally delivered to the USAAF as a Vultee AT-19 Manufacturer Serial Number 43-43985 and designated for the UK Lend Lease Program. It was accepted on 25 February 1944, delivered on 2 March 1944, crated, and sent on its way 15 April 1944, as can be seen here in the Individual Aircraft Record Card:
In the UK it was assigned an FB designation and new serial number. Sources vary but do agree that a Reliant Mark 1 with the squadron designation FB544 was delivered to an RN Fleet Air Arm station at Hentsridge in southwest England in June 1944. Per the Royal Air Force Museum London, “according to records held by the museum, serial number FB523 to FB845 were a batch of over 300 aircraft delivered to the Admiralty. From the book ‘Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939-1945’ by Ray Sturtivant, he records FB544 being on the station flight at Hentsridge June 1944-December 1945, Donibristle Ferry Pool December 1945, to Abbotsnitch 8 January 1946, retired USA as BuAer 11392.”

Per Wikipedia, "Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer) was the U.S. Navy's material-support organization for naval aviation from 1921 to 1959." That means that the Reliant was transferred to the U.S. Navy from the UK, making it having been with the USAAF, British Fleet Air Arm, and U.S. Navy!

We can see here on the U.S. Navy Aircraft History Card where FB544 (showing its BuAer number as Serial Number 11392) was transferred back to the US as a "Miscellaneous increase from UK" on 11 June 1946, and then subsequently stricken on 30 June 1946. The Bill of Sale then shows it being sold as War Surplus on 10 July 1946 for the princely sum of $2,500.
The Bill of Sale also shows the Reliant's new US serial number 77-272. The Application for Airworthiness dated 24 September 1946 then shows its new Registration Number, NC65442.
Per the British "Index of Naval Aircraft" website, following the war, "US authorities attempted to sell the...Reliants as 'war surplus', but no one could buy them because the AT-19 had never been certified as a civilian aircraft. Vultee [Corporation's Stinson Division] bought them all up and certified them as the V-77. This was Vultee's 77th design. As a result, all of the wartime Reliants are known as V-77s.... Vultee had to 'remanufacture' them to comply with the type certificate. This consisted of removing the military equipment, painting over the British roundels, painting on a U.S. 'N' civil number and selling them. All the V-77s show a manufacturing date in 1946 and the factory started new logs, so the military logs [were] not associated with the individual airplanes."
Stinson Reliant V-77 Specifications
Contractor: Stinson
Power Plant: 1 × Lycoming R-680-E3B, 9 cyl, 300 hp
Weight: 2,634 lbs empty Maximum Takeoff Weight: 4,000 lbs maximum
Length: 28 ft. 3 in. Height: 8 ft. 7 in. Wingspan: 41 ft. 11 im.
Maximum Speed: 163 mph
Cruise Speed: 138 mph
Range: 560 Miles
Ceiling: 14,000 ft.
Armament: None

The Museum is honored that Frank chose to donate his Reliant to us! It was a very popular attraction at the 2022 Pikes Peak Regional Airshow in the KidZone, with long lines of parents and children waiting for a chance to step up on the ladder and experience its interior just like a Tuskegee Airman did.

The Stinson Reliant V-77 is just one of the 29 aircraft in the Museum’s collection. See them -- and more than 100 displays and exhibits -- when you visit the Museum!

Story Credit: Rich Tuttle, Bill Barclay, George White
Special thanks to Liz Harper, Mark Dickerson, and Jim Densmore for their contributions to this article!
Flying The Hump: Letters Home Gave a Pilot’s View
The story of flying "The Hump" from India to China over the Himalaya Mountains in World War II is a stirring one. Even more so are the stories of the individuals who did the flying.
Fred Martin, a Colorado author, told a Museum crowd of several hundred at a February 18 Special Presentation in the Kaija Raven Shook Aeronautical Pavillion. First, he gave us the big picture, and then he described missions flown by his father, First Lieutenant Frank D. Martin.

The airlift "was the highest-loss, highest-risk air transport mission of the war," said Fred. "Pioneering aviators carried thousands of tons of gasoline and materiel across the highest terrain on Earth to supply B-29 bases deep in the interior of China that were poised for early bombing missions on Japan."

Such flights "had never been attempted over the planet's highest and most rugged mountains, much less on a year-round, all-weather basis," he said. There were winds of 250 miles per hour and downdrafts of 3,000 feet per minute. Then there was "the intensely hazardous payload", gasoline. Over 10,000 tons "were carried across the Hump per month," making a total of 650,000 tons.

The cost was high. More than 1,300 aircrew perished and at least 600 planes were lost. For each 500 tons of cargo delivered, a crew member was lost. Nearly 1,200 men bailed out over the Hump and 345 were never found.
Japanese movements in the Pacific forced creation of The Hump route. The attack on Pearl Harbor was just the first step in a complex Japanese plan that was so rapidly and successfully executed that it exceeded even Japan's own expectations. After Pearl Harbor, Japan sealed off its homeland and eastern China, then sped across the Pacific so land-based Allied bombers couldn't reach Japan. The Japanese hit the Philippines, Indochina, Thailand, and the Malay Peninsula. They overwhelmed the British at Singapore, took the Dutch East Indies, and threatened Australia and Alaska. All of this happened just weeks after Pearl Harbor.

Next on Japan's list was Burma. If Allied access to China via the Burma Road from the seaport of Rangoon was cut off, then the Allies wouldn’t be able to supply China. Then, on Christmas Eve 1941, Japan seized Rangoon. Truck transport via a new road under construction, the Ledo Road, was not practical, so The Hump airlift was born.

But just getting gasoline and other cargo to the airlift aircraft required completion of "the longest materiel supply line in the world," Fred said. "After the 12,000-mile ocean voyage from the United States, from Karachi or Bombay, shipments traveled 1,500 miles on India's dilapidated rail lines. Then, every bean and bullet…had to be flown from bases in Assam [India] over into China." One estimate said that for every ton of bombs dropped on Japan by B-29s flying from China, 18 tons of materiel had to be flown over The Hump.

The missions were flown "over regions of the Earth never before been seen by human eyes," Fred said. "These were pioneering aviation routes. Minya Konka is the highest peak in eastern Sichuan" China. "It was thought to be higher than Everest. No one knew." Pilots called the route "the aluminum trail" for all the planes that had crashed along it.
Frank Martin, who had earlier ferried B-17 bombers to England as a civilian, flew Hump missions in the Consolidated C-87 Liberator Express and C-109, cargo versions of the B-24 bomber. He was not a fan, and he was not alone. Ernest Gann, Hump pilot and author of "Fate is the Hunter," said the planes "were an evil bastard contraption, nothing like the relatively efficient B-24 except in appearance. The assembly of parts known collectively as a C-87 would never replace an airplane." C-109s were said to have burned about three times as much gas getting there as they delivered.

Frank flew 66 Hump missions, describing some of them in 211 letters to his wife Sally, Fred's mother. Fred discovered them by accident while cleaning out an old drawer. Fred dipped into them to, among other things, "give you a sense of the unrelenting pace of operations."

A letter dated September 3, 1944, for instance, told of a ten-and-a-half-hour round trip from Sookerating, India, to Chengdu, China. The next day, it was nine hours and 45 minutes to and from Pingshan, China. The day after that, it was eleven hours to and from Guanghan, China. Then to and from Guanghan again the next two days.

"Two days later, Dad flew his fortieth trip over The Hump to Pingshan," Fred said. "The next day he flew Flight 41 back to Pingshan and Sookerating. The next Guanghan. Then another round-trip to Guanghan on the same day. That was an unimaginable 22 hours of flying in the Himalayas in one 24-hour period after one night off in ten consecutive days of such flights."

"The most imminent enemy was debilitating fatigue," Fred said. "Just one of these trips over The Hump was a flight of expeditionary proportion at this time in aviation history."

After a flight to Guanghan, Fred said his father wrote, "I hear we bombed Japan yesterday. It was B-29s from our Theater.” This is what the massive effort was all about, Fred said, hauling all this gasoline over the mountains. “I can't answer the question about where the B-29s are,” Frank wrote. “Secret. No one but the Japs and a couple of million other people know where they're based. They sure are big, though."
Weather was an issue, but, Fred said, in early 1944 a directive said that no flights were to be canceled or delayed because of weather. The order "was widely referred to as the ‘there-will-no-longer-be-weather' decree," Fred said. "And pilots quipped that if the weather could be thus ordered away, perhaps a similar order could be issued to the Japanese."

On April 7, 1944, Frank took off for China. "Heading into the mountains they encountered turbulence so severe that a man's head would be smashed on the ceiling of the cockpit if not for the shoulder harnesses holding them to their seats," Fred said.

"A barrel burst and 55 gallons of gasoline spilled out on the deck. This was the era of many arcing electric relays and red glowing vacuum tube radios. Dad's friend and copilot, Sam, began frantically tugging on his harness releases, wanting to get up and get his chute on. He preferred bailing out in the thunderstorm over the Himalayas to dying in a fireball. Releasing the shoulder harness would have been enough to kill him.

"Eventually they broke out in the clear and set a return course for Tezpur" Assam, their home base, Fred said. "They shut down all the electrics they could and planned their landing of the heavily loaded freighter. The landing gear could be cranked down by hand but they were going to have to use the electric landing flaps to stop the airplane on the jungle strip, and there would likely be a small electric arc when they hit the switch.

"Dad winced as he reached for the flap switch. He hesitated. And then lowered the flaps. He wrote Mother, 'There was no reason the aircraft didn't explode.'

“Dad's log entry for that flight has the rather understated notation: 'Returned with leaky gas drum.'"

Story Credit: Rich Tuttle
Photo Credits:
World War II Airfields in England
The 100th Bomb Group Museum at Thorpe Abbotts
By Gene Pfeffer

I was recently able to visit the former home of the 100th Bomb Group during WWII. The remains of the airfield once known as U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) Station 139 is in an agricultural region in the east of England near the town of Diss in Norfolk. Called Thorpe Abbotts for a nearby village by the men who flew from there, the former airfield has almost entirely been returned to its natural state. What remains is a museum, primarily the control tower and a few other buildings, dedicated to the men of the 100th Bomb Group that called the base home from 1943 through 1945. The museum is now known as the 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum, and it is one of several museums located in the east of England on land formerly occupied by USAAF bomber and fighter groups.
RAF Thorpe Abbotts was built during 1942 and early 1943 for the Royal Air Force (RAF), but the rapid buildup of the Eighth Air Force resulted in the airfield being handed over to the USAAF. The airfield had three intersecting runways laid with concrete which were encircled by a three-and-a-half-mile perimeter road. The perimeter road had hard standings (hardstands) for fifty aircraft. There were two hangars, a technical site, and a domestic area. The station became operational in June 1943 when the 100th Bomb Group took up residency equipped with the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.
The group became known as the ‘’Bloody 100th’’ because of the heavy losses incurred by the group on several of their combat missions.

The 100th was the only group to operate from Thorpe Abbotts and during the period between 15 June 1943 and 10 April 1945, 306 missions were flown from the airfield. For the 22 months the airfield was home to the 100th, the group lost 768 killed or missing in action with an additional 939 take as prisoners of war. The group also lost 177 B-17’s.

The USAAF left the station in December 1945 when the airfield was returned to the Royal Air Force, and it remained inactive until April 1956 when the airfield was finally closed. At its peak the base operated 50 B-17s and had 3,500 personnel assigned.

The museum is dedicated to the memory of the men of the 100th Bomb Group. It displays a wide range of memorabilia including B-17 engines and instruments, clothing and flight jackets, memories and photos, and a panoramic view from the Control Tower. If you are a WWII aviation enthusiast like me, you can take a trip back in time with a visit to Thorpe Abbotts and the other small museums in eastern England. You can almost hear the engines of the 20 B-17 Flying Fortresses being dispatched to Berlin, a mission that was one part of the greatest air campaign of all time.

To plan your trip to the 100th Bomb Group Museum, or to read more about what they do, visit their website at

Gene Pfeffer is the Curator and Historian of the National Museum of World War II Aviation.
Looking for Spring Break Activities? Come to the Museum!
Are the kids on Spring Break? Are you looking for something cool and interesting for both them and you to do? We've got you covered!
Come on over to the National Museum of World War II Aviation at the Colorado Springs Airport and try your hand at our Naval Aircraft Factory N3N-3 “Yellow Peril” flight simulator -- just like Christopher Watson, shown here in the pilot's seat getting some advice from volunteer instructor Ralph Brands. While you’re here, take the opportunity to check out our collection of 29 flying aircraft and over 100 displays and exhibits!
We're open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, including aircraft in our collection, exhibits, directions, event calendar, prices, and much more, go to our website at .
Story and Photo Credit: Rich Tuttle
Monument, Colorado, Life Scout Working to
Honor Hometown WWII Hero ... with a Monument!
Colin Saber, a Life Scout with Boy Scout Troop 17 in Monument, Colorado, has a very specific goal for his Eagle Scout Project; to honor a hometown hero, retired United States Army Air Forces P-51 Mustang pilot Colonel Earl G. Depner.

Earl George Depner was born outside of Edgar, Montana on November 12, 1917, and passed away in Monument on January 23, 2022, at 104 years old. He graduated from high school and joined the Army Air Corps after Pearl Harbor, where he subsequently was stationed at Boxted, England, where he was assigned to the 356th Fighter Squadron and flew 84 missions.

On one particular escort mission to attack an oil refinery, he was hit over France and forced to bail out. In an interview with Fox21 News, his son George said, “One bullet hit the coolant tank, and his plane wasn’t going to make it back to England. He stood up on the seat, he said he closed his eyes instinctively, he jumped, and thought he hit the tail and then he pulled the ripcord the whole time the airplane is going down”.

Earl was fortunate to land in a tree and to be recovered by Allied personnel, as the area had recently been occupied by the enemy. He suffered seven broken ribs during the incident and was awarded the Purple Heart. He’s also credited with shooting down one German fighter and destroying one and half on the ground.
After the war, Earl remained in the Air Force, and even went on one mission during the Korean War. In 1965 he retired as a Colonel.

Speaking about why he chose this as his Eagle Scout Project, Colin said, “I am aiming to place a monument that will serve as a solid and lasting memory of those who served during World War II. I have always been captivated with that time in our country’s history, so I wanted to do something that would honor the men and women who served during that war.”

“Shown to the right is a picture of the 11-foot-tall bronze sculpture I am aiming to acquire and place at the Town Hall in Monument, Colorado. I have already obtained approval from the town mayor -- as well as the town manager -- to place the sculpture there, and they have told me it will be made a permanent fixture of the town's infrastructure once installed.”
“The location of a sculpture can have a massive impact, because a good location means it can be seen and enjoyed by more people. As people go by the most popular street in Monument, they will see the P-51 sculpture I am aiming to place. A lot of people will be able to see and enjoy the sculpture if placed in this location.

“The P-51 sculpture that I am aiming to acquire is awesome. It is 11 feet tall, 7 feet wide, 6 feet front to back, and it weighs over 2,000 pounds. The sculpture was made by artist Robert Henderson. Mr. Henderson was a pilot who also got into sculpting. Since he was interested in aviation, he made plane sculptures and earned the title "The Warbird Sculptor". His studio is in Canyon City, Colorado, where he has been working for the past 35 years.
“World War II took place long before my time, but I am deeply thankful for all the sacrifices that people made for future generations and their freedom, which now includes me. I am doing this because people like him risked their lives to save the world. Since Col Earl Depner, along with thousands of other pilots, put their country first, I would like to honor them by putting a P-51 sculpture at the Town Hall of Monument, Colorado. I hope we can come together and install a lasting tribute for all they did for us.”

For more information on Colin and his project, go to

Story Credit: George White
The only effective U.S. Navy ­fighter early in the war, the Grumman F4F Wildcat was out-performed by the Japanese Zero. Creative air-to-air combat techniques and training turned the advantage to the Wildcat when in multiple-aircraft dog­ fights.

The Wildcat’s rugged construction and America’s better-trained pilots kept the advantage, with a reported kill ratio of nearly 7 enemy aircraft shot down for each Wildcat. The F6F Hellcat replaced the F4F on larger aircraft carriers, but the compact F4F continued in production for use on smaller aircraft carriers. Grumman’s system of folding wings enabled more Wildcats to be stored in the con­fined space of an aircraft carrier than other contemporary Navy ­fighters.

After Grumman stopped producing Wildcats in 1943, General Motors’ Eastern Aircraft Division built them as the FM-1 and FM-2. The FM-2 had four .50-caliber machine guns, versus six on the F4F; it also had a taller vertical stabilizer and split‑flaps. Of the 7,825 Wildcats manufactured, 5,837 were FM’s.
Maximum Speed: 320 mph
Service Ceiling: 34,000 ft.
Contractor: General Motors
Power Plant: Pratt & Whitney R-1830-86 double-row radial engine producing 1,200 hp
Length: 28 ft. 9 in.
Height: 9 ft. 2.5 in.
Wingspan: 38 ft.
Guns: 6 × 0.50 caliber AN/M2 Browning machine guns

Shown in the photo below, a visiting General Motors FM-2 Wildcat of the Commemorative Air Force is parked on the tarmac outside the WestPac hangar on the campus of the Museum.
Story Credit: Rich Tuttle and George White
Photo Credit: Rich Tuttle
What a Lineup!
A March 17 event at the Museum's Kaija Raven Shook Aeronautical Pavilion prompted several aircraft to be moved across the ramp to the WestPac hangar … and what a lineup that made for visitors taking the tour!

Seen here (clockwise, from bottom right) are eight planes – General Motors TBM-3E Avenger, Brewster F3A-1 Corsair, Chance Vought F4U-4 Corsair, General Motors FM-2 Wildcat, two Grumman F7F Tigercats, Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, and North American T-6 Texan. Believe it or not, a ninth aircraft—and the biggest of them all-- is just out of camera view, the Museum’s B-25J Mitchell “In The Mood”.
Story and Photo Credit: Rich Tuttle
Upcoming Events
Special Presentation -- The Battle for the Atlantic

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Museum opens 8:00 a.m.
Presentation 9:00 a.m.

TBM Avenger Flying Demonstration following the Presentation (Weather Permitting)

The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continuous campaign of World War II, running non-stop from 1939 to 1945. It pitted German submarines, warships, and aircraft against Allied navies, air forces, and merchant shipping, with convoys of supply ships going to Britain and the Soviet Union as the targets.  
After the United States entered the war, German submarines quickly attacked shipping off the East Coast with great success. The campaign took on the characteristics of a deadly chess game, with each side making operational and technology moves to counter each other. With new technology and abundant ships and aircraft, the battle finally turned in favor of the Allies in 1943. 

Former U.S. Navy Seabee officer and museum docent John Lynch will describe this great battle and how close Germany came to winning it. He’ll focus on the special contributions of British and U.S. Navy escort carriers and their aircraft, such as the TBM Avenger, in the eventual victory.
8:00 a.m. - Doors Open
9:00 a.m. - Presentation
TBM Avenger Flying Demonstration following the Presentation (Weather Permitting)
Standard admission prices are in effect. The purchase of advance on-line tickets is encouraged and may be purchased at .
Advance ticket prices are:
Adult $15
Child (4-12) $11
Senior and Military $13
WWII Veterans - Always Free
Museum Members - Included in membership; please call 719-637-7559 or stop by the front desk to make your reservations.
And of course, parking is always Free!
CORRECTION: In the February newsletter article "Ocean Reef Vintage Weekend with Jim & Jane Slattery", we mistakenly got Jane's first name wrong in the caption for the third photo. We're sorry Jane!
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Newsletter Staff

Gene Pfeffer
Historian & Curator
Rich Tuttle

Rich Tuttle
Docent, Newsletter Writer, Social Media Writer, Photographer

John Henry
Lead Volunteer for Communications

George White
Newsletter Editor, Social Media Writer, Photographer