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Joseph Hirsch (1910-1981)


The Mongoose Becomes a "Guinea Pig"
Joseph Hirsch #7
Charcoal, circa 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories

The experimental surgical procedure about to be undertaken here is unique in that the `guinea pig" is a mongoose, an animal practically unknown in hospital laboratories elsewhere in the world, inasmuch as it is quarantined from nearly every country. It is particularly well suited for experimental research in internal medicine and surgery. The mongoose is extant in Hawaii, where this picture was made, because the animal was imported there from the East Indies by sugar planters to rid their cane fields of rats.


Joseph Hirsch #18
Pen & ink, circa, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories


The pull of parachute straps, the feel of helmet and goggles, the roar of airplane engines--these are combined to thrill the naval aviation cadet as he walks to the line for his first flight. Unsure but eager, he embarks on the long road which one day will bring him Navy Wings of Gold, and which eventually will lead him aloft from a carrier deck in the relentless stalking down of the Japanese.


Man of the Hour
Joseph Hirsch #22
Oil on board, circa, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories


His first solo flight! Elated, discoverer of the fact that he is master of his destiny, newborn of the elements--the artist has caught the spirit of the naval aviation cadet after his first flight alone in a primary trainer. He and his shipmates are keeping alive the proud tradition of the naval service. Tomorrow, whenever it may come--he will respond to the call for combat in the full discipline and training of his cadet days, an alert and capable naval flying officer. He's a pretty fine fellow, the Navy thinks.


On the Mark
Joseph Hirsch #6
Charcoal, circa, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories

In a few months he will be sighting at the Japanese rising sun as his bull's-eye. For the present, however, this Navy Gunnery candidate, chin braced on hand, lets loose with a few bursts on the gunnery range under the critical eye of an instructor. The rear seat gunner has written a distinguished chapter for himself in the story of naval aviation during this war.


Learning Their Altitude Ropes
Joseph Hirsch #12
Charcoal, circa, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories

An essential training feature for Navy aviation cadets is to learn to live and fight in the thin of high altitudes. From the safety of the low pressure chamber, they get their first experience with the tricks which lack of oxygen can play on the human system, and with operation of their oxygen masks. Under the watchful eye of a Navy rating, a pharmacist's mate, or hospital corpsman, they "ascend" to 25,000 feet in the low pressure chamber at training school.


Lens Hawk
Joseph Hirsch #16
Pen & ink, circa, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories


Aviation photography is a vital function of modern reconnaissance, and the big battles of today invariably are fought after preparations based on photographic scouting. The camera likewise has a vital function in recording the results of battle or bombing missions. Navy photographers are schooled in the camera arts from use of the grand snapshot to the aerial "big Bertha". Here, a candidate for a photographer's rating works out with a pocketful of film holders in reserve.


Pilot in Blackface
Joseph Hirsch #3
Pen & Ink, circa, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories


The Navy pilot, if unprotected from icy blasts while on cold-weather patrol, might suffer serious frostbite. To prevent facial freezing and maintain efficiency of air crews, wind masks are provided. Aerial observation and scouting requires sharp observation, and sometimes it is necessary for the airman to open ports or push aside the cockpit enclosure for unimpeded vision.


Easy Does It
Joseph Hirsch #25
Pen & ink, circa, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories


The big three-blade hollow steel "prop" which pulls a fighter airplane through the air at 400 miles an hour is a precision instrument. Mounting one on a propeller shaft requires care and skill, since inexpert manhandling can rip threads or cut mating splines and thereby put an airplane out of commission as effectively as a 20mm shell. Navy mechanics, however, universally have personal interest in their squadron's airplanes, and no plane captain ever wants it said his plane is not ready for combat.

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Online Exhibits that feature Joseph Hirsch's work
Amphibious Operations in the Pacific Theater

Navy Medical Art of the Abbott Collection
Naval Aviation of WWII From the Abbott Laboratories Collection


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21 April 2006