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Paintings of Naval Aviation


Points of Recognition
Don Freeman #9
Oil, circa, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories


To all naval aviation personnel instant recognition of aircraft--friend and enemy--is a matter of life and death. Recognition is doubly important to the pilot, whose reaction must be measured in fleeting moments. To sharpen that recognition, aviation cadets spend long, hard hours learning the points of recognition of all types of airplanes. There must be no fatal confusion between the similar P-38 and the FW-189--between a Mitsubishi and an Allied bomber.


Over the Side
Don Freeman #7
Oil, circa, 1943
Gift of Abbot Laboratories

How to abandon ship is part of every seafaring man's knowledge. So, at naval aviation pre-flight schools, cadets get some elementary instruction in how to handle themselves on the end of a rope, and in boarding an inflated rubber raft in the water.


Coming Aboard
Don Freeman #10
Oil, circa, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories


Navigating an inflated rubber life raft and climbing the landing net on a ship's side are not as simple as they may seem. For one thing, excellent physical conditioning is desirable. For another, it takes familiarity with raft and net to do it properly. These Navy aviation cadets go through their paces in a pool before the critical eye of an instructor. Note cadet in water keeping the raft on even balance as a shipmate starts up the netting.


"...And Keep Your Powder Dry"
Don Freeman #8
Oil, circa, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories


Part of the training of naval aviation cadets is learning to meet every eventuality of war. A primary lesson for all fighting men is to keep their weapons in fighting condition. A little point in keeping a dummy rifle out of the water is practiced by a cadet, although the rifle could be any piece of equipment. Training such as this likewise is intended to make swimming more difficult for the cadet, his physical condition better.


Men in Tow
Don Freeman #12
Charcoal, circa, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories

Morale in the U.S. Navy is high. One of he reasons is because the Navy places a premium on the life of every man. In order to help them protect themselves until help comes, aviation cadets are taught not only to save themselves, but to save others in case of forced landings at sea. Here they are shown practicing how to tow injured personnel in the water.


Crash Landing
Don Freeman #4
Oil on canvas, circa, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories


How to crash at sea may seem a little grim as a course of instruction, but the Navy prepares its aviation cadets for every eventuality. Possibly the first thing a cadet learns is that water is hard when he hits it. Simulated "dunkings" are undertaken in a mock-up cockpit, in which the cadet learns about impact, scrambling loose while under water and weighed down with a parachute, and freeing himself while submerged upside-down. He learns that a fighting plane may sink in a matter of seconds and that he must act quickly, without panic.


"Met the Enemy"
Don Freeman #13
Pen & ink on Paper, circa, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories

There comes a time in war when man is pitted against man, a time for the individual without his weapons. Such a time, the Navy knows, may come to its pilots--possible in the rankness of enemy-infested jungle, on the beaches, or in the desert. In preparation for that eventuality, aviation cadets are taught the finer points of hand-to-hand combat. So that it may be instinctive, the Navy teaches cadets to fight blindfolded, such as they might have to do in the jungle at night.


Fists Are Good Weapons
Don Freeman #3
Charcoal, circa, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories

There are times when no weapon takes the place of a man's bare knuckles--especially when bouncing them off the jaw of a little yellow man. Navy pre-flight school teaches aviation cadets boxing both as a fighting art, and to impress upon them the lesson that they can absorb physical punishment and still keep going.


End of Pre-Flight Training
Don Freeman #11
Oil, circa, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories

The arduous course of physical conditioning in the Navy's pre-flight school is over for these aviation cadets, and they are embarked on the next course--primary training, where they actually begin to fly. Before leaving for Pensacola, Florida, they shout a boisterous farewell to under-classmen trotting on the double to the drill field for calisthenics.

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21 April 2006