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Paintings of Naval Aviation


Satisfaction Plus
Joseph Hirsch #26
Oil on canvas, circa, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories

There are no severer critics of squadron performance than men who constitute Navy ground crews. When performance is high, it is the ground crew which exudes self-satisfaction. This trio of navy machinist's mates put on expressions of pleased smugness as they critically observe fighter squadrons wheel aloft in formation. Their job is done; every engine purrs like a cat.


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.


Training in Homicide
Georges Schreiber #10
Gift of Abbott Laboratories

The rear seat gunner of a Navy dive bomber or torpedo plane carries a heavy burden. His task is to ward off enemy fighters, usually faster and trickier than his heavier bomber. That's why training in Navy flexible gunnery gets so much emphasis. Here a naval petty officer puts a group of gunner candidates through closely directed firing drill. The man at the gun is still a bit awkward--but he'll learn.


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.


The Man in the Rear Seat
Georges Schreiber #6
Gift of Abbott Laboratories

The Rear Gunner's spot, as on these SBD Dive Bombers, is a lonely, but vital one. It is the man in the rear sear who fights the rear guard action protecting his pilot while bombs are aimed at the target. His flexible machine guns have scratched scores of enemy fighters on the Pacific tally sheets


A Navy Catapult Barks
Georges Schreiber #12
Watercolor, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories

An observation-scout is air-borne from a catapult at the naval seaplane base, Pensacola, Florida. This action took place on the beach as part of training for naval aviation cadets and pilots in operational training. The plane is the Vought-Sikorsky OS2U, used in land-based operations and catapulted from cruisers or battleships to scout the enemy and to spot gunfire. With its crew of two, it can carry small bombs, scout relatively large areas, and when equipped with pontoons, land in rough waters.


The Dunkers
Georges Schreiber #3
Watercolor & crayon, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories


Eyes aloft, three members of a Navy beaching crew pull on their neck-high "boots" preparatory to beaching, the observation-scout spiraling down to a water landing. The rubber suits protect the crew from the chill of icy water in beaching operations before the airplane is towed up the beaching ramp by a tractor. In southern waters, or in warm water, the crew usually discards rubber dunkers for bathing shorts and a sun tan.


Beachcomber, Navy Style
Joseph Hirsch #4
Charcoal, circa, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories


Clad in rubber suit, this member of a Navy seaplane beaching crew sits and meditates while awaiting a call to action. The beaching crew must wade into the water at seaplane beaching ramps and attach lines and beaching gear necessary to haul flying boats onto the ramp.

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01 August 2001