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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Paintings of Naval Aviation

 

Task Force Hornets
Lawrence Beall-Smith #13
Oil on Board, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-KA

The operations island a grim gray redoubt against the sky, this aircraft carrier steams behind her task force screen with a swarm of fighters at ready on the flight deck. To be first off, planes of a fighter squadron stand at Fly One, the take-off spot. Behind them, in order, will be the dive bombers and the torpedo bombers. Meanwhile, as signal pennants snap from the truck, handling crews and pilots await the orders which will send these Grumman fighters snarling into the air.

 

Coming Aboard
Lawrence Beall-Smith #12
Oil on Board, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-JZ

Back from patrol, Navy Dauntless scout bombers make their landing circle and come in on the broad flight deck of an aircraft carrier. From the "bird cage" on the island, where the white flying flag is hoisted, the Air Control Officer, and the Group Commander observe operations. On deck, handling crews sprint forward to take charge of each returning plane, spot it forward and start servicing. Off the port beam an escorting destroyer rushes about busily in screening operations.

 

Swab Down
Lawrence Beall-Smith #3
Oil, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-JQ

 

A crewman rubs down finishing touches to the white-starred insignia of a fighting plane parked on the deck of an aircraft carrier. Plane surfaces are carefully swabbed down to remove any accumulations of dirt, oil and salt.

 

Scuttlebutt Session
Lawrence Beall-Smith #8
Charcoal, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-JV

 

The Navy has a word for it--"scuttlebutt"--the shipboard grapevine by which even the Skipper's innermost thoughts seemingly can be divined and relayed with constant improvements. A plane handling crew, at ease in the lee of an aircraft carrier's island superstructure, participate in the shipboard pastime of passing along the latest scuttlebutt while awaiting return of the squadrons.

 

The Armorer's Might
Lawrence Beall-Smith #9
Charcoal, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-JW

With an eye aloft for approaching customers, aircraft carrier armorers ready their plump and lethal groceries for delivery. These aerial bombs will be trundled down the flight deck and fitted to the bomb racks of planes when they return to "bomb up" for new missions and targets.

 

"Too Low"
Lawrence Beall-Smith #7
Charcoal, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-JU

 

Like an orchestra conductor, the Landing Signal Officer of an aircraft carrier leads his pilots through safe approaches and landings. Here, braced is a 30-knot wind and intent upon the approach of an incoming plane, a carrier "LSO" signals the pilot to come up a bit to improve his landing position. With his signal "paddles", the LSO warns busy fighting pilots against retracted landing gear, failure to lower landing hook, improper altitude, or any of the multitude of factors involved in landing a heavy combat plane on the rolling deck of a carrier at sea.

 

"The Cut"
Lawrence Beall-Smith #5
Charcoal, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-JS

 

An incoming Douglas Dauntless dive bomber makes a satisfactory approach to the flight deck of an aircraft carrier and the pilot gets the signal to cut his engine from the Landing Signal Officer. The waving "paddles" of the Landing Signal Officer are the guides of incoming pilots, and their semaphored signals are final authority in all landings. If the Landing Signal Officer is dissatisfied with the approach, he signals a "wave-off" and the pilot zooms up to go around again.

 

The Smoke Watch
Lawrence Beall-Smith #10
Charcoal, 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-JX

Aloft on a searchlight platform, the smoke watch stands a chilly vigil. In war, heavy black smudges from the stacks of a warship are dangerous tell-tales to the enemy. On an aircraft carrier, smoke is doubly dangerous as it also interferes with launching and taking aboard planes. To engineering officers below, the most desirable smoke condition is a light haze, so a smoke watch is posted to report to the engine room on smoke conditions above decks. Below may be seen bundled and hooded seamen cleaning the flight deck.

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21 April 2006