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david leigh-smith
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On This Day…January 9th.

January 9, 2019 · in News · · 21 ≡

January 9th, 1941, saw the first flight of the Avro Lancaster. Although the Lanc did not go into production until a year later, the feedback from the very first flight was excellent.

Notable in this photo, as well as the drawing below, is the vertical fin on the tail that didn’t make it to the production Lancaster. In all, over seven thousand Lancaster’s were made, although only two in the world remain airworthy in 2019 (in the UK and Canada).

In 1937, Lockheed started working on the ‘Excalibur’ projects, which were focused on developing a 40-plus passenger long-range airliner. Post Pearl Harbour, Lockheed’s aircraft were were conscripted into service for the US Army. The first ‘Constellation’ (C-69) aircraft took flight on 9 Jan 1943, and was delivered to the USAAF later in the same year. The C-69’s were mostly used as long-range personnel transport aircraft during the war although only 22 were built between 1943 and 1945 and a few of them remained in civilian hands. There were plans to develop a bomber variant to the design, but it was eventually scrapped.

In April 1944, Howard Hughes and Jack Frye piloted a Constellation aircraft from Burbank, Los Angeles, to Washington DC, managing the cross continent flight in under seven hours, a record at the time. On the return flight, they picked up aviation pioneer Orville Wright as a passenger. You can only imagine the thoughts that he must have had about the rapid evolution of aircraft in the short time since he and his brother made their historic flight at Kitty Hawk. This journey proved to be Orville’s final flight.

I think the Constellation is a beautiful aircraft with sleek, elegant lines that are seldom bettered. The last Constellation passenger aircraft was retired from service on 11 May 1967.

The USS S-32 and USS S-35 at Groton Ship Yards, Connecticut, United States, 9th January, 1923. I have to admit I was shocked that submarines even existed in 1923. Funny how some things get stuck in a 'blind spot' - if pushed I'd have guessed the first submarines would have appeared just prior to WWII.

Carrying on the submarine theme, this photo shows the launch of the unfortunately registered USS Hawkbill (SSN-666) on January 9th, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, 1944.

Mrs. Georgia Ann Broadwick (‘Tiny’ - she was 3 lbs at birth and 85lbs as an adult) was the first woman to parachute from an aircraft in flight. On January 9th 1914 dropped from an airplane flown by Glenn L. Martin at 2,000 feet over Griffith Park, Los Angeles, California. She collected several 'firsts' and was the first ever person to free-fall using an early version of the ripcord.

The Los Angeles Times headlined the story the next day. Despite the inherent danger of her profession (listed as “aeronaut”), and making well over a thousand jumps, ‘Tiny’ died peacefully at the age of 85 in 1978.

LSTs and LCVPs unloading men, equipment, and provisions on White Beach Two in Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 9th January, 1945.

A captured German half-track in Ronchamps, Ardennes, Jan 9th, 1945.

Reader reactions:
4  Awesome

21 responses

  1. Another great set David. I love the Connie.
    When I was Navy ATC in the mid 70’s we had an EC-121 version take off from Moffett Field. I remember she made three 360’s on departure. I could be wrong, but I believe it was due to her low climb ability and the need to be at specific altitudes while in the Bay Area traffic control system. Still, she was quite impressive to look at.

  2. Gary, I think the Constellation is one of the prettiest aircraft out there. I find that her lines and curves just really appeal to me in the same way a Moquito or a Spitfire does. As someone not tuned into commercial aircraft I think she really stands out. Would have loved to see a bomber version.

  3. This is another great "On This Day" column for today, David! And one that brought back some great memories for me.

    I have flown 2 flights in a "Connie:" I flew Varig Airlines from New York to Rio de Janeiro and returned a year later. I was of the grand old age of 8 at the time. As I was flying alone ( try to imagine THAT in 2019! ) I was under the care and watchful eyes of a Stewardess (yes, that's the proper name then) and I got a special invitation from the Captain & flight crew to visit "up front." After they showed me a few things, the Captain put the headphones on my head and sat me down in his seat where I got to "fly" the plane! I'm sure they had the plane on autopilot as I had no idea then what an autopilot was! But it sure left an amazing memory for me! The plane was a model 1049G Super Constellation; stretched fuselage, elongated nose, & wingtip fuel tanks. It is, in my most humble opinion, THE prettiest passenger airliner ever.

    The idea of a bomber version is VERY intriguing!

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

    • Hi Jeff. That sounds like a hell of an adventure for an eight year old, I can only imagine how I’d feel with that kind of opportunity at that age.

      The photo (painting) below is an artist’s impression of the XB-30, which was the proposed bomber version of the ‘Connie’. Every bit as gorgeous as you’d imagine...for a killing machine.

    • hey 8 years old in jan 1961 when we took a flight from Travis afb calif. to Okinawa in a super connie...stopped to refuel and stretch at honolulu...remember looking at diamondhead from the stop wake , then guam then okinawa...remember the pilot telling us we'd crossed the international dateline...i remember it was noisy as a freight train being a MATS subcontractor it probably had no more that quilts on the wall and very slow...but hey it was free...the flight was at least 18 hours maybe 36...a great first ride though...i'm building the short heller's almost as big in 1/72 as a 1/48 b-17...don't think i'd want it any bigger though i didn't know the difference till i got it...came back in a brand new 707...night and day...gorgeous aircraft

      • That was quite a flight you took, Bob! I don't remember the Connies I flew in as being noisy ... but they were straight-up passenger planes, so they had the fancy quilts! LoL!

  4. It is such a pleasure - every day! Don't want to miss one!

    • Thank you very much, Michael. The support is very much appreciated. It takes a little discipline to post every day but it’s worth it for the learning, and nice comments like yours.

  5. Profile Photo
    said on January 9, 2019

    Cheers for posting these. I had the heller 1/72 L1049 built up in the TWA livery. It was a favourite. Looked great on the shelf. You do need a big shelf mind.

  6. Oh, I can feel a ‘what-if’ build coming on...

    • Profile Photo
      said on January 9, 2019

      The heller EC-121 in 1/72 is out now and is a nice kit the l1049 super Connie is due soon in 1/72 . The kit built up no problem in fact I was able to put the wings on without glue so it could be stored easily.

  7. David, about the subs... the first true “modern” sub was launched in 1886 or so, in Spain. It was a one man design, and was named after its inventor, the “Peral”. It still exists, exhibit at one of the waterfront squares of Cartagena, whereby was launched and based

  8. 1886...that does not sit with my brain. I can intellectually get it, but I just ‘feel’ that subs didn’t arrive ‘til around ‘36.

    • ever heard of the confederate states Hunley or the turtle in the am revolution...good 1830 the admiralty called it the sneak effort of lesser nations

  9. Thanks, Bob. There’s a date with ‘google’...

  10. Ummmm... USS Hawkbill, a Balao class diesel-powered fleet submarine, is SS-366. Just sayin'. And yes, the modern gas engine/electric battery submarines have been around since 1900.

    As a matter of fact, your older ancestors may have had to change their diet around 1917 because of submarines. 🙂

  11. Ah, thanks, Tom. I was surprised they’d let a ship out of dock with the number 666, to be honest. Cross referenced this in Wiki - should be more vigorous. Appreciate the heads up, Tom.

    • USS Hawkbill, SSN-666 was a nuclear powered attack sub of the Sturgeon class.

      1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

    • i don't know david...ever notice the congressional MOH is an upside down telling what these guys were thinking

      1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  12. Me encantan estas historias! .Soy admirador del Constellation y llegue a verlo en Barajas en el aparcamiento,pero no tube tanta suerte como Jeff de ver la cabina por dentro.

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