23 June, 2009

Profile 34: KAY II as flown by "Sandy" Moats

"KAY II" was a last-minute request to support Colonel Len Kloeber's book, "Victory Principles - Lessons from D-Day." Len was specifically looking for an airplane that had some sort of connection to the momentous June 6 date and noted Sanford "Sandy" Moats' Kay III (Profile 8).

Profile 8 was never intended for a production-print run. In fact, the artwork was a fast lash-up for a symposium at Seattle's Museum of Flight and though the rendering worked for the presentation, it simply wasn't good enough to light up a press.

Now, I know as an aviation artist, I'm a solid grade "C" - up-close, I get a C-. From 20' away, I can pull off a C+. But I do try to be accurate with two things - nose art and markings and I knew there were a couple errors that would need to be corrected before sending the artwork to the printer. When Len's request came in, I simply couldn't find my one photographic reference of Kay III and therefore, couldn't correct what I knew was "wrong" with the version shown in this blog.

So, I offered to provide another D-Day plane. God knows there are a bunch - though the ground forces met with their own hell on the beachheads, the pilots ruled the skies over Normandy. Only two very brave Luftwaffe pilots made any kind of showing on D-Day. Len however, insisted on Moats' plane. The only other shot we had at getting a decently documented piece of art was Kay III's older sister, Kay II.

Just to be clear, Kay II and Kay III were not over the Normandy beaches on June 6, 1944. But her pilot was. Nevertheless, there's no doubt Sandy Moats went on practice the higher points of Leadership (he made 3 stars as a General in the Air Force). So, Len's choice of Kay II as a premium to promote his book was fitting.

ANYWAY, I had three days to bring Kay II to life and get her to the printer in order to meet Len's public appearance schedule. Sam Sox, a brilliant historian of the 352nd, was invaluable in getting the art right - notice the slight difference in blue between the two panels that hold the KAY II lettering versus the surrounding blue. Sandy was given a new plane sometime late-summer/early fall '44 and asked that the old "KAY" artwork be pulled off of his old plane and put on the new. Sam helped me get the "old blue" and the "new blue" right.

However, in the end, Moats himself ended up providing the necessary reference by giving me an invaluable help in lettering, coloring and positioning of the nose art, his own photo of the moment KAY II's panels were transfered to the new plane.

FYI - Sandy's on the far left.