12 December, 2010

Profile 44 - Harold Thune's F6F

Last month, I announced to my wife, "No more airplanes for a long while." Funny how things work because the ears of Fate must have remembered a comment I made to Steve Heffernan, a historian at the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola, FL.

Steve's a native South Dakotan and rightfully proud of his home-state's representation in Washington D.C., Senator John Thune.  He and I were standing in the Naval Air Museum's expansive, Indiana-Jones like warehouse when he pointed to a city-block long rack of cardboard boxes filled with WW2 flight records and announced, "Have you done Thune's dad's Hellcat? His flight records are up there somewhere..."

I replied, "No.  Should I?"  Steve gave me a "Duh!" look and commanded, "Yes, you should!"  Unfortunately, in the blur of the moment (I WAS in one of the Nirvana's of aviation archeology, so things were rather distracting), I forgot my promise shortly afterwards.

11 months later, a newspaper called to get some insight into the 69th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor (why they asked ME, I have no freaking idea) and the reporter asked, "Have you met Senator John Thune's dad, Harold?"

Blink!  I remembered my promise and admitted such to the reporter who promptly got me in touch with Thune's office.  One week later, I'm meeting with the Senator's aides, discussing how to get the elder's records to accurately reproduce Harold's Cat.

And so, I've begun the project of capturing the F6F flown by Lt. Harold Thune of VF-18 (Intrepid). The scan above is my pencil sketch study I made this weekend while snowbound during a camping trip. The Senator's office and I are researching the airplane that Harold flew during a fateful mission in Fall of 1944 where Harold downed 4 Japanese airplanes.

Watch this space - it promises to be a cool story, with lots of interesting details that you wouldn't normally get to see.

I guess I spoke too soon about "laying off the airplanes."