19 July, 2011

Profile 55 - "Little Horse as flown by Ken Dahlberg (sort of)

The nose!  And a fine nose at that.

Did you ever read that story, "The Blind Men and the Elephant"?    In case you haven't, a number of blind men stumble across an elephant.  One finds the trunk, another finds the tail, another a leg, another...and they all attempt to describe what they've found.  One says, "It's a snake!" Another exclaims, "It's a tree!" "It's a rock!"  You get it.

Though they're experiencing the same thing, it's also clear they're not.

History is like that, too.  To understand what history is saying, you must step back, feel around in the dark for another perspective, step back, do it again and again...  Eventually a truer picture emerges.  But the perceptions are never complete. 

I hate that.  I want to know.

When Little Horse came around, the commissioner was passionate; his energy for the project was surprising even for a WW2 warbird enthusiast.  "This will be great!" he enthused.  "And you shouldn't have any trouble with references because there's a lot on the internet!"

Well, two minutes into the research and I knew "we" had a problem.  Those internet photos were of the modern restoration. Gorgeous, immaculate.  But it wasn't Little Horse.

Why not?  To me, the real Little Horse that Dahlberg flew was actually assigned to another pilot.  And she was a D-5 version that didn't have a tail strake, unlike the modern-day copy.  And the horse?  Likely red.  Not black.  And...

I felt like one of those nerdy buzzkills who show up and ruin the conversation by interrupting with a, "Well, actually the real Mustang..."

Please know - I don't use the word 'real' without a tinge of terror.  Stop in my office some time and I'll show you a print that was blessed by the pilot and independent experts only to be revealed to be in err when a previously unknown photo popped up years later.  (laughs)  Granted, the world would be a much better place if this was the worst of our problems, eh?

Anyway, I explained the complication - "Which Little Horse do you want?  The real one or the...other 'real' one?"

That's when I learned that this wasn't a typical Commission.  In fact, it had very little to do with Ken Dahlberg, the 354th Fighter Group, WW2 or even Little Horse.

Stay tuned.