24 September, 2017

Profile 127: Hawker Hurricane as flown by... of 6 Sqn.

"We're scraping the bottom of the barrel, I'm afraid.  But at least we have this one."

Break break.

A quote has been making its way around screens—attributed to some ancient Chinese philosopher named "Lao Tzu"— that makes a bit of sense.

If you are depressed, then you are living in the past.
If you are anxious, you are living in the future.
If you are at peace, you are living in the present.

It's great work if you can get it—but for me, though emotionally delicious, the quote rings to me as simply another platitude for this reason:  'the present' is an impossibly imperceptible moment birthed by the past for a yet-unknown future purpose.


In other words, sitting still (at least to me) is a waste of an incredible resource:  Time.

Have a look above.  Not at the meditating man but at the scrawl at the very top of the page—it's the opening pencil sketch of a Hawker Hurricane Mk.IV.

A little background is in order.  The Hurricane— or "Hurri" as they're sometimes referred—was one of the two principle British-designed fighters of WWII.  The other was the absolutely perfect Supermarine Spitfire.  It's no secret that the Spitfire remains one of the most outstanding (and beloved) combat aircraft ever.  But, it's also no secret—at least to History Geeks—that the Hurricane was just as great and hugely dissed by the rank & file of wing nuts.

Strong, uncomplicated, terrifically armed (one production variant had twelve .303 machine guns!) and   free of aerodynamic vice, there's little to criticize.  Surely, it was slow and had the aerodynamics of an oak tree...and sitting next to the lovely Spitfire, homely.  In many ways, the Hawker Hurricane is the Susan Boyle of fighters:  brilliant, wonderful, heartwarming but isn't (insert the name of any pretty face) more interesting?!

Ok.  Back to the story at hand.

The number of "WWII Stories" that are fresh and fascinating are simply all about GONE.  Like the quote at the beginning of this post, the barrel is not only empty, it's also dry save for insignificant specks that are so wedged into the woodwork, they're just not even worth the effort.

Still, picture me and another gentleman, torso's hidden in the cavernous empty of time's cask, magnifying glasses in one hand, tweezer's in the other, muffled voices of frustration...until...one says to me, "John!! Look at what we have HERE!"

And there, like stepping onto a crisp $100 bill resting on a busy Target® parking lot, lay a WWII story that had never been told, never been noted and at the same time, was absolutely present.

"And look!  There's not just one of them...there are THREE!"

Thus has begun an anxious scramble to capture a story that, by its scarcity and conditions will bring me no rest, no peace... only the wonderful hope that we all can read/watch a beautiful story before it's too late —that'd be depressing. :(

"Split Second" - OGTA episode

Jim Kunkle's P-38 has been a rewarding project... for one, it turned out pretty well.  For two, Jim was grateful for the gift.  For three, Jim's story is really fascinating.  Read here for more.

But, the fourth reason is the best—Jim's a great interview.

Last March, my show, "Old Guys and Their Airplanes" was fortunate to be able to record Jim talking about his Sept 16, 1944 moment.  On Sept 16, 2017 (73 years later) we have been able to bring the story to a greater audience.

So far, the stats have been remarkable—Jim Kunkle's "Split Second" episode has resulted in the fastest-watched, longest watched we've created.   If you haven't watched, and have 14 minutes to spare, you may see why:  it's simply a great story told by a great man.

OGTA #12 - Split Second - The Jim Kunkle Story from John Mollison on Vimeo.