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Monday, March 28, 2011

"The Van Nuys Collection" #9... Another "Brit"

The Westland Lysander and the old Van Nuys tower
 When I saw this overstuffed "Cub" sitting in a hangar, I just had to ask if it was okay to spend some time sketching it. I spent most of the day checking it out. I always thought it was strange to have landing lights in the wheel skirts. Runways be an extravagance in Britain, at the time it was designed, probably explains it all.

I never saw the plane's engines start up and see it go on a test flight, but it sure was in sparkling shape when they rolled it out. I read recently that there is only two Lysanders in flying shape today. I wonder if, twenty five years later, that still holds true, for if it does, I feel really lucky to have been there as they rolled this restored beauty out.

I drew these Lysander sketches in a black water based Pentel and gray graphic markers. I know this is true because one of the less successful sketches was pretty smeared.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sketches from the Van Nuys Collection, "A Bonanza and a War Bird...

A Bonanza and a WarBird

Sitting out in the middle of the pasture were planes from the Hollywood Air Force as well as planes from the Confederate Air Force which I believe changed it’s name to the Commemorative Air Force in 2002. This sketch, I believe dates back to the early eighties, but like many of my sketches which didn’t have my original signature and date,  I decided to insert my type written name and copyrighted date of 2011. Straddling the partially disassembled A-26 Invader on one side is a T-6 “Zero” which was possibly used in the movie “Tora, Tora, Tora,“  Behind the Hollywood “Zero” and not in this sketch was a Vultee BT-15 which was converted rather convincingly to a Japanese "Kate" torpedo bomber.

On the other side, is a Beechcraft Bonanza. Designed by a team after WWII, the model 35 was a relatively fast, low-wing monoplane at a time when most light private aircraft were still made of wood and fabric. The Model 35 had retractable landing gear and a V-tail which made it both efficient and the most distinctive private aircraft in the sky. The prototype 35 Bonanza made its first flight in December 1945, with the first aircraft debuting as 1947 models. In 1982, the V-tail Bonanza was dropped from production, though more than 6,000 V-tail models are still flying today.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The "Van Nuys Collection" #10... An AT-6 Breakdown

AT-6 "Texan" Bits and Pieces
The ubiquitous "T6" World War II Advanced Trainer was easy to fly and just as easy to ground loop or flip over landing because the of proximity of the landing gear. But, if you passed in this trainer, you got to strap on one of those 2000 hp puppies. Although the US retired the T-6 from active duty by the end of the 1950's, several nations utilized "the pilot maker" as their basic trainer well into the 1970's. Today, over 350 T-6 Texans remain in airworthy condition. Most of those are based in North America and are a reminder of the importance of simplicity in training student pilots.

This one I sketched looked like a "skywriter" who best days of composing ads and love letters was well behind it, but you never know. It was, at least, not put out to the pasture. Maybe soon, it will be, once again, flying in formation at some July 4th airshow... or better yet, on the silver screen as an enemy Zero or Focke Wulf, ha!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The "Van Nuys Collection" #7... Stairway to Wherever!

Stairway to Who Knows Where... Wherever!
I found this gantry, gangplank, stairway, whatever you want to call it out on the outskirts of the airport as if it is waiting for a plane to land, ready to unload passengers. Possibly used heavily at one time, this gantry offers one a climb aboard the mystery plane to anywhere or, in the case of a New Orleanian, the next inflight buffet . The only limitation is one's imagination! Notice, there are no hydraulics to adjust the platform to the aircraft door. It's like one size fits all or nothing!.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"The Van Nuys Collection" #8... Engine Without A Plane!

Pratt & Whitney R2800 "Double Wasp" Aircraft Engine
The legendary R-2800 that powered the Marauder, the Invader, the Thunderbolt, the Hellcat, the Corsair and a host of post WWII aircraft including many propeller driven airlines of the fifties and sixties. It is widely considered to be one of the finest piston aircraft engines ever developed. At the time of its introduction, no other air-cooled engine, and few inline, water-cooled engines could match the Pratt's power-to-weight ratio. The powerplant series was consistently refined and upgraded during WWII, including additions such as a water injection system to increase combat emergency power.  Later models towards the end of WWII produced over 2,400 hp.

When I started this piece I thought I had enough time to finish it, but it prove to be more than I bargain for. Although anatomically incorrect as a Pratt and Whitney R2800 "Double Wasp" Aircraft Engine, it looks pretty convincing as a engine, at least!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"The Van Nuys Collection" #6... "The Westland Lysander"

The Westland "Lizzie" Lysander
 Another view of the British scout and liason aircraft before they rolled it out onto the tarmac.  This two-seat, high-winged monoplane would soon become famous for its nocturnal flights into occupied Europe, dropping supplies and agents behind enemy lines. Although it was pretty slow in the air, it apparently was held in high esteem for its STOL characteristics and rugged construction. Because of its use, most of the plane was painted black with only the upper surfaces painted in drab and gray.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The "Van Nuys Collection" #5...Bits and Pieces

I did an illustration, actually a few, of the B-25 Mitchell for class and then for the Air Force Art Program. At that time, I needed the details, but nowadays, you can get books that are pretty cherried up or go on line to find what you need. I have quite a few of these Mitchell breakdowns, but they are probably of interest, technically and visually, only to me. Still, something interesting in the layout of the page. Sometimes, even with a camera you can't capture what is needed because of the lighting of the day. These are always a nice addition when sunlight highlights one part and obscures another. Besides, it was fun to do and good practice especially since the subject wasn't going anywhere. You can even count the rivets!

Believe me, I have!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The "Van Nuys Collection" #2..."The Twin Beechcraft Model 18"

Intact but still grounded? Beech Model 18
Kind of a cool angle being that it was called "the Twin" for some reason and showing the twin tails from behind seemed appropriate. On some trips to the airport I would bring a fisherman's folding seat along with some pens, pencils and the sketchbook. I always felt I was intruding upon the sanctity of the airport and its personnel to bring anything more. I didn't wanna attract anymore attention than necessary, but for this sketch, I sat on the ground. I remember thinking the angle where the weeds actually obscure more of the plane was even more interesting, but I would have had to lay on my stomach and sketch and that would surely attract the attention of some one unwanted official.

The Model 18 was designed way back in the late thirties and went through many variations to accommodate military as well as commercial needs. From light transport to trainer, from coastal reconnaissance to bomber to airline, the Model 18 serve the needs of that era very well. Some later changes included turbo prop engines and a reconfigured nose to accommodate a nose landing gear, but the main change involved stress fractures that were expensive to repair.

Apparently, where the wing attaches to the main wing spar, there was metal fatigue especially where the engine mounted wheels were attached. Over the years, hard landings, ground loops and weathering took its toll. Although there are many still flying as vintage aircraft, many of the planes that were repaired are still flying passengers or being used by sky divers. Unfortunately, for some private owners, the repairs enforced by the FAA weren't worth the expense, so many were left out to pasture. The plane I sketched seemed intact and flyable, but sitting in this field away from the main runways, told me its fate was sealed.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sketches from Van Nuys Collection #4..."The Piper Cub"

Yellow. Is there ever any other color for this plane besides the military olive drab. I believe Elenore Roosevelt flew in a yellow L3 to prove that black men were capable of successfully learning how to fly. It was William Piper's dream to make the airplane as much a part of America as the Model T. The "Cub" was lightweight, easy to maintain and affordable with what looked like a large lawn mower engine in the metal cowling. It became a favorite of those who learned to fly it in the military and, after the war, purchased it as a recreational aircraft. It also was a flying icon for many years as CAP's premiere search and rescue aircraft. 
I remember trying to draw the plane on location using just line and never picking up the pen from the paper. That attempt failed horribly. Then I tried to draw the plane just using line... with no tone or cross hatching. So, I tried again and succeeded in my third try by covering my mistakes with cross hatching. 

I am pretty good at drawing a straight line without a ruler and it is around this time that I decided once I started a line I'd continue it even if it didn't always render the shape correctly. If you look closely, you can see mistakes that I just left alone or cross-hatched over. Unlike pencil, once you commit to a line in water based or alcohol based permanent marker, it is hard as hell to erase it without damaging the paper. There are ways, but that's a Ben Bensen secret, ha!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Van Nuys Collection#1..."The Dove"

When I first saw this plane I was intrigued because I had never seen any design like this in my life, but I could tell from the engine nacelles that it definitely was a British design. The fuselage and cockpit were slightly reminiscent of a smaller Vickers Viscount, which was a four engined airliner for BOAC. I had made a model of it when I was a kid, but the nose gear had me puzzled. That was then, but today, with the help of the internet, I searched all airliners in British history and eventually up popped the deHavilland DH-104 "Dove", which was a light transport aircraft, seating up to 11-passengers with the original variant powered by two 340-hp engines giving the plane a max speed of 200 mph. Which of the eight variants I drew with a razor point Sharpie and gray markers, I have no clue since 542 of these planes were built since 1945 and flew in many different roles for many different countries till 1985.

Remembering what it looked like when I sketched it and seeing the plane in its original airline colors and numerous company designs is kinda sad. The plane definitely had interesting lines with a slick canopy design that is today a bit similar to our NASA shuttles. Cool!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sketches from Van Nuys Airport circa 1986...

When we moved from Los Angeles to Folsom, LA, the mover got stuck in a deluge that flooded Houston in 2001. We had to wait an extra five or six days to meet the van line truck with all of our belongings. Well, most of our belongings. Till this day, we are still searching for paintings, posters, a 45 rpm record collection, cassette tapes and few other personal odds and ends. I know I still have an original Jack Leynnwood painting here in this house, but I can't find it. Even the patron saint of lost items, St. Ant'nie  (that's how his name is pronounced here in New Orleans!) was of no help, but I did find some old sketchbooks from days gone by.

This is one of many aircraft drawings I did in the eighties when you could just walk up to any aircraft parked on the premises and check it out. Nowadays, you'd probably get arrested! There's a whole sketchbook full of stuff, but only about a dozen or so of these sketches/drawings that I want to share and they are mostly aircraft I drew at Van Nuys airport. So, bare with me if you don't like av art. Here comes the Van Nuys Collection, ha!

By the way, this is a derelict Beechcraft Twin Model 18 of which about 9000 were made in one variant or another. The military transport version was designated the C-45.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Nice Segue to "Waitin' For A Plane...Again!

This is a sketch from my Air Force Art Program trip to Barksdale, AFB in Shreveport, LA. While we were waiting for a bus to pick us up and take us from the tarmac, I sketched this bomber crew waiting for a plane... a B-52 Stratofortress, or so they said. Drawn with a Prismacolor pencil on loose leaf paper.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Waiting for a Plane... ( Forty Winks#6 )

This is the last of the bunch of sleepy time drawings. Sleepy models and parked aircraft do make for better in the field sketches. Lucky for me, I sketched the mother and sleepy teenager first because she sat there with her daughter for a full forty-four minutes, I'm sure, and then, left. The plane never moved because it was being unloaded. I used one of those gold, Uniball fine point pens.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I'm Not Sleeping, Just Resting My Eyes...(Forty Winks#5)

How many times have you heard people say that they're not sleeping, they are just resting their eyes. Funny how the rest of the body starts to do the same and all is well until there is a song of various cacophony. It's a sure give away that those eyes ( and the rest of the body ) are visiting the nearest faraway place.