by Dan Collier
I'm amazed that so many people
share the same love for the P-40 that I do. Because you are
also including P-40 scale models in your website, I thought
you'd like to see a unique one that I built for my young daughters,
Arlene and Shannon, as a backyard toy in 1968. I was a sheet
metal apprectice at the time..
I started the project by purchasing a Guillows model rubber
band-powered P-40, then scaled the plans up to make this model
just over 15 feet long. It has a wingspan slightly over 17 feet.
This little plane sat in the back yard under a tree for a few
years and was very popular with my daughters and their friends.
The brainwork had already been
done by the Guillows company. By comparison, it was easy to
blow up their plans. Attached are additional photos of my daughters'
P-40 with them in the cockpit.. Arlene is now 41 years old,
and Shannon just turned 40.
I eventually refurbished
it, took it to a couple local airshows.
I met Boyington
at the Watsonville Fly-in in California, and saw him there a
couple different years, and bought his book directly from him,
and so he autographed it for me. I did spray clear laquer over
Boyington's signature, but sorry to say, when I recently climbed
a ladder to see if his signature was at all visible, it had
faded away completely. This is why I'm especially glad that
my daughter, Arlene got Boyington's photo just after he signed
the plane. I missed seeing him sign the plane, having wandered
off to look at the planes at the airshow, and when I came back
to the little P-40, it had Boyington's name written on it..
Later, he came back by and posed for photos of himself with
my daughters, and then one with me.. I have a photo of him posing
with my daughters. I'd have to dig it out, if you care to see..
It's in my box of photos.. Somewhere..
Mike Kawato was
also at that fly-in, and he's the fellow who took credit for
shooting Boyington down. Boyington says he's a liar, and he
showed me a letter from a Japanese historian who says Kawato
was not even in the air when Boyington was shot down.. But I
had Kawato autograph the other side of my daughter's plane anyway.
I eventually hung
it from my hangar ceiling, and this is where it hangs today.
I never get tired of looking at it. Pappy Boyington autographed
it in the 1970's in chalk, but today it has all but faded away.
Since hanging that
model from the hangar ceiling, I've told Arlene if she ever
wants her plane, she has to get it down by herself! Needless
to say, it's still hanging!
Here's a photo
shows what's left of Pappy Boyington's signature. Look just
under the ring sight and you'll see a P and an a. You can barely
make it out. When Mr. Boyington autographed the plane in the1970's,
I bought a cheap can of clear laquer spray paint from the hobby
shop and sprayed over the chalk a few times, maybe I shoulda
used varnish.. Oh well. I didn't even look for Kawato's signature
on the other side of the plane, because I'm sure that's gone
In the near future I'm going
to make another scaled up P-40 metal sculpture and offer to
my private airport as a plane-on-a-pole gate guard.. This time
it'll be stainless steel frame only.. (A P-40 skeleton) Looking
forward to that one.