What’s This To Do With Trains Anyhow???
By Bob Mintz
On Sunday August 11th 2002, my neighbor Stan Lonski, Sam “The Sham” D’Apice and I went to the Grumman airshow in Calverton/Riverhead New York, at the former Grumman plant. After W.W.II, with the dawn of the jet age, Grumman acquired use of the Navy facility in Calverton, Long Island in 1952 to manufacture and test jets.
Of course, trains were used to transport supplies and deliver the finished products to the US Government. As you can see, these rails have not seen rail travel in quite a few years, although the area is still active, and was most recently used to reconstruct TWA Flight 800, which crashed off of Center Moriches N.Y.
There was quite an impressive display of WWII era airplanes that day.
So, other than the above photographs, how do I relate this to trains?
Okay, our first plane was a P-51 Mustang.
In 1942, tests of P-51s using the British Rolls-Royce “Merlin” engine revealed much improved speed and service ceiling, and in Dec. 1943, Merlin-powered P-51Bs first entered combat over Europe. Lionel may have been referred to as the Rolls Royce of the toy train industry at one time, but this is car related, not train related. Darn! Ah, but wait…Lionel did make a Mustang Set#6-21953.
The Curtiss P-40 was America’s foremost fighter in service when WWII began. P-40s engaged Japanese aircraft during the attack on Pearl Harbor and the invasion of the Philipines in December 1941. They also were flown in China early in 1942 by the famed Flying Tigers. “Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!” Lionel is now made in China, but this is still a stretch for a train related topic.
The Boeing P-12 was one of the most successful American fighters produced between WW I and WW II and was used by both the Army and Navy (as the F4B). The last of the biplane fighters flown by the Army; some remained in service until 1941. A certain resemblance exists between this biplane and the one on the Lionel 6-32920 animated pylon with airplane.
The B-25 Mitchell made by North American was the most successful lightbomber of the war. It was used in all theaters. It is best known for the daring carrier based attack carried out by Jimmy Doolittle on Japan in 1942.
Here it is seen with an olive drab 1940 Plymouth staff car, the same color scheme as many of the scarce Lionel military items from the early 60’s.
Okay, I know my explanations seem pretty lame, I grant you that. But here comes the clincher.
I was examining this P-47 Thunderbolt and noticed it’s “kills”, which included the destruction of 3 V-2 rockets, (quite impressive) 15 trucks, 20 Nazi planes, and 5 each of the following: bombs; diagonal bombs (?); what looks like oil cans and of course, DA-DA, 5 trains!!!
Secondary targets always included the destruction of railroads, track and freight yards.
And you thought that I couldn’t somehow make this a train related article.