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Model Flight: 1943

Model airplanes decorate the ceiling of the train concourses at Union Station in Chicago, Illinois. Jack Delano, 1943. View full size.

Model airplanes decorate the ceiling of the train concourses at Union Station in Chicago, Illinois. Jack Delano, 1943. View full size.


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I saw all those models in January 1943!

After a 5 day train ride from Seattle to Chicago in January 1943 with my mother (I was 7) we arrived at Union Station and this was the first thing I saw! Already being a young airplane nut I was astounded! My dad was a Chief Petty Officer Radar Technician and was stationed at the Chicago Navy Pier. My mom and I were going to live with him in an apartment until April. He shipped out to the Pacific Task Force 58 shortly after. I never forgot those planes 68 years ago!

1000 bomber raids in scale!

Crikey, there aren't even 1,000 model planes in this picture! Just imagine the terror of being on the receiving end of 1,000 of the real things!

Model planes

I remember seeing this photo many years ago. The planes were made by youngsters. Note the lack of paper or silk covering some frame members. Kits were distributed I don't know how.

Four engine planes in the picture in Union Station

The four engine planes in the picture showing half of the hull exposed are definitely PB2Y Coronados. I have been on board one of these several times in Pensacola. The floats are folded up to complete the wing while in flight. The plane is virtually a B-24 with a much deeper fuselage (hull) and squared-off wing tips. Both were made by Consolidated Aircraft Corp. The floats are retracted just like the PBY while in flight.

Union Station planes

All my life I have wondered about going to Union Station as a three year old to meet my Uncle Paul who was coming home for leave. I only remember looking up and seeing hundreds of model planes. I saw them as being black. For sixty years, I wondered what I had seen. This picture reveals that I really did see planes hanging at Union station. Now I have to track down the two giant silver urns I had seem at Navy Pier that had something to do with Admiral Dewey. They were twice as big as I was.

Interesting picture

I think A-T is correct about the foreground planes being Coronados. They aren't B-24's, since they do not have the distinctive "Davis" wing shape.

Subject Picture

The large, four-engined, planes at the top may very well be Consolidated PB2Y "Coronados". Note the floats folded into the wing tips, as well as the upward dap in the bottom of the fuselage, 2/3 of the way back, common to sea planes.

Re: Plane Geeks, Unite


Absolutely correct about the B-26 Marauders. I let the wikipedia article confuse me, since the A-26 Invader was also called the B-26 Invader for a time.

Good point about the rounded wingtips on the fighters. I would go with P-40 because of the wing-to-body ratio seems to be higher.

The Wall

Wow! Reminds me SO much of the WWII airplanes turning into crosses sequence from Pink Floyd's The Wall. Have to say it's sort of creepy.

Plane Geeks, Unite


The four-engine planes are B-24s, all right. But the A-26 existed only on the drawing board in '43; I can't make out the tails to see if they're B-25s, but the fuselages look too elliptical to be either B-25s or A-20s; I'm going to say B-26 Marauders.

Correct about the P-38s, but while it's hard to tell with the photo's resolution, the wingtips look round, ergo not P-51s. I'd say P-40s, although the wings are far back enough on the fuselage to almost look like P-39s.

the story -

"Union Station's glory years were during World War II, when wartime mobilization dramatically increased its use. During the early 1940s, as many as three hundred trains and 100,000 passengers passed through the station each day. A significant percentage of those passengers were American service personnel en route to one of the hundreds of military bases across the country. For their benefit, volunteers opened a canteen at the station. Union Station also served an important function in the government's effort to sustain the public's morale during the war. In what some called the "world's largest patriotic display," local officials draped the concourse interior with gigantic war-bond murals and the national flags of the Allies. "


Something very scary about this

I'm going to crop part of

I'm going to crop part of this and make it my Windows desktop image. Talk about cool

I'd love to know the story behind this

From what I understand of WW II, the economy was so focussed on wartime production that making of this many of these planes must have been for some other, no longer needed purpose. Maybe they were spotter's ID helpers, or maybe they were to help workers on assembly lines know where all of the parts were going?

For what it's worth, though, in the upper level, the center band of twin-tailed planes appear to be P-38s, while the outer band planes may be P-51s. In the lower level, the nearer four-engine planes appear to be B-24s, while the two-engine planes seem to be A-26s.

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