A Best Pilot figure becomes part of a permanent display at the world-famous National Naval Museum in Pensacola, Florida! Best Pilots customer and friend, Dave Gianakos creates stunning display models for world-class museums, like the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. When Dave needed a pilot figure for his latest project; a 1/5 scale model of Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Robert Hanson’s Corsair, he and I had to put our heads together. Or more accurately, we had to put Pappy and Sailor’s heads together!
SInce my only pilot figure in Naval flight gear at this time is Pappy Boyington, Dave wanted to know if I could supply a pilot that looked less Pappy-like (No offense Pappy, but he IS pretty distinctive). My Sailor Malan pilot bears a close resemblance to Robert Hanson and he and Pappy are the same scale, so with some “Dremel tool work” I was able to transplant Sailor’s face into Pappy’s flight helmet.
Dave then proceeded to do a fantastic paint job on the figure. Note that Lt. Hanson preferred to wear a Marine camouflage shirt with khaki trousers which Dave faithfully reproduced. Nice tip for you detail fanatics out there.
This aircraft was originally scheduled to go in the Spirit of Flight museum outside of Denver, but due to a change in plans, this aircraft will go to Pensacola and another model with go to Denver at a later date. This model will be placed in the Emil Buehler Library, within the National Naval Aviation Museum, and will hang above an existing display commemorating the 100th anniversary of Marine Aviation. According to Dave, the addition of this aircraft to the museum is a tribute not only to the life and sacrifice of Lt. Bob Hanson and the plane he flew in combat, but will also celebrate all naval aviators, especially Marines, past, present, and future.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Marine Corp Aviation. Since 1912 they have been helping keep America safe!
So is this a stunning model or what? Click on the pics to enlarge.
The Corsair is one of my favorite aircraft and I think Dave has done an outstanding job in capturing the “bent-wing warbird”. I think “Butcher” Bob would be proud of it!
Click--> here to read about the outstanding service and sacrifice of Lt. “Butcher Bob” Robert Hanson. A true American hero.
UPDATE! 8/15/12- Dave has an update for us on this story. Dave is an international 747 airline pilot and on a layover in Manilla PI, he made a visit to the Wall of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery. This immaculately maintained cemetery is the largest military cemetery outside of the USA with over 17,000 graves and names of over 38,000 missing soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines from WWII.
One of the names on the list is Captain Robert Murrray Hanson (promoted posthumously along with the Medal of Honor). Dave says it is a beautiful place and very stirring to see all of the markers showing what great sacrifices these men made. Here are some pictures of the memorial and Dave making a "rubbing" over Captain Hanson's name.
There are two Filipino caretakers of this huge cemetery, and I talked with one at the front entrance office about what we wanted to do. Once I gave her the name, she knew exactly who he was, that he was a marine, and a MOH recipient (keep in mind there are over 38,000 names on the list of the missing!) She took us over to the exact area, and since it was a little too high to reach, a groundskeeper gave us a ladder to use. She even got up on the ladder to give us some tips on making the rubbings look the best possible. It was a little windy and some tropical rain showers came and went, making it a little more "sporty" to accomplish our goal using a roll of very thin tracing paper, but we did get four copies done in about an hour.
You'll see from the photo that MOH recipients have their information painted in gold.
The other person who helped me and is shown in the pictures was my trusty F/O Craig who was a HUGE help!
I've visited several American military cemeteries around the world and I haven't seen any in better shape or better cared for than this one in Manila. Kudos to those who keep the memories of all these gallant fallen Americans alive.
The following pictures are of Dave's 1/5 scale Corsair being installed at the Naval Aviation Museum