Things come together in strange ways at times. A few nights ago a woman arrived at our place a little early for a neighborhood meeting. We talked for a bit about her recent trip to England which included a visit to one of the Brit air museums accompanied by her 94-year-old uncle who had been a WWII Spitfire pilot. She said the weather was disagreeable, and it was disappointing to her that no one at the museum acknowledged her uncle's presence or his contribution. So, not a great success.
The next day I dropped by a local thrift store and found in a box marked "Free" a 58 page book about the history of the Spitfire. It was full of marvelous vintage pictures of the iconic fighter along with a thorough description of each of the many variants of the aircraft produced from 1936 to 1952.
In addition to the photos, there is a wealth of illustrations detailing distinguishing features of the evolving design, along with front, top, bottom and side view plans as well as many of the unit insignias of interest to modelers. The book was copyrighted 1980 and was produced by Squadron/Signal Publications. It turns out that the company produced a large number of similar books about historic aircraft, and many can be found on line, often at a price of about $10 each. Certainly one of my better thrift store acquisitions.
Well, on the next day the sun made an appearance after several days of clouds and even a few snow flakes. So, I headed across town to the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History with its outdoor exhibit space which has a nice little collection of Cold War aircraft. I took along the Leica IIIa mounted with the Summitar lens and loaded with Kentmere 100 film. All of my old cameras eventually make at least a few pictures of vintage aircraft, and it seemed like a good opportunity to use the Summitar for that purpose before I send it back to its owner.
What caught my eye as I pulled into the Museum parking lot was a new addition to the aircraft collection, an early model of the MiG-21, a Mach 2.0 Soviet fighter first produced in the 1950s.
The fuselage of the MiG had been positioned next to a recently restored F-16. I think it will not be long before the plane is fully reassembled, so I'll look forward to returning soon for some more pictures. I was not particularly pleased with the combination of Kentmere film and Rodinal on this occasion, so I'm thinking I'll try the same subject with Pyro developer next time. Of course, I had no complaints about the Summitar which turned in its usual stellar performance.
All of the planes on display and most of the other equipment in the outdoor area of the museum have new coats of paint and look marvelous. The museum has also made some impressive additions and improvements to the indoor exhibits including a mock-up of a war-time Los Alamos lab, and there is currently a really nice exhibit of engineering technology from classic Greek and Roman times.