Army P-39 Airacobra Show
November 18, 1942–December 8, 1942
This exhibition, shown in November 1942, dramatized one of Buffalo’s major contributions to the war effort. Organized by the museum in cooperation with the Bell Aircraft Corporation, the exhibition was comprised of photo-enlargements showing the development of the Airacobra airplane from drafting board to flight. Beginning with the full scale outline, significant steps in the making of the plane were pictured, from the preparation of the parts for the assembly line to the point where the plane rolls onto the field for testing. A series of flight shots, views of the plane being created and shipped, and finally performance in foreign fields completed the exhibition.
Supplementing the show was a display of miniature models of leading types of foreign and American planes hand carved by students in the Buffalo Public Schools, under the aegis of the US Office of Education, Washington, D.C., and the US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics. The showing of these models at the museum was sponsored by the Buffalo Chapter of the Junior Red Cross. An all-color sound movie of the Airacobra, “Cannon on Wings,” was shown twice a day during the exhibition, and 2,200 color reproductions of the plane were given out to children, courtesy of the Bell Aircraft Corporation.
The potentialities for morale building on the home front were quickly grasped by exhibitors during the war. These potentialities were clearly demonstrated in Buffalo, where special days were set aside for employees of sub-contractors to the Bell Aircraft Corporation to visit the exhibition, as well for students in the industrial arts classes throughout the city.
Numerous requests from museums throughout the country led to the museum circulating the exhibition. Beginning with Pine Camp (now Fort Drum, New York) for soldiers, it then traveled in February to the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, New York in November 1943. The exhibition would eventually travel to the Addison Gallery of American Art, Philips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts; the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Gallery, Springfield, Massachusetts; the Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire; Carolina Art Association, Gibbes Memorial Art Gallery, Charleston, South Carolina; Brooks Memorial Art Gallery, Memphis, Tennessee; Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, Savannah, Georgia; and the Municipal Art Museum, Wichita, Kansas.
For more on how the Albright Art Gallery supported the war effort, visit the exhibition Buffalo’s Monuments Men, on view through April 6, 2014.
Images: Installation views of Airacobra (Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, November 18, 1942–December 8, 1942). Images courtesy of the G. Robert Strauss, Jr. Memorial Library, Gallery Archives, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York. © 2014 Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
Content for this exhibition description was taken from The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, Gallery Notes, Albright Art Gallery. Vol. X, No. 1, May 1943, p. 10.