Dedicated to K.O. Eckland and William T. Larkins
K.O. Eckland was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1926 but grew up in Berkeley, California. He served with the US Army Air Force during World War II. After the war he was a freelance commercial artist and became active in the traditional jazz community as a piano player.
He was a dedicated aerospace historian and the Aerofiles website, a history of aviation in the United States, was one of his creations.
K.O. passed away on 4 May 2009.
William T. Larkins was born in Bakersfield, California in 1922. After graduation from the University of San Francisco he served with the US Army Air Force during World War II and later with the California Air National Guard. After the war he became an Audio-Visual Specialist and Administrative Assistant at the University of California Berkeley. He was founder, member No 1 and first editor of American Aviation Historical Society Journal. His photographic collection that he started in 1934 is legendary and has given rise to many books as well as a large number of websites.
Apart from a genuine interest, this database of United States military aircraft arose from a perceived lack of a single comprehensive reference source on this topic. In the past literature has included separate volumes on Air Force and Navy aircraft (cf the classic Swanborough and Bowers works) which did not describe some of the more esoteric aircraft, or comprehensive books or internet sites on serials only (cf Andrade’s and Baugher’s works and others), which lacked technical specifications and short histories. Other literature, including the Putnam books, discussed all aircraft of a single manufacturer, including the civil designs but not always all the cancelled designs.
This work includes essentially no original research from my part and I have collected the information from a great variety of reference sources, including the ‘standard works’ on the topic such as those listed in the bibliography, but also some more obscure reference sources. It is acknowledged that there is a degree of risk involved in using reference sources but, the passing of time and the absence or inaccessibility of some original documentation, as well as my geographical location away from original documentation and archives, makes the use of reference sources an inevitable feature to achieve my goal.
Some of the sources, being based on primary documentary sources, are solid and reliable (although even then some of these may contain conflicting information) whilst other sources may have been copied from earlier sources. There are indications that some sources started off as honest ‘assumptions’ which over time have been misquoted as ‘facts’. Also information in some older sources has been corrected by subsequent research. Finally, there is also a risk of perpetuating ‘typing errors’ as ‘facts’.
However, as part of this process of combining and comparing the various sources, I have rejected and ignored information which was obviously wrong or was, in some way, considered as doubtful and not sufficiently supported, although in other instances I have highlighted the conflicts. Such decisions are purely mine and are often based a ‘gut’ feel, rather than evidence.
Nevertheless, the ability to compare, combine and supplement information, did, in selected cases, lead towards a cautious solution to a previously identified gap in our historical knowledge.
Normally reference sources are not mentioned except in the few instances where such is deemed necessary, especially in instances where reference sources conflict each other or display other anomalies.
Of course the information in the database will never be complete. Not only are new aircraft and versions added to the inventory as time passes by, but, based on the substantial gaps in information identified during the compilation of this data, a large amount of historical data remains to be uncovered. This data either has been lost over the years, and will therefore never be obtained, or simply has not been found as yet.
I welcome any suggestions, corrections and additions to be sent directly to josheyman at hotmail.com.
Southern River, WA, Australia