World War II

The "Peacemaker"

Convair B-36.jpg

The model airplane collection at the American Treasure Tour Museum is unparalleled, with almost three hundred different planes of all shapes and sizes displayed suspended from the ceiling.  There's one plane that definitely catches the eye of many of our guests on the tram tour - that is a large silver plane notable for having six propeller-driven engines on the wings.  It represents the “Peacemaker,” the Convair B-36, and it was the largest mass-produced piston-engined aircraft ever built, in production exclusively for the United States Air Force between 1949 and 1959 (only two years after the Air Force became its own branch of the U.S. military). It also had the longest wingspan of any combat aircraft ever built, at 230 feet long from end-to-end. Its sheer size gave it advantages, including four bomb bay doors that allowed it to deliver any nuclear weapon in the U.S. military arsenal without having to make modifications, and that it had the ability to make non-stop intercontinental flights because it had the space to store the necessary fuel for the trek.

B-36.jpg

The development of the Peacemaker began in 1941.  At the time, Great Britain was getting decimated by the German Luftwaffe during the Blitz.  America had not yet officially gotten into the war, but they saw an English defeat as quite possible, so they wanted to design a bomber that could reach Europe from the United States without the need to refuel along the way. Of course, it wasn’t needed to save Europe, but the military then wanted it for the fight against Japan.  Again, it wasn’t ready.  So what was to happen???  Stay tuned for tomorrow's blog.

Museum Madness

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We at the American Treasure Tour love to call out smaller museums that may have limited funding to advertise, and we continue that tradition today with our call out to the InfoAge Science History Museum located at Camp Evans in Wall, New Jersey.  One word of warning: do not be scared away by their name. There is SO MUCH history in this facility - a former military base not too far from the Shore in New Jersey - and it's not all about science.  In fact, Camp Evans is a collection of a number of museums brought together in one large space. So, if you don't have an interest in wireless communication (Camp Evans was one of the first Marconi radio centers in the world) or the birth of weather tracking and radar, there's plenty else to see - early radios and televisions, the beginnings of computer technology, exhibits on shipwrecks, military history, and model railroads are also here - with a collection of World War II-era vehicles to boot.  And what makes your visit even better is that you can talk with some of the volunteers whose enthusiasm keeps this place alive!  

It really is a cool place, especially if you're into technology.  And it's not far from Allaire State Park, a historic industrial town, also in Wall.  So much to see, so little time. 

Full Throttle Thursday

1957 Chevrolet 3800.jpg

Today's call out vehicle is the Chevrolet 3800, the largest of their "light duty line" delivery and pick-up trucks. The sheer size of this vehicle makes the idea of calling it "light duty" a bit unlikely, but who are we to judge the good people at General Motors for doing what they do? This impressive vehicle was engineered so that it could carry one ton of material without a problem, and were issued in designations from 3100 to 3800.

When the United States got involved in World War II, the government forbade most industries from civilian production. For four years, GM and all the car companies at the time, concentrated their effort on fighting the war with no concern for what would happen after peace was accomplished. The transition back to civilian life after the war ended in 1945 was rockier than anyone might have anticipated, with such companies as Ford teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. It was not until 1947 that Chevy introduced this truck, their first new design for peacetime purposes after the fight. It was popular enough to remain in production until 1955, with operators able to specifically request different specialty bodies for their specific needs. 

Full-Throttle Thursday

1949 Ford.jpg

We love to talk about the vehicles here at the American Treasure Tour, and today's car is one of our favorites (counted among fifty or sixty of our other favorites, but who's counting?).  It's a 1949 Ford Sedan.  It is right on our tram route, between the Sears Motorbuggy and the Crosleys. Keep an eye out for it.  It's a true beauty.  And believe it or not, this car helped keep the Ford Company alive after World War II.  Every automobile factory in the country, big and small, was compelled to concentrate on military production during the war. And the transition back to peacetime civilian life was somewhat slow for many of them after the peace treaties were signed. In fact, most companies returned to pre-war designs of cars after the fighting ended, so cars in 1946, '47, and '48 tended to be the same as cars made in 1939.  They got stale real fast, and people with money wanted to spend it on new, not old.

Ford, as well as their competitors, began suffering financially, and one of the primary reasons Ford was able to pull out of their financial slump was because of their 1949 model Sedan. The car included numerous technological updates, including a completely integrated steel structure that was advertised as  "lifeguard body" and a modern drive shaft. For the comfort of the passengers, the entire engine was moved forward under the hood to allow for more room in the passenger compartment. The car was a hit and, to be honest, some of us think it still is. Heck, Big Bird can't keep his eyes off of it in the picture we've included.  Check it out!

Full Throttle Thursday

In this week's addition of Full Throttle Thursday, we would like to recognize a car ahead of its time!  A car that, when it was first introduced in 1939, was smaller than the competition, had excellent gas mileage, and disc brakes.  A car so narrow it could fit through the double doors of a department store so that it could be sold alongside the appliances made available by its famous parent company.  A car that -- we're talking about the Crosley, folks.  Enough drama.  We don't want your blood pressure to increase in anticipation.

Crosley Roadster.jpg

Powel Crosley Jr. was a business innovator who dabbled in pretty close to anything, but all he really wanted was to be the next big name in automobile production. His modest ambition was to replace Henry Ford as the number one seller of cars in the nation.  Alas, his fantasy never came true, but towards the end of the Great Depression, his small, economical cars became THE big thing. And then, after World War II was over, they became less of a big thing.  Then less.  Then they stopped selling.  Before 1953, they were done. A blip on the automotive timeline.  But they made their impact, with many people in the know describing Crosleys as the first sports car ever produced in the United States.  Now, long out of production, the best way to enjoy these charming beauties is to come to the American Treasure Tour to enjoy our Crosleys, or to go back in time to the late-30's to see a brand new one!  Coming to the Tour is easier....

Full Throttle Thursday

1945 Dodge.jpg

The American Treasure Tour is, among other things, all about classic cars.  We love cars, trucks, motorcycles, pretty much anything that goes "vroom"!  Today, we would like to call out one of our favorite trucks in the collection:  a 1945 Dodge Pick-up.  Think about the year:  1945.  Tough year.  World War II would not end until September, with the signing of the peace treaty between the United States and Japan. Prior to then, all production was focused on the war effort.  Transportation technology improved substantially during the war; however, since there was no such thing as civilian vehicle production between 1942 and 1945 to speak of, it did not get reflected in the industry until often years after the war ended.  This Dodge was designed based on 1939 blueprints, so, while it is a rare example of a 1945 vehicle, there is nothing truly original about it.  That wouldn't happen until automotive engineers had a chance to truly concentrate on peacetime technology.

Come to the American Treasure Tour for this and all the other wonderful vehicles we have on display in our Toy Box!

Remote Control Drag Racer

QUESTION:  The Road Runners Club, the first American drag racing organization to speak of (as far as many fans of the sport are concerned) began racing in the dry lakebeds of Southern California in what year?
A). 1937
B). 1949
C). 1953
D). 1959
ANSWER BELOW

We here at the American Treasure Tour blog do hope you enjoyed your weekend, and used the opportunity to visit the actual tour on Saturday. Remember, everything we discuss here in the blog is quite directly connected to the tour. The blog is a chance to explore items displayed in the collection more closely and in the comfort of your own home. Or while you're having dinner with friends. Or sitting in a car as a passenger - but never when you're driving. We hope that's obvious, but some people seem to forget. On Friday, if you recall, we were talking about remote control and its relation to Excaliber, our drag racing, battery-operated speedster that is a whopping two feet long. 

When we left our story, remote control was still largely in its experimental phase. During WWI, both sides attempted to use  rudimentary drones against their enemies with marginal success. Then, during the inter-war years, some companies were designing remote-controlled garage door openers and model airplanes. Unfortunately, the economic depression found little motivation in making advances, so most people focused on survival instead. World War II advances also came with destructive intent, and manifested in the form of remote-guided missiles. But, after the second world war, during the mid- to late-1950's, the important technology started to earn attention.  Remote controls were developed for televisions that eventually became affordable, and by the 1960's, scale model cars, boats, and airplanes started to hit the market. 1966 was a very important year for lovers of remote control vehicles: the first scale cars were released for commercial purchase that year, made by the Italian company El-Gi (Elettronica Giocattoli). By the early-70's, American companies including Associated Electric, Thorp, and Delta got into the business with 1:8 scale cars. Of course, it has become hugely popular since then....

ANSWER:  A). 1937. The NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) formed in 1951 and continues to this day.