More on the Gibson Girl: survival photo-stories from the ’40s

Scratching around on the web I have found the US manuals for the 30C3-2T radio and its kite. The illustrations tell an unintentional photo-story of hope for the air crash at sea survivor. The first version of the story is from ‘Preliminary Instructions for Radio Set SCR-578-A’  by the Bendix Aircraft Company of North Holywood California.I find the expression on the model’s face strangely whistful, I have no idea who he is but the elemental story of rescue at sea is portrayed here despite the smart studio shoot.  Did the director bark motivational commands at the smartly turned out airman? Despite the obvious fakery of the shot it’s easy to imagine the terror at being cast adrift in the desolate wastes.

The Chief Signal Officers order number for the manual is suffixed -42 so I geuss this is a 1942 version.

By April 1945 the ‘Handbook of Maintanance Instructions for Radio Set AN/CRT-3’  makes an attempt at a less formal depiction of the desperate scene.  The identity of the model is protected but things look pretty grim in this version of the ‘ditched at sea; day one’ story:The powerful idea that radio is your best hope comes across in these images even though they are purely technical in nature. The visual message is clear: carefuly planned procedure might just get you rescued, there is always a practical step you can take to save yourself!

Here’s hoping I never have to rely on a Bendix box for survival!


About billboyheritagesurvey

Heritage worker
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4 Responses to More on the Gibson Girl: survival photo-stories from the ’40s

  1. Jasja Dekker says:

    very nice finds. I’ve been reading about the gibson girl, these are the first photo’s i’ve seen with the kite in relation to a person. Did not realise they were so big. Did you or other readers find a plan for making one’s own copy? I would love to build one. Probably could copy the original cloth prints in the fablab even!

  2. I’m hoping to get access to a museum example soon. As far as I can tell it’s a bit on the heavy side as it was designed to be used in a fairly fresh breeze. I has 2 pockets of kapok as flotation too. I’ll update here when I have photos/ drawings of it. There should be Bendix Aviation Co production drawings somewhere but I think they are lost in the mists of time now!

    Because it’s an emergency item it’s not really well suited to repeated use: the thin section aluminium seems to have suffered from bending on most I have been able to see on the net.

  3. Ramon says:

    Great stuff, Bill! I remember this box kite design from one of the many books about a small man called ‘Pinkeltje’. I never forgot it. Since 2005 I am aware of its existence in the real world on my quest to find an aerial lifting kite.

    I know that Craig Wilson in the US has one in a perfect condition:

    And I’ve been looking for a real one on many radio fairs I visited the last couple of years. No success, unfortunately.

    But all picture stuff on display here, that is just awesome!

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