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Studebaker and the Memphis Belle

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  • Studebaker and the Memphis Belle

    I am reading "The man who Fllew the Memphis Belle" by Robert Morgan. On page 111 of this version he says to his crew chief "If it's the last thing in the world you do for me, don't put a Studebaker engine on my plane." He says the plane went through 9 engines in its 25 missions. I was hoping for a more favorable opinion.
    Don Wilson, Centralia, WA

    40 Champion 4 door*
    50 Champion 2 door*
    53 Commander K Auto*
    53 Commander K overdrive*
    55 President Speedster
    62 GT 4Speed*
    63 Avanti R1*
    64 Champ 1/2 ton

    * Formerly owned

  • #2
    I wonder how many of those engine changes were due to flak or errors on the part of the pilot/crew?
    StudeDave '57
    US Navy (retired)

    3rd Generation Stude owner/driver
    SDC Member since 1985

    past President
    Whatcom County Chapter SDC
    San Diego Chapter SDC

    past Vice President
    San Diego Chapter SDC
    North Florida Chapter SDC

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    • #3
      I can't recall which of the remaining Fortresses I saw last but, three of her four engines carried Studebaker serial tags. Talk about oil marking its territory!
      "All attempts to 'rise above the issue' are simply an excuse to avoid it profitably." --Dick Gregory

      Brad Johnson, SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
      Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
      sigpic'33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight, '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée"

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      • #4
        Originally posted by rockne10 View Post
        Talk about oil marking its territory!
        Most BIG round engines do that. If they don't- they're empty!!!
        StudeDave '57
        US Navy (retired)

        3rd Generation Stude owner/driver
        SDC Member since 1985

        past President
        Whatcom County Chapter SDC
        San Diego Chapter SDC

        past Vice President
        San Diego Chapter SDC
        North Florida Chapter SDC

        Comment


        • #5
          My ex-gilfriend's father flew B-17's, He told me that the Studebaker engines were better than the Curtis-Wright built engines and he preferd the Studebakers on his plane.

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          • #6
            Chris Dresbach

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            • #7
              Of those 9 assy line workers in the photo not one is captured by the camera lens wearing one of those Studebaker Aviation Division indentity badges with photo. I guess the angle of the photo limits the chances of one being shown on their chest. Those badges are so hard to find these days for memorabilia collectors plus the expense.

              \"QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER\"
              MELBOURNE.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by HAWK64 View Post
                Of those 9 assy line workers in the photo not one is captured by the camera lens wearing one of those Studebaker Aviation Division indentity badges with photo. I guess the angle of the photo limits the chances of one being shown on their chest. Those badges are so hard to find these days for memorabilia collectors plus the expense.
                Isn't that the truth. I've only ever seen two, maybe three Studebaker Aviation badges. Extremely hard to find. Rarer yet, but I have seen a few, are gloves, coveralls, and aprons that some of the assembly workers would have worn. The gloves should not be confused with the ones that say "Studebaker Jet 99" on the front. I have several of them and originally I thought they were Aviation, they're not. One of the guys back as SASCO had a real pair of Studebaker Aviation Div. gloves and that's the only pair I've ever seen.
                I've often thought of having a pair of coveralls embroidered with "Studebaker Aviation Div." on the back and using them at work since I work in that plant.
                Chris Dresbach

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                • #9
                  I remember talking to Tom Newton (Tom was a member of our SDC and also a flight engineer on B-17s in WWII who passed away in July) about Studebaker made R-1820s and he indicated they were the preferred manufacturer. I think all the early versions were problematic regardless of manufacturer, it was essentially the first "mass produced" radial engine. Studebaker assembled them from parts provided by Wright.

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                  • #10
                    I think a lot of parts were supplied to Studebaker by Curtiss Wright, but not all. I believe that just about everything that needed to be machined or finished machine work was done by Studebaker; however I'm not sure if rough castings were done by Studebaker or CW. When the Chippewa Plant was built the entire basement was intended to be just a giant machine shop while the upper level was the assembly floor. The factory movie "Answer to the Axis" shows all this stuff in detail.
                    Chris Dresbach

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                    • #11
                      We looked over the B-17 "Nine-O-Nine" a few years ago when it, along with a B-24, landed at Norwood Airport in Norwood, Massachusetts. On the B-17, three of the four engines had 'Studebaker Corp' serial tags,
                      complete with 'Wheel' emblem and all, on the bottom of the engine cases.

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                      • #12
                        I can tell you for sure that the four engines being restored for the Memphis Bell when it was in Millington, TN were Studebaker engines.
                        The Memphis Bell has been moved to Ohio so I don't know if the same four engines are used or not.

                        That book is a very good read. I read it several years ago and Robert Morgan died a few months later.
                        Gary Sanders
                        Nixa, MO

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                        • #13
                          I met Morgan some years back at an air show...I'm a member of the Commemorative Air Force (Confederate Air Force as it was called then)...our wing ran an annual show. He was an honored guest. He was a real gentleman but one could tell there was steel under the surface. I never asked him about the Studebaker engine thing but I never knew about it then.
                          Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by SN-60 View Post
                            We looked over the B-17 "Nine-O-Nine" a few years ago when it, along with a B-24, landed at Norwood Airport in Norwood, Massachusetts. On the B-17, three of the four engines had 'Studebaker Corp' serial tags,
                            complete with 'Wheel' emblem and all, on the bottom of the engine cases.
                            Its interesting that the famous Studebaker Wheel emblem was brought back by Studebaker in the forties for those B17 engine plates after that design was replaced by the iconic red ball design during the thirties. I have a good example of that engine plate in my memorabilia collection.

                            \"QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER\"
                            MELBOURNE.

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                            • #15
                              sorta like...

                              Number one~


                              Number four~


                              as seen on this pretty lady~




                              this past Summer.
                              Last edited by StudeDave57; 12-29-2012, 04:09 PM. Reason: added stuff
                              StudeDave '57
                              US Navy (retired)

                              3rd Generation Stude owner/driver
                              SDC Member since 1985

                              past President
                              Whatcom County Chapter SDC
                              San Diego Chapter SDC

                              past Vice President
                              San Diego Chapter SDC
                              North Florida Chapter SDC

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