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Original WWII U.S. Navy Japanese Zero Target Kite Mark 1 by the Spalding Brothers - With Frame

Regular price $550.00

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very nice Aerial target kite Mark 1, also called "Device 3-C-29", developed by the late Paul Garber of the Smithsonian Institution and others. These were utilized during training in both the Army and Navy. Officially designated and marked:

U.S. NAVY 3-C-29

Measures approximately Length 63" Width: 53" and is offered in very fair condition, with a moderate tear in the fabric as shown in the photos. These were used by both the Army and Navy for target practice. You occasionally encounter the "skins" with either a German or Japanese silhouette but one rarely sees original kite skeleton, rudder, and cables. The fabric has some imperfections but overall a very appealing look. Very hard to find on today's market, usually only encountered in museums like the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.

From the Smithsonian website:

Garber's kite- and model-making talents helped contribute to the World War II effort. By 1940, Garber had assembled an exhibit of the different types of Allied and enemy aircraft in the news at that time. The display of scale models, photographs, and drawings caught the attention of the U.S. Navy, who asked Garber to bring it to the Navy Department and teach military personnel how to recognize these aircraft. Soon thereafter, he found himself a lieutenant in the Naval Reserve, assigned to the Special Devices Airplane Recognition program. But Garber's most significant contribution arose from his love of kites. When he learned about the need for effective practice gunnery targets at sea, he and his friend Stanley Potter came up with an unusual solution - large, highly maneuverable kites. Garber gave a skillful demonstration of the prototype to U.S. Navy Capt. Luis de Florez, effortlessly maneuvering it to spell out de Florez's name, who was enormously impressed.

Six kites were immediately ordered, followed by 100, then 1,000. They proved so effective that by the end of the war some 300,000 target kites had been built. The kites could loop, dive, climb, and make figure eights, all manually controlled by a reel and harness worn at the waist. The outline of an enemy aircraft was emblazoned on the front.

Garber's kites are credited with saving an American carrier from enemy attack. During a kite target training exercise, two Japanese torpedo bombers came out of nowhere toward the ship, and because gunnery trainees were in position and ready, they quickly downed the enemy planes. As Garber put it, "The kite shooters swung their guns around and shot those rascals into the water." The National Air and Space Museum maintains a nearly complete collection of Garber target kites in all variations by all manufacturers. They are currently in storage. They can also be seen in museums around the world, such as the Kite Museum in Tokyo, Japan. In his later years, Paul Garber founded the Smithsonian Kite Festival, the annual kite-flying celebration held for decades on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The Museum's facility in Suitland, Maryland was named the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility in recognition of Garber's long, distinguished service to the Museum and the instrumental role he played in building the storage site. There is a Museum endowment named for him as well. He died in his sleep on September 23, 1992, at the age of 93. Garber's final resting place is in Arlington National Cemetery.

This is a great example of a very scarce piece of WWII aviation training equipment. Ready for further research and display!

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