6. THE STINSON SM-8A.
In October 1931, and delivering the Verville as part payment, Kenneth Parker acquired a powerful 4 place cabin monoplane Stinson Junior SM-8A. It was $5,775 in April 1930. This Stinson cabin craft heater conditioned would allow Kenneth to fly more comfortably in winter and adverse weather conditions than the Verville. Since its acquisition it was housed in Janesville City airport hangar.
Weighing 2,061 pounds when empty, the plane can carry a useful load of 1134 pounds. The cruising speed of the ship was 105 mph. with top speed 125 mph. and 14,000 ft. as service ceiling.
Twenty-eight feet in length and with a wingspan of 41 ft., the ship was powered with a nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engine Lycoming R-680 210 hp. being equipped with an electric self-started, adjustable metal propeller, wheel and emergency parking brakes, adjustable pilot seat and balloon tail wheel. The passengers enjoyed a broadcloth upholstered interior, smoking sets, dual control, cabin heather and hydraulic and spring shock absorber.
The local press published it like this: “Parker Brings New Plane Here. A new four-passenger Stinson monoplane which he recently purchased was flown to Janesville Thursday from Detroit by Kenneth Parker, sales and advertising manager of the Parker Pen Company. The new machine, in the purchase of which he applied the Verville plane he formerly owned, will be used by Mr. Parker largely on business trips, he reports. The plane is housed at the hangar at the Janesville City airport.”
On the night of June 28, 1932, a fire into the hangar of the Janesville City airport destroyed this beautiful plane; “HANGAR, 6 PLANES, BURNED IN $35,000 BLAZE AT AIRPORT. At 9:30 p.m. Carl Krause, president of the airport corporation who lives next to the hangar, drove around the building in his nightly round of inspection. He noticed a reflection in one of the windows and though a prowler was in the hangar. Creeping up to the window to take the suspected intruder unaware Mr. Krause discovered instead that the Fryer plane was ablaze. Unable to get the plane out unaided he went for help but when he returned the whole interior of the hangar was in flames… as the flames spread from plane to plane explosions could be heard as gasoline tanks ignited (3)”.
Some of the destroyed planes had been purchased just a few days ago but oonly the Stinson of Kenneth Parker was covered by insurance.
Officials thought that the blaze started from spontaneous combustion. Rumors and speculations of milk war revenge spread about among some gossip spectators who went to the airport alarmed by the flames because Herman Krause, manager of the airport, sells milk of the James Newman farm. However Mr. Krause mocked at this explanation and officials were of the opinion that the blaze started from spontaneous combustion, most likely in the Rockford plane property of Hal Fryer.
- Ruderman, D. (2008). Photograms of “Commemorating 120 Years of PARKER”, min. 5:36. [DVD].
- Aero Digest magazine, p. 110 (January 1932)
- “Hangar, 6 planes, burned in $35,000 blaze at airport” (June 29, 1932). Janesville Daily Gazette, pp. 1-12.
- Photo collected from Hedberg Public Library´s. Gruver photo collection. http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/
- Ad collected from Aerodigest. (June, 1930), p. 117.
7. THE SPITFIRE.
In December 1940, the management and employees of the Parker donated £5,000 of their pay sheet thus joining the Spitfire Founds campaign launched by Lord Beaverbrook, British Minister of Aircraft production. The money contributed towards the construction of Spitfire Mk Vb serial number AD384, RY-Z, which was built at Castle Bromwich, and named “Geo S Parker”.
Twenty-nine feet in length and with a wingspan of 36 ft., the ship was powered with a nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engine Lycoming R-680 210 hp. being equipped with a 1,440-hp Rolls-Royce Merlin V-12 piston engine of unmistakable growl. This fighter carries eight British Browning machine gun and an external load with centerline rack for 500 lb. bomb or tank.
Weighing 5,100 pounds when empty, the plane can carry a useful load of 1,685 pounds. Its top speed was 374 mph. at 2,000 ft. and had 35,700 ft. as service ceiling.
The newspapers picked it up like this; “British Air Force Gets Combat Plane From Canadian Branch of Janesville Co. The gift of a Spitfire combat airplane to Great Britain’s royal air force from the Parker Fountain Pen Company, Ltd., of Canada and its employees has just been made known by Kenneth Parker, president of the parent concern, The Parker Pen Company, whose main plant is located in Janesville. The gift was made through another subsidiary, The Parker Pen Company, Ltd., of Great Britain, with headquarters in Bush House, Strand, London, which was recently bombed by the Nazis.
The gift was accepted in a formal acknowledgment by Lord Beaverbrook, minister of air craft production, addressed to Lord Molesworth, chairman, and A. R. Zoccola, managing director, of the Parker English company. The Spitfire—a single seater—, is essentially a protective or interceptive fighter. While it has a cruising range of only two hours, it is one of the most agile, maneuverable, and terrific fighting planes in the present war. The motor is a Rolls Royce-Merlin, which has 1200 h. p. for take-off, and can maintain top speed for 1 hour and 15 minutes. This speed is 367 mph. at 17,000 feet altitude, and approximately 300 m.p.h. at a lower altitude. This ship carries eight British-made Browning machine guns of .303 calibers for in each wing. (2)”
The RAF assigned the Parker Spitfire to their 313 ‘Czech’ squadron and was flown by sergeant Otakar Kresta (3). The fighter plane had a relatively short career that ended on April 12th, 1942 while flying an escort sortie to a squadron of R.A.F Boston bombers on operation ‘Circus 122’ attacking targets in Hazebrouck France. Kresta soon found himself in a dogfight with a Focke-Wulf 190, far superior in maneuverability and speed at all altitudes, flown by German ace Rolf Gunther Hermichen. His Spitfire badly damaged, Kresta made a crash landing and was captured by German soldiers (4).
The pilots who returned to Czechoslovakia at the end of the war did not expect a happy future. After being received with cheers on his return from Britain in August 1945 and qualified as heroes, after some time, when the Communists came to power in February 1948, everything changed and they were dismissed from the Armed Forces, accused of espionage for Western powers, persecuted and some even imprisoned and tortured. Kresta, who died in 1992, had the satisfaction at least of seeing, even at the end of his days, how Czechoslovak pilots of the Royal Air Force were rehabilitated in 1989 after democratic changes in the country.
- Ruderman, D. (2008). Photogram modified from “Commemorating 120 Years of PARKER”, 13:19. [DVD].
- “British air force get combat plane from Parker Pen Co.” (Dec. 23, 1940). The Racine Journal Times, p. 18.
- Mayer, J. (2013). Otakar Kresta and the Parker Pen Spitfire. https://fcafa.com/2013/02/01/otakar-kresta/
- Newhaven Historical Society. https://www.facebook.com/newhavenfort/posts/archivesl-of-the-parker-pen
- Gentleness of Newhaven Fort Museum. Newhaven, England.
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