Gift to Help Chronicle History of Key Firm in U.S. Aviation
Vought Aircraft Heritage Foundation Donation Will Fund McDermott Library Archiving Project
Nov. 14, 2012
A recent $100,000 gift from the Vought Aircraft Heritage Foundation will make it possible for curators at Eugene McDermott Library to sort through the foundation’s archives and make this trove of aviation history available to the public.
The gift provides for an archivist to integrate Vought Aircraft’s historical documents, pictures and films with the library’s History of Aviation Collection. The project is expected to take two years.
Paul A. Oelkrug, coordinator for McDermott Library Special Collections, and members of UT Dallas’ Office of Development and Alumni Relations were presented the first of two $50,000 checks by Dick Atkins at the Chance Vought Aircraft facility in Dallas on Sept. 4. The facility is next to the old Dallas Naval Air Station and the former Hensley Field.
“For the past several years the HAC has worked with the Heritage Foundation to methodically acquire their business records,” Oelkrug said. “Now with funding for a two-year project, Special Collections will be able to process these valuable aviation resources for use by researchers.”
The donation was publicly recognized Oct. 18 at the Celebration of Support, an event to honor and thank donors to UT Dallas. A half-scale model of a Vought F-4U Corsair was on display as a part of the festivities.
Chance Vought Aircraft is the second-oldest American aircraft manufacturing company. It is currently a subsidiary of the Triumph Group, an aerospace component manufacturer.
Over the years Vought has produced many famous aircraft, but is best known for the F-4U Corsair, which debuted in World War II. Among the special guests at UT Dallas on Oct. 18 was Hank Merbler, 91, who joined Vought in 1942 and came with the company when it moved to Dallas from Stratford, Conn., in 1948. Merbler was an engineer assigned to the F4U Corsair design team.
Primarily a carrier-based aircraft, the U.S. Marine Corps fighter is easily recognized by its beautiful lines and gull-wing design. Its speed and maneuverability helped establish its superiority over the formidable Japanese Zero fighter plane. It also doubled as a very capable ground attack aircraft, seeing action in WWII and Korea.
Other famous aircraft Vought produced are the F-8 Crusader and the A-7 Corsair II. The Crusader is commonly known as the “last gunfighter” because of its aerial dogfighting capabilities. The Corsair II is known for its excellence in ground attack capabilities. Both planes were used widely in Vietnam.
The VAHF is a not-for-profit corporation composed of retired Vought employees who volunteer their time to secure donations and to restore Chance Vought aircraft.The HAC is located on the third floor of McDermott Library and is also home to several notable collections, including the James H. Doolittle Collection, the Braniff Collection, and the Civil Air Transport/Air America Archive.
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