Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Catalog Data

Collection Donor:
Nickse, Hugo  Search this
Johnson, Hanford  Search this
Steinway, Henry Ziegler  Search this
Collection Creator:
Comstock, Cheney and Co.  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Archival materials
1941 - 1977
Scope and Contents:
The records in this series relate to the Gould Aeronautical Division, set up by Pratt, Read in 1942 to manufacture gliders for the U.S. armed forces during World War II. Pratt, Read's long experience with woodworking made this a logical course of action, since the gliders at the time were constructed primarily of wood. Pratt, Read produced three types of gliders during the war. These were the CG 4A "WACO" troop transport glider, the LNE 1 (or PRG 1) training glider, and an experimental bomb carrying plane, the GLOMB. Both of the latter were made for the U.S. Navy, while the CG 4A was made for the U.S. Army Air Forces. This series is composed of eleven subseries. FINANCIAL RECORDS include ledgers for the glider manufacturing operations. PERSONNEL RECORDS, 1941-1945, include a listing of employees and their nationalities drawn up in December 1941, notices regarding work rules and practices, position descriptions for salaried employees, and copies of the employee newsmagazine, The Leading Edge. Especially interesting are a number of motivational posters done by Pratt, Read employees during the war, which were hung throughout the factory facilities. These poster stress quality workmanship, productivity, safety, and the contributions of the workers to the war effort. Negatives of these posters, and others, are included among the Photonegatives. MANUFACTURING RECORDS, 1944-1945, consist primarily of various aircraft specifications published by the Army during the war. The REAL ESTATE RECORDS, 1942-1944, consist of photographs showing the construction of a plant for CG 4A glider assembly and floorplans of the main factory in Deep River, which show how the plant was arranged for glider production. The PHOTOPRINTS, 1942-1945, are arranged according to type of glider. They document, in detail, all stages of production, assembly, flight testing, and shipment of the gliders, especially the CG 4As. Some of the photographs were taken at one of the other factories that produced CG 4A gliders, while others, supplied by the Army, show CG 4As, CG 3As, and CG 13s in service. Several photographs of paintings done by a local artist show the Pratt, Read factory and the CG 4A assembly line in action; the originals of these paintings remain in the possession of the Pratt Read Corporation. Of additional interest are several photographs relating to the first transatlantic glider crossing, which took place in July 1943. The PHOTONEGATIVES, 1942-1945, show many of the same subjects as the photoprints. However, since most of them were created in the course of photo assignments for The Leading Edge, they focus more on the employees and typical factory scenes. The negatives showing the various departments, for example, usually consist of group photos of the workers in that department, rather than scenes showing them at work. Factory scenes include the assembly line, change of shifts, a bond rally, visits of servicemen and women, the 1943 Christmas celebration, and production award ceremonies. Many of the photoprints and photonegatives show the factory grounds covered with CG 4A gliders in various stages of assembly. Others document the packaging and shipping of the finished gliders, and the accidents that took place in transit. The archivist has grouped several sets of related negatives together by topic, since they lacked an overall original arrangement. Six 16mm training FILMS (produced for the U.S. Office of Education of the Federal Security Agency in 1944) document the various assembly procedures involved in the construction of a CG 4A glider. All six reels are in the training film series Aircraft Work: Wood Fabrication, which was produced by the Bray Studios (copyright 1944) for the U.S. Office of Education of the Federal Security Agency. Running about 20 minutes each, they depict in detail the construction of a glider wing from wood. A diagram and narration at the beginning of each film explains the overall organization of the glider wing and how each part fits into the whole. The wing is divided into panels: inboard and outboard. The inboard panel is divided into sections: trailing, nose, and center. The sections are built separately and assembled in a special jig. A number of different, apparently experienced woodworkers both men and women are used throughout the series. There is no information regarding their employers, the filming location, or any connection to Pratt, Read. There are no personal production credits on the films, other than the names of the federal agency's administrators. The NEWS CLIPPINGS, from 1943 1944, mainly concern the use of gliders in the war, including their service in Normandy, the Netherlands, and Burma. They also include information on the production and flight testing of gliders in the United States. The PUBLICATIONS, 1942-1944, include manuals for constructing and flying the LNE 1 Glider; a government publication titled Wood Aircraft Inspection and Fabrication; two wartime employee newsmagazines from the Waco Aircraft Company and the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company; and a publication highlighting Connecticut's role in the war effort. MISCELLANEOUS records, 1942-1979, include a history of Pratt, Read's wartime activities written in 1945, a 1944 annual report for the Gould Aeronautical Division, and some correspondence. Of special interest in this subseries are materials relating to the first transatlantic glider flight of 1943; these include recollections of one of the crew members (taped in 1977), two pieces of the original tow rope used in that flight, and a certificate signed by all the airmen who participated. RELATED MATERIAL, 1944-1983, gathered mainly by Peter Comstock in the postwar years, includes information about two veteran's organizations the National World War II Glider Pilots Association and the 62nd Troop Carrier Squadron, A.A.F. along with news clippings about former glider personnel and published information about gliders in World War II.
Collection Restrictions:
Collection open for research on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records, 1839-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
NMAH.AC.0320, Series 4
See more items in:
Pratt, Read Corporation Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History