Tom McNeely: Alfred Verville
Artist: Tom McNeely
Alfred Verville was one of the brightest designers of early airplanes in this country. In 1914, at the age of twenty-four, Verville was so impressed by a daredevil flying demonstration that he left his secure job as a designer at Hudson Motor Company and plunged headlong into aviation. Joining the Curtiss company, Verville provided valuable design work on many early Curtiss planes ... most notably the famous Jenny. By 1918, Alfred Verville's fame as a brilliant aeronautics designer had grown ... and he was asked by the United States Army Air Corps to help redesign some of America's wartime airplanes. The result was the Verville VCP racer, a powerful biplane which obtained an estimated speed of 190 miles-per-hour. The Army was interested in the VCP as a prototype for a pursuit plane, but Army General Billy Mitchell ... champion of air power ... wanted even more speed and instructed Verville to design "tomorrow's airplane today." In one frantic night, Verville designed the R-3 racer, a sleek and fast airplane ... and the first American plane to feature such innovations as retractable landing gear. General Mitchell was so pleased with the R-3 that he whistled, "Now that's what I call a modern aeroplane!" The unique and innovative design of Verville's R-3 later led to some of the most famous fighter planes of World War II.
This painting was originally published on the Fleetwood® First Day Cover for the U.S. 33¢ Alfred Verville stamp issued February 13, 1985.
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