Garber Target Kite replica article written for

THE OREGON KITER

 
For those of you who want a little more information on Garber Target kites or our replicas, here is the article I wrote for THE OREGON KITER, the newsletter of the Associated Oregon Kiters. Pictures included in the article are below it. For those of you who want a lot more  information, you can go to the web page of Charles Hall, referenced in the article below.
 
This year's Fanø Classic was military kites. Bob and I took our original Gibson Girl plus the two Garber Target kite replicas we made especially for the Fanø Classic. The Garber Target kites were built by the U. S. Navy and were designed to serve as maneuverable aerial targets for gunnery training, from ground or ship during World War II. To build our replicas we used 1.5 ounce ripstop nylon to get a more accurate color. Atmospheric blue was the color called for in the spec manual and the fabric was to be rayon, impregnated with vinylchloride which made it more windproof. The silhouettes were originally painted on. While I was appliquéing the skins, Bob made and painted the wood spine, spreader, rudder pieces, and control bar. He also made fiberglas spreaders in case the wood ones broke. That was a fortunate thing as the wood spreader on the Mark I did break as a result of a crash. We made both a Mark II and a Mark I. The Mark II is 7 feet wide and 7 feet tall and ours has a Betty silhouette appliquéd on it. It was designed to fly in lighter winds than the more common Mark I, a 5 foot kite. Our Mark I is quick, very quick. On Fanø the winds were high enough to give Bob and our European friends a grand time flying the two kites.

There is an excellent web page by Charles Hall for anyone interested in information about Paul Garber's Target kites. http://www.rtpnet.org/robroy/targetkites/  We used his page extensively while building our replicas. There are so many interesting facts on his page. For example, did you know several seven-foot target kites and one of a ten foot kite were made, at the request of a Lt. Comdr. Gardner? He liked the seven foot kite as a target but it was finally decided by the Director of Special Devices to produce five-foot kites because this size was more portable, easier to manufacture, and could be handled without special field equipment. Although we see only the one silhouette on kites surviving today, numerous planes and portraits were on the kites. Lt. Comdr. Gardner shot at a kite with Adolf Hitler's picture on it! It took 3 minutes before a stick was broken and the kite was grounded. Paul Garber wanted the kites to give good target practice to gunners so the silhouette of the airplane was about one-ninth the size of the actual fighter, and "the simulated distance becomes nine times that of the line-length, and the speed of the kite also appears proportionate for an actual airplane at the simulated distance". The Navy manual stated it was inexpensive at $4.50 each and able to be repaired and used again. The manual noted "Also—it's a lot of fun to fly it." Yes, that is completely true!! Thousands were sold after the war to private individuals. The cover of the March 18, 1950 Saturday Evening Post shows two young boys putting together a Garber Target kite. Many kite collectors today have the original kites hanging in their kite rooms. The best place to find your own — unless you want to build one — is to search the auctions on eBay. More pictures of our two replica kites can be seen on our web page, Westport 2005 and Fanø 2005.

  photo from Charles Hall's web page

Mark II

Mark I

flying over the skies of Fanø in 2005

Cover of an 1950 Saturday Evening Post. Photo found on eBay.



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