click to enlarge Lindbergh in the biplane he piloted along Contract Air Mail Route #2 between Chicago and St. Louis in 1926-1927.
Lindbergh in the biplane he piloted along Contract Air Mail Route #2 between Chicago and St. Louis in 1926-1927.
Lindbergh in the biplane he piloted along Contract Air Mail Route #2 between Chicago and St. Louis in 1926-1927.

I enjoyed Erika Holst’s article “When Lindberg delivered airmail to Springfield” (July 31). I find that there are a few points that need to be clarified.

The aircraft that Lindbergh flew on CAM No. 2 was not a de Havilland D.H. 4, but was in fact, a modified Dayton Wright DH-4B “Mail Plane.”

The Dayton Wright version of the de Havilland design differed in several important respects – primarily the substitution of the 375 hp Rolls-Royce “Eagle” VIII with a 400 hp “Liberty” engine. There were also slight differences in the dimensions, weights and performance between the D.H. 4 and DH-4.

Known as the “Liberty Plane,” the Americanized DH-4 (please note that the abbreviations are written differently) was modified extensively until it was withdrawn from American military service in 1929.

From 1919 to 1923, 1,538 DH-4s were converted to DH-4Bs. This work was done by 10 aircraft manufacturers and several U.S. Air Service (USAS) depots. The primary modification involved juxtapositioning the pilot’s cockpit and main fuel tank, moving the pilot much closer to the observer/gunner. The separation of the two cockpits had been one of the biggest criticisms of the design, which was known as the “Flaming Coffin” due to the exposure of the fuel tank.

With the creation of the U.S. Airmail Service in 1918, it was only a matter of time before DH-4s were used for airmail flights. Modifications to DH-4B “Mail Plane” standards involved the removal of the observer’s cockpit, and again moving the pilot’s cockpit aft.

Lindbergh’s DH-4B “Mail Plane” was owned by the Robertson Aircraft Co. of St. Louis. While the sole extant photo of Lindbergh’s DH-4B does not show the headrest, it appears to be painted in the standard Robertson colors; a dark red fuselage with aluminum doped wings and tail surfaces. The interplane struts apparently remained in the natural wood colors.

In the late ’90s, I was conducting research at the Manuscript Reading Room at the Library of Congress, when a world-renowned philatelist rediscovered the stamped envelope that was given to Lindbergh just prior to his 1927 Transatlantic flight by Springfield Postmaster William Conkling. It was an exciting moment that I do not believe is generally known. Originally from Springfield, Illinois, I found it to be an interesting, if odd, coincidence.

W.R. Smith
McClean, Virginia


Illinois Times (July 31) contained a letter criticizing Chris Britt’s cartoon in the July 24 issue. I hate to follow up with another letter of cartoon criticism, since I do enjoy his cartoons and generally agree with them. I must take issue with his cartoon in IT (July 31) that called Mayor Houston a liar for declaring himself a mayoral candidate in next year’s election after stating prior to the last election that he would be a one-term mayor only.

I’m inclined to believe he truly intended not to seek re-election. Yet during his tenure, he decided that he could best help the city by running again. So what is wrong with that?

Next spring when voters go to the polls, I hope their decision to vote for or against Mayor Houston will be based on how well they expect him to govern over the next four years, not because he’s running again after saying he wouldn’t.

Dick McLane


“Successful political cartoonists fuse creative caricature, clever situational transpositions and honest indignation,” wrote Roger A. Fischer, author of Them Damned Pictures.

Chris Britt is an intelligent cartoonist who follows a long line of other intelligent cartoonist stirrer-uppers, from Ben Franklin down through Tom Nast, Bill Mauldin, Jules Feiffer and so on. I suggest the readers who have waxed indignant over his cartoons lately stick to the Family Circus cartoon on the comic page of the State Journal-Register.

Marcia Thomas

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