Intial Point

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 Above: U.S. Army Air Force Bomber Formation Plan   December 1942


a)       Metal and molds sufficient for 1500 2” model aircraft. Because of the need to stabilize the kinetic energy from exposure to wind, heavier metals or alloys such as lead, pewter, or stainless steel are probably indicated, although the use of metals such as alumimum, ideally from the original Boeing Factory #2 site, would be a contributing aesthetic element.

b)       The models would be organized into mobiles/ flight groups of approximately 20 aircraft, which would mean the construction of 75  steel poles about 30” feet high, each supporting a very open, very light  “cathedral roof” structure forming a long “hall.”  Each pole would have supports for the mobile support structures. Option – the poles would include wind-driven musical notes to evoke the historical drone of a flight group.  More below.  

c)       Connective materials to support the models, such as tempered glass rods, hardened wire, or modern fiberglass or carbon fiber composites – the mobile structures are meant to be extremely durable and rigid, and will support the models as if they were contrails – which means they will be white or white-blue in color.  Visually, it may be effective to create supporting wires which are more organic in surface – this tends to break up the line against the sky.  

d) Connecting fittings, cable supports, items to secure structure to ground.  


Materials, Ground

 a)  Option: A continuous ground plane (the whole target ground area underneath the flight group) formed in thin aluminum sheets with a raised, repeating pattern reflect villages, farms, and damaged cities of France and Central Europe in 1943 – this would be printed using a steel roller with the negative impression and running the sheets continuously from a roll through it. The sheet would be slight buried and planted with moss. Alternatively, it could be raised slightly off the ground and imprinted with target photos from the war, to scale, along the whole length of the flight.

b) Option: A small reflecting pool, with a single small, very deep hole, at the “target end” of the sculpture. In the rain, the drops in the pool would be directly evocative.

c) Option: A bronze reconstruction of a target city, carved in wax to scale and cast.

d) Option: A 1:1 scale bronze cast of a crashed B-17 tail section, cast in a form demolished by a air combat and ground impact, installed directly in the earth. This could serve as the primary war  memorial element, and a site for a commemorative plaque.

 Materials, Towers:

 a) The initial design idea is for approximately 75 towers supporting 20 “bomb groups” of 1/432 scale recognition models of the B-17; a working estimate is that each tower, featuring a tall compound curve aligned parallel to the direction of the “flight group,” which would be tapered steadily from a large, heavy grounded end toward a very small tip that supported the light mobile structures in the air.  The height, proportional to the 1/432nd scale, would be close to 50 ft.  The compound curve can also be extended into three dimensions, curving around as if following the path of a bomber taking off and circling to eventually form up with its bomb group- this has the additional advantage of clearing the sight lines of the groups so that they appear to be supported only from the side and above. 

b)       The poles are intended to be as slender as possible to support the 30 or 40 lb weight of the models and mobile balancing “branches.” Some kinetic movement in the wind is desirable, as well as the possibility of using hollow tubes as wind-driven pipes for musical tones designed to emulate the omnipresent drone of the real flight groups.

c)       Design ideas for the towers also include:

1.        Hand-formed organic towers emulating the forms of whale ribs used raised to the sky among Inupiaq peoples as memorials.

2.        Towers supporting cables, akin to an electric trolley system, which then support the individual bomb-group mobiles. (This reduces the footprint and to an extent the visual clutter.)

3.        A structure which adapts thin metal rods or tubes into a modified, curvilinear double-vaulted ceiling form (inspired loosely on the Seattle Center cathedral forms, but highly elongated, and presenting only diagonal lines to the viewer from the front.) The intent is to define a cathedral-like space without significant weight or expense.

d)       The manufacture of these towers is the most complex element of the installation’s fabrication, and the design of this structure must be practical, enduring and aesthetically inspiring. 

f)       Options include:

i) Casting. The towers could be cast of aluminum into a 100 ft long mold directly, remaining solid, or split into two hollowed parts. Also, they could be split into multiple parts of the curve and then cast, and then welded together.

ii) Hand-forming. The aluminum could be annealed and hand-formed around a wooden mold.

iii) An existing tapered aluminum form, such as a sailboat mast or lightpole, could be copied or purchased, and then curved by using a vehicle and chain to pull the tower around a set of heavy pins corresponding to the curve, on the ground.

iv) Fiberglass could be used instead of aluminum; another possible option is carbon fiber.

v)  A radio tower-like triangulated structure has the advantages of weight and transparency against the sky, as well as a historical connection to flight.

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INITIAL POINT: Proposal for WWII Heavy Bomber Site Sculpture.

Jamie Bollenbach, M.F.A. University of WA, 2002

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