Historically Important Early US Airforce Photos of Ellington Field Airbase.

[Album with ca. 260 Original Early Gelatin Silver Photos (mounted and loosely inserted) of the US Air Service Training Base at Ellington Field, Showing Aerial Views of the Base, Houston and Nearby Towns, Planes on the Ground and in Flying Formations, Numerous Wrecked Planes, Portraits of the Cadets, Mechanics, Commanders, etc.].

Ca. 1918-1919. Oblong Quarto album (ca. 18,5x27,5 cm). 45 card stock leaves (several blanks). With ca. 234 mounted gelatin silver photographs, including three large photos from ca. 17x24,5 cm (6 ½ x 9 ½ in) to ca. 12,5x17,5 cm (5 x 6 ¾ in); the rest of the photos are from ca. 10x15 cm (3 ¾ x 5 ¾ in) to ca. 3x4,5 cm (1 x 1 ¾ in). One photo captioned in negative; over eighty photos (mostly related to aviation) with period ink or typewritten captions on the mounts or verso. With twenty-six loosely inserted photos from ca. 8x21,5 cm (3x8 in) to ca. 5x7,5 cm (2 x 2 ¾ in); one photo captioned and dated on recto, one photo with an ink stamp “Kodak Finishing, Fort Worth, Texas” on verso. Also with several mounted newspaper clippings. Period black full cloth hardcover album. One large photo with a tear, a couple of images very mildly faded, but overall a very good album of strong interesting photos.

Historically significant extensive collection of early original photos showing the first years of the US Air Service (now US Air Force) training camp at Ellington Field, taken and collected by a cadet who trained there in 1918 and possibly 1919. Established in 1917, Ellington Field was one of the best-equipped training facilities at the time. The base was closed down in 1920 and reopened in 1941. Now the base operates as a municipal airport, continues support for military units and cooperates with NASA.
The album includes over twenty photos of the Ellington Field and military planes on the ground - “a little excitement on a bombing field,” “1st Hanley Page to come to Ellington” [Handley Page]; “dash on Hanley Page bomber,” “Dragon – Curtiss JN-4H,” “DH.4 & Hanley Page bombers,” “H.P. taking off,” two photos of folding a plane’s wings (“putting it away”), “hospital ship,” “DH.4,” a hydroplane, French “SPAD,” British “S.E.5”, “German Fokker,” four views of the airbase flooded after rains (captioned “it never rains,” “it just poors,” and “sub chasers”). Over thirty photos taken in the air show various plane formations: “formation flying,” “there is only one formation for day bombing raids; this is the Duck Formation” (three photos), “on top of a formation,” “from bombing ship,” “over the side,” “12,000 ft,” “over the top - give her the gun” (six photos), “tail group from seat,” etc. The photo of a formation mounted on the first leaf has a typewritten caption: “Flying in formation is a necessity for bombing at day time as a means to resist an attack from enemy squadrons. Every pilot must keep exactly his place in the formation and consider the obligation as an imperative order. Lt. Johnston.” There are also about twenty photos of plain wrecks: “wrecked H’s,” “a real wreck,” “wrecked DH.4s,” planes smashed on a ground, stuck in a tree, crashed into a rail car of the “Panhandle Refining Co., Wichita Falls, Texas” (the caption reads “no one hurt”), crashed into a railway crossing, photo of a pilot looking at a wrecked plane (captioned “I’ll be durned”), etc. The album also includes over a dozen excellent aerial views of the Ellington Field and nearby cities, showing “the field from 3000 ft.,” “the stamping ground,” “Texas City, 5000 ft.,” “Goose Creek (oil field),” Sylvian Beach, “Houston shipyards” (the largest photo), “over Houston at 3000 ft.”, “docks at Texas City,” Galveston, “Galveston harbor & docks,” etc. The other photos portray the airfield staff, mechanics and cadets posing on the airfield grounds, during a review, gathered around a plane (captioned “earning our $6.00 per”), reading a newspaper, joking around, posing during a “bunk fatigue,” standing next to a sign “Go Slow, Danger,” etc. Among the identified persons are “Col. Rader” (Lt.-Col. Ira A. Rader, 1887-1958, Commanding Officer of Ellington Field in 1918) and 2nd Lt. Roger Tuckerman (served at Ellington Field in 1918, see: Directory of Officers, Cadets and Nurses of Ellington Field// Ellington 1918. Houston, Texas, p. 209). There is also an interesting photo of a military parade on Houston’s Main Street (featuring the Capitol Hotel and Philip Battlestein’s tailor shop) with a plane in the centre of the picture. A group of cadets in another photo poses in front of a plane with the sign “Brooks Field.” The other photos show the cadets posing with their girlfriends and family members, a girl in a nurse uniform, etc. The album also contains five studio photos showing aerial views of Verdun, Montfaucon d’Argonne and Vaux, where the album’s compiler could have served during the last months of WW1. Overall a historically significant first-hand account of the first years of Ellington Field airbase.

Item #435

Price: $3,250.00 USD