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Mike Hunter: 1942

Mike Hunter: 1942

October 1942. "Lieutenant 'Mike' Hunter, Army test pilot assigned to Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, California." 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information. View full size.

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Bomber Pilot

The aircraft is a B-25B. Mike was a post production test pilot meaning he tested the aircraft prior to acceptance and ferry to an operational command. In 1942 in Long Beach he had a job far removed from the USAAF 8th Air Force.

[The plane he's shown with below is an A-20 light bomber. - Dave]

By the numbers

If it is 41-3440 (and it sure looks to be), that was one of the Douglas A-20B Havocs in the 41-2671 through 41-3669 build group. Note this portside prop was installed 10/14/42. The absolutely pristine condition of the cowling, prop and engine indicate this baby hasn't even been flown yet. I have one of those T-30 throat mics and it is incredibly well made. In WW II movies when the frantic pilot put his hand to his throat and yelled "I'm going in!", this is what he wore. Of course, some were Steve Canyon-cool when they were crashing. Not Mike Hunter-cool, perhaps, but cool enough.

What a guy

"I have the feeling that he had no problem gettin' the ladies."

Haha. But there's something about the glasses and the headphones and his generally weedy physique that makes him look a bit geeky. I second the man above - whatever happened to him? How did he feel about being a test pilot and not in front line combat?

About that scoop

The extended carb intake was intended to hold dust filters for use in the desert. The A-20B was an early USAAF model and the filters don't seem to have been fitted much after that though I believe the late versions (A-20G and J) had the filters fitted further aft.

The RAF had a large number of A-20 variations and I have seen pictures of Boston III aircraft fitted with the long scoop.

F.W. Hunter

Yes, the aircraft is an A-20B.

I can't believe no one has pointed out the obvious kinship between Lieutenant Hunter and Stephen Colbert. They even pose the same.

Other Palmer photos of this fellow identify him as "F.W. Hunter". The leather nametag on his flight suit also says "F.W. Hunter". By taking the name "Mike" instead, what awful name his mother gave him was he running from? Fillmore? Francis?

A-20, I stand corrected

It took awhile, but I found a photo matching that air intake.
Very few A-20 pix I found showed an intake like that.

And here's one showing the little window and red "Fire Extingusher" label.

Modern History

Of course it helps that it's in color, but pics like this from the '40s always strike me as though, other than technical anachronisms, they could have been made today -- "modern" in the sense of the subject of the pic could step right out of the frame and fit right in. Compare him to the guys in Company "D" below. Some of 'em look as foreign as headhunters in Guinea!!

I suppose it could also be a function of familiarity with the medium. By '42 most Americans would know what the heck to do when somebody pointed a camera at you -- but look at Company D!! Some of them seem pretty natural, but most of them look like their granny just walked in on them taking a bath.

And, time seems like it's flown, but there are plenty of people around (and commenting here) who were around in '42. Maybe we're just distracted by the minutia (cell phones, the internet, etc.) and the essentially "modern" attitude was put on long ago, before our parents were born, or before.


Was the A-20B the only Havoc with the scoop right on the leading edge of the cowling? I can't find any other A-20 pictures where the cowling has a scoop. They all seems to have scoops on the top of the wing, behind the cowling.

[The engine with the scoop on top is a Wright Cyclone. - Dave]

It's a Douglas A-20

It was a twin engined light bomber with a tricycle (i.e. nosewheel) undercarriage, pretty advanced for the time. A really smooth aeroplane that did its job. It was also a major success for Douglas.

The A-20 was used right through to VJ Day by the USAAF. The RAF had them too and the USSR received a lot.

Aircraft ID

Most likely the aircraft is A-20B Havoc 41- 3440 produced by Douglas at its Long Beach facility between December 1941 and January 1943. The give-away, beside the partial serial number in the added photo, is the little window just above the pilot's shoulder. This odd shape was typical of the A-20. It is definitely not an A-24/SBD—a single-engine tail dragger. Both photos indicate this acft is sitting on tricycle gear.

Yeah, A-24 now that you mention

Ahhh, I did not notice the olive paint. I think the scoop is OK, though, I found pictures of SBDs with and without. Here's one with.


The airscoop is wrong for a Dauntless, plus this plane is in Army Air Force paint. Perhaps the AAF variant, A-24 I believe, had a different engine cowling

More Mike

Posted earlier here.

Steely eyed missile man

I have the feeling that he had no problem gettin' the ladies.


A Douglas SBD Dauntless, I think.
They recently raised one from Lake Michigan.


Another dead ringer for Steve Canyon!

His story.

Whatever became of him? Did he make it through the war?

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