Heritage CanCar Airport Hawker Hurricane Monument Proposal – Vesa Peltonen

Hawkers sculpture Concept
Artist concept for Hawker Hurricane Tribute

THUNDER BAY – The idea of a dynamic airport sculpture/monument dedicated to the hard working women and men at CanCar [1935~1944] now Bombardier Inc., must not be forgotten. It is way overdue, and the concept is focused on the ‘Hawker Hurricane’ fighter, one of the top fighters of WWII, which was used in every battle area, doing their great work that should not be forgotten. Building amazing airplanes, especially the Hawker, from 1935 on, an aircraft that was used everywhere, even by the United States in the South Pacific against the Japanese, along with the CanCar Curtiss Helldiver.

It is the Hawker that made the great impression as good but unique to the Spitfire. It was overall versatile, and fewer planes were lost. It came at the enemy from every angle after a while, and almost was invincible after a while, Germans thought.

To have many built here at CanCar around the clock, by co-operative women & men had been a most incredible feat to put us on the map, as helping to slow down, resist the enemy advance to a point of saving England especially from a worse catastrophe.

It left by ships before the German subs became notorious, Just in time for the Brits to build 2 main huge hangers/plants, where more were produced, and bought by other countries.

All together by ’45 -14 countries divided a total possession of 22,000, most all in battle somewhere. 12 today are still flying.

We need to have a lasting monument that will surely have our youth, our future recognize and be proud of what their great grandparents had done so skillfully. It was also used by the Americans in the Pacific, although more Curtis Helldivers were bought and were effective. 23,000 were built and bought, refurbished by 14 + countries, with mostly decal, ID changes, and colour, and some other additions inside.

But the silhouette never changed. It is the essence of my sculpture idea, showing the planes agility, amazing maneuvering ability, lightweight construction.

Hawker silouette

It hardly changed from its original conception in 1935 by CanCar’s famous lady Chief engineer at age 34, Elsie MacGill.

She was highly respected, and set a good morale at our CanCar plant, women/men working together. The world got the news, an amazing fighter that could be shot with many bullet holes and still fly and drown enemy German Luftwaffe planes so swiftly, that this mystery plane scared the daylights out of the German fighters.

Hawker Hurricane 1939

To add to the mystery, when the news got around it was designed here in Thunder Bay, and the Chief of production/design was a young woman engineer— AND CanCar could build so many well, so fast, people were puzzled, ‘IN THE MIDDLE of Canada?

They were stumped…”How could we shoot so many round at this plane –no affect. The secret was the canvas body fabrication initially, so when it was shot at many times, the bullets went right through one side and out the other, as long as the engine was not hit much.

The Hawker finally could attack from all sides a by 1940 with a swift Rolls Royce engine, fastest speed clocked at 370 miles an hr.

It could quickly shift angles, and be behind or below a German bomber to shoot it down. It was able to climb as high finally as the Messerschmidt, and along with the British collab of the ‘Spitfire’, it was a dual performance that pushed back the Germans air command, with such heavy loses, that Hitler was so angry with his air force chiefs, they had to change plans.

If it was not for the Hawker the Germans would have easily made horrid uneventful resistance and gone to more bombing raids but it diminished their plans. The German air force was in despair. The Hawker fought everywhere, it was a desert tank destroyer, flying at low levels, and it blasted subs and enemy ships out of the water easily.

In that I wanted to propose a striking unique sculpture/monument, which would even have a modeled & flat metal silhouette of a man and woman in a working position of welding or hammering, as an additional idea, but most importantly, a plaque that says concisely what the monument stands for by the edge of the 2 foot concrete base.

I feel our city citizens would be proud of it, recognize it immediately, curious at first, though, and having tourists and visitors be in awe of something unique looking, that they can talk about, when going back to their home.

I did a poll a short while back and there was no one that said no, or maybe or criticized the concepts. Bombardier likes it, as well as many of the people closely involved with airplanes as the people at our Airplane Museum.

It would be durable, free of much maintenance, and would hold steady. With of course an engineer looking at the safety and the structure needs, it would be most important and I have shown it to an expert, who had not seen an issue, depending on locale.

We would create a 3-d computer model, and if necessary an animation for any particular reason.

We have set up levels of patronage, under the names of metals used to build airplanes.

That would be like a ‘gold, silver, bronze patron’ cliché, however those name titles are over-used, been done, not catchy anymore for corporations who’ve seen those titles, (more for sports), so it would be as of now:

‘Titanium’, ‘Iron’, to ‘Aluminum’ Patrons’; each metal relating to a higher Corporate/Private contributor with names engraved onto the platform monument maybe, as well as a certificate for an office wall.

I have been in touch with City Departments, all airlines we know, many Foundations as Trillium Fund, as well as our N.W. Aviation museum, who will take over a city wide donation/awareness.

It will work. I’ve been through it with the Merchant Marines waterfront Heritage Monument/Sculpture. I would like to see it within the year ideally.

I have spent my own monies to a point of over $12,000., in the last year and half, of research for designs and finding right local people to work on it, had info meetings, travel to aviation museums all over, seeing all the planes of note.

As well I’ve made several models until it was dynamic, to see a 3d look at it in a semi-surround, but we’re redoing that likely with Bombardier software later.

So Funds are at a point of need. We have taken polls & there has been not a ‘no’ or a ‘maybe’ by anyone.

Many simply wrote: “Go for it’, “Get it done”, “It’s about time”, and ‘Great Idea!”

My goal was always to have an airplane design, & having University degrees in history, WWII has been a fascination.

With Infinity Innovation Fabrication being a few blocks away from Bombardier, on Bailey St. that’s perfect. They will be actually doing the state-of-the-art –laser cutting the two life size silhouette of a CanCar male/female plant worker/figures while the main body of construction is being done at Infinity Innovation Metal.

Placement is the key.

I feel the figures cut from iron, in working poses is an essential part of the whole to make it highly meaningful (not shown on the artist concept).

A memorial texted plaque will be done and place on the edge of the concrete base.

The sculpture is long lasting, easy to clean, and it will be able to be seen from two parts of the expressway, and driving in, at the right side of the Airport. It will also be seen by people landing in, seeing most of the planes silhouettes, of bronze forms over the fence.

From all angles it will be recognize immediately.

Inside the airport will be a display case showing N.W. Ontario Aviation Museum memorabilia, and a brochure will be available for visitor tourist information especially.

Opening ceremonies will have a show and celebration, unveiling, and a real Hawker Hurricane flying around as an awesome spectacle to a public audience and dignitaries.

In comparison to much of the work at the waterfront, the cost would be not huge at all. An educated guess ~ $225,000.

Fundraising is from donors as Bombardier, The Veteran Affairs, Foundations, plus Company’s and Public Donations, etc.

Having worked on the Waterfront Monument for the Merchant Marines, and a few others and winning the tender in ’95 for all the design work for Bombardier’s entrance ways from murals to glass smaller sculptures, and 38 artist’s concepts on their walls, I have much experience in design, marketing and a History degree as an educator- 35 years, in all arts areas and education, winner of the City Heritage & Cultural Award 2007 for Visual Arts. Been an Advisor for the Ontario Arts Council, I am determined & dedicated to this city getting things done right in the arts, as best as I can.

Here is a short video of our CanCar built Hawker Hurricane.


My bio is included: www.vpeltonen.com

Yours truly,

Vesa Peltonen
H.B.F.A. B.Ed. / Designer/Creative art director

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