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I am a collector of trench art planes in Australia and from time to time come across planes that defy identification. I am currently struggling to identify this model (photos below). The age and appearance of the piece would indicate it was made in the 1930's-1940's, but I can't find a plane of that era which is an appropriate match.

What is it?

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    $\begingroup$ This is unlikely to be a copy of a real airplane, much more likely it is the artist's conception of an airplane, so there's likely no answer. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Feb 21 at 9:40
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with @GdD - everything about this model screams "Art Deco", so it's likely a stylized/idealized airplane from the 1930s and not based on any particular model. Also, this makes it a bit unlikey to be "trench art". But that's just my opinion of course :) $\endgroup$
    – rob74
    Feb 21 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ Wow. This image from the OP's Wikipedia link is... sobering. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Feb 21 at 18:47
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    $\begingroup$ The plane is a die-cast model. Trench art was made from junk found “in the trenches” - metal salvaged from munitions and sometimes their packaging. There’s approximately 0.0 reason to call this one trench art. It’s a sturdy model, evidently designed for mounting on a base, i.e. likely not a toy. $\endgroup$ Feb 22 at 3:10
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    $\begingroup$ Re "The ledge running the full length "below the windows""-- that's kind of an "art deco" kind of thing I think, to take a design feature that might have existed in one limited area (i.e. cockpit narrower than fuselage below) and extend it across the entire length of the vehicle for a long sweeping look-- or the feature might have been entirely fictional, created to emphasize the vehicle's long lines and given a sense of speed-- +1 on Rob74 comment, likely not any actual aircraft -- $\endgroup$ Feb 22 at 14:26

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From the model I came to conclusion that the aircraft likely was:

  • British due to it being spotted Australia
  • Built in 30s as opposed to 40s due to boxy fuselage shape
  • Civilian or transport plane - due to contouring in upper fuselage
  • Trimotor due to similarity between engine and nose shapes

With that I looked through Wikipedia's list of 1930s British airliners and found:

Spartan cruiser

Spartan Cruiser over Melbourne, 1934

Spartan Cruiser 3-view drawing from NACA-AC-168

Features that match:

  • General fuselage excluding contouring
  • The steep vertical profile of the windscreen (somewhat uncommon in other planes)
  • Engine shape and placement including nose mounted engine being the same but larger than wing mounted engines
  • Split tail horizontal stabilizer

Features that don't match:

  • Contouring on top of fuselage - probably mistaken impression by artist delimiting passenger compartment from fuselage accentuated by horizontal paint stripe. I personally thought Ju-52 had that feature but was also mistaken.
  • Wing shape is different - the model has more forward swept wings
  • The leading edge of tail horizontal stabilizer is angled instead of perpendicular to fuselage.

With that I was still skeptical about my findings, given that according to Wikipedia there were only 17 such planes without any mention in text connecting them to Australia. That is until I noticed that the picture there was titled "Spartan Cruiser over Melbourne, 1934"

Seeing that I searched the plane number G-ACDW and found its history that places it in Australia:

In the period October to December 1933 a Cruiser II G-ACDW (c/n 3 – Faithful City) was flown by Patrick Windsor Lynch-Blosse, chief pilot of Spartan Airlines, from England to Australia, leaving Lympne on 10 October and arriving in Brisbane, QLD on 29 October after 110 hours flying time. Lynch-Blosse had previously flown for a short period in New Guinea, and at another stage flew in command of the Avro X Southern Sun in Queensland in 1930.

On 30 October the aircraft was flown to Sydney, NSW, later through Victoria, up the west coast to Derby, WA having circled the continent. It returned to the United Kingdom, arriving on 26 December 1933. This flight was a long-distance charter and was claimed by the owners to be the longest private charter of its type undertaken.

That means that your artist might have seen the plane in person some time between 29 October 1930 to 26 December 1933 or from pictures some time after that, considering that the longest private charter flight ever might have ended up in local press.

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When I saw your model, I immediately thought of the the Boeing 247. It is not an accurate model, but does have the general lines.

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The rudder shape slightly resembles the De Havilland designs of that era as do the engine nacelles which look like they would contain either an in-line or a flat engine rather than a radial.

But the fuselage contouring along the window line and towards the nose ahead of the cockpit don't look like any type of plane I know about, so my guess is this was a fanciful take on a twin-engine plane that wasn't modeled on a single type.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hi Everyone, Thanks so much for your amazing suggestions and research. It is likely we may never know exactly what kind of plane this is meant to be. I agree that the maker was influenced by art-deco style, and may have added deco "speed lines" to the fuselage and engine nacelles to enhance that look. Much appreciated. Cheers, Jason $\endgroup$ Feb 25 at 3:44

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