Museum of Aviation shows off unique WWII airplane models

WARNER ROBINS -- The Museum of Aviation already has displays of model airplanes ranging from the earliest days of flight to modern aircraft currently used by the Armed Services.

But there’s something special about the new, permanent display of 29 completed (and one half-finished) airplanes on the second floor of the museum. These planes, all of the World War II era, weren’t assembled from a prefabricated kit.

Rather, each plane was personally handcrafted by the late Holice McAvoy, a Washington, Ga., native who died in 1997.

Blake Nobles, 9, of Hawkinsville, was at the museum Sunday with his family. Though they didn’t know about the exhibit coming in, they came away impressed with what they saw.

“They’re cool!” Nobles said. “I like World War II planes the best.”

Added his father, Tim Nobles: “We just got through looking at them. They’re neat.”

According to a 1995 news story from The Atlanta Constitution that’s also part of the display, McAvoy was 10 when his father got a job as a laborer to help build the Jacksonville Naval Air Station in 1940. When the war started, the officers at the base gave the children there, including McAvoy, small pieces of wood and tools and asked the kids to carve models of Japanese aircraft, to help pilot trainees identify them.

The story said McAvoy had a lifelong passion for planes. He briefly enlisted in the Air Force at 17 but didn’t qualify for flight school because he was too young and didn’t have two years of college. Instead, he graduated to the Atlanta Art Institute.

McAvoy eventually moved back to Washington and set up a woodworking business, according to the story.

McAvoy began building model planes that he carved for himself out of blocks of pine for the wings and fuselage. He used pieces of plastic to create cockpit windshields, pilots and gun turrets.

In addition, he painted each aircraft himself, including details such as the pin-up girls who often adorned American bombers during the war.

In addition to American planes, there are also British, German and Japanese planes on display, all at 1/30 scale.

Many of the bases upon which the planes are displayed also are crafted. For example, a Lockheed FV-1 naval bomber is displayed upon an anchor, and a Martin B-26 bomber is mounted upon “9th AF” for the 9th Air Force in which many B-26 bombers served.

Each of the planes are re-creations of planes that were used during the war by specific individuals or in specific battles. McAvoy built a Grumman F4F-3 “Wildcat” used by Lt. Butch O’Hare, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for shooting down five enemy aircraft in five minutes Feb. 20, 1942.

McAvoy didn’t just excel in woodwork. The display also contains a painting of a P-51 Mustang in a dogfight, flown by fellow Washington native Wallace Hopkins.

Perhaps the most interesting piece of the display is the half-finished C-46 “Commando” that McAvoy was building when he died. The display has the carved body of the plane without paint or details, such as propellers or guns. As part of that display, there are McAvoy’s tools, paints and eyeglasses.

Five-year-old Lainey Wilkerson was at the museum Sunday with her parents and grandmother. She pointed to the model of the B-24 “Liberator,” part of the 706th Bomber Squadron, as her favorite.

“It’s big, and it bombs up stuff!” she said.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.