|Verville Air Coach, NC70W
Smithsonian photo A48844
Mussolini's government bought this Verville airplane made in Detroit, and Commander Paolo Sbernadori, of the Italian embassy in Washington, accepted the plane at the Ford Airport Wednesday. It has a Packard Diesel engine.
EDITORS NOTE: The news clipping was sent to Jo Cooper by Edith Dodd (Aunt Teed) Culver in 1988. She wrote: "An old camera book contained the enclosed clipping of Mussolini, dates it around 1939-1940, but nothing was on it but W. E. Lees name that marked it as a "saved" item." Although the clipping did not include a photo, there is the designation "---Free Press Staff Photo." above the text.
I found a reference to the plane in the Aero Data Files which is my primary source for plane identification.
In the Winter of 1930-32, I went to Europe with George H. Brodie, executive of Packard. We took the train to New York and a ship to Bremerhaven in Europe. We then took the train through Germany to Prague, Czechoslovakia. We contacted the Walter Company which had bought the Packard 980 diesel and installed it in a high wing monoplane. ......Korda, President of the Walter Co. and Etena Compara, engineer, watched the plane and engine during the test. I took one ride with Korda and also visited his home where I met his wife, inlaws, mother and father. Had "hassenpfeffer" for dinner. Later, I watched while the engine was torn down for inspection.
We continued on through Austria to Milan, Italy where they had a Packard Diesel on a test stand. They weren't ready for us, so we returned to London, England through Zurick, Switzerland and Paris, France.
I spent Christmas with Les Irvin (Irvin Parachutes) and his wife in their home near London. We visited the Lords who were connected with the Sander Roe Airplane Co. on the Isle of Wight. Nice people. We returned to London and I visited several airplane engine plants.
Brodie left London for Paris a few days before me. I flew from the London airport to Paris in a large, two engine biplane. There were clouds over the channel, so I never saw the water. The pilot dropped down under the clouds when he arrived in France. He flew about 200 feet under the clouds, got lost, flew up into two valleys, had to turn around, but landed safely in Paris.
Brodie and I went on to Milan, Italy. The engine was being tested at the Alfa Romeo automobile plant. They had the only test stands in Italy for aircraft radial engines. Brodie stayed only a short time and left for the United States and home.
I had an interpreter by the name of Scotti, a fine chap. The Packard distributors were ......... and ........... The first one was Greek and could speak good English. The other was a blond Italian and he couldn't speak English. I stayed at the ..........hotel and ate all over town. I went to the La Scala opera with a Major .........., now with Consolidated.
I watched their tests of the diesel engine. One time, when my interpreter was away, the Italians opened the engine way up and pulled 260 hp, though the engine was only rated at 225 hp. I helped and oversaw the mechanics when they tore down the engine for inspection. The only Italian word I knew was "basta", meaning stop. I had to use it a lot when Scotti wasn't with me.
The Italians were pleased with the engine and wanted to buy manufacturing rights, but Packard refused to grease a lot of palms to close the deal, so the project fell through.
So, it was back to Paris by train and to the US and New York on the Isle de France. Upon my return, I learned that Packard had decided to abandon all aircraft work. They said I could stay on at a reduced salary in the car experimental department.