Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cragstan U.S. Air Force Staff Car

When I first saw this on eBay I couldn't believe it and really had to have it. Mostly because it fits in with my other Air Force collectibles but also because it's rather strange! Why? Well, as a toy it's just really nice and is also a part of a slowly growing collection of larger tin vehicles, mostly Cragstan to date. But the strangeness lies in what it represents. The toy itself was made in the late '50s, early '60s but represents a touring car of the 1930s. It is also plainly marked as a U.S. Air Force staff car with the Star & Bar insignia with red stripe on the door. Here's the rub There was no U.S. Air Force in the 1930s!!

During the American Civil War balloons were used over battlefields to keep track of the action below. The Balloon Corps only lasted from 1861-1863 but their renewed use came during the Spanish-American War of 1898 as part of the Army's Signal Corps. It wasn't until the Grebüder Wright came along with their flimsy biplane in 1903 and changed everything that balloons were replaced. By 1907 the Aeronautical Division of the Signal Corps (1907-1914) was established using these early flying machines and in subsequent years they became the:

-Aviation Section, Signal Corps (1914-1918)
-Division of Military Aeronautics (lasted all of four days in May of 1918)
-Air Service, U.S. Army (1918-1926)
-U.S. Army Air Corps (1926-1941)
-U.S. Army Air Forces (1941-1947)
-and finally U.S. Air Force (1947-present).

The Star & Bar insignia with red stripe first appeared in January 1947.

If anything, a staff car of the 1930s would have been a matte olive drab with perhaps a plain white star on the door, so as a toy this is really an interesting anomaly, but I think it's neat. Enjoy!