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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Frank Munger - Cutaway Drawing of Aircraft Specialist Bites the Dust


The technical artist Frank Munger, who has died aged 90, specialised in cutaway line drawings of aircraft, their engines and missiles. His work was published in Flight International magazine for more than 40 years. Frank managed to make a seemingly complex subject readily understood, even down to the pilot's safety harness.

Using pen and ink on art board, he opened up aeroplanes, ranging from the lumbering Vickers Vimy bomber of the first world war to the supersonic Concorde. In the aftermath of the Concorde crash in 2000 in Paris, Frank's cutaway showed the relationship between the fuel tanks and the plane's undercarriage. (A metallic strip found lying on the runway had burst one of the plane's tyres, and the resulting rubber fragments punctured a fuel tank that caused a fire.)

Frank's detailed knowledge of how aircraft were constructed was gained during the second world war when he was in the RAF. He was born at Walters Ash, near High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, and attended Naphill primary school. He grew up with a passion for drawing, mostly horses and internal combustion engines. He learned to dismantle and reassemble the motorbike engines of his friends and neighbours, and at the outbreak of the war was managing, without any formal engineering training, the servicing of food lorries. He volunteered for the RAF, and, to his delight, was posted to a course for engine fitters at Squires Gate, Blackpool.

Frank was then posted to a Vickers Wellington bomber squadron before moving in 1941 to Singapore. With few aircraft to service, and knowing that Japanese forces were about to strike, he and his fellow airmen spent their time destroying anything that could be of use to the invading forces. He boarded the Empire Star shortly before the fall of Singapore in February 1942. Sailing for Sumatra, he and his comrades, armed with rifles, lined the decks to shoot at Japanese bombers that were attempting to sink the vessel.

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