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Night Fighter. Musée des Arts et Métiers.


Click on the picture for a larger view.


maquette Boeing Vatican

Mahogany, cormer, oak, copper and steel.
H.114, W.110, D.115 cm (1980).


This finely crafted mahogany model was built in 1939 in one of the Vatican's secret workshops. It perfectly meets the expectations of its commissioner, Pope Pius XII, who, in view of the coming conflict, and out of a purely defensive concern, wished to have his own fighter. It is said that the Pope would visit the workshop everyday to see how the work was getting along. In August 1939, Cardinal Spellman, on a secret mission, saw that the model got to Boeing, which studied it and carried out thorough wind-tunnel tests with it.
At the start of 1941, a telegram from Seattle, later found in the AP1939 file in the Curia's archives, informed the Pope that the project had failed. There is no trace of it at Boeing, where this highly sensitive file is unknown. Returned to the Vatican in September 1941, this historic model was later offered as a private gift to General Juin when the Allies entered Rome in 1944. In the testament of Marshall Juin, who died in 1967, this strange object was bequeathed to the Musée des Arts et Métiers. For a reason unknown, the model was not given up to the Museum until 1979.
The brass plaque on the pedestal bears the following lines:

See the details of the cockpit.

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