12.5 x 8.25” black screw-bound album which contains—as the title on the front cover may suggest—newspaper articles detailing the presentation of the first 20 M.M. aircraft gun to the military. The gun was crafted by the Eclipse Machine Division of Bendix Aviation Corp. at the Eclipse Plant in Elmira Heights, N.Y. The general manager of the plant, William L. McGrath, compiled this scrapbook to commemorate the occasion. The newspaper articles are mostly from May 15 to May 19, 1944, but there was also an article in American Aviation about the event in June of that year. Many of the clippings are repeats of the same photo and caption from the Associated Press Wirephoto, which was published in newspapers throughout the United States. Some of those newspapers include the Elmira Star-Gazette, Buffalo Courier Press, a Phoenix, Arizona newspaper, a South Bound, Indiana newspaper, Chicago Sunday Tribune, and Miami Daily News. The newspaper photo features McGrath and Brig. Gen. Charles T. Harris Jr., Assistant Chief of Army Ordnance, who was presented with the gun. At the back of the album there are 10 black and white photos, all measuring either 10 x 8” or 7 x 5” and are glued to the pages. These photos feature the crowd gathered during the ceremony. There is moisture damage to most of the photos.
Example of contents of clippings:
Elmirans Do Their Share (from Elmira Star Gazette May 17, 1941)
Elmirans are doing their bit, and a large bit it is, for the future defense of the United States.
Significant was the ceremony at the Eclipse plant Friday morning when General Manager William L. McGrath formally turned over to prominent government officials the first 20-millimeter aircraft cannon made in this country.
The single weapon, which met every test when fired for the official inspectors, is a forerunner of quantities of similar guns which now will be coming from the immense machine shop.
“All of you had a hand in this great achievement,” Manager McGrath told the 1,200 employees present at the ceremony, and, he added , “You have a right to be proud of what has been done thus far and we trust and know will continue to be done here. You are doing a most important work for our country’s defense.”
The ceremony was a brief and pleasant respite in continuous days of steady work. The big point, the real reason for the celebration, is that the stage has been reached where the weapons can be turned out in quantity.
As planes are built the weapons will be ready to put in them. Well coordinated planning and effort are bringing good results. Elmirans are doing their share in this rapid, effectual preparation.