Pianos Falling From The Sky!

I really thought, like you probably (!) that pianos dropping from the sky only happens in cartoons? Then I heard this true story.

During World War II, all kinds of production involving metals, such as iron, copper, and brass, that was non-essential to the war effort were halted by the American government. This was because these metals were needed to make guns, tanks, and artillery. Many musical instrument makers were affected by the new regulations, which meant that either they had to manufacture something else the military could use, or wait for the war to end, which was as good as going out of business.

Piano makers Steinway & Sons was also affected by the restrictions. Instead of shutting down their factory, Steinway decided to bide their time manufacturing parts for troop transport gliders.

Steinway’s patience was rewarded when the US Military granted them a contract to make heavy-duty military pianos. By June 1942, Steinway’s workers had designed a small upright piano, no more than forty inches wide and weighing 455 pounds. It was light enough to be carried by four soldiers. Each piano was treated with special anti-termite and anti-insect solution and sealed with water-resistant glue to withstand dampness. The best part was— the piano used only 33 pounds of metal, about a tenth as much as a typical grand piano.

Victory Verticals

Known as “Victory Verticals,” these pianos could be packed into crates and conveniently dropped by parachutes along with tuning equipment and instructions. An estimated 2,5000 pianos were dropped to American soldiers fighting the war in three continents.

Steinway’s pianos continued to serve the military well after the war was over. When the nuclear-powered submarine USS Thomas A. Edison was built in 1961, a Steinway upright was installed in the crew’s mess area at the request of its captain. The instrument remained on board until the sub was decommissioned in 1983.

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About Steve Flashman

Steve Flashman is a singer/songwriter, published author and has appeared on TV many times over the years. He toured extensively as a professional musician and set-up a Short Term Service Charity which worked in some of the poorest areas of the world. He is currently living in Buckinghamshire UK with his wife Sarah and is Vicar of two rural parish churches.

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