The plane Dan Rowan was shot down in

Curtis P-40 ‘rebuild project’ on eBay.

As interesting as it is seeing a Curtis P-40 ‘project’ come up for sale (at least, it’s interesting to me), and as amusing as it is that the ‘project’ is basically a data plate and a bunch of scrap metal, I wouldn’t wouldn’t think it needed a thread. But this caught my eye:


Wait. Dan Rowan was a fighter pilot? And his birth name was Dan David? Let me google that.

It goes on to say ‘After his discharge, Rowan returned to California where he teamed up with Dick Martin and started a comedy night-club act.’ Aha! But Rowan & Martin didn’t become an ‘Act’ until the mid-'60s! Except looking up Dick Martin, the Wiki entry says they teamed up in 1952. Seven years after the end of the war, and I assume Rowan was discharged soon after the end; but technically Rowan teamed up with Martin after he was discharged, and they were indeed a team for a long time before I was born. The article doesn’t say when or why Rowan changed his surname. In the ad, there are small pictures from a book that are probably documentation of provenance, but they’re too small for me to read.

So if Wikipedia can be believed (and I haven’t looked for more reliable citations), Dan Rowan really was born Dan David. He did fly a P-40, serial number 42-104949, and that’s the number on the data plate. It looks plausible that this ‘project’ is the comedian’s airplane. There’s only half a fuselage, one wing, new and reproduction parts, parts from other airplanes, most parts suitable for ‘patterns’. If this ship ever flies again, it will be a Ship of Theseus. Someone should paint The Flying Fickle Finger of Fate on it somewhere.

I have nothing to add to this except to thank you for posting it. I learned some interesting things and it brought a smile to my face.

Nothing would prepare a comedian to get used to being shot down in flames quite like actually getting shot down in flames.

Great pursuit of a story on your part too, thanks!

His obituary mentioned this:

“Rowan was born in Beggs, Okla., July 2, 1922. At 4, he was dancing and singing in a touring carnival with his parents. He was orphaned at 11 and placed in an orphanage in Colorado, where he was eventually adopted.”

Maybe Rowan is his adopted name.

You might also be interested to know Ed McMahon of “The Tonight Show” was a USMC artillery spotter pilot in Korea, flying the O-1 Bird Dog, earning six Air Medals, and eventually retiring as a Colonel.

Chuckling at Johnny’s jokes paid better, though.

So, how much are you going to bid?


Seriously, even if I had the money I wouldn’t do it. I don’t have the time to build a Vans!

If someone could find the story of Rowan’s air battles in his P-40, it would be a great story of a Pursuit.

(FWIW, I barely did any research at all. :o )

Hello Guys,
I bought the wreck (data plates and parts) and I am very happy.
The history behind is just great and it is worth to bring the scrap metal back into the air.
Take care guys,

Do you have it in your possession? Can you post pics? (Note: Pics cannot be posted here. They’ll need to be uploaded to Photobucket or something, and then linked here.)

Welcome to the Straight Dope! Thanks for stopping by and letting us know.

First, welcome to The Dope!

I am glad that you plan to rebuild this aircraft. Do you plan to have a link to your restoration? If so, please post a link to it in this thread when you start it, so we can follow it.

Where are you located? If in Western Colorado, I can come by & help after work & on some weekends.

Thanks, 48.

OK, wrong theater of operations and all but ---- I just can’t help myself

Vvvvvvery interestingggggg.

Details and pictures please ---- we love details and pictures!

Yes, Welcome to SDMB, mickaelusa! :slight_smile:

You’ll find that there are several pilots here. Some, like me, struggle to find the correct combination of money, time, and weather to get into the air. Others make their livings as professional pilots. One well-respected member, now, sadly, gone, flew B-26s out of England in WWII. Some members are actively flying in General Aviation, and some have ‘hung up their spurs’ but still love it.

I, for one, love airplane threads!

You better love them, since you start most of them! :wink:

You should try to catch up with Johnny by starting a few of your own! C’mon, I dare you!

I’m following this thread with interest. Good info and find, Johnny (who’d a thunk it, Dan Rowan a P-40 pilot and awarded the DFC), and Mickael, welcome to the Straight Dope!

I am not a pilot but am an avid fan of airplanes, especially WWII warbirds. Would love to see this Warhawk brought back to life!