Bell P-39 "Airacobra" U.S. Army - Pursuit


Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

Fly Now: The National Air and Space Museum Poster Collection

Throughout their history, posters have been a significant means of mass communication, often with striking visual effect. Wendy Wick Reaves, the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery Curator of Prints and Drawings, comments that "sometimes a pictorial poster is a decorative masterpiece-something I can't walk by without a jolt of aesthetic pleasure. Another might strike me as extremely clever advertising … But collectively, these 'pictures of persuasion,' as we might call them, offer a wealth of art, history, design, and popular culture for us to understand. The poster is a familiar part of our world, and we intuitively understand its role as propaganda, promotion, announcement, or advertisement."

Reaves' observations are especially relevant for the impressive array of aviation posters in the National Air and Space Museum's 1300+ artifact collection. Quite possibly the largest publicly-held collection of its kind in the United States, the National Air and Space Museum's posters focus primarily on advertising for aviation-related products and activities. Among other areas, the collection includes 19th-century ballooning exhibition posters, early 20th-century airplane exhibition and meet posters, and twentieth-century airline advertisements.

The posters in the collection represent printing technologies that include original lithography, silkscreen, photolithography, and computer-generated imagery. The collection is significant both for its aesthetic value and because it is a unique representation of the cultural, commercial and military history of aviation. The collection represents an intense interest in flight, both public and private, during a significant period of its technological and social development.

Collection Item Long Description:



Inventory Number


Physical Description

Relief Halftone: Multicolor illustrated print advertising Coca-Cola. One of a series, depicting a P-39 in flight through a blue-green sky with clouds. Image within a gold and white border. Coca-Cola logo and illustration of two glass Coca-Cola bottles on a silver tray bridges the border and the illustration. Artist signature reproduced at bottom right. Within white border at bottom right, text describing plane specifications in a small black sans-serif font.

Credit Line

Gift of Robert M. Gaynor

Country of Origin

United States of America


Poster, Advertising


2-D - Unframed (H x W): 33 × 38.1cm (1 ft. 1 in. × 1 ft. 3 in.)

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum


ART-Posters, Original Art Quality

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