1930s “Fighting Planes” (R47)
The Shelby Gum Company, Shelby, Ohio

Series Title: Fighting Planes
American Card Catalog Reference Number: R47
Issued by: The Shelby Gum Company
Packaged with: U. S. Army Navy Fighting Plane Chewing Gum
Country of origin: Shelby, Ohio, USA
Year issued: 1930s
Type of card: Chewing Gum insert card
Number of Cards: 24
Numbering: 1 to 24 on reverse side
Card Dimensions: 2½ × 3 inches


The “Fighting Planes” series of 24 airplane “gum” cards was issued by the Shelby Gum Company, Shelby, Ohio during the late 1930s. The cards were packaged with Shelby’s “U.S. Army Navy Fighting Plane Chewing Gum.” The landscape images on the card fronts feature soft color-artwork of United States military aircraft of the era. The color artwork are shades of blue with red and yellow accents. The aircraft artwork has a thick blue border and is surrounded by a white margin. The title of the card is included within the color artwork image area.

The backs of the cards are presented in a portrait format and are printed with blue ink. The cards are numbered sequentially from 1 through 24. The backs of the cards are divided into the following five vertical zones:

Error Cards

It should be noted that there were several errors in aircraft designations:

There appears to be more than one printing of this set. The orientation of the card backs to the fronts are not consistent. Some collectors consider these as error cards. However, the most likely explanation is that the printing requirements were not well defined, and front/back orientation was not consistent between printings. Be that as it may, the cards in this set are prized by collectors and command premium values in the higher grades. There are also large color intensity differences between the same cards. The American Card Catalog reference number for the set is R47.



The “Fighting Planes” dark blue with red and yellow highlights wrapper features a flight of three aircraft surrounded by bomb-bursts. A red star positioned in a yellow disc is located in each corner. This R47 wrapper is extremely difficult to obtain. The example shown below was sent to us by Vladislav Kuchta from Prague, Czech Republic.


1930s R47 “Fighting Planes” Checklist
1Coast Patrol Plane
2Grumman F4F-3
3Douglas TBD-1
4Vultee V-12A
5Seversky P-35
6Curtiss X5B2C-1 (sic, XSB2C-1)
7Bell’s Airabonita
8Lockheed P-38
9Bell P-39 Airacobra
10Curtiss P-40
11North American BT-9
12Douglas SBD-3
13Consolidated PB2Y
14Spartan FBW-1 Zeuss
15Grumman XF4F-1 (sic, XF5F-1)
16Curtiss Hawk 75
17Bell YSM-1
18Grumman F2F-1
19Vought-Sikorsky OS2U-1
20Martin PBM-1
21Curtiss SBC-4
22Consolidated PBY-3
23Douglas 8A-5 (sic, Vought-Sikorsky F4U Corsair)
24Curtiss P-36
WrapperU.S. Army, Navy Fighting Plane Chewing Gum


  1. John A. Shupek: Card images via the Skytamer Archive Digital Image Database.
  2. Vladislav Kuchta: Wrapper Image
  3. Benjamin, Christopher: The Sport Americana® Price Guide to the Non-Sports Cards 1930-1960, Number 2, Edgewater Book Company, Cleveland, Ohio, 1993, ISBN 0-937424-66-8, pp. 71

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