Aviation Gremlinsare best defined as “Mythical pixies, upon whom military pilots are said to blame all their troubles and sometimes their good luck on.” – Reference to these mischievous Gremlin first began with the British Royal Air Force (RAF) in the early 1920s (during WWI) but by 1940's (WWII) stories of these gremlins had migrated to the UnitedStates...
The earliest 'bestiary' on the topic of "American Gremlinology" was in fact "Gremlin Americanus' a scrapbook collection of gremlins by Eric Solane." - Solane is better known as an illustrator, landscape painter and TVs first meteorologist before a folklorist. - His book on gremlins was originally printed in late 1942 during the second world war. -- [it’s difficult to say who was “first” - it seems that the book was published a full year before the more popular: Roald Dahl & Walt Disney 'popularized' the creatures with their book "The Gremlins" in 1943 & a promised (but unfinished) film soon after, it should be noted that various news-papers, as well as LIFE magazine had already had been spreading the lore of gremlins well before either of them, but "Sloane's work preceded Roald Dahl's more famous book by nearly a full year and obliquely referred to gremlin stories having been around since World War I, which likely helped fuel Walt Disney's copyright concerns that scuttled an animated movie based on Dahl's story." (the movie went unfinished)] -- In his book, Sloane illustrated and described twenty different "Gremlins & Fifinilla" that plagued American aircraft during the war. - It's a bestiary which was written very close in tone to Cox's "Fearsome creatures of the lumberwoods" complete with faux latin names & silly creature descriptions. -[As such I've decided to label these gremlins as 'honorary critters', though undoubtedly, they are a class of fae all onto their own.] – What makes this book unique from them is that many of these seem to be based off of actual pilots experiences, friends & famous people Solane knew or wrote to as evidenced by the correspondence listed at the bottom of each biography.]- Gremlin Americanus focuses on American Gremlins & the 'folklore' passed between American aviators and pilots at the time...
During the war, Gremlins where important for team morale: it was far better to pass the blame of a workplace accident or unexplainable mishap onto a "Gremlin", rather than blame than your friends, leaders or team mechanic (or yourself!) especially when something went unexplainably wrong with the machinery or if lives where at stake. - As the author puts it "The best safeguard against the jitters and the most effective sedative for "war nerves" is a sense of humour, things seldom run smoothly during times of war and someone to "take it out on" is a friend indeed. Such friends of the American Air Force are the Gremlins, Pixies of the Air..."
- Gremlins where often painted on the 'noses' of planes as decorative luck charms, some pilots even brought hand made 'gremlin dolls' aboard with them for luck, though they where popular with pilots, many papers also criticized it all as a form of "escapism." –
A few things to keep in mind about Gremlins: Gremlins are boisterous, loud and infernally mischievous, they love to play pranks and are quick to punish scoffers and non believers. -
Female gremlin were classified as "Fifinella" the children are best known as "Widgets" [according to several papers, young girls were often referred to as "Flibbertigibbets"] Gremlins are also said to be diaphanous, "made of air particulates" & where said to be able to re-produce like jellyfish, by division. - None of them bear names like you or I do, according to Solane, most gremlins are usually satisfied to go by they/them. (Plural.) - [Solane decided to categorize them by class or genus, so I will too.] - Only people with a sense of humour can see gremlins & those in Axis forces have no sense of humour (In other words, those allied with Nazis cannot see Gremlins.)
British Gremlins (according to Gremlins Americanus) where said to choose to dress quite poshly, often wearing a monocle, ruffled collar and a top hat. - Their pranks are performed more subtly and done in the best form. - Most have a light 'blue-grey' skin tone. - (Though Fifinella are said to be able to change their colours on a whim) - The earliest British Gremlin have horns and often had the R.A.F insignia painted on their wings - [British gremlins where more often categorized MK.I-IV.]
... Meanwhile their Yankee cousins wear whatever they like, from Zootsuits to Slacks. [Solanes gremlins where often depicted with insect-like antennas.] -
All gremlins wear white gloves (so that they leave no trace or fingerprints behind.) they have suction cupped feet. (which allow them to walk on the outside of soaring planes easily, American Gremlins where sometimes said to have used chewing gum or tobbacco instead.) - Otherwise, clothing is more often than not, entirely optional.
[There are no "good gremlins" or "bad gremlins" – they're all just hell raisers.]
The following are Art Stickers, Gremlins as described by the pilots & newspapers of old, re-illustrated & reimagined by folklorist & designer, @samkalensky(Yo thats me!) for the modern day & times with much respect to the original authors & vets. - (For the most part I've decided to ignore the ''popular gremlin lore'' (such as Dahl, Disney and Columbus) and do independent research of my own, looking through newspapers and other archives for records of gremlins from before their popular creations.) - For the sake of a simple "Gremlin" category, Towards the bottom This section will also contain a few other Gremlins which where not included in "Gremlin Americanus" those that I've either come across and taken a liking to during in my research... Such as the Canadian "Dingbelle" Australian "Foo fighters." , "Kilroy" & other types of 'Non-Aviation Gremlins' from the war times too! [each stickers biography will say where each is from in more detail!] - Any inaccuracies, typos or misspellings? it is most certainly the fault of a gremlin.