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Kaj L. Nielsen Papers

Identifier: CV012-18

Scope and Content

This collection contains engineering drawings and calculations, documents, an image, and a manuscript that were created and/or collected by Kaj L. Nielsen during his career as an aeronautical engineer and mathematician. The Kaj L. Nielsen Papers are housed in one photo album box totaling 1.0 linear ft.

The collection arrived in good condition and is retained in the original order established by the donor. The archivist identified three series with the first series being the Engineering Drawings and Calculations Series, which consists of two photo albums containing sheets of Nielsen's drawings, calculations, and related notes documenting his engineering studies on the Vought V-173/XF5U-1.

The second series is the Image Series, which consists of a photograph of college faculty members working in the Engineering Department of Pratt and Whitney Aircraft during the summer of 1942, with accompanying rosters of individuals depicted in the photograph.

The third series is the Manuscript Series, which consists of a manuscript, "The Military Record of Thomas R. Mutz," written by his wife, Joyce Chenoweth Mutz, depicting his experiences as a U.S. Marine Aviation Corps aviator serving with Squadron VMF124 in the South Pacific Theater during WWII.


  • 1941 - 2018
  • Majority of material found within 1944 - 1948


Language of Materials

Collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials in this collection are open for research.

Literary Rights Statement

Permission to publish material from this collection in any form, current of future, must be obtained from the Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.

Biographical Sketch

Kaj L. Nielsen was a mathematician, academician, and engineer whose skills were specifically recognized for his contributions to the design and development of two significant aircraft: the Vought F4U Corsair and the Vought V-173/XF5U-1 Flying Pancake (also known as the Flying Flapjack).

The Corsair was a fighter aircraft that first saw service during WWII. Designed as a carrier-based aircraft, it was recognizable by its gull-wing design, which allowed for placement of the landing gear that elevated the aircraft high enough to permit adequate ground clearance for its massive propeller. Kaj Nieslen was one of the individuals who designed the angle in the gull-wing of the F4U.

The Flying Pancake was an experimental proof-of-concept aircraft built for the U.S. Navy’s WWII fighter program. Distinguished by its circular airfoil and “nose-high” attitude, it was designed to take off and land at very low speeds while still being able to perform at high speeds; i.e., to be able to operate from an aircraft carrier. Kaj Nielsen was a member of the design team for the V-173 and focused on the design for the aircraft’s large diameter propellers that rotated in opposite directions.

Born December 3, 1914, in Necker, Denmark, Nielsen immigrated to the United States in 1926 and became a naturalized citizen. In 1943, he married Carlene Z. Weikel, and they had two daughters, Cheryl and Janice.

In 1936, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Michigan, a Master of Arts degree from Syracuse University in 1937, and his Doctorate degree from the University of Illinois in 1940. He served as a Carnegie Post Doctorate Fellow at Brown University from 1941-1942.

Nielsen began his professional industrial career as a summer research engineer at Pratt and Whitney Aircraft as well as Woodall Industries during the summers of 1942 and 1943 respectively. In 1944, he joined Chance Vought Aircraft where he served as Analytic Project Engineer until 1945, when he became a mathematician for U.S. Navy ordinance and avionics facilities until 1958. From 1958 through 1961, Nielsen was Chief Operations Analysts and Director, Applied Science Staff for General Motors divisions. He also served at Battelle Memorial Institute as Director, Systems Analysts from 1953-1972.

During his professional years, Kaj also held several academic positions as an instructor, lecturer, and professor at The University of Illinois (1940-1941), Brown University (1941-1942), Louisiana State University (1942-1943), Purdue University (1952-1958), and Butler University (1961-1963 and 1971-1985).

Listed in several directories of academic and professional achievement, Nielsen also held memberships in the American Mathematical Society, Mathematical Association of America, and several fraternities.

Kaj L. Nielsen died February 21, 1972.


"Kaj L. Nielsen Papers", Biographical sketch, Album 1, Box 1, Series I, History of Aviation Archives, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.


1.0 Linear Feet (One photo album box (18x13x5).)


Kaj L. Nielsen was a mathematician who pursued various professional and academic careers, distinguishing himself at Chance Vought Aircraft as a member of the design teams that developed the Vought F4U Corsair and Vought V-173 Flying Pancake. The bulk of the collection contains his engineering notes for the development of the propellers for the Vought V-173.

Series Description

The Kaj L. Nielsen Papers are arranged in three series:

Series I. Engineering Drawings and Calculations 0.8 linear ft. (two photo albums), 1944-1948.

Arranged in original order.

Series II. Image 0.1 linear ft. (one folder), 1942.

Arranged in original order.

Series III. Manuscript 0.1 linear ft. (one folder), Undated.

Arranged in original order.

Provenance Statement

The Kaj L. Nielsen Papers were donated to the History of Aviation Archives, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas, by Janice A. Nielsen on 2018-06-27.

Additional Sources

Additional information about this topic can be found in the History of Aviation Collection, in the following collection:

Chance Vought Archives


The books/magazines in this collection have been separated from the main collection and incorporated in the HAC Monograph/Magazine Stacks.

Image ID

It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission from copyright holders of materials to which this institution does not own copyright.

Images in this collection are identified by a unique number that provides information about the format, record group, collection, series, box, folder, and image numbers. Please use this number when ordering reproductions of images from this collection.

Record Group Code

1 = CAT/Air American Archives

2 = Doolittle Archives

3 = Lighter than Air Archives

4 = George H. Williams, Jr., World War I Aviation Library

5 = History of Aviation Archives

6 = University Archives

7 = HAC Stacks

8 = WPRL Stacks

9 = Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Collection

10 = Belsterling Collection

11 = Closed Stacks

12 = Unidentified

13 = Chance Vought Archives

14 = Twirly Birds Archives

Image Format Code

P = Photograph/Postcard

S = Slide

N = Negative

T = Positive Transparency

B = Black and White

C = Color

Example: 13KLN-1-1-PB1

13 = Chance Vought Archives

KLN = Kaj L. Nielsen Papers

= Series Number

1 = Box Number

1 = Folder Number

P = Photograph/Postcard

B = Black and White

1 = Image Number

Images archived in plastic image holders may also have a location code in the format: 1/TL. In this example, the number is the sheet number and the letters indicate the top left position on the sheet. Position indicators are T = top, L = left, R = right, M = middle, and B = bottom. Position indicators may be combined to describe the position on the sheet, as shown in this example.

Note to the Researcher

Most materials in this collection are in good condition. The items in Series I. were placed in two photo albums with each page placed in a clear archival sheet protector.

Pages of a 1945 calendar depicting the Vought Corsair were disintegrating and could not be photocopied due to their age and the type of paper on which they were printed. Hence, they were discarded.

Guide to the Kaj L. Nielsen Papers, 1914-1972
Randall P. Hinshaw
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
English (eng)
Edition statement
First revision by Patrizia Nava, CA. 2021-01-25.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Division, History of Aviation Archives. Repository

3020 Waterview Pkwy
Suite 11.206
Richardson Texas 75080 US