Famous, or infamous, broken hatch bolt from John Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission. This partial bolt and platenut were used to seal the hatch of the capsule, was broken during the final torque application, and replaced by McDonnell technicians under Guenter Wendt’s supervision, causing a 22 minute delay in the launch. Accompanied by a detailed letter of provenance from Wendt, which reads, in part: “There are many stories circulating about who has the actual bolt that broke off during the hatch installation of John Glenn’s capsule…After the astronaut had entered the capsule I got the permission from the test conductor to install the explosive hatch…After the cabin hatch was in place one of the pre-drilled attachment bolts broke during the final torque application. I informed the test conductor and he requested a ‘hold’ in the launch count. A conference was held in the control center and I was told to open the hatch and replace the bolt with a new platenut. After a 22-minute delay the platenut was replaced and the hatch reinstalled…After the successful launch John Yardley informed me that Mr. ‘MAC’ [president of the McDonnell Corporation wanted the broken bolt for permanent display…and I should deliver the bolt to him. When I handed the bolt to him he looked at me and remarked ‘There is only one guy who knows if this is the REAL bolt’ For tens of years I was asked, who has the real bolt. The truth actually slipped out when I was interviewed by Walter Cronkite on CNN…I showed the real bolt and the platenut with the broken off piece of bolt still in it.” Also accompanied by an original 15.5 x 12 color painting of the incident, done by Ed Hengeveld, depicting the launch pad with Wendt holding a bolt, signed in black felt tip, “Guenter F. Wendt, Padleader.” This broken bolt caused the last of several delays of Glenn’s flight. A one-of-a-kind actual piece from the Friendship 7 capsule with direct provenance from the Padleader himself. RRAuction COA.
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