The Tick-Tock Man: David Quick’s World War II Airplane
In Stephen King’s The Dark Tower book V: The Waste Lands, in Chapter 5: Bridge and City, Roland and his ka-tet came across an airplane laying dead on the ground.
This was after they met with Aunt Talitha and all the old people on the outskirts of Lud, but before Jake’s run-in with Gasher, and Roland’s (and Oy’s) eventual shootout with the Tick-Tock man.
The Tick-Tock man, of course, is also known as Andrew Quick.
Andrew Quick was David Quick’s grandson.
Transportation in the Dark Tower
Just a quick word on this article.
This article is part of a series of articles about transportation throughout the greater Dark Tower series.
I noticed that Stephen King puts a good deal of thought and detail into his vehicles and transportation. From sentient, suicidally depressed monorails, to futuristic off roading vehicles, to old fashioned bucka wagons made out of wood, to old Ford pickup trucks, when it comes to Vehicles, Stephen King is no slouch.
I liked this trend and thought it would be an interesting lens through which to look at the Dark Tower books.
I hope one day to write an article on the purple cars of the low men in yellow coats, and even Blaine, who at the time of this writing I haven’t yet written about. But I’ll save those for another day.
On to David Quick’s airplane!
The Road to Lud
At first, when they were ten miles away, they could only see a small twinkle in the distance. Then, as the ka-tet drew closer, Roland decided it looked like a big, dead bird. But Eddie Dean, having seen such machines before in his own where and when of New York, knew it to be an airplane.
In retrospect, I wonder why Roland didn’t make some comment about his having been in an “air carriage.” That would have been an interesting reference, but it also would have been strange. After all, Eddie now and Eddie then were like two completely different people.
So what do we know?
David Quick’s Airplane
We know that one of the airplane’s wings were broken. We know that the propellor blades came in threes, and that they were rusted, because Oy sniffed them.
Strangely enough, we also know that the pilot, who was”David Quick, the Outlaw Prince,” was wearing a World War I helmet:
The man in the cockpit was a dust-dry mummy wearing a padded leather vest and a helmet with a spike on top. His lips were gone, his teeth exposed in a final desperate grimace. Fingers which had once been as large as sausages but were now only skin-covered bones clutched the wheel. His skull was caved in where it had hit the canopy, and Roland guessed that the greenish-gray scales which coated the left side of his face were all that remained of his brains. The dead man’s head was tilted back, as if he had been sure, even at the moment of his death, that he could regain the sky again. The plane’s remaining wing still jutted from the encroaching grass. On it was a fading insignia which depicted a fist holding a thunderbolt.The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands, Chapter V: Bridge and City
So this plane is obviously not from our world, aka the “Keystone World.” It can’t be, because in our reality, German Storm Troopers were already wearing the World War II-styled “Stahlhelm” by the end of the first world war (not to mention the insignia was a fist holding a lightning bolt, not a swastika).
In other words, the “helmet with the spike on top” (aka pickelhaube) was out of use by the pre-World War 2 years.
As a side note, I love that his head was tilted back, as if even in the face of death, he was still sure he would regain the sky again. I honestly wish this theme was explored more. For me, the Tick Tock man could have been a more complex and interesting nemesis if we learned more about his grandpappy.
Yes, it’s true. I have to admit, I was never totally into the Tick Tock Man as a nemesis for Roland’s ka-tet.
The whole “never give up” attitude of world war pilots is very exciting! Sadly, Sai Stephen King didn’t explore this theme to its fullest potential, in my opinion.
Mayhap when he wrote this part, he was busy trying to outrun the low men in yellow coats – those bad men with the red circles in their foreheads – who were trying to make him give up. To cry off. To turn around from the Dark Tower.
Mayhap, then, he sensed their evil intentions, and just wanted to get through the book, even if it wasn’t perfect in every way.
I like to think that that is the case!
Exactly What did David Quick Fly?
We’re told that the plane has a machine gun under its wing. We’re also told that it’s an “air cooled German model” called a Focke-Wulf from “just before World War II.” It’s interesting that Jake is the one who knows that. My first instinct would have been that Eddie Dean, or maybe even Susannah Dean, would have known what kind of plane it was, especially since Susannah Holmes was born in the 1930s.
Actually, if I’ve done my homework right, it seems that even the airplane model must not have been from our Keystone world, because I think I’ve found an inconsistency!
Based on what I learned, I believe David Quick flew a Focke-Wulf 190D.
The Focke-Wulf 190 D Airplane
The Fw190 series were first built in Germany before the war ever began. In fact, the Fw190 became famous for flying to New York and back without stopping (and that would never fly during the war, if you’ll pardon the pun).
So that part of Jake’s assessment is consistent with our Keystone world: the Focke-Wulf 190 series was first designed just before World War II.
However, the Fw190 series didn’t have liquid cooled engines until well into the war (which started in 1939 and ended in 1945).
Basically, the allies were outmaneuvering the Germans with the P-51 Mustang, which was an airplane the Americans originally built for the British. In response, the Germans upgraded the Fw190 into the Fw 190D, which is what Roland and his ka-tet found on their way to the city of Lud:
The designer of the Fw 190, Kurt Tank, remedied the fighter’s performance deficiencies by fitting the machine with a powerful Junkers Jumo 213 in-line liquid-cooled engine. The result was the Fw 190D, which entered service in the winter of 1943–44 with a top speed of about 440 miles (710 km) per hour and an armament of two cowling-mounted machine guns and a pair of 20-mm cannons in the wing roots.Britannica
Whatever Came of the Focke-Wulf 190?
Actually, in our Keystone World, two things came of David Quick’s airplane of choice.
First, you can see the Fw 190 exhibit at the Luft Fahrt Museum in Hannover, Germany.
Second, according to Wikipedia, it is “one of the predecessor companies of Airbus.”
Can Stephen King be Wrong about His Own Book?
Well, that depends on your point of view.
Whenever you find an inconsistency in the Dark Tower, you have three choices:
- Stephen King is wrong
- The universe is wrong
- The character is wrong
Being that our word slinger is also a world slinger, I think option 1 is out, and option 2 is in.
That also saves Jake from being wrong, which is nice, but I still think I’d trust Eddie before Jake. After all, he’s just a kid.