Did Steinway and Sons Airdrop Pianos During World War II?

Claim

New York City-based Steinway & Sons airdropped pianos for American GIs during World War II.

Rating

True

Reporting

In June 2019, a Facebook page shared the following image (archived here) and story about Steinway & Sons pianos dropped into areas of combat during World War II:

A status update said of the image:

During World War II, Steinway & Sons airdropped pianos with large parachutes and complete tuning instructions into the battle for the American troops. Called the Victory Vertical or G.I. Steinways, the pianos were to provide a bit of relaxation. The pianos came in olive, blue, and gray drab. #dday

For those unfamiliar with the brand, Steinway & Sons is a Queens-based piano manufacturer, and it has been in operation since 1853. Iterations of the claim were concurrently shared to two of Reddit’s subreddits. One post was shared to r/Astoria:

TIL about Steinway ‘Victory Pianos’ from astoria

A more prominent version was shared to the popular r/TIL (“today I learned”):

TIL During World War II, Steinway & Sons airdropped pianos with large parachutes and complete tuning instructions into the battle for the American troops. Called the Victory Vertical or G.I. Steinways, the pianos were to provide a bit of relaxation. The pianos came in olive, blue, and gray drab. from todayilearned

Both posts linked back to the same source, a page on Steinway’s website about the initiative:

During World War II, STEINWAY AND SONS produced specially-built pianos for the American troops. Called the Victory Vertical or G.I. Steinways, the pianos were sometimes airdropped onto battlefields to provide a bit of relaxation. They were manufactured in STEINWAY’S Queen-based factory and mostly sold to the U.S. government.

At first, STEINWAY was prohibited from building pianos due to government restrictions on iron, copper, brass, and other raw materials. The factory bided its time producing coffins and parts for troop transport gliders, until it was granted a contract to send specially design pianos to commissioned war soldiers. STEINWAY proceeded to make over 3,000 “Victory Vertical” pianos designed specifically for troops in battle between 1941 and 1953. The pianos came in olive, blue, and gray drab. In 1941, the first “Victory Vertical” was dropped by parachute, complete with tuning equipment and instructions.

Steinway & Sons’ official Instagram account also shared a post about Victory Vertical pianos in May 2017:

Surviving Victory Verticals remained for sale in the United Kingdom in June 2019, with listings archived here and here. Both listings were priced at £20,000, or roughly $25,000.

Although the story about Steinway & Sons’ Victory Verticals (or GI Steinways) was not well known, it is true. As of 2019, pianos manufactured as part of that WWII-related effort were available for purchase through dealers in the United Kingdom.