Modelair Museum
This page was most recently updated  Saturday, July 07, 2007

Presenting pictures, news, review and essays of interest to model airplane builders and flyers. If you have essays that share information about modeling history and want to share them at this site, please share by emailing AeroKnow 

  Plastic Wings Model Club
It's all about modeling and learning about airplanes. If you live in Central Illinois near Springfield and  wish there were an informal organization where you could show off your craftsmanship, learn more about modeling and be inspired by others,  there's good news: YOU HAVE IT! 
   For more information about meeting place and time, contact Job Conger -- .

ID Model Plans -- a list of World War II identification model plans in the AeroKnow collection.  
     Modelair Gallery -- pictures of model aircraft on display at AeroKnow and some just visiting.
     In the Workshop  --  
pictures and notes from the model building and repair area
    Model Kits Needed -- you think YOU have a want list? Take a look at THIS one!
    Model Kits for Sale and Trade -- surplus to my collection.
    Books and Magazines for Sale and Trade -- Need I say more?
    Models In Review -- a first look at some High Planes Models kits and by the time you get there, maybe a little more
    Unusual Strange Airplane Factory Museum -- rewriting aviation history with polystyrene and putty.
    Waterline 109 -- how to have fun modeling an airplane that you never cared for

  1/144 scale --     airliners & transports, built with landing gear UP
  1/72 scale   --     anything that ever flew and unflown projects/prototypes, 
                             built with landing gear UP
  1/48 scale   --      fighters and general aviation, built with landing gear DOWN
  1/32 scale   --     anything that ever flew and unflown projects/prototypes,
                              built with landing gear UP

Model Airplane Building in the Wood Old Days -- by Job Conger
    (Dateline 1978) It is thought by many today that the plastic model airplane kit industry has bone about as far as it can go. In 1946, such a conclusion might have been reached about solid wood static display models.
    During that year a deluxe 1/48 scale model of the DC_3 was introduced by Maircraft and sold for $9.95. Today, Monogram has released a deluxe 1/48 scale model C-47, and it sells for $9.95.
    The growth of the solid model airplane industry from its origin in the early 1900s to its zenith in the mid-40s parallels the growth of the aviation industry. One of the first manufacturers of static display models was the Ideal Aeroplane and Supply Co. of New York. Their advertisement in the August 23, 1914  Aerial Age Weekly offers "aeroplanes for classroom demonstrations, exhibition purposes, etc."
     Early kits were not stricktly solid. Most were a conglomeration of bamboo, rice paper and reputedly accurate drawings of the real things. Paint and glue were packed inside many early kits, a practice which continued through World War Two.
     By the mid-30s solid models were an acknowledged part of the American consciousness. A 20-inch wingspan solid Lockheed Electra is featured in the November 1934 Popular Science. Solid model airplane making was considered a minor craft at the time. Readers were invited to make "a whittled model." Also featured in the issue were a "Model of the Month" Battle Cruiser Tuscaloosa, an 1812 Privateer, and an article about how to build an automatic crossing gate for model railroads.
     Model kits bought in stores were beginning to come of age. Upon opening a rather drab looking box, usually printed in all of two colors, modelers found no more than a few balsa parts cut to outline shape and templates which had to be   traced from the plan and pasted to cardboard before cutting them out. Plans which were included in the kits usually showed few details. Dedicated modelers relied on pictures in the aviation magazines which flourished in the 30s, packed with stories about combat action in "the great war," and the latest "dope" on the latest speedsters to be flown by England and France. Japan and Germany received almost no attention until about 1938 when Japan's deadly business in China and Hitler's rising threat to the rest of Europe began to make news stateside.
     Though most early solids were simple, there were exceptions. In 1936, Lewis Model Aircraft advertised 1/48 scale kits which included cast metal props, metal wheel hubs, landing gear struts, radiator screens, turned cowls, celluloid, insignia, brush and liquits. These Lewis kits, which included a Kinner Envoy (pretty hot stuff in 1936) cost 25 cents each.
      There appear to have been far more kits of civilian aircraft prior to World War Two than we find in contemporary plastic of 1978.  An early givft set from Comet Model Hobbycraft included a Monocupe 90A, Fairchild Amphibian, A-17, Chester Jeep, Stinson SR-7 and Seversky BT-8.
     War created the demand for thousands if identification models to help train those serving in the armed forces.  In spite of a profusion of gung-ho magazine artifcles exhorting craftsment and high school shop classes to produce solid models for this purpose, the demand could not be met. It was met evenntually by factory-produced solid plastic models.
     Well into the new war, U.S.-manufactured solid kits of foreign aircraft were not common.  There were assorted examples of Me-109s and Spitfires, an occasional Mosquito or Typhoon, but almost no Stirlings, Stringbags, Ju-88s, Italian or Russian aircraft. The most popular foreig aircraft kits, then as now, was the Zero.
     England produced the first plastic kits with Frog's Penguin line which consisted of 1/72 British aircraft. After the war, the first plastic airplane kit in the US was a 1/48 scale Stearman PT-17 produced by Varney. Some sources suggest this was later acquired and re-issued by Lindberg.
    Wood kits (solids) remained part of the scene throughout the late 40s. Allen-David Models kitted balsa solids of a DC-3, F7F and Piper Cub. The same team, former Grumman design engineers who launched and crashed with Allen-David enjoyed more success with Dyna Model Company. This effort produced several deluxe 1/48 scale kits with detailed metal parts, construction jigs of heavy paper and details instructions. They were expensive, but the firm held on through the early 50s. Postwar, Maircraft produced highly detailed 1/48 kits of the DC-3 and P-61.
    Monogram's first kit was of an aircraft carrier, but soon they were producing Super Kits in roughly 1/72 scale with injection-moulded detail parts such as struts, wheels, props and rockets, emulating in plastic what Dyna was doing in metal. The last Super Kit (P-40, P-51, F4U, F-84, F-86 and MiG-15) in the mid-50s was the end of solids for a while. In the 70s, Guillow produced laminated-balsa kits of the Boeing 747 and McDonnell F-4, but these were not in the marketplace for long.  Look for pictures of many early kits as AeroKnow gets rolling.

AeroKnow recommends

          Hawkeye's Hobbies 
             Gerald Voight, the new owner has resumed manufacturing the SNJ series of metallic enamels for plastic models. The product received great reviews when it appeared on the modeling scene several years ago, and I understand the formula has been improved recently. They also offer an ACRYLIC metallized finish. Their web site includes a product discussion forum and offers special space and assistance to cottage industry model manufacturing efforts. Hawkeye's Hobbies also distributes a variety of other model finisihing products. If you put serious time and effort into you bobby and/or profession, I recommend you visit the web site and tell Gerald AeroKnow sent you.

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