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Aircraft modeling has undergone significant
changes over the decades - both in technology and preferences. Magazines like American Aircraft Modeler, and American
Modeler before that, were the best venues for capturing snapshots of the status quo of the day. Still, many things never
change, so much of the old content is relevant to today's modeler.
Whether you are here to wax nostalgic, or are
just interested in learning history, hopefully you will find what you are seeking. As time permits, I will be glad to
scan articles for you. All copyrights (if any) are hereby acknowledged.
visitor Kenneth E. wrote to say that he is working to build a complete collection of the Tenderfoot models that
were published in American Aircraft modeler. The Tenderfoot series was an attempt to provide motivation to young
newcomers to the hobby. They were a mix of freeflight rubber, gliders, and 1/4A & 1/2A control line designs
that built simply and cheaply.
Kenneth requested reprints of the following three models:
, Ray Malmström: C/L 1/2A, January 1970
Bonanza and Mustang
, David Thornburg
FF HLG, January 1971Clodhopper
, Paul Denson: FF
Rubber February 1973
Bonanza and Mustang
basic hand-launched glider can be patterned after almost any real aircraft. These fly great.
By David Thornburg
Heave ho! Trim model for left turn in glide if you launch right-handed. Then model makes a curling climb and arrives
at maximum altitude with wings level and at glide speed.
Setting dihedral joints is merely a matter of having enough small dope bottles.
Models use same wings but Bonanza's tail is slightly longer. Color with Magic-Marker.
LIKE TO BUILD a flying model that's simple, quick, and fairly realistic? Here it is! Choose either of two well-known
aircraft-the Mustang or the Beech Bonanza-and build the plane directly from the full-size plans. Or, better yet,
build both at once for a real ball! A single sheet of 1/4 x 3 x 36" will build three fuselages, and two pieces of
1/16 x 3 x 36" will easily build all of the flying surfaces for two to three models. By building two or more planes
at once, airplanes can be turned out in less time than by building them singly, especially if they are the same
or nearly the same in design. This is a trick the experts use in building their stables of high-performance contest
In performance as well as appearance, both planes are a cut above most of the chuck gliders
that can be bought in the stores. The Mustang flew out of sight in a big, lazy thermal the third time I had it out-good
thing I got pictures first!
There are a number of ways to build from full-size plans. The easiest
is to cut out the magazine pages, tape them together, and use carbon paper to trace the parts onto balsa. However,
once this is done the plan is as good as lost, and the book is pretty well ruined. Most modelers like to keep their
books intact, both for reference and for nostalgia. My own collection dates back into the early 1950's, and I often
turn to it for design ideas and performance tips. Aerodynamic theory doesn't change much, so books don't really
get out of date.
It's best, then, to avoid mutilating the I book. Instead, either trace the part outlines
directly onto thin paper, using carbon paper, or run the page through a Xerox machine available at most libraries
or schools. This last method is not against the law as long as the plans are for personal use only. Be sure to ask
for legal size, and the whole plan should come out in a single printing.
To trace the parts from the copy
of the plan, use carbon paper or the pinprick method - aligning the plan over the wood and punching shallow pinholes
every 1/4" or so all around the outlines of the parts. Notice the grain direction of all of the parts, because it's
very important. Learning to use wood grains to their best advantage for strength and warp-resistance is one of a
modeler's most valuable skills.
Use the softest wood available for the fuselage. If no really soft 1/4"
is in the balsa rack, drop down to 3/16" and pick a piece of medium softness. The harder the wood, the heavier it
will be, and neither model can stand a great deal of extra weight if it is to fly well.
The only difficult
cuts on the fuselage are the wing and stabilizer slots. They must be marked accurately. A modeler's knife with a
triangular blade helps in the cutting. The cut can be made with a single-edge razor, but the slots must go through
the fuselage exactly on the perpendicular. Otherwise either the wing or the stabilizer will have a high side and
a low side. These perpendicular cuts are much easier to make with a long-handled knife than with a razor blade.
When using a razor, prop it against a scrap piece of 1/4" balsa (one with a square edge) to guide it into the wood
Cut the wing and tail out of mediumweight, straight-grained balsa. Don't be backward about asking
the hobby dealer to help in selecting this piece of wood. Tell him what it's for, and ask if he has C-grain balsa.
C-grain indicates the way the balsa was sawed out of the log; it is particularly good for strong, light sheet surfaces.
What about airfoils? Most models this size have some sort of curve to their wing cross-section, whether
it's a scientifically plotted shape or simply a warp made by spraying the top side of the wing with water and pinning
it to a flat surface until dry.
The plans show no airfoils, just a flat plate, and that's what the planes
pictured have. I tried airfoiling the wings, but it didn't increase. the performance much. However, later models
were built with 3/16" wood for the wings and a conventional airfoil sanded into them. (Both the wood and the instructions
in Jetco Thermic B hand-launch kits are ideal for this purpose.) This increases the performance of both gliders
amazingly, and makes them almost contest quality. Try it on your second or third model and see!
is simple. Add nose weight until the plane balances about 1" back from the front of the wing. A coin glued onto
the side of the fuselage as far forward as possible makes a fine weight. Throw the plane gently, aiming it at the
ground about 30 ft. in front of you, and observe the turn. If you are right-handed, the plane should turn left;
opposite for lefties.
Now tightly grip the fuselage, under the wing, between thumb and third finger,
putting the tips of the first and second fingers behind the wing trailing edge and snug against both sides of the
fuselage. Throw the plane sidearm, so that it starts out in a right bank and circles. If you have the proper amount
of left turn in the glide,. it should "s-out" into a left turn at the very top of the throw.
with the direction of throw in relation to the wind to find the best altitude. Generally it will be just slightly
to the left of the wind, but the choice of direction depends on the individual. Good flying!
Bonanza and Mustang Plans
<click for larger version>
June 26, 2011
AMA Plans Service offers a full-size version of
many of the plans show here at a very reasonable cost. They will scale the plans any size for you.
It is always best to buy printed plans because my scanner
versions often have distortions that can cause parts to fit poorly. Purchasing plans also help to
support the operation of the Academy of Model
Aeronautics - the #1 advocate for model aviation throughout the world. If the AMA no longer has this plan on file, I
will be glad to send you my higher resolution version.
Try my Scale Calculator for Model Airplane Plans.