Ryan M-1 Mailplane Article & Plans
November 1969 American Aircraft Modeler
Here is the article for the Ryan M-1
Mailplane that I electronically scanned from my purchased copy of the November 1969 American Aircraft Modeler
magazine, beginning on page 25. You might be able to scale up the image below if you cannot find suitable plans
for sale. The article was written and plans drawn by Mr. Vic Harden. All copyrights (if any) are hereby
[Table of Contents]|
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.
Ryan M-1 Mailplane
From this design the Spirit of St. Louis was developed. Rubber-powered model has details galore for the
expert and clear instructions for the beginner.
by VIC HARDEN
BEFORE 1926 few people had seen an
airmail plane up close. But about that time the government began to award contracts to private firms to carry the
mail. This was the real beginning of our present day airline companies.
Along with designs by Douglas,
Boeing and others, was one built by the Ryan Airlines School of San Diego. The aircraft performed well even with
lower horsepower and a heavier Hispano- Wright engine, in place of a Wright J4 engine originally specified. Known
as the Ryan M-1, the plane later became the M-2. Some were built with the Risso, some with the J4, for airline
companies in the West.
Model's structure features use of card stock, bond paper for wing leading edge, and
built-up ribs. All curved outlines are laminated balsa strips. Flies
Then Lindbergh picked Ryan to build his airplane. As history records he was successful in 1927 on a long and
lonely trip, from New York to Paris. His Ryan number 29 was a descendant of the M-1 and M-2. The similarity was
evident between the M-l and the NYP Ryan used by Lindbergh.
great indoors or out.
Our rubber-powered model is the Rissopowered
version. It provides more nose length, giving a graceful and smooth appearance. A number of photographs exist of
this version of the M-1 and M-2 as well as the J4 version. The American Airman Magazine, Vol. 4, No.7, of
July 1961, shows two M-1/ M-2 Risso versions. General Aviation News Monday, March 24, 1969, carries a
picture of the M-1 now on display in San Diego.
You can build a full-detail-scale type, or a scale-outline
type. Both types require about the same effort and both will perform well. My model was a scale outline variety
used to develop a larger dieselengined job. The amount of detail will affect the final weight.
the wing since it is the most difficult part. Using the patterns for the spars, front and rear, aileron and false
spar and centerline splices, each cut from 1/32" straight-grain sheet, make two of each except the centerline
splice pieces. The rib template is cut from light gauge aluminum or tin. Use the template to cut 30 upper rib caps
from 1/32" straight-grain sheet. Each rib should be 3/32" wide. In addition, cut 1/32 x 1/8" strips for the lower
caps from the same material. The leading edge is 3/32" sq. and the trailing edge is 1/16 x 1/4".
shape of the tip on a piece of cardboard about 1/16" thick. Cut out at the inside line and use it to bend the 1/32
x 3/32" laminations to shape. Soak the wood in hot water a few minutes, then bend it around the cardboard form,
holding the strips in place with pins pushed into any soft material used as a flat base. Use an oven at 1250 F to
speed up the drying time to a half hour.
Two sets are required. The wing structure can be set up over
wax-paper-covered plans. Trim the forward ends of the lower rib caps to a 45-degree angle and assemble them in
place with the spars, trailing edge pieces and leading edge strip. The upper rib caps are trimmed to match at the
leading edge with a 45-degree angle cut, and to fair at the trailing edge on the lower rib cap. Build the wing,
including the ailerons, as a single unit. Cut away the ailerons after the tips are completed. This assures
Now for the horizontal and vertical surfaces. Make up the cardboard forms (same as for the wing
tips) and bend the 1/32 x 1/16" laminations into place on the forms and dry as before. By now your wing tips
should have dried and those laminations can be glued together holding them in place on the form to fix their
shape. When the glue dries on the tips set them up in place to fair with the leading and trailing edge pieces,
blocking up in position. Glue all the contact positions with spars and other structure while still over the
Cut out the rib and spar strip material for the tail surfaces from sheet stock; also the fuselage
material can be cut to required sizes. The tail surfaces now can be laminated up on the form with glue and set
aside to dry.
The wing halves can be taken up and checked for size and condition. If OK, set them up on a
level surface with approximately a 3/4" block under each tip, adjusted so the center section of the spar stubs lay
flat and each tip is raised the same amount. Adjust so that the splice webs will fit between the ribs with the
leading edge in a straight line tip to tip. Check everything for alignment and position and then glue the splice
webs into place on the spar stubs.
Now the tail surfaces, horizontal and vertical, can be assembled. Shim
up the outline bow shapes so they center on the rib and spar depth. Cut the spars and glue into place over the
plan. The rib material is trimmed to fit each location and glued in place. Set the assemblies aside to dry. The
wing is now completed with the lower rib caps at the tip locations cut and glued in place. Install the center rib
caps and two centersection trailing edge ribs with the false spar at center. Cut and fit the gussets and fairing
blocks, gluing them in place as shown. Now the wing assembly can be sanded smooth, leading and trailing edges and
tips faired and contoured to shape. Refer to the rib sections for contour. Install the filler blocks at rear spar
for lift strut attachment point.
The wing covering starts by attaching light bond paper from the leading
edge back to the front spar top and bottom. I use Titebond glue to attach the bondpaper; a very light film on the
structure does just fine. The whole wing is covered complete, using your favorite method and tissue. Watershrink
and block down to prevent a warp. Also hold down for final drying of dope finish. The ailerons now are cut away,
then reinstalled, using thin-aluminum sheet strip for hinges glued in slots. Aluminum pop cans are a good source
of the thin aluminum. The final finish color is silver or aluminum with black lettering on the underside of the
wing as shown on the plan. (More on color methods later, but remember the degree of finishing is up to you.)
Take up the tail surfaces and fair in the ribs, spars and edges to the typical section shown on the plan. Sand the
assemblies smooth, cover with your tissue and watershrink. Hold the parts in position to prevent warping. Cut
the control surfaces away, install the aluminum strip hinges if you choose, then set aside.
is the usual box-frame-type construction, using 1/16" sq. longerons, forward fuselage uprights and diagonals. The
aft section uprights and diagonals are 1/16 x 1/32'" Build two side frames on the lower plan and let the glue dry
thoroughly. Meanwhile, cut out the required bulkheads, nose formers and webs shown on the plan from the stock
size required. When the side frames glue is dry, take them up and join together with the formers F -1, F -2 and F
-3, cross members and C-l and C-2.
Locate the sides on the plan top view to keep the sides aligned.
Complete the installation of the diagonals. When the glue is dry, glue on the 3/32" side panel sheets from the
forward upright to the cowl block former (C-1) and up against the horizontal web (C-2). The cylinder block formers
(C-3) mount on top of the web (C-2). The cylinder block sides (C-4) glue each end to (C-3) and along their lower
edge to (C-2). After the cowl side panels are in place and the glue is dry, the lower cowl cover of 1/8" sheet
stock can be fitted and formed to match the cowl block former (C-1) contour. Glue on the 1/16" sq. cowl stringers
between the two (C-3) formers, and add the 5/16" sq. soft balsa cylinder head blocks to the length shown, then
rounded on top.
Check alignment of the formers and the fuselage. Place a straight-edge or straight balsa
stick about 10" long across the wingmount position at both front and rear spar positions. The edges of these
should be at the same level both sides of the center line on each end of each stick or straight edge. Also place
one stick across the area where the horizontal will attach to the fuselage and sight to check their being
parallel. Correct any out-of-line condition; this will affect the model's ability to fly well when completely
To complete detailing add the aft rubber peg support, and its reinforcement - made from .010
or .015 plastic - glued to the inside of the support on each fuselage side. The 1/16" sq. longeron corners should
be sanded to a radius along the length of the fuselage. Also the top longerons, vertical and diagonal members
above the fuselage cowl formers F -2 and F -3 are sanded to a round section as these will be exposed on the
Assemble the nose block unit from N-1, N-2, N-3, N-4 and N-5. Check its fit into former
C-1 and the alignment with the cowl sides and cylinder block sides. Carve and sand N-3, N-4 and N-5 to form the
contour blending with the cowling sides and bottom. Also form the profile or side shape shown on the plan. Note
that the N-1 1/32" plywood disc is set at an angle to give both right- and down-thrust. Hold these angles as
correctly as you can and drill a propeller shaft hole 1/32" dia. in the center of the disc and square to it. The
propeller and thrust bearing will be held at the angle of the face of N-1 disc when the rubber motor is wound.
When the fuselage wood work is done and sanded glue in place on each side of the wire the stubs for the forward
landing gear struts. Form the 1/32" wire axle and .025 wire rear strut to the pattern shown on the plan. Solder
the 1/6" dia. brass tube cross-bars to the axle. Locate and bind the axle wire assembly to the fuselage cross
member at the centerline.
Position the rear strut wire at the cross member and bind in place with thread.
Align and insert the rear strut ends into the axle cross-bar tubes. Check for position of the complete assembly to
the fuselage. Solder the rear strut ends to the cross-bars. Now cement the axle and strut bindings to the
fuselage. Make up the two side-strut frames to fit on the wire stubs each side of the fuselage. Drill two 1/32"
dia. holes in each 1/16" dia. brass cross-bar spaced as shown on plan, and solder 1/32" dia. wire stubs in place.
Cut 1/16" dia. aluminum-tube struts for each side, and cement in place to form the side frame. Assemble onto
fuselage wire stubs. with the axle wire between the aluminum tubes of the side frame. Install a piece of plastic
tube for a spacer on axle stub so the wheel will not rub the crossbar with an elastic shock absorber thread tied
in place. Install 1-7/8" dia. wheels.
Cover the fuselage with your tissue over all areas except the
forward upper cowl section under the wing mount, aft cockpit, and the wood covered area of the engine cowling.
Water-shrink and give one coat of thinned clear dope. Spray the assembly with silver acrylic lacquer (spray can
type will cover well). Using silver Christmas paper, not foil, cover the fuselage cowl, starting at the rear
former. Make flat patterns to follow the former shape and lay flat on the fuselage frame sides. Proceed making one
section between formers at a time, gluing as you go. You can also cut panel sections to cover the engine cowl
section, simulating the cowling divisions. Attach these directly over the wood nose-section structure as far back
each side as the main gear forward-strut point.
Add the tail skid, the inverted vee braces shown at wing
mount to cowl top, cockpitdoor outlines, fuselage lettering and door handles. Fold up the radiator from silver
Christmas paper and attach to fuselage. Install rear landing gear strut fairings on the wire. Make up the exhaust
piping from plastic soda straws and balsa elbows. Now you can choose the amount of detail you wish. Finish the
cylinder blocks and heads jet black and the exhaust system silver. All lettering is black.
complete on the wing and tail surfaces, spray finished the same as the fuselage with silver acrylic lacquer. The
wing and rudder can be lettered with black as shown - the rest of the details are lip to you. Control horns, made
from .015 plastic, are easily made and installed. Gray thread is used for the rigging and control wire.
Cement the horizontal stabilizer and elevator unit on the fuselage. Cut and cement the lower struts from fuselage
to the horizontal stabilizer, checking to keep it parallel with the wing mount. Make a cardboard right angle
template to set and glue the vertical stabilizer and rudder in place, being sure to keep the forward edge of the
vertical on the fuselage centerline. Install the vertical to horizontal brace wires from silver thread.
Cement the wing onto the upper fuselage longerons and cross members. Check to be sure. the wing extends the same
distance each side of the fuselage. Check for squareness to the fore and aft centerline of the fuselage by using
a stick to measure the distance from the tail post to the same position on each side of the wing trailing edge.
The model is turned over for the fitting and installing of the lift struts. Make up four struts as shown on the
plan. Shape and trim to fit the wing and fuselage. Assemble the card stock fittings on the struts and paint
silver. When dry, cement in place in positions shown on the plan. If you choose, navigation and landing lights can
be installed. Make the landing light tail cone from silver Christmas paper and attach it to a 1/32" bulkhead.
Cement on an aluminum-foil reflector surface and cover with a clear plastic bubble formed to size. Attach on
under side of wing and install the small side brace between the front spar line and the side of the light
assembly, as shown on the plans. Carve, sand and paint the navigation lights from balsa and attach as shown.
You are ready to put in the rubber and start flying. Use a 12" loop of 1/8" flat rubber for a light model up to
1-1/2 oz., or four strands of 3/32" flat for a heavy model 2 oz. or over. The propeller can be your own thing.
carved from the raw block, or one of the excellent plastic types for sale at your hobby shop. The 7" diameter
seems to work best under most conditions. A plastic spinner 1" in diameter is fitted on the propeller. Assemble
your propeller on a shaft through the nose block. using a good thrust-washer assembly or bearing for the best
Check the balance point indicated on the plans. Some people are lucky. Most of us have to put a
glob of clay or some other mass to get the point to work out in the correct location. You try that glide test.
Hopefully all goes well and a few winds are put into the motor for an added thrill.
There she goes! Everything looks OK. Now for that real try: a couple of hundred winder turns and a minor
adjustment and away he goes for a few rounds by herself. The fun is just beginning. Since with normal care this
job won't destroy itself, many happy hours can be had learning all that the model can do under varied conditions;
both indoors and out. Good luck and may fair weather be your !
<click for larger version>
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.
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