Carl Goldberg: "Mr. Modeling"
July/August 1963 American Modeler
July/August 1963 edition of American Modeler ran a feature titled,
Goldberg - 'Mr. Modeling'," founder of
Goldberg Models. After stints as a model kit designer at Comet
and then at Top Flite, Mr. Goldberg took off on his own in 1955
to start his own company. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Carl Goldberg models have been built and flown by tens of thousands
of modelers. Although he passed away in 1985, his company lives
on as a subsidiary of Great Planes. Most of the original kits are
no longer available except second-hand on eBay. Many of the designs
made brief appearances as ARF kits in an effort to keep up with
the modern trend of no building (see
CGM archive page).
Here is a short article in the same
edition of American Modeler titled, "Goldberg
Falcon Sires a Junior."
Here is an advertisement page for
Carl Goldberg models from the February 1967 edition of
Carl Goldberg: "Mr. Modeling
model builders, hearing from their fathers or older flying friends
of the reputation Carl Goldberg has built up over the years as a
designer, builder and flier of top notch competition models, probably
feel that Carl no doubt dominated the big air-model meets like the
Nationals from the first time he entered. Not so, Carl flew in the
Nats for seven years before he finally took a first place award.
The first Goldberg model was produced at age 15. Covered
with waxed paper it would stay in the air only for short 65 foot
semi-circular flights. This was a single prop pusher from plans
in early model books. No balsa was available at that time.
Then came the event that galvanized so many modelers - the Lindbergh
flight. The huge increase in model interest also meant that better
supplies became available. Scrounging a few scraps of balsa, Carl
produced his next model - a twin pusher. With considerable trimming
and adjusting, he was finally able to keep it in the air for a flight
of over a minute.
Goldberg went to the first American air-model
Nats in 1928 held in Detroit. He then resided in Purchase, N.Y.,
his mother presented him with a train ticket, $50 for expenses and
her best wishes. Carl took along a twin pusher that won him an Honorable
Mention certificate, but he placed so low he can't even remember
his position. He met many famed model builders, still recalls the
wonderful banquet at the end of the meet. So far as he knows, he
was the only model builder at the meet from the greater New York
In 1929, in connection with an aviation show
at Grand Central Palace, a model meet was conducted at the Park
Avenue Armory in New York City. Carl had seen the fragile Indoor
models at the 1928 Nats and had really fallen for them. So he prepared
for the New York meet and won first with a copy of the Nats winner.
His original design had a span of 19", later Carl built a 20" span
- and was greatly worried that this modification might spoil the
By now a confirmed Nats goer, Carl placed 26th in
Indoor at the 1929 Nats again held in Detroit. He had 5 min., 13
sec., flying against the nation's top modelers - the best time he'd
ever scored. There was no National Indoor event in 1931 at Dayton.
The next year at Atlantic City top place still eluded our patient
modeler, who placed 3rd. The winner told him not to feel bad about
it since "everybody is using Goldberg designs." But in 1934 at Akron
his patience was rewarded and he finally won 1st by making the first
Indoor flight over 20 minutes.
Goldberg dabbled a bit with
outdoor contest designs, but didn't really get serious with them
until model gas engines came along. His first engine was made in
Chicago, he could never get it to run. He entered the University
of Wisconsin, but after several years dropped out to open a hobby
shop in Chicago in September 1935. This was not a very business-like
venture, since he spent most of his time building and flying model
planes. His first gassie was the Valkyrie, a 1937 design that appeared
in Air Trails. At the Nats that year in Detroit Maxwell Bassett
made a time of 70 minutes; Carl had Valkyrie up for 53, for second
place. In 1938 he recalls flying against Walt Good, who had his
famed Guff at a big meet in Akron. Carl had a fine last-minute flight
in the event, but it wasn't quite good enough and WAG took the top
After operating his model shop for several years,
and probably due to his success with the Valkyrie, Carl received
a message from the President of Comet Models to drop in for a chat.
They wanted to know if Carl would design a gas model for them. As
it happened, the appropriate model had just been flown, and it soon
hit fame as the Comet Clipper.
Carl became Chief Designer
at Comet; Bob Reder (now V.P. at Monogram models) was Chief Engineer.
Jack Besser (Pres. of Monogram Models) was Assistant to the President.
Carl's next and most famous model was the Zipper. This was
such a success that it opened the doors of the huge Macy's department
store in New York to the Comet line - something Comet had tried
to accomplish for years.
During his six year stay at Comet,
Carl designed quite a few other free flight gassies (also control
line planes after World War Two). He also designed a classroom wind
tunnel for the Armed Forces which Comet made. C.G. found this a
most interesting project - it gave him at long last an opportunity
to check his many design ideas and theories under laboratory conditions.
He made countless smoke tests. of airfoils and other model components.
When Comet set up a subsidiary to manufacture radar reflectors
for the Government Carl and Mike Schlesinger bought into this concern.
The two purchased Comet's interest in the firm and continued to
make the reflectors for a time, also producing model plane accessories
for Comet and a line of model props (originally called Mercury).
The partners found that their company name "American Hobby
Specialties" meant little to consumers in the hobby field, but their
propeller trade mark name of Top Flite was well known. In 1947 the
firm name was changed to Top Flite. Carl was responsible for many
Top Flite designs including Zing, Cumulus, Trainer, and Rascal.
He worked out a line of a dozen "Jig Time" beginner's models and
also the Superform fuselage idea.
Goldberg left Top Flite
in 1955; happily this split among the long-time partners did not
generate any bitterness. Carl's job as designer at Top Flite was
taken over by a long-time model building buddy, Sid Axelrod.
Forming his own firm, Carl Goldberg Models, C.G. started with
a line of simple $1 rubber kits: the Spirit of St. Louis, Shoestring
Racer, and Ranger 21. All were scale-like fabricated mostly from
sheet balsa. Later came his 1/2A Blazer, a simple free flight pylon
plane, then a larger Ranger for 1/2A engines. His first Ukie, the
Swordsman 18, was a real bright spot in the line, so he tried more
control line beginner's jobs. A design or so later was the more
sophisticated Shoestring Stunter. With this kit CG Models was really
on its way.
Though previously famed for his free flight
planes and innovations, Goldberg has been principally responsible
for the design of all the U/C planes in his present line except
the VooDoo, Riley Wooten's contest winning combat plane. Carl freely
acknowledges much help from experienced U/C fliers, especially Al
Brown of Chicago. In charge of kit engineering, plans and drawings
for CGM has been F.C. McVickar, whom Carl refers to as his "strong
right arm." With entry into R/C, John Wisniewski has given invaluable
help as consultant and test pilot.
is the Falcon R/C training plane. which can be flown rudder only
and right up to the simpler forms of Multi, and the single channel
At one time or another, all of the Goldberg
family has been involved in the business, or in model building and
flying. Wife Beth runs the office end at home (as Carl notes, his
factory is just "one large balsa-dust-filled room," no place to
set up an office). Son Bob has worked .part time in the shop, won
1st at the last Philly Nats in Junior Class A with a Viking high
thrust line entry (Bob Bienenstein also )flew the same C.G. design
to top place in 1/2A Open at this meet). Daughter Carol did some
F/F and U/C flying in the past.
Carl still likes a little
competition flying when time permits. He flew a then-new Viking
to 3rd place at the Dallas Nats in 1960.
What's ahead for
Carl Goldberg Models? While the first dozen or so designs kitted
were pretty much beginner's jobs, the designs since then have gotten
into what Carl calls "model builder airplanes" - meaning they take
more experience to build, but a lot more can be gotten out of them
in the air. Both types of kits will be continued. We expect to see
another simplified Goodyear Racer ukie job, some more R/C's, a .15
size Viking for FAI use - plus a couple of surprises.
admits that things were pretty rough when he was struggling to establish
his own concern in 1955. Since the hobby business wasn't exactly
booming, it meant lots of work to get things going. Now that things
are going much better, he can seldom get out on the field to do
any flying. Which seems about par for those who go into the hobby
business full time!
Posted August 25, 2012