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C/L Half-A Proto Speed Event
October 1967 American Modeler

October 1967 American Modeler

October 1967 American Modeler magazine cover Table of Contents

These pages from vintage modeling magazines like Flying Aces, Air Trails, American Modeler, American Aircraft Modeler, Young Men, Flying Models, Model Airplane News, R/C Modeler, captured the era. All copyrights acknowledged.

Control line speed models and contests have been around nearly since the existence of engine-powered model airplanes. As with all sports, the state of the art in materials and design advances significantly over time, as does the contest flyers' skills. Entering into the realm can be daunting, especially if you do not have access to a mentor. From what I've read on the North American Speed Society's website, the 1/2A Profile Proto class was created specifically to provide an opportunity to try your hand (pun intended) at speed modeling without the need for expensive equipment or pre-existing building and flying experience. Per the AMA's "Rules Governing Model Aviation Competition in the United States, Control Line Speed," 1/2A Proto models must use engines with displacements from 0.0000* to 0.0504 in3, weigh no more than 9 oz., and fly on a pair of 42-foot long, 0.010-inch diameter lines. The Model Aeronautics Association of Canada stipulates identical parameters.

* See "The Zero Displacement Engine"

C/L Half-A Proto Speed Event

These five C/L 1/2A Proto Speed models typify those entered in this AMA event - Airplanes and Rockets

These five C/L 1/2A Proto Speed models typify those entered in this AMA event. Note configurations developed by modelers within the rules framework.

Half-A Proto is a control-line speed event for two types of models. For Juniors (those under 16) profile type models are acceptable; older contestants must have models with conventional fuselages and completely cowled engines.

The object of Proto class events is to feature speed flying with model size and designs tailored to specific requirements, as compared with non-proto speed events which have no restrictions other than engine size. And Half-A Proto is intended to hold the cost factor down - the many cheap and efficient small engines available offer top performance so that it is less necessary to be an engine expert to win.

Another major difference between Proto and other speed events is in timing - in Proto the timing of official speed starts from the instant the model is released, whereas in all-out speed events timing does not start until the model is in the - air and contestant signals that he wants timing to commence. Also, the length of timed flight is longer: One-half mile for Half-A - 10 laps, as compared with 5 laps for non-Proto speed.

For Juniors, Profile Proto is intended to permit the simplest type models to be flown so that newcomers may easily try competition flying, with models which are typical of those flown for fun. Simple all-balsa types which are not much more than hand-launched gliders with an engine, landing gear and control system, are capable of very good performance. They are easy and cheap to build and to repair. And the use of stock engines and fuel offers adequate performance so that it is the flying rather than the power element which is emphasized.

Many low cost and simple to build kits are available, both profile or full-fuselage. They may be found in practically all hobby shops although most aren't identified as Half-A Proto type models. A scalelike appearance is called for - true scale is not necessary - and the model must be large enough to meet the wing and fuselage size requirements. Almost all Half-A control-line kit designs which resemble full scale airplanes may be used. Ready-to-fly plastic models, while not permitted in sanctioned competition of the type which requires the model to be built by the flyer, may be used as trainer airplanes for this event.

Cheap, simple, good C/L 1/2A speed flyers - Airplanes and Rockets         Cheap, simple, good C/L 1/2A speed biplane flyers - Airplanes and Rockets

Profiles like these are cheap, simple, good flyers; need AMA numbers to enter sanctioned competition.


Engine size - up to .050 cubic inches.

Min. wingspan - 18" (12" for biplanes).

Min. wing area - 45 square inches.

Design features required: a. clear canopy or cabin; b. fixed landing gear, with min. of 2 permanently attached main wheels of equal diameter, laterally separated from each other by at least two wheel diameters.

Full-fuselage models: engine completely cowled, except plug and head fins may be exposed.

Control line length - 42 feet (from center of handle grip to center line of model).

Min. line size - one line: .012", two lines: .006" ea.

Timed flight - 1/2 mile (10 laps) from instant of model release.

Safety pull test - 32 times wt. of model.

Appearance - must be colorfully painted, or trimmed, if a clear finish is used; AMA license numbers on upper right wing.

Launching - model must takeoff from the ground or runway under own power.

Small control-line models tend to bank and roll toward the pilot in the center of the circle due to the torque effect of an engine when rotating the propeller in the typical direction. This, plus the effect of control line drag, when the model is flown in the conventional counter-clockwise circle, tends to turn the model into the pilot This tends to slacken the control lines which causes loss of control - the lines need to be taut for control to be maintained, unless torsion-type Monoline is used. Some tricks are used to counter this tendency. Offset engines, or vertical tails set at an angle, to keep the model turned outward, or weights in the outboard wingtip, or offset attachment of control lines to the model, are typical gimmicks used to force a model outward, But they tend to decrease speed by wasting power or increasing drag.

A Half-A Proto technique which overcomes this problem takes advantage of the ability of reed valve engines to run in either direction. This permits a left hand prop to be used on an engine, running in the opposite from usual direction, so that engine torque acts to pull the model outboard of the circle, maintaining line tension and control even when wind tries to blow the model off course. Availability of left hand props is the key factor affecting use of this technique. Unless a commercial prop is obtainable, hand-carving is required.

It might seem that a simpler solution would be to fly the model in a clockwise direction. For left-handed people this is a natural solution to the problem. But most right-handed people find. that clockwise flying is not natural so they must contend with the tricks involved. The rules, however, permit flying in either direction.

The lighter the plane, the higher the prop pitch may be - five to six inches of pitch seems to be maximum for models weighing between 41/2 to 6 oz. If weight is above 6 oz., a 4" pitch "paddle" blade prop is recommended by event experts.

A lightweight plane will take off fast but not fly well in windy weather. A good compromise for all around flying performance has been found to be at least 5 oz., since windy conditions are more common than calm, especially true in some parts of the country.

Unless specified otherwise for Proto models, the official AMA regulations pertaining to control-line speed models are applicable. These include the standard control-line 32-g pull-test, which requires that an official will test the control system before each flight with a load equal to 32 times the weight of the model. Also required are steel or metal control lines of equivalent strength, in good condition and free of kinks and rust. No swivels are to be used as part of the control system for CL speed models.

Here are three 1/2A C/L Proto models showing different styles of engine mounting: left to right - upright, sidewinder (on a profile design), and inverted - Airplanes and Rockets

Here are three 1/2A C/L Proto models showing different styles of engine mounting: left to right - upright, sidewinder (on a profile design), and inverted.

Typical  Operating Features - 1/2A C/L Proto Model - Airplanes and Rockets

Typical  Operating Features - 1/2A C/L Proto Model





Posted February 23, 2013

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