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Sketchbook - Model Building Tips
December 1954 American Modeler

December 1954 Air Trails

December 1954 Air Trails Cover - Airplanes and RocketsTable 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.

More than half a century ago modelers relied on their own ingenuity - and sometimes that of others - to make parts for their airplanes and/or make tools with which to build those airplanes. Ready-made everything, available at your doorstep within two days, was just not an option. Even well-designed kits that included most hardware accessories required the builder to tap into his personal bag of tricks to get the job done. The "Sketchbook" feature that presents reader-submitted tips and tricks began in Air Trails and continued through the follow-on American Modeler magazines. Many have been posted here on Airplanes and Rockets website.

This page has links to every edition of Sketchbook that I have so far.


Coat hanger wire is bent to shape for use as reel to hold nylon A/2 control lines...

By Alan Lease, Rome, Georgia. (below)

Coat hanger wire is bent to shape for use as reel to hold nylon A/2 control lines - Airplanes and Rockets

Sketchbook from December 1954 Air Trails Magazine - Airplanes and Rockets

Have you developed something new in construction, control, or flying? Send a rough sketch - we'll redraw it and pay you $5 for each accepted. Ideas should be original; sorry, no correspondence on submissions.

Solderless fuel tank may be disassembled for cleaning - Airplanes and Rockets

Solderless fuel tank by Sfc. Norman Anderson, Monterey, California, may be disassembled for cleaning... can be any shape. (above)

Adjustable dural line guide for speed model allows variation in yaw - Airplanes and Rockets

Adjustable dural line guide for speed model allows variation in yaw or "pull" of model to suit wind conditions - By Eric Knox, San Francisco, California.  (above)

"Slip-on" rudders of stiff 2-ply paper - Airplanes and Rockets

"Slip-on" rudders of stiff 2-ply paper are used to learn by actual tests precise area & configuration. Duplicate area and shape in sheet balsa after testing suggests Pvt. Norm Ingersoll, San Antonio, Texas.

Shock-absorbing feature added to dural landing gear - Airplanes and Rockets

Shock-absorbing feature added to dural landing gear on team racers & sport models is development of John Schroeter, Sacramento, California. (above)

Brass rings held against flush contact plates make quick glo-plug connection - Airplanes and Rockets

Brass rings held against flush contact plates make quick glo-plug connection by "mechanic" as he holds model for cranking. Used more than a year by William Hollenbach, Jr., San Antonio, Texas. (above)

(Kirt's note: This is a bad idea because those two brass rings can easily come into contact with each other when not pressed against the model, thereby being a real fire hazard.

Sketchbook Editions

| Sep 49 | Jan 52 | Jul 54 | Aug 54 | Sep 54 | Dec 54 | Mar 55 | Jan 57 | Feb 57 | Mar 57 | Apr 57 | May 57 | Jun 57 | Jul 57 | Sep 57 | Oct 57 | Nov 57 | Dec 57 | Oct 58 | Mar 59 | Jul 59 | Aug 59 |Nov 59 | Dec 59 | Jan 61 | Feb 61 | Mar 61 | Apr 61 | Jun 61 | Jul 61 | Aug 61 | Dec 61 | Mar 62 | Jan 62 |Feb 62 | Jun 62 | Jul 62 | Oct 62 | Sep 62 | Dec 62 | Jan/Feb 63 | Mar/Apr 63 | May/Jun 63 |Jul/Aug 63 | Sep/Oct 63 | Nov/Dec 63 | Mar 67 | Oct 67 | Feb 68 | Apr 68 | May 68 | Jun 68 | Jul 68 | Sep 68 |

Back when the Sketchbook, Gadgetry, Powerless Pointers, and Engine Info columns were run, there were very few pre-built models, and there simply was not as much available in the way of hardware and specialized modeling tools. We were still a nation of designers and builders. The workforce was full of people who worked on production lines, built houses and buildings with hand tools, and did not have distractions like Nintendos and X-Boxes. Remember that plastics were not common material until the early 50s and the transistor wasn't invented until late 47. Enjoy the tips. Some of you will no doubt wax nostalgic over the methods, since you can remember the days when you did the exact same thing!



Posted  February 17, 2013

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Kirt Blattenberger, Webmaster - Airplanes and RocketsKirt Blattenberger

Carpe Diem! (Seize the Day!)

Even during the busiest times of my life I have endeavored to maintain some form of model building activity. This site has been created to help me chronicle my journey through a lifelong involvement in model aviation, which all began in Mayo, MD ...

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