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Model Making Offers Money Making Opportunities
January 1957 American Modeler

January 1957 American Modeler

January 1957 American Modeler Cover - Airplanes and Rockets 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.

Prior to the advent of commonplace high-speed digital computers, designing advanced aircraft structures required a lot of effort building scale models and testing them in wind tunnels and, when possible, in actual flight. The process was both expensive and time-consuming. As computer simulations have been fine tuned, the need to build models have been nearly entirely eliminated. Modern aircraft can go from computer monitor to production with the full-size prototype being the first actual version of the plane to be built. This article from a 1957 issue of American Modeler magazine reports on some of the very labor-intensive experimental and scale models built for testing and concept verification. Many of the technicians who did the planning and building were hobbyists who were fortunate enough to gets jobs to get paid for engaging in their passion. Although only model aircraft are covered here, the same was needed for trains, cars, trucks, boats, and other vehicles.

Model Making Offers Money Making Opportunities

By Tom Stanberry

Engineering Write, Convair (San-Diego)

Division of General Dynamics Corporation

Model Making Offers Money Making Opportunities - Airplanes and RocketsEver wondered about those model building jobs in the full scale industry? Here's one expert who can give you a real authoritative report !

If you're a model builder and if you're between the ages of six and 60 - why not turn your hobby into a career?

The growth of industrial uses for all type of models, especially in the aircraft field, now makes it possible for hobbyists to expand their activities into well paying, career opportunities.

In the aircraft industry models are used for many, diversified purposes. Wind tunnel models are used for aerodynamic studies, break-away models are used for planning, or they can be used for display purposes and classroom training. Models also can be photographed and used to illustrate brochures for presentations in sales campaigns.

Another growing use for model techniques is in the visual aids now in constant demand to illustrate complex aircraft components and systems. They also have played an important part in crash investigations, and are widely used as scale flight models to be flown off land or water using radio control to study actual flight characteristics.

Many more uses are being found or forseen for models in the aircraft industry. They are being used to animate movies of simulated missile flights that are startlingly realistic.

Scale models of a submarine and jet seaplane were built to evaluate the production possibilities of the proposed airplane - Airplanes and Rockets

Scale models of a submarine and jet seaplane were built to evaluate the production possibilities of the proposed airplane. Seaplane model is radio controlled and powered by small jet engines.

Flying model of jet seaplane takes off - Airplanes and Rockets

Flying model of jet seaplane takes off. By using models, aircraft industry duplicates actual operational conditions long before aircraft is in production. Crewmen show relative sizes.

Detailed model of Convair's F-102A shown in wind tunnel - Airplanes and Rockets

Detailed model of Convair's F-102A shown in wind tunnel. Important aerodynamic data is accumulated long before the big plane is actually built.

Schlieren photo shows the airflow and shock waves - Airplanes and Rockets

Schlieren photo shows the airflow and shock waves.

Flying radio control models is a very important feature of conducting hydrodynamic studies on a new model flying boat - Airplanes and Rockets

Flying radio control models is a very important feature of conducting hydrodynamic studies on a new model flying boat. Take-off time. handling, and spray problems can be determined.

Never before has the practicability of models been better appreciated and utilized by industry. But it must be remembered, industrial model building is conducted on a high professional level and is a type not usually found in the hobby field. The work is exacting and demands top craftsmanship.

R. W. Seehorn, supervisor of the model shop and visual training aids section of Convair's engineering department in San Diego, had this to say about the type of experience that is desired in industrial model makers.

"There is about the same degree of difference between hobby model making and industrial model making as there is between commercial art and the fine arts."

Seehorn also pointed out that the time element in industrial model making is an item. Deadlines make it necessary that mass production type work be done, but the standards are, nevertheless, very high. The builder who spends painstaking hours in producing a mirror-like finish on a wing or fuselage would probably find it difficult maintaining work schedules.

A youngster who commences his model building early, and also develops a few specialized skills along with his growth should have no difficulty moving into professional ranks.

These specialized skills can be developed right along with regular classwork in grade and high schools. Shop courses in wood or metal working are very valuable. The ability to use a lathe, band saw, drill press, jointer, and hand tools is a necessary part of model making. Blueprint reading and drafting ability are two more desirable assets. If possible it would be advisable to study commercial art because a lot of model makers graduate from the drawing board to model making and the two fields are closely allied.

In addition today's professional model builder must possess a lot of knowledge in many other fields. He must be acquainted with plastics, plaster mold making, adhesives, layout, spray painting, silk-screening of decals, sand mold making, techniques of silver soldering, and how to use glass cloth. Knowing the procedures involved in cutting, forming, and dying of plexiglass and plastics is useful. Any experience that can be gained in miniature model making also would be handy but not absolutely necessary.

All of which may sound rather formidable but these requirements are abilities most talented model builders already possess to a limited extent. All that needs to be done is to develop and expand these assets.

Models played an important part in detecting causes for several recent airplane crashes. Their use greatly aided the extensive research that delved into the mysterious crashes of Britain's first Comet airliners. Another accident investigation saw models being used to duplicate a plane's attitude in the air just before it disintegrated. This made it possible to ascertain just when the airplane started to break up and was of value in determining reasons why.

Salaries are dependent, of course, upon experience and training but are generally comparable to those earned by commercial artists, which range in the aviation industry from 300 to over 600 dollars monthly.

So, if you can fill the outlined requirements and would like to make it pay, give serious thought to the career possibilities offered for your model making hobby.

Crewman holds down a model seaplane as the engines are revved up prior to flight - Airplanes and Rockets

Crewman holds down a model seaplane as the engines are revved up prior to flight. Notice the whip antenna protruding from the fuselage of the R/C job. Markings aid motion picture studies.



Posted December 30, 2021
(updated from original post on 7/11/2012)

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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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