If you have been visiting the Airplanes and Rockets website for any length of time, you know I put a lot of effort into delivering a historical perspective on aviation and aerospace. The June 2020 issue of Air & Space magazine contains a great article entitled, "The History of Aviation in Posters, Brochures, Badges and Ticket Stubs." It begins: "Slipped between the pages of diaries and journals, glued into scrapbooks, and stuffed into envelopes, we've found things that were never meant to last. Most people hang on to bits of paper that they didn't mean to save forever: a ticket stub from a concert, a greeting card, a tour brochure. Within the 20,000 cubic feet of archival materials at the National Air and Space Museum Archives are personal and professional papers, corporate and organizational records, 20,000 motion pictures, two million technical drawings, and three million photographic images. But the Archives is also home to ephemera -banquet menus, airline baggage labels, company brochures..."
The Douglas Aircraft Company's DC−4 conducted its maiden flight on June 7, 1938. It was a hugely successful four-engined aircraft used for civilian and military passenger and cargo transportation. Military versions of the plane were designated C−54 and R5D. The DC−4 was designed to be the airline industry's "dream" airplane - "a Grand Hotel with wings", capable of cruise speeds of more than two hundred miles per hour and a range of 3,300 miles, making it capable of non-stop coast-to-coast flight. Although the DC−4 was the brainchild of United Airlines, a consortium of five companies - United, TWA, American, Eastern and Pan American - financed the endeavor to ensure success would not be hampered due to cost and competition concerns. The airplane's control systems were so complex that a new crew member position called "flight engineer" was created to monitor and tend to all the meters, dials, knobs, switches, and panel lights, while allowing the pilots to worry mostly about flying...
The Dog Days of Summer, contrary to what many people believe, is named not to describe the hottest, most humid, most oppressive period of the year, but marks the astronomical point in time following the heliacal rising of the star system Sirius, aka the Dog Star in the constellation Canis Major. 40 days later, on August 11th, the Dog Days end. That also happens to be middle of summer (not midsummer), which is on or about August 6th. Never having been a proponent of summer, the end of the Dog Days has always meant we're closer to the end of summer than to the beginning, and autumn is on the way.
Here are a few more helpful model building tips from the May 1961 issue of the Academy of Model Aeronautics' American Modeler magazine. Many are not so useful anymore because inexpensive and commercially made versions of the gadgets and tools presented are readily available. Of course you can still do it yourself for any of them, and if time and/or money is an issue, you might need to. The first one requires a product that is scarce these days - photographic negatives. Nearly every household used to have old negatives laying around, but not anymore. Maybe your parents or grandparents have some they could spare if you really want to give it a try. The painted-on water-transfer decal seems like a pretty slick idea, and could still be a useful trick. I wonder how well it works...
The Great de Havilland Mosquito Bomber
On the eve of World War II, the Brits built an amazingly successful twin-engined bomber called the D.H.98 Mosquito. It proved to be the bane of German cities, bridges, and dams. More than a decade after the aeronautics industry had switched from wooden to metal airframes, de Havilland engineers decided to design the craft using materials and techniques familiar to model airplane hobbyists - balsa, plywood, spruce, silk, and dope. The April/May 2020 issue of Air & Space magazine has a great article entitled "World War II's Strangest Bombing Mission" containing a quote from Hermann Göring which is like music to the ears (double entendre intended) of our English brethren. To wit: "Famously, the RAF's speedy wooden workhorses left a lasting impression on Göring. According to a 1973 history of the Luftwaffe, he later blustered, 'The British, who can afford aluminum better than we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is building... They have the geniuses and we have the nincompoops. After the war is over I'm going to buy a British radio set - then at least I'll own something that has always worked.'" Key up "God Save the King/Queen."
I find myself conflicted when contemplating the situation I discovered. While looking on eBay for a vintage Morse code straight key, on a whim I decided to try just the phrase "Made in the USA" to see what kinds of products would be returned. To my shock, the entire page was filled with nothing but cloth face masks! Who would have guessed that a virus coming from Wuhan China would spark the first big wave of domestically made products - to protect us from the virus! Well, there is another product type suddenly being manufactured in large quantities in the USA - ventilators, to treat critically sick patients with the Wuhan Flu (aka COVID−19). As our economy and national spirit suffers profoundly, do most people even remember where this all started and how it got here? I'm guessing not, because the news media does not mention it.
We old-timers miss the days when flyer-built models and glow fuel power were the norm for model airplane flying. Companies like Tower Hobbies were the mainstay of the distributor side of model aviation. Those of not without a nearby hobby shop depended on Tower Hobbies, Hobby Lobby, Hobby People, et al, for our supplies. Most of the old companies are long gone. Tower Hobbies is barely surviving as a vestige of Horizon Hobby. If you are nostalgic for how those familiar websites used to appear, fret not. Fortunately, the "Wayback Machine," provided by Archive.org, has been capturing and storing copies of websites since the mid 1990s, at the birth of the World Wide Web. Look up your favorite erstwhile model supply website and chances are you will find it there. Happy memories!
The Stuka Stunt control line aerobatics model was designed and flown by Don Still. Don was top placing (2066.6 points) member of the winning USA team, with his new version Stuka Stunt, at the 1960 World Stunt Championships in Budapest, Hungary. The model sports a 42" wingspan with a wing area of 391 sq. in., weight is 28-30 ounces. Construction is standard balsa, plywood, and spruce. Plans for the original version Stuka Stunt were featured in the April 1952 issue of Air Trails. The model won the 1952 and 1954 Nationals (Nats), the 1953 Internationals, and the 1951 Tangerine Internationals. It took second place in the 1951 and 1960 Nationals. These plans for Don's new Stuka Stunt appeared in the July 1961 issue of American Modeler magazine.
ThereCraft's Lifting Body Drone Delivers Packages
"A unique drone design promises aircraft payload with helicopter precision. The delivery drone space is getting more and more crowded, but we tend to see slightly different flavors of the same basic designs and modes of operation. There are point-to-point multirotors, hybrid point-to-point systems (like tailsitters), and fixed-wing drones that require launch and landing infrastructure. One thing that all of these drone platforms have in common is scale - the current generation of autonomous commercial delivery drones are optimized for payloads of a few kilograms, delivering high value, time sensitive payloads in low infrastructure areas. There are plenty of use cases where small drones work just fine, but once you need more than a handful..."
This Nufnut free flight model airplane article and plans came to being in response to laments from would-be model airplane builders who tried and failed at their first (and sometimes more) attempts to make and fly something even as simple as a rubber powered model. The author decided to present detailed instructions on building and covering an open frame stick and tissue model, being sure to detail areas that generally cause the most trouble. The most difficult task for most beginners is covering the airframe with tissue and then obtaining a warp-free structure after application of dope. If you are new to the hobby and either have experienced such disappointments or are considering getting into the fine hobby of model airplane building and flying and seek sage advice on how to avoid discouraging pitfalls, then you have come to the right place. Tufnut is a somewhat unique design with its solid balsa fuselage that has a slot cut in it for containing the rubber band, rather than just using a stick with the rubber hanging underneath...
"A new sunshade, or visor, designed to reduce the brightness of SpaceX's Starlink broadband Internet satellites will debut on the company's next launch, a measure intended to alleviate astronomers' concerns about impacts on observations through ground-based telescopes, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said Monday. Beginning with the next launch of Starlink satellites - scheduled as soon as May 7 from Cape Canaveral - SpaceX will try out a new light-blocking panel to make the spacecraft less visible to skywatchers and astronomers. 'We have a radio-transparent foam that will deploy nearly upon the satellite being released (from the rocket),' Musk said Monday in a virtual meeting of the National Academies' Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics 2020 panel, a committee charged with setting the top priorities for U.S. astronomy for the next decade..."
"Israel’s Ministry of Defense has procured the FireFly, a lightweight loitering munition designed for infantry and special forces. Jointly developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the MoD, FireFly's canister-deployed design with multiple rotors enables it to hover around buildings and attack concealed enemies that may be beyond line of sight or hiding in urban environments. FireFly is designed to fulfill a need that platoons and smaller units have on the modern battlefield for an unmanned system that is rugged and lightweight. Mini-UAVs are increasingly in demand for infantry use, and the ability to combine them with loitering munitions that can conduct surveillance and attack..."
Blue Origin Wins NASA Funding for Human Lunar Lander
"NASA has selected Blue Origin, Dynetics and SpaceX to move forward with development of human-rated lunar landers, committing nearly $1B in funding for a range of moonship concepts that include a variant of SpaceX's next-generation Starship vehicle, officials announced Thursday. 'These are three companies that we believe have a lot of capability that are going to enable us to get to the moon,' said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. 'Each one of them is very different. They have all proposed something very different and unique, which has a lot of value to us.' NASA said Blue Origin's contract is valued at $579 million, and Dynetics will receive $253 million for the 10-month contract base period..."
"Dope Can" was a monthly roundup of aeromodeler news and views which ran in American Modeler magazine (which was re-named American Aircraft Modeler in 1968). This March 1961 edition covered a lot of ground, as did all Dope Can columns. A "Hummin' Boid" towline-launch R/C glider with a 9-foot wingspan took the "My Favorite Model" photo prize for the month. Well known in control line circles (pun intended) Hi Johnson has a new stunter design he dubbed "Stunt Supreme." Then, there's the 0.006 cubic inch displacement Hummingbird diesel engine - claims to be the world's smallest, and I believe it. The Jacksonville "Prop Kickers," incredibly still in existence today, was endowed with the "Club of the Month" honor. A big deal is made of the action photo on the magazine cover. Remember that back in the day, there were no microprocessor-controlled, auto-focusing, light-level-setting lenses and irises that could make a rank amateur's photos look like a seasoned professional's...