Carl Goldberg: "Mr. Modeling"
July/August 1963 American Modeler
The July/August 1963 edition of American Modeler ran a feature titled, "Carl Goldberg - 'Mr. Modeling'," founder of Carl 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 Model Airplanes News.
Carl Goldberg: "Mr. ModelingYouthful 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 City area.
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 design.
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 prize.
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.
Latest 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 Junior Falcon.
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.
Carl 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