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Revell Shows Production System - How Plastic Kits Are Made
May 1957 American Modeler

May 1957 American Modeler

May 1957 American Modeler 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.

Founded in 1943, in the midst of World War II, Revell's staff of talented artists, sculptors, machinists, chemists, engineers, researchers, instruction writers, and assembly line workers have tuned out multiple millions of highly detailed scale plastic models of every mode of transportation ever devised, from every country that devised said modes of transportation. Revell also made scale scenery and people to compliment the models. They even made model of things that never really existed, like star ships and submarines that could explore 20,000 leagues under the sea. I use images from the box tops of many Revell kits for the Airplanes and Rockets website daily logos (it's free advertising for them). Monogram (founded in 1945) and Revell merged in 1986. Hobbico, familiar to many R/C airplane modelers as the parent company of Tower Hobbies, eventually bought Great Planes, Estes, Dynaflite, Thunder Tiger, and a few other recognizable names. Unfortunately, Hobbico filed for bankruptcy in 2018, and now barely exists after being taken over by the Horizon Hobby folks. 

Revell Shows Production System - How Plastic Kits Are Made

Convair F-102 Delta Dagger model - Airplanes and Rockets

Assembled Convair F-102 Delta Dagger model

Jack Campbell, research head, shows model maker material gathered for making of HMS Bounty kit - Airplanes and Rockets

Authenticity starts with research. Jack Campbell (left), research head, shows model maker material gathered for making of HMS Bounty kit. Search for original blueprints and data often sound like a detective story. This is especially true in the case of old time sailing ships. Drawings for ships long out of operation are sought by correspondence, talks with authorities in this field and from museums. Word that a certain photograph or drawing was published in a book a half century or more out of print, launches prowl through second hand book collections and libraries.

Martin B-57B prototype - Airplanes and Rockets

First step is building hand made model to serve as master for dies needed to turn out plastic parts in volume. Model maker checks measurements of master model against blueprints and photographs of Martin B-57B prototype.

Bob Hoeppner, chief model maker, and assistant check Lincoln Futura - Airplanes and Rockets

Construction of hand made model sometimes larger than finished miniature kit helps capture detail. Models, made of wood, plastic, clay, or epoxy rosin, take 5-6 weeks to complete. Bob Hoeppner (right), chief model maker, and assistant check Lincoln Futura.

Tom Hogg, ship model specialist, puts finishing touches to Coast Guard Training Ship Eagle - Airplanes and Rockets

Tom Hogg, ship model specialist, puts finishing touches to Coast Guard Training Ship Eagle. In this case 13 3/4" model is identical in size to that which hobbyist will assemble. Official plans (in background) were obtained from U.S. Coast Guard.

Director of Engineering Charles Gretz and Hoeppner check Russian Bison Bomber - Airplanes and Rockets

Director of Engineering Charles Gretz (right) and Hoeppner check hand made model of Russian Bison Bomber. Information on this model was not easy to obtain. Search went into many countries.

Sculptor Harry Plummer completes 9-inch pilot - Airplanes and Rockets

Included in many kits are miniature figures scaled less than one inch to foot. Sculptor Harry Plummer completes 9-inch pilot to serve as master from which molds for 31/32" plastic figure will be made.

Ship's hull is cut into steel from plaster pattern on 1-1 Deckel pantograph - Airplanes and Rockets

Plaster patterns from hand-made models serve as guides for duplicating larger parts of ship or plane in steel. Core of a ship's hull is cut into steel from plaster pattern on 1-1 Deckel pantograph. Over forty man hours needed to produce this one component.

Mold maker adds final touches to U.S. Constitution - Airplanes and Rockets

Mold maker adds final touches to U.S. Constitution steel production mold. Over 9,000 man-hours required to tool steel dies for this kit of 174 parts.

Steel mold for HMS Bounty - Airplanes and Rockets

Steel mold for HMS Bounty ready to be closed up, preparatory to being placed in injection molding machine. Center sprue through which heated plastic is injected is in center of mold. Small runners radialing out from center carry plastic to cavities, filling each part. Only enough plastic for one "shot" is injected into machine during each molding cycle which produces a kit in 30 seconds.

Toolmaker reassembles components of production mold for Martin B-57B - Airplanes and Rockets

After mold's first soft test-run in injection molding machine, each part of plastic "shot" is re-checked. Tolerances of .002" are normally maintained. When final mold corrections are made, steel is hardened by special heat-treat method. Toolmaker reassembles components of production mold for Martin B-57B; taped on board are first test "shots."

Every 32 seconds Mobilgas truck parts come out of this hydraulically operated injection molding machine - Airplanes and Rockets

Every 32 seconds Mobilgas truck parts come out of this hydraulically operated injection molding machine. Packing is done at the machine by operator who separates parts from plastic runners. Parts drop from hopper into polyethylene bag which is heat-sealed; bag goes into box with instruction sheet and decals.

 

 

Posted February 1, 2020

 

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Kirt Blattenberger, Webmaster - Airplanes and Rockets
Kirt Blattenberger
Carpe Diem!
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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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