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Sketch Book
September 1949 Air Trails

September 1949 Air Trails
September 1949 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.

This "Sketch Book" collection of handy tips appeared in the September 1949 issue of Air Trails magazine. The monthly series ran for many years, as you can see from the big list of other Sketch Book (aka Sketchbook) features at the bottom the the page. One of the more technical tips has to do with locating the center of lateral area (CLA) of a model. The author does not mention that it is important to make sure the model profile cut from cardboard can rotate freely on the pin (or nail) so that gravity will have it settle in the correct position. Otherwise, the location of the weighted string relative to the model profile will not be accurate. With the tip for remotely locating the engine needle valve, the magazine editor seems to be a bit dubious about the scheme, and asks, "How about it, experts - think it'll work?" Since then a number of glow fuel engines have been made with essentially that scheme, so it must be feasible, although maybe the venturi and fual/air intake system for the engine might have to be specifically designed to accommodate it.

Sketch Book

Have you developed something new in construction, control, or flying that might interest other modelers? Send a rough sketch - we'll redraw it and pay $2 for each one accepted.


Strong gas model wing structure - Airplanes and Rockets• Boeing engineer Archie Chapel, Wichita, Kan., has tips for strong gas model wing structure similar to full-scale aircraft practice. "I" beam weighs 60% of solid spar.

Precise longitudinal adjustment of hand-launched glider - Airplanes and Rockets

• Precise longitudinal adjustment of hand-launched glider by means of wedge positioned in angularly-cut fuselage boom is novel trick by Charles Francis, Hamburg, N. Y.


Remotely-located needle valve - Airplanes and Rockets• For special installations, Larry Lundy, Lockport, N. Y., proposes a remotely-located needle valve. He suggests use of Bantam parts. How about it, experts - think it'll work?


Control line handle with quick adjustment of sensitivity - Airplanes and Rockets• Neat control line handle with quick adjustment of sensitivity is idea of Ernest Iversen, Chicago, Ill. Steel retaining wire held in position by spring tension of angled ends.


Sliding canopy - Airplanes and Rockets• Bob Leisses, Beaver Dam, Wis., has been using this sliding canopy on his realistic gassie. Hatch slides bock along wire guides, giving access to battery inside the cockpit.


200-ft towline on free flight glider - Airplanes and Rockets• Few modelers can use 200-ft towline to full advantage because of erratic flight in tow. Gregg Conlon, San Francisco, Calif., adds 2nd tow hook, kite tail for stability.


Sketch Book, September 1949 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsLocate center of lateral area - Airplanes and Rockets• You can't use the C.L.A. (center of lateral area) as a design factor until you learn to locate this elusive point. Lawrence Miller, Norfolk, Va., uses this simple method: cut scale profile of model out of cardboard, including projected dihedral; punch hole near each end. Suspend by pin through each hole, mark the perpendicular by string and weight. Intersection of two perpendiculars is C.L.A. point. A third point, in wing, can be used for cheek.




Posted March 26, 2022

Sketchbook Editions

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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!

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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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