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.
Model Making Offers Money Making Opportunities
By Tom Stanberry
Engineering Write, Convair (San-Diego)
Division of General Dynamics Corporation
wondered about those model building jobs in the full scale industry? Here's one expert who can give you a real authoritative
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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. Important aerodynamic data is accumulated long before the
big plane is actually built.
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. Take-off time. handling, and spray problems can be determined.
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.
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
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.
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. Notice
the whip antenna
protruding from the fuselage of the R/C job. Markings
aid motion picture studies.
Posted July 1, 2012