Let’s cast our minds back 43 years to that long, hot summer of 1976.
On The Cover
There was just one cover line that month, introducing David Boddington’s 40” (1016mm) wingspan Nieuport 24. David’s inspiration for this W.W.I biplane came from his experience of building and flying LC Bagley’s 1948 free-flight version, equipped with a pendulum-controlled rudder. DB’s three-channel R/C version was designed for a .15 – .20 cu. in. engine and was offered as a free plan in two parts, the fuselage plan supplied with the July issue and the wing in August.
If you’re interested, the drawings for LC Bagley’s original Nieuport 17 are still available from the X-List Plans section of the MyHobbyStore website (ref. FSP285), whilst David’s featured Nieuport 24 remains in the regular range (ref. RC1384).
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At this time there was great interest in model gliders, with several adverts for slope and thermal soarers: Pegaus Models’ Topaz, the East Midlands Model Co. MiJet, Cambrian’s Capstan, Veron’s Big Impala, Micro Mold’s Tern, Keil Kraft’s Ivory Gull, various Multiplex soarers (including the LS-1, Alpha-H and Super Alpha), St. Leonards’ Super Nova and the Bowman Simpleton. A truly wide and varied selection.
Such was the demand for glider content that Tony Baker was drafted in as the new slope columnist to back up Geoff Dallimer’s contributions on thermal soaring.
The advertisements also reflected a growing interest in electric power. Ripmax was promoting its Bullet 30 and Cyclone 15 electric motor equivalents for .29 and .15 glow- powered models. These were brushed motors, of course, powered by NiCd battery packs, indeed the wonders of brushless motors and Li-Pos were still a long way off!
Model Flight Accessories regularly used its adverts to promote electric products, with its 44” (1118mm) Hummingbird being the featured kit this month. Also on offer was the Multiplex ‘El’, a T-tail soarer fitted with twin motors and folding pusher props.
Early Season Shows
Modellers in the South and the Midlands were blessed with several large model shows to attend in spring and early summer. The conundrum of how to feature reports from Kempton, Sywell and Sandown was resolved by amalgamating everything into one big composite article. Sadly all these shows have now passed into the annals of modelling history.
Cambria’s Grumman Traveler was built and put through its paces by Brian Tew. The box contained lots of pre-cut balsa sheet to build the box fuselage and flat tail surfaces, with a chunky foam turtle deck and pair of neatly-cut foam wings completing the kit. Ah, what a wonderful smell would have emanated from those beautiful obechi-sheeted foam components
During a clear-out of my workshop the other day I came across some foam wings, sealed in a box from a long-abandoned building project. I offered up a panel to my son, expecting his olfactory senses to be overwhelmed by the heady modelling perfume that I regularly experienced during my own youth, but sadly, not a whiff remained. You just don’t seem to get any nasal treats from modern ARTF kits. Bring back dope, I say! No, not that sort, the brush-on tissue kind. Hmm… let’s get off this topic before I get a reputation as some kind of crazed druggy…
Suffice to say, the Traveler built into a very pretty model and was reported to have smooth, vice-free flying characteristics.
Here’s a tough question: how many mainstream British-made model products can you name that are still available today? To be honest, apart from PAW, Laser engines and Chris Foss kits, I can’t quickly call to mind much more in the way of Great British model products (that’ll get the postbag bulging!)
Back in the ‘70s the situation was much more rosy, with several British kit, radio and engine manufacturers still managing to run profitable businesses. Despite this there was growing concern over the demise of British model manufacturing, and how right this pessimism proved to be. To highlight this controversial subject Peter Russell was busy running a ‘Buy British’ campaign in his Straight & Level column.
The plan feature was very unusual as the subject wasn’t the usual fixed wing subject. Instead it showed how to put together a practical scale helicopter using commercially available parts. Dave Nieman was probably the leading helicopter modeller of the time and he put his knowledge to good use by showing how to construct a 10cc version of the Bell Jet Ranger.
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