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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • FLY TO THE CARIBBEAN BY CLIPPER, c. 1950s

Combat Fighters: 1941

Combat Fighters: 1941

September 1941. "Millworkers' children. Holyoke, Massachusetts." The planes look like fun, but we'll take that comic book. Photo by John Collier. View full size.

 

The REALLY Fancy Gliders

... had wings that folded back on pivots, so that the glider could be launched straight up with a rubber catapult (you pulled it back by the tips of the folded wings). At the top of the trajectory the wings would snap out (via rubber bands) and the glide would start.

$450K ?

Every source I Googled was more like $2000-$3000 in Mint condition.
http://comicbookrealm.com/series/8642/0/the-comics

Memories

Building Balsa Wood airplanes. I'm not talking about sliding wings into precut slots, this is about assembling struts and gluing them together. The adhesive was referred to as dope and it was not a misnomer, the numbing odor was addictive.

$450K

Dell's "The Comics" Issue 1 in mint condition is worth nearly $450,000. One could buy a lot of balsa wood airplanes for that money--maybe even a real one.

The Comics Comic Book

Here's the cover of the comic book: Dell's The Comics, issue No. 1, with a cover date of March 1937. In those days, comic books were usually collections of previously printed newspaper comics.

Rudder

A balsa model flies better with the vertical stabilizer in backwards.

I was going to mention the Mooney, but somebody has already done it.

Mooney had a designer who started with balsa models.

Check out the Tie Clip!

I loved the balsa wood planes, too, but I am more interested in the middle boy's tie clip! I wonder if he borrowed it from his Dad. Great picture!

Guillow's Balsa Gliders

I played with these very same gliders in 1941. They were made by the Paul K. Guillow company which exists to this day. This page shows a drawing of this glider listed as 2 cent glider 1941. I keep a drawer full of the current model to hand out to random little kid visitors.

Straight Up!

Mountainrev, maybe that kid with the backwards vertical stabilizer is the fellow who grew up to design the beautiful Mooney aircraft. My dad had a Mark 21 (photo attached) and it had a similar vertical-front stabilizer! He bought it in 1962 and someone in Texas is still flying it.

Maybe

The kid with the reversed vertical stabilizer on his Combat Fighter grew up to design the Mooney.

Balsa Planes

I remember paying ten cents apiece for these as a child in the 60s. The really fancy ones had a rubber band powered propeller and set you back a quarter. If you fooled around with wing placement and angle, you could do tricks like loop the loop. Thanks for jogging my memory of simple fun!

Vertical Stabilizer

Uh oh. Looks like he fitted the vertical stabilizer backwards when assembling his Combat Fighter. Rookie mistake; easily fixed. Been there, done that.

Aircraft Weight and Balance

When I was a kid in the 50s I lived on a cul-de-sac with very little traffic. I would spend hours hand launching these. I was constantly tweaking the fore and aft position of the wing to get the balance just right. When it was set correctly it would yield a long glide and smooth landing instead of a series of stalls with the inevitable nose dive into the ground.

Balsa Wood Airplanes!

I remember these well. They were sold in the same "candy store" where comics and baseball cards (with free gum) were sold.

They came in a slim plastic wrapper; the parts (there were only a few) fitted together in pre-cut slots. It was almost impossible to break them; their feather weight parts glided beautifully for really long distances if the breezes were right....

I would play with these for hours; my friends and I would stage our own dogfights, trying to knock the other guys planes out of the air....

Oh, if kids today only had these toys!

In the 40's and 50's

I would assume model airplanes and gliders were the largest consumers of balsa wood.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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