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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Wingman: 1942

Wingman: 1942

September 1942. Rochester, New York. "Earl and Howard Babcock looking over one of the model airplanes which Howard built." The boys seems to have migrated from the bedroom to the basement. Photo by Ralph Amdursky. View full size.

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Re: Lost art

I can report instances where kids will drop their handheld crap to see what rare and fascinating thing a grandpa type is doing with the plastic contents of a small cardboard box and a tube of clear glue. And it will be interesting to see if this glue-less generation becomes less demented than we are destined to be, ourselves, to follow OTY's line of thinking.

Fly high, boys

Is that a tube of that nice oh-so-smelly Duco Cement there on the bench?

Lost art

I don't think kids are interested in model building any more. Don't know why this hobby died. As a kid, I was always building models in plastic or wood. I used to get so much enjoyment from it. I wonder why model building is no longer of interest to kids? It seemed to be fundamental pleasure to me. Maybe that is one reason why we produce so few engineers, designers and inventors these days. Instead of inventing "things", we create social media apps.


Note the Exposition Lemons crate on the workbench with a nice if mutilated example of crate label art:

The Other Plane

The one standing on its tail looks to be a Corsair. It definitely has bent wings and given the era is probably not a Stuka.


I think the 50s monogram kits (I built at least the Spad, Piper Cub and Ercoupe) had solid balsa fuselage sides and wings, which needed added balsa stringers glued in, and a plastic cowl and rubber-band propellor. The solid parts made it kid-possible, in that twisting wasn't so much of a bad development.

It still got paper covering on the fuselage top and bottom, and wing bottom. That was shrunk to fit with a little moisture, and then painted with dope (which was actual aircraft nitrate dope, by the way, though it wasn't used for shrinking).

The earlier all-stick airplane models would be a challenge for a kid unassisted, or even an adult.

They didn't fly worth a damn.

I later discovered that you can make fabulously realistic flying models with 4x6 index cards and a stapler. Realistic flying, I mean. Not realistic looking.


Think that's how it was spelled ---wonderful stick kits by Monogram. This picture could have been me, just change it to 1953.

No small task

Building these models was no picnic for an amatuer and usually Dad needed to get involved. Then if you crashed it fooling around, you had to start all over again so it may have taught us infinite patience. I also wonder if the medley of fumes from the airplane glue, banana oil and dope (paint) contributed to our eventual senility. Good times.

Deja vu all over again

Howard looks as proud and pleased as can be. When I was about his age, every time I came by a buck it meant a speedy trip to Garman’s Hobby Shop (long gone) to buy another “stick model.” I didn’t have the luxury of a Xacto knife set, so used single edged razor blades for cutting. Assembling the airframe, wings, etc. was relatively easy. The challenge was keeping the tissue paper skin stretched tightly while gluing it, especially on a round shaped frame. A generous application of banana oil normally took care of any wrinkles. Then it was a coat or two of “Dope” model paint before hanging the project from my room ceiling with the rest of the fleet.

No Little Brothers Allowed

Definitely a staged photo. You DO NOT let your little brother anywhere near your model airplanes!

O K Earl.

now can we get back to our texting, this is boring.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Notice the handy first aid kit, probably a wise precaution since instruments like Xacto knives were normally associated with the construction of balsa and tissue kits such as these.

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