The Ongoing Mystique of the Boeing SST

Written by Shea Oakley

Last year I shelled out the most money I have ever paid for an airliner model in a lifetime of collecting. It is a five-foot-long 1/50th scale needle-nosed monster with working variable sweep wings, flaps and spoilers in Eastern Air Lines colors. On its tail is a 1960s-modern logo depicting an arrow-shaped form with what look like circular shockwaves arcing off behind it. The letters in the logo read simply “Boeing SST.” For several months she underwent a light restoration by an outside party that fixed a few egregious physical flaws it has acquired over the past 50+ years without destroying its originality (but sadly also some erased some small flap use instruction decals printed directly on those control surfaces)

Half a century is a long time in human terms, and I suspect many of my readers have no idea what a “Boeing SST” is. For the sake of brevity (because this is not, primarily, a historical article) let me just say that Concorde, the Anglo-French supersonic jet that even the youngest airline enthusiast at least knows existed, was supposed to have a much faster, much larger American competitor. She was known as the Boeing 2707 (for Mach 2.7 707) and would have been made from heat-resistant Titanium, been 300 feet long and carried up to 350 passengers at 1,800 MPH. Cruising altitude was to be about 70,000 feet. The airplane was originally going to have a “swing-wing” (think “B-1”) that would be swept back to allow this giant to assume the shape of a dart when at cruise speed and fold out to allow subsonic aircraft characteristics on take-off and landing.

The massive project was largely U.S. government-funded and airlines all over the world ponied up a million-dollar deposit for each of the over 120 aircraft they had optioned to buy. Unfortunately not even Boeing could make the variable sweep design work. It was simply too heavy with all the hardware involved to make those wings “waggle” and the company ended up with a slightly smaller fixed delta-wing configuration with a separate tail plane as its final design. Then concerns over sonic booms, airport noise, operating economics, along with a few socio-political issues of the time conspired to kill the whole project when the Senate voted against continued funding of the 2707 in 1971. A billion taxpayer dollars had been spent at that point and just about all they had to show for it was a wooden mock-up (and some big “ticket office” type models like mine).

So that was that. The beautiful Concorde flew passengers just over a quarter-century as a technological masterpiece and an economic disaster. Only 16 were built and the widespread “Supersonic Age” in air transport everyone expected back then never came to be. Some of us are still waiting for it.

This brings me back to my new ridiculously expensive model (which, by the way appears to have been Boeing factory-built) and my point. There is a cohort of airline enthusiasts who are about 50 and over who were starry-eyed little “avgeeks” when it looked like the Boeing SST was going to make it into full-scale production. We read about and saw dramatic drawings of the airplane and figured that when we were a bit older we were going to get to fly in her. To say the prospect of traveling aboard such a stupendously large and fast vehicle was an exciting idea for us to dream about is a major understatement. Since nothing close to it in scale has been considered since (The promising “Boom” SST currently under development will carry about 55 passengers) we are still enamored with the 2707, all these years later.

I’ve noticed that every time an original item of any kind related this airplane goes up for auction on eBay it tends to sell quickly and for a high price. There is a reason for this. The kids who were waiting for the airplane, and never forgot her, are now 50-60 years old. They have often reached the pinnacle of their professions, either in aviation or elsewhere, and they have disposable cash. Some of that money is being spent to enable continuing happy memories of a now distant childhood when it seemed like flying commercially in a gigantic Titanium dart at nearly three times the speed of sound was just around the corner.

That is the ongoing mystique, and legacy, of the Boeing SST.

Postscript: The year before acquiring the Eastern 2707, I was also able to find a United Boeing SST display model, this one built by California models makers PacMin, of the same scale, minus the working wings and control surfaces. I’ve included a photo of it as well for this article.

Continue Reading No Comments

Manufacturer’s Models of the Lockheed Constellation

Written by Jim Striplin

The triple tailed Lockheed Constellation, or “Connie” as it is affectionately referred to by pilots and airline enthusiasts, has been the subject of many excellent models.

The Connie is such a beautiful design, that models of the aircraft are more like “artwork” than just simply models.

The Constellation was designed in the late 1930s, and first flown in January of 1943.

WW II prevented the Connie from going into commercial service.  During the War, the Military was interested in the airplane and Lockheed continued to develop the Connie as the C-69 Transport.  Only 15 of the C-69s were delivered to the Army Air Corps. A total of 22 C-69s were built.  When the war was over, Lockheed began to convert Military C-69s into passenger carrying airliners. This was no small task as the C-69 was a whole different animal from what was to become a commercial Lockheed 049 Constellation.  Many problems with the airplane had to be worked out before the airplane was ready for the Airlines. It was Pan American World Airways that first put the Constellation into commercial service on January 3, 1946 on a New York to Bermuda run. This is ironic because Howard Hughes and his airline TWA (Transcontinental and Western Air), had put so much into the design and development of the airplane in its beginning.

 

LOCKHEED FACTORY CONSTELLATION MODELS

The Lockheed factory itself, built early in-house concept and promotional models at its’ facilities in Burbank CA.  These models were big (usually around 1/43rd scale or larger), and made of wood.  These models could be found around the plant in engineering and executive offices.  After the war the factory model shop got serious about making Constellation models for airline customers.  The factory came out with magnificent “polished aluminum” hollow sheet metal models of the 049.  Sheet aluminum was pressed into female molds to make halves for the fuselage, and top and bottom pieces for the wings and tail.  Beautiful engine cowlings with rivet detail were also fabricated.  The propellers were cast metal.  The sheet metal parts were skillfully soldered together, the seams were filed and sanded, and then the completed model was buffed out to perfection.  Silk screened water slide decals were applied and the models were placed on a heavy cast aluminum stand.  These models were made in 1/43rd scale.  Most were “in flight-gear up” models, but some had landing gear with rolling wheels!  To top that, Lockheed even made huge sheet metal Connies with wing spans well over 40 inches.  Eastern Air Lines ordered quite a few of these big models.  Most of the huge Lockheed 049 sheet metal models found today are ex-Eastern and have landing gear.  Lockheed sheet metal models are a “must have” for serious vintage model collectors.  These models are highly prized and demand very high prices.

TWA LOCKHEED FACTORY 1/43RD SCALE 049 SHEET METAL CONSTELLATION. (AUTHOR’S COLLECTION)

Lockheed also commissioned smaller models to promote the Constellation.  While the smaller models were not made by Lockheed “in house”, they were still “factory issued”.  These smaller models were made in CA by other vendors who did metal casting.

1/72ND SCALE POLISHED SOLID ALUMINUM 049. (AUTHOR’S COLLECTION)

When the Lockheed Super Constellation was introduced in 1951, many model makers worldwide had already been building Connie models. As a result, the Lockheed factory did not build any big metal Super Constellation models.  They did however, build resin models of military Super Connies and special protypes.  Most of these were in the 1/72nd to 1/60th scale, and they made some desk models that were about 8 or 9 inches long.  The Lockheed factory built some resin 1/60th scale 1649 models for TWA.  Very few of these were made.

A LOCKHEED ISSUED SMALL METAL 049 CONSTELLATION ON PAPER CLIP HOLDER STAND. (AUTHOR’S COLLECTION)

1649 “STARLINER” THAT ONCE BELONGED TO A TWA ENGINEER IN KANSAS CITY. UPON RETIREMENT, THE ENGINEER WAS PACKING UP HIS OFFICE AND ACCIDENTALLY DROPPED THE MODEL WHILE REMOVING IT FROM A HIGH SHELF. (AUTHOR’S COLLECTION)

It is interesting to note that Sterling Riffe, owner of Riffe Models in Kansas City MO, used a 1/60th scale resin Lockheed factory 1649 model as a foundry pattern to cast the aluminum 1649 models he made for TWA and Air France in the late 50s.

(Riffe models of Kansas City MO will be the subject of a future article)

CONSTELLATION MODELS BY RAISE UP HOLLAND

Raise Up Models of Rotterdam, Holland was perhaps the most prolific of all the aluminum model makers.  Raise Up produced thousands of models for the airlines from the 1940s to the mid-1960s.   They made gads of Constellations in scales ranging from appx. 1/200 scale to 1/43rd scale.  Raise Up Connie models were not always accurate (wings, noses, and tails), but, every now and then they would get it right and turn out a super nice replica.

RAISE UP 1/50TH SCALE TWA SUPER CONNIE WITH TIP TANKS. (AUTHOR’S COLLECTION)

VERY LARGE RAISE UP 1/43RD SCALE TWA SUPER CONNIE WITH POLISHED PROP SPINNERS AND NO TIP TANKS. (AUTHOR’S COLLECTIONS)

RAISE UP 1/50TH SCALE EASTERN AIR LINES SUPER CONNIE ON THE CLASSIC “FALCON STAND”. (AUTHOR’S COLLECTION)

SMALL RAISE UP VOE PELA REAL SUPER CONNIE ON CLOCK STAND. (AUTHOR’S COLLECTION)

SMALL RAISE UP CAPITAL AIRLINES 049 CONNIE. MODEL IS 5 ½ INCHES LONG AND WENT ON AN ASHTRAY STAND. (AUTHOR’S COLLECTION)

 

CONSTELLATION MODELS BY SCHAARSCHMIDT GERMANY

Schaarschmidt had a close relationship with Deutsch Lufthansa, and Germany’s national Airline was their best customer.  Schaarschmidt made Constellation models of the 049, 1049, and the 1649.  Most of the models were cast aluminum made in two pieces consisting of a solid fuselage and a separate one-piece wing.

1/100th scale being the most popular.  A very unique thing about Schaarschmidt was that, for some reason, they made many models with a solid aluminum fuselage and hollow “sheet metal wings”.  The sheet metal wing Connies ranged from very small ones to large ones that were approximately 1/50th scale.  Today, finding a Schaarschmidt sheet metal winged Connie without “crushed wings”, is a real challenge.  Schaarschmidt had a very recognizable stand that was simple and functional.  Like Raise Up, some Schaarschmidt models were very accurate, but, in some cases pattern makers failed to pay close attention to cockpit and tail areas.  Schaarschmidt 1/100th scale two-piece solid aluminum models were very clean and well done.  The casting patterns were made in such a way that they almost always came out of the sand molds complete and without defects.

SCHAARSHMIDT SOLID ALUMINUM TWO-PIECE SUPER CONNIE BLANK. 1/100TH SCALE. (AUTHOR’S COLLECTION)

LUFTHANSA 1649 CONSTELLATION BY SCHAARSHMIDT.  1/100TH SCALE. (AUTHOR’S COLLECTION)


PETER V. NELSON CONSTELLATION MODELS

Peter V. Nelson models, in England, was another model maker that made many Super Connie and 1649 Connie models in the 1950s.  One recognizable feature that all Peter V. Nelson Constellation models had in common was that the front of the engines were always left “flat”.  Nelson never “machined out” the engine intakes as did other model makers.  Never the less, Peter V. Nelson models are highly sought out by collectors, and bring premium prices today.

PETER V. NELSON 1/72ND SCALE 1649 CONSTELLATION MOUNTED ON TAIL PYLON. THIS MODEL WAS DISPLAYED ALONG WITH A 707 AND A CONVAIR 880 MODEL ON A SLANTED UPRIGHT STAND. THIS IS COMMONLY REFERRED TO AS THE “PETER V. NELSON-TWA 3 PLANE DISPLAY”, OF WHICH THERE ARE ONLY TWO EXAMPLES KNOWN TO EXIST. (AUTHOR’S COLLECTION)

Manufacturer models of the Lockheed Constellation were made by many companies, so numerous, that this article cannot cover them all.  Here is a short list of other major makers of “Vintage” Constellation models not covered in this article.

Verkuyl-Holland
Minavia-England
Walkers Westway-England
Mecater-Spain
Voglaar-Brazil
Maquette d’etude et d’Exposition-France
Ed Dickson-USA
Riffe-USA

Continue Reading 6 Comments

Airline Issue Models of Early Jet Airliners

Written by Jim Striplin

Even before jets were in service, the airlines already had advertising companies in full swing promoting “jet travel” as the wave of the future. Airplane model makers in the U.S., and especially in Europe, saw a surge of orders. Models of jet airliners were needed by the airlines for display in ticket offices, travel agencies, and on airline counters at airports. These models stirred up excitement and anticipation in the air traveling public. Upon seeing models of the soon to be put into service jets, passengers started dreaming of what it would be like to fly in one of these sleek, fast, and luxurious airplanes.

In England the new de Havilland Comet was all the rage. The Comet was about to go into service in 1952, and model makers in England such as Westway and Peter V. Nelson were already turning out aluminum models of the Comet prototype in BOAC markings. In anticipation of forth coming Comet service, BOAC had a small plastic “giveaway” model made for flight attendants to hand out on early flights.

BOAC giveaway model of early Comet. This original model is made of molded hard plastic and has a wingspan of 8 inches. On the bottom of the stand it reads “MADE IN ENGLAND”. These little models were prized by kids (and adults) in England and all over the BOAC system. (author’s collection)

Aluminum model of a Comet 1 by Westway London in 1/72nd scale with BOAC “Speedbird” type stand. Note the square windows on the early comet. (courtesy Aeroscale)

A large original 1/48th scale model of a Comet 4 by Westway in London. Model has landing gear, and is made of plastic/fiberglass. (author’s collection)

In the U.S.S.R. models of the new TU-104 were being made for Aeroflot by Soviet model makers. The TU-104 was the second jet airliner to be put into service. Models of the early TU-104s were made mainly by the Tupelov factory in house, but government commissioned models were also put on display. Early models were made of wood and primitive plastics. Later on injection molded models became available. The metal models of early Soviet airliners were not made of aluminum. They were made of a very heavy Zinc based alloy.

Aeroflot issued TU-104 souvenir model from the former Soviet Union. (author’s photo collection)

In the USA, in anticipation of the inauguration of jet service with the new Boeing 707, model maker Pacific Miniatures of Alhambra California produced large 1/50th scale models of the first series of Boeing jets. These models were big and impressive, and, they were pretty accurate considering that the actual airplanes had not yet been put into regular service. Early 707 models were based on drawings, artist conceptions, and speculation.

Pacific Miniatures original 1/50th scale model of a Pan American 707. Model is made of molded fiberglass and plastic. The heavy stand and stylish upright would become a PAC-MIN hallmark for many years. (author’s collection)

In Europe, Lufthansa Airlines in Germany bought early 707 models from companies like Raise Up of Holland, and Schaarschmidt in Berlin to promote upcoming jet service. Raise Up Models of Rotterdam Holland was a prolific model maker that produced thousands of models throughout the 40s, 50s. and 60s. Raise Up models however, did not take care to assure accuracy , especially in the nose, tail, and engine areas of their models. Many of their models appear almost “clown like”.

Lufthansa 707 original model by Raise Up. Note the inaccurate nose and engine pylons. The round stand with single pylon upright was something that Lufthansa specified and was used for years. (author’s collection)

The Douglas DC-8 entered into service in 1959. With much anticipation, model makers in the US and abroad went into action coming out early with DC-8 replicas. Obviously, the Douglas factory itself was quick to come out with models in numerous scales. Aluminum models in both 1/72nd and 1/50th were turned out, along with huge cutaway models mounted on floor stands. Raise up in Holland was quick to get on the DC-8 train, making 1/50th scale models to sell to airlines and travel agencies.

Delta Air Lines President C.E.Woolman holding an early DC-8 model. Model is a “ conception model” by the Douglas Factory for sales purposes. (author’s photo collection)

Douglas Factory United Air Lines DC-8. Model is original, unrestored. (author’s collection)

The Caravelle went into service in 1959 with Air France and SAS. This new airliner was unique in having its’ jet engines mounted at the rear of the fuselage under the tail. It was a beautiful design, and numerous model makers produced Caravelle models. Raise Up Holland of course, and others like Fermo of Denmark and even Fond Nucci of Italy did Caravelles, just to name a few.

Raise Up Caravelle model in aluminum. This 1/50th scale model bears serial #1! Model is original, unrestored. (author’s collection)

In 1960 the Convair 880 was put into service. The 880 was a fast airplane that was slightly smaller than the early 707s and DC-8s. Models of the new Convair 880 were made by a variety of companies for the airlines that operated them. Convair itself made the most accurate models of the airliner in house. The factory models were made in 1/50th scale of modern molded plastics. Convair had a very distinctive triangular stand.

Convair factory model of the 880. (author’s photo collection)

Fermo of Denmark made a huge model of the 880 in aluminum, that could be displayed as a solid or cutaway model with a full interior. On the smaller side, a company called Riffe models in Kansas City MO made 880 models for TWA that were displayed on ashtrays or on a regular stand.

Large 880 model by Fermo of Denmark in NE Airlines colors. 1/24th scale.(author’s photo collection)

In conclusion, models played a big part in the ushering in of the “Jet Age” by the worlds airlines. Early airline issue models of the first generation jets will continue to be prized by collectors.

Continue Reading No Comments

Douglas Factory Models

Written by Jim Striplin

Airline issued models, otherwise known as “Airline Counter Models” or “Travel Agency Models”, have always been source of fascination for Airline enthusiasts.  These models were manufactured for the Airlines by many notable model builders going back as far as the 1920s.  These models were first made of wood and were later constructed of aluminum and modern plastics.

In this first article, I have decided to feature the models produced for the Airlines by the Douglas Aircraft Corporation, commonly referred to as Douglas Factory Models or DFMs.  The Douglas Aircraft Corporation, was of course, one of the greatest Aircraft manufacturers of the 20th Century.  Douglas also had the foresight to provide its customers with very high quality models for sales promotion and advertising.   Models were given to Airline companies that purchased airplanes from Douglas.  Extra models could be purchased by an Airline to be displayed in Airport terminals, Airline ticket offices, and Travel Agencies.

Donald Douglas, Jr., the son of company president Donald Douglas, Sr., is said to have taken an interest in establishing a factory model shop about the time the DC-2 was being developed.  A Douglas factory worker, Victor Pastushin, a Russian immigrant, was at the same time already producing ashtray type models on his own.  Pastusian is likely to have had some influence on Douglas management, and Donald Douglas, Jr. in starting a factory model shop.  (Victor Pastushin will be the subject of a future article on “Airline Ashtray Models”) Donald Douglas, Jr. has always been credited with the establishment of the Douglas Factory Model Shop, which, however, was always kept as a separate entity by Douglas, Jr. from the Douglas Aircraft Corporation itself.

The first Douglas Model Shop has always been believed to be operated in the Douglas Aircraft Santa Monica, California plant.  It is unclear, however, if there was an actual Aluminum foundry located on Factory premises.  An Aluminum foundry incorporates a furnace to melt Aluminum that is then poured into sand molds.  More than likely a foundry located somewhere in the Los Angeles basin, already producing airplane parts for Douglas, did the actual casting.  Workers at the model shop would then laboriously file out and hand polish the sandcast models before the applying paint and decals.

The same Zinc Chromate primer, and finish enamel paint used on real Douglas aircraft, were used in finishing the models. Decals were produced using high quality water transfer decal sheet and Airline livery colors were applied using the silk screen process.

It is known that the DC-2, DC-3 and DC-4 models were actual sand castings.  Beginning with the DC-6 models, very expensive permanent molds, made of tool steel, were used to cast the models.  A sand core was placed inside the fuselage mold to make the model hollow, and lighter.  Permanent molds were used to cast all models from the DC-6 to the DC-8-63.  Most of the Douglas models were cast in 1/50th scale.  This scale was the most common size desired by Airlines and Travel Agencies.  1/72nd models were also produced but were less popular.  The early DC-2 models were produced in larger scales. It should be noted that the Douglas factory also produced models of its Military aircraft (C-124s, C-133s, B-66s, etc.).

The Douglas factory produced Aluminum models from 1934 to 1966.  After 1966 Douglas models were produced by a company called Marketing Aids located in Anaheim, California.  Marketing Aids produced mainly DC-9s, DC-8-63s, and DC-10s in fiberglass and plastics.  Marketing Aids inherited a great number of unfinished Aluminum models (blanks) from Douglas, along with a huge inventory of Douglas factory decals.  They also had acquired many leftover finished Aluminum models, some of which were sold to private individuals.  With the merger of Douglas with McDonnell (forming McDonnell-Douglas) in April of 1967, the era of the Douglas model came to an end.  Marketing Aids continued to produce some models for McDonnell-Douglas for a short time.  The remaining inventory of Aluminum Douglas model blanks, decal sheets, and fiberglass models were either sold off or simply thrown away.

In conclusion, the models produced by the Douglas factory, and later Marketing Aids, are highly regarded by collectors and Airline historians.  Noted for accuracy and correct scale, they are a prized addition to any model airliner collection.

Continue Reading 8 Comments


Airliners International™

 2019 Atlanta, Georgia


June 19-22 / 2019

The Worlds Largest Airline Collectibles
 Show & Convention
returns to Atlanta, Georgia
 for our 43rd Annual Show!

WAHS LogoWorld Airline Historical Society, Inc.
PO Box 83339, Hollywood, Florida 33081 USA
Contact Us

Archives

Copyright © 2019 World Airline Historical Society

Site by PixNinja