Note: A history of the model airplane industry
Son of Czechoslovakian immigrants, Edward T. Packard sold his first model airplane in Cleveland in 1919 at the age of thirteen, a simple �Pushers Stick Model.� Lindbergh�s 1927 solo flight conquering the Atlantic galvanized the aviation industry and jump-started his business, Cleveland Model and Supply Company, which at that time offered an extensive line of all-balsa wood model airplanes authentically replicating the early prototypes. During World War II, Packard manufactured the most complete line of American, Allied, and foreign model airplanes, which led to a famous worldwide enterprise whose growth required the involvement of his parents and his four brothers and ultimately employed nearly one hundred people.
As aircraft designs became more complex, so did Cleveland models. The popularity of these realistic miniatures and the insight many hobbyists gained through their construction played a major role in the rapid World War II aviation mobilization because the U.S. Army Air Corps was able to enlist recruits with skills in the principles of flight and aviation.
Cleveland Model & Supply Company, the oldest, continuously-operating model airplane company in the world, was founded in 1926 by Edward T. Pachasa (later Packard). Mr. Packard started the business with his four brothers, his mother and father in their residence and a converted barn near West 57th Street and Bridge Avenue, on the west side of Cleveland Ohio.
During World War II, company sales hit their peak, with 1944 sales of about $7.5 million dollars, in today�s economics. At that time, the company was the world�s largest manufacturer of model aircraft and far outsold its nearest competitors. In the 42 years of full-time kit production, the company manufactured nearly 50 million kits, with more than 2,500,000 of the Cleveland Condor, alone, being sold. In addition, the company developed over 500 designs and employed more than 2000 people; at several times more than a 100 individuals. On 20 February 1999, Mr. Packard passed away.
One of the Cleveland Thompson Trophy winner kits, the Wedell Williams No. 44 kit came out in 1934. This kit SF-47 is all balsa and is packaged in the wartime cardboard lid box (sometimes referred to as a mailing box). The plans are for the P&W 1344 Wasp powered racer #44, NR278V, which set a world's speed record in 1933 at the Shell Speed Dash of 305.33 m.p.h. The Wasp Jr. version of NR278V was flown by Jimmy Wedell to a win for the 1933 Thompson Trophy. Herman L. Schreiner has written about the Cleveland Model & Supply Co. and its founder, Edward T. Packard. It is hoped that Mr. Schreiner will publish a book on the history of Cleveland-Design. NEW The book by Schreiner is now available; 352 page Aviation's Great Recruiter is $39.95. In a 1972 AAHS article, Mr. Schreiner wrote about how Ed Packard would go out to the Cleveland Airport anytime a new racing plane would land there. "He was promptly informed when any new racing plane would land at the field, and many times it would be only a matter of a few weeks before the racer became the subject of one of C-D's reproductions. In this manner he met Jimmy Wedell, of Wedell-Williams racer fame. This happened just after Jimmy had bounced in his hot low-wing racer, MISS PATTERSON from about 25 feet. It was an inopportune moment but Ed walked up to him and asked permission to take photos and scale off some dimensions. However, Berry (airport manager) had already cleared it with Wedell and the result was Kit No. SF-47, of the Thompson Trophy winner Weddell-Williams '44'." Contents of this kit are mint with the exception of a printed sticker which has stuck to the bottom of the box. Box size is 5 1/8" x 2" x 19 1/8". The Cleveland kits were the cream of model kits with few equals.
A Cleveland Dwarf "CD" kit, Number D-46, of the 1930 Laird "Solution" Racer; Charles "Speed" Holman flew this airplane #77 to victory in the 1930 Thompson Trophy Race. This 1/2" scale kit, with a 10 5/8" wingspan, is complete and in excellent condition; the printwood and sticks are in the original wraps and the plan is also in excellent shape. Cleveland models were started by Edward T. Paschasa (later changed name to Edward Packard) in 1929 with the 3/4" scale kit of the Great Lakes Sport Trainer which was flown by the famous Tex Rankin. This was kit number SF-1E and was quite expensive for the time; $6.25 with an introductory price in 1930 of $4.95. The early Cleveland models came in what they called "Hobby-Tubes"; red tubes with an opening in the middle which was sealed by a wrap-around label. Any tubed kit which has been opened will have a split label. These 1929-1932 kits are rare and fairly expensive as one would imagine. An interesting feature of the early tubed Cleveland kits is that many had no printwood. The kits came with sheet balsa and instructions to transfer the formers and ribs detailed on the plans to the balsa with carbon paper! The young fellow at left is from the 1933 "Cleveland Modelmaking News" and is entitled Bad weather, the flying model enthusiast's curse.
Cleveland had a whole array of different kits in the early 1930s. The 3/4" scale "SF" kits were the cream but less expensive kits were also in the line such as the FL (Free Lance) profile kits and the "N" kits. I have no idea of why the kits are numbered as they are. For example, the Laird "Solution" 3/4" scale kit was SF-46 but the "Super Solution" (Doolittle's airplane) from 1932 was the SF-5. The Dwarf kits in 1/2" scale didn't come along until 1935. Obviously the Great Depression was affecting Cleveland as well as everyone else and, although Paschasa kept up a stream of advertising and promotion, prices were dropped as the decade wore on. In March of 1933, the "Cleveland Modelmaking News" announced "Deep Cut Prices" and most kit prices dropped to the $2.00 to $2.95 level (still expensive) with some as low as $1.00. Some of the newer and more complicated kits were priced higher by 1935; for example, the Curtiss F11C-2 was $3.75 and the huge Boeing 247, SF-35, was $8.50 (translate to today's dollar). Apparently Cleveland tried to come up with something inexpensive to compete with the many kits on the market that were priced in the ten cents to a dollar range, so they reduced the plan scale by a third to 1/2" scale, eliminated any liquids, and created the "Dwarf" range of kits to be competitive. Prices continued to fluctuate throughout the thirties; the SF-46 kit sold for $1.95 to $2.50 in 1937 and the Dwarf D-46 was only $.50 to $.65. By 1939 SF-46 was $1.50 and D-46 was $ .50. A further economy move was made in May of 1937 with the announcement that "All kits now dry - no liquids." This move didn't last too long as liquids appeared in the early WWII period. Cleveland cut prices again in 1939 and stated in their ad, "Big price reductions on C-D rubber-driven models - as much as 33 1/3% off. Here are a few of the big bargains now available in all C-D rubber driven model kits. We're making these sharp price cuts to stimulate business, put men back to work, help bring back prosperity. Buy now!" All of the nine Dwarf Thompson Trophy kits were reduced to $ .50. For those of you not familiar with this depression era, it took our involvement in WWII and the stimulus of the defense industry to pull the nation out of the economic doldrums.
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