PeanutScale.com [This article was published in the October 1975 issue of Aero Modeller magazine.]
Peanuts By Post
Bill Hannan reports on an unusual International contest
ONCE UPON A TIME in the town of Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA, two fellows got together and decided to originate a new class of flying scale models for the local Flying Aces model airplane club. They decided that the rules should be kept simple, and model cost low. The object was to create an event for scale models which would place the emphasis on FUN, rather than museum-like accuracy.
Thus was born the Peanut Scale contest! The first organized event was won by renowned model builder, Henry Struck, with a Howard ‘Pete’ racer, based upon pre world war two 10-cent kit plans.
Before long, enthusiasm for these tiny (13in maximum wing span) flyers spread westward to Southern California, where it was enthusiastically received. Needless to say, letters were sent back and forth across the country to compare notes regarding model design and performance. Finally, it was decided that correspondence did not really provide enough information, and an actual Peanut aircraft was mailed instead. Before long, several models had made the cross-country journey, to be proxy-flown to enable direct comparison of building and flying techniques.
After a few years of this, the idea evolved to extend the range of destinations. After all, with such small and lightweight models involved, postage was a relatively small factor, even over international distances.
Concurrently, the model aircraft publications including AeroModeller(!) began featuring articles devoted to Peanuts, and this also accelerated the interest to a widely-spread audience.
Flightmasterclub member, Carl Hatrak, was apparently the first to openly suggest the possibility of undertaking a truly international proxy Peanut event, but pointed out the rather formidable organizational problems involved.
So the idea remained dormant for a couple of years.
Meanwhile Peanut Scale (PS) meets were taking place regularly in California, Nevada, Connecticut, Ohio, Chicago and Florida. Soon, ‘trial balloon’ contests were taking place in England and France, and in each case, reception was surprisingly favourable. Letters to writers for Model Builder magazine began to arrive from all corners of the globe in support for the magazine’s policy of featuring a full-size Peanut Scale model plan as a centre-spread. As in the case of the girlie magazines, it seemed that most readers opened the publication to that place first! At this point in time, your author was working with Bill Northrop, MB’s editor on a freelance, part-time basis. During our many early-morning hours spent in preparing the copy for press, we began to kick around the idea for a postal Peanut meet, thinking at first in only limited terms. The concept ‘grew like Topsy’. Prizes and volunteer services were offered, which almost demanded the execution of the international postal event.
At about this time, the Internals were taking place in New Jersey, USA, and the opportunity arose to send a Peanut model via Russ Barrera to be forwarded to England for proxy flying. Through the kind co-operation of Ron Moulton and Vic Willson, the little craft was safely conducted to Eric Coates, who proceeded to compete with it during a number of UK meetings. Later, Walt Mooney, probably the ‘King of US Peanuters’, forwarded a model for competition in a French meet organized by Jacques Pouliquen in the south of that country. Previously, we had been concerned with the possible detrimental effects of changes in temperature and humidity, since most Peanuts are only quite lightly constructed and doped. These fears proved groundless, as both models flew without need for readjustment.
Thus, the last remaining obstacle was removed, and the ‘go’ decision was made by Model Builder magazine.
Response to notice of the impending event was overwhelming, as over 400 requests for order blanks were received. Happily, only 104 models actually appeared by deadline time, which was fortunate for the organizers!
An unexpected SNAFU arose, when the anticipated blimp hangar flying site became unavailable, owing to a political boondoggle, which as of this writing still appears unsolved. Happily, Chuck Conover rose to the challenge, and after some weeks, located an alternative venue.
In the interim the staff of Model Builder magazine was being inundated with containers of all sorts. Each mail delivery brought additional crates, cartons, and suitcases, laden down with tiny aeroplanes. Soon, even the office rest room was literally piled floor-to-ceiling with the overflow of these packages. The logistics involved in storing 104 crates of odd shapes and descriptions can well be imagined, and ultimately a mobile home was utilized in transporting them to the contest site, California State College at Long Beach.
The actual event occupied the better part of two days, over the weekend of 7th and 8th June. Static Judging was conducted starting early Saturday morning, under the direction of US Nationals scale judge, Russ Barrera. A six-man crew consisting of Bill Stroman, Fernando Ramos, Granger Williams, Jack McCracken, Warren Shipp and your author utilized a system which completely eliminated the usual ‘committee’ type action. Each man was assigned responsibility for judging only one portion, such as, for example, workmanship, and thus worked alone without distracting discussions. Models were arranged on tables, identified only by numbered tags. As each table was completed, these numbers were duplicated in another room, where the proxy fliers were waiting. Numbers were drawn at random, out of a box, thus no-one knew in advance what he would be flying. Since some of the proxies had models of their own entered, they were allowed only written instructions to their proxy fliers, exactly as furnished by entrants from far-flung areas.
It was interesting to note the wide variation in these directions, which ranged all the way from absolutely nothing, to completely illustrated ‘factory manuals’. While most contestants had understood the fun intent of this frankly experimental meet, it was surprising to discover a few who actually admonished proxies to ‘not damage my aircraft!’. Needless to say, these people could hardly expect the all-out effort to achieve top performance accorded to more enthusiastic entrants!
A few models had arrived damaged in postal transit, and some rather extensive rebuilding was necessary to return them to airworthy condition. An additional few models were damaged during the course of flying, but in most cases, repairs were effected, and flying continued. It is difficult to appreciate the actual amount of effort involved in proxy-flying even ONE model, let alone a large number, and the crew really ‘came through’ with flying colours. Altogether too many models arrived inadequately tested (suspicions arose that some had not been tested at all I). ‘Let those West Coast magicians trim out this bird’ … which was done. Where possible. In the case of a few exceptionally stubborn models, second, third, and even fourth proxies tried their hands at qualifying. Such is the nature of accumulated experience1 that a different approach (philosophy?) sometimes would ‘save’ a seemingly hopeless example. In the end, only a limited number of entries failed to qualify, and then it was certainly not for lack of effort expended!
Countries represented included Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, England, France, Germany, New Zealand, and the USA. Model Airplane News columnist, Dave Linstrum submitted his entry from Kuwait, where he was working at the time, but arrived back home only a few days after his model was safely delivered.
In terms of variety, great success was also achieved. Evidently the small size and low cost of Peanuts brings out an experimental urge, as virtually every configuration known to full-scale aviation was represented in miniature, including pushers, canards, flying wings, twins, etc.
Most numerous entrants by far, were the Nesmith Cougars, with ten examples on hand. Pietenpols were next in popularity, with six registered. An amazing coincidence was the appearance of three Blackburn monoplanes, which ultimately placed first, second, and third in the pioneer class.
Results were as follows:
l . Blackburn Mono John Blair, USA
2. Blackburn Mono Don Eble, USA
3. Blackburn Mono Butch Hadland, UK
4. Castabert W. Mooney, USA
5. Ellehammer Ted Dock, USA
I. Morane Saulnier C. Mather, USA
2. Fokker EIII R. Stewert, USA
3. Sopwith Tripe R. Tweet, USA
4. B.A.T. Baboon W. Mooney, USA
1. Waterman Racer Phil Cox, USA
2. Luton Minor A. Moorhouse, UK
3. Pietenpol Air Scout J. Krekovich, USA
4. Monocoupe 110 John Blair, USA
5. Zlin Z XII Milan Kacha, Czechoslovakia
1. Jungmann W. Mooney, USA
2. Heinke! 112-B R. Roden, USA
3. FW190 G. Ringel, USA
4. Jungmann Al Borer, USA
5. P-51 Bruce Kennewell, Australia
1. Fike ‘E’ Jim Gerz, USA
2. Nesmith Cougar John Blair, USA
3. Nesmith Cougar G. Gobeaux, USA
4. Lacey M-10 John Martin, USA
5. Tailwind Butch Hadland, UK
Top time for single flight: Fokker EIII, R. Stewert, 75 seconds.
Top static scale points (100 possible): Sopwith Tripe, R. Tweet, 82 points.
Model(s) most damaged in shipping: A. Pedashenko, Australia. Both models were canards, and really looked the part of ‘dead ducks’. Yet both were repaired, and one was successfully qualified. (Lockspeiser and Shinden.)
Most realistic pilot award went lo Dennis Norman, for the startingly life-like occupant of his Nakajinla Hayabusa.
The ‘Best Container’ award, was a tie between Ronald Tweet, for his ‘factory stenciled’ Sopwith triplane case, and Jim Hyka, who submitted his entry in a miniature two-bay hangar, which in turn was enclosed in a life-size ‘Snoopie’s Doghouse’ complete with cocardes and bullet holes.
Tired but happy, Bill Northrop and Taylor Collins of Model Builder magazine and Carl Hatrak, CD, expressed willingness to go through it all again next year, so we polled the judges and proxies for suggestions. The static scale judges pointed out that although the requirements for documentation were minimal, many entrants simply ‘threw away points’ by not providing three-view drawings or markings information. This became particularly obvious when a number of similar aircraft were rated.
The proxy fliers, including Walt Mooney, Fudo Takagi, Fred Reese, Kingsley Kau, Clarence Mather, Curtiss Mooney, Dick Baxter, Bob Peck, Sandy Peck, Fernando Ramos, Bill Warner, Jack McCracken, Don Eble, Hal Cover, Bill Stroman, and yours truly, reached the fol lowing conclusions:
Be certain your model is strongly constructed and carefully packed. Loose parts, such as nose blocks and propellers must be secured, as they can inflict severe damage during shipping.
- Allow an adequate opening for winding. Tiny nose buttons are infuriating under pressure. Ditto ill-fitted propeller shafts which defy thrust adjustments.
- Pre-test and adjust model BEFORE sending.
- If you are unwilling to risk damage, don’t send the model!