In 1945, with the war finally over, modelling supplies started to reappear, so I decided to try my hand at building a Wakefield model. “What the hell! is that”, I can hear some of our members saying. It all started many years ago, even before my time ( no comments please, can’t remember the actual date ) when a gentleman named Lord Wakefield donated a trophy, to be competed for each year and awarded to who ever achieved the longest rubber powered flight, duration, not distance. This competition developed into an international event, with countries fielding their own teams. The models entered for the competition, had to be built to a very strict set of rules, such as making your own propeller and other bits and pieces. Also, if I remember correctly there was a limit on the amount of rubber you could use to power the model.
That is enough history for now so let’s continue with the story. The Wakefield model I chose to build was designed by Ron Waring and involved quite a lot of work, all the formers, which where round or oval, can’t remember which, were made of 1/8th x 1/32nd balsa, steamed and wound around cardboard templates until they were 3/16 thick, they where then mounted on a jig and 1/16th longerons glued in place at approximately 1/2ins spacing. After all the other parts were fitted it was covered in tissue paper and doped. The large propeller was carved from a block of balsa and given numerous coats of clear dope to obtain a nice smooth finish. My efforts where not wasted, the model flew like a dream, over and over again. It ended up being converted into a glider by my younger brother. I also played around with JetX for a while. The power run was too short in the early days, so I didn’t bother with it for long.
Engines where slowly becoming available, as the war had finely ended. So I turned my attention to power models. The first engine I bought was an Elfin diesel, can’t remember what I paid for it, but I think it was a round the £8 mark. The engines where being manufactured in a garage, situated in a side street off Edge Lane Liverpool and later moved to larger premises as they where becoming so popular. My pal (Denny) and I cycled to Edge Lane from Moreton in the Wirral, to order an engine each and then had to wait something like two months before we could collect them. The first time I tried to run mine, I hydrauliced the piston and bent the connecting rod, so back to the factory it went for repair. Still you live and learn.
The model I chose for my entry into powered flying was called the Slicker. I think the wing span was around the 36ins mark and was polyhedral, pylon mounted. Boy! Could it climb with the Elfin running at full throttle, I had to watch how much fuel I put in the tank, other wise it would have been out of sight in next to no time. Incidentally, the fuel for those early diesels was Ether and Castor Oil, which you bought from the chemists and mixed yourself. As well as the Elfin I also bought an E.D.Bee, which went into a control line model, you know one of those models that fly around in circles on the end of 2 wires and you control the elevator by rocking the handle. It did not take long to decide it was not for me.