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Aeromodelling and Photography in 1957 – By Jordi Fradera

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Before I get started, I hope that the Stuka aircraft models featured in this article are not seen as in any way reflective of my political ideas – far from it. In fact, we also made English Spitfire and American Mustang planes, but the Stuka happens to be the only one that has remained in my photo collection. I also hope that the depiction of these aircraft does not cause offence. I hope you understand, this is purely a document of my fond memories of the hobby of Aeromodelling.

I do not know if readers will know about this hobby..? We flew the aeroplanes in circular tracks held by two steel cables that governed the flaps, two-stroke internal combustion engines with displacements of 1.5 cm3 or more were in charge of propelling them between smoke, tuff (ether + castor oil + detonant) and roar. This hobby, I think, is being lost in favour of drones and other remote-controlled devices, although a few days ago I saw on dedicated tracks that there are still fans who practice model aeroplanes.

The team was made up of Enrique, his father Manolo and I, we dedicated several years to this hobby as well as photography. This photo shows my friend Enrique and me.

Once the aeroplane model had been chosen, we looked for plans and photos and made our own design. After the first conventional models made with boards or simple wings for acrobatics, we built the Mustang, Spitfire or Stuka with wings based on wooden ribs covered with fabric and in the case of the Stuka with a 5 cm3 engine.

We moulded the cardboard fuselage (similar to paper mache) on a mould made with slats that we then extracted through the nose of the fuselage, the material was water-gummed paper tape. The wings were constructed of wooden ribs covered with cloth, varnish, and paint. Even the wheels had suspension.

It flew great although a little slow but it did loop and fly vertically. We built a second unit with a 6 cm3 engine, you can see a photo with the two planes.

Its easy construction allowed it to be duplicated.

Enrique and I did the entire plane except for the wooden wing assembly of the wings where Manolo was a true and patient artist. The construction method made the devices very light and resistant as well as easily recoverable after frequent accidents. We got to build a very heavy twin-engine (5 cm3 + 6 cm3) but it flew!

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Manolo, Enrique’s father

The best thing about this hobby was the construction of the aircraft, if it flew well, fantastic and we launched ourselves for another model. Simple models were easy to build and a good way to get started, but we needed more.

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One of the first models that we made

The photos that I’m showing you were taken with Enrique’s Contaflex camera from the ’50s or maybe my Leica IIIF or Manolo’s Contax and surely with Kodak Plus X that we bought in rolls developed at Enrique’s house, even the hard copies. They were shot at the La Salle school where we studied.

For me these photos are fantastic memories of an unforgettable time and hobby.

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In front of the school chapel

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Hanging from the clothesline

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With Civit, a friend of Enrique’s father and some curious students.

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Stuka at rest

I love to remember – these are memories of another time that will not return.

Thanks for reading this article, I hope you liked it.

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Written by Jordi Fradera

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