by Steve Remington
VJ-Day Through 1961
Many new kits were issued by StromBecKer as the decade of the forties moved to a conclusion. The first ones after the war were of improved design though didn't incorporate much in the way of extra detailed parts on the smaller model types. Several pre-war kits were in the 1947 catalog according to Walt Grigg , the PBY and the Boeing 314. The Lockheed P-80 kit , C32, (later changed to F-80) continued the 1:72 scale size that started with the wartime spotter kits. The P-80 had a clear plastic bubble canopy (the only plastic part) and this type canopy became standard for additional fighters in the 1:72 series. This model had no landing gear but a wood and wire stand was provided, becoming standard for the jet kits. Wood parts such as tip tanks were nicely turned. The biggest improvement was the incorporation of water-release decals for markings and details. The P-80 insignia were printed in the pre-1947 style. The 1:72 scale B-29, Kit No. C250, and the P-61, Kit. No. C33, also appeared in the early postwar period. The photo below shows a Strombecker display booth at a model trade show in about 1946; the show is probably in Chicago. Of particular interest is the fact that all six of the wartime recognition model kits are on display along with black built-ups.
by Steve Remington
AIRPLANES, SHIPS, ARTILLERY, & A TANK
The first airplane kit produced by Strombeck-Becker was the China Clipper, Kit A51, which came out in 1936 according to R.D. Becker (the first commercial flight of the Martin M-130 Clipper on November 22, 1935 is noted on the A51 plan). Sales of this kit exceeded one million. Price for this kit was 25-cents. The pre-war (pre-1942) StromBecKer airplane, ship and military weapon kits were mostly a "fit the box" scale, almost none of them in the same scale. Kit boxes for some of the pre-WWII kits are shown below.
by Steve Remington
StromBecKer brand pre-carved, solid model wood kits from the 1930s through the 1950s are sought after collector items today and represent what some aviation enthusiasts might consider to be the essence of that company. In fact, the Strombeck-Becker Manufacturing Company, and its array of products and personalities, has a history that is vastly more complex and diverse - and interesting. The emphasis here will be on the wood products but the plastic era will be mentioned also. Extensive lists of all kits are not included in this article as that is not the purpose, but examples of many of their products are pictured.
I was introduced to modeling through StromBecKer kits in the 1930s, just as thousands of depression era youths tasted the "Golden Age of Aviation" by building and flying inexpensive model airplane kits such as the dime-scales, constructing solid models from kits, joining in competition with rubber-powered flyers such as the Jimmie Allens and, if lucky enough to find a few odd jobs, becoming part of the "gassie" scene. Now, as we browse those old, nicely pre-carved western pine model kits by StromBecKer, with their smoothly shaped parts, sandpaper, Casco glue and wood filler, it's enjoyable to handle the parts and imagine how it was building it the instant Dad brought it home from the dime-store. But the story behind those models and their genesis will add to the nostalgic value that we perceive - that is the purpose of this article.
Model airplane building has been the introduction to aviation for countless youths in years past and continues in a much lesser degree today for the younger set. Model airplane builders used to be youthful enthusiasts and essentially WERE the market - now the model industry is adult oriented and caters primarily to radio control from giant scale down to park flyers.
CollectAir has vintage wood model airplane kits for sale, both flying models and solid display models, aimed at the serious collector. We also have special exhibits of old wood kits, completed models, ignition model engines, and rare model airplane catalogs dating back to 1912.