Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Boomerang Planes, Rotary Space Ships, and lost links

A couple of years ago, I ran across a photo of a metal monocopter that was, IIRC, built to fly on bottle rocket 'motors'. This has been buried in my post entitled One wing is better than two. I have repeated the photo (click for a slightly larger view) and accompanying text 'for the record' (and to save you following the link in the odd event that you aren't interested in the other cool monocopter info that is contained there).
This is a commercially-procuced monocopter made by Brown Mfg Company of Clinton, MO circa 1950-1960. Side of box reads: "The principal upon which this ship operates is Gyroscopic force which automatically controls the wings action. The rocket (not included) furnishes the power to rapidly rotate the ship, and the centrifugal pull created causes the wing to move outward, in a spiral slot, thereby giving the wing greater angle of incidence. The ship ascends vertically as long as the rocket is driving it with sufficient force. When the rocket is spent and centrifugal force diminishes a spring pulls the wing in, reversing its incidence (angle) so that the ship spins down to a safe landing, to be reloaded and flown again."
Unfortunately, I didn't save the full resolution photo or the source link - D'OH! A reader, KenK, and I have been scouring the web and, so far, have had no luck. He did offer this information on an interesting glider that was produced by the same company:
The “Boomerang Plane” is a rather unusual biplane catapult glider from the 1930’s, attributed to the Brown Manufacturing Co. of Clinton, Missouri. Not only are two identical wings used on the same glider, but the rubber-band catapult is incorporated into the rubber nosepiece of the glider itself. As its name implies, if you adjust the wings properly, it will return in your general direction after being launched. (I emphasize “general direction”.)

The company produced a variety of toys and games in the 1920’s and 30’s. Lawrence Brown is said to have been instrumental in popularizing Chinese Checkers in the US during this period. Some of his wooden game boards use similar patterns and printing colors that you see on this strange little airplane.
You can also find more references to Brown Mfg Co in a letter from Orville Carlisle to G Harry Stine, dated 1/31/1957, as found in Quest's on-line rocketry museum. It appears their sister company, Zenith Specialties, made the 1st production modroc motors for MMI until Vern Estes came along and built Mabel-1. BTW, Zenith still makes the venerable Black Cat brand of firecrackers. I used plenty of those in my younger days. I venture to say more of them than all the rocket motors I've ever used.

If any of you have info on these or related products, please drop a comment. TIA!