I am Jacques, born pre-war in Belgium.
My first introduction to model planes was for my 11th or 12th birthday.
Friends of my parents asked me what I would like for my birthday, so in all innocence I said “a model plane”. They took me to Brussels to most probably the only model shop in Belgium at that time. It was named “Scientific”.
I chose a 32” towline glider named “Gnome”, made by Mercury.
Here is a photo of what it should have looked like.
I was asked what else I needed, so I finished up with a cheap box cutter-style knife,
A BIG tube of model cement and a LARGE jar of red dope.
Now, in my defence, I must point-out that I had never seen a model plane or a kit before, could not speak or read English and did not have a clue that not ALL the World was using the metric system of measurement.
So I opened the kit and spread-out the plan, first disappointment, I could not understand it at all, the measurements were not in millimetres but some weird fractions and apart for ribs and some other small pieces the lengths of those long sticks did not match the sizes on the plan!
So the plan must be some pictorial representation of the model, (not a very good one, in my opinion, at that time) and just a visual aid to assemble those bits of wood.
I counted the ribs and divided the length of those long sticks by that number-1. I placed the ribs on these new correct locations, then did the same for the tailplane.· For some unfathomable reason, I ran out of wood for the fuselage. Trusting the kit suppliers into knowing what they were doing and since extra balsa was 110Kms away; I finished the boom with what I had left.
End result was nothing like the plan! The plan’s wingspan and tailplane span were much too small and the fuselage on the plan was much too long! BAD, REALLY BAD PLAN!
Made-up some glue with flour and water, attached the paper. Lots of wrinkles! Oh well, the dope should get rid of that.
Tried to apply the dope evenly, not good too thick, left a lot of streaks and bare spots, a second, then third, then fourth coat fixed all that. Could not do a fifth coat since the jar was empty. By the way, I managed to use ALL of the big tube of cement, had to make it strong.
Now to test fly it. Went to the sand dunes at the back of the seawall (my parents were living on the Belgian littoral at the time), stood on a small brick wall, chucked-it as hard as I could.
The “Gnome” left my hand, did a high speed halve inverted loop and smashed itself beneath my feet against the brick wall.
Obviously nothing I did wrong! Must have been a bad model due to bad design and bad kit, the plan was proof of that! I could not understand how a kit manufacturer could have the gall in selling a piece of turd like that. This put me off modelling for at least 6 months.