Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


A RECENT REFERENCE to control-line aircraft modeling here at SimanaitisSays evoked strikingly similar memories from reader Bob Storck. As a kid, he too enjoyed carrier event with model Navy aircraft tail hooks snagging scaled-down deck arresting cables. He too competed occasionally at the Academy of Model Aeronautics “Nats,” national competitions held at eastern and western locales. And, amazingly enough, both he and I modeled the Martin AM Mauler for this purpose. Here are tidbits on this craft and its modeling

An AM Mauler. This and following images from the U.S. Navy Museum of Naval Aviation.

Martin’s AM Mauler. The XBTM Mauler was a single-seat carrier-based attack aircraft designed during World War II. What with one thing and another, it didn’t see service until 1948 and then only in small numbers. By 1950, the U..S. Navy replaced it with the smaller and simpler Douglas Skyraider

This YouTube shows the Navy’s two “latest airplanes,” the Martin Mauler here and Douglas Skyraider.

A Full Load. Wikipedia notes, “In service, the Mauler earned the nickname ‘Able Mable’ because of its remarkable load-carrying ability, once lifting 10,648 pounds of ordinance (three 2200-pound torpedoes, a dozen 250-pound bomb, plus its 20-mm guns and their ammunition) on 30 March 1948, perhaps the heaviest load ever carried by a single-engine, piston-powered aircraft.” 

Fowler Flaps. The Mauler had a variation of what’s now known as Fowler flaps, trailing edge surfaces that angle downward (thus promoting lift) as well as sliding rearward (thus increasing wing area).

A Mauler prepares for takeoff from the U.S.S. Kearsarge in 1949. The spirals are formed by propeller-blade tip vortices. The extended flaps are also evident.

AMA Carrier Regs. The Academy of Model Aeronautics defines the Control Line Navy Carrier U.S.S. Smallfry as being 8 ft. wide and about 43 ft. in overall length, its curvature coinciding with the 60-ft. length of aircraft control lines.

Image from AMA.

Today’s regulations allow “Profile” models, slab-sided renderings of aircraft fuselages. “It is encouraged that the plane outlines follow some type of Navy aircraft.” 

Bonus Points Today. “A scale model of a carrier aircraft of any nation, provided it displays the national markings of the using nation, shall receive bonus points…. Scale three-view drawings of the full-scale aircraft and proof that the aircraft meets the above requirements must be submitted to be eligible for scale bonus points.”

Back in the old days, I don’t recall any Profile option; scale models only.… 

My Trading Card Salvation. It was the AMA Nats, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania; the precise mid-50s year forgotten. I was the only carrier entrant there modeling an AM Mauler.

The event official, a Naval officer volunteer, chided me for enlarging the wing area of what he mistook for my “Skyraider,” a popular choice for the competition. The sole evidence of my model’s being an accurately scaled AM Mauler was a little bubble-gum trading card.

Like Bob, I chose the Mauler for its generous wing area, helpful in the low-speed portion of the competition. Unlike Bob’s, my craft had conventional flaps, nothing as sophisticated as his Fowlers. Also, in retrospect, I commend Bob for a wind tunnel science project he mentions.

Engine Throttling and the Blue Angels. Also unlike Bob’s model, my Mauler’s K&B “thirty-five” (its displacement: 0.35 cu. in.) depended on my relatively crude hand-made flipper for the engine’s venturi intake. That is, reduced power was achieved by flooding the engine just short of killing it altogether. Simple to devise, its effectiveness was critically dependent on audibly recognizing the degree of flooding.

Alas, not a good approach, what with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels warming up nearby for a lunch-break airshow. 

As much as I respect the Blue Angels’ prowess, I was surely critical of their timing at that AMA Nats.

As Bob notes, he and I are “proofs of parallel universes.” Thanks, Bob, for evoking these Mauler memories. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2021  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: