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


RECENTLY I WAS IDLY LEAFING through Douglas Rolfe’s Airplanes of the World when I realized how many of my GMax projects had been rendered in Rolfe’s illustrations. Indeed, his book was published in 1954, years before GMax, years before Microsoft Flight Simulator, years before computers.

Airplanes of the World: 843 Planes, From Pusher to Jet 1490-1954, by Douglas Rolfe, historical introduction by Alexis Dawydoff, Simon and Schuster, 1954.

The dustcover reads, “This book contains over a thousand drawings of just about every airplane that was ever built.… And there  is no finer gift for the model maker—or for anybody who is filled with wonder about how airplanes got the way they did so quickly.”  This probably explains my copy’s lack of secondhand price marking; I’ll bet it was a gift in 1954, the same year I started reading R&T.

Here, in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow, is a selection of Rolfe’s illustrations, its pages chosen by overlap with my GMax modeling.

1912 Avro. Rolfe doesn’t identify it as the Type F, but he describes “This experimental mid-wing cabin monoplane with radial engine gives some idea of the scope of some designer’s imagination more than forty years ago.” Make that more than a century ago today.

This and other pages selected from Airplanes of the World. 

As noted in Wikipedia, “On 1 May 1912 it became the first aircraft in the world to fly with a completely enclosed cabin for the pilot as an integral part of its design.” Imagine the racket of the Type F’s five-cylinder radial, the flutter of its fabric and cellon windows, the singing of its wire bracing. 

My GMax Type F, as seen from its pilot’s vantage.

1919 Navy Curtiss NC-4. World War I greatly accelerated the pace of aircraft development. The 1919 Curtiss flying boat had “Four 400-h.p. Liberty engines. The big NC boats had a wingspan of 126 feet, stood 22 feet high….” 

A trio of NCs undertook a transatlantic route traced by 22 Navy ships from Trepassey Bay, Newfoundland, to Horta, in the Azores. However, as noted here at SimanaitisSays, “350 miles of the Azores, the trio got separated in heavy rain and fog. NC-1 and NC-3 were forced down onto the ocean. The crew of NC-1 was taken aboard the Greek ship Ionia; their flying boat sank in heavy seas. The NC-3’s crew kept their flying boat afloat, weathered the storm for 62 hours—and taxied 200 nautical miles (!?) to Ponta Delgada in the Azores.”

My GMax NC-4.

NC-4 reached Horta 15 hours and 13 minutes after leaving Canada. 

Tomorrow in Part 2, we’ll see more Rolfe illustrations, including three represented in my GMax time-gobbling.

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2022 


  1. Andrew G.
    May 15, 2022

    Oh, Dennis! This story made me drag out my tattered ’69 edition, and relive old daydreams of filling my own hangar.

    Rolfe’s drawings could be deceptively flattering; I fell in love with more than a few aircraft, which I found out later were complete duds. Did that ever happen to you?

    • simanaitissays
      May 15, 2022

      Agreed, though I still love the duds. See Part 2’s Bleriot 125 (tomorrow).

  2. Bob Storck
    May 15, 2022

    I’m surprised that you don’t use the detailed Wylam and Nieto 3-view drawings that were featured in model magazines like Model Airplane News and informative Air Progress.

    They inspired and enhanced many of my models, and always educated with their insightful attention to small aspects. They exposed modelers to Lockheed’s U-2 in ’57, ignored by the public and press until Gary Powers’ flight. (Taking this thread offstream, a major newspaper’s first May 2, 1960 edition showed a pix of a Beechcraft U-3 King Air, suggesting it must be similar to Power’s craft … should have read MAN!)

  3. sabresoftware
    May 16, 2022

    Minor correction “NC-4 reached Horta 15 hours and 13 minutes after leaving Canada.”, that should have said Newfoundland, a separate country/British Colony that did not become part of Canada until 1949.

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