Mystery Model Pusher


We recently received an email from Michael Smith, Director of the American National Model Aviation Museum. Michael is hoping Outerzone can help with some research he's conducting into an airplane designed by George Percy Bragg-Smith, an English designer active in the early years of the 20th century. Neither Steve nor I can assist, but thought someone out there in the wider Outerzone community might have further information or other input. You're a knowledgeable bunch!

One of Bragg-Smith's 'Flying Machines', 1912

Michael is researching a very early, unique model pusher designed by Bragg-Smith in 1909 - 1910. Bragg-Smith won or placed very well in numerous contests with the model. So far, Michael has located a drawing and description of the model, as well as a picture of Bragg-Smith himself launching it. However, he's been unsuccessful in tracking down the plans. No one is 100% sure if plans even exist.

Bragg-Smith at an early model meeting, September 1909

Based on his research so far, Michael believes there might be two variations. The first one has a simple "T" frame with wire supports. It is pictured and described in 'Aero, Volume 3', by Edmond Percy Noel, published in 1911 [], page 404, continued on page 408.

Extract from 'Aero' by EP Noel

And there's also the version pictured in 'Flight' magazine, June 18, 1910. This variant features a much more involved boxed structure.

'Flight', June 18, 1910

Apparently, there was some information in the SAM 35 journal, 'SAM Speaks' (SAM is the Society of Antique Modelers), and Michael is currently investigating this avenue. He told us: "Any information I might be able to get would be most appreciated! Would be great to find some good info so we could build a reproduction!"

So - does anyone out there know anything about this model? Get in touch and let us know, if so.

SAM 35 Speaks, March 2017

The National Model Aviation Museum, located in Muncie, Indiana, is dedicated to "collecting and preserving significant pieces of aeromodeling history in order to inspire a broad and passionate understanding of the historic, scientific, technical, and artistic legacy of model aviation, creating learning opportunities that stimulate the imagination, and encourage visitors to become actively involved in the world of aeromodeling."

Find out more - and plan a visit - at

National Model Aviation Museum, Indiana

'Theory and Practice of Model Aeroplaning' by V. E. Johnson, 1920 (thanks to Pit)

Extract from 'Aeromodeller', March 1944 (thanks to JohnS)

User comments

I'm sure I've seen a sketch of a similar model but it will take more time on research. Meanwhile, here's something about Bragg-Smith's model, from 'Theory and Practice of Model Aeroplaning' by V. E. Johnson, 1920 [see image above]. I've the original but it's in your RCLibrary too. The very first notices in the world on aeromodelling were carried in England (what else!) in aviation magazine 'Flight', probably the oldest aviation magazine still in activity. Before the publication of any aeromodelling books, the modellers started to exchange their experiences in the last pages of this mag in the Reader's Letters column, hoping to find a counterpart in UK to share their success or failures. Something like a message in a bottle. A very lovely chronicle of the very early stage of pioneering aeromodelling: a real treasure! There were really talented and obscure pioneers, whose names are lost forever. V.E. Johnson became the curator of the expressly created column named 'Model Aeroplanes' in Flight, due to the success of the discussion in the reader's letters column. Later, with all the information collected over the years, he edited this book.
Pit - 10/05/2017
Hi Mary - there is an article in Aeromodeller March 1944 about him and his models, including a good picture of one of his models about to be launched. The text could be helpful as it gives the colour scheme of the model [see extract in image above].
JohnS - 10/05/2017
Hi Mary, here is another brick in the wall for the mysterious Bragg's model. It came from a book in my collection: "The Design of Model Aeroplanes" by F.J. Camm - London- Benn Brothers Ltd - 1919. In this book it's *clearly* specified that the model is covered by patent. In fact, while the other models depicted are well described and their plans published in the book, the Bragg's model remains a secret (for the writer/publisher). Also, it is written that the plane is 8 or 9 years old. I investigated the first contests for model airplanes in England and it's clear that V.E. Johnson participated at these meetings with great results with a Bragg (not always a winner). So Johnson knew Bragg's model very well but probably wasn't allowed to publish anything on this project. At the very early stage of aeromodelling, plans were different from today. They were something like a postcard (in dimension) with a sketch with quoted measures. As I said I remember a simple sketch of the model, unique for the bend lower wings and I will continue to search for it.
Pit - 14/07/2017
Thank you Pit. This is great stuff. I shall pass everything on to Michael Smith
Mary - 14/07/2017
Add a comment