Does anyone else remember Veron Combi-Kits?

Nostalgia is a funny thing. Even the most apparently mundane objects, or in this case models, can evoke strong memories and a desire to revisit those long gone days.

I remembered this range of Veron kits because my dad built a couple of them with me when I was quite young (maybe 8 or 9 years old?) and we flew them in the park near my Grandma's house. The kit I remember most clearly flying was the Corsair, with its bubble canopy and swept tail surfaces. I also built at least one myself a bit later, the Cadillac, and remembered it flying quite well. Of course, memory plays tricks, and as things looked bigger back then, model aeroplanes probably seemed to fly higher as well.

As you can see from the Aeromodeller advert (they don't write them like that any more!) the range was launched in 1960, and according to Phil Smith, the Veron chief designer, they were designed to be produced cheaply. Hence, all four kits came with a common sheet of die cut parts, some of which were not used, depending on the kit. They all did feature the balsa propellors (in this case 7 inch diameter) that you often found in Veron kits, and which definitely helped them perform better than with the average plastic item of the time. The advert proclaims "hand carved propeller", but surely they were done on a machine? I love the description of the designs as having modernistic character, whatever that means.

If anyone fancies having a go at any of the four models, the plans and parts sheet are available here for download. They are simple to build, and should fly well if you keep them light. I find it a little odd that there is little or no incidence on the wings on any of the plans - it would seem to be advisable to make the tailplane slots wider than drawn to allow packing in some negative incidence later if necessary.

Of the four kits I have, the Cadillac is in the best condition, almost as new in fact, so I will use that one to illustrate the kit contents.

The sheet of parts is die cut, and as mentioned, it was the same in all kits. The undercarriage was pre-bent, and the wheels already attached (the ends of the wire being crimped to retain them). The wooden prop was a plus point of the range, though I believe this was replaced with a plastic item in later examples.

Cadillac plan in pdf format on eight A4 sheets (176 KB)

Cadillac plan zipped bitmaps to print on eight A4 sheets (279 KB)

Cadillac plan zipped bitmap of complete plan (215 KB)

Richard Crossley brought this delightful Cadillac model to the Old Warden meeting in June 2006, where it put in some lovely flights before it flew out of the airfield to get stuck in a tree. Be warned, these little models can fly extremely well! Richard copied the colour scheme directly off the box lid, and I think the result speaks for itself.

Consul plan in pdf format on eight A4 sheets (221 KB)

Consul plan zipped bitmaps to print on eight A4 sheets (327 KB)

Consul plan zipped bitmap of complete plan (284 KB)

Here is my Consul, which took far longer to finish than it should have done. The finish is airbrushed enamels over Esaki tissue, and as you can see, an attempt was made to replicate the box artwork. Weight without rubber is 26 grams. The 7 inch balsa prop is not the one supplied in the kit, but a new one carved to look vaguely similar, while hopefully being more efficient.

Thanks to David Stapleton for sending me this picture of his nicely finished Consul.

This seems to be the rarest of the set, and I would be embarrassed to tell you how much I paid on Ebay for this less than pristine example. I would be interested to know if the kit was always sold in this purple and yellow box, or did it also come in orange and black like the others?

Corsair plan in pdf format on eight A4 sheets (226 KB)

Corsair plan zipped bitmaps to print on eight A4 sheets (352 KB)

Corsair plan zipped bitmap of complete plan (307 KB)

In 2011 I finally got round to making a Corsair, and here it is. The colour scheme was based on the kit box lid illustration and I chose the typical post war Fleet Air Arm colours of extra dark sea grey and sky.

First flights were at a windy Old Warden in July 2011, where it proved remarkably stable. Trimming involved merely adding a bit of nose weight and a small fin trim tab to persuade the model to turn and not just weathercock into the wind.

Jean-Marc Morin from France kindly sent me this photo of his very smart Corsair which also flies well.

I think this tubby little model is extremely appealing - if ever a rubber model could be called cuddly, then this is it! Chris Strachan has built one, as you can see below, and very smart it looks. This model turns out be rather a good performer, as Chris found to his cost when it flew onto his local college roof! You have been warned....

Coupe plan in pdf format on eight A4 sheets (181 KB)

Coupe plan zipped bitmaps to print on eight A4 sheets (292 KB)

Coupe plan zipped bitmap of complete plan (223 KB)

Here is another nice Coupe, this one by Clive Gamble in the US. He is hoping to introduce the delights of the Combi kit series to his clubmates.

I'm pleased to say I finally got round to adding the last Veron Combi Kit plan to the site - the Classic glider. For this model you need two sheets of parts, and you have to admire the way they have been adapted for this design and sometimes used for purposes other than intended (for example, using wing ribs as wingtips). By all accounts it makes a good calm weather flyer - the wing looks a little weak to be towing it up in a stiff breeze though.

Here are the kit contents - note two of the die crunched Combi Kit parts sheets, plenty of strip wood (limited by the length of the box of course), red tissue, plan plus instructions and a partially shaped nose block. I'm rather tempted to build this for the 36" span bungee launched glider competition at the Peterborough Flying Aces meeting.

Full size plan in pdf format (730 KB)

Using Acrobat reader X or higher, you can tile this plan automatically onto whatever size sheets of paper you have in your printer.

Combi-kit parts patterns (common to all)

parts in pdf format (13 KB)

parts in zipped bitmap file (17 KB)

Notes on printing the plans

All the images were scanned at 150 dpi and the small sheets measure 1000 x 1600 pixels, so to print out these bitmaps full size you need to set the image width in your graphics program to 6.67 inches (1000/150)

The single bitmap file showing the whole plan is for those who want to tile the plans themselves, or have access to a very large format printer!

The pdf files will print out full size if you set the zoom to 100% and paper size to A4 (even if you do not have this size paper in the printer).

To help you size the plans correctly, the small T shaped marks are spaced exactly 50 mm apart.

If anyone builds one of the range, I would love to hear how you get on, and I would be delighted to start a Combi-Kit photo gallery here.

Happy modelling!

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