The History of Cleveland Model & Supply Company, Inc.
Cleveland Model & Supply Company, the oldest, continuously-operating model airplane company in the world, was founded in 1926 by Edward T. Pachasa (later Packard). Mr. Packard started the business with his four brothers, his mother and father in their residence and a converted barn near West 57th Street and Bridge Avenue, on the west side of Cleveland Ohio.
Mr. Packard began the design and manufacture of model airplane kits on a part-time basis in 1919 (hence, the phrase Model Engineers Since 1919) at the age of 13 with the Skylark. This model aircraft incorporated a pine vee-frame, 28-inch long fuselage and a bird-shaped wing of 24-inch span. the wing and stabilizer were covered with 0.005-inch white fiber. The model was a twin-pusher design powered by two, 6-inch bent-fiber propellers. Mr. Packard made eight skylarks and sold five of them at a retail price of $3.50.
After working in the upholstery, covering and doping departments of the Glen L. Martin Company in Cleveland, and in Tony Fokker’s Atlantic Aviation in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, Mr. Packard was financially able to enter into the full-time production of model aircraft kits. In July 1927, only two months after Charles Lindbergh’s epic New-York-to-Paris flight ignited the aviation passions of American youth, Halle Brothers Department Stores of Cleveland jump started the company’s business buy ordering 360, Cleveland rise-off-ground (ROG), Wasp, 14-inch span models.
Cleveland’s first major kit was the 1/16th-scale SF-1 (Scale Flying 1), rubber-powered, Great Lakes 2T-1 Sport Trainer, which was offered in 1929 for $4.95. This kit revolutionized the hobby of aircraft model building with the introduction of simplified, glued, all-balsa construction. Prior to the introduction of this milestone kit, the hobby was characterized by the laborious, time-consuming use of nailed, thread-wrapped joint construction with pine, basswood, and bamboo materials.
By 1930, the company was enjoying national acceptance following an ambitious, national advertising program in Model Airplane News, a relationship that the company maintains to this day.
Cleveland’s second major kit, the 1/16th-scale SF-2, was of the Travel Air, Model R, Mystery Ship. This kit was offered in late 1930 after Doug Davis won the 1929 Cleveland Air Races Free For All, which was the forerunner of the Thompson Trophy Race. Each following year, a kit of the Thompson Trophy Race winner was introduced. Cleveland Model & Supply Company model designs of these aircraft were, and still are, regarded as the most authentic available because of Mr. Packard’s access to the race aircraft hangared at the Cleveland Municipal Airport. This allowed him to take measurements, make sketches and to photograph the aircraft. The plan for SF-2 is still available.
In 1937, Cleveland Model & Supply Company entered gas-powered model aviation with the introduction of two, 1/6th-scale kits of the Stinson SR-7, Reliant, and the Reawin Speedster. The 62-inch span Reliant was priced at $8.50, while the 64-inch span Speedster was priced at $4.85. The introduction of these two models followed Maxwell Bassett’s world record flight of 35 minutes, 39 seconds with a Brown Junior-powered model on 28 May 1934 in Camden, New Jersey.
Also in 1937, the company moved to a 9000 square foot building located at 4508 Lorain Avenue; a few blocks east of the original West 57th street location. By this time, the company had developed into a multi-hobby enterprise known world-wide for its scale rubber and gas-powered model aircraft, model railroads, model ships and hobby equipment.
In 1938 the company began offering a line of free-flight, gas-powered models known as Playboys of various wing spans. The series culminated in 1940 with the introduction of the Playboy Senior, an 80-inch span model offered either as a cabin monoplane or as a polyhedral, pylon-mounted monoplane. The model remains today one of the most popular and most successful designs recognized by the Society of Antique Modelers (SAM).
During World War II, company sales hit their peak, with 1944 sales of about $7.5 million dollars, in today’s economics. At that time, the company was the world’s largest manufacturer of model aircraft and far outsold its nearest competitors.
The success of early years was never repeated and, in 1968, the company moved from its Lorain Avenue headquarters to Detroit Avenue, ceased making kits, and began an ambitious Golden Era plans operation with the aid of a group of dedicated volunteers.
In the 42 years of full-time kit production, the company manufactured nearly 50 million kits, with more than 2,500,000 of the Cleveland Condor, alone, being sold. In addition, the company developed over 500 designs and employed more than 2000 people; at several times more than a 100 individuals. On 20 February 1999, Mr. Packard passed away.
In 1996 a new chapter of the Cleveland Model & Supply Company history began when Mr. Packard retired and sold the company to Mr. John Jacox, of Indianapolis, Indiana. Mr. Jacox is a life-long model aircraft builder and has been a passionate collector of Cleveland Model & Supply Company kits and memorabilia for more than 30 years. Mr. Jacox is a retired Aerospace Engineer and spent his entire career in the defense, aircraft turbine engine industry.
Cleveland Model & Supply Company is a model aviation legend. This legend grew from the dream of E. T. Packard, was fostered through the efforts of his family, dedicated employees and supporters, who developed hundreds of high-quality products, which were produced by the millions, and which were sold world wide with high-quality service.
Cleveland Model & Supply Company is healthy and is prospering. The company’s vision of the future includes its 100th anniversary.
THE DREAM LIVES, THE LEGEND CONTINUES.