History Of Paper Airplanes

It was during WWII that materials were in short for toys. The materials that were available had restricted use. These restrictions ruled out metal toys, thus all that was available was paper and wood.This led to airplanes as well as other toys that were normally made from metals to be prepared with paper or wood. There was also a shortage of ink that lead to bizarre-colored paper models.

Wallis Rigby developed one of the most popular styles of constructions used for airplanes. Rigby was an Englishmen who had just moved his company to the U.S. in the late 1930s. His models were published as individual books and boxed sets.

Some models such as the Douglas Dauntless was even published in newspapers as part of the colored Sunday Comic Section. Rigby’s products got so popular that it even led to newsreel coverage showing the steps used to design, build, and fly one of these paper model airplanes.

They range from simple folded-paper darts to complex 3-demensional models. These airplanes gave thousands of kids and adults their first try at model buildings. After WWII however things returned to normal, and paper models rapidly disappeared. Only a few publishers continued to print paper models afterwards.


A group of “Flying Circus” models by Nabisco, dated 1948. Nabisco printed a series of flying models on the shredded wheat separator cards. 24 flying models were issued along with numerous information cards on “how to” make, decorate and fly the paper models. The following card from that series shows the entire series:

The XB-47 card, 3 15/16″ x 7 3/8″, shown below, is typical of the style of these cards. Note that the card models were designed by Wallis Rigby, a famous British designer of paper and card models.

These original separator cards are cheap cardboard, grey in color, but heavy enough to make a creditable model. If you would like to print out a card for the Lockheed P-80, along with an information card showing how to make the model, you can access a PDF file by clicking here.

Wallis Rigby is quite famous for his many lines of paper models, from ships and trains to actual rubber-powered flying models. He was written up in many publications from the 1930s through the 1950s.

Originally posted 2012-05-18 21:59:18. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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