The Jim Walker FireWire Newsletter from American Junior Classics
Wings for Young America
December 2004 - Newsletter #1

Welcome to the Jim Walker "Firewire" brought to you by
American Junior Classics. This is our first newsletter dedicated to
keeping the dream of Jim Walker alive.

Jim Walker performing sabre dance with his Fireball U-Control and helping young boy fly the Firebaby

A Brief History of the A-J Interceptor

A-J Army Interceptor folding wing catapult launch balsa model airplane During the 1930s many a young man designed and built folding wing gliders. One of these men, Jim Walker, turned this hobby into a lifetime career.

Jim invented, designed, and tested his new creations, and by 1938 he had finalized his design of the Fireball, the world's first gas powered u-control airplane. As he was busy developing the tooling for production, he was developing the new motorless Whip Power models (flown by a fishing pole). The American Junior Bomber (Martin B-10), a 5 cent balsa glider, and the new Coast Guard V-315 Glider with the metal motor pod and metal propeller which turned free wheeling in the wind.

Jim Walker's Army Interceptor balsa model in gliding modeAlso in 1938 Bell Aircraft of New York perfected their stunning new P-39 Airacobra Pursuit plane. It was unique in engineering and design with its new 12 cylinder Allison V-1710 engine located behind the pilot. Jim was so impressed with the design that he developed his new folding wing glider after the Bell Airacobra. The P-39 was an Army plane, so Jim called his new model the Army Interceptor. It was all balsa with a fuselage length of 11 ½" and a 19 ½" cambered wing with the correct dihedral as the wings unfolded for flight. This was at the time Grumman Aircraft was building the Navy F4F Wildcat with wings that folded back along the fuselage to assist storage on the limited space of an aircraft carrier.

Jim introduced the Army Interceptor in 1939 at the New York Toy and Hobby Fair, and it wasn't long before almost every five and dime store in the land was selling the folding wing glider from American Junior Aircraft.

Jim was a master at marketing which he combined with his love of parades. When a big parade was scheduled in New York or Chicago, Jim would go to a tall building and launch the gliders as the parade passed below. He also launched the Interceptors at half-time at ball games to "wow" the crowd, then sold the planes at the gate when the game was over.

The Army Interceptor was more than a toy. During World War II, it was used by the military for target practice. Gunners at military bases around the country improved their skills as hundreds of thousands of Interceptors were shot out of the sky.

After the war the P-39 was scrapped out at smelter furnaces as the Jet Age began. In 1947 the Interceptor was retired and a new plane with jet styling was introduced as the 404 A-J Interceptor. It still had the folding wings and the famous long- distance glide and retained its ability to find a thermal of warm air and fly out of sight.


Share Your Story...

We want to share stories of American Junior, Jim Walker, and growing up with the wonders of flight. Each FIREWIRE will include a story from one of you. So send us a story and, if you have a photo, include it also. Let's keep those wonderful memories alive and pass them on to a new generation.

Frank Macy, American Junior historian, will be sharing his vast A-J knowledge in future Newsletters and he would love to hear from you. You can contact Frank by clicking on his e- mail link below. We enjoy each and every message we get, so please write.


email: Your comments are always welcome!

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