Roger Simmonds

Roger Simmonds, owner of Jetex.org

The Jetex Dan Dare Spaceship

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Were there any two names more evocative than 'Dan Dare' and Jetex' for the technically-minded 1950's schoolboy?  I can't think of any. 

Peter Cock of Wilmot Mansour (Jetex before it was taken over by Sebel)  designed this shapely model in (I think)1953/54. 

Spaceship 4

 

Spaceship 5

Above: Jetex Space ship on display, and on its fearsome spring-loaded launch pad.  (Both photos from Mike Ingram's archive).

 

Peter Cock 

Above:  One of Jetex's most brilliant designers was Peter Cock.  This photo from the 1950's shows Peter at one of the many meetings where Jetex products were demonstrated.

Peter, seen above  with his equally famous Interceptor, told me he built three prototypes of the Spaceship to make sure it worked properly.  

The body was moulded balsa sheet, a feature of the Jetex 'Tailored' models. The scary plywood catapult was designed by Joe Mansour himself.  All in all, it was a pretty complex model and an expensive kit (more than a year's pocket money) at the time. It  was powered by the newly developed Jetex '50R':

J50R

J50R 2

 As long as this was properly loaded with grooved pellets and a yard (1M) or so of fuse, it could deliver about  5 oz ) thrust (about 1.5N for up to 5 seconds. 

This was enough to propel the spaceship to a couple of hundred feet before the spring-loaded catch opened and the parachute was ejected.

 Spaceship 6 

Above: The catch opens and (hopefully) the parachute comes out.  In its review, the Aeromodeller was highly impressed with the quality of the kit, but thought it was one for 'experts only'. Eagle, as will be explained below,were not impressed.  Or amused.   

There is more about the Spaceship's history at:

http://archivesite.jetex.org/models/kits/kits-other.html#spaceships

 

When the Spaceship was first marketed, Jetex  associated it with Dan Dare, the astronaut hero of that wondeful boys' comic at the post-war years, Eagle:

Eagle logo

However, Eagle for some reason objected to the appropriation of Dan Dare, its 'Pilot of the future'.  lawyers were called in, litigation was threatened and, not without great regret, all reference to DD was removed and Dan Dare had to be content, for the time being, with his Sondar-designed Anastasia.  So the box most modellers associate with Peter Cock's wonderful creation looks like this:

Spaceship 1 

 Which is how it appears even in a recent AeroModeller.  An original box has proved difficult to track down, so I was delighted to receive to receive high quality scans of a Dan Dare  box from Robert England (thank you, Robert).

 Robert's father had been a printer in the 1950's and had kept these test printings in his garage for over sixty years.  They only came to light when Robert was clearing his father's house.The quality of these prints is amazing, here is Robert's scan of the original box top for comparison to the bowdlerised version above.

Spaceship 2 

I am thrilled Robert's father (blessed be he!) thought to preserve these unique artefacts, and, calling upon all my skills in Paintshop pro, I have now prepared a montage from Robert's excellent scans: 

Spaceship 3 

 

Printed  in glorious Technicolor and suitably mounted, this work of art will make a grand addition to any Jetex enthusiast's workshop.  It can be printed (on quality photo pape)r at either A3 (recommended) or A4.

Please tell me if you would like a copy, which will only cost you only 5 GBP (cheap) to cover printing, and 3-6 GBP postage  (expensive) depending on where you live.

Onwards and upwards! 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  • Site Admin
    Site Admin Tuesday, 09 February 2016

    Greetings,
    Being of a certain age and having been introduced to Dan Dare by Eagle Comic vol1 number1
    I have amassed a collection of associated items and would dearly love to add a Dan Dare jetex spaceship. Realising their rarity any condition would be acceptable with or without box and a very high price paid . I trust that this plea is an acceptable comment re the above, If not I apologise.

    Best regards Roger.

  • Roger Simmonds
    Roger Simmonds Wednesday, 10 February 2016

    Hi Roger,
    be assured this is a perfectly acceptable comment - Dan Dare is a shared interest with some interesting connections with Jetex - after all, both Jetex and DD reached their heydey at the same tine, i.e. the 1950's.
    DD Jetex Spaceships are rarer than Professor Peabody's appearences in the Eagle after 'Trip to Trouble', but can be found occasionally on eBay. At a price, of course.

    The print of of the DD Spaceship box montage is however still available.

    Roger

  • TonyBrookes
    TonyBrookes Thursday, 28 July 2016

    The mention of Anastasia has set me thinking. Is there enough archive material anywhere to enable an Anastasia to be built as a fantasy scale model? Has anyone tried it? Could the design be made to fly at all? A tailless model with the wing at the rear would be a bit of a challenge, to say the least.

  • Roger Simmonds
    Roger Simmonds Thursday, 28 July 2016

    Hi Tony. Anastasia is available as a card model that was produced by Wallis Rigby for Presto many years ago. My friend Chris Richards flew one on a wire stretched between two trees. But free flight?
    Could a model of Anastasia be ever made to fly? Bruce Cornwell, one of the Dan Dare artists, claimed to have done just that:
    "While working for Frank Hampson, I did make a couple of models. One was a working model of "Annie", and I was taken off strip work for a week to complete the project. My orders were to produce an 18" hull with wings folded back that would actually fly. I protested about the wing position, but Marcus was adamant. I used balsa wood and the power unit was Jetex.
    The first one off the production line was not painted or highly finished. I launched it in the back garden and the Jetex did a fantastic job. Anastasia took off, did a great sweep over the trees and turned to the right. I never saw it again and had to start all over again.
    Without the extended wings it obviously had limited stability. But never mind, by the end of the week I took a finished Annie to Marcus's home for a demonstration. The craft shot across the lawn, followed by the dog with Marcus in hot pursuit. It must have been doing 30 mph, bouncing off the ground every so often with parts breaking off, and finally ending up in a rose bush. The dog was having hysterics and Marcus burnt his fingers when he picked up the craft. He decided there and then that it was too dangerous for children and thanked me for my efforts and that was the end of that".
    'Marcus' refers to the Reverend Marcus Morris, the editor of 'Eagle'. I myself can't see how it could have flown.

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