Scratch-built 1/72 Gresci Helicopter - 1934

Gallery Article by Gabriel Stern on July 16 2009


The Argentineans strike again
    Another jewel found in the AAHS Journal (Spring 1968), the Gresci (or Greschi, or perhaps even Grescci) helicopter imposes its towering beauty upon the modeling unwashed masses.
  Only two photos can be found in the Journal, of the often-seen blurry/grainy quality, but hey, better than nothing. I found nada on other sources on this very obscure subject, including the ever-providing Internet.
  Mr Gresci, as stated in the Journal, also designed the 50 hp rotary engine that was supposed to propel the artifact, but apparently choked and died in the valiant attempt of performing its duty.
  Now, you will see rotor blades, wings, sponson-like elements, a kiosk… You may see Frankenstein. I see Sheer Beauty.

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  Apocryphal statements that affirm that the Kiosk was used to sell ice-cream, or that the whole concoction was indeed a “Calesita” (Merry-go-round) must be dismissed.
  It is not obvious in the photos how would you access the apparatus, but I think that you just simply put it on, like a hat. Or perhaps you used the oval windows. Or perhaps the door was in the other side of the photo. I turned around the photo but I found only white paper there.
  The interior is also a mystery. Only the rotor/engine shaft seems to continue through the kiosk-like structure. And mysterious will it remain, since I painted it a dark color. It is surely certain that some Yerba Mate was wisely allotted, though.
  The whole thing was covered in what looks like a silver-doped canvas, and the Argentinean cockade can be found underneath at least one of the rotor blades.
  The model:
  Nihil novum sub sole. Almost. The usual styrene sheet engraved and folded to create the flying surfaces, a scratch engine which cylinders were made scoring a rod on the Dremmel, carved bamboo sponsons and metal bits. The Kiosk, though, was made with styrene sheet, but then an aluminum tube was inserted vertically and a canopy-like structure was build with wire –see images-. Then the gaps were filled with “window maker” and later given an additional coat of white glue. That created a realist scalloping without the need of using even more cruel construction methods.
  The rotor hub was made with a square-section aluminum rod, with and inserted round tubular section. Then tiny holes were drilled through in order to insert the blade axles.
I am proud to say that I drilled my thumb only once.
  Yet another wonder is brought to the light from the most inaccessible and obscure crags of aviation history.
  May all of them shine under the bright sun of recognition.
  And now as a bonus track, a brief biography:
  The great Greek philosopher, modeler and olive pitter Styrenides (V century B.S.) in the eleven volumes of his “Brief Comments on How to Better Understand Why the Cutter Fell Exactly on Your Foot With its Pointy End Down” describes, in parables, the fascinating world of model-making.
       Styrenides even includes some paragraphs dictated by his wife, Methyl Ethyl Ketone –presumably under the threat of the imminent fall of a kitchen rolling pin- about the delights and secret pleasures of finding very small parts that (as it is explained in the Theory of the Membranes) are snatched into parallel dimensions.
   Fame nevertheless systematically eluded Styrenides. The cause may be found in the fact that his scale model airplanes were made before the airplane itself was invented. Or perhaps one could argue that Styrenides had to carve his vast literary production in stone, mainly in the frontispieces of public buildings, for which he was accused of engraving graffiti.

   Styrenides was eventually ostracized to Argentina , which was indeed a very harsh punishment; but since Argentina at that time neither existed nor could be reached, he managed to stay home.
   At the end of his hard-working life he repudiated model-making and took on politics, becoming instantly rich and famous and appearing at guest-shows in a number of amphitheaters.

Gabriel Stern

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Photos and text © by Gabriel Stern