General History of the Bing Autoplan
A 1914 Bing Autoplan recently donated by Dick Moyer is the oldest original model aircraft in the museum’s collection. With no covering, flaking paint and dents, the model is only in fair condition. We recently sent the Autoplan to the Intermuseum Conservation Association for conservation in the hope of stabilizing the model and restoring it to its former appearance.
The Bing Autoplan was developed and manufactured by the Bing Brothers, a toy company founded in Germany in 1863. The compressed air-powered model first debuted in the 1914 catalog as continuation of a line of rubber-powered flying toys that Bing had produced for several years.
As sold, the Autoplan was ready to fly and came complete with an air pump for filling the tank. The cost was 12 guineas, or in British pounds of 1915, 12 pounds, 60 pence. Converted to today’s British pounds and then to American dollars, the cost would be $1,368.74.
Flight Magazine, in the February 19, 1915 issue, has a lengthy commentary on the Bing Autoplan. It notes flaws in the design of the wings and chassis, but the quality construction of the motor and tank. More importantly, Flight credits Bing Brothers with making the manufacture of model airplanes a commercial success, something that companies in Great Britain had yet to do. Want to read the coverage yourself? You can at:
Flight Magazine’s coverage, January 1, 1915, pg. 17 – https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1915/1915%20-%200017.html
Flight Magazine’s coverage, February 19, 1915, pg. 135 – https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1915/1915%20-%200135.html
We have not been able to find any contemporary accounts of the model’s flight characteristics, but it did fly. Later comments indicate that it was difficult to trim, but that might be speculation.
It is unclear how long the Autoplan’s were manufactured, and how many were made. As of early 2014, museum staff know of four currently still in existence – ours, one in a private collection in the United States, one auctioned in Germany last year, and another about to be in the collection of the Spielzeugmuseum, a museum dedicated to the Bing Brothers Toy Company in Germany.