Winning 1930 Boeing P-12B

The talk of the 1930 Airplane Model Contest is on exhibit in the museum from now until Labor Day 2016.

The 15:1 scale Boeing P-12B has a 24" wingspan.  Currently only part of the fuselage is covered, allowing the workmanship to be seen.
Bill Chaffee’s 1930 Boeing P-12B static model airplane. Photo Cecelia Pettigrew.  (See here for more photos!)

The Boeing P-12B had just begun operations for the United States Military in 1930.  That same year that William Chaffee built a scale version for the Airplane Model League of America (AMLA) Airplane Model Contest.

Chaffee’s version has the required 24” wingspan of models entered into the AMLA’s scale contest, and, as also required, was built from plans approved by the AMLA.  He put in 500 hours’ worth of work into the model, his attention to detail including working control surfaces moved by mechanisms in the cockpit.  Out of the 100 points total each model could earn, Chaffee’s P-12B got 97 – and 1st place.

Bill Chaffee's Certificate of Distincition for his 1st place win in Senior Scale at the 3rd National Contest held by the AMLA.
Bill Chaffee earned 97 out of 100 possible points for the detail and workmanship he put into the Boeing P-12B. This certificate documents his win.  Scan from Bill Chaffee’s scrapbook, courtesy of the Chaffee family.

Newspaper accounts after the event noted the model “amazed veteran fliers, who viewed the scale models at the Statler hotel, for it was so true to exactness in every detail that it appeared to have been built at the Boeing factory.”

"Dayton Boy Wins" claims this small, undated newspaper blurb from an unnamed newspaper.
“Dayton Boy Wins” claims this small, undated newspaper blurb from an unnamed newspaper.  Scan from Bill Chaffee’s scrapbook, courtesy of the Chaffee family.

Chaffee won $200.00 cash, a silver trophy and a six week trip to Europe.

The silver loving cup has a long inscription about the contest and William H. Chaffee's name engraved along the bottom curve.
William H. Chaffee won this silver 1st place trophy for building the best static scale model in the senior division of the 1930 AMLA Airplane Model Championships.  Photo by Cecilia Pettigrew.

The trophy, along with scans of the passport used on the trip, and the competition scorecards are all on exhibit with Chaffee’s Boeing P-12B in the Nats exhibit at the museum this summer.

A young man smiles at the camera holding his complete P-12B.  The photo is dated June 16, 1930 11:15 AM.
17-year-old Bill Chaffee poses with his winning Boeing P-12B on June 16, 1930.  Photo courtesy of the Chaffee family.

Thanks to Ellen Earle-Chaffee, Henry Chaffee, and Clark Chaffee for allowing the museum to show this special part of model aviation’s history.

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  1. Thank you to my brother Hal, AMA, and the museum for honoring my father in this way. The model was a familiar sight when growing up but it is only recently that I’ve become aware of the full story. Dad was a remarkable man. It is nice to have this part of his youth shared and remembered by the model airplane community.

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