The Jim Walker Interceptor was the first folding wing glider by American Junior Aircraft

History of the A-J Interceptor
Jim Walker's Folding Wing Glider

American Junior Classics Home PageFolding Wing Glider Patent PageJim Walker's Military Catapult Launcher for the Interceptor Folding Wing GliderJim Walker Workshop for Inventions and Experiments in model aviationContact Scott Griffith at American Junior Classics

During the 1920's and 1930's many a young man designed and built folding wing gliders. One of these men, Jim Walker, saw this as an opportunity to turn model aviation 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.

The Bell Aircobra provides inspiration for the Interceptor

P-39 Bell Aircobra was the inspiration for the Army Interceptor by American Junior
XP-39 had side-mounted air scoops to feed the rear-mounted Allison engine. This was the original inspiration for Army Interceptor.
P-39 Bell Aircobra Pursuit was redesigned and the side scoops removed but retained the classic lines mainly due to the rear-mounted engine design.

Also 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.

American Junior Army Interceptor a folding wing catapult launch glider by Jim Walker
Here is the 1939 Army Interceptor. Notice the styling inherited from the Bell Aircobra.

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. (See the military launcher in action)

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.

The last production run of Orignal Army Interceptors was completed by Frank Macy in November, 2004.
Using original American Junior Factory stock, these are very unique model airplanes.

 

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