US 2708431 A
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May 17, 1955 N. E. WALKER CATAPULT Filed Jan. 19', 1952 IN V EN TOR.
Nvil Ze EWQ Lker United States Patent 2,708,431 CATAPULT Neville E. Walker, Portland, 0reg., assiguor to American Junior Aircraft Company, Portland, 0reg., a corporation of Oregon Application January 19, 1952, Serial No. 267,217 6 Claims. (Cl. 124-22) My invention relates to a catapult which is small enough to be held in one hand and which has an elastic launching mechanism particularly adapted to launch a miniature or toy airplane of the glider or free flight type. More particularly, this catapult carries a guided runway along which the elastic mechanism is extendible and a novel grip means is provided selectively for retaining or for releasing the extended elastic mechanism. These cooperative structures allow a launching operation to be initiated with a preselected force while the catapult is aimed at a preselected vertical angle or rotational tilt so the flight pattern of the miniature airplane can be predicted before launching and so this flight pattern my copending application Serial No. 238,115, filed July 23, 1951, now Patent No. 2,664,666, and entitled Acrobatic Toy Airplane. Another will be found in my United States Patent Number 2,364,498 entitled Weighted Gliders.
The above disclosed balsa wood gliders are basic examples of the products of the ready-to-fiy toy or miniature airplane industry. A majority of these products are sold to school age children. By practicing, such a child soon can learn to adjust and to throw a glider so as to accomplish various aerial acrobatics. For example, by adjusting the flight control surfaces and by varying the speed and angle of throw, a practiced child can direct the execution of loops, sweeping turns, spirals, and many other acrobatics and maneuvers simulating those of actual aircraft. The instant invention is directed to a mechanical device which will replace and will improve upon this conventional hand launching.
Having in mind the fact that the execution of acrobatics with a miniature glider calls for a great deal of skill and practice, one of the prime objects of my invention is to provide a mechanical catapult device which can be held in the hand and which can be varied both in speed of launching and in angle or direction of launching so that even an inexperienced or a very young child can accomplish such acrobatics. Thus, because less practice will be required to master the control of a glider and because longer and more intricate flight patterns can be made with the catapult, the market both for the glider and the catapult will be broadened and the sales volume will be enhanced.
In appreciation of yet another advantage of my invention, it will be understood that miniature glider type airplanes conventionally are marketed through hobby and toy shops and through department and variety stores. Because of the nature of the product, however, it hitherto has been impractical for inexperienced salespeople to demonstrate, indoors, the actual flight of such an airplane. In'fact, the danger of collision with customers, salespeople, and articles on display has caused many of these retail outlets to limit the active indoor demonstration of miniature gliders.
Another factor limiting the demonstration and, hence,
the sales volume of balsa wood gliders is that the average store clerk does not possess suflicient skill personally to launch the airplane so the flight will follow a preselected pattern. Accordingly, either the glider is not demonstrated or collisions with customers and salespeople and the loss of many gliders must be counted upon. The instant invention, however, overcomes these disadvantages. Thus, my catapult so directs the launching of a miniature airplane that a preselected flight pattern will be followed and collisions will be avoided. Further, because the device is mechanical in operation, the flight pattern exactly can be duplicated, time after time, even by an inexperienced store clerk. Indoor demonstrations, by a store clerk, thus are practical and the sales volume of both airplanes and catapults is increased.
In accomplishment of the above objects and in the securing of said advantages, my catapult provides an elongated frame member which is adapted to be held in one hand and which carries a channel indentation extending the length thereof to define a runway. The sides of the runway are bounded by laterally spaced guides and both an extendible elastic launching mechanism and the fuselage of a miniature airplane are receivable therein. Further, in cooperation with the elastic launching mechanism, I provide a trigger grip means which is movable, by the forefinger of the hand holding the catapult, between a position gripping the elastic mechanism and a position freeing the elastic mechanism for a launching movement. In use, the fuselage of a glider (or the shaft of an arrow or dart) is placed in the runway between the guides and the elastic launching mechanism is looped about the rear thereof. Thereafter, the elastic mechanism may be tensioned to eifect a launching movement of any desired velocity simply by moving the airplane and stretching the elastic mechanism back along the runway any desired distance, the force of the elastic being roughly proportional to the extension distance.
Further, the flight pattern of the miniature airplane can be preselected by tilting, adjusting, and aiming the catapult prior to the releasing of the trigger mechanism to launch a flight. In this manner, the airplane can be demonstrated in a crowded department store or a child soon can learn to accomplish a number of aerial acrobatics and maneuvers since the flight path may be preselected and predetermined with each of the variable launching factors being mechanically determinable. That is to say, when a miniature airplane is thrown by hand, the variable launching factors of tilt, angle of initial climb, and force or velocity all depend upon the judgment and muscular coordination of the person eflecting the hand launching. However, with the catapult of the instant invention, each of these variable factors is made dependent upon a mechanical structure which can be preset or preselected to an exact degree.
Another object of my invention is to provide a catapult which is shaped like a pistol and in which the release for the launching mechanism is placed under the control of a trigger-like mechanism so the catapult rests easily within the hand and the manipulation thereof will come naturally to a child or an inexperienced store clerk.
Other objects and advantages of my invention will become apparent in the following description, taken with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
Figs. 1 and 2 are related top and side views of a catapult made in accord with my invention, these figures showing a miniature glider-type airplane in position for launching upon the runway of the catapult and showing,
the parts in a grip position prior to launching;
Fig. 3 is a detail view, taken substantially in the direction of the arrows 33 of Fig. 2, showing the slots at the sides of the runway, the guides for the runway, and the manner in which the elastic launching mechanism is secured to the frame when this mechanism takes the form of a rubber band or the equivalent;
Fig. 4 is a top view of the catapult showing the parts in the release position just after a miniature airplane or the like has been launched thereby;
Fig. 5 is a section view, taken substantially on the lines 55 of Fig. 4, better indicating the operative relationship of the trigger grip mechanism and the elongated runway mechanism; and
Fig. 6 is a section view, taken substantially on the alfords a minimal fabrication cost and allows a minimal 1 sale price commensurate with the market which the cata pult serves.
In order that the catapult easily may be held in the hand and manipulated by one finger to effect a launching, the frame member 7 is made in the shape of a pistol having an elongated barrel 9, a hand grip portion 10,
and an open finger guard 11. Further, the two halves 7a and 7b of the frame member are recessed so as to bound a hollow internal chamber 12 which extends through the barrel 9 and the hand grip portion it as shown in Fig. 5. This hollow internal chamber serves to house the trigger grip and release mechanism of the catapult as hereinafter will be explained.
Turning now to Figs. 4 and 5, it will be seen that an elongated channel indentation 13 opens from the top of the frame member and extends longitudinally the length of the frame to define a runway. In cooperation therewith a pair of elongated strips 14 extend laterally in and over the side margins of the runway and extend longitudinally of the frame member parallel to the runway to define a pair of laterally spaced guides. This guide function best is shown, in conjunction with a miniature airplane 17, in Fig. 1. Thus, the strips 14- overiie the runway 13 to bound a slot 15 at each side of the runway and,
as can be seen in Figs. 1 and 2, the fuselage 16 of the miniature airplane is roughly complementary to the width of the runway 13 so the strips 14 will act as guides along the sides of the fuselage when the airplane is launched. The slots 15 in turn, accommodate the legs of an elastic band or the like so the fuselage will not bind in launching.
To define an elastic launching mechanism, I prefer to employ a looped rubber band 18 and secure one end thereof to the frame member 7 by means of a pair of dowel pins 19. The two elongated legs of the rubber band extend longitudinally of the frame member within corresponding ones of the slots 15. Thus, as can be seen, each of the slots 15 provides a lateral width at least as great as the thickness of one leg of the rubber band. Intermediate the ends of the frame or barrel, the strips 14 are pierced by twin cutaway portions 20 (see Fig. 4) and the opposite end or connecting section of the rubber band spans the runway at this point. Yet further, a second pair of upstanding dowel pins 21 are arranged inside the loop of the rubber band 18 to define both a stop means and a spreader. That is to say, contraction of the rubber band terminates when the end thereof contacts the pins 21 and the desired lateral spacing of the legs of the rubber band is maintained in front of the cutaway portions 20 by the pins 21.
Returning now to the hollow chamber 12, I have shown an elongated trigger grip mechanism 22 which pivotally is. mounted therein as at 23. This member 22 extends vertically up to. intercept one side of the runway 13 and one of, theslots 15. as shown inFigs. 4 and 6. Where.
this interception is evident, a sloping recess 25 is formed in the side of the frame member and the trigger grip member 22 is provided with a tapered follower portion 24 which is complementary to the recess. Thus, the follower portion is wedge shaped so pivotal movement thereof about the pivot axis 23 will effect a cam-like or sliding coaction between the follower 24 and the sloping recess 25 to move the former laterally toward and away from the runway 13. in Figs. 1 and 2, the trigger grip member is shown in the forward or grip position and, in Figs. 4 and 5, it is shown in the rear or release position. If desired, a tension spring 26 may be provided to bias the trigger grip member toward the position of Figs. 1 and 2.
As is best shown in Figs. 1 and 2, the rubber band i3 is extendible longitudinally of the runway 13- to define a loaded position in which the looped end portion thereof lies beyond the end of the runway. Progressing rearwarclly along the runway (Fig. l), the legs of the rubber band are shielded by and lie within the slots 15. Rearwardly of the pins 21, however, one of the legs is forced inwardly against the side of the fuselage 16 and the other leg still lies within one of the slots 15. This disposition is caused by the grip and the contact of the tapered follower 24 with one leg of the rubber band. Accordingly, it will be noted that the trigger grip member 22 actually does not contact the fuselage 16 but, rather, frictionally engages the rubber band, in the bight thereof, and forces the fuselage against the opposite guide 14. This is an important feature of my invention because, in this manner, the inherent elasticity and frictional engagement of the rubber bandits is made to cooperate with the tapered follower 24 to retain the follower in the loaded or grip position. Further, the inherent elasticity of the rubber band, in the extended position, exerts a force longitudinally of the runway 13 from left to right in Fig. 1. This force and the friction grip of the tapered follower 24 with the rubber band wedge the follower more tightly between the sloping recess 25 and the leg of the rubber band. Thus, I need not employ complicated catches or the like to hold the miniature airplane 17 in place, yet the more the rubber band is extended, the greater the holding force of the tapered follower 24.
In use, it will be seen that a. portion of the trigger grip member 22 protrudes within the finger guard II as shown at 27 in Figs. 2 and 5. This protrusion and the pistol-like shape of the catapult, allow the device to be ield in one hand and to be fired, to effect a launching movement, merely by pulling rearwardly on the trigger portion 27. Thus, even a small child or an inexperienced store clerk will possess sufiicient mechanical know-how to operate the catapult.
To illustrate a typical launching operation, let it be assumed that the miniature, glider type airplane 17 of Figs. 1 and 2 is to be flown in a preselected flight pattern. Firstly, the main wing 28 of the airplane will be shifted fore or aft in a slot of the fuselage 16. This adjustment will determine the location of the center of lift in relationship to the center of mass of the airplane as is well known to those skilled in the art.
After the wing is adjusted, the fuselage 16 is fitted in the runway 13 so that the rear of the fuselage is at a point just forward of the cutaway portions 20. Thereafter, the airplane is moved rearwardly along the runway and the back of the fuselage picks up the connecting section or transverse portion of the rubber band 18 and carries it along. This, of course, extends the rubber band and the further the airplane is moved rearwardly, the greater will be the force and velocity of launching. Further, as the airplane is moved rearwardly in the run-.
way, the rubber band 18 slides over the surface of the tapered follower 24. However, once the desiredlaunching position has been achieved. and the. airplane. is released, a. slight. forward movement. thereof will cause the tapered follower 2d to wedge tightly between the sloping recess 25 and the fuselage (against the bight of the rubber band) to prevent further forward movement of the airplane. Spring 26 may help the wedge.
To launch the airplane, the catapult is held in the hand and the desired angle and rotational tilt of launching is preselected by moving the hand and the catapult accordingly. For example, a sharp left bank of the airplane may be initiated merely by tilting the catapult to the left so the airplane is launched at a high velocity in the correct attitude to achieve this maneuver. With the catapult arranged as desired, a rearward force is exerted on the portion 27 of the trigger grip mechanism (see the arrow 29 in Fig. 5). A pull on this trigger portion will release the tapered follower 24 to allow the elastic launching mechanism to contract and project the airplane forwardly along the runway at high velocity. As the airplane leaves the runway and the rubber band contracts, the loop of the latter will catch on the two pins 21 to reset the rubber band in position for reloading. At the same time, the tension spring 26 will move the trigger grip mechanism 22 forwardly from the position shown in Figs. 4 and 5 to the position of Figs. 1 and 2. Thus, an automatic reset of the entire operating mechanism of the catapult is effected immediately after each launching operation.
From the above description, it will be seen that I have provided a catapult which will initiate a launching operation with a preselected force and which can be held in the hand and aimed at a preselected angle and tilt so the flight pattern of a miniature airplane can be predicted and so this flight pattern exactly can be duplicated time after time when desired. By using this catapult, in contrast with hand launching, a child soon can learn to fiy a predetermined flight pattern and a store clerk, with little experience, can learn to demonstrate a miniature, glider type airplane in a crowded department store.
1. A catapult, comprising an elongated frame member having a looped elastic band launching device secured adjacent one end thereof and extensible longitudinally thereof, and a grip means pivotally mounted adjacent the other end of said frame member frictionally and compressively to pinch and engage said looped elastic band externally of the bight thereof, said frame member other end having a sloping cam and said grip means including complementary follower means which is movable over said cam and laterally toward and away from the bight of said elastic hand during pivotal movement of the grip means.
2. A catapult, comprising a hollow frame member having an elongated barrel, a continuous runway extending longitudinally of said barrel and open to the top thereof, said runway having a pair of elongated slots opening laterally from the sides thereof and extending longitudinally along said barrel, twin cutaway portions opening to said pair of slots and housing vertical pins intermediate the ends of said runway, a sloping recess offset laterally from said runway and extending transversely of said frame, a grip means mounted pivotally within said hollow chamber and extending along said sloping recess for cooperation with the latter in selective lateral movement between a grip and a release position, and an elastic launching mechanism secured forwardly to said barrel and extendible longitudinally back along said pair of elongated slots and under said cutaway portions past the said vertical pins.
3. A catapult, comprising a hollow frame member, a continuous runway extending longitudinally of said frame and open to the top thereof, said hollow frame bounding a hollow internal chamber, and a trigger grip means mounted pivotally within said hollow chamber for selective lateral movement between a grip and a release position, respectively, to abut and clear said runway, a sloping recess ofiset laterally from said runway and extending transversely of said frame, said trigger means including a tapered wedge-shaped follower complementary to and slidable over said sloping recess during pivotal movement of said trigger means selectively to move said follower laterally into abutment with said runway.
4. A catapult, comprising a hollow pistol-shaped frame member having an elongated barrel, a continuous runway extending longitudinally of said barrel and open to the top thereof, said runway having a pair of elongated slots opening laterally from the sides thereof and extending longitudinally along said barrel, said hollow frame bounding a hollow internal chamber, a trigger grip means mounted pivotally within said hollow chamber for selective lateral movement between a grip and a release position, respectively, to abut and clear said runway, elastic means for biasing said trigger to said grip position, and a looped elastic band launching mechanism secured forwardly to said barrel and extendible longitudinally back along said pair of elongated slots past said trigger means, said trigger means including a tapered follower complementary to and slidable over said sloping recess during pivotal movement of said trigger means selectively to move said follower laterally toward said runway and against an intermediate portion of said looped extended elastic band.
5. A catapult, comprising an elongated frame member, an elongated channel indentation opening inwardly from the top of said frame member and extending longitudinally the length of the frame to define a runway, a pair of slots indented laterally from the runway and extending longitudinally of the frame member, an elastic mechanism secured to one end of said frame member and having a U- shape defined by two elongated legs and a connecting section, said elastic mechanism legs extending longitudinally of the frame member within corresponding ones of said slots, and trigger means selectively for gripping compressively one of the extended legs to retain the elastic mechanism in said loaded position and for releasing the said one leg to permit return of the elastic mechanism to a release position, a stop means intercepting said slots intermediate the ends thereof and arranged inside said elastic mechanism U-shape to define the release position of the latter.
6. A catapult, comprising an elongated hollow frame member bounding a hollow chamber, an elongated channel extending longitudinally the length of the frame to define a runway, a pair of elongated strips extending laterally in and over the side margins of said runway channel and extending longitudinally of the frame member parallel to said runway to define a pair of laterally spaced guides, said runway and guides together bounding a pair of slots indented laterally from the runway and extending longitudinally of the frame member, and a rubber band launching mechanism secured to one end of said frame member and having two elongated legs and a connecting section, the legs of said rubber band extending longitudinally of the frame member within corresponding ones of said slots, said connecting section spanning said runway when the rubber band defines a release position, said rubber band being extendible longitudinally of the runway to define a loaded position in which said connecting section lies beyond the end of the runway, and a wedge-shaped trigger means selectively for gripping compressively one of the extended legs to retain the rubber band in said loaded position and for releasing the said one leg to permit return of the rubber band to a release position.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 222,216 Washburne Dec. 2, 1879 262,981 Reed et al. Aug. 22, 1882 1,597,532 Mentzer Aug. 24, 1926 2,279,457 Gensmer Apr. 14, 1942 2,634,549 Langos Apr. 14, 1953