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The Jetex 'Tailored' Kit series from Wilmot Mansour and Sebel

Promoted as "models of ease and beauty", the Jetex 'Tailored' Kits hold a special place in the affections of Jetex enthusiasts.



With their "pre-formed balsa skins" and "unique stringer-less" construction, the series of 'Tailored' Kits, first produced by Wilmot Mansour, then by Sebel, were the élite of Jetex scale models. The fuselage skin came ready-shaped in two halves, and each kit was complete with ready-cut keels, bulkheads, wing ribs "and all necessaries".

The moulded fuselage halves did not make for easy construction, and opinion remains divided as to whether they were good flyers or not.

  What you'll find here:

McDonnell Voodoo (1952)
Hawker Hunter (1953)
Supermarine Swift (1954)
Douglas Skyray (1954)
Douglas Skyrocket (1954)
North American YF-100 Super Sabre (1954)
Folland Gnat (1955)
English Electric P.1 (1955)
Hawker Hunter, Mach 1 + Series (1956)
Fairey Delta 2 (1957)
Lockheed F-104 Starfighter (1958)
Chance-Vought F8U-1 Crusader (1958)
Jetnik (1958)
Gloster Javelin (never released)
Gloster Javelin (Silhouette Series)
Supermarine Swift (Silhouette Series)

McDonnell Voodoo (1952)


- photo by Andy Blackwell, from the back of a 'Tailored' kit box

The Voodoo was Wilmot Mansour's first venture into the production of 'Tailored' kits. It was evidently successful enough to encourage the design of other models. Although it does not appear to lasted long in the Wilmot Mansour range, Sebel later revived and sold it.

The illustration is excerpted from a Jetex advertisement in the Aeromodeller Annual of 1953.
  • Length: 13½
  • Wingspan: 14½
  • Weight: ??.
  • Price: (1952) 7/9
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Hawker Hunter (1953)

Hawker Hunter (from WM ad)

- from a Wilmot Mansour advertisement, Aeromodeller, March 1955

The Hunter was one of the "Large Scale Series", designed, by Bert Judge, for a Jetmaster with augmenter tube.
  • Length: 25"
  • Wingspan: 20"
  • Weight: 4 oz.
  • Price (1955) 21/-
We have a full-size copy of the plan available for download.

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Supermarine Swift (1954)

Supermarine Swift (from WM ad)
- from a Wilmot Mansour advertisement, Aeromodeller, March 1955


Like the Hunter, the Swift belonged to the "Large Scale Series", designed for a Jetmaster with augmenter tube.
  • Length: 24"
  • Wingspan: 20"
  • Weight: 4½ oz.
  • Price (1955) 21/-
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Douglas Skyray (1954)

Douglas Skyray (from WM ad)
- from a Wilmot Mansour advertisement, Aeromodeller, March 1955


The Skyray was one of the "Mach 1 + Series", designed for a Jetex 50B with augmenter tube.
  • Length: 12"
  • Wingspan: 9¼"
  • Weight: 1¼ oz.
  • Price (1955) 10/6d.
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Douglas Skyrocket (1954)

Douglas Skyrocket kit contents - David Ranford

Note: A kit in good condition sold on eBay in 2006 for 121.00 ($211.00)

Like the Skyray, the Skyrocket belonged to the "Mach 1 + Series", designed for a Jetex 50B with augmenter tube.
  • Length: 11¾"
  • Wingspan: 7½"
  • Weight: 1½ oz.
  • Price (1955) 10/6d.
Douglas Skyrocket (from WM ad)
- from a Wilmot Mansour advertisement, Aeromodeller, March 1955

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North American YF-100 Super Sabre (1954)

Super Sabre (from WM ad)
- from a Wilmot Mansour advertisement, Aeromodeller, March 1955

Super Sabre kit box

Note the different model illustrations on the two kit box-tops! Since one photograph comes from the US (above) and the other from the UK (right), could it be differing marketing on the two sides of the Atlantic?


The Super Sabre, too, was one of the "Mach 1 + Series", but, being slightly smaller and lighter (though no cheaper) than its siblings, could be flown with either an Atom 35 or a Jetex 50B, each with augmenter tube.
  • Length: 10"
  • Wingspan: 7½"
  • Weight: 1 oz.
  • Price (1955) 10/6d.
Super Sabre kit contents

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Folland Gnat (1955)


- kit purchased by Steve Bage on eBay, 2007



Also joining the Mach 1 + Series in 1955, was this Folland fighter. Though designated as the Gnat, its shape was closer to the Gnat's prototype predecessor, the Midge. "This was one of the better flying models of the series," says Carlo Godel.

Like its fellow models in the Mach 1 + Series, it was also priced at 10/9.
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English Electric P.1 (1955)


- photo by John McKnight



1955 also saw the introduction to the Mach 1 + Series of the English Electric P.1, predecessor to the Lightning. 10/9 would also buy this kit in 1955 and this price was maintained at least until 1961.

The illustration at left shows the P.1 kit box with the two moulded skin halves.

A kit in good condition sold on eBay in 2006 for 101.00 ($176.00)

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Hawker Hunter (1956)

Hawker Hunter (from Sebel ad)
- from a Sebel advertisement, Royal Air Force Flying Review 1956

After Jetex production had passed from Wilmot Mansour to Sebel Products Limited ('J' Division), a smaller Hunter was added to the Mach 1 + Series, powered by a Jetex 50B with augmenter tube

It was advertised as the "latest of the world's easiest and most beautiful kits".
  • Length: ??
  • Wingspan: ??
  • Weight: ??
  • Price (1956) 10/9d.
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Fairey Delta 2 (1957)

FD2 (from Sebel ad)
- from a Sebel advertisement, Royal Air Force Flying Review 1958

A kit in good condition sold on eBay in 2006 for 127.00 ($222.00)

The Fairey Delta 2 was also a later, but very popular, addition to the "Mach 1 + Series", powered by a Jetex 50B with augmenter tube, and designed by Mike Ingram.

It was advertised as the "world's finest model of the 1132 m.p.h. world record-holding aircraft".
  • Length: 15"
  • Wingspan: 8¾"
  • Weight: 1¼ oz.
  • Price (1957) 10/9d.
We have a full-size copy of the plan available for download.

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Lockheed F-104 Starfighter (1958) F-104 Starfighter (from Sebel ad) - from a Sebel advertisement, Royal Air Force Flying Review 1958
Advertised in 1958 as "the most up-to-the-minute kit, in the finest Jetex tradition", the F-104 Starfighter was another later addition to the series.

Available for download we have a copy of the plan and an enlargement of the building instructions.

  • Length: 14¾"
  • Wingspan: 7¼"
  • Weight: 1 oz.
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Chance-Vought F8U-1 Crusader (1958)

F8U Crusader advertisement



Sebel also turned to the USAF for what was to be was the last scale model jet fighter produced in the 'Tailored' kit range, the F8U-1 Crusader.
  • Length: 12¼"
  • Wingspan: 8½"
  • Weight: 1¼ oz.
  • Price (1958): 10/9d.
Photo of F8U Crusader plan
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A Tailored oddity: Jetnik (1958)



- from a Sebel advertisement, Royal Air Force Flying Review October, 1958

Model Aircraft welcomed Jetnik with a brief review and illustration in its issue of July 1958.

The 'Jetnik' was advertised as "a Jetex 'Tailored' kit, complete with accurately die-cut parts [and] 2 pre-formed Balsa body shells", so it is obvious that it utilised the same method of construction as the other 'Tailored' kits. Like the Starfighter, it was one of the last 'Tailored' kits to be advertised, in 1958.

But the Jetnik (named in imitation of Sputnik?) is an oddity amongst the other 'Tailored' kits in that it's (presumably!) not a scale model of an actual aircraft. The advertisement calls it a "Rocket Powered Orbital [yes, orbital!] Satellite" and describes its operation:

[The Jetnik is] a real Jetex-powered working model of a 2-stage rocket-launched satellite. Initial take-off thrust is provided by an elastic powered-catapult; the main first-stage body falls away automatically leaving the Jetex-powered satellite nose section to rocket vertically to an altitude of up to 300 ft.
  • Length: 11½"
  • Width over fins: 5"
  • Weight: 1 oz.
  • Price (1958) 7/11d.
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One that never was: Gloster Javelin


- photo by Rocky Simmonds

A 'Tailored' design that never made it to the production stage was the Gloster Javelin. The photograph shows the surviving remains of the prototype, presently in the possession of its designer, Bert Judge.

At least, its somewhat battered state affords us a view of the internal construction of the wings. At the same time, the fact that the fuselage has survived intact is a tribute to the inherent strength of the unique 'tailored' moulded balsa formation.

It's interesting to compare this 'might-have-been' Javelin to the one that was actually produced by Jetex, in the so-called Silhouette Tailored Series.

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The Silhouette Tailored Series: Javelin and Swift

Silhouette Javelin and Swift (from WM ad)
- from a Wilmot Mansour advertisement, Aeromodeller Annual 1953


Wilmot Mansour leveraged the success of their 'Tailored' series by appropriating the label for marketing a pair of profile kits, a Javelin and yet another Swift. Marketed as "simple and sturdy for flying for fun", both were designed for Jetex 50 power.

Richard Woods recalls the "exceptionally effective profile Javelin. With scratchbuilt and sectioned wings (very light balsa thinly cambered) it could be induced with elevator to do a full loop off a soft hand launch into a light breeze and recover with about 20 feet of air still under it!".

  • Length: 14"
  • Wingspan: (Javelin) 12" (Swift) 10½"
  • Weight: ¾ oz.
  • Price (1955) 4/9d.
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Acknowledgements

Illustration sources:
- Advertisements in the Aeromodeller issue of March 1955 (p. 118) and the Royal Air Force Flying Review of December 1956 (p. 60), December 1957 (p.50), and October 1958 (pp. 7, 52); photograph of Super Sabre kit (b/w): Rocky Simmonds.
- Photograph of Voodoo and Gnat (from kit box back): Andy Blackwell
- Photograph of Skyrocket kit: David Ranford
- Photograph of Crusader plans: Allen Hunt
- Photograph of P.1 and Super Sabre (col.) kit: John McKnight
- Advertisement in the Aeromodeller Annual of 1953: ??
Information sources:
- Carlo Godel, Allen Hunt, Marty Richey, Rocky Simmonds, Mike Woodhouse, Richard Woods
Plan sources:
- Rocky Simmonds
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