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The China Clipper is a moderately challenging Metal Earth model that consists of about 25 pieces on two sheets of metal. The first of three flying boats built for Pan American World Airways inaugurated the first transpacific air service in 1935, flying from San Francisco to Manila with stops in Honolulu, Midway, and Wake Island.
Each Metal Earth model is laser etched in meticulous detail on 11 cm (4.33") metal sheets. Pop out the pieces by hand (or use wire cutters to get especially crisp lines), bend the tabs using needle-nose pliers, and fit them together as shown in the simple pictorial instructions. For maximum dramatic effect, display your model on the LED Display Base or the Solar Spinner (sold separately, see the Related Products below).
Please note that Metal Earth models have sharp edges and are not suitable for small children. Metal Earth was originally called MetalWorks.
Are you curious...?
China Clipper (tail number NC14716) was the first of three four-engine Martin M-130 flying boats built for Pan American Airways. Pan Am took delivery on Oct. 9, 1935, at a price of $417,000 and promptly put the plane, in its day one of the largest in the world, into airmail service from San Francisco to Manila. Its inaugural flight plan routed China Clipper over the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, but the pilot realized that his plane would clear the construction project and flew under the bridge instead. He went on to Honolulu, Midway, Wake Island, and Guam before finally delivering 110,000 pieces of mail to Manila. Fred Noonan, who two years later would disappear with Amerlia Earhart, was the navigator.
During WW2 the Clipper was painted olive drab with an American flag under the cockpit and nicknamed "Sweet 16" after its tail number. It flew the transpacific route for eight years, until it crashed in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, killing 23 passengers and crew. The Civil Aeronautics Board chalked it up to pilot error. The Clipper lives on in film clips, though. The 1936 movie China Clipper, with Humphrey Bogart in one of his earliest roles, used a lot of documentary footage of the airplane, and it can also be seen in the 1937 comedy Fly-Away Baby and the 1939 adventure Secret Service of the Air.