A Forgotten Japanese Range:
The Hope Engines
by Adrian Duncan
Chapter 1: Historical Overview
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Hover over photos for a description.
With this article, we begin the first-ever published major study in the English language of one of the now-forgotten Japanese model engine ranges—the Hope marque. In this initial chapter of our study, we will present an overview of the range and the historical context in which it became established, flourished for a time and then died.
Following the conclusion of WW2, the Japanese economy was in a shambles, as was the country's infrastructure. However, it was not long before reconstruction aid together with the economic boost stemming from the arrival of the predominantly American post-war occupying forces combined to re-awaken the enterprising spirit which had always been a characteristic of the industrious Japanese nation in "normal" times.
This re-awakening extended into all facets of the Japanese economy, including the field of model engine manufacture. It's vitally important to understand at this point that this was in every sense a re-awakening—unknown to most Western modellers, a thriving power-modelling scene had existed in Japan prior to WW2. In response to the consequent pre-war domestic demand, a number of commercially-produced Japanese engine ranges had appeared in the 1930's.
Most notable among these was the OS marque which had become well established in Osaka following its initial market entry in 1936 and had even succeeded in penetrating the pre-war US market to a small extent. But OS was far from being alone—there were quite a few other pre-war Japanese makers.
This situation has always been greatly under-appreciated in Western modelling circles because the pre-war Japanese power-modelling scene had been invisible to the non-Japanese speaking world due to language and political differences. But the fact is that many of those who became involved with model engine manufacture in Japan after the war actually had considerable prior experience in the model engine field. This was far from being merely a group of talented but inexperienced imitators who were learning on the job, as is often assumed—in fact, we're speaking here of a number of experienced power modellers resuming an activity that they already understood very well indeed.
Following the conclusion of WW2, the founder of the OS range, Shigeo Ogawa, wasted no time in re-commencing his pre-war business activities, with results which are still very much in evidence today. OS was soon joined by an offshoot of the Mamiya camera company, which anticipated the East German Carl Zeiss optical company by lending its name to an independently-produced line of model engines for some years. It was not long after this that the manufacturers of the Fuji range threw their hat into the ring. They were quickly joined by the Enya family who were to create one of Japan's best-known and most durable engine marques.
All of the above names are doubtless familiar to the majority of today's modellers. The OS and Enya companies are still engaged in the model engine business, albeit with very different and up-to-the-minute product lines by comparison with their early post-war offerings, reflecting the very different nature of the present-day modelling scene. The makers of the Mamiya range ceased model engine production in the latter part of the 1950's, but the Mamiya name remains famously associated with camera manufacture. The Fuji engines too are still around, albeit no longer made in Japan.
But there were other Japanese companies who entered (or in some cases re-entered) the model engine business after the war with high hopes of the kind of long-term success that attended the efforts of the above-named manufacturers but who were destined to depart the scene relatively quickly and be almost immediately forgotten. Only the more knowledgeable of today's model engine enthusiasts will recall the names of TOP, Haru, Super Devil, Cherry and Boxer, to take just five examples. Our present study is focused upon one of the somewhat more durable yet still largely "forgotten" Japanese engine lines from the post WW2 decade—the Hope series.
The last Hope model engine came off the line over 50 years ago (as of 2009) and the origins of the Hope range are now very much obscured by the passage of time, at least as far as most observers in the English-speaking world are concerned. No doubt there are a few Japanese enthusiasts who know a great deal more than we do about the history of this now-obscure marque, and we would be delighted if the publication of this survey served as a catalyst for the sharing of further information on the Hope range. Indeed, that's one of our primary motivations in placing this material before our readers in the full knowledge that it must surely contain errors and omissions.
In the virtual absence of first-hand English-language references on the Hope range, the best that can be attempted at present is the documentation of the known range in technical terms, using a number of examples to which we have access as our primary information sources. We recognize very clearly that we may well be missing some Hope products of which we are presently unaware. Any further information from readers in this regard would be most welcome. In the meantime, the publication of such information as is presently available is surely better than doing nothing at all!
In developing the format for this in-depth survey, we were mindful of the fact that the information needs of our readers will vary considerably. Some will want only a capsule summary of the Hope range, while others will be interested in obtaining more detailed information on specific Hope models.
Accordingly, we have elected to accommodate the first group of readers by presenting the following broad overview of the evolution of the Hope range, mentioning the various models in the order and historical context in which they appeared but stopping well short of providing any detailed descriptions. We have also prepared a companion table which summarizes the presently-known Hope range at a glance for those requiring a quick reference. For the benefit of readers who are seeking more detailed information, each model mentioned in the overview chapter is provided with an active link that will take the reader directly to a detailed description of that model.
We wish to make it very clear that all dates given in this survey must necessarily be treated as speculative at best. There appears to be little doubt regarding the order in which the various models appeared, but there is no certainty whatsoever regarding the actual dates upon which they were introduced. We have simply suggested dates that appear probable to us based on the very limited evidence in our possession. We are very much open to well-informed correction!
OK, time to get started on our summary of this interesting and long-neglected model engine range. But before doing so, I'd like to go on record as stating that while I accept full personal responsibility for the content and conclusions set out herein, I couldn't have so much as attempted this study without the invaluable assistance and encouragement provided by my friends and colleagues Alan Strutt of England and David Owen of Australia. Ron Chernich has also assisted enormously through his editorial and cyber-formatting efforts. The contribution of these three gentlemen has been immense, and I freely acknowledge it here. Thanks, mates!
In The Beginning
The origins of the Hope range are very much obscured by a combination of the language barrier and the passage of time, at least in terms of accessible information in the English language. Our knowledge of this phase of the range's existence is limited to a few comments received from our Japanese colleagues regarding the existence of some kind of connection between the Hope range and the earlier Kotobuki engines. These very rare motors were apparently made in Saitama Prefecture (just north-west of Tokyo and today part of Greater Tokyo) either during or shortly after WW2. Their manufacturer was a certain Tekkosho Sato, who was reportedly involved with the subsequent establishment of the Hope range.
Sato-san's only reported Kotobuki product was a .29 cuin spark ignition model which bore a very strong resemblance to the later Hope B model—indeed, the similarities are too marked to be coincidental. My Japanese informants went so far as to state that Kotobuki (which means Grasshopper in Japanese) changed their name to Hope; the implication being that the Hope range simply represented a continuation of the Kotobuki range under an Anglicised name. This is certainly possible, although there are some rather tenuous indications (to be discussed in a subsequent chapter) that Sato-san may have joined forces with the Hope manufacturing operation following its establishment by others, bringing his Kotobuki 29 design to the table with him.
All that we can presently say for sure is that, like the rival Enya, Fuji, KO, and Mamiya concerns, the manufacturers of the Hope engines were located in Tokyo. They traded under the name Hope Engineering Company, at least in English-speaking markets. This information is to be found on the boxes in which the engines came, although such boxes seem to be quite rare today. Indeed, the engines themselves are far from common outside Japan, reflecting the fact that relatively few of them appear to have been sold outside their country of origin. It seems evident that for reasons which will forever remain obscure, the company never succeeded in mounting a truly effective international sales campaign like those of OS and Enya.
It's unclear exactly when the Hope range first appeared. There are however a few indicators from which some reasonable conclusions may legitimately be drawn. The earliest known Hope model (the Hope B) unquestionably started life as a spark-ignition engine and went through several variants in that form before being reconfigured as a glow-plug model. This implies that the range must have been founded during the spark ignition era, i.e., prior to 1948.
That said, the relative scarcity of surviving examples of spark-ignition examples of the Hope B by comparison with the somewhat more common glow variants implies that the line first appeared near the end of the spark-ignition era, perhaps only a year or so prior to the commencement of the transition to glow-plug ignition. The commonly-quoted range start-up date of 1947 seems entirely consistent with these observations.
1947—The Early .29 cuin Models
As noted above, the first identified product of the Hope company appears to have been the .29 cuin Hope B spark ignition model. As far as we can determine, there never was a Hope A, so it seems almost certain that the letter B referred to the competition class for which the engine was dimensioned.
The earliest form of the Hope B was a plain-bearing crankshaft rotary valve spark ignition unit of extremely simple design. The engine featured a sand-cast aluminium alloy crankcase and a blind-bored cast iron cylinder with integral cooling fins and radial porting. The cylinder was to all intents and purposes identical to that of the earlier Kotobuki 29 model, reinforcing the reported connection between the two models. The case too was generally similar, as was the overall form of construction.
Both the cylinder and the backplate of the Hope B were of the screw-in variety, no screws being used in the main assembly. A very neat enclosed timer was fitted, of a more advanced design than that used on the Kotobuki model. The engine was equipped with a metal back tank, as were many of the Hope models yet to come.
The design simplicity of the Hope B was by no means unique to the Hope range but in fact reflected a minimalist trait which pervaded Japanese technical thinking at the time in question. For the most part, both pre-war and early post-war Japanese technical designs in many fields reflected a primary concern with function rather than form. Basically, things were designed to do their job effectively while remaining as simple as the achievement of that goal allowed them to.
It was for this reason that Japanese model engines during this period tended to be considerably lighter, simpler and apparently less substantial than their overseas counterparts. However, their performance generally lagged little if any behind that of their heavier and more complex foreign competitors. The reputation for fragility that they deservedly acquired in these years was unquestionably due far more to the limited availability of suitable materials than to any design or construction shortcomings.
The Hope B will be described in detail in our separate chapter on the Hope .29 cuin models. For now it will suffice to say that from its beginnings in 1947, the design went through several variations in spark ignition form before being reconfigured (probably in 1948) as a glow-plug model. It passed through several variants in that form as well prior to its eventual replacement (likely in early 1950) with the first of the "New 29" models to be mentioned below.
The Hope B name was cast in relief onto the right side of the engine's crankcase. It seems worthwhile pausing at this point to explain the significance of this fact. Prior to the conclusion of WW2, the use of non-Japanese ciphers on Japanese products was forbidden by the Japanese government. But as soon as that prohibition ended, Japanese manufacturers began to fall over themselves using Anglicised names for their products. In doing so, they tended to name their engines from a completely different perspective to that of their Western counterparts. The chosen names often reflected the related concepts of excellence and progress, as exemplified by such evocative names as TOP, Top Class, Great Leap Forward, Cherry, Mighty and indeed Hope. An interesting example of the post-war evolution of these principles stemmed from the widespread pre-war and wartime use of Jin Puu (or Gin Fuu), meaning Great Wind—after WWII this evolved into Typhoon, a name which was used extensively in the 1950's by Enya.
To a large extent this process of Anglicization doubtless reflected the early post-war prevalence of anti-Japanese prejudice within the predominantly English-speaking countries, notably the USA, which had opposed the Japanese and sustained great losses in the bitter conflict of WW2. To any manufacturer harbouring the ambition of entering the international market, it may well have appeared wise to avoid the appearance of Japanese characters anywhere on either the engines or their packaging. Even the choice of names for the Hope line (Hope B, Hope New, Hope Super) appears calculated to "Anglicise" the products as far as possible. In the context of the times, this would be quite understandable.
Moreover, there was at the time a widely-held—yet increasingly unjustified—view among Japanese modellers that overseas modelling products were somehow superior, and the use of Anglicized names was doubtless intended in part to impart a certain International "cachet" to the products to which they were applied. Whatever the reasons, Japanese manufacturers were extremely quick to take maximum advantage of their post-WW2 freedom to use non-Japanese ciphers.
The Hope B appears to have been the "bread-and-butter" product of the new company, sales of which would keep food on the table and support the development of further models. It thus fulfilled a very important role for the new company during the initial start-up period. However, there were other forces at work in the Japanese modelling scene of the early post-war period, which Hope could not ignore. These resulted in the early appearance of the next Hope model to be produced—the Super Hope 60.
1948—The Super Hope 60 Arrives
It's particularly noteworthy that a very high level of attention appears to have been paid by early post-war Japanese manufacturers to the .60 cuin (10 cc) displacement category. OS, Super Devil, Mamiya and Enya all entered (or re-entered) the .60 cuin market in the five years following the conclusion of WW2, and it's a little-known fact that both Hope and KO did so as well.
This seeming Japanese preoccupation with the big-bore displacement category during the early post-war period deserves an attempt at some kind of rational explanation. It cannot have been motivated by expectations of mass domestic sales of such engines in the war-ravaged Japanese economy of the day, so we must look elsewhere for the reasons.
Firstly, it's necessary to recall that this displacement category had been very popular in Japan prior to WW2. OS made several such models prior to and during Japan's involvement in that conflict, as did the Great Japan Model Aeroplane Co. Ltd. with their popular pre-war K-Class models in 5 to 10 cc (.29 to .61 cuin) displacements. There was doubtless something of a "hang-over" effect in play—the individuals involved resumed their activities by designing, building and flying what they knew.
In addition, it appears likely that engines in this large displacement category were seen as "prestige" or "flagship" products that underlined the technical credentials of their manufacturers. Indeed, the majority of these big-bore post-war models were "racing" designs which were clearly directed towards the high-profile competition classes in which such engines could compete. The post-war emergence of control-line flying undoubtedly accelerated this trend.
It's also undeniable that there may well have been a desire on the part of the Japanese makers of these engines to show their WW2 conquerors that despite their recent defeat in war their capabilities and their competitive spirit remained undiminished. Such feelings would be completely understandable and would certainly add impetus to the efforts that so many of them made to create engines which could take on the best that their American occupiers could muster.
This point would be particularly emphasized if these engines could be showcased in the hands of Japanese modellers in successful competition with their American counterparts. It seems very probable that the achievement of competition success in the hands of Japanese modellers sat right at the top of the priority list for the manufacturers concerned and that sales (or perhaps even donations) to leading Japanese competition fliers would have been their primary goal.
But bragging rights and national pride alone would not have sustained the manufacturers. To actually earn a living, they had to sell engines in viable numbers and make a profit in doing so. To accomplish this, the selling price had be to be set sufficiently high for a profit to be realized on each unit sold, and a sufficiently large pool of empowered buyers had to be accessed.
This challenge was not new—a pre-war Japanese 9.6 cc engine had typically cost about 60-65 Yen, which translated into roughly US$20 at the then-current 1930's exchange rate of some 3.3 yen to the US dollar. Even in the USA, this would have been a high-cost "luxury" item in the pre-war period. In Japan, such products were clearly the exclusive province of "rich adult men", to quote well-known Japanese model engine icon Akira Fujimuro. Even so, there must have been quite a few "rich adult men" in pre-war Japan because there appear to have been numerous buyers for these engines during the years prior to Japan's entry into the war.
The Japanese post-war situation was considerably less favourable due to the extremely negative impact which the war had exercised upon the Japanese domestic economy and the consequent shortage at that time of "rich adult men". The value of the yen had plummeted and it was hard times all round, with economic survival as the main imperative. The purchasing of a high-priced "luxury" item such as a large model aero engine would not have ranked high on the priority lists of many Japanese citizens at this time. Furthermore, access to overseas markets was essentially non-existent during the early post-war period.
The situation facing Japanese manufacturers at this time was actually very much like that facing the post-war British makers of the Nordec series, North Downs Engineering, who charged over £10—a small fortune in post-war Britain—for their 10 cc racing engines at a time when significant export sales were not a reasonable expectation and times were tough on the home front. History tells us that the Nordec range survived for only a few years under these conditions, while the more successful Japanese manufacturers remained in business far longer and in some cases have stayed the course to the present day (2009). Logic persuades us that there must have been some other factor(s) at work here that made the difference. And indeed there were...
One such factor was undoubtedly the sudden arrival in Japan in 1945 of the numerous and predominantly-American army of occupation. American modellers had long been attracted to larger models, and it seems likely that the big-bore Japanese engines which appeared in the late 1940's and early 1950's would have attracted at least some attention from the numerous American service personnel having an interest in modelling.
These individuals had discretionary spending power far in excess of that of the average Japanese citizen in the war-ravaged Japanese economy of the day and thus constituted a ready-made customer base for those engines which were surplus to the requirements of Japanese modellers. In effect, the Americans acted as an "overflow" market for Japanese manufacturers and ensured that they would be able to sell all of these large and relatively expensive units that they could produce. There was no such overflow market available to Nordec in Britain.
Not only that, but the Americans could pay in dollars, which converted into a lot of the devalued yen of the day. So profit margins on sales to Americans could well be significantly higher than for domestic sales and hence might subsidize sales or donations to Japanese modellers. It also appears likely that the idea of getting some of these larger "prestige" engines into the hands of American modellers was seen by the more forward-looking emerging Japanese manufacturers as an excellent way of promoting their capabilities with a longer-term view towards export of their products to the North American market. Sound thinking if this was indeed the case, and it certainly paid off handsomely in the long run for at least some of the companies involved!
However, even this falls short of fully explaining the contrast between the respective fates of Nordec and early post-war Japanese makers such as Hope, Mamiya and OS. The most obvious factor here was Nordec's failure to diversify their engine manufacturing activities. In particular, they tied their future as engine manufacturers to a single market niche—the large racing engine. And they did so at a time when the market for such engines had already peaked and was in the process of shrinking—model tethered car racing was definitely on the decline and tethered hydroplane racing was always a fringe activity. This only left control-line speed fliers as potential customers for these engines, and they represented a very small market constituency among whom only the very best survived. Big stunt modelling was yet to catch on, and R/C models were the specialized province of the very, very few.
The post-war Japanese manufacturers were quick to recognize this situation and to diversify their production into more popular categories. This ensured them an adequate cash-flow for survival while allowing them to continue to produce limited quantities of their "prestige" big-bore models, primarily to showcase their capabilities. Thus the "popular" models paid the bills while the "prestige" big-bore models conveyed the technological message. Had Nordec followed suit and expanded their product line, they might well have survived far longer in the engine manufacturing field.
The Hope Engineering Company certainly followed this pattern. Having first established their "popular" product line in the .29 cuin category with the Hope B, they then jumped onto the large-engine bandwagon, producing a finely-crafted 10 cc rear disc valve racing-type model in both spark ignition and glow-plug versions while maintaining production of their bread-and-butter 29 model. This racing model was known as the Super Hope 60. It is perhaps the least known of the Hope engines, and we're immensely indebted to Alan Strutt for providing the detailed description of this fascinating unit which will be found in our separate chapter on this model.
The fact that this engine was produced in both glow-plug and spark ignition versions implies that it was most likely introduced in 1948. However, we cannot claim any certainty for this date—we merely cite it as the most probable date based upon the surrounding circumstances. This would make it a contemporary of the Nordec engines mentioned earlier.
Although a fine engine in its own right, it's extremely doubtful that the Super Hope 60 did much to bolster the financial position of the Hope Engineering Co. The Hope B was presumably their staple product at the outset, but long-term survival would undoubtedly require expansion of the range into other "popular" displacement categories. Based upon the presently-available evidence, it appears that the company management looked next at the .19 cuin displacement category as a potentially lucrative market area in which they might hope to compete successfully.
1949—The First Hope 19
At some point in the late 1940's the Hope range was further expanded by the introduction of the company's first .19 cuin design. It's impossible to be certain regarding the introductory date of this model, but the fact that it was a sandcast engine like its Hope B and Super Hope 60 counterparts suggests that it started life as a concurrent production.
Apart from the significantly more up-to-date design, the fact that there is currently no evidence whatsoever that a spark ignition version of the 19 was ever produced by the factory implies that it arrived on the scene in its sandcast form somewhat later than the Hope B and the Super Hope 60, most likely in 1949. It seems probable that it pre-dated the far better known Enya 19, which first appeared in early 1950 as a sandcast model. It is perhaps best seen as a contemporary of the competing KO 19 model of 1948/49.
The new Hope 19 showed a considerable degree of design progression from the Hope B, abandoning the radial porting of its sibling in favour of the far more fashionable loop scavenging. The screw-in backplate and associated back tank were retained, but the cylinder was now secured by screws and a separate cylinder head was employed in place of the former blind bore. This resulted in a substantially improved combustion chamber configuration.
A detailed description of this very rare engine will be found in our separate chapter on the Hope .19 series. The relative scarcity of surviving examples suggests that it was in production for only a relatively short time.
1950—The Die-casting Era Arrives
As always, it's impossible to be certain about dates, but it appears reasonable to suppose that it was in early 1950 that Hope initiated the next major step towards enhancing their manufacturing capacity and hence broadening their potential sales base. This was the general application of die-casting to the production of their range.
By this time it seems certain that the Super Hope 60 was no longer in production. The range now consisted of the two previously mentioned sandcast models in the popular .19 and .29 cuin displacement categories. The reception of these models in the domestic marketplace had clearly been sufficiently positive to justify further development of the engines and improvements in production technology.
And indeed improvements were necessary by this time if Hope was to retain any kind of market share—their rival Japanese manufacturers had by no means been idle! Mamiya, Fuji, KO and OS had all introduced new glow-plug .29 models in 1949, and all of these handily outperformed the by-then out-dated Hope B. In addition, KO had an OK-influenced die-cast .19 glow-plug model on offer, and Enya had made a decisive entry into the .19 market at the beginning of 1950 with their original sand-cast 19 model. Altogether, the competition facing Hope was becoming increasingly stiff in both of the displacement categories in which they remained active.
To their credit, Hope's response to this situation was both vigorous and seemingly effective. They quickly produced a completely revised .29 model in the form of the Hope "New 29" and also developed a rather less radically updated revision of their original .19 model. Both of these revised designs were based upon die-cast alloy components, indicating an expectation that production figures would increase in response to demand for the updated products.
The die-cast .19 model was generally very similar to its sand-cast predecessor, merely being cleaned up a little. By contrast, the original "New 29" model was a refreshingly different design which featured a horizontally-split crankcase. This feature allowed the exhaust stack to be positioned on either the left or right side, perhaps to accommodate American or European market tastes.
The cylinder retained the integral cooling fins and blind bore of the Hope B but now featured loop scavenging in place of the former radial porting. It was secured to the upper crankcase casting with a pair of internal spot welds in a fashion somewhat reminiscent of the American O&R models, although in the case of the Hope New 29 these welds were applied from inside the bore and hence were externally invisible. The screw-in backplate and back tank were carried over from the Hope B to the new model, but the tanks were now anodized red. Interestingly enough, a very few early examples of this model were produced using castings having a significant magnesium content as opposed to the usual aluminium alloy components.
Detailed descriptions of both of these new designs will be found in the chapters on the Hope .19 and Hope .29 models respectively.
During this period, the engines were attractively presented in red-and-yellow boxes with black lettering. The instructions were supplied both in Japanese and English, indicating ambitions to market the engines outside Japan. However, it seems clear that the domestic market remained of primary importance, and my Japanese sources tell me that the Hope range enjoyed considerable popularity in Japan during the early 1950's. This is borne out by the fact that development of both models continued throughout this period. Without encouragement from the marketplace, it's hard to see this occurring.
1952—The Range Is Further Updated
In the latter part of 1952 the Hope New 29 was updated through the provision of a revised cylinder design with cast cooling fins, a separate cylinder head and an improved combustion chamber. Details of this model will be found in our companion chapter on the Hope .29 models. At roughly the same time the cylinder of the companion .19 model was also slightly revised. This model too will be fully described in the accompanying chapter on the .19 series.
However, these changes were insufficient to counter the parallel moves of other domestic manufacturers, most notably Enya. In April 1952, Enya had introduced their first .29 cuin model, the famous sand-cast Red Head "Typhoon 29" model. They were closely followed by Fuji with their greatly-improved loop-scavenged die-cast 29 Silver Arrow model. Enya then commenced the development of a completely revised .19 model based on a die-cast crankcase. This significantly updated Enya .19 model was released in mid 1953 and was quickly joined by a similarly improved die-cast .29 model. Fuji and Mamiya had also joined the ranks of the .19 manufacturers by this time, and the word was most likely out that OS were working on the development of what was to become their famous Max-I 29 model as well.
It was time once again for Hope to choose whether to respond to these market challenges or to throw in the towel and move into other areas of manufacturing activity. To their credit, they chose to stand and fight. They did so with a completely revised and expanded range of engines in three displacement categories.
1953—The Hope "Super" Series
The completely revised Hope designs which now appeared were designated as the "Super" series by the company. There were revised designs in both the .19 and .29 cuin categories, and in addition Hope subsequently entered the popular .09 category as well.
It's not completely clear when these revised models appeared, but the preponderance of available evidence suggests that the "Super" Hopes began to appear in the latter part of 1953 in response to the challenges then being mounted by Enya and others. The style of the boxes in which the engines were marketed was also changed at the time of introduction of these "Super" models. The new box was decorated in a two-tone blue pattern with white bordering and a combination of yellow and white lettering.
The engines were identified exclusively in English on the boxes and English-language instructions continued to be provided, indicating an ongoing ambition to market the engines in the English-speaking world. The Hope Super 29 was so identified on the die-cast crankcase as well as on the box. This was in rather odd contrast to the Super 19 model, which was only identified as "Super" on the box.
At some slightly later point in time, most likely late 1954, a companion .09 model was released as well. We do not have direct access to one of these units at present, but available images show it to have been generally very similar in design to its larger relatives. By now the range had taken on a high degree of design consistency which had previously been missing.
The revised models were up-to-date loop scavenged designs of completely conventional layout—typical general-purpose lightweight glow motors of their day, in fact. The cast iron cylinders with integral cooling fins were retained, but the crankcases were completely revised. The screw-in backplates and back tanks of the earlier designs were gone, being replaced by conventional backplates attached using four screws. The externally-threaded needles were retained as they had been all along, but now had a flexible cable extension instead of the former solid thimble. The cases were given an attractive vapour-blast matte finish.
This family of engines was very well made and had a pleasingly neat and uncluttered appearance. Based on present-day testing, performance and durability were well up to then-current standards for plain-bearing general purpose engines of this genre.
The End Of The Line
The Hope "Super" models just summarized proved to be the final products of the Hope Engineering Co., at least as far as we are presently able to determine. It appears that a number of these engines were sold in the US market—I have encountered several old-timers who claim to have purchased them new in the States during the mid 1950's, and I also have a box bearing a price indication in dollars. However, it's clear that the results of Hope's international marketing efforts fell short of meeting expectations, and the company eventually decided to end its involvement with the model engine manufacturing industry.
The question of precisely when the Hope range finally disappeared from the scene remains unanswered at present. Such references as are available (quoted in the detailed descriptions presented elsewhere) confirm that the Hope "Super" models were still in production as of 1956, but at present that's as far forward as we are able to authoritatively trace the range. It's true that Hope models in the .09, .19 and .29 categories were included in the list of the world's model engines which appeared in early 1958 in the British publication "Model Aero Engine Encyclopaedia". However, inclusion in that list cannot be taken as evidence of ongoing production as of early 1958—a number of engines on the list were unquestionably out of production by that time.
What is certain is that the range had faded both from existence and from memory as of 1962, when "American Modeller" published its first Global Engine Review in its 1963 Annual released in late 1962. This very comprehensive Review was unattributed, but a great deal of internal evidence indicates that it was prepared by Peter Chinn. Indeed, there can have been few if any other individuals who were capable of assembling such a summary at that time.
Be that as it may, the Hope engines were not mentioned even retrospectively in the 1962 Review. It's clear that as of that year the range had been gone for some time. As we trust we've shown, there was not much wrong with the engines themselves, and they seem to have been relatively popular in Japan if reports from that country be true. They were also priced very competitively. We conclude that it was most likely a rather half-hearted and ultimately unsuccessful international marketing effort that persuaded the company that they were not riding a winner.
Hope's evident failure in this respect was doubtless caused at least in part by a rather insidious factor that was more or less unnoticed at the time. This was the now-recognizable fact that the world market for model engines had already peaked and was then entering the slow but steady decline which it has experienced ever since. In large part, this was driven by the increasing dominance of the R/C market which elevated the costs of participation in the hobby to new levels and had the unfortunate effect of imposing a "means test" upon would-be modellers which doubtless discouraged many (particularly the younger set) from becoming involved. Back to "rich adult men" again... the wheel was coming full circle.
In the new market that was being shaped by these forces, only the best-established, most diverse and most aggressively-promoted marques would survive. The death-blow was probably administered by OS and Enya, whose newly-introduced Max-II 29 and 29-III models respectively simply buried the Hope Super 29 in performance terms, as did Enya's Model 4003 in the .19 class and Model 3001 in the .09 category. This shortcoming performance-wise would undoubtedly have been an inhibiting factor as far as the enthusiasm of most distributors and retailers was concerned, and even the lower price of the Hope models would have been insufficient to offset this. In addition, there is no evidence that Hope ever produced an R/C version of any of their designs. It thus follows that any existing chain of distribution would be inclined to drop the Hope line as sales inevitably dwindled in the face of the competition from Enya and OS. The competing Fuji marque probably only survived this period due to its far greater diversity coupled with a better-established market presence and extremely competitive pricing.
Regardless of the reason, it seems certain that the Hope company finally abandoned its efforts to compete with the likes of Enya, OS and Fuji at some intermediate point in the latter 1950's. They were not alone in doing so—the competing Mamiya model engine range also disappeared from the field during this period, likely for similar reasons. If we had to give our "best guess" regarding the year in which production ceased, we would probably opt for 1957.
An unanswered question in relation to the cessation of production is whether Hope Engineering went out of business altogether or simply moved on to other fields. We would welcome any information from readers who may be able to enlighten us on this topic.
We also have to admit to a considerable degree of ongoing uncertainty regarding the dates of the various models described in this summary. It's unlikely that we're that far off with most of the dates given, but at present there are no guarantees! It would be of the greatest assistance if anyone having Hope instruction leaflets or promotional material in which different models appear in association could make scans of that material available to us.
Finally, we confess to entertaining lingering doubts regarding the completeness of the above summary in terms of the models covered. It appears to us to be not unlikely that there were Hope models of which we are presently unaware. If any reader is able to enlighten us in this regard, especially with a few images, we'd be extremely grateful! We will pass along any such information received, with full acknowledgement.
This completes our overview of the presently-known Hope models. We hope (groan!) that you've enjoyed this attempt to summarise one of the least-documented model engine ranges of the early post-war period.
We invite those readers who wish to obtain more detailed information to dip into the accompanying chapters on the various displacement categories, in which the various model are described in considerable detail. We also draw attention to the table which accompanies this chapter, since it contains vital statistics on all of the Hope models of which we are presently aware. In doing so, we repeat our earlier cautionary note to the effect that all dates given are best estimates only and the list may well be incomplete.
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