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1932 - 1940s

Skybirds was an early (1930s) range of 1:70/1:72 scale model aircraft kits and accessories (also available pre-built) made by A.J. Holladay & Co. Ltd. of London, run by Alfred J. Holladay. Much or all of the range was designed by A.J. Stevens.

The range, made from wood, was produced from 1932 until the 1940s (when their property was destroyed in the Blitz), and predated the more modern plastic 1:72 model aircraft ranges later made by Airfix and Revell.

1933: Skybirds Aerodrome. "Make a complete aerodrome or wartime scene. Constructive 1/70 scale model."

Skybirds, miscellaneous

  • 31 – Set of Working Materials
  • 37 – Painting Outfit – (Nov 1932)
  • 37 – Improved Painting Outfit (replaced set issued in November 1932)
  • 37A – Shadow Painting Outfit – (Mar 1939)
  • 39 – Clear cellulose – (Apr 1934)
  • 40 – Skybird Tube of Durofix
  • 41 – Plastic paste
  • – Constructive Glass Show-cases (3 sizes)
  • – Embossed Seals
  • – Lubricating Oil Cabinet
  • – Transfers (96 letters)
  • – Tube of Croid


Skybirds are widely credited with inventing the very useful 1:72 scale for model aircraft, which became adopted as a default scale for aircraft modelling by companies such as Airfix.

The scale seems to have been based on a misunderstanding of Britains Ltd.'s "standard scale", 1:32. Stevens apparently guessed that a roughly two-inch Britains figure represented a six foot soldier, giving a "twelves-scale" scale of 1:36, which then "half-sized" to give 1:72, a sixth of an inch to the foot.

The early Skybirds range was promoted as being 1:70 scale, and then migrated through a scale of "nearly 1:70" before being reclassified as 1:72 from mid-1933 onwards.

1939 Catalogue review


As mentioned in our issue last month, A. J. Holladay and Co. Ltd. have issued a new Skybird " list. We have now received a copy of this. It has been fully revised and brought up-to-date, while several new models have been added to the range. These make aeroplane construction simple, but for those people who do not wish to make up their own models they can be obtained ready assembled and painted. They range in prices to suit all pockets from "Hawker Fury," Sopwith "Camel" and "S.P.A.D." (French), etc., at 2s., to the Fairy "Hendon" and Night Bomber at 12s. 6d. These are for constructional sets, and the models already constructed retail from 6s. to 27s. 6d. There is also a complete and simple set for juniors termed the "Aeronca" which retails at 1s. 6d. There is a full range of accessories, etc., including engines, cowlings, airscrews, transfers, working materials, paints, etc., military equipment, aerodromes and aerodrome accessories, as well as a complete series of anti-aircraft models. The latter includes complete A.A. Gun Unit at 4s. 6d., anti-aircraft at 1s. 6d., complete A.A. Searchlight Unit, Sound Locator Unit, A.R.P. Air Raid Shelter, etc. In the mechanized units there are armoured cars, whippet tanks, ambulances and Army lorries.

There is also a large range of "Skybird" strong, solid cast figures and "Skybird" flying models. Full details and lists can be obtained from A.J. Holladay and Co. Ltd., 3 Aldermanbury Avenue, London, E.C.2.

— , --, , Games and Toys, , May 1939

June 1941: Skybirds relaunched


We are glad to be able to report that our advertisers A. J. Holladay and Co. Ltd. have now settled in their new premises and have resumed production. It will be remembered that the former premises of this form were destroyed by enemy action in December of last year. In this issue they are advertising a scale model of the "Defiant," their latest production, and the name of this fighter typifies the spirit of the firm.

The new Headquarters address of the Skybirds League is 9, Southampton Place, High Holborn, London W.C.1. and Skybirds are anxious to get in touch with all modellersand members of the League. Owing to prevailing difficulties and the loss of the Skybird Trophies it has been necessary to postpone the Eighth Annual Model Rally planned for March next. It is possible that the North of Ireland Rally will be held, with a section open to all members in the United Kingdom. Modellers who are interested should write for further particulars to League Headquarters at the adddress already given.

— , -, , Meccano Magazine, , June 1941


  • A. J. Holladay & Co. Limited, 3 Aldermanbury Avenue, London EC2
  • OConnor Works Ltd, 135 Grays Inn Road, London WC1

James Hay Stevens

James Hay Stevens was only about eighteen years old when he started producing the first Skybirds designs, after which he seems to have thrown himself into the rapid expansion of the range.

In his later life, Stevens went on to become a highly respected aeronatics journalist and writer, and occasional artist.

See also

External links


This category has the following 7 subcategories, out of 7 total.



Media in category ‘Skybirds’

The following 13 files are in this category, out of 13 total.