Build your first flying scale Jet - Chapter 5 - Covering the fuselage

The F-84 fuselage is rather trickier to cover than the flat-sided Comper Swift. It is possible to cover round fuselages like this using just two strategically dampened pieces of tissue - one each side, but it is rather tricky. Usually I cover in separate strips between individual pairs of stringers, so that is what I will show here.

There are many ways to stick the tissue to the airframe, of which the dope/thinners method I use is just one. For example glue stick or thinned PVA wood glue can be used, which avoids the smell. As I have a very understanding wife, I'll be covering with my usual method of applying a couple of coats of sanding sealer to the airframe, then flooding thinners through the tissue to adhere it. The sanding sealer should be applied to the whole fuselage where the tissue will be attached, including the sheeted areas. On the wings, you just need to brush the sanding sealer on the leading edges, trailing edges, root ribs and wing tips. Sand smooth after the first coat, and then brush on a thinned second coat.

Let's start with one of the two short strips needed in front of the motor trough. Here you can see a tissue strip cut roughly to shape. For the first piece you can overlap both stringers.

Position the strip and hold in place with one hand while brushing dope thinners through the tissue. This reactivates the sanding sealer making it sticky.

While the tissue is still wet with the thinners, smooth it out on the model and push onto the stringers to stick it down. Here I am working towards the nose.

At the nose sheeting, just carry on smoothing the tissue over the sheet. On a double curved sheeted area you may need to dampen the tissue with water before flooding the tinners through it, but I didn't find this necessary on this model

When dry, the excess tissue either side of the stringers is trimmed with a new scalpel blade (you can stick it in a handle if you like).

The first piece of tissue safely attached

Before adding the next strips we have to carefully paint on a bead of sanding sealer along the two stringers we have just covered - if we don't, the next pieces will have nothing to stick to.

The next tissue piece is the same shape as the last one, but this time we must have one neat edge which fits along the stringer adjoining the piece we just put on. Start by using a steel rule to cut a straight edge at one side of the tissue piece, then test fit on the model. Usually a bit of further trimming is necessary to get it to sit exactly along the stringer. A small overlap will not be too noticable though, especially as because we are covering from the bottom up, all overlaps will point downwards. Overlaps on the sheeted section can be as generous as you like - they are not critical.

Here the second piece is stuck down into position

The free edge is trimmed level with the edge of the stringer.

The next strips are full length ones running alongside the motor trough. The piece has been cut to shape - it only has to exactly match the shape of the stringer where it sits next to the previous piece of tissue. Remember to add the bead of sanding sealer to the stringer you covered with the last tissue section first.

Tissue soaked with thinners and pressed onto the structure. Plenty of overlap was left on this piece - I didn't cut it particularly carefully.

The front section has been soaked in thinners and smoothed over the sheeted nose.

Here everything has been neatly trimmed and the piece of tissue on the opposite side also added.

The procedure is repeated working up the fuselage sides. Here the bead of sanding sealer is being applied before adding the tissue strip below the wing mounting sheeting.

The strip of tissue at the mid point of the fuselage bridged two pairs of stringers, as the fuselage is quite flat at the sides. It has not yet been trimmed at the front and rear.

Nearly there now - just one more open bay each side to go.

And here is the completely covered fuselage. All the upper sheeted areas were covered in tissue as well, to get an even looking surface to paint onto.

As the model features butt jointed wings, you don't really want to be sticking them to the tissue, but rather to the sheeting behind the tissue. So, lines were drawn as shown between the location holes, then gentle cuts made along them with a scalpel. It was then possible to carefully peel away the tissue giving a bare balsa surface for the wing to be glued to. If the tissue is reluctant to come up, loosen the dope by brushing thinners onto the tissue.

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