Photo gallery 3 - some more of my models
Fairey Spearfish 22" span
This was built using the plan from the old Veron kit. I made one or two changes as follows:
Used a vac form canopy from Small Scale Custom Services (see useful addresses
Added the two recesses each side behind the cowling where the exhaust stubs on
the real thing were.
Altered the shape of the top of the fin to make it agree better with my scale
drawings (these were copied from the instruction sheet with the Contrail 1:72
scale vac-form plastic kit of the Spearfish). Also added a movable trim tab
to the fin.
Made a pair of balsa main wheels of a slightly larger diameter than shown on
Cut a more accurate set of main undercarriage doors from thin card, and surrounded the main
gear legs with balsa, sanded to a round section, to give them some substance.
Finally, I made up a five bladed prop (like the real plane had), using blades
from three Sleek Streak type props embedded in a balsa and ply hub. As can be
seem from the photo below, the front of the spinner is removable to allow
access to the winding hook - simply held on with two dowel pegs.
The finish was sprayed overall interior grey/green using Humbrol enamel thinned
with cellulose thinners (the real aircraft were painted like this while the
authorities decided what to do with them - some never got repainted!) All
markings were airbrushed as described elsewhere on these pages.
Initial flights were looked promising, until the crash! - I had to shim the front of the
tailplane up to get a reasonable looking glide - no nose weight was necessary,
but there again the prop was fairly heavy. All up weight without rubber was 36.5
g. I finally glued the tailplane in position, allowing any fine tuning to be done
using the elevator trim tabs. I started with 2 loops of 7/64", which seemed about right.
During the first serious trimming session, the model climbed out nicely on a stable looking left
turn, then half way through the flight it straightened, turned right, and cruised in a
shallow dive towards the ground. Unfortunately it landed badly, and smashed off the right
After this was repaired and recovered, I tried again, and made a second nose block with a
conventional two-bladed prop, in case this made trimming easier (less mass whirling away at the front!)
With a competition deadline approaching, I resumed trimming on a rather windy evening on Hungerford Common. It
was not long before two good-looking flights were achieved - a stable left climb and cruise, with good height. Unfortunately
on the next flight, the model was flipped on its back by a gust, and dived in downwind very fast, ripping
off a wing, pulling out several formers and most of the stringers on one side of the fuselage. Verdict - not worth repairing, so
the model was ceremonially cremated (my kids always enjoy that!)
Such is life - you have to remain philosophical when building
flying free flight models.
This model was one of my first attempts to build a rib-for-rib replica for
indoor competitions, and the work was been very satisfying, but slow. To
many eyes, the structure will look way over the top, but you have to remember
that for BMFA competition classes you only need a flight of 15 seconds to
qualify, and the flights are judged on realism, not duration. Static judging
is 50% of the marks, so it pays to make an effort! Basis of the model is the
Dave Diels 1/24th scale plan, but with many additions. The most obvious change
is the extra wing ribs. These are from light 1/32" balsa, all with individual
lightening holes cut out. I have also dropped the top spar so that it is now
about 1/20" below the upper wing surface, and is hence invisible. This meant
the only way I had of installing this spar was to slide it through from one
end, and glue in-situ using thinned aliphatic adhesive. The ailerons are
separate, and are be hinged using wire from sandwich bag ties. Both wings
have been set up to have a little upsweep at the tips, giving a bit of
effective dihedral at the extremities (the upper wing is otherwise flat).
Washout has also been built into all tips.
Turning to the fuselage, a few bits of soft balsa sheet were let into the
structure - mostly 1/32", but 1/16" around the nose, The additions below and ahead of the
cockpit are to help bring out the distinctive transition on the real aircraft
between fabric covered and metal areas.
Fin and tailplane parts are as per the plan, but the rudder and elevators have
been built separately.
Wheels are balsa, and the prop a Tern 6 incher, cut down slightly to 5.5 inches. The pilot comes
from Small Scale Custom Services. The finish is fully airbrushed using enamel paints thinned with
cellulose thinners. The chrome yellow wing is actually a richer colour than it looks on the photos,
which were washed out slightly by the flash.
Most markings are airbrushed, but some (Felix the cat and the fuselage lettering)
are home made decals.
The model was rushed to a finish in time for the Alumwell October competition in 1999, and
test flights had to be done between competition flights. It was no great surprise that I did not manage
a qualifying flight. Got a good static score though! The model resisted all attempts to get it to fly left,
so later in the day I gave in
and tried a right hand pattern. This looked much more stable, and I did manage one hand-launched flight where
the model completed two successful circuits.
Since then, Richard Crossley has been helping me get the thing sorted, and the first recommendation was to add more noseweight,
and raise the elevators a bit. This gives better longitudinal stability, and I was able to go back to a left hand flight pattern. The rubber
size was increased to one loop of 1/4" (it's a draggy little aircraft) which allowed it to take off and circle (albeit for a limited time),
but despite many thrust line
adjustments it tends to straighten up before landing - dangerous in a sports hall! I nearly got a qualifying flight at the
2000 BMFA Indoor Nationals, but the model
clouted a metal post as it came it to land during its best effort. Still, when it is not bumping into things, it looks nice in the air,
and flies quite smoothly.
I would like to offer a big thank you to Chris Parent and Doug Wilkey for
the information, advice and encouragement they have given me for this project -
I couldn't have done it without them!
Above is a picture of the real F4B-2, from U.S.Navy squadron VF-6B, circa 1931, that I have based my model on.
Dime Scale Stearman 76
In total contrast to the F4B-2, this 1930's design contains a
minimum of structure, and is of dubious accuracy, yet has a real charm about
it. The challenge is to turn it into a practical flying machine without
spoiling its vintage charactor. The model is from the kit produced by Scale
Model Flight Co. (available from Penn Valley Hobby Supplies
). The original design was kitted by Comet,
but I doubt if the contents then lived up to the very high standards of this
"reissue" - which has great wood, genuine Japanese tissue, machined nose cowl,
old style balsa prop etc.
First thing to check out was the incidence angles of the flying surfaces
(something early kit designers didn't always seem to bother with!) The kit
has zero degrees on the stab, and zero on both wings. The accepted wisdom for
biplanes currently seems to be to start with approx. plus 2 degrees on both
wings, with zero on the stab, so this was sketched in on a copy of the plan (I
wanted to keep the original in an unspoiled condition). Next the slot for the
tailplane was made deeper, to allow shimming after test flying. I drew in a
wire undercarriage, not attached to the balsa legs, to absorb landing impacts,
and altered the nose bush design to allow a larger hole for the rubber to pass
through. Other additions were some extra sheeting where the lower wings butt
join onto the fuselage sides, a couple of extra stringers on the upper decking
(I mean just having one at the top doesn't give you much chance of covering
it successfully!) and various extra gussets here and there. I also wrapped
1/16" sheet around the engine cowling instead of paper, to give something more
substantial to get hold of. In the interests
of stability, I enlarged the tailplane slightly, by 105% linear on a
photocopier. This small increase meant that I could still use the kit
printwood outlines, as long as I cut them out slightly oversize.
Finish is coloured Japanese tissue with airbrushed markings. Wheels are laminated balsa, and the
prop is yet again a Tern 6 incher.
The model has proved to be an excellent flier - best time so far is 58 seconds.
This peanut scale model was built using the Pres Bruning design.
Everything is exactly as per the plan - didnít seem a reason to
change anything as Pres is an excellent designer. By using carefully
selected wood, I was able to keep the weight down to 11.5 grams
(without rubber), including a full airbrushed paint job. The
prop is the cottage cheese four-blader shown on the plan. Hardest
part was forming the canopy, which has undercut sections either side
(allows the crew to look down on the real aircraft). The part was
heat formed over a balsa mould, and I managed (after several attempts)
to get the plastic pulled around the bottom of the mould enough to
form these sections by grasping the edges of the still soft sheet with
an oven glove! Canopy framing is made from strips of painted decal
Strangely enough, like the Boeing, this was another model which was
not happy flying left - it just did not look stable, and kept
dropping a wing. Eventually, going right proved to be the
answer, and now it climbs away most impressively and cruises in
wide right hand circuits. Still some experimenting to do with
thrust lines and rubber sizes, but it looks very promising.
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