On the Workbench

Here are the latest photos of the (many) half-finished models in the Stuart workshop. At least when they are in the uncovered state, you can see some of the construction methods more clearly than when they are finished. I tend to have several planes on the go at any one time, which prevents boredom setting in, but does mean they tend to take a long time to finish!

Albatros D.V

This is the Golden Age kit, which I can highly recommend, in the process of conversion to CO2 power. The motor is a Gasparin GM 120, and I am hoping to hide the filler nozzle inside a removable pilot. You can see the tank between the motor and nozzle. I have built in a lower access hatch under the motor so I can get at the mounting bolts, and will have a removable nose block behind the propellor. Scale is close to 1/16th. As usual, I could not resist putting in a couple of extra fuselage stringers. This should not be a problem, as I will have no weight of rubber in the rear fuselage to worry about.

Dornier Do 335

Not much to say about this one - it is the West Wings kit, started in a fit of enthusiasm when it first came out, and sitting around in this state for a couple of years. I am planning to power it with two rubber motors, one driving each propeller. The kit is very well designed, but there is plenty of scope for weight reduction.

Blackburn Shark

This was not a model I had planned into my schedule Ė itís all Greg Westís fault. He sent me a pdf of the plan, which is a pre-war Comet design, and I knew I just had to build it. The wingspan is 34 inches, and the structure is incredibly light. It is amazing just how little wood some US designers were putting in their models compared to the bricks turned out by some UK companies. I think this has the potential to be a real floater for outdoor flying when the weather is calm. There is more structure in some peanut scale models than this, but what there is in this design looks to be in the right place. The Warren girder struts will help to keep the wings rigidly aligned, and the main challenge would seem to be the undercarriage, and how to make it more crash resistant. Greg has built one and successfully flown it - you will find a video of it in action in the 2010 FAC Nats report. It looks so good in the air that this is definitely one I need to finish.

I dug the bones for this one out of the cupboard when I got back from the 2014 FAC Nats, and by the time October had arrived, some significant progress had been made. You may spot that I decided to add an additional turbulating 1/16" square wing spar between the main spar and the leading edge. Incidentally, the kit design has a single 3/32 x 3/16" main spar shown on the bottom, which I converted to two 3/32" square spars, one on the top and one on the bottom. I also re-cut the joins where the outer panels join the centre section and put in a touch more dihedral before replacing all the gussets.

The cowl is wrapped with soft 1/16" sheet rather than notepaper, to make it more robust. Also I have put in a fuselage-mounted wire landing gear to run inside the front undercarriage struts, but not attached to them, in the hope it will deflect backwards in the event of a heavy landing.

Fast forward to October 2016 and the model is now covered with white Esaki tissue and ready for painting. The wire undercarriage legs have been sheathed in balsa, and the rear legs, which are attached rigidly to the balsa fairings next to the wheels, are free to slide into slots in the fuselage as the undercarriage deflects backwards. By a lucky coincidence of geometry, there is practically no rotation of the rear leg at the wheel fairing end as it slides back into its slot.

Adding the many details shown on the plan has been rather satisfying, including the torpedo and its hangers. The torpedo is basically a rolled 1/32" balsa tube with hollow soft block sections front and rear. The rear block was shaped, then cut in half and hollowed out with a rotary tool, getting the walls as thin as I dared before gluing the halves back together. The completed item came out at just 3 grams.

Hawker Audax

I won the this old West Wings kit in a raffle (it has the original peel-off paper patterns on the parts sheets) and for no obvious reason took it away on one of our trips up north to cut some bits out. Before I knew what had happened, I got to this stage.

You might notice in the photo that as the design does not feature side keels for the fuselage, I have attempted to keep everything straight when adding the stringers by temporarily gluing scraps of balsa sheet between each former on both sides. These will come out anytime soon.

I plan to finish the model as an Audax in desert colours, just to be different.

Stearman 76

My old Comet Stearman 76 dimer had flown pretty well at Geneseo in 2012, despite it not being the lightest of models, and much repaired. I fancied building a new one using some of Alan Cohen's excellent strip wood, hoping that by doing this plus the inclusion of a forward motor peg (just behind the rear cockpit) I could knock a couple of grams off the weight of the previous one. As I'm sure I've mentioned before somewhere, there is a lot of satisfaction to be had building a simple model like this as carefully as you can. It will be interesting to compare the performance of this model versus the Ripon. The little balsa tags on the tailplane and fin are for mounting the rigging wires shown on the plan - FAC rules dictate that all rigging and details drawn on the plan have to be present on the model.

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