Photo gallery 7
Peanut scale Corben Super Ace
Way back in Model Gallery 1 there are pictures of my Corben Super Ace built from the Golden Age
This was always a great flier, so I decided to build a quickie peanut scale version of it. As
usual, after a good start, the model languished in a half finished state for several years,
until I decided I really needed a different model to enter in an upcoming competition. The
Fox Moth was too much work to finish, then I remembered the Corben, by now stored up in the loft.
Comparing the plan to a newly acquired 3-view, it didn't look too far out, apart from the tailplane
(which fortunately I had not built yet). I made a more accurate one with a laminated balsa outline.
The yellow was airbrushed in my usual way, with the tail markings being home-made decals. The black
parts were brush painted (not so weight critical, as mostly at the front). All up weight with the
IGRA prop and a gram or so of noseweight was 9 grams, so my lightest peanut yet.
First flights were made at the Blackbird Leys indoor meeting in February 2003, where I also entered
it in the competition (not really a sensible thing to do!) The model eventually flew quite nicely
in right hand circuits, not my usual choice, but I was not going to argue with it. The wing has a
slight warp where the right hand tip has a bit more incidence than the left. Flying right means
the wing with the most incidence is on the inside of the turn, helping to keep the wing up. It
seemed to work best that way. Best time was only 36 seconds from a hand launch, but I am sure
there is more to come. Power was 1 loop of 0.085 inch rubber.
This little model was built as a test bed to try out some new finishing
techniques. The plan is pre-war from the Peerless company, with a span of 15 inches,
and I guess would fit into the Dime Scale category. Construction is light and simple,
and although the accuracy is nothing to write home about, it has a definite vintage
charm. It also has the potential to be very good flyer. Mine came out at 18 grams,
including prop and noseweight.
One of the techniques I tried for the first time with this model was to produce ink jet
printed lozenge tissue. I have to confess I did not use the dxf files elsewhere on
this site, as I do not have a complete CAD package loaded in which to play with them.
Instead I used some tif files that a friend in the US had made, then converted these
to 16 colour bitmap images which I could play with in Paint Shop Pro. After some trial
and error, adjusting screen colours to suit my printer (a Canon BJC 1000), I got some
patterns out that looked reasonable.
The lighter lower surface lozenge was chalked on the inner surface (when dry) with
white artists pastel chalk, to make it more opaque and brighten the colours. The
upper surface tissue looked opaque enough already, so I left that as it was.
The tissue was attached to the fuselage framework in my usual way, flooding dope
thinners through the tissue to activate the dope/sanding sealer previously applied
to the framework. The printed tissue is completely unaffected by this process.
The ink jet tissue cannot by water sprayed, but you can steam it over a kettle, and
this shrinks the tissue satisfactorily without making the ink run.
I chalked the green Esaki tissue I used for the wings on the back with green pastel
chalk to make the colour denser, and the rudder was white Esaki chalked white on both
sides, for even better density.
The German crosses were all cut from chalked tissue, which was doped before cutting out
and applying using dope thinners. A white cross was applied first, then a narrower
black one placed over the top.
The wheels were balsa with the centres made from thin cream coloured card, covered in
The only painted bits on the plane were the cowling, front upper decking, struts,
wheel tyres and tail skid. The prop is a 5.5 inch Peck and power one loop of 0.140 "
I flew the model for the first time between sessions at the 2003 BMFA Indoor Scale
Nationals, and once I had added a bit of nose weight it flew surprisingly well.
I had hinged the rudder with wire to allow trimming adjustments, so was able to get
it flying in large left-hand circuits fairly simply. I was worried about tip
stalling, but it seemed very stable. I think the 1/16" washout I had added at each
wing tip probably helped.
I think the printed lozenge tissue worked well enough to try it out on a serious
scale model next, so it is a question of which type to choose. Watch this space...
Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk
This is my own design, to 1/20th scale, based on the scale drawings that
appeared in Scale Models magazine many years ago. It gives a span of just under
16". The model was actually started before my Boeing F4B-2, but was only
finished four years later (October 2003).
The wing structure is
rib-for-rib, there are just not as many of them as on the Boeing. In some ways the
aircraft is quite simple for a biplane, as all the wings are mounted directly
to the fuselage, but the wing root fairings that they are joined to are an
extremely complex shape. The only way I could think of doing them was to fill
in various areas with soft balsa block, and carve and sand away until I was
happy with the shapes. Foam would have been lighter, but I have no experience
of using this, so stuck with what I know.
The wing roots on the fuselage are from 1/32" ply, which acted as useful guides when shaping the
fairings, and the wings are just glued on to these with Cyano adhesive.
All control surfaces are separate, and hinged with wire from sandwich bag ties.
The four main struts of the trapeze hook gantry (which is constructed from bamboo)
have short wire pins at the bottom which fit into short lengths of aluminium tube built
in to the upper fuselage. The theory is that it should ping off in a crash.
The finish is my usual one of Humbrol enamel thinned with cellulose thinners.
Most markings are masked and airbrushed, but the fuselage lettering and the trapeze artist badge
are home made decals.
The decision to model aircraft number 9057, with the white flight colours, was made mainly because
it is much easier to add black U.S.S.Macon titles to a white stripe, than white titles to a darker coloured stripe
(i.e. all the others except lemon yellow). I also had some good reference photos of 9057.
This is no lightweight model, at 38 grams without rubber, but I took heart from the fact that all the heavy stuff at the
front, including the unscraped Tern 6" plastic propeller, meant that the centre of gravity looked
in about the right place, without adding noseweight.
I finished the model the night before the scale meeting in the Millennium Dome (October 2003) and was
only able to test glide
it in the garden just before I set off on the Sunday morning. Fortunately it did not look too far out.
Much to my surprise, the first test flights in the Dome looked very promising, using a motor of 2 loops of 0.110 rubber. The model
turned naturally left, and looked surprisingly stable. After gradually adding more winds, I tried a take-off, and this also proved
problem free. After opening out the turn a bit, and moving the ailerons slightly to hold up the left wing in the turn, I got some nice flights,
including a qualifying one in the competition, so I went home very happy.
Below are a couple of action shots from the Dome
Back in Model Gallery 4 you can see a picture of my Veron Tru-Flite Jodel Bebe, which was a good flier, but
eventually got stuck in the top of a tall tree at Old Warden. After just finishing the rather complex and detailed Sparrowhawk,
I fancied building something quick and simple, so decided to build a replacement Veron Jodel.
I made special efforts with this one to keep the weight down, though without altering any of the wood sizes, to keep it legal
for the Masefield Trophy, held at Old Warden each year for vintage scale models. This design dates from about 1950, and was
designed, like all the Tru-Flite range, by the late Phil Smith.
Experience with my last Jodel had shown that the nose area was rather prone to damage while handling the model, especially as
the dummy engine cylinders are not stuck to anything solid. On this one, I sheeted in the first fuselage bay with soft balsa.
I knew it would need nose weight anyway. I also added 1/64 ply on the front of the nose former, and cut out a sensible sized
hole for the noseblock plug.
The rudder is hinged with soft wire, but I will glue this rigidly in place once I have a nice flight pattern.
Wheels are laminated from balsa discs, to save a bit more weight. The windscreen was cut from some nice thin food
packaging material (I think it was the window off a box of custard tarts). Certainly much lighter than the acetate
sheet supplied with the original kits.
The model was covered with white Esaki tissue, and airbrushed with gloss white Humbrol enamel thinned with cellulose
thinners (dope thinners). The scheme is one carried by an actual aircraft, whose picture I found on the web.
I think it looks quite smart, despite being very simple. The fuselage registration and trim colour line were masked and sprayed.
The final weight without noseweight or rubber came out to 21 grams, so 8.5 grams lighter than my last one, which was very pleasing. The prop I am
using is a Peck 7 incher, and a loop of 3/16 inch rubber gives a lively performance.
The model proved very easy to trim, and flies in steady left hand circuits. Once a good pattern was obtained, the rudder was glued in position.
Howard DGA-6 Mister Mulligan
I have had the SIG kit of the Mr. Mulligan sitting in a cupboard for a while, and was going to get round to building it one day.
Then the Yahoo "ffcookup" group organised a cookup (group build) for any Mister Mulligan kit or plan, and I could not resist joining in.
I very rarely get a model finished within two months, but managed it with this one.
I built the model virtually unchanged from the kit design, and used the wood provided, but thinned down the wing ribs to about 1/32" and cut
lightening holes in them. I also added an extra 1/8" bulkhead at the front of the fuselage, behind the cowling, so I could
round it off a bit more than shown on the plan. I replaced the kit plastic wheels with some laminated balsa ones as well (the
kit ones are slightly undersize, as well as being a bit heavy). I also made a separate hinged rudder to aid trimming.
The finish is Humbrol gloss white enamel thinned with cellulose thinners and airbrushed. All markings apart from
the Gulf logos are home made decals, or cut from painted decal sheet (in the case of the gold portions of the
wing registrations). If the kit decals had been waterslide, I may well have used them, but I did not fancy my chances of getting the
sticky backed items provided to sit down properly, especially on the wings. To be fair, the Gulf logos went on fine.
The total weight, including a 7 inch Peck prop, came out at a hefty 46 grams, but at least the centre of gravity was well forward, so I was hoping not much extra noseweight would be needed. Quite a large wing loading on a 20" span model, but hey, it was a racing aircraft!
I got a chance to trim the model at Old Warden in May 2004. Plenty of long grass and virtually no wind made this a very painless procedure. Basically I just kept adding clay in the nose (well, Blu Tac actually) until the model stopped stalling, then added a bit of left rudder. And that was it - the model cruised round in left hand circuits most realistically. It got quite high on about 900 winds with the one loop of 1/4 inch rubber. Best of all, the rigid undercarriage survived the experience intact, and the model travelled home in the same pristine condition you see here.
D.H.83 Fox Moth
I am very pleased to say that the long running saga of the peanut scale Fox Moth has finally come to an end, and the
model is finished at last. I would have had it done years ago if I had not kept getting sidetracked by other models. The finishing touches were done on the Saturday evening before the 2004 BMFA Indoor Nationals, where it was taken to trim out during the competition.
Construction is as close as
I can get it to following the full size, so the ribs have scale
spacing, and I put in all the riblets (fun job!). All control surfaces are moveable, which helps trimming,
as well as getting extra scale marks from the competition judges. The tail surfaces have laminated
outlines, and all the ribs are 1/32" balsa. The fuselage structure is 1/20" square balsa, as I
cannot work with anything smaller than this. With 1/32" square it would just not have survived my handling, so I just have to live with the weight penalty.
The fuselage decking is very thin balsa sheet, which started off at 1/32", but was sanded down until you
could almost see through it.
Wing struts are all hard balsa and undercarriage struts bamboo, stripped from kebab skewers. The wire undercarriage legs run outside the rigid wooden structure so they can flex on landing. Rigging is fishing nylon, so is functional.
Covering is white Esaki tissue, airbrushed with Xtracolour RLM Silber enamel, thinned with dope thinners. The blue trim is Humbrol French Blue enamel - the registrations and fuselage cheat line were masked and airbrushed. Struts were brush painted. Badges on the nose and fin are home made decals.
The prop is a cut down Tern 6" item. I did not bother to thin it down, as I knew the model would need noseweight anyway.
Trimming at the 2004 Indoor Scale Nationals was surprisingly straightforward. It only needed the slightest touch of noseweight, combined with left rudder, slightly offset ailerons (down on the left, up on the right) and a bit of downthrust to control the initial power burst. It takes off fine, and managed a best flight of 31 seconds ROG. There seems to be plenty of scope for playing with new motor sizes and lengths to get some more time out of it, however, I would be very surprised if I get past 40 seconds.
This is my second model from the Frog Senior Series range of "scale like" models, after the Widgeon.
A delightful little model, and a nice simple build. Just what you need after finishing a long running epic like the Fox Moth!
The model is built as per the original plan, which you can download from my Frog site
Finish is white Esaki airbrushed with Humbrol 9 gloss cream, mixed 50/50 with gloss white. The blue trim is Humbrol midnight blue. All enamels thinned with dope thinners. The lettering and badge on the wings are home made decals.
The prop is a reworked balsa item I found in my box of bits, with the diameter reduced to 6.5". Power is one loop of 3/16" rubber, and it flies very nicely. I nearly lost it twice at Old Warden in May 2004 when I was trimming it (mind you, there was some nice air around). It seems to prefer to go right, so I let it, cutting a small trim tab into the right rudder that I could bend out slightly.
I was very pleased to get hold of a pair of old Skleada scale jet kits via Ebay, one of
which was the Mystere IV. This is a model I have not seen built before, and I rather liked the design,
so decided to build a replica. I thought was about time I built another jet anyway. I used a
the plan and my own wood, as it would be a shame to cut into a kit which I suspect may be 50 years old.
As always, I cannot leave well alone, so although I left the outlines as they are (apart from
enlarging the tailplane slightly), one or two modifications have been incorporated. For example,
The fuselage spine has been made wider as it approaches the cockpit, the first two bays of the fuselage
are sheeted in, and the intake aperture has been made deeper (to give me somewhere to hide noseweight!)
On the uncovered shot, you can see I have added a couple of diagonals to the fin to reduce the risk
of it warping after covering and water shrinking (I did the same on the tailplane).
Before painting the model I did some test glides to check the incidence angles were roughly OK. It was obvious that the model was very nose heavy,
and as I did not want to end up adding tail weight, I removed the tailplane, and altered the angle of the slot so I could mount it with more negative incidence. This did the trick, and a nice floaty glide was achieved.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the finish was white Esaki tissue, airbrushed with Xtracolor RLM Silber enamel, thinned with dope thinners. All-silver finishes are so easy to do with even the cheapest airbrush, and tend to be very light, as a thin coat is all you need. The metal particles in the paint do a great job of reflecting the light, and preventing you seeing through the tissue.
The French Roundels and fuselage lettering were home made decals, and the lightning bolts cut from painted decal film.
I am lucky enough to have access to a thermal wax transfer printer which will print on standard waterslide decal film,
but you can achieve similar results with an ink jet printer using the special decal film made by Experts Choice. This
is available in the UK from Hannants (Thanks to Roger Simmonds for that tip).
Wingspan is 15 inches, with plenty of area, so I was very pleased with a final weight of 33 grams, including a
new L2 motor.
First flights were made at the Old Warden Scale weekend, July 2004, during the brief lull after the rain showers.
without any adjustments and using just a 100 mN rated L2 showed a slight stall, but the model did actually
climb during the flight, and looked nice and stable. A bit of nose weight was added, and the second flight,
with the same motor type, was very smooth, with the model settling into a gentle left hand pattern towards the
end of the power run. Hard to believe such a low power motor could work in such a large model, but I know Graham
Potter found something similar with his Easy Built Venom.
Many thanks to Lawrence Marks for this great shot taken at Old Warden in July 2005. Power was (believe it or not) an 85mN rated L2LT motor,which has
just enough grunt to give a nice long leisurely flight.