Photo gallery 9

Frog Heron

Regulars will know I have a soft spot for the Frog Senior Series models, so when A & DB Models asked me if I would like to review one of their laser cut kits, I jumped at the chance. I chose the Heron, as this is one you do not see built too often. I was very impressed with the quality of the kit and It proved to be a quick and easy build. You can read a full review on my Frog site here.

I have not flown it yet, but if the Widgeon and Linnet are anything to go by, the trimming process should not be too stressful.

Veron Consul

Visitors to Nostalgia Corner on the site will have discovered the Veron Combi kit plans available for download, and here at last is my finished Consul. Such a simple build really should not have taken so long; when I was a kid I would have done it in a week maximum!

The model weighs 26 grams without rubber, not bad considering the gloss enamel finish over Esaki tissue. You can see I had a go at reproducing the colour scheme shown on the box art.

The 7 inch balsa prop is not the one supplied in the kit, but a new one carved to look vaguely similar, while hopefully being more efficient. I am optimistic that it will turn out to be a good flyer.

I can now report that the Consul did indeed turn out to be an excellent flier, in fact rather too good! I trimmed it out first using a loop of 3/16” rubber, just needing a bit of noseweight to have it cruising round happily. I did notice occasional periods of Dutch roll, where the model gently rocked from side to side in flight, but this did not affect flight duration. The model did not climb particularly high though so I tried a loop of ¼” rubber instead. This made the model much friskier and greatly improved the rate of climb. Unfortunately the model got into a good bit of air at Old Warden in July 2007, and after a two minute flight disappeared into the corn field over the road. A search proved fruitless, so I suspect the model probably ended up in a combine harvester a few weeks later.

Anyway, it goes to show that these simple little models have a surprisingly good performance. Time to build another one methinks!

Peanut scale Laird LC-DE Speedwing Junior

I had been looking for a subject for a new biplane peanut model for a while, and when I saw a 3 view of this type in a book, I knew I would not be looking any further. The Laird seems to have great proportions for a peanut scale model, with a very long nose and good tail moment. The colour scheme of black and gold is also very attractive.

The structure is pretty much scale, and all control surfaces are hinged. I chose the Fairchild engined version because it has the least number of cowl louvres!

I covered and painted the flying surfaces first, as the lower wing needed to be installed into the fuselage before the lower stringers were added. As you can see the fuselage was covered with black Esaki tissue before being airbrushed with Humbrol satin black enamel thinned with dope thinners. The various cowl louvres and bumps were carved from balsa. Up front is a carved 5 inch balsa prop, basically to save weight compared to a plastic one. This model has such a long nose that I was worried about it coming out nose heavy.

This photo also shows how the undercarriage wire runs down the outside of the balsa leg, though is not attached to it, allowing it to spring independently.

Wing registrations are cut from painted decal sheet, and the fuselage logo and tail registration are printed decals.

The model was finished just a couple of days before the BMFA Indoor Nationals, so no time for trimming (as usual). Initially it looked fairly promising, as in a straight line it flew nice and stably. However, any attempt to persuade it to circle were doomed to failure. Small rudder deflections led to a rocking action as it started to turn, then went back to its original path, and kept repeating this action. If you really pushed the rudder over, it just did a spiral dive to the floor. General concensus was that the fin and rudder were just too small to compensate for all that frontal side area, so I took the decision to buid a new, bigger one.

12 months down the line, a few days before the 2008 BMFA Indoor Nationals, the model was test flown outdoors with the new enlarged fin and rudder, and I can report that the Laird is now much better behaved, settling happily into a left hand circuit - something it refused to do before.

Now that I know it flies, I am happy to offer the plan, updated with the new fin and rudder, as a download. You can find it here.

Peanut scale Gotha Go 145

Here is another type that has excellent proportions for a peanut scale model, the little known (though it was produced in large numbers) Gotha Go 145 trainer. I decided to take a much simpler approach to this one, and designed the model more along Flying Aces lines, with light weight taking precedance over scale structure. The fin and tailplane looked big enough to not need any enlargement, so the only deviation from scale is a slight increase in wing dihedral.

Here are the basic components just about finished. The rudder is hinged with soft wire, but the tailplane is one piece. Fuselage sheeting was sanded 1/32" sheet, as I do not possess any 1/64".

Here is the model ready for painting. Wheels are laminated balsa sheet. The undercarriage has some flexibility as the rear bamboo struts are a sliding fit in two slots under the lower wing root.

This gives you some idea of the rather tedious masking needed to airbrush the camouflage scheme. A lot of it was done with copy paper masks attached using restickable glue stick, but as you can see, some traditional paper masking tape was used as well. The first things to be painted were the backgrounds for the german crosses, plus the fuselage badge, in gloss white. These were then covered up with paper masks while all the camouflage was painted.

The black bits on the markings were added last, cut from painted decal sheet,and the fuselage badges were home made decals. Final weight came out at 16 grams, without rubber, which I was reasonably happy with, as the model is quite large for a peanut. The prop is a slightly cut-down Czech Tern copy, with the blades scraped a bit thinner.

Initial trimming was done oudoors on a calm evening, and after adding a little noseweight, the model showed the disturbing tendency to turn 90 degrees and fly on its side. Not an ideal start! A close look at the model revealed significant warps, with different incidence angles on both lower wings. To counteract this without resetting the wings (tricky with the struts and working fishing line rigging), I was forced to add acetate trim tabs to both wings, one side bent up, and the other side bent down, and this enabled the model to settle into a left hand turn without spiralling in.

I entered the model a few days later in the peanut class at the 2008 indoor Nats, and discovered it will take off a sports hall floor very nicely. I worked up to a 31 second ROG flight, without taking any chances of breaking the rubber (it flies on a loop of 0.140") and I am sure there is more to come.

Aichi Val

The large wing of the Val makes it a good candidate for indoor scale, so the Diels Engineering 1/24 scale kit seemed an ideal subject to try out one of the Atomic Workshop Voodoo 25 electric motors and Zombie controller. The photo above was taken before the first test flights, the Tuesday before the 2008 Indoor Nationals, so there were still a few details to add.

One or two changes were made to the plan, for instance the wing incidence was increased so that the bottom surface was at 3 degrees positive, and some extra dihedral was added, taking it up to 9 degrees under each outer panel. This sounds an awful lot, but on the finished model did not look too obvious. Both wing tips were given some washout as well.

The tailplane was sized to be a compromise between true scale and the rather large one shown on the kit plan In fact it is exactly half way between the two. Both the fin and tailplane have been streamlined by adding strips either side and then sanding to shape.

The wheel spats would be rather vulnerable in a heavy landing, so I fitted a torsion bar arrangement in the wing before covering, as shown in these photos.

The wire runs through a plastic tube and is fixed to an inboard rib. The wire sticking out at the dihedral break can be rotated backwards without excessive force.

The wire is here slipped into plastic tube glued to rear of spat centre lamination (later covered by the outer laminations)

Here the spat is sprung back to reveal the location tab at the front which sits in a slot next to the wing rib.

In practice, this arrangement proved too flexible, and on my next model with spats I will use a shorter torsion spring and make it from thicker wire. I would also use a plywood guide at the front of the spat rather than balsa.

To avoid buckling of the long 1/32" sheet balsa wing ribs I reinforced all the bottom edges with 1/32 x 1/16" strips (between the lower spars) and also added 1/32" sheet gussets at the trailing edge.

The light grey finish is airbrushed enamel thinned with cellulose thinners, and the black nose hand painted. The Hinomaru markings were taken from the Diels kit decal sheet, and went on very nicely over the painted tissue. Other markings were either home made decals or cut from painted decal sheet. All up weight was 46 grams.

Here you can see the Voodoo 25 motor installation, with the Zombie profiler alongside. Behind the motor you can see the Li-poly battery sitting in its pocket. The upper cowling is held on with a pair of small neodynium magnets.

Initial test flights took place outdoors on the only reasonably calm evening in the week before the Nats, and to my surprise the model required some noseweight to stop it stalling, despite all the weight up front. Once that was sorted out, the model started circling left, and looked nice and stable. I upped the power and time settings slightly (actually not that slightly as it turned out - those pots on the profiler are really tiny!) and launched the model again. This time it climbed out strongly, and as it circled it drifted towards the trees at the edge of the field, eventually flying into them with a crunch.

As you can read elsewhere on the site, the model performed very well at the 2008 Indoor Nationals, and won the CO2/electric class, despite my determination to fly it into the roof structure. I was looking forwards to trying it outdoors during the summer, but unfortunately fate, in the form of our mischievous moggie Pickles, intervened. On the Monday after the Nats, trying to attract my attention, he jumped onto the desk next to where I was sitting, right on top of the Val, and it fell wing-first between the two tables, landing with a confused looking cat on top of the wreckage. Just too much damage to repair unfortunately, so I salvaged the motor, canopy and pilots, and binned the rest. So, after 7 months construction, the model had a flying career of just six days, but at least they were action-packed ones. I will certainly remember the flights at the Nats for a long time.

Armstrong Whitworth Argosy

This project had been in the back of my mind for a few years, as the thought of seeing a rubber powered Argosy taking to the air was just too tempting to resist. I have fond memories of these from my air spotting days at Ringway Airport (Manchester), so the colour scheme just had to be BEA.

The size of the model was governed by two factors; firstly I needed to swing two 7 inch Peck props on the inner nacelles, and secondly the model had to fit into my existing model box. The plan was thus drawn with a wingspan of 38 inches. By cheating slightly and moving the tail booms out half an inch per side, this allowed enough space for the props, and also had the added advantage on giving a useful increase in tailplane area.

I decided to make separate plug-in outer wing panels, with the dihedral break immediately outboard of the booms. This allowed the rest of the model to fit in the model box.

The construction is heavily based on Chris Starleaf’s Dash 8 design, using a cracked rib wing construction, but using two spars rather than one because of the relatively wide chord.

The booms of the real aircraft are noticeably slab-sided, so mine are basically boxes made from 1/16” square balsa, with formers top and bottom to give the rounded shape.

This photo shows the first of the inner nacelles, covered and attached to the front of the tail boom and the wing. There isn't a huge amount of room inside the nacelles, so the formers were made from 2 cross-grained laminations of 1/32” balsa, allowing the openings to be cut relatively large without weakening them too much.

Here you can see some of the complicated curves around the nose and cockpit area. I had to inlay soft block under the cockpit aperture.

Truly a face only a mother could love!

Here are the outer nacelles under construction. There is only approximately 4.25" distance between the prop hook and motor peg, so I am using long skinny motors with the six inch propellers to achieve about 40 seconds of relatively low power. Using high pitch plastic Czech props, this gives a useful thrust contribution for the climb out. The much longer inner motors do most the work however. Note how the wing sheeting has been cut away to save weight and also give extra clearance round the rear peg.

Here the wings are temporarily placed on the fuselage. Upper stringers were added after the wing centre section had been glued in position. The weight at this point was looking pretty good at 71.5 grams.

The tailplane has a adjustable elevator using soft wire hinges and both fins also have hinged trim tabs.

I was a bit worried about how to do the spinners, as there is little room for the freewheel catch, and I thought the draw might be a bit much for plunge forming. I had a go anyway, using a balsa form stuck on the end of a stick, and some old Easter egg packaging. I made the hole I pushed through just slightly larger than the plug, and to my surprise, the spinners formed rather well. They did get a bit thin at the side, but at least mounted on the wings, they were not going to get the same punishment as a spinner on the nose of a model. Note how the plastic has gone brown with the heating. I made six so I would have two spares.

Before fitting the spinners, the prop blades were scraped to make them thinner and save weight. A hard balsa circular backplate was fitted to the back of each propeller, slots cut for the blades in the spinner (a trial and error process for the first one) and the spinners glued in place. The gaps between the blades and the spinner were filled with “Krystal Kleer”, a water based liquid with excellent gap-filling properties used by plastic modellers to fill airliner windows.

The rear fuselage block was roughly carved from soft balsa and then hollowed out with a Dremel before glueing it on. Final shaping got a bit hairy because I almost broke through the balsa whilst sanding.

The model was covered entirely with white Esaki tissue and given just one coat of thinned dope before painting.

The white areas were airbrushed first, including areas that would later by red, using Humbrol gloss white enamel thinned with dope thinners. The gloss red was sprayed next, after masking off all the white bits. This took ages! Next the light grey undersides, then the silver leading edges and tailplane (also a very tedious masking job). The black stripes were hand painted using Humbrol matt black enamel, later given a brushed coat of Johnsons Clear ("Future floor Wax" over the pond) to seal it and add some gloss.

All the red BEA square markings were cut from painted red decal film and placed over a white background, so the letters showed through. Those on the wing were placed over squares cut from white decal. The wing registration letters were individually cut from white decal sheet.

How much rubber to use was bit of a guess, but I started with a loop of braided 1/8” rubber in each of the outer nacelles, about 3 times peg to hook distance. For the inners I tried two loops of 1/8” rubber, loop length about 26 inches.

The model was taken to the 2008 FAC Nats completely untested (you can see it on the judging table above), and first flights were made on Thursday morning. Only a touch of noseweight seemed to be needed to get a reasonable glide, and so some winds were put on to see what happened.

First impressions were that the model seemed very lively and looked nice and stable. With a bit more downthrust on the inner props, a nice flight of over 20 seconds was achieved. In a period of calm weather later in the day, some more winds were put on and an official flight of 34 seconds was registered. I said before I started the model that I would be thrilled to get 30 seconds out of it, and that had been achieved already, so I finished the day a happy chap.

Even more winds resulted in a 40 second flight on Saturday, and you can see the flight here. The steep climb out and stall were a bit scary, but fortunately the model recovered well and carried on without losing too much height.

At the Old Warden scale weekend after my US trip, I reduced the power by replacing the two loops of 1/8" rubber in the inner nacelles with a single loop of 3/16". This made the climb out much more realistic, and helped the duration. The flight you can see here was made using the same number of winds as the Geneseo flight, but was 7 seconds longer. Thanks to Graham Potter for the video.

Russ Lister took these great photos of the Argosy flying at the Peterborough Flying Aces meeting in August 2008.

Focke-Wulf 190D-9

This model came about when I was approached by Bluebottle Squadron Products and asked if I would like to do a pre-production build of one of their future kits, a 1/24 scale Focke-Wulf 190 D-9 designed by Peter Smart. It was built in two months, which is very rapid progress for me, and finished just in time for me to take out to the FAC Nats in 2008. It was an enjoyable build, and hopefully the feedback I was able to give was useful in improving the quality of the final kit. I liked the way the fuselage was constructed, from two side frames, assembled so the upper longerons are closer together than the lower ones. Stringers are added to the outside and the resulting structure captures the shape of the real aircraft rather well.

The wing is assembled, covered, shrunk and doped before assembly into the fuselage, then lower stringers are added.

The cowling is laminated from ¼” balsa rings, which gives a nice solid assembly, but obviously some carving and sanding is needed. Personally I would much rather have this than a flimsy plastic moulding.

The only vac-form parts supplied are the canopy, spinner, exhausts and wheels, so the tricky gun fairings in front of the cockpit have to be carved from laminated balsa. Not easy, but satisfying to do if you work methodically.

I built the model with the wheels up, as I think WW2 fighters look much better circling around without the gear dangling in the breeze.

The model was covered in white Esaki, and rather than going for the (perfectly attractive) scheme shown on the plan, I decided to use a scheme found on an Aeromaster decal sheet. I used Xtracolour authentic enamels thinned with dope thinners to airbrush the RLM 74/74/83 scheme, plus RLM 04 for the yellow bits. These enamels dry gloss, giving a great base for decals, but of course when you are finished you then have to dust over a coat of matt varnish (I used a Humbrol aerosol can). Decals from the kit sheet were used on the wings, but home made ones on the fuselage.

Model weight came out at 29 grams before I added any noseweight (I found I needed several extra grams in the nose).

When trimming the model, I increased the positive incidence of the tailplane by shimming in the fuselage slot, and this allowed me to get a decent (if fast) glide with a C of G at about 1/3 chord.

The model flies in stable left hand circuits, and with the Peck 7 inch prop supplied and a motor of two loops of 1/8” it climbs really well. Best flight so far is 40 seconds, and it would be more except for the glide, which in reality is a right hand spiral descent. I could play about more with sidethrust angles to improve things, but I quite like the fact that this built-in dethermaliser makes it a very suitable model to fly in small fields without any danger of it flying away!

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