Photo gallery 10

Mitsubishi Karigane 1 "Kamikaze"

After the sad demise of my Diels Val at the hands (or rather paws) of Pickles I needed a new model to put my Voodoo 25/Zombie setup in, so after much deliberation decided to build a 1/20 scale model of the Mitsubishi Ki 15 "Kamikaze" which hit the headlines in 1937 when became the first Japanese built aircraft to fly from Tokyo to Europe. I think it is a very pretty aircraft, and liked the silver and blue colour scheme. The real plane was quite small, so 1/20 scale made it a very similar size to the 1/24 scale Val it was replacing. Wingspan is 23 inches

Fuselage construction is conventional keel and formers, as you can see here. The wing was set up so the outer panels have 9 degrees of dihedral (only about 1 degree more than scale) plus 3 degrees on incidence on the bottom of the root ribs (tailplane at zero).

Wheel spats are always vulnerable to heavy landings, so I fitted a beefed up version of the torsion spring setup I used on the Val. This time the length of the torsion spring was shorter, and the gauge of wire heavier.

I also fitted ply location tongues instead of balsa, as these had not lasted long on the Val. The angle of the tubes incorporated in the spats was just to get the pivot point right at the back - the slight radius meaning I could not run the wire up the back of the spat vertically.

Here is the spat at rest, held against the wing by the spring

And here it is pushed back.

The model is covered in white Esaki tissue. Tailplane was increased 10% linear, but otherwise the outlines are accurate to the drawings I was using. The rudder is hinged but the tailplane is one piece. Note the split cowling to allow access to the motor and controller.

The model was airbrushed as usual with enamels thinned with dope thinners, my silver of choice being Xtracolour RLM Silber. I think the sunbursts under the wingtips look very attractive, and these were done by spraying on the gloss white, then masking them while the silver was sprayed. The red portion was simply cut from painted decal film, and applied over the white background. The lettering is also cut from painted decal film and applied one letter at a time.

The small black lettering you can see is done with home made decals - the clear carrier film disappearing pretty well over the silver finish. All up weight came to 55 grams.

You can read about trimming and flying on the 2009 Indoor Nationals page, but suffice to say, the model proved nice and stable, and needed just a touch of noseweight and trim tab bent down on the left hand wing to give steady left hand circuits. The power setting on the Zombie that I had set for the Val proved perfect for this model as well, so all I fiddled with was the timer.

Heinkel He 46

I started building this model back in 2003. The original idea was to build something to take along to the memorial event for models designed by Doug McHard, held at Old Warden in that year. You will not be surprised to hear that I never got it finished in time, but a mere seven years later it is finally completed. The span is 18 inches, and this plan featured in the centre spread of Aeromodeller, way back in April 1972. I was captivated by it then, and built it within a week of the magazine dropping through the letterbox. Sadly, my skills at the time (I was only 15) were not up to building such a delicate model, and I never had any success flying it (far too heavy, and rather warped, I seem to remember). This time round, I have been doing the best I can to build carefully and keep the weight down so I can do the design justice.

Here the model is covered and ready for painting (white esaki). I covered the incredibly fragile tailplane with pre-shrunk tissue on the basis I would rather have it looking a bit loose and wrinkly than warped.

I added some thread-wrapped balsa relief cylinders in the front of the cowling and made some laminated balsa wheels. The main undercarriage wires run down the outside of the balsa legs and are free to bend back in a heavy landing.

I chose an attractive but complex Hungarian scheme which required extensive masking and seven colours, and that's not counting the red and green parts of the wing markings. The whole masking and airbrushing process was documented and can be found here.

The weight of the model without noseweight or rubber is 17.5 grams which includes the rather substantial IKARA Koutny 6 inch prop on the front. Thanks to the prop, I found I didn't need any noseweight, and initial flights looked good, if dead straight down the field. I added rudder tabs from thin acetate to persuade it to turn left and added some downthrust to kill the power stall as the winds were increased. Best motor has proved to be a loop of 1/16" plus a loop of 3/32" rubber, and I'm getting consistent flights around the 40 second mark.

Frog Junior Westland Wyvern

A visit to the Impington meeting in March 2010 was the incentive I needed to finish this little model - The first Frog Junior I've ever done, despite having put loads of the plans on my House of Frog site. All the wood is 1/32 sheet - in retrospect I should have doubled up the fuselage sides at the nose (inside) to give a total thickness of 1/16" to make it stronger when holding to wind. The finish is Humbrol enamels with a few home made decals based on the artwork shown on the plan. The weight of the model without noseweight or rubber is 12.5 grams.

D.H.108 Hornet

When I was asked if I'd like to do a test build on the forthcoming laser cut Bluebottle Squadron D.H.108 Hornet kit, I jumped at the chance, as it is one of my favourite aircraft. Scale is 1/16 and wingspan 34 inches, giving a huge wing area.

The weight of the model without noseweight or rubber is 150 grams. I confess to being worried about the vulnerability of those four bladed props, but they do look great I think. Finish is Xtracolor enamels with a final coat of acrylic matt varnish after the decals had been applied. This scheme uses most of the supplied kit decals, but with two numbers of the serials swapped over, and home made decals for the fuselage codes and the small fin badges.

Trimming will wait until I get some seriously long grass to fly it over!

Gloucestershire Gannet

After the 2009 BMFA Indoor Nats I thought it was time to get on with another, hopefully more competitive, peanut scale model, so dug out the old Ray Johnson plan for the Gloucestershire Gannet which I had started the fuselage for several years ago. The design is a good one, with scale structure throughout (compare the wings below with the photo of the real one) but I decided to incorporate separate ailerons, and a hinged rudder and elevators.

I did try to keep the weight down, but as usual ended up with a model that was heavier than I wanted. OK, It's quite a large peanut, but 20 grams without rubber is just too much.

Finish is airbrushed enamels as usual with the markings cut from painted decal film. Rigging is fishing nylon, carefully painted dark grey once installed.

The model proved relatively straightforward to trim indoors and is nice and stable, but the best time so far is only 29 seconds. I'm hoping that I can improve this by playing with different prop and rubber combinations.

Dime scale Spartan Biplane

I decided to take a Dime scale model out to the FAC Nationals in 2010, and rather than build one of the more usual subjects, decided to have a go at one I had never seen built before. This Spartan Biplane was one of the range of Comet 10 cent models, and I thought it stood a chance of flying, with a decent tail moment and reasonable sized tailplane. You've got to love the super thin cut-out radial engine!

The model was finished with chalked Esaki tissue. Applying orange pastel chalk to the orange tissue really brightens it up, and the black chalk makes the black tissue completely opaque with very little weight gain. Markings and control surface outlines were cut from chalked black tissue.

I'd love to tell you that the model "flew off the board", but unfortunately it didn't. It seems to be rather laterally unstable, and I haven't been able to get it to fly consistently in any direction. I suspect that the dihedral isn't sufficient - currently FAC Dime scale rules do not allow you to increase dihedral from that shown on the plan, so I stuck with what was shown. The model has survived its trimming exploits unscathed so far, so I haven't quite given up on it yet.

Kharkov R 10

This was one of my Geneseo purchases in 2006, the Easybuilt laser cut kit of the Kharkov R 10. Wingspan is 22", and the design is a proven winner, taking the Flying Aces WW 2 mass launch at the Nats at least twice. I started the model while I was over in the US after the 2006 event, and kept it going for a few days after I got home. Despite it going together nicely, it then got gradually forgotten and sat in a cupboard until 2010. The spur to get it finished came when I took the unfinished kit away on holiday and was able to get it to the covering stage. Everything continued to fit together very well, and it has been an enjoyable build. I decided to cover the model with Esaki tissue rather than the tissue supplied with the kit because I was painting it. If I had been going for a coloured tissue finish, I'd have been happy to use Easy Built's green and light blue tissue.

I added a couple of spare 1/24 scale pilot figures to make it look like somebody was at home. Finish was Revell enamels thinned with dope thinners and markings were cut from red painted decal sheet. I sprayed the red onto white decal sheet rather than clear to get a good colour density over the dark green when they were cut out and applied.

Curtiss Shrike

This is the Diels Engineering kit of the Curtiss Shrike, a pre war aircraft of great character, and enormous wheel pants! I was originally going to fit an electric motor, but decided to go for rubber power instead, and built the Aichi Val for electric instead.

Mods to the kit so far (I can never leave anything alone) are a 10% linear increase in tailplane size, a 1/4" a side increase in wing dihedral, and the addition of moveable elevators and rudder. I also decided to give the tail surfaces a streamlined section by adding strips either side of the cross pieces.

The cowling was filled with sections of soft 3/32 sheet and in the photo above is waiting to be sanded smooth.

Here is the fuselage finished and covered - also the tail surfaces and wheel pants. The wing root fairings were a labour of love and are carved from soft balsa block. I couldn't see any way to do them using paper as the radius at the leading edge is just too large. I ended up adding a bit more sheeting to the front of the wheel pants as when I first covered them I wasn't happy with the way they looked. So the tissue was stripped off and the front bays filled in.

The model was airbrushed using Xtracolor enamels thinned with dope thinners. These dry gloss, making it easy to apply decals. The national markings were pieced together using sections cut from painted decal sheet placed over a white painted disc. The fin marking was done the same way, over a white painted rudder. The fuselage stripe was masked and sprayed yellow, but the central red strip was cut from decal sheet. The underwing lettering was cut from black painted decal sheet.

Rigging is fishing nylon, painted dark grey after it was in place. Aileron and flap lines are thin black decal strips. To tone down the gloss of the model after all the decals had been applied, the model was sprayed with a misted coat of acrylic matt varnish. The canopies were added after this had been done, and the framing put on using strips of painted decal.

In order for the model to be able to take off, I had to use a 6 inch prop - about an inch smaller than I would have liked - so I chose an IKARA Koutny 6 incher.

Trimming was attempted at the 2011 Indoor Nats (will I never learn?) and although I didn't get a qualifying flight in competition, I did get an unofficial one after it was over, so I am optimistic for the future!

Veron Combi Kit Corsair

After building and losing a Veron Consul, I finally got round to building another - this time the Corsair, a model I remember flying with my dad at a local park in the 1960's. It's a funny looking thing, but certainly has charactor. I carved a 7 inch balsa prop in a similar style to the one originally supplied with kit. Final weight without rubber came to 28.5 grams, including a bit of noseweight. I carved a plug to plunge mould a canopy matching the one shown on the plan and I have a couple of spares available if you intend to build the model and would like one - just send me an email.

The colour scheme was based on the kit box lid illustration and I chose the typical post war Fleet Air Arm colours of extra dark sea grey and sky. Paints used were enamels from Xtracolor thinned with dope thinners. First flights were at a windy Old Warden in July 2011, where it proved remarkably stable. Trimming involved merely adding a bit of nose weight and a small fin trim tab to persuade the model to turn and not just weathercock into the wind. It flies OK on one loop of 3/16" rubber, but a change to two loops of 1/8" has made the climb much more impressive.

Peanut scale Druine Turbulent

This one was built due to the frustration of not getting any new models finished and the fact I had very little to fly at informal indoor events. So I set myself a challenge - could I build and finish a new model in just two weeks?

The choice of model was obviously important - it couldn't be anything too complicated, and a search through my stash of unbuilt models came up with this rather delightful Peck Polymers Druine Turbulent kit. Designed by Bill Hannan back in the 70's, It has sheet balsa fuselage sides and tail surfaces, both real timesavers.

I didn't change much at all on the model, but replaced the kit wood for the fin and tailplane with some super light 1/32" sheet I had. I also moved the rear motor peg nearer the front, to try and avoid noseweight.

The model was covered with Esaki tissue, but not the tail surfaces, which just had two coats of sanding sealer. The paint finish is Humrol gloss white enamel thinned with dope thinners, All markings are cut from green painted decal sheet apart from the fuselage badges which are home made decals.

I added the final touches exactly two weeks after starting it and I'm reasonably pleased with the result - perhaps not quite up to my usual standard, but not too bad, especially considering how fast it was built. Weight is 10 grams without rubber and C of G came out very close with the standard plastic prop.

I managed a couple of decent flights with it first time out at Wallingford after some tweaks including the removal of my carefully built-in down and side thrust and the addition of a wing tab to keep the left wing up. Plus I brought it home in one piece, which is always a bonus!

Blackburn Blackburn

Who could not fall in love with the Blackburn Blackburn? I mean look at it! There's an aeroplane with real charactor, and space for three in the roomy cabin. Pity the poor pilot stuck way up there in the slipstream. I guess this particular naval specification for a fleet spotter was mostly to blame, because its competitor, the Avro Bison was also spectacularly ugly!

I thought the proportions looked quite good for free flight, so started on yet another attempt to make a competitive lightweight competition peanut. I was helped helped by some superb 1/20 square wood I bought from Alan Cohen (three bundles in three different stiffnesses) plus some very light 1/32 and 1/64" wood from Dave at Easybuilt Models

The bare bones shown above weighed just under 6 grams, which is pretty good for me.

The original plan was to have the model finished for the 2011 Indoor Nats, but I managed to break assorted wing spars and a section of leading edge while masking and painting the wings. I thought I could perhaps live with the breaks, but eventually decided rather than rush the model I'd take my time and set a new target of April 2012.

The cowl louvres are formed into the thin card panels using a needle slid up and down in slits cut where the rear of each louvre is. To keep the front of the louvre straight, a steel rule is fixed over the card so the tip of the needle runs against it. This method was shown to me by Tom Hallman, and in my opinion looks far better than sticking balsa bumps onto the nose - for one thing, they are open at the rear just like the real thing.

Finish is airbrushed enamels and the wing roundels were made by overlaying pieces of painted decal - firstly a white disc, then a blue ring and red centre - all cut out using an Olfa compass cutter. The stripes on the rudder were also cut from painted decal. Rigging is fishing nylon, painted with a mixture of silver and black paint.

The model was ready for test flying at the Manchester Velodrome meeting in February. I'd love to tell you that it flew off the board, or in fact flew at all, but that wasn't the case. The model suffered from lateral instability, in that it would start a turn in one direction, then suddenly flick over the other way and head for the floor. I suspect the large amount of side area at the front is a factor, and like the Laird Speedwing Junior, a larger fin and rudder may be needed. I damaged a couple of the wings trying to trim it, so further tests will depend on my generating enough enthusiasm to make repairs.

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