Photo gallery 11 - my latest models

Portsmouth Aerocar

On the trip back from Geneseo with Clive in 2010 I was leafing through a book on post-war civil aircraft when I came upon a photograph of the Portsmouth Aerocar for the first time. I thought it would make an interesting rubber twin, but didn't hold out much hope of finding a 3-view for such an obscure aircraft (only one prototype was manufactured). Well, all credit to Portsmouth Aviation, who are still very much in business and have an interesting history section on their web site, including an excellent history of the Aerocar, with a 3-view and many photos. It took a while to get a plan drawn up, but I managed to get the model finished in time to take it the 2012 FAC Nats.

Wingspan is 28" and the model structure was based on my successful Argosy, though the fuselage was rather simpler, being slab-sided. 1/16" balsa was used for most of the model, including the fuselage box, as I wanted to keep the weight down as much as I could. The wing is cracked rib construction using two spars, with removable outer panels. The booms sit high on the wings, and the high thrust line means there there is just room for the rubber to pass over the wing spars on the way to the rear peg. It is just possible to swing a pair of 7 inch props - they just miss the cockpit. As on my other muti-engined models I used commercial plastic props (these are standard Peck items) both rotating the same way.

The model is covered in Esaki tissue - all white, apart from the fuselage in black, so that it would look dark when you look through the windows. The window material is from two large boxes of Tesco fresh cream doughnuts (!) I don't know what it is, but is thin, light, and has a good stiffness. Only the two upper corner windows are stretch moulded - all other panels are cut from flat sheet and attached with Formula 560 canopy glue. Paper patterns were cut first to get the shapes right.

The paint finish is Xtracolor RLM Silver enamel, thinned with dope thinners and all markings are cut from painted decal film. Final weight came out at 77 grams without rubber or noseweight.

First flights were made at Geneseo after the static judging, and after adding quite a bit of noseweight (I'm very glad I built a noseweight box into the bottom of the nose block) it flew pretty well. Ideal power seems to be one loop of 1/8" and one loop 3/32" rubber in each nacelle. It does tend to stall a bit when the power runs out, so I will be playing with the rudder trim tabs and sidethrust to see if I can get a circling glide, rather than a straight one. Flights so far have been between 30 and 40 seconds, but I'm sure there is more to come.

A postscript from 2013 - there certainly was a bit more to come, as the model flew away at the 2013 Dreaming Spires meeting on Port Meadow, Oxford. No name and address on the model of course - why would you bother on a scale rubber twin? That will teach me. It was timed at 4 minutes 30 seconds over the trees on the other side of the river. I'd been working on fine tuning the trim in the weeks before, particularly the transition from the powered to glide phase, and reduced the rubber slightly to a single loop of 3/16" in each nacelle, giving a less steep climb out, but longer motor run. I can't face building another to replace it, as life is too short, and I've got so many other projects I want to do, but I will post the plan on the site as a free download in case anybody else wants to give it a go.

Here's a nice video to remember it by:

Curtiss P-6E Hawk

This model had a ridiculously long gestation, being started back in 2000 as an enlarged and better detailed version of my successful Comet 1/24 scale P-6E from 1999.

The bones were rescued from the cupboard in 2011 after a 7 year hiatus - something of a record even for me. The lower wings were then constructed, as was the fin, radiator and the underfuselage fuel tank.

This is how the model looked in December 2012 with all the covering done. The green paint you can see was used as an undercoat to check what certain parts would look like under the final paint finish. The wheel pants have been made, and the fuselage radiator and headrest fitted, plus all those exhausts from plastic tubing. The book shows the model colour scheme. Nice as the Snow Owl paint scheme is, everybody seems to do it (including me on my smaller P-6E), so I fancied a change.

Finish is airbrushed Xtracolor enamels thinned with dope thinners. Most markings are individually cut from painted decal sheet - in the case of the wing roundels, a white disc cut with a compass cutter was applied first, then the red and blue sections overlaid. The Indian Head badge was scanned from the book and printed onto white decal sheet. Rigging is fishing nylon, so functional, tightened using a hairdryer and painted metallic grey.

Here you can see the underside details including the underfuselage tank.

The only photo I can seem to find of the model finished, complete with pilot, windscreen, prop and tailwheel, is this one, parked next to the Vought SBU to the same scale (see below). You can read how the model got on at the 2013 Indoor Nats elsewhere on the site - suffice to say it achieved a couple of qualifying flights but required some repairs afterwards.

Vought SBU

This is a new self-designed open electric model to replace the Kamikaze. I originally drew the type up as a 1/24 rubber model, which had a wingspan just under 16 inches. The original plane was very small for a two-seater - there are some good photos on the internet where the crew almost look too big for the plane! So, I redrew the plan, this time using CAD, in 1/20 scale, which gives a model big enough to suit an Atomic Workshop Voodoo 25 electric motor. I've never seen a model of the SBU before, but the proportions looked quite good, and you know how I am a sucker for yellow-winged 1930's bipes.

Here is the model before covering - except the lower wing, which had to be covered before fitting to the fuselage. Below are a couple of detail photos of the lower keel and wing fillets.

I added gussets at the wing rib trailing edges on this model to avoid wrinkles, which seemed to work.

The Voodoo 25 motor is a very tight fit in the crankcase, which had to be hollowed out till the balsa was nearly transparent. I wicked in some thin cyano to strengthen it. Note the sidethrust, which in the event proved inadequate to prevent the model straightening out as the power dropped at the end of the flight.

The cowl and crankcase split to allow motor access, with the upper cowl held in place using neodynium magnets.

The finish was airbrushed Xtracolour and Humbrol enamels with markings mostly cut from painted decal sheet. Rigging was from fishing line, as on the Curtiss P-6E.

The model weight came out at 56 grams, so a bit more than I'd hoped. However, the Voodo 25 proved to have just enough power on full throttle to get it off the ground. The problem I had when trimming at the Nationals was that despite all that sidethrust, the model tended to straighten out at the end of the flight and head for the wall. This resulted in a badly smashed nose, so I have some repairs to do, and a new dummy crankcase to build, before I can fly it again. Fortunately everything behind the cowling is undamaged.

Frog Diana

Anyone remember the Frog Diana glider that I started building during the Wilmot Mansour exhibition back in May 2005? (You can read about it here on my Frog site). Well, in 2013 I finally finished it. The incentive came from the introduction of a 36 inch span bungee launched glider competition at the Peterborough Flying Aces meeting. It looked a fun event and with the span of the diana being exactly 36", I thought I'd give it a go.

The model is finished in coloured domestic tissue. not something I do very often. The letters are cut from tissue and applied with dope thinners.

Quite attractive lines I think, and the first glider I have build for about 35 years! It was a bit blustery at Peterborough, so difficult to trim a new model properly, but it got to the top of the line several times, and put in a couple of reasonable flights. I quite fancy building another three foot glider now. Maybe the Veron Classic?

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