BMFA Indoor Scale Nationals, 23rd April 2017

We were back at Walsall again this year, in the Wolverhampton University Sports Hall, which met with the approval of everybody I spoke to. A record number of entries in kit scale (37 were expected) meant that fitting all the flights into one day was going to be a challenge in fact even with an 8.00am start on the Sunday, it was decided to drop kit scale round 4 to ensure we could run to time. At the pilots briefing it was stressed that flyers had to be ready to make their flights when it was their turn, and helped by a spreadsheet projected onto the wall of the hall, it was easy to see when it was time to prepare and fly. Everybody seemed to be paying attention, and things ran really smoothly. So much so that we were able to have a few unscheduled trimming sessions between rounds, which was really valuable.

It made a change to be properly prepared for the Indoor Nats this year, as I had the Fox Moth unchanged from last year, and both my new models, the Shark and Ripon, had flown successfully two weeks before at the Peterborough pre-Nats trimming session. Regulars to the site will know that the Shark has been a long term project, meant for outdoor flying, but as the Fox Moth had gone so well last year, I wondered if the Shark could be made to fly indoors. Thus I entered it in the kit scale class a first time for me.

As usual, I'm not going to summarise any class rules as they can all be found painstakingly detailed in the latest BMFA rule book here. You'll need to scroll down to page 83 to reach indoor scale.

Entries were slightly down this year in the open rubber class - just 11 entries were put in for static judging, compared to 14 last year. This is rather disappointing, and seems to indicate that kit scale is not really acting as a feeder class for open rubber. I still maintain that many of the kit scale entries would place quite highly in the open class, as they fly so well. The hurdle would seem to be just getting sufficient documentation together to meet the more stringent judging requirements of the open classes. I think all you need really is a change of approach - just plan ahead before you start cutting balsa and make sure you choose a subject and colour scheme where photos exist to prove to the judges that all the markings on the model are where they are on the real aircraft. The downside, of course, is that such documentation for more obscure subjects simply doesn't exist, so many often interesting and attractive aircraft can never be entered in an open class without taking a big points hit on the static judging.

Anyway - returning to this year's entries - Of the 11, only two models failed to make a qualifying flight, so the same as last year.

Below you can see the fourth and best flight of the Fox Moth this year. The three previous flights had been marred by turbulence just prior to landing which caused a less than smooth approach to the floor. I saw this happen with other models too, and I'm not sure if it was just the model passing through its own wake, or some other cause.

Odd that it only ever seemed to happen once during the flight. For the final flight I put more winds on (950) so the wobble happened higher up, giving the model time to recover before landing. The flight score was not quite as good as last year, but still good enough to win the class again. To be honest, I was surprised more people hadn't tried to go the "larger but light" route since last year - I'm sure there will be more competition with lightly loaded models next time!

Huge thanks to Monique Lyons for all the videos featured here.

Chris Strachan had a new open rubber model this year - a very neatly finished D.H.80 Puss Moth. Flew nicely too as you can see below.

What about this for an ambitious colour scheme? Monique Lyons's Pitts Special was really spectacular - I can't imagine how much masking tape was used on this one (the underside also features a red and white chequered pattern!) The model was based on the Herr Engineering kit. I'd seen this flying at the Peterborough trimming session, and it was flying safe left hand circuits. However, this weekend it kept wanting to go right, and suffered some serious damage hitting the walls. Monique manged to get it patched up though, and was rewarded with an excellent third flight, enough to get fourth place in the class.

Richard Moore brought along this great looking Fokker DR.1 which I gather was a race to finish in time for the event. Sadly he didn't manage to get a qualifying flight in, but hopefully we'll see it again next year.

Above you can see Richard Crossley's highest scoring flight with the Lockheed Vega, which finished third in class.

Here you can see Peter Smart's fifth place RE8 in action.

I have to say peanut scale Laceys don't do a lot for me, but enlarged to this size I can appreciate its bulky charm - it's basically a big box of air with wings. Andy Sephton was the builder and you can see how slowly it flies below.

Pete Fardell is never one to shy away from a challenging subject, and they don't come more challenging for free flight than this Caudron type F. With not a trace of dihedral and a very short fuselage to pack the rubber in, getting the required 15 seconds was always going to be difficult. Pete got very close on Saturday evening (maybe 14.5 seconds?) but on Sunday, sadly, the model was just not cooperating.

Laurie Kirby brought this beautifully finished Ryan STA along to enter in the open rubber class, but ran out of trimming time so sadly never got any competition flights in.

There were only 7 entries in the Electric/CO2 class this year, two less than 2016, which is slightly worrying, though at least one regular competitor had a good excuse as he'd only just come out of hospital and was confined to barracks!

Last year Peter Smart's Lancaster suffered from a lack of power and failed to get off the ground properly to register a qualifying flight. So, for this year he had installed two new more powerful motors to just the inner nacelles. This really did the trick, and the model did four excellent flights well over the required 15 seconds. Flight 1 is shown below. Peter finished in second place behind Richard Crossley.

Kevin Wallace brought along a new model, this well-detailed Bowers Fly Baby for electric power (all hardware available from SAMS Models of course). After three failures (one of which was only inches from success - the wall arrived just a little too soon), Kevin pulled it out of the bag with the third flight, which was a real beauty, and good enough for third in class.

It is worth mentioning that the results in this class for the placings behind the winner were incredibly close - there were just 6 points between second and fourth place.

Richard Crossley's Piper Tri-Pacer, normally such a reliable performer, refused to take off in rounds 1 and 2, but was back to normal after a battery change before rounds 3 and 4. Flight 3 is shown above - shame the wall arrived just a little too quickly to prevent a landing. Flight 4 landed safely though, and combined with an excellent static score, was good enough to win the class.

Graham Banham's Cessna C-37 continues to be a very smooth and reliable flyer as you can see above - Graham missed out on third place by just 1.5 points!

The Kit Scale class continies to increase in popularity - last year we had 30 entries, this time no less than 37, of which 32 were put in for static judging, and 30 made qualifying flights. As a first time entrant, the difference I noticed compared to Open Rubber was that there is rather more pressure to get consistent flights in Kit Scale. Due to there only being three rounds this year, you had to get two good flights out of three to get a decent score. In open Rubber, you only need one good flight out of Four. So, a consistent flying model is a definite advantage.

Monique Lyon's class-winning Fokker D.VII from the Herr Engineering kit is certainly that - all three flights were very similar, using most of the hall and exhibiting a very realistic flight pattern.

This is the second, and best, flight of the Shark - shame about the slight power stall after take-off (easily cured with a bit of downthrust) and also the wobble to the left shortly before landing. I would love to know what was causing this - is it really just wake turbulence? Anyhow, I was very pleased to come second in class, especially with a model I'd originally planned to fly outdoors.

Mike Langford took third place with this very neat D.H.Leopard Moth from an Easy Built Models kit. A very smooth flyer as you can see below.

Ralph Sparrow finished fourth with his fine flying Keil Kraft Auster Arrow

Andy Blackburn placed fifth with his well-finished Andreasson BA-4B from the Peck Polymers kit - proof that you can be competitive in this class with a Peanut scale model (plus you can also enter your model in the peanut class)

Chris Strachan put in some very nice flights with his CO2 powered Piper J3 Cub from the old Hacker kit (see above) finishing 6th in class.

If you are a junior, then building an all-sheet printed kit is not a bad idea, as these models are relatively simple to build and can fly unexpectedly well. This Cessna 182 was constructed from the Veron kit by James Darby, who according to dad Andrew, really enjoyed his first trip to the Nationals. See flight video below.

Great to see not one, but two new juniors competing this year - Richard Crossley's son James was also at the Nats for the first time. He built this Piper Vagabond from the Thomas Designs plan and entered both kit scale and peanut. Sorry for slightly fuzzy photo. James's second flight in kit scale is shown below.

I've thought for a while that the Comet 25" Coast Guard Waco would make a good Kit Scale subject, so was pleased to see Chris Blanch had built one for this year's contest. The kit plan calls out light blue for the colour, which Comet seemed to do whenever they kitted a silver aircraft (my Shark plan said the same). Chris didn't have any light blue tissue so was forced to airbrush the colour, no doubt taking a hit on the static points. It flew really well, getting the third best flight score.

As well as the Veron Cessna shown above, a second printed all-sheet model was flown in the class - this one an Auster Autocar from the Hales Frogflite range built by Tony Rushby. I'm pretty sure this was one of the Yeoman Quickbuild range before it became a Frogflite kit.

Dan Mellor brought along this new CO2 powered Andreasson BA-4B from the Robbe kit (a kit I confess didn't know existed until I saw Dan's)

Alasdair Deas also had a new model this year - a Roscoe Turner Meteor racer from the Easy Built kit

Simon Rogers really pushed the large and light model concept to the limit with this 48" span Comet Curtiss Robin. Maximum permitted all-up weight is 200 grams and Simon's model came in at 180. the model only just missed out on a qualifying flight - I'm 100% confident it can be made to circle in this size of sports hall as it flies so slowly. The model was brand new and unflown before the event and Simon simply ran out of trimming time. I really hope we get to see it next year.

You can find a review of the Easy Built Models Waco Model N kit elsewhere on the site, so I was delighted to see that John Holman had built one for Kit Scale this year. It took off nicely from its tricycle undercarriage and flew well.

I enjoyed this flight by Dave Crompton's Piper Family Cruiser which overflew the pits area before landing safely in the hall.

Peanut scale was strongly supported again this year, with 19 entries recording flights - the same as last year.

I was very pleased with how my new Blackburn Ripon flew first time out - my best flight was 36 seconds from a take-off, giving 46 seconds with the ROG bonus. I also got a 33 second flight, and combined with coming third in static, this was good enough for 2nd in class - my highest ever placing in peanut. Still a long way off Mike Hadland's score though - his Jungmann finished 1st in static and 2nd in flying - a remarkable achievement. The rest of us seem to be either stronger in static or flying, whereas Mike is always very strong in both. Below is one of my Ripon flights - the power runs out while the model is very high up, so I may try going down a bit in rubber cross section (currently one loop of 0.100")

John Bowerman took third place with this well detailed Druine Turbulent. I especially liked the exposed engine and crisp markings.

I always look forwards to seeing what new model John Valiant has built for the event - this year it was a Focke-Wulf 190D finished in an amazingly complex camouflage scheme - all done freehand with a brush. Model is constructed from foam.

Peter Smart's new peanut model this year was a Staaken Z-21 Flitzer homebuilt. Love the spoked wheels.

Chris Strachan's Beardmore Wee Bee 1 got easily the best flight times of any peanut with a two flight total of 179 seconds. Behind you can see the Nesmith Cougar of Nick Peppiatt which finished fourth in class.

Chris Blanch brought along this colourful pair of Bowers Flybabys - one pistachio, one peanut scale. Perhaps unexpectedly, the pistachio one proved to be the better flier! The smaller model got the longer flight duration and finished 3rd in class.

Pistachio entries continue to increase, with 10 people making scoring flights this year - two more than 2016. Three entries are shown above - at the front is Tim Horne's new Waco SRE, behind which is Bryan Stichbury's Andreasson BA-4B and at the back Nick Peppiatt's BAT Baboon.

Chris Chapman made this Messerschmitt Bf 109E which could pass for a well-finished plastic model if it wasn't for the non-scale prop. A really impressive paint job and the model was rewarded with the best scale score in the class.

Probably the largest scale pistachio it's possible to build, and one that brought a smile to my face, was this Stits Baby Bird by John Holman. The full size plane had a span of just 6ft 3 in, making a pistachio model 1:9.4 scale! The model did fly, just not for very long and John told me he is planning to build another one but lighter.

Above is a video showing 10 minutes of action from one of the peanut and pistachio sessions (thanks again to Monique Lyons!) To help you navigate through it, here are some of the models featured (peanut scale unless noted):

  • 0:0 Bristol Scout (Ralph Sparrow)
  • 0:23 Pistachio Bowers Fly Baby (Chris Blanch)
  • 1:03 Nesmith Cougar (Vibes Masters)
  • 1:47 Blackburn Ripon (Mike Stuart)
  • 2:33 Fike Model E (John Holman)
  • 3:39 FW 190D (John Valiant)
  • 3:52 Bucker Jungman (Mike Hadland)
  • 4:48 Druine Turbulent (John Bowerman)
  • 5:38 Waco SRE (Peter Boys)
  • 5:48 Westland Wyvern (Gary Flack)
  • 6:52 Pistachio BAT Baboon (Nick Peppiatt)
  • 8:05 Waterman Gosling (Alasdair Deas)
  • 8:54 Pistachio Bede BD-4 (David Prior)
  • 9:27 Pistachio Lacey M.10 (Andy Sephton)

    We were down to just six entrants for scale glider this year - again no static judging was involved.

    Peter Smart has cracked the winning formula by building an extremely lightweight model (only 6 grams), covering only the upper sides of the flying surfaces and not doping the tissue. The resulting light wing loading means the model tows up very slowly using a winch (and is easy to control), and then flies a slow and graceful circuit of the hall (provided you release the model from the line at the correct point). The model was the same one that won last year, a Slingsby T.1 Falcon, so please excuse the recycled photo.

    Bryan Lever came second with an all-foam Kirby Prefect - again light weight being the key to getting the best flight duration and Peter Fardell came third with his Lilienthal glider, seen in action below.

    For those who haven't witnessed the mayhem of the air race before, the video below should give a taste. The winning team is the one who flies the most laps of the balloons in 10 minutes. This year everybody was flying in the same direction - this is not compulsary and sadly reduces the risk of a head-on mid-air collision! Still, there was plenty of entertainmemt with a balloon burst, prop/string tangling and the odd model retiring hurt.

    Finally, special thanks to the organisers Graham Banham and John Minchell for another well run event - I know they were worried by the sheer amount of models that had been entered, but as it turned out everything ran very smoothly, and we never got behind schedule. The large kit scale entry has provoked some discussion in the forums about what its purpose really is. A beginners feeder class for open rubber, or something in its own right? I personally think we should celebrate the success of the class in a hobby where it is often hard to persuade people to enter competitions. The limited documentation you need means there is very little obstacle to entry, so people are happy to turn up and give it a go. From what I hear, most people who enter are happy to compete against the open class regulars in a class where the rules work in favour of those who build exactly to plan with a coloured tissue finish. Possibly the only restriction I'd suggest is that the winning model one year cannot be entered the next (maybe even the top three?) Most people can build a new kit model in 12 months.



    Name Model Type Best Flying Score Static Score Total Position
    Mike Stuart D.H.83 Fox Moth 1783.0 1538.5 3321.5 1
    Mike Hadland Stampe SV4B 1320.0 1788.0 3108.0 2
    Richard Crossley Lockheed Vega 1529.0 1560.0 3089.0 3
    Monique Lyons Pitts Special 1550.0 1408.0 2958.0 4
    Peter Smart Re8 1269.0 1475.5 2743.5 5
    Andy Sephton Lacey M.10 1584.0 1148.0 2732.0 6
    Chris Strachan D.H.Puss Moth 1531.0 1196.0 2727.0 7
    Peter Boys Waco AGC-8 1097.0 944.0 2041.0 8
    Divs Masters SE5a 658.0 - 658.0 9
    Richard Moore Fokker DR1 - 1324.0 1324.0
    Peter Fardell Caudron Type F - 758.0 758.0


    Name Model Type Best Flying Score Static Score Total Position
    Richard Crossley Piper Tri-Pacer 1501.0 1660.5 3161.5 1
    Peter Smart Avro Lancaster 1549.9 1532.0 3081.9 2
    Kevin Wallace Bowers Flybaby 1657.0 1420.5 3077.5 3
    Graham Banham Cessna C-37 Airmaster 1536.5 1539.5 3076.0 4
    Divs Masters SE5a 1195.0 1713.0 2908.0 5
    Vibes Masters Lacey M.10 1059.0 1212.0 2271.0 6
    Charlie Newman RWD 8 - 1573.0 1573.0 7

    Kit Scale

    Name Model Type Best two flight scores Static Score Total Position
    Monique Lyons Fokker D.VII (Herr Engineering) 209 74 283 1
    Mike Stuart Blackburn Shark (Comet) 178 87 265 2
    Mike Langford D.H.Leopard Moth (Easy Built Models) 178 85 263 3
    Ralph Sparrow Auster Arrow (Keil Kraft) 187 68 255 4
    Andy Blackburn Andreasson BA-4B (Peck Polymers) 169 80 249 5
    Chris Strachan Piper J3 Cub (Hacker) 154 85 239 6
    Bryan Lever Jodel Bebe (Veron) 173 63 236 7
    Dave Crompton Piper Family Cruiser (Keil Kraft) 161 75 236 8
    Chris Blanch Waco Coast Guard (Comet) 182 53 235 9
    Alasdair Deas Roscoe Turner Meteor (Easy Built Models) 149 83 232 10
    John Winfield Stinson Voyager 148 74 222 11
    Danny Wynne-Fenton SE5a (Vintage Model Company) 133 84 217 12
    James Crossley Piper Vagabond (Thomas Designs) 142 73 215 13
    Ken Bates D.H.Hornet Moth (Performance Kits) 147 67 214 14
    Andrew Darby Cessna 140 (Vintage Model Company) 133 79 212 15
    Jan Roest Cosmic Wind (Veron) 146 64 210 16
    Peter Boys Waco SRE (Skylake Models) 134 76 210 17
    Dan Mellor Andreasson BA-4B (Robbe) 128 82 210 18
    Mike Sanderson Nesmith Cougar (Peck Polymers) 145 53 198 19
    John Bowerman Westland Widgeon (West Wings) 128 70 198 20
    Vibes Masters Cessna 180 (Herr Engineering) 133 64 197 21
    John Wynn Stinson Station Wagon (Keil Kraft) 132 59 191 22
    John Holman Waco N (Easy Built Models) 121 69 190 23
    James Darby Cessna 182 (Veron) 110 62 172 24
    David King Piper Family Cruiser (Keil Kraft) 113 58 171 25
    Richard Moore Messerschmitt Bf109 (Comet) 102 64 166 26
    Peter Fardell Fiesler Storch (Dumas) 97 63 160 27
    Bryan Lea Velie Monocoupe (Aerographics) 54 80 134 28
    Tony Rushby Auster Autocar (Frogflite) 58 60 118 29
    Robert Simmonds Stinson Voyager 20 56 76 30
    Simon Rogers Curtiss Robin (Comet) - 75 75 31
    Chris Brainwood Chilton DW1 (Veron) - 65 65 32


    Name Model Type Best two flights (sec) Flying place Static score Static place Total Overall place
    Mike Hadland Bucker Jungmann 122 2 139 1 3 1
    Mike Stuart Blackburn Ripon 89 8 123 3 11 2
    John Bowerman Druine Turbulent 97 6 106 7 13 3
    Nick Peppiatt Nesmith Cougar 119 3 90 10 13 4
    Chris Strachan Beardmore Wee Bee 179 1 81 15 16 5
    John Holman Fike Model E 101 4 86 13 17 6
    Peter Smart Staaken Z-21 Flitzer 60 13 115 5 18 7
    Roel Lucassen Baumer Sausewind 90 7 88 11 18 8
    Peter Boys Waco SRE 52 17 128 2 19 9
    Chris Blanch Bowers Flybaby 53 16 120 4 20 10
    John Valiant Focke-Wulf FW190D 67 12 101 9 21 11
    Andy Blackburn Andreasson BA-4B 81 10 87 12 22 12
    Ralph Sparrow Bristol Scout D 57 15 104 8 23 13
    James Crossley Piper Vagabond 98 5 60 19 24 14
    David Prior Steen Skybolt 8 19 117 6 25 15
    Gary Flack Westland Wyvern 86 9 72 17 26 16
    Bryan Stichbury Piper Cub 58 14 85 14 28 17
    Vibes Masters Nesmith Cougar 68 11 68 18 29 18
    Alasdair Deas Waterman Gosling Racer 46 18 78 16 34 19


    Name Model Type Best two flights (sec) Flying place Static score Static place Total Overall place
    Gary Flack Westland Wyvern 68 4 56 2 6 1
    Andy Sephton Lacey M.10 110 1 44 5 6 2
    Chris Blanch Bowers Flybaby 70 3 44 5 8 3
    Nick Peppiatt BAT Baboon 110 1 38 7 8 4
    Chris Chapman Messerschmitt Bf109 34 8 64 1 9 5
    Chris Strachan Wittman Buster 66 5 48 4 9 6
    Tim Horne Waco SRE 20 9 50 3 12 7
    Bryan Stichbury Andreasson BA-4B 41 7 38 7 14 8
    David Prior Bede BD-4 42 6 34 10 16 9
    John Holman Stits Baby Bird 16 10 38 7 14 10


    Name Model Type Best flight score Place
    Peter Smart Slingsby T.1 Falcon 1729 1
    Brian Lever Kirby Prefect 1550 2
    Peter Fardell Lilienthal 1532 3
    Monique Lyons Slingsby Prefect 1418 4
    Andy Sephton Slingsby Prefect 1373 5
    Dave Crompton Kirby Cadet 1155 6

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