© 2017 CEDCS Ltd

Model aircraft

My oldest hobby, one I’m unlikely ever to give up

Aircraft are such fascinating machines for engineers. The rewards of full-size aviation and model aviation are very different. I love both! I’ve had hundreds of models. Some perish from pilot error eventually, some from old age, some get sold and the odd one gets scrapped as a failed experiment. But all are fascinating. The beauty of models over full-size are several. The personal risk is lower (although people do get killed by models, it’s rarely the pilot), the cost is lower (although goodness knows the cost of some of the Jet Masters models) and usually model flying fields are easier to find than aerodromes. However the biggest advantage of models is the ability to design, modify and test models without needing to seek the approval of the Authorities. (Although you need approval to fly heavy models, but this isn’t a problem for most models.) I can talk about aircraft all day, but here are some pictures of some of my favourite models over the years. If you’re not an aeromodeller and don’t know the acronyms used, there’s a glossary at the bottom of this page. Boeing Stearman This is a Great Planes kit. It’s quite heavy, so the original Saito RG-19R3 wasn’t quite powerful enough to take it off this grass strip. So I replaced it with a 25cc 2-stroke engine, and it’s now a realistic performer. The undercarriage is qute delicate and an unintentional over-shoot of the strip has turned the electric fence (which we lay down outside the strip) into an arrester wire has pulled it off. An easy repair, though. It looks quite realistic in the air. Currently flying. Micro Butterfly   This was a tiny indoor model with simple left/right radio control. 2008. Blade 450 I’ve had a few helicopters. Whilst I started to make one from scratch about 20 years ago when kits and pre-made models didn’t exist, the hobby trade has taken helicopters to such levels that I doubt anyone tries to make helicopters now. This was quite a small model, and it flew quite well, but when things went wrong….. they went wrong quickly. 2013. Bonito This model was a pre-made one, with an obechi foam wing that I glass skinned, and an epoxy fuesalage. This was in the early days of brushless motors, and Aveox was one of the few manufacturers. The motors and controllers were very expensive compared to what you can get them for today. However it was good enough to tentatively compete in F5E events. 2007. Cougar This was an ARTF model bought hastily as I’d damaged my favourite Acro Wot. It flew fairly well on a 40 2-stroke engine. 2007. OV 10 Bronco This model got me to buy a subscription to RCM&E. That’s a magazine that I subscribe to from time to time, and when I saw this free plan in an issue in 2014, I bought it and thought another year of the magazine would be good. This model was built with blue foam and painted in acrylic paint. It was a good flier, and had tiny  electric retracts so looked very realistic for its size. Alas one motor siezed in 2015 and it was into the ground before I realised why it was spinning. It’s in a heap now awaiting a decision whether to repair it. Comper Swift Actually, that’s “false news”, as this is a full sixe Comp from the Shuttleworth collection. Mine is still half complete, and will model an earlier Comp with a Salmson engine so that my Saitor 19R3 will look realistic in it. Most Comps like this one have a Pobjoy engine which had an intergral gearbox, and so the prop shaft is not on the same axis as the engine. 2018? I also had a Peanut Scale Comp in similar colours to this one, powered by a Gasparin 23 mm3 CO2 engine, which flew like it was on rails. Corby Starlet Here’s my Corby Starlet, built as a ¼ scale model of my full-size Starlet. This is a 4S electric powered model, and it flew quite well. Alas a motor problem caused a crash, and it’s in the workshop awaiting a repair. Here it is with its full-size doppelganger JetFor Becoming interested in gas turbines, I went to an open day at Wren Turbines, mainly to gather information as I planned to scratch build one. However there were several models for sale, ready to fly, and this one caught my eye. it was designed as a jet trainer, with a wing for an Acrowot which I knew had great flying properties, and a sensibly designed airframe, plus a nearly new Wren 44. I bought it and never regretted it. It flew superbly, the only modification I made being to increase the travel of the flaps to help slow it down. It had the biggest flight envelope of any model I’ve had, with a top speed of perhaps 150mph (alas this was before the days of radio control telemetry) and a landing speed of as little as 15 mph. Whilst my later turbines were more visually attractive, this was by far the most enjoyable to fly. It eventally perished in an accident, but the engine survived OK and went into a Jet Provost. Jet Provost Unfortunately this is the only photo I have of my Provost. I scratch built it from a plan. I had to buy another Wren 44 for it as the first one in the JetFor was so good I couldn’t follow my original plan to retire it once I’d got some jet experience. So this had a new Wren 44 Gold. It flew well for its few flights, although it suffered several accidents with a failed undercarraige leg and a misplaced battery causing a centre of gravity problem.  DH Vampire This was my Vampire, powered by me second Wren 44. It was build from a DB Sport and Scale kit. It flew very well, and I eventually sold it in 2016 as I decided to quit turbines and but some interesting petrol 4-strokes. Fokker DVIII This model started with an engine. I built a 10cc 4-stroke engine called Matador, and it ran well but had less than the power you’d expect for such a size. It flew a couple fo models, and I decided a DVIII would be ideal. I bought a Ben Buckle kit for it, but it was too small in terms of anticipated power/weight ratio. So I enlarged the plan 30% and built this model. Alas the Matador just wasn’t powerful enough, and it never flew successfully. So I bought a Laser 70 for it, and it was then a great flier. I eventually sold it when I decided to get out of glow fuel engines. Edge 540 This is a 4S aerobatic model. Five Jet I bought this model hastily to replace my crashed Jet 44. With a Wren 44 it was a fast flyer, but needed a long runway, especially to land. I sold it. Formosa After I bought my first one of these all-foam models, I went and bought 3 more - they were that good at the time. With LiPos and a brushless motor (very new on the market at the time), it was jaw-droppingly good. Eventually I floew all 4 of them into the ground. I mean, worn out rather than crashed! Sbach 342 (6S electric) I did a few events with IMAC. Here is my 6S Sbach parked alongside the more typical IMAC model, powered by 100cc or so and twice the wingspan. The Sbach gave a good account of itself at beginner level, but there’s no way it would compete with the IMAC monsters. The model is still flying well now and is my most reliable scale aerobat. This is a Hobby King ARTF model and I’d happily buy another as a spare, but they seem to have discontinued this one. Sbach (50cc) To try and do better in IMAC, I bought this 50cc powered Sbach. It was a great flyer, but a struggle to get it into the car. I was getting confident with it when I took it to the 2013 British Nationals, and in the second round it suffered what I’m sure was a radio grey-out and it continued on a 45° down line into the ground. So that was the end of my 50cc career. Yes, it did fly more realistically than smaller models, but to me the trouble is not worth the reward. Katana Here is my Katana, a small model by Precision Aerobatics, next to the Edge 540. This was a very good model, once some factory faults were rectified,  made very light and stiff by the use of carbon fibre to reinforce the airframe. Supplied by a UK reseller Purple power, they also supplied servos which were completely inadequate for normal aerobatics and the gears stripped. It survived that, but later didn’t survive pilot error due to doing earos too close to the ground. Libelle This was a discus launched glider. I could get still air flights of close to a minute with it, Years ago I used to say that a free flight hand launched glider was the most fun you could have for £1, and this is a modern version of the same, but costing rather more than £1. I guess it would have mde a great light wind slope soarer, but there were no convernient slope sites where I lived. I flew regularly it until a shooulder problem made me sell it. DH Mosquito The Mosquito was one of the greatest WW2 aircraft. One used to be based at Hawarden, a few miles from my home, and it flew over most weekends on its way to appear at an airshow. What a fabulous sight and sound. Alas it perished in a crash at Manchester. I had to build a model of it, and this was made from a Cloud Models kit. When I got it i nearly returned it, as the ABS nascelles and belly pan seemed far too fragile for a model with no undercarraige. However I made it, and fitted the twin 400 motors recommended. It was woefully underpowered, so I fitted two brushless motors, and that transformed it. It was an excellent flier, seemed to have no nasty vices, and never suffered landing damage, although I took the precaution of fitting folding propellors to prevent damage from the ground. I sold it when moving house when I had to reduce my squadron size due to space limitations at the new house.  Mythos After my turbines, this has been my most expensive model, totallying about £1000 due to buying top of the range servos, motor and controller for it. The airframe is superb and well worth its price, although whether my standard of flying warrants those servos is debatable. I had a go in the GBR/CAA competitions, but found that whilst I can fly a recognisable schedule, I’m not up to the standards of these aerobatic pilots, even with a good model. It’s still a satisfying mode to fly. Nano Gnat This is going back about 30 years now, and this was an early model for indoor R/C. Powered by smalll NiCd cells and spanning about 20”, it flew in sports arenas quite well. I sold it to a guy in Northern Ireland, and it even survived the post transport to him. Fournier FR4 This isn’t actually my model, but a visitor to a fly-in which was close to identical to one I built but don’t have a picture of. Those long, slender wings were prone to warping, but it was a good flyer and was eventualy scrapped due to old age. North American P51D This is a Great Planes P51D. At only 3’ wingspan, it has electric retracts and flies extremely well. It won a “most laudable flight” prize at a scale fly-in which was so windy that most pilots wouldn’t risk their models. This one could barely make headway into the wind at full throttle, but it survived well despite being blown over on landing a couple fo times. I still have it. P51D park flier This R/C model was only about 12” wingspan from the Parkzone bind-n-fly stable, I bought it as my Beast was so successful, but this little model didn’t work anything like as well. It looked great, but didn’t fly well. Sold at Northwich swap meet. Andreasson BA-4B This was a Peanut Scale model (13” wingspan) for indoor rubber power. DH Moth There is my DH Tiger Moth at the back of a line-up of my models at a fly-in at RAF Shawbury in 2009. It was an ARTF, became a good flier and was nicely scale detailed. Sold. Stuka This was a Black Horse models kit, bought for a 26cc 2-stroke petrol engine. It looked good, but it was awful, I include it more to show “all that glistens is not gold”.  It was fragile, especially the landing gear, and its roll ability was dangerously poor. With full aileron deflection ad normal cruising speed, it could manage 45° of bank and no more. I fitted clear plastic aileron extenders, which improved it, but it was still an unsatisfactory model. I eventually sold it for spares. Skyrider My first radio controlled model was a trainer that taught many people how to fly - the Tyro, designed by aeromodelling legent David Boddington. It flew for many years and was transformed into a parachute dropper. I don’t have a photo of it, or my next model a scale Cessna 172. The third however was another Boddington design, the Skyrider. Built from a plan (as most models were in those days), it was balsa covered by nylon and dope. It also flew for many years and was eventually lost in a fly-away. Radio control was somewhat less reliable in those days than it is now. Thunderbolt Going back to my very early aeromodelling days, my first models were rubber powered free flight ones. Then I started in control line, and the first models were profile syle trainers. With no-one to guide me, there were many crashes in the learning process. Eventually a work colleague of my Dad gave me a beautiful Rivers Silver Arrow engine, a 3.2cc monster! Or so I thought at the time. This required a model bigger than before, and I built a Thunderbolt. This was balsa with nylon covering. I flew it at a local park, and had several flights be taking the gamble to try to loop it. I chickened out part way round as its nose turned earthwards, and I found myself inverted. I was quite unprepared for that, and after a lap inverted I tried to right it, but had got muddled up and turned it into the ground. So this is the only photograph of it, a tough lesson for a tyro pilot. To be continued

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Model aircraft

My oldest hobby, one I’m

unlikely ever to give up

Aircraft are such fascinating machines for engineers. The rewards of full-size aviation and model aviation are very different. I love both! I’ve had hundreds of models. Some perish from pilot error eventually, some from old age, some get sold and the odd one gets scrapped as a failed experiment. But all are fascinating. The beauty of models over full-size are several. The personal risk is lower (although people do get killed by models, it’s rarely the pilot), the cost is lower (although goodness knows the cost of some of the Jet Masters models) and usually model flying fields are easier to find than aerodromes. However the biggest advantage of models is the ability to design, modify and test models without needing to seek the approval of the Authorities. (Although you need approval to fly heavy models, but this isn’t a problem for most models.) I can talk about aircraft all day, but here are some pictures of some of my favourite models over the years. If you’re not an aeromodeller and don’t know the acronyms used, there’s a glossary at the bottom of this page. Boeing Stearman This is a Great Planes kit. It’s quite heavy, so the original Saito RG-19R3 wasn’t quite powerful enough to take it off this grass strip. So I replaced it with a 25cc 2-stroke engine, and it’s now a realistic performer. The undercarriage is qute delicate and an unintentional over-shoot of the strip has turned the electric fence (which we lay down outside the strip) into an arrester wire has pulled it off. An easy repair, though. It looks quite realistic in the air. Currently flying. Micro Butterfly   This was a tiny indoor model with simple left/right radio control. 2008. Blade 450 I’ve had a few helicopters. Whilst I started to make one from scratch about 20 years ago when kits and pre-made models didn’t exist, the hobby trade has taken helicopters to such levels that I doubt anyone tries to make helicopters now. This was quite a small model, and it flew quite well, but when things went wrong….. they went wrong quickly. 2013. Bonito This model was a pre-made one, with an obechi foam wing that I glass skinned, and an epoxy fuesalage. This was in the early days of brushless motors, and Aveox was one of the few manufacturers. The motors and controllers were very expensive compared to what you can get them for today. However it was good enough to tentatively compete in F5E events. 2007. Cougar This was an ARTF model bought hastily as I’d damaged my favourite Acro Wot. It flew fairly well on a 40 2-stroke engine. 2007. OV 10 Bronco This model got me to buy a subscription to RCM&E. That’s a magazine that I subscribe to from time to time, and when I saw this free plan in an issue in 2014, I bought it and thought another year of the magazine would be good. This model was built with blue foam and painted in acrylic paint. It was a good flier, and had tiny  electric retracts so looked very realistic for its size. Alas one motor siezed in 2015 and it was into the ground before I realised why it was spinning. It’s in a heap now awaiting a decision whether to repair it. Comper Swift Actually, that’s “false news”, as this is a full sixe Comp from the Shuttleworth collection. Mine is still half complete, and will model an earlier Comp with a Salmson engine so that my Saitor 19R3 will look realistic in it. Most Comps like this one have a Pobjoy engine which had an intergral gearbox, and so the prop shaft is not on the same axis as the engine. 2018? I also had a Peanut Scale Comp in similar colours to this one, powered by a Gasparin 23 mm3 CO2 engine, which flew like it was on rails. Corby Starlet Here’s my Corby Starlet, built as a ¼ scale model of my full-size Starlet. This is a 4S electric powered model, and it flew quite well. Alas a motor problem caused a crash, and it’s in the workshop awaiting a repair. Here it is with its full-size doppelganger JetFor Becoming interested in gas turbines, I went to an open day at Wren Turbines, mainly to gather information as I planned to scratch build one. However there were several models for sale, ready to fly, and this one caught my eye. it was designed as a jet trainer, with a wing for an Acrowot which I knew had great flying properties, and a sensibly designed airframe, plus a nearly new Wren 44. I bought it and never regretted it. It flew superbly, the only modification I made being to increase the travel of the flaps to help slow it down. It had the biggest flight envelope of any model I’ve had, with a top speed of perhaps 150mph (alas this was before the days of radio control telemetry) and a landing speed of as little as 15 mph. Whilst my later turbines were more visually attractive, this was by far the most enjoyable to fly. It eventally perished in an accident, but the engine survived OK and went into a Jet Provost. Jet Provost Unfortunately this is the only photo I have of my Provost. I scratch built it from a plan. I had to buy another Wren 44 for it as the first one in the JetFor was so good I couldn’t follow my original plan to retire it once I’d got some jet experience. So this had a new Wren 44 Gold. It flew well for its few flights, although it suffered several accidents with a failed undercarraige leg and a misplaced battery causing a centre of gravity problem.  DH Vampire This was my Vampire, powered by me second Wren 44. It was build from a DB Sport and Scale kit. It flew very well, and I eventually sold it in 2016 as I decided to quit turbines and but some interesting petrol 4-strokes. Fokker DVIII This model started with an engine. I built a 10cc 4- stroke engine called Matador, and it ran well but had less than the power you’d expect for such a size. It flew a couple fo models, and I decided a DVIII would be ideal. I bought a Ben Buckle kit for it, but it was too small in terms of anticipated power/weight ratio. So I enlarged the plan 30% and built this model. Alas the Matador just wasn’t powerful enough, and it never flew successfully. So I bought a Laser 70 for it, and it was then a great flier. I eventually sold it when I decided to get out of glow fuel engines. Edge 540 This is a 4S aerobatic model. Five Jet I bought this model hastily to replace my crashed Jet 44. With a Wren 44 it was a fast flyer, but needed a long runway, especially to land. I sold it. Formosa After I bought my first one of these all-foam models, I went and bought 3 more - they were that good at the time. With LiPos and a brushless motor (very new on the market at the time), it was jaw- droppingly good. Eventually I floew all 4 of them into the ground. I mean, worn out rather than crashed! Sbach 342 (6S electric) I did a few events with IMAC. Here is my 6S Sbach parked alongside the more typical IMAC model, powered by 100cc or so and twice the wingspan. The Sbach gave a good account of itself at beginner level, but there’s no way it would compete with the IMAC monsters. The model is still flying well now and is my most reliable scale aerobat. This is a Hobby King ARTF model and I’d happily buy another as a spare, but they seem to have discontinued this one. Sbach (50cc) To try and do better in IMAC, I bought this 50cc powered Sbach. It was a great flyer, but a struggle to get it into the car. I was getting confident with it when I took it to the 2013 British Nationals, and in the second round it suffered what I’m sure was a radio grey-out and it continued on a 45° down line into the ground. So that was the end of my 50cc career. Yes, it did fly more realistically than smaller models, but to me the trouble is not worth the reward. Katana Here is my Katana, a small model by Precision Aerobatics, next to the Edge 540. This was a very good model, once some factory faults were rectified,  made very light and stiff by the use of carbon fibre to reinforce the airframe. Supplied by a UK reseller Purple power, they also supplied servos which were completely inadequate for normal aerobatics and the gears stripped. It survived that, but later didn’t survive pilot error due to doing earos too close to the ground. Libelle This was a discus launched glider. I could get still air flights of close to a minute with it, Years ago I used to say that a free flight hand launched glider was the most fun you could have for £1, and this is a modern version of the same, but costing rather more than £1. I guess it would have mde a great light wind slope soarer, but there were no convernient slope sites where I lived. I flew regularly it until a shooulder problem made me sell it. DH Mosquito The Mosquito was one of the greatest WW2 aircraft. One used to be based at Hawarden, a few miles from my home, and it flew over most weekends on its way to appear at an airshow. What a fabulous sight and sound. Alas it perished in a crash at Manchester. I had to build a model of it, and this was made from a Cloud Models kit. When I got it i nearly returned it, as the ABS nascelles and belly pan seemed far too fragile for a model with no undercarraige. However I made it, and fitted the twin 400 motors recommended. It was woefully underpowered, so I fitted two brushless motors, and that transformed it. It was an excellent flier, seemed to have no nasty vices, and never suffered landing damage, although I took the precaution of fitting folding propellors to prevent damage from the ground. I sold it when moving house when I had to reduce my squadron size due to space limitations at the new house.  Mythos After my turbines, this has been my most expensive model, totallying about £1000 due to buying top of the range servos, motor and controller for it. The airframe is superb and well worth its price, although whether my standard of flying warrants those servos is debatable. I had a go in the GBR/CAA competitions, but found that whilst I can fly a recognisable schedule, I’m not up to the standards of these aerobatic pilots, even with a good model. It’s still a satisfying mode to fly. Nano Gnat This is going back about 30 years now, and this was an early model for indoor R/C. Powered by smalll NiCd cells and spanning about 20”, it flew in sports arenas quite well. I sold it to a guy in Northern Ireland, and it even survived the post transport to him. Fournier FR4 This isn’t actually my model, but a visitor to a fly-in which was close to identical to one I built but don’t have a picture of. Those long, slender wings were prone to warping, but it was a good flyer and was eventualy scrapped due to old age. North American P51D This is a Great Planes P51D. At only 3’ wingspan, it has electric retracts and flies extremely well. It won a “most laudable flight” prize at a scale fly-in which was so windy that most pilots wouldn’t risk their models. This one could barely make headway into the wind at full throttle, but it survived well despite being blown over on landing a couple fo times. I still have it. P51D park flier This R/C model was only about 12” wingspan from the Parkzone bind-n-fly stable, I bought it as my Beast was so successful, but this little model didn’t work anything like as well. It looked great, but didn’t fly well. Sold at Northwich swap meet. Andreasson BA-4B This was a Peanut Scale model (13” wingspan) for indoor rubber power. DH Moth There is my DH Tiger Moth at the back of a line-up of my models at a fly-in at RAF Shawbury in 2009. It was an ARTF, became a good flier and was nicely scale detailed. Sold. Stuka This was a Black Horse models kit, bought for a 26cc 2-stroke petrol engine. It looked good, but it was awful, I include it more to show “all that glistens is not gold”.  It was fragile, especially the landing gear, and its roll ability was dangerously poor. With full aileron deflection ad normal cruising speed, it could manage 45° of bank and no more. I fitted clear plastic aileron extenders, which improved it, but it was still an unsatisfactory model. I eventually sold it for spares. Skyrider My first radio controlled model was a trainer that taught many people how to fly - the Tyro, designed by aeromodelling legent David Boddington. It flew for many years and was transformed into a parachute dropper. I don’t have a photo of it, or my next model a scale Cessna 172. The third however was another Boddington design, the Skyrider. Built from a plan (as most models were in those days), it was balsa covered by nylon and dope. It also flew for many years and was eventually lost in a fly-away. Radio control was somewhat less reliable in those days than it is now. Thunderbolt Going back to my very early aeromodelling days, my first models were rubber powered free flight ones. Then I started in control line, and the first models were profile syle trainers. With no-one to guide me, there were many crashes in the learning process. Eventually a work colleague of my Dad gave me a beautiful Rivers Silver Arrow engine, a 3.2cc monster! Or so I thought at the time. This required a model bigger than before, and I built a Thunderbolt. This was balsa with nylon covering. I flew it at a local park, and had several flights be taking the gamble to try to loop it. I chickened out part way round as its nose turned earthwards, and I found myself inverted. I was quite unprepared for that, and after a lap inverted I tried to right it, but had got muddled up and turned it into the ground. So this is the only photograph of it, a tough lesson for a tyro pilot. To be continued

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