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Old 01-07-2013, 12:37 AM   #1
Bill G
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Default American Gyro AG4 Crusader 36" span

I found this plan at outerzone.uk, which is likely an old FF free plan from Model Aircraft Builder. I haven't found any photos of a model built from the plan, as it may have never been prototyped before publishing the plans. The plans were enlarged to 36" span, using the advanced CAD package MS Paint. I'm not sure what I was thinking in choosing this subject after the Aerovan, and it is already obvious that the Aerovan was a very simple build, compared with this one.
http://www.outerzone.co.uk/plan_details.asp?ID=907

I'll call this build a scratch build, as the plan is more of a "rough guide" with grey areas, some dimensional inconsistencies and lacking boom details. There are some areas that may not go together quite as intended, from what I see so far. Irregardless, the are a number of these old plans appearing on the web, that provide a good starting point for unique subjects.

The booms appear to be shown as simple, built-up design. I was tempted to go that route, but the oval shape would require a good bit of sculpting, with the potential of having heavy booms, given the stock thickness that would be required for the shaping. The boom formers were hand drawn, and will be former and stringer construction, with 1/32" sheeting.

There is a previous Crusader build on rcg by Albyone that has flown, which is similar to how this will go together. After a bit of debating, I decided to build the fuse, inner wing panels and booms as a single assembly, with the outer wing panels being attached later. It's a toss up, as to what method one chooses to build a subject like this. Obviously there will be a good effort to mount all gear and battery as far forward as possible.

There are a number of photos here, from the San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sdasmarchives/4589598281/



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Old 01-07-2013, 02:47 AM   #2
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Bill, that's a gorgeous example of '30s art deco design. I love it! I'm going to follow your build with interest. You and baz seem to start a new project every couple of weeks, and all of them quite unique subjects, so I've always got an entertaining thread to follow.
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:46 AM   #3
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Subbed!

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Old 01-07-2013, 09:07 AM   #4
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Another great choice of an unusual subject Bill.
I'm looking forward to seeing this one take shape.
Outerzone is a fantastic resource isn't it??

Barry
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Old 01-08-2013, 03:23 PM   #5
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Thanks for the comments all. Brad there sure were some advanced airplanes way back in the 30's. They added retracts to this plane later on, but I decided to pass on that option. Looks like a plane a bit ahead of it's time. I also like to follow the builds that move along here. Keeps things interesting.

Barry the outerzone site is excellent, and keeps getting better. There are a few sites that still try to get money for old plans that they have no rights to, but not for much longer. Reality is that the only money in it, is from the advertising page views. One of the ironies about the decline of building, is that it actually promotes building. The old plans are now showing up as free plans, since few will pay for them anymore. If I pay for a plan, it's coming with molded parts and laser cut balsa also. Just bought the Guillows new release 20" span Edge 540 for $26. Get any bigger in span, and so does the price.

As for seeing this plane shape, I guess I can't put that off much longer. Anticipating that it won't exactly just fall together, I started with the tail feathers so that I could scratch hairs over rest of it for a little while longer. Ready to move onto the fuse construction, as the remainder of the wing formers are also cut now. The LHS had an old vintage roll of dark copper metallic Monokote with free dust included on the packaging, which is exactly the color I was looking for. (after wiping off the dust) I'll be able to avoid the painting issue, but I'm going to kick myself for using this heavy, not quite so workable covering. It may not be that bad though, as I've used some of their old covering and some say the older stuff was better.

This seems to be the color most believe the plane was:


I discovered you can even buy a t-shirt for this plane. There's also a good book on the airplane.


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Old 01-08-2013, 07:13 PM   #6
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"Barry the outerzone site is excellent, and keeps getting better. There are a few sites that still try to get money for old plans that they have no rights to, but not for much longer. Reality is that the only money in it, is from the advertising page views. One of the ironies about the decline of building, is that it actually promotes building. The old plans are now showing up as free plans, since few will pay for them anymore. If I pay for a plan, it's coming with molded parts and laser cut balsa also. Just bought the Guillows new release 20" span Edge 540 for $26. Get any bigger in span, and so does the price. "

Bill that's a great observation and I couldn't agree more with your comments.
I also like to complete the more obvious part of the build first and then approach the more challenging parts.
When you start to look there are quite a few unusual pod and boom configuration planes waiting to be built.
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Old 01-09-2013, 10:03 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by baz49exe View Post
I also like to complete the more obvious part of the build first and then approach the more challenging parts.
When you start to look there are quite a few unusual pod and boom configuration planes waiting to be built.
I just got a book on Luftwaffe airplanes, and found several precursors to the Miles Aerovan that I just built, some with twin booms. One is quite similar, and I'm sure they got some inspiration from previous designs. I have come across a number of lesser known pod and boom subjects recently. The only few we ever see much of are planes like the P38, that obviously weren't the first.

I managed to assemble the fuse parts, where some of the keels required a bit of coercion to fit the desired shape of the formers. I used 1/16" and 1/32" ply for the lower and upper window frames respectively, which were a bit of effort to cut, but will not break if looked at incorrectly. The front former will also require cutting away in the window opening area, and pillars placed in the correct scale location. The wing fillet ears shown on the plan have been cut away from the fuse formers, as I decided they were not practical for the construction method planned. The plan locates the inner wing former mostly inside the fuse, which provides nothing for inner wing sheeting attachment. The rear ear is not in the correct location to form the wing fillet, since the rear of the wing and TE should meet the fuse somewhat above the fuse bottom surface. I'll worry about forming the fillets when the time comes, and modify the construction for a larger, heavier model than the FF model the plan was drawn for.

Not shown in the photo below is the tailwheel strut/steering arm, which is also installed now. One nice feature is the pull/pull elevator cables on the full scale subject, which will simplify the elevator linkage. It's also better to work an elevator from the center, versus a far end.


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Old 01-09-2013, 11:23 PM   #8
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I'd be tempted to vacuform the entire top in clear plastic. Heck, I'd be tempted to do the entire center nacelle in foam and glass it rather than have to plank that shape! Should be interesting!

The pull-pull cable for the elevator will definitely make things easier.

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Old 01-11-2013, 04:44 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by pmullen503 View Post
I'd be tempted to vacuform the entire top in clear plastic. Heck, I'd be tempted to do the entire center nacelle in foam and glass it rather than have to plank that shape! Should be interesting!

The pull-pull cable for the elevator will definitely make things easier.
I tossed around a few ideas for the booms, before going with balsa framed. if they were dead straight, I would have used cardboard tube with CF rod reinforcing, which is really easy. The fuse would be a really nice part to make from a mold, and then it could be reproduced for others to build also. I keep saying I'm going to start glass molding one of these days. I like sculpting and was really into foam building for a while. One of the reasons I went back to wood, is that my foam builds always looked ended up looking foamy, although different finishing methods such as glassing can hide the foam look. Tying everything together is a job with any method, but the one nice feature about a framed balsa build is that you have precision and efficiency, granted that everything is laid out accurately. I end up heavier with foam sometimes than with balsa, when all the reinforcing/mounting etc is said and done.

The gear location is pretty well worked out now, concentrating on keeping everything forward. I decided that an access door could be mounted on the fuse bottom, on the relatively flat area behind the LE, and have access to all the fuse mounted gear and battery. I thought about a removable cap for the battery, but the seam line would look bad. The bottom door will provide access for everything. I worked out a bellcrank setup, where the tailwheel servo will also work both rudders, driving a bellcrank in each boom from a pushrod running through the wing. The elevator and rudder/tailwheel servos will mount inside the fuse, between the LE and main spar, and off to the sides to allow for battery installation.


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Old 01-11-2013, 05:34 AM   #10
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It's hard to beat a built up balsa structure for strength and weight, especially at smaller scales when covered with tissue or film. Balsa has stiffness, tensile and compressive strength - a near perfect material for our purposes.

My biggest problem with balsa is availability of good lightweight stock locally. I was at my LHS just today to pick up some basic hardware that I ordered because he no longer stocks it and we bemoaned the dearth of scratch building. His balsa stock - well, I won't go into that.

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Old 01-11-2013, 03:44 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by pmullen503 View Post
It's hard to beat a built up balsa structure for strength and weight, especially at smaller scales when covered with tissue or film. Balsa has stiffness, tensile and compressive strength - a near perfect material for our purposes.

My biggest problem with balsa is availability of good lightweight stock locally. I was at my LHS just today to pick up some basic hardware that I ordered because he no longer stocks it and we bemoaned the dearth of scratch building. His balsa stock - well, I won't go into that.
I hear you on that one. It's pretty bass akwards when you look through balsa stock and the 1/32" sheeting is heavier than the 1/16", and the basswood is lighter than some of the balsa. My LHS started getting some lightweight stock a while back, and when it's there you have to BUY it. For a while, it was difficult to find until they started getting it from a new vendor.

I literally got to the point where I realized that the difference in stock weight was killing my models. Part of it was due to a false thinking of how much strength was needed, but often the lighter grades of wood were not available. The Sig stuff was like basswood, if not heavier sometimes. The Aerovan that I just built at 19oz AUW would have easily been 23oz, if I had used ironwood balsa stock, and thicker sheeting like I used to. On the other hand, I want wood that is not so soft that it crushes with a light pinch. You really have to get exactly the grade of wood that you want, for it to be practical. Some people promote using supposed high grade balsa online shops, but then you don't get to select the wood. As for models, I like the 3 foot span size, as it is about at the critical point where the amount of balsa required starts to rise quickly. With efficient use, I generally use no more than a single sheet of 3"x36" of several grades, and maybe a few sheets more for the sheeting, if sheeted. As long as I can pick out the few decent sheets that I need for each project then I'm happy, but sometimes even that can be difficult. For the amount I use, it's not practical to order, and if I order wood in a reasonable quantity then I'm stuck with whatever I get.
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Old 01-11-2013, 04:57 PM   #12
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You should see my stock of "lightweight" 1/16" balsa left over from bulk online purchases!

It's the reason I've switched to mostly foam over the last few years. While foam has inherent weaknesses, once you figure out how to work with it, and engineer around it's lack of compressive strength, the availability and uniformity (and low cost) have make it my go-to material.

Having done a couple side by side builds I can get about a 25% weight savings over sheeted or planked balsa. That's just the bare airframe and only for metal skinned aircraft. I build in the 4 -6ft WS range so the weight of the skin/finish is carried by a larger aircraft.

I've been obsessively recording weights while I build for some time (I know what portion of AUW is glue!) and that helps get a handle on where you can reduce weight. The biggest problem with balsa sheeting (after availability) is the weight added by finishing. Unless I use an iron on film, a durable finish nearly doubles the weight of the balsa itself. Foam doesn't absorb much finish and that accounts for most of the weight savings I see.

The heat formed foam technique I've been using for the last few years works so well I'll probably never do another metal skinned plane with planked or sheeted balsa again.

That said, stick building with balsa has an aesthetic appeal that's just not there with foam. You know when you get the stringers on and it's still pinned to a beautifully draw plan and you just want to stare at it for a while?

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Old 01-11-2013, 05:09 PM   #13
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Once again, another cool subject! I'm so jealous of your guys (Scratch builders) skill, free time, free space to build, patience,.... That's one of the interesting things one of the older members of the club told me once. He said in his day, if you saw a plane you liked and wanted a model of it, you found a 3-view and got busy!

Good luck with it, and I'll be watching and living vicariously through your build as it goes! Thanks for sharing it!
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Old 01-12-2013, 03:13 AM   #14
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Thanks for comments xmech and Pat.
Pat the heat formed foam fuses you make really interest me. I could see going that route, as my Alfa 190 is still my favorite flyer. I just need to spend the time to learn the techniques. Looks like you have it down pretty well. Foam has always seemed to work well for park sized EDFs also. Some of my favorite EDF builds are foam. You're right about the finishing weight added with balsa also. The only way I started getting lightweight models with balsa, was using lighter 1/32" sheeting and often lighter weight coverings. Use standard weight 1/16" sheet and covering, and you have a tank.


These projects really don't take as much time as most think, after you've done a few. This one's a bit different in the area of getting started, but will move along quickly in a short while. My first projects were nothing to look at. You just need to have at it, and build a few scratch builds. This project is one of those "what do I feel like doing next" projects, as there's not an exact order for everything. As always, less exciting things such as cutting stringer notches and installing stringers tend to get put off until you have to do them.


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Old 01-12-2013, 07:07 PM   #15
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Bill, I see you earned two outstanding contributor and a scratch build award. Fantastic to see you recognized as I have found your posts and threads to be great references. Nice to see Pat Mullen posting on your thread as he is an incredible scratch builder (see his threads on RC Groups) and really knows what he is talking about as well. Nuff said.

Bob

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Old 01-12-2013, 07:39 PM   #16
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Bill,
What a classic ! Looks like Kelly Johnson(Lockheed), De Haviland, Beech and maybe Howard Hughes were sitting around drinking and playing cards one night talking about airplanes.

Can't wait to see the complete build. We'll never find a Foamy twin Arf like this. Would also like to see a Lockheed Electra and other classic twins.

Great work !

Hawk
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Old 01-13-2013, 03:13 AM   #17
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Thanks Voyager and Dahawk. It is nice to have some recognization, after my experience at that other place. Good to see Pat here also. That other place doesn't seem to properly appreciate contributors like him. As for ARFs, this one will probably never make it, but some more unusual subjects are starting to be made, as they've worn out the popular ones. People are starting to want more interesting stuff, as their tired of P51s and P40s and they can only sell so many of them. The only problem is that they generally choose subjects that are practical and simple to manufacture. The Lockheed Electra is one that may stand a chance of being offered as an ARF someday, due to it's historical significance.

The fuse is now strung, and the booms are underway. Accurate cutting of the notches really pays off when assembling the parts. This is especially true with the boom construction, where each former has to be positioned on a main stringer and then glued in place, with all of the formers in alignment. I was putting them off for a while, and now that the boom formers are assembled on the top stringer of each boom, it will be a lot easier to finish them.


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Old 01-15-2013, 03:16 AM   #18
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Looking good, I'll bet the booms were fun. Looks like the Aerovan's hot younger sister.

I don't feel under appreciated. My dog thinks I'm awesome!

But I know what you mean about insensitive comments on the Internet. It does take a fair of amount of time and thought to put together an informative build log. Stupid comments usually come from people who have never contributed anything positive to the forum. Remember, there are always many times more people viewing than commenting, so people are interested. Generally positive comments on threads far outnumber the negative. Taken together, the proportion of people who appreciate your work enough to read it is very large.

The trouble with the Internet is there is no background check. It's the verbal equivalent of releasing the inmates of an asylum and handing them each an assault rifle on the way out. And when one of them decides that one of your threads is the perfect place to demonstrate their idiocy and personality disorder, well, that sucks.

Looking forward to the planking.

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Old 01-16-2013, 04:37 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by pmullen503 View Post
Looking good, I'll bet the booms were fun. Looks like the Aerovan's hot younger sister.

I don't feel under appreciated. My dog thinks I'm awesome!

But I know what you mean about insensitive comments on the Internet. It does take a fair of amount of time and thought to put together an informative build log. Stupid comments usually come from people who have never contributed anything positive to the forum. Remember, there are always many times more people viewing than commenting, so people are interested. Generally positive comments on threads far outnumber the negative. Taken together, the proportion of people who appreciate your work enough to read it is very large.

The trouble with the Internet is there is no background check. It's the verbal equivalent of releasing the inmates of an asylum and handing them each an assault rifle on the way out. And when one of them decides that one of your threads is the perfect place to demonstrate their idiocy and personality disorder, well, that sucks.

Looking forward to the planking.
That's pretty funny, and well put. The one man staff at that other place is part of what I was referring to. As far as I know, one single point or so years ago is all it takes to be ineligible for the plus club.

Still doing whatever possible to put off sheeting the fuse, although I did complete the front area. The boom sheeting was effortless, using slightly dampened, light 1/32" sheeting. The lighter the better, as this plane will likely need some ballast, although hopefully not much. The solid balsa sculpted nose should provide a good forward location to hog out and mount lead ballast inside. The fuse will be sheeted with 1/32" sheeting. There should be an ample amount of stringers to create a good shape after sculpting, by applying strips from stringer to stringer, or in other words the width of the stringer spacing. I usually start with large sheets, and carefully cut reliefs that center over each stringer as I go, but this plane is so curved that it may make more sense to just work with strips.


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Old 01-16-2013, 08:13 AM   #20
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Beautiful job Bill!
The lightweight sheeted booms look great, makes me want to try balsa again.
I like the blister moulds. It's good to see how you set about moulding the plastic parts. I did something similar for the rocker covers on the Saetta but I shrank them inside a pop bottle. Then I started heat shrinking a section of bottle material fastened over the frame rather than using the whole bottle but from what you have said it seems that you used the plunging heated plastic sheet sheet over the former method. Is that right?
It's always really interesting to see ways of moulding the more difficult shapes.
I'm thinking of combining vacuum assist to the moulding in a pop bottle method to try to pull the plastic into the more difficult profiles like the deep gun turrets and observation domes which I always find the most difficult part of any build .
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Old 01-16-2013, 03:07 PM   #21
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Bill, you obviously don't need advice on planking but I'll throw this out there for those who might.

For a long, curved, tapered plank take a strip of paper (I used brown kraft paper) and tape it fore and aft over the gap or stringer pair. It must lay flat across the area you are trying to fill. Then take a piece of chalk and rub the side of it along the gap to mark the paper (without moving the paper!) I then used double sided tape to stick the paper to the balsa and cut out the plank. Cut it a bit oversized and tweak the cut piece to fit.

I wouldn't want to a plank a whole fuselage this way but it worked for filling the oddly shaped gaps between larger sheeted sections.

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Old 01-18-2013, 09:08 AM   #22
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Thanks Barry and Pat.
The vacuum molding setup is probably coming soon. I've been looking over various methods, and it's just a matter of putting something together. If I do another Aerovan type windshield, I'll definitely want to vacuum form it. For the small parts, the heat pulling method works well. Simply heat the plastic sheet wearing gloves, shut the heat gun off, set it down, and then hurry up and slam the plastic over the mold, all in one second. The dang stuff cools very quickly. With a cement/burn proof work area, it's easier to just push the gun aside and let it run, then jumping to pull the mold, since shutting off the gun wastes precious time.

Old habits are hard to break with sheeting. I ended up using a few sections of 1/32 sheet, making the relief cuts as the process moved along. The advantages are that you can make accurate relief cuts which center the seams on the stringers, as well as sheeting a plane quickly. The disadvantages are getting the glue in there, as well as working with fairly quick setting BSI thick CA, as you have to move quickly to apply all the glue and press the sheet down before the glue sets. As long as you can get at it from the inside to glue a few difficult spots, the glue drop bombing method works well. I had to use that method to glue the wing TE spars, where they butt together inside the fuse, and rest against the bottom fuse keel. I could have installed the spars first, but they would have been likely broken in the process of sheeting the rear fuse sides. It's already been difficult enough to work with the fuse, with the wing main spars sticking out.


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Old 01-20-2013, 04:16 AM   #23
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That's pretty impressive in 1/32" sheet. I'm pretty sure I can envision the process of making relief cuts, I've had to do something similar wrapping depron around a form. But I'm curious whether you work from the center of balsa piece out or start at one edge and work across the sheet.

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Old 01-20-2013, 04:46 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by pmullen503 View Post
That's pretty impressive in 1/32" sheet. I'm pretty sure I can envision the process of making relief cuts, I've had to do something similar wrapping depron around a form. But I'm curious whether you work from the center of balsa piece out or start at one edge and work across the sheet.
Thanks. The 1/32" sheet is really nice stuff for these builds, as the weight reduction in a tail heavy plane really helps.

The rear fuse panels were started at the bottom edge, which allowed me to glue down a large portion of the flat side. Generally you can also stretch/compress the sheet a bit, to attach it one stringer further where the curvature starts to begin. The reliefs had to be made as I worked the sheeting area across the curved back of the plane. For the roof of the main fuse, I started the pieces at the center and glued them from the center keel to the first stringer to start. The key is to shape a gentle curve on the seam line of the sheets, before applying them, while test fitting. This allows the sheet to match the roof curvature from the center keel to first stringer. When done that way, you can often get away with making the first relief cut on the second stringer from the center. That is obviously beneficial, as you don't have to cut the relief along the center of the first stringer which the sheet has already been glued down to.

I now have the the outer wing panel spars, aileron headers, and other required parts cut and all the notches marked, with some notches still requiring cutting. Not being quite motivated to start on the wings yet, I figured that I may as well fabricate the wheel pant assemblies, since they're the last assembly required that hadn't been started on yet. Since the build and the plan dimensions are not exactly 100% identical due to some modifications, the pants were made from a new sketch. The wheels are a bit larger than scale also, which is not a bad thing with small models, especially if it is to ever have a chance of landing on grass.


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Old 01-20-2013, 01:45 PM   #25
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Looking good Bill. That's a great idea to make the spats structural.
I'll keep that in mind when I eventually talk myself into a Stuka build.
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