Frolicking Through a Corsair Graveyard
by Richard Wright
I'm building a 1/6 scale F4U Corsair designed by Brian Taylor and as part of this project I'm doing a lot of research. I want my Corsair to be very detailed so whenever I have the opportunity to video and take pictures of a full scale Corsair I jump at the opportunity.
Recently I discovered that the Tri-State Warbird Museum located close to Cincinnati, Ohio, USA had obtained a FG-1D Corsair and were restoring it to airworthiness. I mentioned my project and asked if I could visit to take video, pictures, and to take measurements and I was told they would welcome my visit.
When I arrived, not only did I get to take video and pictures, but they also invited me to frolic in their graveyard of parts. I took more pictures and video, and also measured the gunsight, seat, throttle quadrant, both cockpit panels, and much more. I even found the gun camera and it still had film in it!
A selection from the many detailed pictures that Richard was able to capture
Of special interest to me are the wings and flaps. My Corsair will have the wings fold so I need to make sure I have the angles right. I was able to get close and take a lot of pictures and videos and measured everything I could. This will help me get the angles right for the flaps and also make sure the wings fold in the right position.
The museum also owns a B-25 Mitchell, P51 Mustang, a TBM-3 Avenger, Boeing Stearman Model 75, AT-6D Texan, and a couple of other planes. They also told me that they will be getting a P-40 in November and will be pausing the restoration on the Corsair to finish the P-40 first.
If you're ever close to Cincinnati, check them out. They're a great bunch of guys and they are doing some great restorations.
Check out their website:
Experiments in electric control line
Last month (August air space) I was particulary drawn to the article on electric control line.
I fly mostly electric R/C nowadays but a few years ago I was looking to build something to fly at our indoor meetings. However, being a typical thrifty Scotsman I was reluctant to spend money on ultra lightweight radio gear. Then I remembered meeting Pete Cripps at the British Nationals the previous year when he had a stall in the traders area. A few emails later I had a set of plans for his Hummingbird trainer and a suitable length of line. The model was easy to build but I did make a few changes to both lighten and strengthen it which I fed back to Pete.I also devised my own handle (right). First flights were done using the 12-volt lead acid battery pack from my R/C field box. Control was easy but power was a little on the marginal side due to the high voltage drop and limited current capacity over the 6m lines. Things improved significantly with the addition of a further 6-volt pack. I arranged the packs so that I could switch between 12 and 18volts. The thing I probably enjoyed most was being able to control (throttle) the power i.e. on/off and 12/18. That got me to thinking about a continuously variable throttle. There are plently of designs for ESCs. controlled by an R/C receiver but precious few for ones controlled by a potentiometer on the handle. That part of my electric control line development stalled a bit.
However I had turned my attention also to designing my own models, the results being a Stealth Fighter (left) and Autogyro. The Stealth Fighter is actually based on an Australian design called Stealth Platter, for 049 engines. I scaled it to give suitable wing area, changed the construction to balsa and added a profile fuselage. This last change transforms the appearance of the model and I can't understand why the original designer, Heman Lee, never did it. The Stealth Fighter requires careful ground handling due to the narrow undercart and tendency to tip over because of the weight of lines. However it hurtles along once airborne, almost inducing dizzines in this old control liner.
I wanted the Autogyro (right) to have purely rotor lift hence the lack of stub wings evident on some other designs for this type of rotorcraft. About one circuit is needed to build up rotor speed from stationary. Gentle handling is not far removed from fixed wing but give it full up and the model slows down dramatically and sits nose high but doesn't really climb. A dab of down and it speeds up again reaching a fair rate of knots within less than one circuit. It is not possible to land vertically indoors due to lack of prevailing breeze but with careful use of primitive switching throttle, steep descents are easy and fun. The pictures are of the Mk.1 version with the tether point low on the fuselage. Early test flying revealed that it flew outboard side low. I agonised over mast angle, blade flapping and gyroscopic precession until it dawned on me that it was simply a matter of there being more mass above the tether point than below. I moved the tether point up and the problem was solved. The Autogyro is undoubtedly my favourite as it has such peculiar handling characteristics.
I took both models along to the British Naionals a few years ago in the hope of meeting Pete Cripps again and flying them in the hanger. Pete wasn't there that year but I did persuade the BMFA to give me a late night slot. That hanger floor is really rough when your model only has tiny wee wheels!
Power-down-the-lines type of electric control line is very limited by the capacity of the lines. It is a compromise between lightness for the model and heaviness for the power. However it is very suitable for indoor use due to low cost and the limited space available normally indoors dictating short lines anyway. All you need is a Speed 400, Gunther prop, 12m of signal cable, battery pack (from your field box or electric flight pack) and materials from your scrap box. It does tend to terrify the indoor R/C flyers though as all they can think about is their models being minced. I always like to remind detractors of control line that their crashes are much more expensive than mine!
A Lysander Tale
I am not a fast builder so I knew some time would now pass to get to the finished model. This plane is a lovely build - a real builder's model - and I enjoyed the time spent on it. Start date was 12 November 2001.
Came the maiden flight on the evening of 3 March 2004 - told you time would pass. After all the many checks that should be done with a large scale model before the maiden flight, had been done - at least three times - the pictures taken - at least 50 - and then finally start the OS70FS Surpass. With a club mate Richard Horton doing the first flight - off it went. Nice climb out full throttle not required. The model showed a little reluctance to turn to the left but otherwise appeared to be a flying reasonable well.
On the ground, as arrived, a check showed the radio to be still working on all channels; my first reaction to the damage was to assume a write-off. The fuselage was broken at the cockpit join, the cowl was smashed into small pieces, the wing was broken across the centre, undercarriage legs broken free, etc.
Months later in the workshop I cyanoed two of the larger cowl parts together and my son Mark, who had been telling me I could do a rebuild, carried on and then we had a cowl. I made up a ply plate and screwed the nose section back onto the tail section and after several weeks of fiddling about we had a fuselage. Refitting the undercarriage legs was a mammoth task requiring a rebuild strong but light enough at the join to be able to fulfil the function.
The wing had given me a moment of concern when first finished because I believed the two halves had a slightly different attack angle but it was built to fly so we flew it anyway. For the wing rebuild, where I had to replace the entire centre section, I built a jig to reconstruct the wing in and to ensure a perfect line up. The fuselage - wing - tailplane alignment was set up using lasers to decrease the possibility of a problem here. Finally the rebuilt model was ready to recover and paint. Once again my son carried out a beautiful paint job for me and we were ready to fly - again.
The second test flight took place on 12 July 2005 - a lovely calm evening. This time the test pilot was my old and good friend Peter Lock, who has carried out the maiden flights on most of my models. Again the Lysander flew off the ground in a controlled manner and went to several hundred feet where Peter trimmed it out, but again the plane showed a reluctance to turn to the left and several times dropped its nose and went into a vertical dive. Peter was able to pull it out and even did a few low slow fly bys for our camera.
Then came the time to land and once again the model is coming around in a slow right hand curve and again about 30 feet up when it did exactly what it had done on the first flight 15 months before. The Lysander did a very fast flick to the right onto its back and then vertically into the ground. Once again the radio appeared to be working fine amongst the wreckage.
At that point I decided to give up Lysander building for a while - I would still like to have one and have found little comfort in the people who tell me "I had one of those - flew like a trainer." Mine did not want to fly; my Club friends and I have chewed it over several times but have not come up with a sound reason for the problem I had - whatever it was.
Do not let this put you off building one from a plan, whatever the problem with mine I unknowingly built it into my version. I just wish you more luck with the flying than I had.
Alan Shipman is a member of Teign Valley Model Flying Club, UK
See more of Alan's superb models on his website - including boats!