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Words and photos by Bob Benjamin –

A genuine Golden Oldie that’s perfect for today’s small electric airplanes.

NOTE: This article is required reading for the next installment of Master’s Workshop, Guillow’s Hellcat #4

Silkspan … what’s that? Simply stated, it’s a unique kind of paper that since the really old (pre-WWII) days of aeromodelling has been recognized as an excellent covering material for model airplanes. More specifically, it’s a specialized tissue made from woody plant fibers. It’s my understanding that most if not all of it comes to us from Japan. The material generations of aeromodelers around the world have called “silkspan”, a trade name of which I don’t know the origin, is very specific kind of tissue paper, but not all tissue from Japan is silkspan. You’ll recognize its subtly mottled appearance when you see it…and you almost certainly have already. “Silkspan” is the model airplane world’s name for teabag paper. “Japanese Tissue”, the lighter, finer-grained paper made from the gampi plant, sold on the US model airplane market under names such as Esaki, is a different product which demands slightly different application techniques.

Back when I got started in this business, during the late 1940’s and early ‘50’s, silkspan had long since been accepted as the default covering for all but the very smallest…and largest…model airplanes. In those days nearly all the kit manufacturers included a couple sheets of the stuff in every box as the recommended covering material, which everybody knew was supposed to be attached, sealed and finished with airplane dope. The silkspan that was available to us then (and still is) came in three different weights/thicknesses. “OO” is very light…very similar to the heavier tissue products and good for little models with wingspans on the order of twelve to maybe eighteen inches. “OO” silkspan has another special purpose application which works well on larger models as well. I’ll talk more about that later in this article. “GM” (gas model) silkspan is noticeably thicker and stronger…and the most commonly used. “SGM” (super gas model) silkspan was also there on the hobby shop shelf if you were building a six-footer and couldn’t afford very-much-stronger (and much more expensive) silk. If you opened a kit from Sterling, Goldberg, Berkeley, Top Flite, PDQ, Midwest, Kenhi, or Veco, among others in those days, you expected to find a couple of two-by-three foot sheets of silkspan included. This arrangement continued to be common into the 1960’s and beyond, long after most model builders had come to regard those various plastic film products as the new default choice of covering. You will still find silkspan in all the larger Guillow’s built-up balsa kits today, and that happy anachronism is what is going to lead us into this lesson on one of the good old skills of aeromodelling.

Regardless of the grade of silkspan you chose, if you were an experienced model builder you had long since learned to apply your covering NOT just over the “open” parts of the model structure. Instead you covered every square inch of the model’s surface, including the “closed” parts like sheet balsa or carved balsa blocks. If you left any balsa structure uncovered/unsealed by silkspan you would pay the penalty of having a rough, porous surface that was nearly impossible to finish to match the “covered” areas. A colored dope finish might help disguise the contrast between the silkspan and the bare, open grain, porous balsa around it, but even adding and sanding multiple coats of various “fillercoat” products could not give you a finish base to compare with “silkspan over everything” and a couple coats of clear dope. Some guys learned the hard way that if you started that color finish by putting on enough coats of sanding sealer/fillercoat over the bare wood to truly hide it, the extra weight pretty much guaranteed a non-flying airplane. Indeed, using colored dope containing heavy pigments was something we learned to avoid when building smaller airplanes that we wanted to fly well.

No matter how you planned to finish it, like most of the other “pre-plastic” coverings, silkspan could be applied dry by sealing down all the edges of the piece you were working on and then spraying it with water, which when it dried would shrink enough to pull out most wrinkles. The alternate method, which most of us preferred, was to cover wet by pre-moistening the silkspan with water and then taking advantage of the extra flexibility and stretchiness that resulted to pull the covering tight and flat even over compound curves like the top surface of a wing. As the water evaporated the covering would shrink itself really smooth. Once you got used to working with the more delicate, fragile wet silkspan you were almost guaranteed a tighter, neater covering job. Regardless of how you stuck it down, a silkspan covering job was always sealed and strengthened by adding several coats of clear dope. Usually you stopped adding coats when the silkspan began to look noticeably shiny after the dope dried. Using more dope added more weight but even worse, it always threatened to over-tighten the covering and warp (twist) your structure. There are different types of dope as well as various different techniques for using it, but no matter…they all come with a REALLY STRONG SMELL. Even if you didn’t mind it everybody around you DID…and that is one of the best reasons why lots of model airplane builders stopped using dope-and-silkspan as soon as they discovered those new plastic coverings.  Very recently a new product for sealing/surfacing silkspan (as well as other types of tissue) has become available to model builders. It does all the things we want the dope to do, but it DOESN’T SMELL and it doesn’t over-shrink. I will tell you more about this stuff later, but right now I want to talk about one more characteristic of silkspan that really expands its usefulness.

Silkspan, which is naturally white, used to be available in multiple pre-dyed colors as well. You could find red, yellow, orange, blue, green , black…or even checkerboard-patterned silkspan in red or black stocked right on the hobby shop shelf next the white kind. Can you imagine a model covered with, say, deep golden-yellow translucent silkspan sealed and turned glossy with five or six coats of clear dope, glowing in the afternoon sun at some grassy flying field? This is the effect that those transparent colored film products have been trying for years to reproduce. If you have ever seen a well-executed clear doped colored silkspan (or silk) covering, you will agree with me that they have not yet managed to get it right.

OK, enough of the history lesson. I have chosen clear doped colored silkspan as the covering/finish of choice for my ongoing series of electric RC conversions of Guillow’s traditional stick-and-tissue balsa model. I am going to show you how to use it a bit differently than we did in the past and in the process explain why learning to do it the new way is such a good idea.

opener-900x601.jpgThese are the two Guillow’s Kit. No. 403 Spitfires I talked about in the lead-off article of this series, and they provide an excellent example of what dyed, clear-doped silkspan covering looks like. I’m going to show you how to do stuff like this yourself.Silkspan-1-900x600.jpgUnfortunately, most hobby shops today carry silkspan (or any other tissue-type covering for that matter), and the guy behind the counter probably won’t even know what it is. There are in fact quite a few specialized dealers who sell it…mostly online…but let’s start the easy way. Do you remember my mentioning that Guillow’s, whose models we are featuring in this current Master’s Workshop series, not only include it in their larger kits but are also happy to sell it to you separately? What you are looking at here is a sheet of “OO” silkspan directly out of a Guillow’s kit box.Silkspan-2-900x600.jpgJust for comparison, this is a sheet of significantly thicker/stringer/heavier “SGM” silkspan. This piece happens to be at least sixty years old…it came from a dozen-roll tube sold by Berkeley to complement the materials included in their kits. Because it was kept in a closed container and out of sunlight, it’s in the same condition as when it was new stock on a hobby shop shelf somewhere. In fact, right after taking this picture I included a couple sheets of this old stuff in the same dye bath as the new silkspan from Guillow’s and set it aside for some future project.Silkspan-3-900x600.jpgHere’s where the action is. Ordinary “Rit” fabric dye does an excellent job of coloring silkspan. For this job I used a two-gallon pot and about half of the dye in the packet.Silkspan-4-900x600.jpgThe Rit package instructions for dying various fabrics suggest that the dyebath be at a gentle boil. Because silkspan is after all paper, not a textile, I don’t push its “wet strength” so far. The pot you see here is just at the temperature where the water steams slightly before bubbling, at which point I turned down the heat and added all my silkspan to the pot. Open up/unfold every sheet of covering you are going to dye and add it to the dye bath one sheet at a time, gently crumpled, so the dye will get to every corner of each sheet.Silkspan-5-900x600.jpgEverybody into the pool! There are eight separate sheets of silkspan in this pot, which I kept “just simmering” for about twenty minutes while stirring it very gently to keep it all distributed evenly.Silkspan-6-900x600.jpgFollowing the dye package instructions, the next step is to give the entire dye lot a cool rinse. Can you see how I am adding cold water to the pot while breaking the flow from the faucet with my hand to avoid damaging the covering with a strong stream of water?Silkspan-7-900x600.jpgThis part is a waiting game…sort of. According to the Rit directions you should keep adding cold water while pouring off the overflow until the rinse water is nearly clear. That’s what I do and it works.Silkspan-8-900x600.jpgPulling those wet sheets of now-colored silkspan out of the pot and separating them is a delicate job. If you don’t use plenty of patience and a gentle touch you will tear the sheets taking them out.Silkspan-9-900x600.jpgWet silkspan all crumpled and folded back on itself is frighteningly easy to damage. I prepare a “drying yard” using as many old bath towels (clean) as it takes to create an area large enough to spread every sheet out, free of folds and significant overlaps, and then work each sheet as nearly flat as I can get it. Here my batch of new Navy Blue silkspan is still pretty bunched up.Silkspan-10-900x600.jpgProceed slowly! If you look carefully you can see several sheets of covering already spread out at the rear. Once they are all spread out…as you have heard me say before…go away and let it all dry.Silkspan-11-900x600.jpgYou can tell by looking when that has happened. A fully-dried sheet of freshly-dyed silkspan is going to appear much less intensely colored than when it was wet. What you see here is a full sheet of Guillow’s standard kit silkspan spread out flat so I can cut it with a fresh/sharp razor blade to get the correct working size piece I need and to create a reliably straight edge to measure from when laying it in place on the airplane.Silkspan-12-900x600.jpgThis is what our nice new sheet of Navy-Blue-dyed silkspan looks like once it’s ready to be applied to the balsa surface of an airplane. Next to the Hellcat fuselage you can see a plastic bottle of the new product that is going to allow us to do no-smell doping. Deluxe Materials sells a wide variety of model building products; EzeDope is the one that has been painstakingly developed for the specific job we are about to do. I’ll fill in the details as we go along with a representative portion of a covering job.Silkspan-13-900x600.jpgBefore we go any further I want to remind you that on this particular modification of a Guillow’s Kit. No. 1005 Hellcat the entire surface of the model has been converted to sheet balsa covering. To cover open structure we will use a different technique based on another Deluxe Materials product called Tissue Paste. I will feature this in a future article based on a different model. What you see here is the curved upper surface of the Hellcat wing center section, which is flat all the way across the fuselage centerline from one dihedral break to the other. Notice that I have used that freshly cut straight edge of the working piece of silkspan to align it accurately along the center section-outer panel joint (the dihedral break). As we go on you’ll see why this straight-cut edge is going to help us. The most important part of what you see in this shot is how well the now-dry dyed silkspan spreads and flattens and lies snugly against the sheet balsa we’re attaching it to when I work outwards from a central starting point using a brush generously wet with EzeDope.Silkspan-14-900x600.jpgI alternate between “chasing” the dry edge of the covering out across the wing surface with the wet brush and careful thumb-and-finger stretching from the outer edge of the covering to get it down tight against the balsa with NO WRINKLES. We’ll get a better look at this technique during the next several steps.Silkspan-15-900x600.jpgNever pass up the chance to get an overlap where the silkspan (or any other covering) wraps around an edge. In addition to the more finished appearance that I already talked about, doubled-over silkspan provides a significant increase in strength in the structural edge it’s attached to. What you see here is the top of the wing center section with a sheet of blue-dyed silkspan sealed with EzeDope that has dried enough for us to handle it. Where the excess covering runs off the edge at that right-angle corner, which is the inboard end of the left wing flap cutout, I cut it so the resulting free edges can create the overlaps we want.Silkspan-16-900x600.jpgHere’s the same wing center section seen from the front. You can see how neatly that folded-edge overlap works at the trailing edge. With that overlap completed and the EzeDope I used to attach the silkspan dry enough to handle, I’m giving the entire section of new covering/finish a final blend-it-all-together coat of EzeDope.Silkspan-17-900x600.jpgAs you have already guessed, I did the let-it-dry thing again before coming back to cover the right wing panel. This time I’ll repeat the process we just saw in better detail. Here I’m beginning by checking that the sheet of blue silkspan is in my hand is big enough for me to cut off a piece just the right size to fit the surface I want to cover.Silkspan-18-900x600.jpgWhat you see is one end of a single sheet of “OO” silkspan from the Guillow’s kit, dyed and dried, ready for use. I’m marking a cut-off line that will give me a wide enough grab-and-pull margin without wasting material.Silkspan-19-900x600.jpgThere are several ways to cut silkspan. These large fabric scissors make it easy to follow that pencil line I just drew.Silkspan-20-900x600.jpgYou’ve seen me do this before. Because what will become the inner end of this pierce of silkspan is going to have to fit neatly against the center section edge that’s already on the wing, I need to make another straight cut in order to get a good fit. What you see is what you get…I’ve placed this sheet of covering over a clean, smooth surface so that a single pass along the steel straightedge with a nice sharp new razor blade gives me the clean cut I need. Doing work like this is not a place to try to economize on blades. A standard hardware-store-variety single-edge blade is good for maybe a dozen precision cuts like this before it dulls enough to risk catching and tearing the silkspan.Silkspan-21-900x600.jpgThis is about as narrow a gripper margin overhang as you should consider using. It’s WAY better to “waste” a few inches of covering material here than to cut too close and spoil the whole piece so you have to strip it off, throw it away, and start over.Silkspan-22-900x600.jpgRemember “working out from the middle” with the EzeDope? Here’s another close-up look. If you look carefully you can see (at the left behind the brush) where I have pre-aligned those neatly trimmed edges. By now you have figured out that a double layer of dyed silkspan, as created by an edge overlap, is going to appear darker and more deeply colored than the surface around it. On this project I’ve chosen to employ those narrow overlaps to represent the sheet metal skin joints on the full scale Hellcat.Silkspan-23-900x600.jpgMore of the same. You will develop a feel for just when it’s time to put down the EzeDope brush and switch over to pulling out all the wrinkles before they get locked in and impossible to fix.Silkspan-24-900x600.jpgWith the silkspan EzeDoped’d into place exactly where we want it at the inboard end of the panel it’s time to work the other end smoothly all the way to the wingtip. Again what you see is what you get here. The easy error to make is not using enough EzeDope … keep the brush and the silkspan really wet, or those wrinkles won’t “chase”.Silkspan-25-900x600.jpgWe’ve been here before, too. You can see where I’m working to pull enough of that gripper edge of the silkspan down and around the leading edge to provide a good overlap.Silkspan-26-900x600.jpgIf you’ve stayed with me so far, this shot needs no explanation.Silkspan-27-900x600.jpgOnce again this is more of the same. Where the silkspan is thoroughly wetted with EzeDope around the wingtip you can use the natural curve of you hand to form/squeeze/press it into place.Silkspan-28-900x600.jpgHere I have come back to the leading edge of the right wing panel and I’m using the same technique I did a moment ago with the wingtip. Getting the silkspan securely bonded and “no excuses” smooth just past the center of the leading edge curve is what we want to achieve.Silkspan-29-900x600.jpgI have done the same thing along the right wing tailing edge and now the EzeDope is almost dry. This is one of those places where you’ll have to develop your own sense of judgment…if you use that loose sheet of 220 sandpaper too soon you’ll tear the silkspan and pull it loose. If you wait until it’s completely dry this sanding technique won’t cut cleanly and you will have to work to pull away whatever part of the overlap has gotten stuck past where you wanted it to be. Practice, practice, practice.Silkspan-30-900x600.jpgI have done the same thing along the right wing tailing edge and now the EzeDope is almost dry. This is one of those places where you’ll have to develop your own sense of judgment…if you use that loose sheet of 220 sandpaper too soon you’ll tear the silkspan and pull it loose. If you wait until it’s completely dry this sanding technique won’t cut cleanly and you will have to work to pull away whatever part of the overlap has gotten stuck past where you wanted it to be. Practice, practice, practice.Silkspan-31-900x600.jpgThis is how that trimming process looks when you get it right.Silkspan-32-900x600.jpgAnd … this is the right wing panel all covered, trimmed, and sealed by the EzeDope I used to attach it. There are a couple of steps left to get this covering/finishing job done the way I want it, but we’ll talk about that in my Master’s Workshop Hellcat No. 5 installment (which is scheduled to appear right alongside this lesson).

There you have it boys and girls. An old classic that uses a few new tricks and products to get the job done better than ever. Be sure to check back in the next day or two for the latest Master’s Workshop installment, where all of this silkspan goodness will serve you well.





The post Silkspan How-To: A Blast From The Past With A Few New Twists appeared first on Fly RC Magazine.

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Is registration of model aircraft a thing of the past?

The Federal Appeals Court of the District of Columbia ruled today that the FAA rule requiring that model aircraft be registered was in violation of the section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. In what was called a David vs. Goliath case, John A. Taylor brought the case against the FAA earlier this year. The court stated the following in their ruling.

In short, the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act provides that the FAA “may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft,” yet the FAA’s 2015 Registration Rule is a “rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft.” Statutory interpretation does not get much simpler. The Registration Rule is unlawful as applied to model aircraft.

You can read a full copy of the ruling here.   Taylor VS FAA Opinion

There is the option for the FAA to appeal the decision but it is unlikely to be heard by a higher court anytime soon. The only other option is for the FAA to lobby congress to repeal or amend the 2012 law.

This is a huge win for hobbyists and will ease the access to model aviation once again. The registration rule had minimal impact on the safety of the national airspace and was seen as a government intrusion by most. We will continue to watch the progress of cases such as this one and pass the information on to you.

Today we congratulate John A. Taylor on helping maintain our abilities to enjoy this great hobby without extra burden.

The post Federal Appeals Court Voids FAA UAS registration rule appeared first on Fly RC Magazine.

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Futaba T16SZ Radio


Futaba T16SZ

Futaba has announced a new radio in it’s line that bridges the gap between the 14SG and the 18MZ. The new Futaba T16SZ brings many of the features of the 18MZ in a radio geared at the mid range pilot looking for more features then the 14SG but without the cost of the 18MZ. One of the biggest features people will like is the color LCD touch screen interface. This will make navigating the many features of the Futaba radio a breeze. With support for all the Futaba protocols upgrading from any Futaba air based system will be easy. The radio is slated to be available from the Hobbico network of dealers sometime in the summer of 2017.

Futaba FAAST protocols


  • FASSTest, FASST, T-FHSS and S-FHSS protocols.
  • 4.3” LCD touch screen.
  • Full telemetry compatible.
  • 30-model memory.
  • 10 programmable mixes.
  • 15-character naming.
  • S.Bus servo programmer.
  • R7008SB receiver.
  • Swash and throttle mixing.
  • V-tail mixing.
  • EPA.
  • Adjustable servo speed.
  • 8 flight conditions.
  • 3-axis gyro support.
  • Software-updateable.
  • Micro memory card slot.
  • Voice message/audio earphone jack.
  • Up/down/integral timer.
  • Lap timer/memory.
  • …and much, much more!

To find out more check out

The post Futaba announces the T16SZ radio appeared first on Fly RC Magazine.

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SIG has long been known for their scale and sport scale models. From the T-Clips to the Somethin’ Extra, their models do not disappoint. That is, unless you were a hardcore 3D pilot … until now. The all new EDGEtra is a meld of two standout models in the realm of aerobatics, utilizing the wings of an Extra with the fuse of an Edge. This hand-crafted model is beautifully covered in a striking scheme that is easily identifiable while in-flight. The balsa and light ply parts are all laser cut and fit together for a perfectly assembled ARF.

siga0107_airframe_550-300x169.jpgBalsa and light ply construction make for a rigid, yet lightweight airframe.




WHO IT’S FOR: 3D and aerobatic pilots

PRICE: $289.99


  • 2-piece removable wing for easy transport and storage
  • Carbon fiber landing gear stock
  • plenty of room inside the cowl and hatch for your electronics of choice
  • Removable SFG’s
  • Ball link connectors for slop-free control surfaces
siga0107_servos_550-300x169.jpgBall links are supplied for all control surfaces for slop-free precision.


WINGSPAN: 60 inches

WING AREA: 675 square inches

LENGTH: 60 inches

AUW: 5.5-6 pounds

WING LOADING: 18.8-20.5 oz/sq ft


600-1200 watt power system, 5000-6000mAh 4S LiPo, four mini servos, radio system, various extensions and y-harnesses, prop and building tools.

siga0107_epsetup_550-300x169.jpgPlenty of room up front so no shoe horn will be needed under the cowl of the EDGEtra.


This model looks awesome! Finally, a 3D machine from the venerable manufacturer that is well designed, expertly built from the factory and includes a host of features that are usually classified as “optional” from most other outfits. With the wide range of power systems it can accommodate, the EDGEtra is sure to be the right fit for a wide variety of pilots as it can be setup from mild to wild. Best of all, the new trim scheme looks killer and is sure to aid in orientation while dazzling the crowd with your post stall prowess.





The post SIG EDGEtra 3D Hybrid EP ARF: A Beautiful Blend Of Two Awesome Aerobats appeared first on Fly RC Magazine.

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By Scott Copeland

piece-o-cake-300x225.jpgPiece O’Cake kit box.

After the humility of my Bonzo experience, I resigned myself to the fact that I really needed a trainer.  Not a converted pylon racer, but a true, purpose-designed trainer.  Lucky for me, Santa put a long rectangular box under the tree that year.  Inside was the Craft-Air Piece O’Cake.  This would be perfect!  The Piece O’Cake was basically a powered sailplane with a 6-foot wingspan, polyhedral wings and light wing loading.  My grandfather supplied the Cox Golden-Bee .049 for power.

Within a week, I had most of the framework done and ready to cover.  Grandad’s Castoff Market supplied a couple rolls of dusty old monokote for covering and I cobbled together a simple orange and blue color scheme.  It looked fairly dreadful, but I was proud that I’d built the whole kit by myself.  Flying was, well … let’s just say that Craft-Air named this kit perfectly!  Hand launching was so easy that I hardly had to run before it lifted out of my hand.  The flight manners were extremely forgiving and it handled the extra weight of my archaic equipment with ease.  For the next few months, I enjoyed much success with the Piece O’Cake.

Brimfield-2000-300x218.jpgMe flying at the Brimfield, MA hydro meet a few years after the events of this story took place.

As is human nature, I was not satisfied to rest on my laurels.  I looked ahead to my next goal in modeling- to fly from water.  Every spring for as long as I could recall, I had attended the Brimfield Float Fly with my grandfather as a wide-eyed observer/helper.  The spring after I had completed the Piece O’Cake, I built a pair of Astro Sport floats designed by Mitch Poling and fitted them to my trusty machine.  The Astro Sport was a much smaller plane than my Piece O’Cake, but because there was little difference in the weight of the two planes, the floats supported the larger plane quite well.

I did not have a chance to test-fly my “Hydro-Cake” before Brimfield so I had no idea what to expect.  The forecast was partly cloudy with “winds light and variable”.  As one might expect from a typical weather prediction, we arrived at the lake to find strong, gusty winds whipping the treetops from side to side.  These were certainly not conditions suited to an .049-powered sailplane.  As I sat and pondered my chances of flying that day, an overwhelming force that has been the source of my undoing many times since began to take over; PRIDE.  I wasn’t going to show up and not fly, breezes be damned!

When the winds had lessened a bit, I fueled the little .049 and grabbed the frequency pin.  I was unsure whether I could take off from water, but wanted to try.  I tuned the engine for maximum RPM and set the model in the water.  It started gaining speed for about five feet then was promptly flipped by a wind gust and dunked in the drink.  The floats that had supported the model easily in calm conditions were no match for the leverage a gust of wind creates on a 6 foot polyhedral wing.  Foolish pride!  I dried everything out and probably should have called it a day at that point.  In stepped pride … again.

Golden_Bee_2-300x250.jpgThe venerable Cox Golden Bee .049.

I wanted to prove that I was not just another kid with no flying skills and I wanted to prove all of the people wrong who commented that the Piece O’Cake wouldn’t fly with my float setup.  I decided to have another go at it, but this time I hand launched.  I was flying!  Once airborne, I realized immediately that the wind was quite a bit stronger than the conditions I was used to flying in.  I also realized I had no clue how to keep my lightly-loaded trainer from being blown back over the beach by the strong head wind!  In hindsight, I probably could have used down-elevator to improve wind penetration or added some ballast to increase wing loading.   For that moment in time, however, I was petrified at the prospect of flying over the crowd, over the trees and into certain oblivion.

RC-Planes-1990-300x201.jpgMy RC airplane collection circa 1990. The wing from the Piece O’Cake can be seen on the flying boat in the back row. The floats from the “hydro-Cake” have been mounted to the Ace “Dick’s Dream” seen in the foreground.

After a series of twitchy turns and near crashes, the Piece O’Cake planted itself in the very top of a tree behind the beach.  Fail!  I was able to retrieve the plane by knocking it out of the top of the tree with a tennis ball.  As the airplane toppled to the ground with the sickening, drum-like sound of tree branches piercing hollow, monokote-covered wing bays, I wanted my pride to present itself in human form so I could give it a swift kick in the rear!  The airplane was repaired and flew many more years … on land.  The take-aways:

  1. – Pride is poor counsel on matters of model airplanes
  2. – Common sense should always supersede pride
  3. – This hobby is a humbling endeavor

The post Only Human 2: Winds Light And Variable appeared first on Fly RC Magazine.

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Words and Photos by Gary A. Ritchie

Last month we began building the hatch cover for our Ultra Sport 60. Now we will finish it up.

Figure-1-300x187.jpgA sheet of Saran wrap was taped in place over the fuselage front from behind H5 (which was glued down) to the back of the cockpit. H1 and H3 were glued together and held in place with tape and clamps.

Let’s get started by gluing H5 in place then removing the rest of the hatch structure from the fuselage. Then lay a sheet of Saran wrap from the front of the turtledeck down to the top of the fuselage all the way forward to H5. Tape it in place. This will keep the hatch from getting glued to the fuselage. Glue the base of H3 to the rear end of H1 using epoxy. Make sure they fit together properly then tape them together until the epoxy dries (Figure 1). Then, using fast CA (I used Deluxe Roket Hot), glue the H2 strips to each side of H1 (Figure 2). Make sure that the tapered end is forward. It will extend about 1 inch over the sides of H5. Then cut the tapered ends of both H2 strips flush with the back edge of H5 (Figure 3).

Figure-2-300x205.jpgThe two pieces H2 were glued in place along the edges of H1 and clamped down to dry.

Now we are going to fabricate the mounting points for the hatch using a plywood joiner and two magnets. First, place the hatch cover frame on the fuselage, straighten it up, and then determine the center of H5 and the hatch cover frame (Figure 4). Mark it with a pencil line. Cut a ¼ x ¼ x ¼” triangle from scrap 1/8” plywood. Remove the hatch cover frame, hold it down with a metal weight and glue the triangle to the forward edge at its center (Figure 5). Notch a tiny triangle into the rear edge of H5 and fit the forward edge of the hatch frame into it (Figure 6). This will hold the forward edge of the hatch cover firmly to H5.

Figure-3-300x223.jpgThe tapered forward ends of pieces H2 were trimmed even with the base of H5 (black line) with a razor saw and the tapered ends were glued to H5.

We will use two sets of neodymium 3/8” diameter powerful rare earth magnets (available at TOTALELEMENT) to fasten the rear of the hatch.  Place them down at the lower rear edge of the hatch frame (Figure 7) and mark their positions. Then very carefully drill out a ½” diameter hole at each position. Try to get the hole the exact depth of the thickness of the magnet. If you have a Forstner Bit use it here. Test this with a wooden or plastic straight edge to make certain that the tops of the magnets are exactly flush with the surface of the plywood (Figure 8).

Figure-4-300x198.jpgThe center of the front of the hatch cover and H5 was marked with a pencil line and a small (1/4 x 1/4 x 1/4”) triangle was cut from scrap 1/8” plywood.

Using H3 as a template, cut a piece of 1/8” balsa to fit exactly on top of H1 and cut it out. Then glue it to H3 and hold it place with clamps to dry (Figure 9). Place the hatch cover on the hatch, tape it in place and sand the edge of H3 flush with the fuselage with 120 grit sandpaper (Figure 10). This will increase the thickness of H3 to establish a stronger glue joint when the time comes to glue the plastic canopy in place on the hatch. If you plan to use a pilot figure in your Ultra Sport (highly recommended) now is a good time to get it fitted in place. The pilot figure should be no wider than 3 3/8” or taller than 3 7/8”. Set it in place near the rear of the canopy. You may have to trim the sides (H2) a bit to fit the pilot in place (Figure 11). Do not glue it in place yet.

Figure-5-300x272.jpgThe small triangle was glued to the front center of the hatch, which was held down with a metal weight.

Now we will fasten the magnets in place on the fuselage. These will engage the magnets on the hatch cover, so they must be aligned perfectly with them. A good way to do this is to paint the magnets that are already in place on the hatch cover (Figure 12). Then place the hatch cover on the hatch and carefully slide it directly into place (Figure 13).  When the hatch cover is removed, the locations will be marked with paint on the fuselage (Figure 14). Then carefully drill out the holes for the magnets with your Forstner bit (Figure 15) and set the magnets in place. Make certain that they attract the magnets on the hatch cover! These magnets, as those on the hatch cover, must be exactly flush with the surface of the top of the fuselage. Glue them in place with epoxy. Test fit the hatch cover in place – it should fit perfectly in place. To remove it, simply slide the rear of the hatch cover slightly to the side to break the hold of the magnets.

Figure-6-300x206.jpgA triangular notch was cut into the rear of H5 into which the front edge of the hatch cover fits and then the fit of the hatch cover was tested to make certain that it was dead center on the fuselage.

Our final step will be to finish off the nose and prepare it for building the fiberglass cowling. Here, again, we go off plan. Glue the two balsa Chin Blocks together lengthwise (instructions Page 28, Figure 8). When the chin block has dried, lay the fuselage on its back and tape the chin block on it as shown in Figure 16. Then draw a pencil line across the front and back edges. Maintain an angle on each edge that is in line with the front and rear edges of the fuselage. Cut the chin block off along these lines and glue them in place on the lower forward fuselage (Figure 17).

Figure-7-300x239.jpgRare earth magnets were set in the lower rear corners of the hatch cover and their positions marked.

Now, find part H4, which we fabricated from the Top Front Bock in last month’s column (Figure 12). Turn the fuselage right-side up and lay H2 on the front. Tape it down with the forward edge flush with the front of the fuselage. Slide the hatch cover into place then measure back 1/8” from the forward edge of the hatch cover and draw a line across the top of H2 (Figure 18). Then carefully cut along this line with a razor saw (Figure 19). Finally, glue the forward part only of H2 to the forward edge of the fuselage. Do             not get any glue on the hatch cover or the rear section of H2 (Figure 20). When the front of H2 is glued in place the hatch cover should slide into and out of the 1/8” gap easily and cleanly. Do not glue the rear section of H2 or the canopy in place on the battery hatch yet. We will do that during the covering process. Put the hatch cover, canopy and rear edge of H2 away in a place where you can find them later. Finally, sand the nose of the fuselage to its final rounded form with 120 grit sandpaper (Figure 21).

Figure-8-300x190.jpgAfter ½” holes were drilled into the lower rear of the hatch cover, the magnets were placed into the holes. A wooden straight edge was used to assure that the tops of the magnets were perfectly aligned with the surface of the hatch cover. Then the magnets were glued into place.Figure-9-300x248.jpgA 1/8” thick piece of scrap balsa was cut to shape and then glued to the rear of the hatch cover.Figure-10-300x200.jpgThe hatch cover was held firmly in place and sanded flush with the top and sides of the turtledeck. The masking tape was added to protect the turtledeck from sanding.Figure-11-300x200.jpgA pilot figure was test fitted into position at the rear end of the hatch cover.Figure-12-300x200.jpgThe magnets that had been installed in the rear of the hatch covert were painted with red paint.13-300x200.jpgThe hatch cover was placed firmly on the top of the fuselage to transfer the pain spots to the location of the second set of magnets.14-300x200.jpgyou can see the red spots on the fuselage indicating the locations of the magnets.15-300x200.jpgHoles were drilled here with a Forstner bit to create the cavities that will hold the magnets.Figure-16-300x200.jpgThe chin block was taped to the forward fuselage and lines were drawn across the top of the block and each end.Figure-17-300x187.jpgAfter the lines were drawn, the block was cut along the lines then glued in place and held in place with weights to dry.Figure-18-300x238.jpgWith the hatch cover in place, H2 was taped to the front of the fuselage and a line was drawn across it about 1/8” behind the forward edge of the hatch cover.Figure-19-300x200.jpgH2 was carefully cut cross ways with a razor saw dividing it into a forward and an aft section.Figure-20-300x200.jpgThe forward edge of H2 was glued to the front upper fuselage. Make certain that no glue gets on either the front of the hatch cover or the aft of H2.Figure-21-300x187.jpgThe fuselage was held in place with my Shop Mate, and then the nose was carefully sanded to its final rounded shape.

Next time we will build a fiberglass cowling. To prepare for this step you will need the following supplies:  block of Blue foam (carried by hardware stores – I got a small block from a fellow model builder), a sheet of ~2 oz. fiberglass cloth, 3M Super 77, several 1/2” throw away brushes, #200 and #400 wet sandpaper, and a bottle of Deluxe Materials Eze-Kote (available at Horizon Hobbies). Until next month, remember to “take your time and enjoy doing a good job”.




The post RC KITS: The Great Planes Ultra Sport 60 … Finishing The Hatch Cover appeared first on Fly RC Magazine.

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Twisted Hobbys has been a 3D pilot’s dream since the advent of their Crack lineup. Since the Crack Turbo Beaver came out, their designers have taken a liking to taking classic designs and giving them the proper Crack treatment that Twisted Hobbys is so well known for. This latest release was only a natural progression in response to the Crack Fokker. Simple truth is, everyone flying a warbird needs an adversary and to duel it out with the early German Fighter, Twisted has released the Crack Camel.

Crack_Camel_1__52410.1492710799-300x162.The Crack Camel comes in your choice of silver or blue … or you could just get one of each.


  • Astounding aerobatic performance
  • EPP construction offers excellent crash durability
  • Easy to transport and store
  • Perfect for larger indoor venues


  • The extremely light weight means outdoor flying with little to no wind only


Like most other models in the Crack hangar, the Camel spans 35 inches across the wing and is constructed largely of EPP parts that are laser cut and lock into each other for a rigid airframe once completed. The floaty nature lent to all of the Crack models from their light loading is doubled up with this Sopwith bipe, so you can rest assured that it’ll feel right at home and excel at post-stall flight, something the real model could never dream of.

Blue_Crack_Camel_GRlogo__94747.149364870HUGE control surfaces all the way around.

The Crack Camel comes in two different paint schemes and can be setup to run on a higher powered 3S system for extreme performance or a milder 2S system for those looking for more of a liquid and pattern type performer. The lighter weight batteries called for are the ubiquitous 450mAh 3S pack, which most small scale pilots will already have a bunch of.


PRICE: $82.99

WHO IT’S FOR: Proficient 4-channel pilots

REQUIRED FOR COMPLETION: A 20-30g brushless outrunner, 10-20 amp ESC, 450-600mAh 2-3S LiPo, (4) 7-9g servos and a 9x4SF prop (for 2S) or an 8x4E prop (for 3S).

WINGSPAN: 35 inches

AUW: 8-9 oz

LENGTH: 28.5 inches

Crack_Camel_Sliver_1__49818.1493592931-3WHAT DO WE THINK?

With the huge side surface area on the fuse, the Crack Camel should be right at home in Knife Edge and with double the wing area, low and slow will be the name of the game. Another key feature to this model was the use of 3D printed components in key places to both lighten the AUW, but also to expedite the entire final assembly process. Needless to say, we’re already drooling over the prospect of our Triplane dog-fighting with our Biplane.




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Words By Josh Bernstein – Photos By Jon Barnes

Words Josh Bernstein    Photos by Jon Barnes

DX6e_01-900x599.jpgSeems like an awful lot for well under $200.

In 2014, Spektrum (the brand known worldwide as a cornerstone of the radio system market) released the DX6, the long awaited upgrade to their popular, entry-level computerized radio, the DX6i. With features surprisingly similar to high-end units like the DX9 (albeit with three fewer channels), the DX6 – seductively wrapped in an all-black shell – provided virtually unlimited model memory, voice alerts, a plethora of 3-position switches, built-in telemetry, and too many upgrades to list. At $199.99 ($229.99 w/AR610 receiver), the DX6 represented a significant leap forward for DX6i owners ready to move on from their first multi-model radio.

DX6e_04-300x200.jpgAll the switches you’ll ever likely need … and this is only the left side!

Jumping forward two years, Spektrum has once again put their finger on the pulse of the RC community and responded with the DX6e, an option perfectly placed for those looking for a step-up from the DX6i (or any single-model radio), but not quite ready to drop two bills. At $149.99 ($179.99 w/AR610 receiver), the DX6e’s dollar-to-function ratio is attractive enough to catch the eye of pilots at all skill levels. Modern, sleek, and carrying Spektrum’s new black shell design (shared with the new DXe), the DX6e appears to be anything but a “budget” radio. Features include:

  • Three 3-position and four 2-position switches
  • Airplane, Helicopter, Sailplane, and Multirotor programming
  • 250-model Internal memory
  • DX6e_13-300x200.jpgThe comfortably familiar and easy to use jog dial for programming or other selections.

    Built-in telemetry

  • Patent-pending gimbal design with spring configuration switch
  • Wireless trainer link
  • 7 airplane wing types and 6 tail types
  • 7 swashplate types
  • 4 sailplane wing types and 3 tail types
  • Multirotor flight mode setup
  • 7 point throttle curves for airplanes and helicopters
  • 7 point pitch and tail curves for helicopters
  • Cross-platform model sharing with other Spektrum transmitters


Between the DX6e and its more expensive sibling the DX6, there are surprisingly few trade-offs (though their significance will be subjective depending on the user):

  1. Wireless trainer only: no wired trainer, which is necessary for “buddy-boxing” with a DX4/5/6i (and for computer simulators).
  2. Non-diversity (two-fixed) antenna: The DX6e utilizes a single adjustable antenna. While antenna configuration (and signal “cone”) is too complicated a subject for this review, suffice-it-to-say that while diversity is preferable, having the ability to adjust the DX6e’s antenna angle (nine positions from vertical to near-horizontal) may help to reduce signal loss if you hold your radio at an unusual angle (e.g. with antenna pointed at the plane or the ground ­– either being less than ideal). (An important note: the first release of the DX6 – model SPMR6700 – had only one fixed antenna. The second release – the SPMR6750 – upgraded the antenna to diversity.) Therefore, the DX6e’s adjustable antenna could be seen as a step up from the first generation (2014) DX6.
  3. No voice alerts: As contemporary radio systems continue to incorporate modern technologies, voice alerts (VA) are becoming more and more common. Regarding VA, however, I’m convinced there are two types of pilots in the world: the first type would love nothing more than to spend a rainy day setting up multiple VA corresponding to flight modes, rates/expo, flap position, landing-gear, mixes, throttle-cut, etc. For these pilots, their radio is an expression of their technological prowess, and it’s not uncommon for their volume settings to bang up against 100% (so that all others can partake). The second type is more likely to walk by that talking radio… and smash it with a rock. If you’re the latter, you’ll find the DX6e’s beeps and tones to be more than adequate.


While the DX6e gives up several functions to the DX6, a few improvements help to offset:

  1. DX6e includes a dual-rudder/dual-elevator mix.
  2. Gimbal tension adjustments situated around gimbals on the radio face dispenses with the disassembly required to adjust your gimbals on other radios.
  3. Power button vs power switch.
  4. “Spring configuration switch”: Allows for easy mode/model type change without needing to disassemble radio. Four gimbal spring configurations are available:
  • Normal throttle for modes 2 and 4 (Air, Heli, and Sailplane model types).
  • Spring-centered throttle for modes 2 and 4 (Multirotor model type).
  • Spring-centered throttle for modes 1 and 3 (Multirotor model type).
  • Normal throttle for modes 1 and 3 (Air, Heli, and Sailplane model types)
  1. Video Transmitter Setup Menu (VTX Setup): For the FPV aficionados among us, the DX6e will allow pilots to change channel, band, power, and mode directly on the radio. (This requires a compatible video transmitter and Spektrum receiver.)
  2. Lap timer: Of particular interest for multi-rotor racers, the DX6e includes a lap-timer function, which allows pilots to store and retrieve lap times. No downloading to computer required.
  3. AS3X Live View: This feature allows for “real time gyro info and adjustment in flight.”


DX6e_14-300x178.jpgHelis, Gliders and Planes … oh my, but also drones on the DX6e.

While the new DX6e is jam-packed with technological goodies, a radio’s tech features represent just one piece of its “value pie.” An equally important question is, “how does it feel?”

Ergonomics: The DX6e’s case is slightly more curved than the DX6, and its base tapers in a way that I found surprisingly comfortable. As a pincher, I find the location of the gimbals in relation to the radio’s frame is just right.

Power button: If you’ve ever accidently knocked your radio’s power switch, only to find your battery dead the following morning, the DX6e’s power button may be just what the doctor ordered. Requiring a deliberate press to turn on, and a press-and-hold (for a few seconds) to turn off, this feature may help to prevent the frightful experience of reaching for a trim switch in flight, only to knock the power button off.

Gimbal quality: As opposed to the original DX6i (which used bushings), the DX6e shares the same quad-bearing gimbals with the more expensive offerings from Spektrum (DX6 through DX18). Factory tension levels will work for the vast majority of flyers, however, if you should feel the need to make tension adjustments, fear not, as the DX6e offers easy access to the tension adjusting screws (situated around the gimbals on the radio’s face).

Batteries: The DX6e comes stock with four AA batteries, but also allows for an upgrade to Lithium-Ion (SPMA9602 and a power supply SPM9551 for charging). I’m a fan of this flexibility as I can keep a set of AA batteries in my flight bag, knowing if I ever get to the field with a dead radio, I’ve got back-ups at the ready.


DX6e_12-300x200.jpgBatteries included.

Practically speaking …

A common question I get asked by new pilots is, “I bought a ready-to-fly (RTF) ultra-micro that came with its own radio. I had fun, but now I’m thinking of getting a larger plane/building a kit. What radio should I buy?” After grilling them about their level of long-term interest in the hobby my response usually includes a reference to the familiar home-buying axiom, “You don’t want to over-buy, and you don’t want to under-buy.” While some pilots know after their first flight whether they’re in this hobby for life, for many others the realization develops slowly. For the latter, making a large financial commitment on a radio system “with legs” can seem daunting. It’s for this pilot the DX6e is uniquely placed. Capable of enhancing the flight experience of any already-owned bind-n-fly plane/multi-rotor (with Spektrum guts), the DX6e is capable of carrying a pilot through many years of multi-function enjoyment. Should that pilot ever require more than six channels, the DX6e’s wireless trainer function makes it a perfect “buddy-boxer,” and it’s near-unlimited model memory and surprisingly advanced list of functions make it the ultimate hand-me-down.


DX6e_03-300x200.jpgFor a cool 179.99, Horizon sells the DX6e bundles with the AR610 receiver.

Summing it up:

Whichever Spektrum radio system speaks to you (pardon the pun), the wide range of options –from the single-model DXe up to the drool-worthy DX20 – will allow pilots of any skill or budget level to choose his or her own path. The new DX6e is a worthy addition to an already wide-ranging lineup and provides a level of quality, function, and customization that not so long ago would have required a much more serious financial commitment. Lacking surprisingly few of the bells and whistles commonly found in higher-end units, the DX6e stands ready to welcome a new pilot into the world of customizable, multi-model, computerized radios.









The post Spektrum DX6E Transmitter: “SERIOUS BANG FOR YOUR BUCK” appeared first on Fly RC Magazine.

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By Bob Benjamin –

Let’s talk about that different technique of sheet balsa covering an open/stringered model airplane structure to create a better scale representation of a full scale sheet metal aircraft surface. I touched on the subject in my first Guillow’s Series article while describing the two Kit. No. 403 Spitfires you saw there, and I’ve given you plenty of hints earlier in this Hellcat feature, as well. What it comes down to is this. The best combination of improved structural strength, minimal weight gain, and “metal skinned airplane appearance” comes with attaching balsa sheet skin (the thinnest that you can manage is best) wetted with water , using a water-based adhesive such as Deluxe Materials Aliphatic Resin to do the bonding, and then wrapping/taping/weighting the entire structure while both the glue and the water dry. When this happens all the glue joints dry hard enough to hold tight while the wood is still wet. As the sheet balsa skin material dries it shrinks slightly. When that happens the entire assembly gains strength from the “pre-load” applied as the skin tightens and even more important, it becomes significantly more rigid/stiff and far less lightly to warp or otherwise distort than it might have been otherwise. None of this is my idea, by the way. I have found references to wet-balsa-sheeting on pre-WWII kit plans and magazine articles. Let’s get on with building this Guillow’s Hellcat and I’ll explain the details of the process as we go along.

Hellcat-3-1-900x600.jpgWe finished the last shop session with what you could see of the right outer wing panel n early hidden under several plastic shot bags. Before we go any further I’ll describe these. A shot bag, which is nothing more than a really heavy bean bag, is a soft, comfortable building weight that we can use to hold unevenly contoured structures in place/together without creating any hard spots or stress points that could both damage and distort the structure. These shot bags are made from standard-issue heavy duty kitchen sandwich bags filled with several pounds of No. 9 lead shot and reinforced with all that blue tape. Fabric bags are probably more durable if you have the sewing skills to put them together, and you can use sand or some other fine, dense filler in place of birdshot if you prefer. In this photo you can see the right outer wing panel “bagged” in place for drying. Some of the little details count. See what looks like a sheet of 1/8” light ply beneath the left panel? That’s exactly what it is. I used those big lead building weights on the rear edge to hold it in place on my work surface, then shimmed ONE corner…the left trailing edge…up about ¼”, enough to force the top working surface of the plywood into a twisted plane that exactly defines the washout I want to build into the wing panel. The shot bags hold the wing panel with the top and bottom skins in place, still wet and freshly glued, while the whole deal dries overnight. NOTE: The wing center section (the bare balsa structure you see on the right), which is wide and totally flat on this Hellcat, was assembled as a wet wood/glue layup without any twist in the plywood base the day before I shot this photo. The center section, which is now strong, flat and stable is happy just sitting there waiting for the new stuff to dry.Hellcat-3-2-900x600.jpgIt turns out that there is more than one way to align and secure one of these wet sheet balsa covering assemblies. I used those shot bags on the top surface of each wing panel because the bottom, which is flat nearly all the way forward to the leading edge, with the result that it can be accurately aligned and supported on a flat surface such as the little sheet of plywood we just looked at. Set up that way it will hold the shape we want it to when weighted/compressed from above by the shotbags. NOTE: To make this arrangement work I pre-glued the leading edges of both the upper and lower wing skins in place first. Check back to our previous shop session (Hellcat No, 2) for a good look at this step in the assembly.
Next comes a question. What part of the structure we have begun to build does not provide a flat base for alignment the way this wing panel does? That’s the case with the horizontal stabilizer you see here. It is symmetrically curved, top and bottom, and to surface it accurately we have to find a way to provide identical clamping pressure from both sides. Can you see how these clothespin clamps are just right for that job? Those scrap balsa strips distribute the clamping pressure evenly and prevent the clothespins from digging into the sheet balsa surface.Hellcat-3-3-900x600.jpgWe can get a better look at how this process comes together using one of the elevator sections, which tapers from front to back as well as from root to tip. Here I’m tracing the elevator outline on a piece of the soft/light 1/32” balsa sheet I’m using on the tail surfaces to help control weight.Hellcat-3-4-900x600.jpgOnce that piece fits, I trace and cut out a duplicate.Hellcat-3-5-900x600.jpgNow you can see how the elevator “core” and both outer sheet skins line up for assembly.Hellcat-3-6-900x600.jpgThis time I’m using yet another method for aligning/clamping this elevator assembly together. Off camera, I water sprayed both sides of each 1/32” balsa sheet skin, then applied a line of Deluxe Materials Roket Rapid to every part of the core that will come into contact with the surface skins. When all this lines up correctly I apply controlled hand/finger pressure all around while making sure that every taper…top-to-bottom etc…remains even. Don’t try this with a wing…it’s too big and will get away from you. For this “by-hand” method to work, any assembly has to be small enough to control completely with your hands all at once.Hellcat-3-7-900x600.jpgHere’s the same deal coming together on the vertical tail. I have both 1/32” balsa sheet skins cut to size.Hellcat-3-8-900x600.jpgI’m applying an even bead of Roket Rapid on every joining surface.Hellcat-3-9-900x600.jpgI’m not just hanging on… here’s what it looks like as I maintain just a bit more finger pressure through that lower leading edge curve while everything sets hard.Hellcat-3-10-900x600.jpgLet’s get back to the fuselage while these tail surface layups have time to dry. Earlier I started working on sheeting the fuselage by closing up the rearmost section between formers B10 and B-11. I did this in equal left and right halves to avoid tight curves around the top and bottom that would threaten to crack the sheet. Here I’m going to use the same method , starting with the left fuselage side, but I’m taking advantage of the single-curvature of the fuselage outline all the way forward to former B-7 to use a single, larger piece of 1/16” balsa sheet for each side. It’s a good idea to do this whenever possible…the larger skin section eliminates several edge joints and reduces the opportunities for the sheeting job to the stringers out of line.Hellcat-3-11-900x600.jpgJust as I did last time with the wing, I used a bead of Deluxe Materials Roket Rapid for an open-joint assembly of the precisely shaped skin section to the top keel, then water-sprayed the sheet. Now I’m brushing Deluxe Materials Aliphatic Resin onto every portion of the fuselage structure that will come into contact with the skin.Hellcat-3-12-900x600.jpgOnce that’s done I use plenty of that wide blue masking tape to pull the wet balsa sheet tight against all the places where we want it to stick…and hold it there. With this particular assembly I’ve chosen to skin each side of the fuselage separately, mostly because masking tape won’t stick to wet balsa and I’ll need the opposite side dry to serve as a place to stick it. Once that assembly was taped as securely as I could get it I moved ahead and used the Roket Rapid edge-glue technique to begin attaching some of the right fuselage side nose skin.Hellcat-3-13-900x600.jpgWith those new skin sections fully taped I have to let everything dry thoroughly/overnight before I can remove the tape and expose the remaining open bays for completion.Hellcat-3-14-900x600.jpgWith everything that I have assembled so far dry, I finished enclosing a few more of those open bays. The tape you see here is securing the corresponding 1/16” balsa sheet panel on the right side of the fuselage.Hellcat-3-15-900x600.jpgOnce again all that stuff has to dry, so I used that time to work on the nose…specifically the part that’s going to become the removable cowl. Do you remember that 1/16” plywood firewall/former that I added to the fuselage structure at B-2 instead of B-1? (NOTE: Like many Guillow’s kits, this Hellcat includes a revised firewall former made from a white vinyl material. Early kits used 1/16” plywood and I prefer this approach. In my experience those new vinyl parts weigh two to three times what the plywood equivalent would as well as being less dimensionally stable and otherwise more difficult to work with.) When I made the new plywood firewall I also made a 1/16” balsa duplicate. Here’s what I did with that. I cut off the entire front of the fuselage at the face of the plywood firewall, leaving B-1 with a bunch of stubby stringers attached to one side. I lined up the “open” ends of those stringers with the extra B-2 and glued up the entire assembly, then used some more of that soft/light 1/16” balsa sheet to wrap a new skin all the way around the outside of that new base cowl section like this. Note that I left plenty of extra 1/16” balsa sheet extending to both the front and rear of B-1 and B-2 so I’d be sure the new skin would easily fit that slightly tapered structure. What you see here is the original B-1 and the extra-balsa overlap that’s ready to be trimmed off flush with each former.Hellcat-3-16-900x600.jpgHere I have enlarged the opening in B-1 to provide clearance I’ll need later. The extra B-2 at the bottom/rear has not been similarly trimmed. I’m holding the stock Hellcat kit plastic cowl with the basic dummy engine molded into it still in place. Can you see where I have “relieved” the outside face of the 1/16” balsa sheet skin by approximately the thickness of the plastic cowl for about ½” back behind B-1?Hellcat-3-17-900x600.jpgHere’s why I did that. You can see through the translucent plastic cowl just how far it fits back past B-1 for a secure overlap joint with the outer skin. Off-camera I glued this entire joining area with Deluxe Material Roket Rapid (for open joints) and pressed the whole assembly into alignment. What you can’t see here is how the length of this new “scale” cowl matches the original distance on the plan from the front of the cowl to the original B-2, which coincides with the scale location of the rear edge of the cowl. NOTE: The whole point of this exercise is to provide a cowl with a nearly-scale outline and a cowl-to-fuselage parting line/joint that agrees with the scale location shown on the Guillow’s Action Plan. I’ll get into the details of mounting this scale cowl next…but… I want to be sure you understand that this extra work is not necessary. If you prefer you can build the nose from B-1 through B-3 exactly per the plan, attach the plywood firewall to B-1 as instructed , and fit the unmodified plastic cowl into place as designed. I went through the extra drill because I like the scale appearance it provides and to prove that it’s practical to add this touch of authenticity while adding very little weight.Hellcat-3-18-900x600.jpgThis is the modified cowl assembly seen from the rear. You can see that I have trimmed/opened up the new B-2 and added “hard points” of either spruce or basswood at three locations around the circumference. These will hold the cowl attachment/locating pins that are coming next.Hellcat-3-19-900x600.jpgThose look like this. I have cut and fitted short pieces of 1/8” “standard hobby shop” aluminum tube to fit all the way into these hard point blocks for support and to extend about 3/8” back behind B-2.Hellcat-3-20-900x600.jpgWith all those locating pins glued into place I marked where they met the plywood firewall, then drilled out new holes at those points for 5/32” O.D. tube…the “next size up” that telescopes over the 1/8” pieces. Because it’s way difficult to “back-engineer” a modification like this to get a perfect pin-to-tube alignment, I’ve drilled the holes in the firewall slightly oversize. When I protect the cowl from unwanted glue adhesion with that clear wrap and then slip the tubes in place over them I get enough tolerance/wiggle-room for the assembled outer tubes to seat themselves easily into Deluxe Materials Roket Gel waiting in the holes.Hellcat-3-21-900x600.jpgWhen I get everything into place it looks like this. The blue masking tape keeps everything in alignment while the Roket Gel cures and the plastic wrap prevents it from gluing the removable cowl into place.Hellcat-3-22-900x600.jpgWhile that assembly sets I can work at the other end of the fuselage. In the original kit design the tail cone is made up of several die-cut contour filler pieces that extend the lines of the fuselage stringers into a faired aft edge. There’s no way this would not look weird with the rest of the fuselage sheeted, but to try to work with more 1/16” balsa sheeting around that small cross section would be frustratingly difficult at best. I chose to rough-out a block of light balsa to replace all that.Hellcat-3-23-900x600.jpgWith the “extra” stuff cut off it’s easy to glue the new balsa blank against B-11 in its place. We will finish shaping it later.Hellcat-3-24-900x600.jpgA taste of things to come. Here I have added the nose cowl and battery hatch and secured them with masking tape to give you an idea of where this is taking us.Hellcat-3-25-900x600.jpgBy the time I got the fuselage structure in the previous photo all sanded out, shaped and smoothed there were a few places where my less-than-perfect work left me with some extra openings in the fuselage skin.Hellcat-3-26-900x600.jpgRather than trying to “patch” them with filler, I’ve added real patches of silkspan attached with Deluxe Materials Eze-Dope just as the “real” silkspan surface is going to be put on later. Doing this adds measureable strength with negligible weight gain and won’t show under the final finish.Hellcat-3-27-900x600.jpgEarlier in the process of building the modified Hellcat fuselage I added 1/16” balsa sheet skin “around-and-over” the original “L” formers that define the wing saddle. According to the original kit design the completed wing would be permanently glued to these and the bottom/center “fillet” of the fuselage would be built into the open space left below the wing. Because our wing is going to be removable we are going to do things differently. For a start I’m going to “true-up” what’ going to define the shape of the new wing saddle structure by taping a sheet of 100-grit sandpaper to the top center wing surface to turn it into a custom sanding block that will define its own attachment base. Can you see how sliding the fuselage “gently-but-firmly” spanwise (side-to-side) across the abrasive surface will cut away excess material and “mate” the opening in the fuselage to the already-shaped wing? NOTE: I’m going to add a reinforcing plate of 1/64” plywood right here, so I will sand back/cut away enough extra wood…go deeper into the fuselage…to compensate for that plywood as well as the thickness of the balsa sheet skin I have already added to the top wing surface. Not doing this would force the wing to rest too low in the fuselage.Hellcat-3-28-900x600.jpgI missed a shot! Off-camera I fitted a sheet of that 1/64” plywood to extend just outboard of the fuselage sides along the opening in the fuselage bottom from the leading to the trailing edge. What you see here is the joined-up assembly of the wing and fuselage with that plywood sandwiched in place between them. It’s glued to the fuselage with Deluxe Material Aliphatic Resin and protected from sticking to the wing by that clear plastic wrap.Hellcat-3-30-900x600.jpgOnce that has happened (overnight again) I used a pair of small snippers to rough-cut the protruding portion of the 1/64” plywood as close as I could to the fuselage sides and then…Hellcat-3-31-900x600.jpg…went back to the 120-grit sanding block to finish those edges flush with the balsa sheet fuselage skin. You are looking at the left side of the fuselage here, from the tail and down from the top. That’s the new battery hatch cover taped in place on the right.

Next time we will get on with making the actual working removable wing parts.







The post Master’s Workshop #52: Guillow’s Hellcat RC Conversion Part 3 appeared first on Fly RC Magazine.

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towa2090.jpgIt is hard to beat the look of the aircraft from the golden age. During this time the airplanes were just as much form as they were function. Tower Hobbies is bringing us back to he Golden Age of flight with their new release with the Ryan STA EP ARF. With a 53″ wingspan this plane bridges the gap between parkflyer and giant scale. Anyone can enjoy this model. Using a Rimfire .32 motor and a 3s 3200mah lipo battery the setup is affordable but looks to provide ample power for this scale aerobatic trainer. For someone looking to go the next step from scale foamies this one is a great choice.


  • The perfect plane for aerobatic maneuvers like loops, rolls and stall turns.
  • A great “step-up” aircraft for pilots who have mastered high-wing trainers or low/mid-wing sport models.
  • Strong, lightweight, built-up wood airframe.
  • Hand-laid fiberglass cowl, wheel pants and fairings improve scale looks and aerodynamics.
  • Individual aileron servos with short, direct linkages provide precise control.
  • Removable one-piece wing simplifies storage and transport.
  • Easy-to-attach magnetic cowl does not use screws, for cleaner lines and easier motor access.
  • Easy-to-remove hatch for faster LiPo battery changes.
  • Scale, high-viz trim scheme with checkerboard wing bottom design uses high-quality heat shrink film.
  • Ailerons arrive prehinged.
  • Low parts count for faster assembly.
  • Complete hardware package included.
[See image gallery at]

Radio: 4-channel
Servos: Four slim or mini size
Servo Extensions: Two 9″ (229mm) or one 12″ (305mm)
Brushless Motor: Rimfire .32 (42-50-800)
Electronic Speed Control: 75A
Propeller: To match selected motor
Battery: 3S 11.1V at least 3200mAh recommended
Battery Charger: Compatible with selected battery
Charging Bag, Battery & Motor Connectors, Building and Field


Length: 40″ (1016mm)
Wingspan: 53″ (1346mm)
Wing Area: 424sq in (27.35sq dm)
Wing Loading: 20.3 – 22.1oz/sq ft (61.9 – 67.4g/sq dm)
Weight: 60 – 65oz (1700 – 1842g)


Click here more information on the Tower Hobbies Ryan STA EP ARF 


The post Tower Hobbies Ryan STA EP ARF appeared first on Fly RC Magazine.

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Foreword By Matt Maziarz

Main Body and Story By Scott Copeland

Joe-Nall-2016-39-300x139.jpgWe’ve all been there, right. You know; sitting at the field or on the bench looking at a model that you poured your blood, seat and tears into … after it’s been swept into a dust bin after a yard sale crash. Perhaps it was a mechanical failure. Perhaps it was an improperly setup radio. Perhaps it was just plain dumb thumbs. Perhaps it was all of the above, but that’s not really the point. What matters is that it happens to all of us at some point or another in our modeling and RC flying careers. We are all human (last I checked) and as suck, we make mistakes. We are stubborn and sometimes ignorant. We are impulsive and impatient. We are also creative and adaptive though. We are all those things and the fact that we are human means we are going to make mistakes. 

Hellcat-1-16-300x228.jpgOf Course, some of us take it to sadistic levels of stubbornness or wallet-bending trips to the LHS, but all of us have to get back up, dust ourselves off and get back into the air again. Why? As in, why the hell would I want to waste my time scratch building another beautiful model when my last one got destroyed? Why would I want to keep practicing that ever elusive 3D maneuver when I’ve already trashed two planes trying to perfect it? Why would I want to continue on with pylon racing when my old thumbs aren’t really keeping up with the millennials at the field? WHY??!!

Well, you already know why, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. It’s the glory you bask in after a full day of successful flights. It’s the joy you feel after a self-designed, stick-built model flies like a dream. It’s the thrill you get when you hit that perfect first flat spin and you do it over and over again (much to the behest and jibes of the fellow club members. It’s being able to final fly on your own after being trained by a competent veteran pilot. That’s why. For all the failures we suffer, whether self inflicted or not, The highs are much higher than the lows and Scott is ready and willing to share a few of his own tales that kept his focus strong in the aeromodeling hobby. I thank him for his humility and willingness to share his stories, even if they get him a few robust fists to the shoulder at the field this years. Thanks Scott!


Joe-Nall-2016-1-300x194.jpgI was a pretty typical 12 year-old kid in the summer of 1984.  I was in love with baseball, glad to be out of school and filled my days with playing and exploring.  One thing that seemed to separate me from my contemporaries was my absolute passion for airplanes.  My cousins, my brother and even my uncles had a surface interest in aviation, but for me, it was much deeper.  When I relaxed, I had a model airplane magazine in my hands.  When I went outside, it was rarely without something to fly.  When I daydreamed, my thoughts drifted to the magic of biplanes, round engines droning overhead and mayflies dancing over sunlit grass landing strips.

Like most 12 year-old dreamers, I was a boy with big dreams and small budgets.  Until now, I had been content building rubber-powered free-flight models, but wanted to get into RC in the worst way.   I had a paper route, but the cost of a kit, radio, engine, etc. was well beyond my financial grasp.  My grandfather was an RC modeler of some repute, mainly in the realm of “sport scale”.  He has to be given most of the credit or blame for my interest in aviation.  My Mom would smile and comment, “Child’s life ruined”, when he and I would return from the flying field, excitedly chattering about our aeronautical exploits.  I loved attending contests with him throughout the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s and he had also done a little bit of RC flight training with me using his old Fleet biplane and Kraft radio (with no buddy box; we hurriedly passed the transmitter back and forth during lessons).  If my interest in RC wasn’t galvanized before that, it sure was afterward! He decided when I turned 12 that the time was right to give me the responsibility of my own RC airplane.

When that big rectangular box showed up on my birthday, I was pretty sure I knew what it was!  The box was labeled “Midwest Bonzo”, a 1/2A pylon racer, based loosely on Steve Wittman’s famous race plane.   My grandfather thought that if we revamped it slightly and powered it with an O.S. .10 with 3 channels it would perform well.  We spent about a month of free time building the airplane together and it looked great when we finished!  The color scheme was white and silver and we even put a hand-painted pilot figure under the canopy.  The ship was guided by an ancient O.S. 3-channel radio, which seemed to have an antenna so long it could cast trout flies!  I patiently waited for the day we could fly.

Which-Way-To-Go-Gas-Or-Glow-1-300x251.jpWe got together on a brisk, sparkling morning to finally fly the Bonzo.  We did our pre-flight check, filled the fuel tank and started and tuned the engine.   I lifted it to shoulder height.  When I got the head nod from my grandfather, I ran about as fast as my legs could carry me and gave the Bonzo a hefty push when I felt the plane starting to lift from my hand.  It was one of the best hand launches I had ever performed and the Bonzo climbed away magnificently!   We put in a few flights that day, and I took the controls for at least half of the flight time.  What a rush!  After a couple such sessions, my grandfather felt I was sufficiently adept at handling the Bonzo, so he set me up with some field equipment and fuel and let me take the Bonzo home.

This is when the learning really began!  I was so excited at the prospect of my first true solo, I could hardly wait for the first good flying day.  It was a hot, calm day in July with light winds and perfect clear skies.  The Bonzo was loaded into my Mom’s car and off to the schoolyard we went.  Like a typical 12 year old, I had more confidence than experience and thought to myself, “I’ve got this.”  The objective truth of the matter was far different than my perception.

After starting the balky engine, I did all of the checks I was taught by my grandfather and felt I was ready to go.  I throttled up and my pulse quickened.  I started to run forward, but in the excitement of running, holding the transmitter in one hand and anticipating what I would do next, I rushed my launch and the Bonzo barreled into the ground.  Broken prop, bent landing gear, bent pride.  I replaced the prop, straightened the gear a bit and tried again.  This time, the launch was good, but I failed to let the model gain sufficient speed before pulling back on the stick.  You can guess the results; one massive stall, a brief moment of pilot terror, followed by a half-roll directly into the ground.  This time the firewall was broken, the wing was broken near the root and I was dejected.

I did eventually manage to get a few great flights with the Bonzo, although after my repairs, it began to resemble an anti-aircraft target rather than the semi-scale race plane it had once been.  For me, my first RC plane was a teaching tool and uncovered the core of this fine hobby.  My takeaways were in no particular order:

  1. Don’t rush, control your excitement and remember the proper way to do things (patience is the most important virtue of aeromodeling)
  2. If you fly, you will eventually crash (Sir Isaac?)
  3. Most airplanes are repairable, although they rarely look as nice as they did before
  4. When you are 12, you don’t know as much as you think you know

I learned a lot from my time with the Bonzo and held onto the airframe until only a few years ago.  It had some sentimental value and was a reminder of some of the less-intelligent, hurried decisions I had made in my modeling past.  I would love to tell you all that I only found success after this learning experience, but… you’ll have to wait until next week to hear my next adventure in RC flight.


The post Only Human – An Unabashed Recount Of What It Is To Be An Aeromodeler: Part 1 appeared first on Fly RC Magazine.

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1504-300x300.jpgHorizon Hobby has been releasing a bunch of cool new scale foam models in the past year or two, but most of them have been of the park flyer or mini size variety. Not this one though!

The all new Cessna 150 spans nearly seven feet across the wing and is almost five feet long. Don’t fret if you have a smaller car or vehicle to transport this beautiful beast as it has a two-piece wing that is “plug and play” … that means no fussing with servo leads into the fuse. Also, the nose gear is strut equipped for rough field operations and there are optional floats for those fond of flying from water. The power system is potent and capable of running any 4-6S LiPo with a maximum capacity of 7000mAh! Each model comes equipped with scale Nav lights and the BNF model has AS3X with the option to add the SAFE system.

1503-300x300.jpgBest of all? This Cessna can provide a wide flight envelope. Slow it down with the use of the included functional flaps for some knife edge and rolling circles or practice your STOL operations … OR … toss a potent 6S pack in there and let it rip! Whether scale flight or not so scale aerobatics are in your bag of tricks, the Carbon Z Cessna 150 is sure to please.

Check it out for yourself right HERE.

The post NEW RELEASE: E-flite Carbon Z Cessna 150 BNF And PNP appeared first on Fly RC Magazine.

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We all have our favorites, right? Some of us might be fond of a model that holds heavy sentimental value, passed down from an earlier generation. Some others might cherish a scale model that’s built-up, having spent hours upon hours detailing and making it as realistic as possible. Perhaps some model pilots will pick an aircraft not unlike one they actually flew while in Civilian or Military service. That’s not what we’re talking about in this instance though.

IMG_3817-MM-300x200.jpgBasically, imagine you’re relegated to a desert island, shipwrecked and alone and all you can have with you is one of your models. Which would you pick as the only one you can fly for the rest of your life? Yes, we’re aware that most pilots fluctuate in their tastes over the years, whereas a 3D powerhouse might be their fave one year, but an scaled out warbird might be the go-to source to keep that passion flowing the next year. So, what’s it gonna be then? You’re stuck with nary a hobby shop in sight and no means of ordering anything on this very day and you have to pick just one. We know, it might make your head spin as such a query is akin (to some) to picking which child or pet is your favorite. It might not be an easy question, but we figured it would be a great way to get the comments rolling and start a purely RC model debate … just keep it respectful and classy.
17761018_237885883353748_252432518484768Managing Editor for Fly RC, Matt “Mini Guinea” Maziarz is quite enamored with EPP models these days and though the resiliency of such aircraft is a strong selling point, it’s all about the performance for these machines. Of late, the models that are most often in tow to the field with Matt are the Crack Turbo Beaver from Twisted Hobbys and the Laser 260 full fuse from Aerobeez … both EPP, but also both very different in their flying styles. The Beaver is slow and capable of the most extreme 3D flips, twists and everything in between. Because of the x-style cross profile frame with a generous dose of side surface area, the Beaver will knife-edge with little to no rudder input and hang there all day if commanded. It’s also the perfect platform to hone your hovering and harrier skills, without a single worry of stuffing it and suffering crippling damage. The Laser, on the other hand, can get up to a pretty good clip flat line speed-wise, also excels at aerobatic flight. The surface areas aren’t a big as the Beaver’s, but in capable hands it can hang with just about any 3D machine. We all know that hovering a model is cool, but hovering it right on the deck, dipping the tail into the grass every so often only further amplifies the excitement for both the pilot and spectators alike.

IMG_3896-MM-300x223.jpgSo what’s it going to be then, eh? Tell us what your single favorite model is on the very day you read this post and be sure to comment on it. As stated before, we only ask that you keep it respectful and playful. Remember, we are merely a cross section of society and to that end, we might all share a love for flying models, but we are also all very different in our individual tastes and models.

If EPP tickles your fancy, be sure to hit the links below to check out Mini’s faves and feel free to reach out at any time with any questions regarding them or RC in general (Mini Guinea also pilots drones, helis, boats and cars … so long as it’s with a transmitter in hand).





The post What’s Your Favorite Model To Fly? appeared first on Fly RC Magazine.

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If you’re like most of the new generation of RC pilots, you probably got your start with electric powered models propelled by torque monster brushless power plants fed by LiPo cells. That’s definitely not a bad thing, but if you’ve got a hankering for more realism, gas is the way to go. The look, sound and smell of a two stroke gas engine is sure to satisfy that “Scale” need you’ve been hunting for, but how do you go about getting into it without destroying your engine and plane or harming yourself from a prop strike?

dleg0435-main-lg-300x292.jpgOf course, the best thing to do is consult with members of your local club who are familiar with gas powered models, but that might not be an option for everyone (or you might just be to proud or stubborn to ask). If you’ve got questions regarding getting into gas, our friends over at Hobbico have the answers you seek, using their DLE engine as a test bed and featuring on their Keep It RC website. Follow THIS LINK for all the info you need on how to get that beast burbling and feeding you the power you need whether you’re flying a scale Cub, a perfectly detailed Warbird or an extreme 3D machine. You’ve got questions, Keep It RC has answers.

As always, use extreme caution when starting a gas powered model. There is absolutely no shame in using a chicken stick or other such device to prime and start your engine and beyond that, you’re going to have to tune the gas breather after break-in or for optimum performance depending on what you’re doing. Keep it fun, but more importantly, keep it safe and Keep It RC!






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So, did you ever think that your love for RC could be translated into monetary assistance for your higher education? Of course, we at Fly RC often dreamed of such glorious acts of altruism for our fondness of flying models, but this is now and this is real. RCJugde is offering a $1000 scholarship to the winning essay writer for their first ever contest of this kind.

The folks over at RCJudge have been reviewing models for a while now, but being RC enthusiasts themselves, they have also seen the vast improvements in or gadgets and electronics over the past few decades of the RC hobby. It wasn’t that long ago that most folks on the electric side of the fence were still relying, largely, on NiMH cells to power their rigs. Now, LiPo is the only choice. Brushed motors are much like the dodo, gone and mostly forgotten as brushless power plants have emerged. The innovation in the industry isn’t just an RC thing though, it’s an everything thing. The advances in tech throughout the spectrum of motors, engines, cells and materials in all facets and hobbies in life lead directly to advances in our models.

To further exemplify the fun of RC as well as the things that the wonderful hobby teaches us, far and beyond playing with expensive toys, RCJudge is sponsoring this awesome contest. What you’ve got to do for your chance at a G-note off your next year of college tuition is write a 700-1000 word essay on where you think certain tech-related components on our models will evolve in the future. Of course, there are certain restrictions, but pretty much everything RC related is fair game. So what are you waiting for. Dust off the word processor and get writing!

Check out the full list of eligibility requirements and where to send your essay to at the link below. The contest ends on May 21, 2017 and the winner will be announced on June 21, 2017.


The post RC Scholarship for College Students appeared first on Fly RC Magazine.

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By Bob Benjamin –

Last month we ran out of page space with all panels of the wing framed up, ready to be joined at the correct dihedral angles to prepare for a sheet balsa covering job that might be a little different from what you are used to. We finished off with a view of the bottom surface of the center section to serve as an example of the way all ribs, edges, etc. have got to blend together without any bumps or discontinuities that would spoil the final surface. Sanding is the magic technique to make that happen, so we will start off this session with more of that.

Hellcat-2-1-900x618.jpgThis is the surface of the wing center section, which has been assembled so far exactly per the Action Plan layout. Note that the bottom/lower 1/16” sq. balsa spars aren’t in place yet. Earlier you saw me doing some rough shaping of the stock kit leading edge with a No. 11 blade; here I’m using my 80-grit sanding block to finish the top surface of the leading edge so that it becomes a flat surface extending ahead of the ribs. The plans suggest that you need to round off the front of the LE. Don’t do that…leave a flat surface like this and on the bottom as well.Hellcat-2-2-900x596.jpgYou have seen me doing this before. This is the right outer wing panel including the partially shaped modified balsa block tip getting sanded to the same level of accuracy we saw last time on the bottom of the center section.Hellcat-2-3-900x464.jpgNow we are going to make some serious modifications to permit mounting a set of E-Flite 10-15 90 degree rotating retracts. I have already established to my satisfaction that a slightly smaller Guillow’s fighter (the Kit. No. 403 Spitfire) will fly well with the ordinary side-rotating E-Flite retracts, so we know this is going to work. Note: I have checked out many mechanical, pneumatic and electric mini-retracts. What I’m sharing with you here is the smallest, lightest RLG installation that I feel I can trust for real-world flying. If you are aware of a commercially available system that you believe might work better, please let us know about it.
Back to wing modification. I made 1/64” aircraft plywood doublers for F-3 and F-5 that fit on each inside face of the respective ribs to serve as hard mounting surfaces for the RLG mounting blocks I’ll show you next. ALSO NOTE: If you include this modification on your Guillow’s Hellcat you will discover that there’s a lot of cut-and-fit work involved. The important measurements to get right are the position of the upper retract pivot point, the forward rake built into those mounting blocks, and the length of the strut. Make all this stuff match the Guillow’s Action Plan as closely as you can.Hellcat-2-4-900x613.jpgThere are four RLG mounting blocks that I cut and shaped from medium-weight balsa block. You may be able to see some of my changes marked on the plan in pencil as well. Watch how this comes together and it will all make sense.Hellcat-2-5-900x577.jpgThis modification puts the inside/upper portion of the retract units so close to the inner face of the top wing skin that I chose to add some extra reinforcement to the front of the landing gear bay. I cut this 1/64” plywood doubler plate to fit flush with the top/outer edges of ribs F-3 and F-5. If you study the image you’ll see how it’s going to fit into place. NOTE: By the time we have removed enough balsa for the mounting blocks and RLG units to fit there’s not much left of rib F-4.I left that rear upper edge in place to help locate the sheet balsa wing skin that’s coming later.Hellcat-2-6-900x649.jpgHaving measured and marked all the dimensions and clearances carefully, I located the mounting screw holes in each of the blocks with them outside the airplane. The reason for this is to ensure that each RLG unit fits square and true against what will become its mounting base plate. You can trim the outer dimensions of the assembled RLG/block units as needed to fit the wing structure correctly. If you install the blocks first you risk having them line up with the RLG units incorrectly, which will cause stress and possible failure.Hellcat-2-7-900x615.jpgSee how it all comes together? We’ll worry about those over-length struts later.Hellcat-2-8-900x590.jpgSame game from above. If you study this assembly carefully you can work out how I’ve attempted to distribute the landing loads over as much of the original, pre-modification wing structure as possible.Hellcat-2-9-900x698.jpgMy next step was to remove the RLG units, assemble the various wing sections in place on the Guillow’s Action Plan, and join them per the kit instructions.Hellcat-2-10-900x620.jpgWith all the material I removed from the original structural design it was necessary to replace some of the strength that went with it. I made a pair of new leading edge doublers from 1/32” plywood, cut appropriate clearance slots between the front of each affected rib and the inside face of the leading edge and assembled it all with Plenty of Deluxe Materials Aliphatic Resin glue. NOTE: After shooting this image I secured each spar/leading edge assembly with some of those modified heavy duty clothespin clamps you have seen before.Hellcat-2-11-900x598.jpgI decided to fully cover/enclose the wing center section with 1/16” sheet balsa before putting the entire wing assembly aside to work on the fuselage. This is the bottom surface sheet cut as nearly to exact shape as I can get it before assembly. I’m going to use an unusual technique to attach the sheet balsa covering, which I’ll describe a bit later.Hellcat-2-12-900x636.jpgWith the wing structure set aside for a while I’m going to start work on the fuselage to get it caught up with the rest of the airplane. All the fuselage center keel parts (A-1 through A-5) are assembled exactly per the Guillow’s Main Plan. In addition to that first step I have glued fuselage former B-1 in place perpendicular to the assembled keel parts. Unlike the pair of laser-cut Kit. No. 403 Spitfires I told you about in my lead article on Guillow’s kits, this Hellcat along with the other four 1000 Series kits is still a die-cut product. Like most of Guillow’s other scale model designs, this one uses a fuselage structure based on a vertical center keel which is assembled from several die-cut parts and then “filled out” with a series of balsa half-formers that define the left half of the structure. What’s happening here is that I have assembled the keel in place over the fuselage layout on the Main Plan and added the left side of half-former B-1.Hellcat-2-13-900x600.jpgBefore we go any further let’s take a closer look at a representative die-cut fuselage former. This is B-8 (the first former behind the wing trailing edge). Remember that we have already explained Guillow’s willingness to replace any die-cut parts sheets of questionable quality? This 1/16” sheet part is cut from balsa that’s OK for this application, but there are some things we can do to improve it. Can you see the slightly uneven, soft-looking cut on the corner of the former away from my thumb?Hellcat-2-14-900x604.jpgSanding is the cure for this little piece of balsa’s shortcomings. First I flat-sanded each face of the part down to 220-grit smoothness while removing about 1/64” of thickness and weight…Hellcat-2-15-900x619.jpg…and then off-camera I turned the former on-edge and used that same sanding block to clean up any sloppy edges I could find. Here you can see half-formers B-1 and B-2 finish sanded and glued in place on the keel.Hellcat-2-16-900x497.jpgThe next several steps in fuselage assembly go exactly per the Guillow’s kit instructions. Here you can see half-formers B-1 through B-11 assembled in place to define the left half of the fuselage. The “extra” parts at the rear are for the right side half-formers and fuselage side keels.Hellcat-2-17-900x625.jpgThe next step, again following the Guillow’s Main Plan and instruction/assembly guide, is to glue the two left side-keel pieces (A-5 and A-6) into a single unit and then slip them into place in all the formers. Notice here that I am using a single-edge razor blade to trim the side keel notch in B-8 for an exact fit. When building a die-cut kit such as this one you have to be ready to adjust any of the pre-cut slots. In this case the notch centered about 3/64” too low with the result that the side keel had to bow out of line to fit into it. It’s up to you as a responsible model builder to make these simple corrections whenever you find the need for them.Hellcat-2-18-900x600.jpgFully assembled in place the corresponding right side keel looks like this. If you look carefully you’ll see that I have traced and cut out doublers for the top portions of B-2 and B-4. This is a departure from the Guillow’s plan that becomes the first step in creating a removable battery pack access hatch. Can you see the squared-off cutout in B-3 that aligns with the bottom of those new doubler formers?Hellcat-2-19-900x627.jpgThe next step in modifying the standard fuselage for that hatch is to install two inset 3/32” balsa sheet rails as you see here on both sides of the fuselage. These rails, which become edges/liners for the hatch and cutout, are glued to everything around them, but NOT to each other.Hellcat-2-20-900x600.jpgNow I’m using a 120-grit sanding block to trim the outer faces of those assembled hatch rails flush with the outside edges of all the surrounding formers.Hellcat-2-21-900x605.jpgThe next step, this time right in line with the standard kit assembly sequence, is to install all the 1/16” sq. balsa fuselage stringers. Here again is a situation that will very probably require you to do some trimming of the die-cut stringer notches to ensure that all the stringers line up on-center, straight, and evenly spaced from their neighbors. If there’s any doubt dry-fit a stringer in place and sight along it end-on. Any waves or wiggles you can see have to be corrected by trimming those holes. Here I’m using a custom tool that I made for this job. The piece of wood in my hand is a length of 1/16” plywood with a carefully-cut 1/16” wide strip of 120-grit sandpaper glued along each of the long edges. Aligned with what should be the exact location of a series of stringer notches, moving it back and forth in a sawing motion will leave neatly-cut notches just where the plans say they should be.Hellcat-2-22-900x624.jpgHere’s another look at the same process with several top stringers located and glued into place. NOTE: Follow the instructions that come with then kit and always install stringers IN PAIRS…right, left, right, left etc. At this point in its assembly a fuselage structure like this one is pretty floppy and at risk of being permanently twisted if you don’t keep the stringers from adding unbalanced stresses as you install them.Hellcat-2-23-900x637.jpgHere’s another significant modification from the original plan. As designed, former B-7 is flat/straight from top to bottom. If the model is built that way, with the wing permanently joined to the fuselage, this doesn’t matter. BUT, with a removable wing such as we are going to use there are two new issues to deal with. First, with the leading and trailing edge formers (in this case B-3 and B-7) are left flat, the process of inserting/assembling the wing into the finished fuselage will be a fussy job of keeping everything perfectly in alignment AND you won’t be able to use a dowel stub at either the leading or trailing edge per usual RC practice because there won’t be any way to rotate the wing into place to insert it. Second, if the model ever hits something you didn’t want it to…OK, we won’t use the “C” word…the beveled/angled rear face of the wing cutout that’s created by angling the bottom of B-7 will give it room to “knock off” without taking a lot of the rear fuselage with it. Also, did you notice that here I’m using a razor blade to cut stringer notches that line up with the rest of the formers?Hellcat-2-24-900x690.jpgOnce again while you weren’t looking I added an extra part…in this case a duplicate former B-2 cut from 1/16” aircraft plywood. This is going to take over the function of the plywood former/firewall that was originally designed to attach to the front of B-1. In recent Guillow’s kits several 1/16” plywood parts have been replaced by a die-cut sheet of white vinyl material. I cannot recommend that you use any of this stuff. Not only is it less dimensionally stable than the plywood it’s supposed to replace, it’s three to four times heavier than an equivalent plywood part. With all that said, the new B-2 doubler plywood firewall must have all those stringer notches cut into it to match B-2, This is not a job for a lone unsupported razor blade. If you can measure out and mark the notch positions you can pre-cut them on a scrollsaw before assembly OR you can use the edge of a Dremel grinding disc like this to do the slotting in place.Hellcat-2-25-900x600.jpgWith all the formers and 1/16” sq. balsa fuselage stringers in place it’s time for some serious sanding. We are going to create a very closely-fitted sheet balsa skin over this surface, and any bumps or other errors WILL show through. Another note…if we were planning to retain the open structure…tissue covering over open stringers…I would “scallop” the formers between each pair of stringers to avoid that poked-through “starved horse” look that results from leaving those rounded-off outer edges to protrude. But, since we’re going to use balsa sheet covering which creates and maintains its own curvature, we are going to leave the formers as designed to help that balsa sheet assume the curved “round” shape we want for this airplane.Hellcat-2-26-900x702.jpgThe next step in this process is to measure and cut out the actual sheet balsa panels that are going to become part of the fuselage. I’m going to use the best quality light 1/16” balsa sheet I can find. This not something Guillow’s currently includes in their kits. Why 1/16” and not something lighter like 1/32”? In a word, SANDING. Balsa sheet slightly thicker than we want the finished fuselage skin to be is the answer. The extra thickness provides material to “sand on”, to blend less-than-perfect panel edge joints along with any other errors that are going to appear in a job like this no matter how carefully we work. What you see here is one of the ordinary bond paper patterns I made to fit specific sections of the fuselage. The criterion here is that the dimensions/size of each panel must allow it to be attached creating only single-curvature bends.Hellcat-2-27-900x554.jpgLike here. What you see here is two separate 1/16” balsa sheet skins that meet/join along the bottom fuselage keel. I wet each piece thoroughly with plain water and then attach it with Deluxe Materials Aliphatic Resin glue, which is water-based. You’ll get a closer look at how I do this in a bit. Masking tape is the best way I have found to keep sheet skin like this in place while everything dries without damaging it the way pins would.Hellcat-2-28-900x600.jpgI can’t work on the adjacent tail panels with all that tape still in place so I went to the front instead to attach more of that 1/16” balsa sheet skin over then portion of the nose that’s going to become the removable battery hatch. Here it’s easy to see how that masking tape holds the wet balsa sheet and still-wet glue precisely in place.Hellcat-2-29-900x648.jpgWhile I was waiting for these two “wet balsa” layups to dry I decided to work on the cowl. This is going to turn out to be very different from the original Action Plan design, but I’m going to base it all on the standard Guillow’s molded plastic cowl. You can pretty well see “just looking” how I prefer to trim parts like this from their matrix sheets. I doubt that I could come as close to the accuracy I’m getting here using scissors or a blade.Hellcat-2-30-900x600.jpgRemember how I’ve often said in the past that I prefer to allow wet balsa/aliphatic resin glue assemblies to dry overnight “whether they need to or not”? Those fuselage skin assemblies DO need overnight drying so I did some work on the wing while waiting. The process I’m using for this Guillow’s Hellcat wing is identical to what I’m doing on the fuselage, but the shape of the wing permits me to work with much larger panels. This is the 1/16” balsa sheet panel that I have cut to fit the upper surface of the right wing. Watch how I keep it under control during assembly.Hellcat-2-31-900x671.jpgBecause the leading edge as I have sanded it to conform with the curvature of the wing ribs forms a straight line spanwise I can use it as a reference platform to keep everything in place and lined up while I do the wet-forming thing. What’s going on here is that I have applied a line of Deluxe Materials Roket Rapid (slow for open assemblies) along the lower surface of the leading edge and pressed the very front edge of bottom sheet into place against it. By holding the assembly together in place for a minute or so I got that fixed reference. Watch how that works…Hellcat-2-32-900x600.jpgI attached the top surface balsa skin to the upper leading edge in the same way, then sprayed all the sheet balsa with water. What’s happening here is that I’m using a conveniently sized brush to apply a generous coat of Deluxe Materials Aliphatic Resin to every part of the wing structure that’s going to come into contact with the surface panels, and then…Hellcat-2-33-900x579.jpgI used several of my custom made shot bag assembly aids to press the whole thing tightly together while maintain even pressure and preventing any movement while it all dries. I tell you more about how I made those shot bags later.

Be sure to check in next month to see how the rest of the build progresses. Until then, feel free to reach out if you have any questio0ns and by all means … check out the links below for all of the equipment used in this column or to peruse the Guillow’s lineup for yourself.







The post Master’s Workshop #51: Guillow’s Hellcat RC Conversion Part 2 appeared first on Fly RC Magazine.

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towa2040-300x300.jpgIt might look like an old school design, but this Uproar is all about extreme 3D performance, excelling at post-stall flight. This V2 incarnation of the Uproar features design enhancements by Gary Wright, comes complete with Oracover film and the power to weight ratio, whether using glow or electric will offer nearly unlimited vertical performance.

ltowa2040alt01-300x300.jpgFeatures include a symmetrical wing for neutral flight handling whether upright or inverted, side force generators for extreme knife edge flight and a two-piece wing for super easy transport and storage. If that’s not enough to slap an Uproar V2 in your hangar, the ARF is available from Tower Hobbies for less than 100 bucks!!!

Check the full breakdown of the model out over at Tower Hobbies or just click the link below. Due to be in stock by late April or early May.


The post Tower Hobbies Uproar V2 GP/EP ARF 47.6 Inch appeared first on Fly RC Magazine.

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SPM20000_a3-300x300.jpgAs some of you may have heard by now, Spektrum RC and Horizon Hobby are recalling certain DX-20 transmitters for a problem that “was found not to meet Horizon Hobby’s quality expectations.”

While we at Fly RC are not prvy to exactly what the issue is with these transmitters, we would advise all owners of them to check the link below to see if your DX-20 is among those with a PID number designating it recall worthy. Follow the instructions as to how you can get your radio serviced so you can get back in the air with a quickness.


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Got an EPP (or other foamie) aircraft that needs to stay flexible after a damaging crash? Already tried certain CA glues, but the joint keeps cracking because it gets too brittle? Check out this cool new glue from the wizards at Deluxe Materials.

The Fix N’ Flex works awesome on foam models of all sorts, but really shines with the super flexible stuff such as EPP. It cures in around 2-3 hours per millimeter of adhesive (give or take per the relative humidity and temperature), but is best suited to be left to cure overnight.

Be sure to check it out at Deluxe Materials’ booth at the 63rd annual Toledo Show put on by the Weak Signals club this weekend in Ohio.





The post Video: Deluxe Materials Fix N’ Flex: The Flexible Wonder Glue For Foamies appeared first on Fly RC Magazine.

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Rosen Systems has contacted us to let our readers know of the bankruptcy sale of RC WORKS. The hobby shop will be sold at Online Auction. Bidding Closes Tuesday, April 18.

Preview is Monday, April 17, from 9 AM – 3 PM at 4100 S. Lake Forest Dr., Suite 330, McKinney, TX 75070


Features Manufacturers such as: FMS * Horizon * Multiplex * BNF * TRAXXAS * Atomik RC * RTF * and More!

Sale Includes Store Fixtures * Shelving * Show Cases * Offices * & More!

All Bidding at

RC WORKS Hobby Shop Online Auction, McKinney, TX

The post RC WORKS Hobby Shop Online Auction, McKinney, TX appeared first on Fly RC Magazine.

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You won’t have any problems attracting attention when you show up at the field with the Phoenix Model 1:4 ¾ Scale Westland Lysander. The wing spans 126” — that’s 10-1/2 feet — and separates into two sections for easier transport. It delivers scale flight with gas or electric power. The pre-fabricated wood airframe, pre-applied film covering and painted fiberglass parts speed up final assembly.

Phoenix Model Westland Lysander
?Flies well with a gas engine or brushless electric motor
?Top-notch balsa/ply construction
?Factory-covered in high-quality heat shrink film covering
?Fiberglass wheel pants and landing gear covers complement the pre-bent aluminum landing gear
?Two-piece wing for easy transport
?Scale flaps slow down landings and flying speed, while also providing “STOL” performance
?A removable hatch allows easy access to batteries, fuel tank and radio gear
?Lightweight, painted fiberglass cowl enhances the scale outline
?A painted pilot figure and detailed instrument panel add realism to the cockpit
?Complete hardware package included

Wingspan: 126 in (3200 mm)
Wing Area: 1474 in2 (94.5 dm2)
Weight: 23.1-26.4 lb (10.5-12.0 kg)
Wing Loading: 36 oz/ft2 (110 g/dm2)
Length: 74.8 in (1901 mm)
Requires: 8+ channel radio w/8 standard servos, .46-.55 2-stroke or .52 4-stroke glow engine — OR — RimFire™ 65cc outrunner brushless motor, 50-80A brushless ESC, 4S-6S 4000-5500mAh LiPo battery, charger, propeller

PMMA1810 Westland Lysander 1:4 ¾ Scale 50-61cc/EP ARF $599.99

Get all the details by visiting

The post Phoenix Model Westland Lysander 1:4 ¾-Scale 50-61cc/EP ARF appeared first on Fly RC Magazine.

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Sometimes, legends are made. With the P-51, North American Aviation gave the Greatest Generation the tool it needed to be truly great. Phoenix Model’s radio controlled version is designed with reverent accuracy in mind—and ease for the builder. It’s packed with both scale detail and flying hardware. Retracts, pilot, fuel tank, spinner… all you need is the power system of your choice and the radio gear. Fly the Mustang, feel the glory.

Phoenix Model 1/7 P-51 Mustang .46-.55/EP ARF

?GP/EP compatible
?Pre-covered in high-quality, heat shrink film
?Removable top hatch for easy battery changes and radio setup
?Light fiberglass cowl for elegant scale looks
?Retracts with CNC suspension metal struts
?High quality hardware package
Wingspan: 55.5 in (1410 mm)
Length: 48.7 in (1237 mm)
Flying Weight: 6.2-7.05 lbs (2.8-3.2 kg)
Wing Area: 639 sq in (41.3 sq dm)
Wing Loading: 23.92 oz/sq ft (73 g/sq dm)
Wing Type: NACA airfoils
Servo mount: (21 x 42 mm)
Requires: 6-channel (min.) radio w/5 standard servos and 1 low-profile retract servo, .46-.55 2-stroke or .52 4-stroke glow engine
— OR — outrunner brushless motor, brushless ESC, LiPo battery, charger, propeller


Visit for more information.

The post Phoenix Model 1/7 P-51 Mustang .46-.55/EP ARF appeared first on Fly RC Magazine.

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Deluxe Materials Fix ‘n’ Flex Adhesive

Don’t throw away that broken wing just yet. Deluxe Materials has released Fix “n” Flex, a clear, tough, resilient, gap-filling adhesive. It bonds foam, plastic and metal. This adhesive produces flexible bonds in ways that other glues cannot.

Fix ‘n’ Flex is a 1 part, clear, air drying, flexible adhesive with gap filling properties. It has exceptional surface grip and is safe to use, curing at 1-2 mm /hour. Joints that are both waterproof & heatproof. It is especially effective where joints need to:
· Flex, expand, gap fill or withstand shock or vibration.Deluxe Materials Fix ‘n’ Flex Adhesive
· Be non-corrosive or aggressive to paints, plastics or electrical parts.
· Withstand heat.

Its uses are many and include:
· Foam models -construction and repairs.
· Bonding plastic servo trays & motor mounts into foam.
· Bonding plastic or carbon fibre stiffeners into foam.
· Securing plugs, leads & cables from vibration.
· Creating exhaust gaskets & sealing cable exits.
· Securing model railway track street furniture, buildings & trees.
· Bonding wood and metal into plastic moulded boat parts.

Dist. By: www. 

The post Deluxe Materials Fix ‘n’ Flex Adhesive appeared first on Fly RC Magazine.

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In the last print issue of Fly RC (April 2017), we got to talk about the Paul K. Guillow Company, examining what they have done as part of the history of American aeromodelling and what they have to offer you today if you are interested in building model airplanes using balsa and various other materials that work well with it. Building model airplanes is what Master’s Workshop has been about since the beginning and that’s the way it’s going to remain. I have chosen to concentrate on Guillow’s kits because they seem to be everywhere you look. The modelers who have built one “stock” (or tried) as well as those who want to learn how to do a practical RC conversion of just about any of them are pretty well beyond counting.  I suspect that last month I left you with more questions than answers while talking about the two Kit No. 403 Spitfires I’ve been experimenting with. This is the part where we get to those answers and we’ll do it in the usual Master’s Workshop style … patiently, with plenty of detail.

Hellcat-1-1-900x644.jpgWanna’ build a Hellcat? The box cover art Guillow’s has created for their entire line of balsa scale model airplane kits…all of which are Made in America … makes it hard to say no. Let’s talk about all those various kits for a moment. All Guillow’s kits on the market today are presented as stick-and-tissue “flying” models designed for rubber-powered free flight. Some of them, especially the few “non-scale” designs, can realistically be expected to fly that way. Most of the rest show a traditional rubber power prop setup on the plan and with the proper application of model building skill and patience they can be made to fly that way. Some of the more advanced/complex kits are advertised as “non-flying, display-only” models, but those still use the stick-and-tissue approach to design. In fact most of those display kits can be just as successfully converted to electric powered RC as can nearly all of the “flying” jobs. Some of these, like the 400 Series from which last month’s Spitfires come require lots of modification like figuring out working control surfaces as well as a custom RC installation. Others, like the 1000 Series which includes this Hellcat are larger and more complex and already include provision for working controls, which makes practical RC conversion easier. Our Hellcat is a good representation of this part of the Guillow’s line, which is why I have chosen it as our lead-off project. What we are going to do with it is to make those scale control surfaces work, add an appropriate electric motor, ESC and LiPo battery pack, and redesign/replace the original landing gear (with retracts in this case) with something that will survive real-world operations. In addition we are going to explore using several interesting alternative building techniques to improve the exterior surfaces in terms of both appearance and durability. Let’s get on with some model building and I’ll explain each of these modifications as we go along.Hellcat-1-2-900x610.jpgLet’s begin by getting down to the real basics … what to with all those balsa parts. Some of the “conversion-friendly” kits (like those Kit No. 403 Spitfires) have been upgraded to laser cutting. The Hellcat is not one of these…it depends on the time-honored (and less than perfect) process of die cutting. We have already talked a lot about this. Right now I’m showing you one of the best ways to deal with die-cut parts sheets that may be rough, slightly heavier than you’d like, and not fully cut-through. We are going to sand down the back of each sheet to get a smoother surface, get rid of any excess thickness/weight we don’t really need, and free up any and all incomplete cuts from the back side, which is where the dies may have failed to reach. How much of this you may need to do will vary from one kit to the next. With this Hellcat I chose to use a 220-grit sander to take off about 1/64” of balsa.Hellcat-1-3-900x599.jpgThis is the result. The surface of the balsa is really smooth, and most important, the shallow die cuts have been corrected so the various parts are nearly ready to fall out on their own.Hellcat-1-4-900x657.jpgDie-cut balsa parts, unlike their laser-cut cousins, are by definition going to be less consistently accurate. This is true for just about any die-cut kit, not just Guillow’s. This is one of the horizontal tail outline parts as it came out of the sheet … can you see the rough edge?Hellcat-1-5-900x639.jpgYou could assemble it as-is, but you shouldn’t. That roughness equates to extra weight, poor parts fit and degraded glue joint strength as a result of the loose joint caused by that roughness. The 320-grit sanding block is the fix for all of that.Hellcat-1-6-900x671.jpgSee the nice smooth, crisp edge that results from a minute or so of extra care? This is one of those old-timer model building “secrets” that you have to want to learn about to do this stuff right.Hellcat-1-7-900x597.jpgI’m not sure whether this is “old time” or not…I have never seen anyone else do this. An ordinary ¼” paper punch will make clean holes through soft to medium balsa sheet up to about 3/32” thick. Removing weight from the tail of any model is a good idea if you can do it without compromising structural integrity. These edge parts are going to get some serious reinforcement before long that will work in concert with the lightening holes…watch for what I’m going to do.Hellcat-1-8-900x663.jpgWe are looking at the upper surface of the right horizontal tail tip. The 1/8” thick balsa spar is the beginning of Guillow’s “Action Plan” working control surfaces option that’s part of this kit.Hellcat-1-9-900x579.jpgSee how it goes together? Notice the temporary 1/16” sheet balsa spacers between the stabilizer trailing edge and the elevator leading edge? At this point everything is “stock Guillow’s kit” with the exception of the lightening holes.Hellcat-1-10-900x541.jpgHere’s another look at the same structure with all the “ribs” in place. These are also standard die cut kit parts. Off-camera I have also built up the corresponding fin/rudder structure.Hellcat-1-11-900x594.jpgIf you have read my stuff before you already know what’s coming next. SANDING is critical to doing a good job of building ANY balsa model airplane. What’s happening here is that I have placed a full sheet of 120-grit paper flat on my work surface so I can press-and-drag this elevator section across it for improved precision and control (and less chance of breaking it) that I could ever achieve using a loose-held sanding block (In real life, off-camera, I used my other hand to steady the sheet while moving the working part against it).Hellcat-1-12-900x653.jpgMore of the same. Can you see how this method may very well be the only one you can use to sand a double taper into that trailing edge without destroying it?Hellcat-1-13-900x603.jpgBack to working with those die cut parts. Exactly per the Guillow’s plan/instructions I made pencil marks along the edges of all the “F” parts (the wing ribs) to locate all the spar notch cutouts that need to be made. Guillow’s very wisely left theses delicate (1/16” sq.) cutouts to be marked and cut by hand in the interest of accuracy as well as to avoid lots of split balsa parts.Hellcat-1-14-900x667.jpgThis is the best way I have found to make the initial cross-grain spar notch cuts and keep them all lined up.Hellcat-1-15-900x589.jpgI chose to clean up some of the spar notch cuts individually.Hellcat-1-16-900x683.jpgAfter that I used a No. 11 blade to finish cutting each notch along the grain. The razor blade is too wide to do that without making the cut oversize.Hellcat-1-17-900x634.jpgOur next job is to cut off all the wing rib trailing edges to form separate aileron and flap ribs. I’m making one big change here. The Guillow’s Action Plan shows parallel vertical cuts to create room for two 3/32” balsa sheet surface edges to fit into place parallel to each other. This anticipates “scale” control surfaces hinged at their mid-line, which would look OK for static display but won’t permit sufficient flap/aileron movement for real flying. Can you see how this change will allow then rear balsa piece (the flap/aileron leading edge) to be top-edge-hinged for a useful range of motion? NOTE: Both Guillow’s and I know that this approach does not replicate the true-scale Hellcat control surface cross sections and hinge geometry. I am making the judgment call that on a model this small the fussiness and extra weight of scale accuracy aren’t justified. What we’re doing here will look OK and work dependably.Hellcat-1-18-900x626.jpgI’m going to make some serious lightening holes in most of the wing ribs. For now I will make no cutouts in ribs F-3, F-4 and F-5. They become part of the modified landing gear installation which we will look at later, and at this point in the prototype construction I was not yet sure exactly what was going to be necessary. For now, mark the ribs you are going to lighten like this …Hellcat-1-19-900x593.jpg… then go ahead and define the corners of each opening with the same paper punch you used on the tail surface parts.Hellcat-1-20-900x679.jpgWith all those corners punched it’s easy to finish cutting all the openings. The shape of the cutouts is not critical beyond taking care not to weaken any of the ribs by removing too much material …EXCEPT that the longer opening at the rear of all the inboard ribs will have to serve as pass-through openings for the aileron servo cables.Hellcat-1-21-900x712.jpgBefore going on to assembling them it would be a good idea to bevel both ends of each rib like this so that they will fit precisely against the inner faces of the leading and trailing edges.Hellcat-1-22-900x561.jpgReady for assembly the ribs look like this.Hellcat-1-23-900x600.jpgWith all the wing ribs prepared for assembly the next step is to lay out all the leading and trailing edge parts (along with the wing tips) on the plan exactly per the Action Plan instructions.Hellcat-1-24-900x600.jpgI have pinned this sub-trailing-edge (part M-2) in place so you can see how each rib in turn lines up with it.Hellcat-1-25-900x536.jpgPartially assembled the wing looks like this. We are building the center section and both outer panels flat on the building surface per the Guillow’s plans. At this point the only changes I have made in the wing are those lightening holes and the angled cuts for the control surface leading edges.Hellcat-1-26-900x681.jpgThat changes now. As I mentioned in Step 17, I chose to modify the flap and aileron cross sections so they will operate properly as top-edge-hinged control surfaces. To make that work the flap/aileron leading edge parts (M-5 etc,) must be replaced with new parts that are wide enough to lie at a 45 degree angle to the wing trailing edge. You can use trigonometry to figure out this new width if you like, but I was OK with a cut-and-fit approach to making these changes. That’s the kit part on the left and the new one on the right.Hellcat-1-27-900x600.jpgThis is a close-up look at part of the right wing flap assembly. The plans show you where each preliminary flap structure is cut apart to form three separate flaps sections on each wing. The 1/16” balsa sheet spacers are temporarily put in place per the Guillow’s kit instructions.Hellcat-1-28-900x527.jpgHere’s the entire primary wing structure in place on the work board. You can see the second change I made to the Guillow’s kit design if you examine the wing tip. In the kit this is a 3/32” sheet balsa “outline” part to which all the upper surface 1/16” sq. spars bend down and taper to blend in. Check out any full-scale reference photo or drawing (including the scale drawings on the plan) and you’ll see the discrepancy. I replaced the E-3 outlines by tracing them onto a piece of soft/light ½” thick balsa. Cut to the correct shape on my Dremel scroll saw they get assembled just as if they were the original parts. The 1/16” sq. spars that were to taper will now end flush against the inner face of each new tip block, which I will carve/sand to a finished contour after all the sheet balsa wing skin is in place.Hellcat-1-29-900x658.jpgPer the Guillow’s instructions I have cut the wing assembly apart to make separate center and outer panels as well as separate control surfaces.Hellcat-1-30-900x594.jpgThis is the right outer panel. I am using a No. 11 blade to do some preliminary shaping of the leading edge. I’ll finish this job later with a sanding block.Hellcat-1-31-900x600.jpgDo you remember the technique of sanding one entire surface of an assembled structure flat and true against a broad stationary abrasive sheet? One of the advantages of this method is the reduced risk of catching odd edges or corners and breaking the part.Hellcat-1-32-900x584.jpgSame deal goes for the flap sections …Hellcat-1-33-900x579.jpg… as well as for the bottom face of the center section.Hellcat-1-34-900x556.jpgThis is one end of the underside of the center section. When you are finished that “make it all smooth and even” sanding job it should look like this.


Next time we’ll assemble the wing and work on the modifications I have planned for the landing gear.






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By Gary A. Ritchie

In this column we will build the turtledeck – the portion of the upper fuselage that lies behind the cockpit. That will set the stage for designing and building a removable battery hatch that contains the canopy.

Figure-1-300x200.jpgAfter the glue dried on the turtledeck formers, the ¼” balsa stringers were positioned in the notches at the upper corners of the former, glued into place with Deluxe Speed Bond and clamped to dry.

Ignore the section in the instruction manual called “Fit Fuel Tank and Fuelproof Tank Compartment” (Page 25, Steps 1 – 6) and be grateful that you will not have to “fuelproof” this electric powered airplane.  Begin at Step 1 of “Install TurtleDeck”. The first sentence contains a typo that can be confusing. The word “pans” should be “parts”. Find the needed formers and then sand them smooth around the edges. Glue them all in place as described in Step 1 and 2. Then glue the ½” square balsa stringers in place on top of the formers and sand the stringers as described in Step 4. I used Deluxe Speed Bond glue here because it dries relatively quickly but offers time to make adjustments (Figure 1).

Figure-2-300x195.jpgBefore the turtledeck sides were glued in place, 1/8” x 1/8” balsa strips were glued along the tops of the fuselage sides 1/8” in from the edges (white arrow). These served as shelves against which to glue and pin the turtledeck sides.

Following the illustration below Step 5 (Page 26) construct two turtle deck sides and sand them carefully along their bottom edges to assure that they are straight. I added a step here to make it easier to achieve a good joint between the turtle deck sides and the fuselage. This involved cutting several thin strips of 1/8” square scrap balsa and gluing them along the inside edges of the fuselage sides (Figure 2). They are offset in from the fuselage edges by 1/8”, providing a

Figure-3-300x200.jpgEach turtledeck side was glued in place along the shelves and fuselage sides using Deluxe Speed Bond glue, and then pinned and taped in place. This photo shows the right side.

shelf against which the turtledeck sides will be glued and pinned. Glue and pin one side in place, against these strips, and tape it down securely with masking tape to dry (Figure 3). After it is fully dried, go ahead and glue the other side in place, and then pin it and tape it down also.

Figure-4-300x130.jpgAfter the glue dried, the turtledeck sides were wetted with water, gently curved inwards by hand, and then glued along the formers and stringers. Then they were securely held in place to dry with masking tape.

Once these joints are fully dry and both sides are glued in place, wet them with water, apply glue to the formers and stringers, pull the sides up tightly and tape them in place. The tape will not stick to the wet balsa, so the tape strips must run most of the way around the fuselage in order to hold tightly (Figure 4). The instructions suggest using thick CA for this step. I would highly recommend slow curing glue such as Deluxe Aliphatic Resin, which will give you more working time, is very strong and sands well.

Figure-5-300x183.jpgAfter the glue was thoroughly dried, the tops of the turtledeck sides were carefully sanded flush with the tops of the formers and stringers.

I let this structure dry overnight then removed the tape and trimmed the sheeting flush with formers F-3A and F-6A (Step 9, Page 26). Then, using my 2” wide sanding block with 80 grit paper, I carefully sanded the top edges of the sheeting until they were flush with the stringers as shown in Step 10 and in my Figure 5. This will bring you to Step 11, Page 27. Before gluing the ½” x 2 3/8” by 26” turtledeck top in place, you may want to bevel its forward edge – it’s easier to do it now than after the top is glued on. Then draw a centerline as shown below Step 11.

Figure-6-300x189.jpgThe ½” thick turtledeck top was glued in place with Deluxe Aliphatic Resin, then taped and secured with rubber bands to dry.

Finally, liberally apply Deluxe Aliphatic Resin, or another type of slow curing glue, to the tops of the stringers and formers and then glue the turtledeck top to them. Center up it up before the glue dries. Pinning it in place is not practical here because the wood is too thick. So I taped it in place with masking tape and further secured it with rubber bands. I placed them over the tape strips so they wouldn’t dig into the wood and leave marks (Figure 6).

Figure-7-300x200.jpgBefore sanding the turtledeck top, the fuselage assembly was secured in a Workmate. The surface of the Workmate was covered with several sheets of cloth to protect the fuselage.

Mark the center lines on F-6A and along the top of the turtledeck then fasten it securely in either a vice or a Shop Mate (Figure 7). If you have a small hand razor plane this will speed the sanding process up. Also, if you trust yourself not to get too aggressive, you can also rough it out with a power hand sander (Figure 9). This is what I did and I found that it worked very well. Be sure to wear your respirator because this thing really generates a ton of balsa dust. Then finish it with your block sander and 50 or 80 grit paper.

Figure-8-300x185.jpgA hand power sander with #80 grit sandpaper was used to rough sand the turtledeck top. Be sure to use a respirator when sanding balsa.

On the top of Page 27 the HINT suggests sanding the upper turtledeck with a strip of fine sandpaper. This is a good idea. To do this I held the fuselage in my Shop Mate and sanded the aft portion of the fuselage

Figure-9-300x200.jpgFinal sanding was done with a strip of #320 grit sandpaper while the fuselage was held tightly in the Workmate.

(Figure 9), then turned it around and sanded the forward part. This does a very nice job of smoothing and evening out the turtledeck.

With the turtledeck finished and the battery tray in place, I test fitted the battery in the battery hatch (Figure 10). It fit like a glove.

Figure-10-300x128.jpgAfter the fuselage and turtledeck were finished, the battery was test mounted in the battery hatch.

That does it for this session. Next time we will build the removable hatch cover that will conceal the battery hatch and hold the canopy in place. We will go way off plan for this tricky build. For this you will need to pick up a sheet of 1/8” thick by 4” wide plywood.

Until then, remember to “take your time and enjoy doing a good job”.





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