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One reason I have not been on the board much lately is that I've gotten into RC airplanes. Much of my free time, online and forum time has been spent working on my planes or on RC forums soaking up as much knowledge as I could.
I have about 10 or 12 airplanes. Until recently everything has been electric but I have gotten the urge for something that needs more tinkering and fussing. So, I've just gotten my first liquid fuel powered engine and the airplane to carry it through the sky. The airplane has a 72" (1.8m) wing span and I'm building it for casually flying around. It's a 60's design with elegant elliptical wings with transparent red covering to let the sun shine through.
Powering it will be an OS FS-72a which is a four stroke, glow ignition engine fueled by methanol and nitromethane. It's a larger engine than needed for this airplane but I want it to fly comfortably at half throttle. At half throttle the engine will be turning 4-5'000 rpm and won't have the annoying high pitched whine of most model airplanes. Below is a video of the first running of the engine. It needs to be run very rich at first with short periods leaned out properly. The lean helps break in the piston rings and the rich running gives it plenty of lubrication to flush out the metal bits coming loose. Even though it's a four stroke it's lubricated like most 2 strokes with the oil mixed into the fuel.
Here is a photo of my RC airplane trailer. It's not a large trailer but it allows me to carry about a dozen planes though I usually only take about 8 or 9. Seven planes live in the trailer permentantly and go out every weekend but then I usually throw in a few more for variety.
The largest wingspan is a 2.9m glider which rides in the top of the trailer. Luckily I'm of average height so I can walk underneath it without trouble. Though it's light and graceful it has a monster sized electric motor in it's nose that pulls 100 amps at full throttle. You hand toss it in the air and it climbs like a rocket. The idea is to get to altitude as quickly as possible and shut the motor off, the propeller folds flat against the fuselage and you're gliding.
The biggest airplane is the red and yellow one on the left. It is a 1/4 scale and has a 79" (2m) wingspan and weighs about 10 pounds (4.5 kilo) and has a 1.2 cubic inch (20cc) four stroke engine that burns methanol and nitromethane and it even has an itty bitty fuel pump. It's not a fast airplane but it's big and has a nice presence in the air and is a real cream puff.
The fastest airplane is the red and white high wing plane on the right. Most people assume that because it has a high wing it will be a slow trainer but it's a very clean/aerodynamic airframe and has an engine almost twice the recommended size. I didn't intend to build a speed demon. I went with the big engine so I could fly around barely above idle with the engine making a quiet purring which it does beautifully. Then if I open the throttle it really moves.
Sitting on the floor in the middle is my dedicated combat airplane. It's made from foam core board (like children use to make posters for school), hot melt glue and is built knowing it will have a short life. We tie streamers on the tail and for 5 minutes it's full throttle trying to cut your opponents tail or collide and knock them out of the sky. This plane is heavy so it's not as quick as it could be but in a midair collision it hits hard and can survive (most of the time).
Then hanging on the sides are a couple small warbirds. A Hellcat on the right and a tiny P-47 on the left. Both are electric powered. I'm currently thinking that I need to have a proper big and loud warbird...
And then I got a bit too far away and couldn't tell which side was up and put it into a tree.
It was in the tree for over a month. Then the recent hurricane and heavy winds brought it back to me.
It is about the best you could expect from the situation. I had about $400 in the airplane. After a month in the weather the airframe (made of balsa wood) was water logged and heavily infestied with mold but I was able to recover the expensive motor and electronics so it was only a $140 loss.
This is my pride and joy. A Curtiss P-6 Hawk. It is the last US biplane fighter and served just prior to WWII.
My model has a 1930mm wing span and it weighs about 6.5 kg. It is powered by a 20cc four stroke engine burning methanol and nitromethane. The four stroke gives it a nice sound more similar to real airplanes and does not have the high pitch buzz like many models. Unlike many RC models it is not highly over powered so it must be flown more to scale (real).
On the ground the Curtiss is a bit of a handful. In addition to the usual difficulties of a tail dragger it loves to roll over on its nose so I have to be on the rudder and elevator to keep it straight and keep the tail down until it's completely stopped. In the air it's a dream and has no bad habits. It's quite heavy so once you get it moving it has a lot of mass to carry it through vertical maneuvers. In spite of it's mass it's surprisingly agile. All that wing area allows it to turn sharply. Best of all... it looks really good in the air. Everyone loves to see it fly.
It must be a great experience to fly these machines on a sunny summer day. I have come across some pretty increadible models on youtube, and if I had the skills and time to have a hobby like this, I would go for a giant commerical airliner-model....
The weather has been terrible. Flying this weekend was quite difficult. You would expect the airplane disappearing into the clouds/fog can be a problem, but the flat light and gray background is also a huge issue. The very flat lighting hurts contrast and no matter the color of your airplane it becomes nothing but a dark gray silhouette and it's very difficult to tell top from bottom or how it's oriented.
My beloved Curtiss P-6 survived without injury but my new P-51 was not so lucky but that was not related to the weather and I crashed it on it's maiden flight. I spent months building the P-51 to be a real monster. Something that would out run my friends Corsair and P-47's so I installed a much larger engine than recommended. I knew that the torque would be significant so I was extra careful on takeoff but not careful enough. I brought on the power slow but I pulled it off the ground too soon while still advancing the throttle. The torque and P factor immediately flipped the plane to the left and full ailerons and rudder were not able to right it. I cut the throttle and was able to level it before it hit so the landing gear took the brunt... and they got ripped out of the wings. So, my pretty new airplane is missing it's landing gear and has a hole bigger than your hand in the bottom of each wing. At least the top side is still pretty.
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