Danny Fenton heads for the bright lights and seaside to compete in his first F4C competition.
It is interesting that the models shown in the very first column I wrote in 2012 are all currently seeing activity in one way or another, including my Apache PA-23-150 and my Black Horse Chipmunk. Even my Brian Taylor Mustang has seen progress. But you will have to wait for an update on those projects.
So, what are we going to look at over a ‘biccy and coffee’ today? I have been remarkably busy on my Hawker Fury Mk.I, getting close to a conclusion. More of that in a moment.
Also, I have had an epiphany, having dipped a toe into the muddy water of scale R/C competition. ‘You have already done that!’, I hear you say, adding, ‘you competed at scale indoors with an R/C Piper Cub PA-18.’ Of course, you would be correct. But this muddy water is scale outdoor R/C.
I have never much bothered about flying, much preferring the workshop to the flying field. Flying for me only proves the model is finished and signals that it is time for the next project.
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I am hoping to develop a model for F4C competition, an itch I need to scratch. Therefore, I am busy drawing plans for a quarter scale Chipmunk. The Chipmunk has lots going for it, as I have already proven. To be competitive you must fly at least as well as you build, so as much as I prefer building, I need an appetite for flying too. With that in mind I contacted Stephen Jackson of the BMFA STC (Scale Tech Committee) and entered my first scale comp. Blackpool was a couple of hours drive North up the M6, so it was a good choice.
First Comp Foray
To say I was nervous was an understatement. I rarely fly in less than perfect conditions but in a flying competition in the UK you must cope with whatever the weather is like on the day. The wind hitting Blackpool was quite strong, but at least it was straight down the runway.
I hadn’t flown for 13 months and the model I chose, a Black Horse 85” Chipmunk, had not flown the schedule before. So, I thought I was on a hiding to nothing. I will not go into the nitty gritty, but I had no less than Richard Crapp calling for me, so what could go wrong?
In the end I had a terrific day. My flying was very rusty, and it showed, but I really enjoyed chatting and spending time with like-minded scale modellers. I ended up sixth, so I did not embarrass myself or the magazine!
The feedback from the two judges, Graham and Alex Kennedy, was key to understanding what I need to change, and it was clear I need practice in inclement weather.
The next event was two weeks later at Pontefract, a couple of hours up the M1. I duly entered and flew the Chipmunk again. This time the wind was stronger and perpendicular to the runway. Normally I would have not flown, but, heck, others were going to. So, I set the model at the end of the runway and went for it…
My lack of practice was still evident and the fact that all the models had gyros fitted, apart from mine, meant I was at a disadvantage. But I held my own and again finished in the midfield, which I was incredibly pleased with. Graham and his Dad Alex were once again judging, and again their feedback was very helpful.
I was due to fly at Buckminster next and for this event I had two models prepared. My main aircraft, the 85” Black Horse Chipmunk was now fitted with a Multiplex G3 gyro. I also had my 80” Seagull Chipmunk, which is fitted with an FrSky S8R stabilised receiver. Alas, the weather did not play ball and the event was postponed – and then the rescheduled event was also cancelled…
But the competitive fuse is lit. Last Sunday morning it was blowing a bit, and nobody was flying at my local club. I rolled up, prepped the model and took off. It was very hairy at first, but as soon as I switched in the gyro the model was rock solid. No wonder people fit gyros! Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the flight and have dispelled the fear of flying in anything but calm conditions.
I will let you know how I get on next season. I cannot wait to have another go.
Silver Dream Machine
We last saw my Fury with silver painted wings, tail and rear fuselage. Following completion of the wing rigging (shown in a previous column), I was able to continue with painting.
The litho panels under the tailplane were fitted for a final time. These had to await the tailplane fitting and elevator pushrod connections. I left these in a brushed alloy finish. I fashioned leather looking gators for the area where the struts emerged from the fuselage with small sections of 0.5mm Vector Board painted a satin brown.
I created the artwork for the dreaded check pattern in Adobe Illustrator. The difficult part was the 1mm black outline that had to be applied. The problem was going to be keeping that accurate over all the lumps and bumps of the fuselage, including footholds, stitching and changes in surface from fabric to alloy panels (using alloy tape in this instance).
The footholds were created in Illustrator too and the alloy foil cut on the plotter. These were aligned and stuck down. I was happy with the tissue definition of the rib tapes on the fuselage but concerned that the Klass Kote would eliminate the ridge and make the tapes invisible. I need not have worried.
While I was looking at the small alloy details, I thought it a good idea to make the small access panels on the top of the fuselage, just in front of the fin. I decided to make them from lithoplate, with notched lengths of 1mm K&S alloy rod to create the appearance of a piano hinge. When buffed with a sanding pad a nice effect was created.
By this stage I had finally exhausted my excuses not to get on with the spraying of the rest of the model.
I had bought some red, white, yellow, blue and black Klass Kote from Fighteraces especially for this job. Alas, the ‘between the wars’ roundel blue and red are not catered for and I had to mix some white to brighten the red and blue. The white was also too white and had to be toned down to make more of an Old English White; this was achieved with a few drops of dark earth and black. With hindsight I think I would use other paints for the roundel colours and apply clear Klass Kote over the whole airframe. Maybe next time?
I made a set of positive stencils (not really stencils but vinyl lettering) to test the position and fit of the proposed masks. This allowed me to step back and make sure everything looked correct.
Once happy I masked the white areas, roundels, check section and the fin. I mixed up some of my ‘special’ white and set about spraying using my Iwata airbrush. The pressure was set to around 25 psi and the mix was once again 1:1:1 epoxy/catalyst/reducer. This paint really does spray nicely and has great pigment saturation, covering well.
I was very worried about the fuselage sides as the masking was going to be critical. I use a low tack masking film specifically for this sort of job, obtained from a company called MetaMark, in their E7 range.
After spraying it is especially important that you let the paint completely harden before overlaying the paint with either a stencil or masking tape. Otherwise the paint will react and you will have to respray it. However, I sprayed the wheel covers and disregarded this, attaching the disks to the wheels with masking tape to hold them until the silicon had dried. Alas, it had only been eight hours and though the red painted discs appeared dry, the tape marred the finish. So, the discs had to be resprayed.
Once the white had thoroughly dried, I masked and sprayed the black. This includes the registration lettering under the wing, on the rudder and the fuselage sides. I was very pleased with the way the checks came out; the outline was even and looked really good.
I was once again impressed with how well the Klass Kote flowed without having to put loads of paint down. It’s expensive but worth it, in my opinion.
After allowing yet another 24-hour period for paint to dry I was able to mask for the blue. All this drying time was making painting terribly slow, but the lovely finish made it worthwhile. The model was really starting to come alive and waiting for the paint to dry was becoming increasingly frustrating. But, somehow, I resisted the urge!
Rather than attempt to get the shade of red correct I opted to try Tamiya flat red acrylic on the fin, roundel centres, spinner and the wheel disks. An arrowhead mask was created to expose the white underneath and another mask created to achieve the fine black line around the border.
I was not looking forward to attempting the checks across the top of all three wing panels, with the black again outlining the white and the blue edges of the roundels. I decided that a cup of coffee and taking an assembly picture was a good diversion…
I also took the time to create the artwork for the fighting cockerel in Illustrator, starting with a very sharp photograph of the full-size artwork. This was printed on clear decal paper, but my printer does not have permanent ink and when the decal was dipped in water to lift and transfer the artwork to the model, the ink ran. To stop this, I sealed the print with a coat of Humbrol clear acrylic aerosol, which cured this issue.
Running out of avoidance measures, I had to finally face up to doing the check pattern on the top wing. To ensure everything was perfectly aligned I rigged the wings and set out the edge of the white areas. I ran tape from tip to tip and then I made masks that were 1mm larger diameter than the blue of the roundels, to help get the gap even. It took several hours of lifting and replacing the tapes until I was happy. Once that point was reached, I could dismantle the wings for spraying.
Once the white was painted – you’ve got it! – I had a 24 hour wait for that to dry! Rather than completely waste the time I then started to look around at other areas I could work on in the meantime. The oleo covers had a very distinctive stencil, so I made a mask for the white rounded rectangle and some decals for the very small text. A layer of KlearKote sealed them in place.
Whilst looking for something else to busy my idle hands I moved to the guns. I managed to find some drawings that gave some dimensions; these were scaled to 1/6 and the guns made from a few sizes of styrene tube. Gunmetal paint was applied, and they looked okay, if a bit shiny.
I fitted the two machine gun barrels to the troughs in the upper cowling and they did look the part. I attached them with clear silicone sealant. This works well as it provides a firm bond, while still being slightly flexible.
After a day and more coffee, I faced the upper wing again. I was dreading this bit! I originally made up sections of chequer mask that could be applied in one go, but a thou’ out anywhere and it all went wrong. In the end I applied each paint mask individually, one square at a time, with an outline guide for the black 1mm stripe that borders the white and the roundel. This was very slow going but an error here would stand out like the proverbial sore thumb!
I do not know how many times I checked and double checked that I had the sequence black/white right, but all was well and the checks really do look fabulous. It shows what you can achieve if you are careful and methodical.
By now there were only a few tasks left to complete to get the model in its final colours. After the farce with the paint finish on the wheel covers getting ruined by using masking tape before the paint was fully cured, I refinished them. Fortunately, the clear just needed flatting back and respraying.
The Wireless Telegraphy (W/T) labels all around the airframe were done using masks and airbrushed. For the markings on the struts, because of their size, I decided to make decals. These were duly printed, sealed and applied, as I had done for the oleo covers. I had to use Micro Set and Micro Sol to get them to conform to the underlying shape of the central struts, which were wrapped in torn silk, if you recall. But all went well.
The final few tasks were to clear coat the exposed decals and to change the colour of the spinner from silver, which was just a test (as you saw in the last column), to red. I rubbed the silver spinner with 600 wet and dry, then used the Tamiya flat red again, followed by Klass Kote clear.
As soon as I can get out to get some nice outdoor shots the better, but I fear we will have to wait for the spring to get some air under her wings.
As always, if you want to drop me an e-mail I can be reached at:
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