By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more

Member postings for Steve Houghton

Here is a list of all the postings Steve Houghton has made in our forums. Click on a thread name to jump to the thread.

Thread: PSS A-4 Skyhawk - The completed model thread
09/10/2016 14:02:38

Black Knights Skyhawk

I finally had my Skyhawk airworthy and ready for flight at the Great Orme yesterday, but the wind let us down. It was only sufficient for lighter models, so the model remains unflown.

My Black Knight came out at a very satisfying 34oz, giving a wing loading of 18 oz.per sq ft (calculated wing area of 1.88sq ft, excluding the width of the fuselage).

These photos were taken at the ski slope site:





Control throws have been set as per the latest feedback from Phil and other fliers:

Ailerons: 12mm up 9mm down; using mechanical differential from a single Hitec HS225MG servo.

Elevator: 12mm up, 12mm down; using another Hitec HS-225MG servo.

Radio is JR XG7 with an RG712BX Receiver and Ripmax Eneloop 2000mAh Nimh battery.

AUW: 34oz, including 0.75oz noseweight.

Thread: Mark's Rutland A4 Skyhawk
28/09/2016 12:33:58

P.S. I like your 'throw-ometer'!

28/09/2016 12:31:47

Hi Mark,

I'm following this with interest. Having failed to make my A4 flyable for the event, I am now setting up the radio and throws. I am currently using Phil's recommendation of:

Ailerons +15mm-10mm

Elevator +-12mm.

Like you, I'd be interested in feedback from those who achieved successful flights about their actual control throws.

Thread: Dumfries A4
15/09/2016 12:58:55
Posted by Chris Barlow on 13/09/2016 08:24:25:

Steve, sorry to hear about the JP. What happened to it?

Chris, I couldn't get it away from the hill after launch, and after fighting to control it for a few seconds it got blown into a pile of rocks. Fuselage mainly OK, but both wings badly damaged. I'll post on my own JP blog in due course, rather than hijacking Malcolm's.

Malcolm, good luck with the rebuild. Could be quite tricky over the waisted-in cockpit area that had the ammonia treatment, unless your splices are tight!

12/09/2016 12:30:52

Hi Malcolm,

It was nice to meet you at the Orme Yesterday. Sorry about the loss of your nose, but do remember that nose jobs are still very in vogue at the moment!
I mentioned that I had noted something from your blog, and I've remembered now that it was your lolly stick battery retainer. Having failed to complete my radio installation in time to fly yesterday, I may well use something similar when I complete mine over the next few days, after I catch up on some sleep first!

There's also a small matter of rebuilding my demolished Jet Provost wing - or binning it.

Regards, Steve.

Thread: Black Knights Skyhawk
07/09/2016 12:50:15

Chris - Nightmares?? I'm not getting enough sleep at the moment to have nightmares!

Roll on Sunday (I don't think I'll finish for Saturday).



Edited By Steve Houghton on 07/09/2016 12:50:30

07/09/2016 12:47:01

Hello Edward,

It's great to hear from you. I think all the information you need is is the helpful links posted by Mark Kettle above (thanks Mark).

In summary, it's a plan design 'A-4 Skyhawk' plan number MW3775 available from Traplet publications. There is also a part-kit of laser cut parts available (additional sheet and strip wood needs to be purchased separately), as well as a canopy.

It was designed by Phil Cooke and Matt Jones, of the Power Scale Soaring Association. Many of us (around the world) are building the same model, with variations, for the 2016 mass build event coming up on the 10th and 11th September (see the PSSAonline web site link above).

If you decide to build one, it would be great to see another example of the A-4SU in Black Knights colours, or in its military variant. For a short while I considered building the tandem seat TA-4SU, with its unusual twin canopy arrangement, but I decided it was too complicated to build in the time available.

Let us know if you build one. There are plenty of building tips on the 2016 Mass Build section of this forum.

Regards, Steve

05/09/2016 12:32:27

Thanks guys,

Chris, I hope you aren't implying that it will be easier to locate when dunked into the sea! I often wonder how long a ditched model will float for - but I don't want to test it out!

Thread: Flyer's RNZAF 50th Anniversary A4
04/09/2016 22:51:29

Go on, Flyer. You can do it. One final push. Remember, as one of my bosses once said when a project was running late, 'there are 24 hours in a day'. I'm definitely joining the bleary eye department myself, so I fully sympathise!

Thread: Harry's A4 Scooter
04/09/2016 22:45:17

Fabulous, Harry. I'm very impressed with the standard of your finish (and the build!).

Thread: Black Knights Skyhawk
04/09/2016 22:41:16

Putting it all Together

All the flying surfaces have now been covered. Here are a few taster shots of the progress so far:




The underside has some striking contrast black stripes. The main problem here was carrying the stripes over the wheel fairings, and keeping it all straight:



Tail Padding

I thought that the tail pipe needed blending into the fuselage a little more, for a better scale effect, so I added an extra ring of 1/4" balsa around it. This is nowhere near as smooth as the blend on the full size, but does get rid of the abrupt step:


Running very short of time now, so I'm afraid the updates are becoming rather brief.

Back to the bench......

04/09/2016 22:32:56

Wheel Fairings

Like Mark Kettle, I also built up the wheel fairings, but made them off the model:


The sides are 1/4" sheet, top (or bottom) is 1/8" sheet, with solid block tip and tail, plus some TE stock to fill in the corners to absorb the underside curvature. These weighed 11g each after sanding:


Tail Group

I film covered the fin, rudder and tailplane before assembly. However, I chose to glue the tailplane to the fin before fitting the top and bottom 1/8" tailplane supports. By doing it this way, I found it easy to jig everything at right angles, using a couple of squares held in place by a clamp:


Like others, I did manage to film cover the ribbed rudder, but it was a tedious process, and the finish is far from smooth. However, a reasonably realistic effect has been achieved:


Mind the (wider) gap

I felt that the gap between the two lower tailplane supports was a little restrictive, so I added a strip of 1/32" balsa to each one before gluing onto the fin. This will give 1/16" more clearance for the elevator horn and pushrod, and they were later covered in film:





Edited By Steve Houghton on 04/09/2016 22:54:11

Thread: Mark's Rutland A4 Skyhawk
01/09/2016 12:54:36

P.S. I also built up the undercarriage fairings, but assembled off the wing - your method is probably much quicker.

01/09/2016 12:53:02


Good to see you doing yoga headstands to relax from the pressure of the approaching deadline. Just don't put the fin on the wrong side!

Thread: The Last Skyhawk
01/09/2016 12:49:05

Chris, Switch = Genius!

Personally, I always use 'pull for on', otherwise I keep switching on inadvertently when resting the model down to work on it. Caused a few flattened batteries in the workshop in the past (Perhaps I should just disconnect the battery when not flying).

Thread: Black Knights Skyhawk
30/08/2016 12:43:25

Hi Pete,

I find that as my children get older, and go to bed later, so my modelling time drifts later into the evening (and early hours). I think you were very wise to get yours finished so early, to relieve the last minute pressures.

Thinking aloud, I was pondering whether the next mass build should be for completion early in the year, as for the first Jet Provost build. That way, there will be less conflict with family time during school holidays and we can use the dreary winter months to sweat over the work benches (I know the solution was to start earlier, but I never manage it) - possible topic for discussion at the Orme as we all await our turn for a quiet slot to launch into the masses of Skyhawks.


However, after a 2 a.m. finish on Sunday night I now have a covered wing - pictures in due course. Phil was right, it wasn't too bad. Just need tailplane alignment, cockpit fitting, remaining covering and radio installation and the Black Knight will be set to go.


Edited By Steve Houghton on 30/08/2016 12:44:18

Thread: The Last Skyhawk
27/08/2016 00:51:10

Wow, Chirs! Thanks for giving us the gen on your vac forming - very interesting, and a lot of time invested, but the results are incredible.

Great markings, too. I plan to print my own also, although I often struggle to find the right fonts for lettering.

Looking forward to seeing it in the air.

Thread: PSS A-4E 'Top Gun' Skyhawk
27/08/2016 00:24:53

Fantasic work, Phil, and a great finish with the glass. I want to try glassing soon, but only when I have a little more time to tackle it.

Thread: Black Knights Skyhawk
27/08/2016 00:20:30

Elevator Horn

Another fiddly bit, which took me over two hours last night. Assembled with 24-hour Araldite for strength:


Tail Pipe

I used the cap off a 'So Him' spray deodorant (had it in stock for many years!) - just over 44m diameter. If there's time, I want to fair it into the fuselage better, so that there is no step and it looks more scale-like:


I'll show you mine

Everyone else has shown us their rudders, so here is mine. Made to Phil's recipe 1/8 + 1/8 + 1/8 with 1/8 riblets. I have engraved the rudder hinge line for better effect, and hope I can push the covering film into the indentation.


Dry Bones

To reinforce my confidence that it will be ready in time, here are some dry assembly shots.


They would look better outside, but I want to use the daylight for further sanding and shaping over the weekend.


The wing hasn't been sanded yet, so the tips look especially rough:



Being derived from the A-4C, the A-4SU has shorter air intakes than the A-4E, with more upright fronts. I just shortened the laser cut parts accordingly. These are tack glued for now, so that I can cover them in film before final attachment. I spent a lot of time trying to get the two intakes the same length from all viewing angles, and keep thinking they are still not right - don't look too closely:


The aforementioned wedges can be clearly seen at the top of each intake:


I hope everyone else is further on than me, or has plenty of spare time over the next two weeks! Mine will be tight, as it was with the Jet Provost, but I'm determined to be in bed the night before the event earlier than the 3.30 a.m. I managed for the last mass build.

26/08/2016 23:14:09

Still Here!

After a very wet camping holiday in Cornwall, I have now managed to dry out the tent, family, and dog, and returned to the build.


The front of the air intakes have been assembled and shaped. I decided to add wedges to the inside top faces before fitting to the fuselage, so that I could get a good fit:


The wedges assumed a very complex 3-D curvature that needed sanding diagnonally to get the basic fit, and then thinning on the inside edges to fit the curvature of the fuselage:


Fairing Up

Not the weather - that'll never improve this Summer. I used the laser cut wing bolt reinforcement plate, but found, like others, that the hole was too big. I'm too stingy to waste a good piece of wood, so I just turned it round, drilled a new hole and filled in the old one:


I hate making front wing fairings, they are so difficult to shape. I made this one in two halves, one for each side of the wing, which makes it less hard to shape to fit the curvature. Then joined in the middle and stuck behind the front plate:


I extended the front lite-ply plate so that it covered the whole of the front fairing, giving a hard surface against which to insert the balsa block, and to give more resilience against the fuselage:



This spooky shot shows what happens when you follow Phil's intructions in the magazine to plane plenty off the fuselage corners. I don't think he meant it this literally! The corners between F5 and F7 ended up paper thin. That will be a real weight saving, but rather weak:


To recover the problem (which at least one other blogger also suffered), I applied glass fibre tissue stuck with PVA over the corners along the triangular sections behind F5. It's not very clear, but the yellow PVA is just visible. This should hold it all together for a while:


What Else?

The fuselage is now fully sanded, and the tail section made but not assembled. More photos may follow, but I'm concentrating on building rather than blogging. If all goes to plan, I shall cover the wing this weekend, to give me confidence that I'm progressing quickly enough to meet the deadline.

Latest Forum Posts
Support Our Partners
electricwingman 2017
Sussex Model Centre
Advertise With Us
Latest "For Sale" Ads
Has home isolation prompted you to start trad' building?
Q: The effects of Coronavirus

 Yes - for the first time
 Yes - but Ive bashed balsa before
 No - Ive existing projects on the bench
 No - Im strictly an ARTF person

Latest Reviews
Digital Back Issues

RCM&E Digital Back Issues

Contact us

Contact us

Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of RCM&E? Use our magazine locator link to find your nearest stockist!

Find RCM&E!