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Thinking aloud about Spits...

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Martin Harris08/09/2019 00:30:00
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Posted by Foxfan on 07/09/2019 22:48:16:

So where does this almost universal belief that a model Spitfire will always re-kit itself in double quick time come from?

I'm delighted you gents all seem to think otherwise.

Martin

Please note what has been said - the Spitfire is generally well behaved in normal flight but the re-knitting almost invariably occurs during the landing approach or occasionally on a hurried take-off. I have lost count of the number of model Spitfires that I've seen dropping a wing and cartwheeling to destruction after flying the sort of approach encouraged by learning on low wing loaded trainers and low wing follow-ons.

This is where the model Spitfire gains its (well deserved) reputation - and unless you have mastered consistent power on approaches, yours is very likely to add to the statistics unless it's a sport scale design. 

P.S. However you paint a Spitfire, and beautiful aircraft that it is, there's no denying that it was built as a weapon of war.  I'm sure that rather than glorifying war, most now see it as a celebration of the engineering design that led to such an iconic machine being created. 

Edited By Martin Harris on 08/09/2019 00:38:09

Brian Cooper08/09/2019 07:36:59
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I have three Spitfires of varying sizes from 72" to 90" span. . They are all a sheer delight to fly but, as many have said, the landings are the critical part. They need to be "flown" down to the ground.

Where many people go wrong, is they try to glide them down (like a forgiving trainer) and/or try to land them while they are still 4ft off the ground.

Flair out too early and they will stall and drop the rest of the way. . Touch down flying too slowly and they will probably bounce and, unless you are quick with applying power, they will stall and drop. . . If you are afraid of the model, it will sense it and it will bite you.

Get it right -- show it who's the boss -- and they look truly fabulous. They have an attraction which is enchanting and never gets old.

B.C.

Chris Walby08/09/2019 07:47:31
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Slightly off topic to the Spit, but I think its relevant. IMHO There are manufacturers that produce smallish foam park flying models that have wing profiles designed to be very well behaved and not exhibit the normal tendencies.

These are great models as it allows people with less experience to fly them more than once and move on from the "trainer". The problem is that as Martin has pointed out if you revert to poor landing technique with a less forgiving version it will bit hard.

Its a bit like the driving test, so much of learning is geared towards passing the test. Once you pass your test then the learning really begins. My advise is to fly as many different models as you can (+ different manufactures) some will fly well and some not, but you will be learning all the time.

Sometimes the challenge of flying a poorer behaved model is more rewarding than one that is very benign....as long as its not in the repair shop after every landing! I do have one current model that is proving very tricky and just wish we could crack the landing set up.

Did exactly as Martin described with a model which I can no longer obtain spare wings, so I contacted a chap that could make wings and he asked which wing profile I wanted as he had 5 different variants (from different designers) for the same aircraft type.

Foxfan08/09/2019 12:15:12
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Just back from early session at the club.

Thanks for the answers, chaps.

The red one is, I think, G-FIRE and very nice too. Although the white, blue and silver one is very smart.

Having checked the links I think the Tony Neuhuis plan for the 46" version is the one I'll choose if I go this way as it seems viceless in the write-up, even landing dead stick on its maiden.

It's all a way off yet as I have to go through the trainer stage first and then there's the GP Cub I just built from a cheap kit and the Skyfarer and Miles Hawk from plans. Only then can I consider a Spitfire.

Cheers,

Martin

wingcoax08/09/2019 15:42:17
36 forum posts

I used to use a LMS in Bolton many moons ago and usually ended up behind the counter. I remember a couple coming in and she was buying him a complete setup for his birthday(lucky fella) he wanted a spitfire but i was able to advise him by all means buy one, build it,Then put it away till he learned to fly. I was able to sell a good trainer kit with radio that would suit further advancement with an engine that would suit either plane. They went away very happy. PS, I have flown a spitfire and they DO glide like a brick.

Foxfan08/09/2019 17:00:19
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My cousin, who I see at family occasions only these days (more funerals than weddings!) told me that he kept faith with the model aircraft hobby after we ceased to see much of each other as we grew older and he built 7 Spitfires before he finally "clicked" and flew one perfectly! Now that's perseverance! I imagine (knowing my cousin) that he built them all from plans as he was never one for kits. He built his first (a Taurus) also from plans as a 14 year old!

 

Cheers,

Martin

Edited By Foxfan on 08/09/2019 17:00:51

Martin Harris11/09/2019 23:32:33
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8741 forum posts
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See Stephen Jones' second video...the consequences of getting too slow while manouevring are demonstrated very well!

Edited By Martin Harris on 11/09/2019 23:34:35

Foxfan12/09/2019 08:15:24
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Was that too slow? Looked pretty fast to me. Maybe he just pulled the wrong stick.

The whole flight was way too fast for my tastes. I've so far not seen anything that quick at our club!

Martin

Jon - Laser Engines12/09/2019 08:45:09
4775 forum posts
179 photos

A bit late to the party here but plenty of the comments are spot on.

Spitfires, and warbirds in general, are not difficult to fly but do not respond well to the type of flying a trainer or sport model will tolerate with a smile. I am always a fan of a steeper approach with a warbird to keep the nose down and prevent the inevitable stall you get with a flat/powered approach hung on the elevators.

I have not actually owned many spitfires but the two i have flown were both a delight. Admittedly they were both 88inch 5th scale jobbies of 20lbs but they were easy to fly and very easy to land, more so in fact than most other warbirds.

In the video below, our unfortunate corsair pilot holds full up elevator more or less all the way through his takeoff. He was so worried about a nose over he forgot all about flying the model. His lack of directional control on the takeoff roll didnt help either as there was a yaw component going before the model even left the ground. If you cant takeoff in a straight line then practice that before getting a warbird of any kind. Once a model is rolling forward at walking pace its rare it will nose over to let the tail up. once there you can wait for as long as the runway is to ease it off the ground. 

Edited By Jon - Laser Engines on 12/09/2019 08:46:14

Denis Watkins12/09/2019 09:10:45
3814 forum posts
54 photos

Such fine margins Jon, On spinning in like that, or going off straight

Absolutely practice progressive throttle and correct elevator input on these types

Jon - Laser Engines12/09/2019 09:23:45
4775 forum posts
179 photos
Posted by Denis Watkins on 12/09/2019 09:10:45:

Such fine margins Jon, On spinning in like that, or going off straight

Absolutely practice progressive throttle and correct elevator input on these types

Yup, especially with the big radial he had. All that torque needs careful management.

Most of my warbirds are 50cc class and in the case of my sea fury in particular if i abort a landing after a bounce i cant firewall the throttle as full right rudder and aileron will just barely hold it in a 45 degree left bank which is a super dodgy position. That is why i only use half throttle for aborted landings as any more may spin the model.

Similarly my P39 needs full right rudder applied for the first half of the takeoff roll and i still hold some in on climb out as its not yet up to trimmed speed.

Cuban812/09/2019 09:34:29
2641 forum posts
13 photos
Posted by Cuban8 on 07/09/2019 20:18:05:

My Brian Taylor Mk 1a Spit 70" (Geoffrey Weĺlum markings) a delight to fly, no vices just handles like a good sports model should when up and away...............except it will punish you if you get the landing circuit wrong and rush the finals. Stalling will only get you if you really push it and it'll only flick if you really get it wrong - too slow and too much up will be the killer.

Caught me out last week when dumb thumbs on the take off roll had the model in air too soon without enough air speed. Only a couple of feet off the ground so the stall and slide to the left just took out a retract mount. Very, very lucky and a warning to never relax with this type of model. Can lull you into a false sense of security.

Edited By Cuban8 on 07/09/2019 20:24:24

The video of the Corsair shows a very much more extreme version of what caught me out thankfully with hardly any damage - my mistake, no excuses, but a useful wake up call. I still need to get the Spit's wheels further forward a tad, but not an easy mod. A couple of dozen flights with no dramas, but just one moment's lapse of concentration......................

Don't be put off though, it's all worth the trouble to see that shape cutting through the air.

Nigel R12/09/2019 10:22:38
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"I think the Tony Neuhuis plan for the 46" version is the one I'll choose if I go this way"

I think you will need to be very very careful about wood choice and finishing to keep that down to the 2lb 8oz quoted for the design. Not impossible but it feels quite optimistic for the model size.

Foamies offer a different route to flying a warbird. Lighter, more like a regular sport flyer. Perhaps a useful stepping stone?

Foxfan12/09/2019 10:41:56
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Gents, some very good thoughts to mull over there. I have no problem with foam at all. In fact I have already made a foam version of a 32" RC version of the marvelous KK Skystreak which I have known since childhood. I shall keep that one for when I can fly well enough.

I see no reason why I shouldn't make a foam Spitfire. I certainly won't be buying one as I don't "do" ready mades, can't justify the cost.

I could draw one up, I suppose. It would certainly be a good way of keeping it light as I fear I would probably not be a lightweight balsa basher.

All very much for the future, but as cuban 8 says...it's all about seeing that shape cutting through the air.

BTW, an old master flyer at our club has a foam ready made Thunderbolt which he flies like a dream. Scale speed, scale movements, utterly smooth. I love to watch him. Odd thing is it comes back to the pits and is the biggest pile of creased, dented foam with araldited repairs everywhere you've ever seen! I don't know how as each time I've seen it fly it was an object lesson in smoothness and accuracy. Despite its small size it even has retracts. I am tempted!

Martin

eflightray12/09/2019 10:54:30
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574 forum posts
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I built the Tony Nijhuis 72" Mk V Spitfire from the free plan, but used Depron and electric power.

Still my favorite plane to fly after 7 years of use. It does fit in a normal size hatchback, (wing removable, and easy assembly).

To me bigger planes are so much more enjoyable to fly, (and easier to see), don't necessarily right off going bigger.

Ray.

It would have landed slower, if I had remembered to lower the flaps blush

.
Nigel R12/09/2019 10:55:33
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"I certainly won't be buying one as I don't "do" ready mades, can't justify the cost."

You might be surprised at how much a scratch build costs when you add up everything that goes into one.

Cuban812/09/2019 11:14:46
2641 forum posts
13 photos
Posted by Nigel R on 12/09/2019 10:55:33:

"I certainly won't be buying one as I don't "do" ready mades, can't justify the cost."

You might be surprised at how much a scratch build costs when you add up everything that goes into one.

Amen to that sentiment - especially when your scratch/plan build is much bigger than 60" span. I'd say that a £400 ARTF warbird may well cost 1/3 as much again from a plan build - all depends of course in what you want. A Sarik plan,basic wood pack and mouldings can set you back £250-£300 for a 70" ish warbird. Add extra wood for sheeting etc, glass cloth & epoxy covering, paint, decals, retracts, fittings, the list goes on. Easily double the plan/pack price. Then there's the small matter of the engine in either ARTF or plan.

If you added up what was spend over the period of a build - you'd be surprised/horrified !

Martin Harris12/09/2019 11:23:30
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8741 forum posts
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Posted by Foxfan on 12/09/2019 08:15:24:

Was that too slow? Looked pretty fast to me. Maybe he just pulled the wrong stick.

The whole flight was way too fast for my tastes. I've so far not seen anything that quick at our club!

 

Martin

I'm talking about the crash within the first 30 seconds of the video. The model appears to dead stick and while being manouevred, drops a wing and spins. Many models would probably have survived without incident but the more heavily wing loaded and less forgiving wing profile of the Spitfire meant that it was prone to flicking when pulled into the turn. Speed is a simplistic explanation, what actually happened was that the wing exceeded the critical angle of attack. In a 60 degree bank, for example, stalling speed doubles.

The hard turn after the engine cut bled off much of the energy from the model's speed and by the last turn with almost certainly some elevator being applied to hold the nose up (hoping this observation doesn't offend Steve but we've all done it) put the model in a position vulnerable to stalling at that point. You just can't get away with stretching the glide with such a model.

I used to set up my 1/12th scale combat models so that at full throttle, the model just wouldn't flick out of a maximum rate turn - but you had to be careful if you were trailing an opponents streamer as full throttle stalls could then still occur!

Edited By Martin Harris on 12/09/2019 11:45:58

Peter Christy12/09/2019 11:36:20
1518 forum posts

Martin: The model in that video looked tip-stally right from take-off, and would probably have benefited from having each aileron raised a turn or so to provide some washout.

Whilst I get far more enjoyment out of flying models I have built myself, I have found that some foamies do offer excellent value for money! My last two traditional builds (Kingpin and Jackdaw) cost an arm and a leg in balsa!

My current Spit is a Durafly Mk1a **LINK** which not only looks a million dollars in the air, but flies beautifully too! Bearing in mind that it comes with all the servos, retracts, motor and esc - well, I couldn't buy the components for less than the cost of the finished model!

The flying characteristics are extremely benign. However, the flaps act more like airbrakes than lift enhancing devices - very useful for shedding speed on approach - but if using full flap, it definitely pays to keep some power on until just a fraction before touchdown, to retain positive control. Without that bit of power it is too tempting to over-slow it!

--

Pete

Martin Harris12/09/2019 11:47:25
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Good point Pete, the up aileron trick has tamed many a tip staller although I'm not sure about that version with the non scale ailerons...

Edited By Martin Harris on 12/09/2019 11:49:26

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