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Canadair F4 Sabre XB812

But which squadron?

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Chris Barlow07/11/2019 03:36:01
1904 forum posts
1308 photos

Finally got around to start a build blog for my 2020 PSSA mass build Sabre. Ordered the short kit from G&M and what an unusual jigsaw it is! Excellent quality of the components and very nice plans. Quite impressive and good value for the price.

I usually like to base my builds on a real and existing aircraft and after a trip to Malta to visit my Hurricane mass build big brother I thought I'd better choose one closer to home this time!

Fortunately RAF Cosford Museum is only 45 minutes away from me and they currently have a Canadair F4 Sabre displayed in the Cold War Hanger, along with a history of the aircraft from production to squadrons it served with and finally to its retirement.

The only problem is there are 2 squadrons I wouldn't mind modelling it on! 93 Sqn as displayed in the museum and 112 (F) Shark Sqn with, you guessed it, a shark mouth painted under the nose! Both Sqns were active in the mid 1950's at RAF Bruggen where I was fortunate to spend a weeks camp with the ATC in the late 80's, although they were flying Tornados by then!

So that's my colour nailed to the mast, just the numbers and insignia to choose now.

Mark Kettle 107/11/2019 06:15:15
2574 forum posts
1591 photos

What a great introduction Chris.

Chris Barlow11/11/2019 01:42:33
1904 forum posts
1308 photos

Thanks Mark. I like a bit of background info!laugh

A bit of an update. I started with the fuselage sides yesterday, sanding the ply parts to remove burrs and fluff and test fitted everything together, filing various slots and rebates along the way. Formers were glued to the stringers and everything set up for planking.

I have a few simple tips for planking. I'm no expert pro builder and these tips are simply my way of doing it!

1, Use thin pins, and make sure they're sharp especially with ply formers. You only need to go through the plank and nick the ply by a mm or so. Forcing pins 1/4" deep into ply will not only be difficult but you'll probably do some damage or slip and stab yourself.

2, Sharp pins hurt when you stab yourself, and you will. Get used to it. Maybe have some alcohol on hand to numb the pain? cocktail

3, Plan the planking and try to minimise the number of tapered cuts you need to make. You should be spending more time gluing and pinning than cutting!

4, Nobody likes planking. Well that is nobody who has done it before likes it! Regardless of what people may say it's not therapeutic! It's tedious, time consuming and will draw blood!

5, Remove excess glue immediately. You might think the glue will fill the gaps for you but it doesn't and glue is heavy. Have a bottle of water and soft paintbrush to hand and clean up any excess glue as soon as you've got the last pin in the plank you're working on. Fill any gaps with light weight filler after the fuselage is complete.

6, You will have lots of gaps. This is why I don't agonise over each tapered cut or sand a precise bevel on the edge of every plank. More gluing less cutting.

7, You don't need to sand a bevel on the edge of every plank, only the ones that go over a tight radius and even then it doesn't need to be precise. I sand my few bevels with the course side of a Permagrit block quickly and by feel, or guesswork.

8, Pin the plank edges together between the formers, but take care not to introduce any deformations by pulling and pushing the shape. Try to pin the plank flush to each other but as they lie along the fuselage.

9, Watch out for the starved horse. It will sneak into your workshop and hide in your prized fuselage to only be discovered when you have finished planking and start sanding. Constantly check the lines of your fuselage looking for any distortions, especially the hollows between the formers that'll make it look like the skinny ribs of a starved horse.

10, Get warm and dry. If you can, get a heater and dehumidifier going but make sure your fuselage is locked well into a jig or pinned down tight to the bench. You don't have enough pins to do the job in one go and a quick drying time will free up those pins in a couple of hours. When drying the glue will shrink and if it has soaked into the balsa that will shrink too, and that shrinkage will pull your fuselage out of shape unless you have a good grip of it. Tonight temperature in my shed was 24 deg C with the dehumidifier running on full. devil

OK 10 tips is enough. A couple of photo's of progress so far.


That's about 6 hours work over a 24 hour period.


Finally, you need lots of pins! There's approximately 4 boxes of pins there, nearly. A few have been lost and broken over the years! cocktail to the lost pins. crying

Edited By Chris Barlow on 11/11/2019 01:48:58

Andy Meade11/11/2019 08:56:17
2809 forum posts
722 photos

Great tips Chris laugh Swift progress there too - I'm a similar level planker - get it on and bevel only where really necessary yes

Steve Houghton11/11/2019 13:01:52
597 forum posts
442 photos

Chris, a handy set of tips, especially about the starved horse - one that I have been looking out for particularly, but quite difficult to achieve without very careful eye-balling of the edges.

Flyer11/11/2019 13:04:43
664 forum posts
111 photos

Impressive Chris, very useful info. I was thinking of using ammonia when planking to ease the stresses. Anyone else used ammonia when planking?



Chris Barlow11/11/2019 16:36:52
1904 forum posts
1308 photos

Never used ammonia with planking Ade. I do however select suitable planks depending on the shape to be planked. If there is a tight radius I will select a soft bendy plank, if it's a slight curve or even flat I'll use medium/soft planks.

Most balsa sheet will vary in hardness across the width so you can sort the planks into soft, medium,hard.

Since the Sabre is quite a small fuselage I have cut my planks 1/4" wide.

john stones 1 Moderator11/11/2019 17:24:51
11962 forum posts
1531 photos

Good read Chris. yes
your pins are differing colours, it cause you any distress ? wink

Chris Barlow11/11/2019 19:09:14
1904 forum posts
1308 photos

Thanks all! yes

John, it never bothers me what colour pins I use where but....

When I start pinning something I always start with green pins, then red then blue. And when finished all the pins go back into their own box, 1 box of green, 1 box red and 2 boxes together of blue. I intend to order a couple of boxes of yellow pins soon and they'll probably be used first instead of the green pins. Dunno why!

Some pins have developed their own character over the years. One pin has been sharpened so many times it's half the length of al the others. And a blue pin has been used to hold something for spraying and is now black. Might start giving these pins their own names...

And clamps! Some clamps are given rude names because they ping off if miss aligned and some other types have friendlier names because they just work well for a particular job! I'm not crazy, I don't say the names out loud or anything! I just think "I'll use Geralds to grip that" or "That ***** clamp always pings off when I need it to stay put"

A combination of friendly clamps shown below working on some Sabre parts.


Chris Barlow12/11/2019 01:09:37
1904 forum posts
1308 photos

Finally! The two halves together and planking finished on the top. The bottom quarter of the fuselage is still open to allow fitting the guts.


Andy Blackburn12/11/2019 08:18:11
515 forum posts
487 photos
1 articles

Top planking tips, particularly liked the one about "Nobody likes planking. Well that is nobody who has done it before likes it! Regardless of what people may say it's not therapeutic! It's tedious, time consuming and will draw blood!".

I've never had the blood but everything else is right. smiley. Helps if you put the radio on and kind of get into the zone.

Speaking persoanlly, I use medium CA (new bottle) to glue the planks to the formers and Titebond for the plank-plank joints, so I don't have to bother with pins much. I think I tend to slightly over-sand the chamfer on the plank (by feel, with a permagrit block) so I don't get any gaps.

In the past I've tapered the planks so that they're narrower at each end, which means that you can use wider planks but that's another 2-minute process added to installing each plank. Might use the parallel-plank method on this one.

I've never had a twisted fuselage but then I've always planked when the fuselage halves are already joined, adding each plank on alternate sides - by the time the top half is done, it's more-or-less completely rigid.

(Can't start my F-86 yet, just doing a Peanut. Shouldn't take long, though...)

Edited By Andy Blackburn on 12/11/2019 08:22:08

Andy Meade12/11/2019 08:44:26
2809 forum posts
722 photos

Ten past one in the morning Chris? Someone's burning the candle at both ends laugh

McG 696912/11/2019 09:02:33
3529 forum posts
1338 photos

Not necessarily, Andy.

Planking could be 'therapeutic' after all. indecision

Anyhow, have a look at the left corner of Chris's picture... that VR bottle must be some kind of 'medicinal boost'... wink

Cheers or "A votre santé" as we say in Belgium


Andy Blackburn12/11/2019 16:34:00
515 forum posts
487 photos
1 articles

I hadn't noticed that (or the glass) - well spotted. I might try that technique...


Chris Barlow13/11/2019 00:29:58
1904 forum posts
1308 photos

The problem (or benefit) of darker nights is that after it goes dark it could be 7pm, or 10pm, or even 1am. It's still dark so easy to loose track of time especially with a monotonous task like planking Andy! "Burning the candle at both ends", that's a phrase my Dad used to use when I lived at home many years ago!

The bottle is just a cheap Merlot supplied by the Wife and may have contributed to a couple of late finishes! laugh


I have tried using CA for planking many years ago but found that if the plank to former CA joint got contaminated with aliphatic from the plank to plank joint it didn't set strong and popped off before laying the next plank. Also I've not had a twisted planked fuselage before either but that maybe due to clamping the structure tightly in a jig or to the bench every time. I have built a banana before, and was so annoyed at myself I bought a Slec building jig kit straight afterwards! Very useful and versatile if you use it in many "wrong" ways.


Andy Meade13/11/2019 09:11:31
2809 forum posts
722 photos

Oooh, Meteor shot heart

Chris Barlow14/11/2019 13:01:45
1904 forum posts
1308 photos


Planking practice for the Sabre! devillaugh

Alan Gorham_14/11/2019 15:27:42
1423 forum posts
147 photos

Are you subbing out prototype builds now Andy.....?

I want to see a picture of the incredibly organised reels of tape above the workbench Chris. I need to up my OCD levels I think!

Martin Gay14/11/2019 16:00:44
428 forum posts
256 photos

It looks more like a case of CDO - similar to OCD, but the letters are all in alphabetical order! wink 2

Flyer14/11/2019 16:20:35
664 forum posts
111 photos

I have CDO.............Can't Do 'Owt !!



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