Woodvale Scale

When the first weekend in August arrives it’s time for the annual trip to Woodvale. I’ve been attending and competing there for more years than I care to remember, although, of course, the event is far more than just a model flying competition. With attractions including vintage car and motorbike displays, motorbike stunts and go-kart racing, there’s something for all the family to enjoy. If your interest is in military vehicles and transport that’s also catered for, whilst a pair of Merlin engines are run several times during the event. It’s a sound that’s so evocative of the Spitfire and Hurricane that it’s guaranteed to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck!

Beyond all this there are stationary petrol and steam engine displays, and to keep the kids happy there’s a fairground and bouncy castles. On the modelling side there are also model boats, cars and trains. Oh, and the ladies are catered for with endless stalls and a country market selling all sorts of goodies. With plenty to keep the family happy we aeromodellers can slip away to watch the model flying competition during the morning or the large model displays in the afternoon, and of course visit the trade stands for all those essential modelling nick-nacks.

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Woodvale Airfield is situated north of Liverpool, just south of Southport, and enjoys good road connections. This year’s meeting was the 37th occurrence and it’s still going very strong indeed. Over the years a large amount of money has been raised for worthy local charities, which has to be highly commended. A meeting such as this takes a whole year to organise, with many people donating a lot of time. Arthur Searle was always very much involved on the aircraft side, and despite not being in the best of health he made sure he was there this year. Sadly, as I’m sure you’re aware, Arthur died very recently, though his enthusiasm and efforts in organising the show will not be forgotten. The scale Competition Director was John Armstrong who, along with a large team of helpers, judges, scorers etc. made Woodvale 2006 a smoothly run and relaxed event. As always the golden tonsils of young Dave Bishop with his superb commentary kept the public entertained and informed as to what was going on.

The weather started calm but rather dull on Saturday, with the cloud base fairly low. Mind you, it wasn’t too long before the day brightened up. Visibility improved considerably and the wind only got up to a breeze, blowing down the runway all day. Sunday started off quite bright, and when the wind did eventually pick up it was pretty friendly, being still very nearly down the runway. Accordingly, both days provided good flying conditions, which isn’t always the case at Woodvale with the wind blowing over the trees and the turbulence it can cause.

In previous years the Scale Competition has consisted of two classes on two separate flightlines, but for this year the decision was taken to run just one class, International Scale, and to run it on one flightline. When competitors fly on two separate ‘lines they’re invariably scrutinised by different sets of judges, and there’ll always be debate as to whether one set are judging harder than the other. With just one flightline, of course, and one set of judges covering both days, this was obviously not an issue.

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As always the competition was well supported, duelled out by the same number of competitors as last year. Let’s take a walk down the flightline and see who was there.


Andy Bowman’s RWD8; an interesting and unusual subject.

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The first entry in my Woodvale notebook details Ron Sweeney’s Sukhoi SU27, powered by a pair of O.S. 91 ducted fan two-stroke motors. The model was built from a semi-glassfibre kit, with the foam core wings and, presumably, other surfaces being home-made. Built to 1.6:5 scale the SU27 spans 65″ (1651mm) and weighs in at around 291/2 lb (13.4kg). Guidance is via Futaba radio and ten servos, providing standard controls plus flaps, air brakes and retracts. The model is glass epoxy skinned with Flair Spectrum paintwork. Ron suffered the indignity of having one of the tuned pipes fracture in flight, reducing the available power and making the model pretty noisy. He wisely decided to land halfway through the sortie, faring a lot better on the second with repairs duly made.

A complete contrast in pace to the SU27 was ably demonstrated by Dave Fettes and his 1/4-scale Sopwith Pup, a 77″ span example of traditional construction, built from the DB Models kit and powered by a 23cc Tartan motor. Only the various markings were painted on, as the Solartex used to cover the airframe was already the appropriate colour. Litho plate used for the cowl and panelling on the front of the fuselage finishes this 101/2 lb model off nicely.

Ian Bailey campaigned a Hawker Hurricane Mk.5, which was flying very well, er… until the landing, that is! Although the model touched down nicely it promptly nosed over, causing a small amount of damage that was enough for Ian not to take his second flight.

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Andy Bowman always seems to design rather unusual aircraft, his RWD8 being a typical example. He’s built it to a scale of 1.4:8, which gives it an 89″ (2261mm) span, and his chosen motor is an O.S. 91 four-stroke. This 13 lb aircraft features traditional built-up construction throughout, and finishing is by way of tissue and silk with Solarlac paintwork. The RWD’s parasol wing gives it a quite distinctive and unusual appearance when in flight, and a pretty smooth flyer it is, too. I reckon it would make a good first scale model.

A regular competitor at Woodvale over many years, Ron Butler sadly passed away shortly before this year’s event. Ron is another who’ll be missed by many, for he enjoyed competition at other events, including the Nationals. Bill Grimsley was asked if he would fly Ron’s Druine Turbulent at Woodvale, which he was proud to do. Modified from the Precedent kit, this traditionally constructed 1/3-scale model weighs 17 lb (7.7kg) for its 80″ (2032mm) wingspan, and is finished in car paint over Solartex covering. A fine model that flies beautifully under Laser 150 power.

Built to 5.5 scale, Richard Crapp’s 103″ span, 33 lb Fairey Swordfish Mk.1 is a pretty imposing model, based on the full-size example preserved by the Royal Navy historic flight at RNAS Yeovilton. It’s built from the Len Ashdown plan and features traditional construction with Profitex covering under Hammerite and Flair Spectrum paintwork. The wings fold back parallel to the fuselage sides as per the full-size, and it also sports a torpedo beneath the fuselage (although Richard doesn’t drop it in flight as the effort required to make a replacement each time would be far too much!). A Laser V300 50cc four-stroke sits up front, which refused to fire its second cylinder in time for the first flight. Fortunately Richard sorted the gremlin responsible and the Laser performed impeccably on the second flight, pulling the Swordfish through a routine that earned it a good flight score and enabled Richard to take 6th place overall.

Scale CD John Armstrong stepped up to the plate with his own-design Avro 594 Avian Mk.3, a 1/4-scale model that took about 9 years to build (not 9 years of continuous effort, of course!) The model spans around 84″ (2134mm) and weighs 15 lb (6.8kg). The Laser 100 used for power might, on the face of it, seem a little small, but in practice it proves perfectly satisfactory. The Avian features a genuine sprung undercarriage and wings that can be folded parallel to the fuselage side for transport, Swordfish style. What’s more, the wing locking and hinging mechanism adds to the realism, duplicated faithfully from the full-size. The wings are covered in Solartex and the fuselage in Polytex, completing a very fine model that John flew to a well-deserved 5th place. Truth is he’d probably have placed higher had he not had his concentration diverted by running the event as well!

Another own-design model on show at Woodvale was Dave Womersley’s Laser 180 powered Chipmunk Mk.10, built to 1/4-scale with a resulting 103″ wingspan. Four years to design and build, it tips the scales at a healthy 19 lb (8.6kg) and relies on Futaba radio driving eight servos to keep it under control. Features of particular note are working flaps and a sliding canopy, the latter requiring quite a number of vac-formed components to construct as it’s a far more complicated shape than it first appears. Covering is Solartex for the wings and glass epoxy for the fuselage, topped off with an attractive Army Air Corps colour scheme (polyurethane paint). All this hard work and a decent flight performance saw Dave achieve a well-deserved 4th place.
Alex Kennedy travelled down from Scotland to fly his DH 82A Tiger Moth. Another 1/4-scale example, this was built from one of my former kits and represents a Swedish military example. A Laser 150 four-stroke gives it more than adequate power, and a realistic sound. This aircraft has been doing rather well for Alex, indeed he won the Scottish Nationals with it (under very windy conditions) and climbed onto the Woodvale podium in 3rd spot.

The evergreen Brian Taylor took 2nd place this year, with his 1/4-scale Miles Magister. Spanning 1011/2″ (2578mm), this 161/2 lb model is powered by a Laser 150. Needless to say Brian designed the aircraft himself, and it features traditional built-up construction throughout. The model sports the three flaps that are so characteristic of this aircraft, and guidance is provided by Multiplex 3030 PCM radio operating six servos. Dope and tissue covering and Dulux paintwork complete this Taylor masterpiece.

The eventual winner was Mick Reeves, flying his 1/3-scale Sopwith 11/2 Strutter, an undeniably large aircraft that’s powered by a mainly home-made 80cc four-stroke V-twin; a mixture of Laser parts plus others that Mick produced himself. This cocktail has resulted in a motor that appears to be very low revving, and gives the aircraft an interesting sound in flight. Mick’s Strutter has been around the circuit for many years now, but time is no enemy here as it continues to perform well. Mick was presented with a magnificent trophy that’s new this year, the Arthur Searle rose bowl. The engraved name of Mick Reeves will top the list of successive winners of the Woodvale Scale Competition, a truly superb event that’s sure to run for many years to come.

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