United States
by Michael Robinson

Sopwith Camel, USS Texas

Kit: Eduard (1:48)

On a trip to the Naval Air Museum I discovered their F1 Camel done in the markings of the USS Texas, as an aircraft that was flown off the number 2 Gun Turret. It is such a pretty little airplane I just had to build it, even though it is somewhat off-topic, as it was flown after the end of WW1.
It is the Eduard Profipak Camel built pretty much OOB except for the CSM Prop and Mike Grant Decals he made using my artwork. Rigging is Aeroclub rigging elastic. For the gray I used Duplicolor Sandable Primer I decantted into my bottle, and the wood grain is Modelmaster Tan for a base, dry brushed with Tamiya Brown acrylic until I got the wood grain effect I was after. The polished aluminum areas are Chrom Alclad. As fate would have it, as I set this on the table to photograph it, the oil tank popped loose and is ratteling around inside the fuselage. I haven't decided if it's worth trying to fish out or not.
Also in the works,I am bulding a 14 inch gun turret with platform to display it on as well. It won't be a diorama, just an interesting Display piece.

Curtiss MF Seagull Flyingboat

Kit: Scratchbuilt (1:48)

I enjoyed building my NC4 so much a while back I promised myself I will one day do another Curtiss Flying boat. I came across a set of Paul Matt Drawings for a Curtiss MF (Modified F) in a set of Historical Aviation Albums I got off Ebay, so it rekindled the spark and I've jumped in with both feet. I know this is very borderline OT, as the machine was designed in 1918 and flew in early 1919, but I checked with Sanjeev and he gave it his blessing, so I thought I'd post some progress shots of it as I go along. If anyone disagrees and doesn't think it should be in the Gallery, I really don't have a problem with pulling it down. I'll abide by the list rules.

Jan 2007

This is pretty much straight up basic scratch-building, nothing new or outlandish. I carved the hull master from a block of basswood. I am making my own vacuuform, and have it together, but I need a better heat source than the old electric griddle I attempted to use. It gets the plastic just soft enough to deform, but not soft enough to pull over a mold. I have found an electric griddle with exposed elements that should do the trick, so once I get it mounted and tested I will pull the hull halves. I carved the main hull first, then carved the little wedge shaped sponsons on either side of the hull, glued them on and sanded them to final shape. I thought it was easier to do it that way than to try to carve them out as one piece. The wing blanks are modified Lindberg Curtiss Jenny wings from 2 Jenny kits. The upper wing of one kit was used for the two outter upper wing panels, and I used one of the lower wings to cut the upper center section out of. The other kit's upper wing became the blanks for the two lower wing outter panels. I had to fill in the cutouts in the upper wing, and I used bits of the other lower wing and glued them in place and filled them with CA before sanding smooth. All wing ribs were sanded off as they were a bit on the heavy side, and I've reskinned all surfaces with .005 with ribs embossed, ala Harry Woodman's technique. The Horizontal stab is a chunk of 1/16 basswood sanded to shape and skinned with .005 plastic, and I'll do the same with the Rudder and Fin. I didn't emboss them very deeply, as again, they were quite tight with little sag between the ribs. I have bought 4 Lindberg Jenny kits over the past few years, and have yet to build a Jenny! They were all sacrificed to build other projects, first the N9H conversion, and now this. I really need to get another one and actually build a Jenny. The machine I am modeling uses a Curtiss K-6, 150HP in-line 6 cylinder engine. This engine was unique in that the cylinders and upper half of the crankcase were cast as one piece, then steel liners inserted for the cylinders. Two cylinders were siamesed together and a one piece cast aluminum head, with a single overhead cam opening and closing a 4 valve per cylinder arraignment, with hemispherical heads was bolted atop of them. It's kind of odd how auto manufacturers boast about the "latest" technology with their fuel efficient engines, when the basic concept they are using dates back to 1918. Glen Curtiss was ahead of his time for engine design, obtaining more horsepower at less weight than anyone else at the time. I've used bits and pieces of evergreen, contrail tube, and the snout off one of the Lindberg Jenny engines to make my engine. During construction I noticed I had to remove about .125" (4mm) off the back end of the block, as it was too long. When I installed the waterpump, the cam drive was too far away from the rear cylinder, and according to the one picture I have, it's very close. I popped off the waterpump, the two rear lugs along the block and oilpan, and sanded off the amount needed. I glued everything back on that I removed, and had to make a new water-pump as the first one was deformed in the "popping off process". Next I installed the Cam Drive, the Mags and water-pump. I through drilled the head and used .030 solder for the exhaust and intake, running them all the way through so that I can keep them aligned and straight with each other side to side. A carb was made out of bits and pieces of plastic and solder, the ignition wires added and the engine was complete. I am mocked up the engine mounts and radiator support, so that it can be finished as a subassembly and installed once the hull is together. I used .060 plastic strip, Contrail strut and .040 sheet for the different bits and peices. The radiator itself is a section of .040 card with contrail strut header, and I used a piece of nylon stockings I pilfered from my wifr for the radiator screen facing. I have to make the louvers yet. I made a jig from plastic sheet to set the height of the engine mount, then cut my struts to length while it was jigged in place. I made them a smidge long on purpose to compensate for the thickness of the plastic hull, I'll adjust them to correct length one the hull is formed. That's about all for now. I'll post some more shots after my hull is vacu-formed and I get the interior construction going.

Feb 2007

Just some more pictures of my MF Boat. I've got the Instrument Board done, and all flight controls are roughed in, I just have to tidy them up a little. I've experimented with a few shades of paint and Tamiya Clear to get the shade of Mahogony I want. I've decided upon my own custom mix, with a light ochre oil drybrushing just to give some highlites, and then overshot with Tamiya Clear Orange for a varnished look. The one photo shows the test strip I used. I have almost all of my fabrication work done. Now I can advance to the point where I will have the greatest chance of messing it up... paint and finish.

Feb 14, 2007

I had a good couple of uninterrupted nights to really buckle down and get some of the natty things that needed to be done finished. The paint is all done except for some touch ups here and there. I had a few tense moments putting the lower wings in place. I used brass tube sockets in the fuselage, with brass wire pins in the wings to plug into the sockets. I used CA to glue them in place, and all went well with the left wing, but when I went to insert the right wing into the socket, it went in about 1/8 of an inch and the CA seized, and I mean immediately, and it stuck good. Trouble is the wing was still about 1/2 inch away from the fuselage. No amount of pulling would pull it out either. I had to use a pair of pliers and grab the exposed pin and twist and rock it at the same time, till first one, then the other pin broke loose and I was able to pull them out. I was trying to be careful so I didn;t break anything, but I heard a couple of disconcerting cracks as I was tugging. Fortunately I can't see any signs of cracks or split seams. I also added the ribbed cover over the fuel tank area, added aluminum walkways on the bow and aft deck, glued the engine pylon in place and rigged the fuel lines and Bowden Cable for the throttle, fuel tank vent and oilpan breather. The inspection plate on the bow is .005 brass circles I punched out, and there's two more aft behind the jig. I made the walkways from thick aluminum foil that I burnished down over some fine screen, then glued in place using Micro Scale Bare Metal Adhesive. I have to make two more smaller ones for beside the engine, and then two more smaller yet for step plates on the sides of the sponsons. Once I overcoat everything with a semi-gloss overcoat it should dull down some of the excessive glossiness. Next job will be to make the upper wing jig, cut the struts, and I can begin final assembly and rigging.

March 9th, 2007

The modeling gods were good to me today. A few days ago I got all my PE turnbuckles cut in half and painted for the strut fittings, and this afternoon I played hooky from work and came home and tackled gluing them in place.... all 48 of the little buggers. Oddly enough, none got dropped, my tweezers didn't snap any off into oblivion, I didn't sneeze and blow them everywhere.... they all went on without a hitch. I thought to myself "Wow, this is some seriously cosmic karma going on here". You can see in the first photo how they look on the struts. It adds a nice splash of color and gives the struts a beefier look to them. I'm glad I put them on. Next step was to pre-rig my top wing. I added the inside bay wires that form the "X" between the struts, as it's a lot easier sticking them in now, rather than standing on my head after the top wing was glued in place. I didn't put the flying or landing wires in, as they will be easily accessible from the bottom. It makes for a hairy looking beast doesn't it? I also added the inner center section struts. The will be guides in final placement of the upper wing. After these were in place, it was time for the top wing to be epoxied in place. I rubber banded the model to the lower cradle, dropped some epoxy into my center section sockets, and plopped the struts in. Seeing as everything was cut and lined up before hand, they literally fell right into place. I squared up the wing with a square, then rubber banded the top wing to hold it in place while the epoxy cures. I poked all the strands of rigging through their respective holes, and cut off the excess. These I'll pull tight after I install the rest of the struts tomorrow, then I can add the flying and landing wires. Thanks for looking. I'll post some more shots later this weekend after the rest of the struts are in place, and some of the rigging is getting done. Cheers Mike

March 20, 2007

It's finished finally. I am posting a couple of shots of the finished model. I don't want to stick too many up here as it will be featured in a full build article on a very famous internet magazine sometime in the future and I don't want to use all of Matt's material ;-). After that I will send it to ARC and Hyperscale and if they choose to feature it you will see the rest then. Looking back on it it was a highly satisfying build. Not much went awry, and it came out, actually better than I thought it would, so all in all it was a very pleasent build. Only if all could be so easy...

Curtiss N9H

Kit: Lindberg (1:48)

I am a big fan of Pre World War 2 US Navy aviation, and one of my favorite aircraft has always been the Curtiss Jenny. Having grown up in Upstate New York, not far from where Glen Curtiss developed his designs and grew his company, also helped foster that interest. When I read the original article in the July 1993 Fine Scale Modeler, of how Carl Park built his N9H, using three Lindberg Jenny kits, I knew I had to do it. I did do some minor differences from his article, in that I used only 2 Jenny kits and a Lindberg SE5 kit to pirate the Hispano Suiza engine from. The only real reason he used 3 Jenny kits was to have an extra Stabilizer to cut the Ailerons from. I choose to scratchbuild these instead. With his article in hand, a set of drawings obtained from the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, and photographs I took of the N9H on display there, I began cutting plastic. A year of on and off again work later, the model you see here is the result. It has done well in various contests; Judges Best In Show, Best Aircraft, Most Popular, Theme Award, and a First in Class at SYRCON 16, Judges Best Of Show, Best Aircraft, First in Class at NOREASTCON 2004, First Place at ROCON25, and First Place at BUFCON '04. My biggest satisfaction is having it, along with my NC4, accepted for display at the Glen Curtiss Museum in Rochester NY in their Flying Boat Display, alongside an original Curtiss MF Boat, or Seagull, and a Curtiss E Boat that is a flying replica. I can't think of a more fitting home. I wasn't going to submit these, but seeing Bill Arnolds lovely little 72nd scale Jennies and N9H I figured why not.

Curtiss NC4

Kit: Scratchbuilt (1:48)

This may be a bit off topic, but I thought I would submit it anyways. The NC series designs were started in 1917, as a long range Patrol Bomber, so technically it's a OT... but...lol. You decide. To say that I love Flying boats is like saying ants like picnics. They have grace, character and a utility that no other type of aircraft has, the ability to make 2/3’s of the world’s surface their runway. My love for them was fostered in part by my Dad, a licensed pilot from the “old school” of pilots that learned to fly literally by the seat of their pants, and his passion for flying and landing on water. When I first saw the story of the Curtiss NC series trip across the Atlantic in 1919, the airplanes caught my attention. Immediately I knew I wanted to build a model of one, and I knew it was going to end up being a scratchbuilt model. Even though I have scratchbuilt a few aircraft before this, this was going to be the first of this size and complexity. Gathering the reference data proved to be fairly easy. A quick email to John Bayer, Director of the First Across Organization, (http://www.geocities.com/firstacross/) resulted in several sources of plans and reference materials. Another website that gave invaluable information was The Naval Aviation History Office (http://www.history.navy.mil/branches/nc-4mono.htm). I also thought a trip to Pensacola Naval Air Museum to photograph Nancy was in order, so a quick email to the fine folks there to explain what I wanted to do resulted in a very quick response. It said in a nutshell, “Sure come on down, we’ll be glad to help.” A trip in April of 2003 resulted in over 130 digital photos and 72 35mm Color Slides. The people there were very accommodating. Not only did they allow me full access to Nancy, but they also rolled out a small electric scaffold to lift me up and over Nancy, allowing me to photograph the airplane from the top, as well as the bottom. I was also able to poke my head inside and get some very helpful interior pictures. I can’t recommend the Naval Air Museum enough, very nice people to deal with and a fantastic array of displays there. With references ready, and raw materials purchased, it was time to begin construction. I decided to begin with some of the smaller subassemblies first to get a feel if I was actually going to be able to finish this beast. The more I looked at the plans, examined the forest of struts, the maze of rigging, the more I started to think… “ Riiiiiiiight. I’m really going to build this… sure I am.” Along with that, the drawings that I obtained from Model Airplane News had some features that did not agree with the photos I had taken in a lot of areas. The Nacelles weren’t drawn quite right, some of the rigging was misdrawn, and many details were left off the plans all together. Items like the wind driven fuel pumps on the rear deck, and the “tunnel” underneath the rear pusher engine to keep crewmembers from getting whacked by a spinning prop. Another bugaboo that would bite me good later on in construction was the fact they were drawn in two scales, 1/32nd and 1/48th. I was building the model in 1/48th scale, so it wasn’t a major issue, but there were a few times I had to get out the calculator to refigure a certain dimension. Rather than go into a full-blown step by step construction article, I decided to give a brief outline of each subassembly, and the materials and techniques used to construct the model. That, and some In-Progress photo’s should give you a good idea of the amount of work and time invested. As always if you have any specific questions on how I did a certain part of the model, please feel free to email me and ask away.

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