Bleriot XI
by Chris Savaglio

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Kit: Scratchbuilt (1:48)


Although I'm waist deep in the AEG build, I got excited about this project and wanted to start on it. So, here's the progress.

I've decided to frame the wings up in brass and cover them with silkspan. So far, this is the progress. Not bad for about 4 hours of work. The left wing is about half way done and the right one is barely started. I've put 2 full spars in as well as a leading and trailing edge. I'm using thin brass strips for the ribs, one strip on top, one on bottom. This will hopefully give the impression of rib caps, while giving the effect of having lightening holes in the ribs, since the spaces between rib strips and spars will be open. Well, we'll see how it turns out in the end.

I soldered all of the underside rib strips in on the left wing, then rolled it over a flashlight handle to give the undercamber. So far, I've only soldered in one upper rib strip, as seen here. This is all before any of the solder joints or edges have been filed and blended in.

Here's the latest progress. The wings are mostly complete. All that's left is final sanding and filing to smooth everything in and to add the attachment points for the rigging. Of course, I need to cover them as well. The 4 additional spars are from styrene stock, since it's easier to shape the tapered tip edges and to make fit into the odd rib cap gaps.

This is another 4 hours into the project, spent at a modellers' gathering tonight. This thing is going together absurdly fast.


And here's the tail sections. This has turned out to be far more tedious and difficult to solder due to the small size and very, very tiny parts. Several parts were less than 1/8" long.

Because of the thin cross sections, I didn't overlap the brass as in the wing. This meant that some pieces go the full width of the part, and the spars that went across are actually small bits soldered in between the other strips. Trust me, it makes sense if you look at the pics.

The horizontal tail/elevators were bent to the odd undercamber shape over a paint bottle.

The fuselage should be easy with the boring and tedious parts out of the way.


Here's the progress on the fuselage. This was a challenge in alignment and trying not to disturb previously soldered joints. Other than that, so far, so good. This project's going at record pace. The fuselage has about 3 hours in it at this point.


I failed to take any in progress photos of the covering process. You'll just have to believe me how I did it.

First, the brass/styrene frames were sprayed with a grey auto primer to give the following paint coats something to grab to. Then, I sprayed a sand color, which turned out to look like just that, sand, under the tissue. I had a can of red-brown primer handy, so that was sprayed on next. After a day or so to dry, the tissue was glued to the edges and rib caps with white glue. The tissue was left dry at this point. After 15 or 20 minutes to dry, the tissue was wet with water and dried with a hair drier. The edges were trimmed and glued down with white glue. Then the other side of each piece was done in the same way.

Many ideas were thrown in the ring by various listees, and I decided to go the traditional route with good, old fashioned dope. 3 coats were give to each side with the clear dope thinned 50/50 with dope thinner. Then 2 coats were give with straight dope. The result is the wing at the bottom of the photo. The parts were gently sanded with 1000 grit sandpaper to smooth out the dope a bit.

The white tissue was far to transluscent for the effect I wanted. Not only did the brown frame show through very clearly, so did anything else on the other side of the piece. To give everything a bit of opaque-ness and to give a more clear doped linen color, each part was sprayed with a highly thinned cdl color at high pressure through my airbrush. The result is the top wing in the photo. It's a much more subdued effect, yet still transluscent. The tail sections were done the same way.

Motor and Seat

Pictured here is today's work. The motor is a representation of the 30hp Anzani powerplant. It's not exact, but close enough for this scale, I think. It's fashioned from bits of styrene and brass, with the main part of the cylinders swiped from a Maquette Morane G's gnome, which is too small for that airplane anyhow. But they are just about the right size for the Anzani.

The seat is made from brass. The back is photoetch weave from K&S, the bottom is cut from brass sheet and the upper frame is .020" brass rod. The cushion is made from Apoxie Sculpt, a 2 part epoxy putty similar to Milliput.


Kit: Scratchbuilt (1:48)

And here's the completed model's photos. There's a big gap between the last progress shots and these since my camera died. These were taken with a friend's camera.

The markings are of a generic Italian aircraft. The rigging and control lines entirely 8 gauge(.008") guitar string. The fuselage's fabric sections were covered in the same way as the wings/tail. The metal panels are .005" brass sheet. I used Eduard photoetch wheel discs and o-rings for the tires. The tach inside is Copper State as well as the prop boss. The leather bits where the rigging lines enter the wings came from an Eduard photoetch sheet as well as the stitching.

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