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        Build Log Top Flite P47 - SCALE ELECTRIC BUILD

#1 Gree May 08, 2008 05:13 AM

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Prompted by Eric Clark's question thread about converting a Top Flite P47, I thought I would start a build log on the one I am currently doing.

I could also certainly use help when it comes to choosing the right power system!

So I hope people are not sick of seeing this old bird - I know it is not a new kit by any means.

I had initially wanted to build the TF FW190D, but can't find it anywhere now, so what could I do but go for my second choice!

This is my first ever full build - only been a couple of foam ARFs prior to this, so all help and wisdom welcome!

Right up front I want to say that I got a lot of great ideas from reading this forum, and in particular, from John Ehrke - aka Flight 21 from another forum. He was very generous in sending me templates and answering questions for wing formers that he made to 4" wheels with robart retracts in the scale location in the wing.

I am posting here because I have been looking at this forum for a couple of years now and it feels like home.

A few standard build pics to start with...

[EDIT] Retracts part list... I have been asked what retract set up I used, so I have added an image of the list of parts to the pics below. Hope this is useful...

HORIZONTAL STABILISER (excuse my Australian spelling - correct where I come from :p )

I want to try to do a pretty good scale job with this one (if I can!) so trying to replicate scale hinging on the tail, along with the correct curves on the elevators and rudder was essential.

These curves and hinge points were taken from 3 views with lots of comparative measuring - but hey I am probably still out!

#2 Gree May 08, 2008 05:28 AM

More Horizontal Stabiliser
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Well it was time to try to cut the curve on the elevators, and move past my comfort zone.

It looks like i got to this point quickly but I only have a few hours a week to build, so it felt like I had achieved a lot so far.

To make the cuts I used a small hand saw as you can see in the pics - cutting was a very careful process, the lines were marked top and bottom and i was constantly checking to make sure i was keeping the cut perpendicular to the tail surface...

In the end it came out so much better than I had hoped with only a light sand required - minimal material loss and no need to build up the curve from scrap wood. Pretty happy at this point. :D

Next on the agenda was double checking the measurements and cutting the recesses for the elevator hinges.

I used the same trusty saw plus a scalpel to remove the material from the area. A small file was used to get the rounded corners.

This is where I had to correct my earlier mistake of not gluing hinge mounts inside the elevator before sheeting. But it was not that difficult - just a bit of shaping and CA them in. It may add a tiny it more weight to the tail (which I know everyone is going to tell me is crucial not to do!) but it is the way I went and I hope to get the right balance by having very forward battery mounts.

Instead of having a straight bevel for control surface movement, I went with a semi circular shape more accurate to the real thing.

I plan on running some light ply on the rear of the stabiliser to mask the gap in the join a bit.

more on the horizontal stab later...

#3 Gree May 08, 2008 05:14 PM

Vertical Stabiliser
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Well it seems it is all quiet here, so I'll post some more progress...

I guess it is all pretty standard stuff so far.

With the vertical stab, I also wanted to keep the scale hinge positions going. This time I learned from my earlier error, and before I finished sheeting the rudder I made sure I glued in some internal hinge mounts. A lot of this is cut away depth wise later when the hinge recesses are cut, especially at the top of the rudder where the hinge cuts quite seep into the rudder.

I have been working on the plane for about 2 months on and off, so have a few pics already taken, allowing me to post progress pretty fast up to the point I am currently at...

I did make another mistake, and that was to forget to mount a pull-pull control horn in the rudder before skinning - arghh! :censored:

I'll have to cut it up again later! I am trying to avoid using the standard control horns if I can, and I have seen many others do good pull-pull set ups on their rudder in forums. Ah well a task for the future.

#4 Gree May 08, 2008 05:45 PM

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After a lot of scouring around, I think I have chosen to do this plane as Ken Dahlberg's P47 from the 354th Fighter group.

I know this scheme is done a lot for Eagleston's plane, and is not the most original, but i quite like the simplicity of it.

I have seen a lot of people doing the upper fuselage surface as olive drab, but i am definitely doing it as black, because I have found photographs of Dalberg's and other planes from the same squadron that show the top to be black. Plus I think it looks so much better.

I seriously considered emailing Ken Dahlberg to ask him, but thought he might not like being bothered. I found his email address on his website. Do you think he would mind?

What really made my mind up was seeing him on the documentary Dogfights. Here is the youtube version of some of his story...


#5 TRP May 08, 2008 05:47 PM

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Ahh... a conversion that is near and dear to my heart.

After two on board fires with an ill fated Hacker B50/Jeti ESC, and finially getting the correct power system for mine - I grew tired of futzing with it and just sold it.

Mine finished up just under 10.5 lbs - fully loaded and ready for bear.

Great flying plane. You'll LOVE it.


Go ahead an e-mail Ken Dahlberg - he wouldn't have included his e-mail address on his site if he didn't want people to e-mail him. :)

#6 Gree May 08, 2008 05:50 PM

Thanks Ted. I saw your build in another forum - could not believe you had TWO fires! Think that would break my heart after all the work that went in!

10.5 pounds - 4.7 kilograms. Sorry have to convert to a unit of measurement I understand!

Is that light for this plane?

#7 TRP May 08, 2008 06:03 PM


Originally Posted by Gree
Thanks Ted. I saw your build in another forum - could not believe you had TWO fires! Think that would break my heart after all the work that went in!

10.5 pounds - 4.7 kilograms. Sorry have to convert to a unit of measurement I understand!

Is that light for this plane?

Ahh yes - you were on RCSCALEBUILDER.COM.

Trust me - after two fires - I was heart broken. The second time I forked out money for the batteries it really 'killed' this model for me. I just had to fix it and get on with it. When I sold her I had mixed feelings. She was ready for another go. Most of my friends told me to give it another shot - but I couldn't dare risk the new motor, esc, and batteries. The plane flew VERY well. Very quick on the take off. VERY stable.

Regarding the weight: I think that's about average, maybe on the light side for a full house 66" P-47.

If I were to give you advice:
- To make this an enjoyable flier you'll need to put a batter hatch in someplace. Removing the wing each time you want to change batteries is quite a pain. Keep this in mind when building the fuse. Make your alterations BEFORE you join the halves and get to covering. You'll be happy you did.

- Keep the weight as far forward as you can - she builds tail heavy.

- A UBEC is your friend.

- If you keep the weight close to that of the Hangar9 ARF model - you can power it on 6s - no problem.

#8 Gree May 08, 2008 06:27 PM

thanks for the advice. where were your battery mounts? against the firewall inside the fuse? I can't quite remember...

I was toying with the idea of having the batteries coming into the cowl area for balance - maybe half out of the firewall - but I am not sure yet as I need to build the thing to balance it!

I am also putting in a retractable tailwheel - so the tail will be heavier than stock, so this forward battery position might be a necessity.

I was planning on a hatch at the very forward part of the fuselage - with openings masked by the black edge of the paint on the top of the fuse (hopefully). I have not cut it yet though.

I will be glassing this one so hopefully that will also add some strength..

I was definitely going to use lipos because i have a great charger already, but now the long recharge time is making me think of using of A123's... not sure what to do at the moment.

#9 macboffin May 08, 2008 06:42 PM

Black tops
Most fighter aircraft of the period had matt black forward cowls, and sometimes aft of the cock-pit also ; purpose being to kill glare from a shiny surface affecting pilot's vision.

#10 Gree May 08, 2008 06:50 PM

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Thanks MacBoffin. I was aware of the anti-glare issue, but it seems that many people model this scheme with an olive drab anti glare colour, and I was hoping for, and found evidence of planes using flat black with this colour scheme.

I just think the black makes the entire scheme really work aesthetically - and the olive drab combination never looked right to me at all. I do have that photo above with Dahlberg's plane having a black upper surface, so maybe all of the models of Eagleston's plane showing olive drab upper surface are correct too - maybe they used both colours in the squadron...

Here is a shot of a model of Eagleston's plane to demonstrate what I am talking about.

#11 TRP May 08, 2008 06:53 PM

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For the batteries - I placed them through the firewall and into the cowl as far as necessary to get the plane to balance out. With this method I needed no extra nose weight. You can see my homemade battery tray from the two photos below (from the after the first fire / nose plant...)

#12 Gree May 08, 2008 07:00 PM

Thanks for the shots of your battery mounts... Aw man it still makes me tear up when I see the result of that damn fire! I hope you have a few golden memories of the flight before that!


Originally Posted by TRP
Go ahead an e-mail Ken Dahlberg - he wouldn't have included his e-mail address on his site if he didn't want people to e-mail him. :)

You know what maybe I will - wouldn't really expect an answer but it would really be something to be able to speak to the pilot of the plane you are trying to honour... I might give it a shot...

EDIT - I just did email him. I doubt he would have time to reply but here is hoping!

#13 TRP May 08, 2008 08:49 PM


Originally Posted by Gree
Thanks for the shots of your battery mounts... Aw man it still makes tear up when I see the result of that damn fire!

The real pisser of it all was that I went round and round with Hacker to make sure that motor would handle 8s. It took two fires and them looking at the motor a second time (after they had charged me 200.00 to repair the motor and new esc) before they said - oh.. a B50?.. No.. can't do 8s. :confused:

*Sigh* In the end they did all they could to help and now I have a BRAND NEW A60 out runner and 77 SPIN BOX esc, and 2 4s3p Thunder Power Pro lites - just waiting to go into something. :D

I think I'm out of the 'big stuff' for a while. I can't afford another fire/crash/heart ache.

Ping me if you need any help with your build. I've pretty well documented my plane inside and out. I may have a photo to help clarify something if necessary.

Good luck and enjoy the build - it's part of the journey. :D

Let us know if you hear from Ken!


#14 Gree May 08, 2008 09:02 PM

Thanks Ted!

At least they came good in the end, but it does not replace all of the time, sweat and tears involved in the actual build and damage to the plane - twice....

I will certainly know who to call if I need help or a second opinion! I hope you can drop in from time to time and leave the odd comment.

#15 EricClark May 08, 2008 09:48 PM

Cool. Good luck with it. I'll be watching! :D


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