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Old Mar 07, 2011, 07:56 PM
Registered User
Houston, TX USA
Joined Jun 2001
366 Posts
First Full Body, Full Airfoil Foamie

I built balsa "stick and tissue" models for years, but vision problems have made that type of construction harder and harder for me. So I decided to try foam. After a couple of flat foamies, I decided to try a full fuselage, full airfoil foamie. The result is the 26" SE 5 in the pictures

I had some specific objectives for the plane (1) it had to fly slow enough to use in a pretty small field a short walk away, (2) it had to be stable enough that I could handle it with my slowed response times (vision problem again) and (3) it had to fit in my limited storage space. I picked the SE 5 because being a biplane it would have a lot of wing area with a relatively short span and I liked its aerodynamic layout. To keep it light I decided to experiment with very thin foam and monocoque construction. The wings are one mm depron wrapped around a few 3mm Clark Y ribs. Each wing half has 3 ribs, one at each end of the straight section and one at the midpoint. There is nothing else inside the wing - no spar, no L.E., no T.E., no stiffener of any kind. A little to my surprise, the wings turned out to be stiff enough to be used standalone, i.e., no need for inter-wing struts. The fuselage is 3mm depron assembled around a 3mm hirizontal crutch with a few 3mm formers scattered along its length. Before closing in the bottom, I cut away about 90% of the crutch. Based on the stiffness of the body, if I had it to do again I would probably go down to 2mm foam. The tail surfaces are 3mm Depron with a 1/8 balsa stick added at the hinge lines.

With two 5gr (appr) servos, a 4 channel Bluebird receiver, a 10 amp ESC, a 15gr motor and a 400mah 2S Lipo the ready to fly weight is about 5 3/4 oz.

I have only gotten 3 or 4 flights when the wind was calm enough to test and tune its flight characteristics, but so far so good. It is slow enough that I can keep it in the small field easily and stable enough that I have no problem keeping up with it. It has enough power to do a nice stately loop, but that is as far as I have gone in testing its manueverability. It is also pretty sturdy. Attempts to fly it when it was really too windy have resulted in a couple of wing-tip landings and one flight directly into a chain link fence, all with no damage.
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Old Mar 07, 2011, 08:00 PM
springer's Avatar
Joined Oct 2004
10,029 Posts
Looks good, guy, time for some paint!
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Old Mar 08, 2011, 04:17 PM
Build straight - Fly twisty
Whiskers's Avatar
Australia, QLD, Little Mountain
Joined Feb 2010
4,446 Posts
Yep, needs paint and (here I go again) a pilot. Give him a scarf flapping in the breeze.
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Old Mar 08, 2011, 04:45 PM
My plans are in my blog
Rusty-Gunn's Avatar
Kotzebue, Alaska
Joined May 2006
5,416 Posts
Sweet plane, dude.
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Old Mar 08, 2011, 05:02 PM
Not always grumpy!!
insomaniac45's Avatar
UK, Eastleigh, Eastleigh
Joined Jul 2010
640 Posts
your balsa experiance has shone through on her, very clean, beautiful lines, welcome to the foamie family

im glad she flew well for you, she does look like she handles very gracefully
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Latest blog entry: Merry Christmas to all.
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Old Mar 10, 2011, 07:55 PM
Registered User
Houston, TX USA
Joined Jun 2001
366 Posts
Thanks for the kind words everybody. I wanted to see how well it flew and how sturdy it was before deciding how much time and weight to spend on cosmetics. I am satisfied on both counts, so color, decals and a pilot (with scarf) are next. I haven't decided whether to paint it or cover it with SoLite.

My next plane is going to be one of the SE 5's German contemporaries, a Fokker DVII. Same scale, same construction and same motor as the SE 5. It will be intersting to see how their flight characteristics compare.
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