DARE Design and Engineering offers a unique Speed 400 twin that doesn't adhere to the "icon warbird" formula for sales. Their C-119 Flying Boxcar flies on the edge of the ordinary veteran aircraft formation. The "dollar nineteen" has seen varied and widespread use both in the U.S. and abroad, including roles as aerial fire fighters. I like S400 twins and things out of the ordinary, and Dare's balsa rendition seemed to fit both bills. <strong>Updated</strong>
By Jim Babcock |
260 sq. in. (1677cm2)
37 oz. (1049g)
19.7 oz./sq.ft. (60.10 g/sq.dm.)
2 ea. 6-volt S400 motors
24 to 30 amp. w/bec (FMA30 used)
3 channel, aileron, elevator, and throttle
1000 to 1200 mAh 8-cell
Graupner 6.5-4 semi-scale w/adapters
3 ea. Cirrus CS-21BB micro
JR241 6 channel micro
DARE Design and Engineering offers a unique Speed 400 twin that doesn't adhere to the "icon warbird" formula for sales. Their C-119 Flying Boxcar kit flies on the edge of the ordinary veteran aircraft formation. Designed in the late forties as follow-on to the C-82 Packet-Plane, the "dollar nineteen" has seen varied and widespread use both in the U.S. and abroad. Many configurations and schemes are available to the modeler. Fairchild's large and utilitarian twin has been used in the military as a cargo-hauler, troopship, paratroop drop platform, satellite retriever, and gunship. In civilian life, the 119 found use as an aerial fire fighter. I like S400 twins, and I like things out of the ordinary. DARE's balsa rendition seemed to fit both bills.
The kit comes with two 22" X 35" full-size plan sheets. You get four pages of typed instructions and four sheets of part identification. Vacuform parts for the cockpit, tail cone, and cowlings are supplied. The balsa is laser cut and falls from the sheets. All hardware is present and neatly bagged.
The veritable forest of 3/32" stringer sticks leaves no question that this is a bulkhead and stringer construction model. First off, the instructions tasked me with labeling all parts before removing the pieces from the sheets. This is necessary, as they aren't stamped, there are no construction photos, and I'm stupid. You can build the 119 in one piece. You can build it with removable out wing panels. Alternatively, you can make a one-piece wing/nacelle assembly with a removable center fuselage pod.
After marking the parts and pieces, I began with the tail sections. These are simple plank balsa and offer few problems. Next came the clamshell tail-cone. This is made up from two vacuformed plastic pieces glued to a balsa frame. This tail-cone has four small dowels that allow it to be slid back and off the fuselage with a resistance fit. It allows for access to the inside of the pod if you are equipped with very small wrists. When I saw the size of this opening and how far forward in the battery would sit, I decided to make the center fuselage/pod removable from a one-piece wing and boom assembly, thus providing two points of access to the innards. The fuselage was next, and it is bulkhead and stringer all the way.
Built in two halves, it is later capped with a solid balsa nose and skinned with 1/20th balsa. The 3/32nd stringers provide the shape, and the skin gives it strength. Finally, a large vacuformed cockpit finishes it off. The 1/20th balsa skin job proved surprisingly troublesome, even though the pod is little more than a streamlined box.
Even wetting and steaming the balsa sheet, I still came up with some flat spots, and I hoped the covering material would later hide the surface irregularities.
Finally, I added a piece of flooring with a battery tray and the ubiquitous Velcro retaining strip. Next came the twin (fuselage) booms. These are built much like the center pod, very similar to any Guillow or Sterling free-flight kit. I made sure, as per the instructions, to make both a left and a right as the plans only show one boom side view. These also received 1/20th sheet skinning, but not before adding the elevator servo and push rod to the right hand boom.
The rear ends of each boom caused me some apprehension, as the plans are none too clear on the area of the stabilizer slots. As it turned out, I did it wrong, and had to do some stringer surgery before sheeting to get my sticks in order. Either DARE could consider adding some construction photos to the plans, or I could refrain from watching football when building.
The same surface irregularities I had on the pod showed up on the boom skins, so at least I had symmetry. I found that wetting down the skin sections and rubber banding them to a paint can while drying helped with some compound curves but I never did get it totally smooth.
The wing is tackled next, beginning with the center section. Instead of bulkhead and stringer, it is rib and sheeting, and like all previous sections, it is built over the plans. The center section has a slight inverted gull shape, and it was a bit of a struggle to get it right. Because of the gull shape, several small panels of skin are applied, and great care must be taken to keep things square. If you did want removable outer wing panels, the necessary aluminum tubing (provided) would have to be installed before the final sheeting. Before sheeting, I also installed drag string (actually ribbon) in the rib holes where the motor wires and servo leads would later need to pass. I also enlarged the holes provided in the wing ribs for these wires. I wanted to avoid my usually frustrations involved with having to fish these wires through unseen holes and ribs after the model had been assembled.
The outer wing panels are next, and are easier by comparison. The only trick here was to use the provided balsa washout gauge to build in the required wing twist. The ailerons have their own skeletal framework and don't require sectioning from the full structure. Before sheeting the bottom of each panel, the servos are attached with silicone to the underside of the top skin and a box built around them.
A problem arose later when I attached the ailerons. Since they were skinned separate (flat) from the wing, they did not have the washout twist built in. The inboard end of each aileron was flush but the outboard tip was lower than the wing trailing edge. Once hinged with Ultracote, I had a devil of a time ironing in a twist to match the wing. After mating the wing sections, I installed a normal front dowel-rear nylon screw hold-down connection to the center fuselage pod. The fuselage wing saddle front bulkhead is plywood and has been pre-drilled for this. There is also a corresponding tray at the back of the wing saddle rear pod area that holds a 4/40 nylon bolt/nut retainer.
The cowlings are rather substantial vacuformed plastic. The firewalls are glued directly to the inside front of each of these. Two circular plywood cowl-attach firewalls are glued to the front of each boom/nacelle. The plans don't really say, but the obvious assumption is that you glue the cowl/motor assembly on to the nacelle-mounted firewall. Instead, I glued small hardwood cleats to these firewalls in three places. I fastened my cowls to these with 2/56 screws. This allows on/off motor access, and by enlarging the bottom screw hole, I can pivot the cowls to make small adjustments to the motor thrust angles.
The instructions only suggest covering before assembly, and I don't argue with that. I'd hate to cover this model in one piece. I used Ultracote multi-temp covering. This newest generation Ultracote can be applied at very low heat settings, and with all the compound curves of the C-119, I wanted a forgiving material.
I chose an aerial fire-fighting tanker paint scheme, like the five C-119's that were operated by Aero Union Corp in the 1970's. The paint scheme was very colorful and high visibility, which is a definite bonus as my eye's age. My model became "Tanker 14" contracted in the "C" (Arizona) area of operations.
Late in their fire careers, most C-119's were retrofitted with an auxiliary J-34 jet pod mounted on top of the fuselage above the wing center section. These upside down pylon mounted power pods had been lifted from under the wings of mothballed P2V-7 Neptunes. Their thrust provided a much needed safety factor on hot and heavy operations. I figured I would make my model without a representative jet pod, see if it flew and how well. Perhaps I will build one later, maybe even incorporating a Jetex motor or small rocket for scale launch assistance and to offset the added drag. Such are the dreams of a modeler.
Final assembly was basically an eyeball affair. Nothing is built into the model's structure to assist the builder in knowing exactly where to glue the fuselage booms on the wing. The plans show that the booms are mounted at a point near where the center section meets the outer panels, but not everything transfers with a tape measure. I used the stabilizer width as my gauge. With it seated into the tail ends of the nacelles as far as it would go, I then slid the booms down along the wing the until they were the same distance apart as the stab. I tried to make sure the center of each boom was the same distance from the fuselage. I bet I invested at least three nights doing nothing more than checking angles and distances of nacelle to wing tip, prop shaft to prop shaft, tail cone to tail cone, tail cone to table, and wing tip to tail cone. I had specially cut balsa "measuring" strips running from every ending point and angle on that model. All three of my tape measures were draped at intersecting angles down fuselages, booms, and tails. It looked a lot like bullet travel lines in a multiple shot crime scene on CBS's CSI. Some of my building irregularities hampered my quest for some structural equidistant harmony, but I eventually got it to a point that at least looked square.
The very first line of the instructions says, "The C-119, though a fairly complex airplane, really isn't hard to build." I found it was only complex when I came to a point that wasn't covered in the instructions. Many times, I was left to a guess. Nowhere was this more evident than with the final assembly. Before covering, the plans say to temporarily assemble the uncovered model and mark the locations for all structures while checking fit. Since I had covered everything, even had I done this, I obviously would not have been able to find the marks through the Ultracote. There was also the point at which I had finished the wing when the instructions said to temporarily hook up the ailerons with tape hinges to the servos and test this system. That's all well and good until later when you attempt to slide the nacelles on the wing and realize they can't slide over your beautifully installed aileron push rods and glued in control horns. Oh well, back to construction. My problem with assembling already covered components is that in order to glue balsa to balsa, I have to measure and cut strips of covering away. I don't like slicing little strips off of the wings, nacelles, tails and the like, since I always seem to end up having little uncovered areas showing everywhere after it goes together. I decided to glue the Ultracote cover components together with canopy glue in the places that fit snug and to use clear silicone where they didn't. Both are clear and show very little when dry or cured.
After assembly, I had only to pull the motor wires and servo leads through the wing via my previously placed pull ribbons. The motors are wired in parallel and screwed into the firewalls, and then the motor/cowl assembly gets three screws in the nacelle firewall to attach the cleats. Next, I re-hooked up the aileron and elevator push rods and tried the controls, again, then mounted the receiver on the under surface of the wing center section. The speed control and battery connect wiring just hang down into the fuselage from the wing bottom. To arm the power system, I will just pull off the tail cone and hit the switch on the dangling FMA 30 esc. I suppose it would be possible to get at the battery through the rear hatch, but since the opening is so small and the battery so far in, I think I will be removing the wing to remove the battery. Perhaps I will just leave the battery in the model when I cool and recharge it.
When I had it all together, I put the battery in to achieve the CG shown on the plans. The battery weighs 12.6 ounces with leads, and using that mass, I had only to slide it 3/4 of an inch forward of the plan stipulated battery location to get CG as recommended. Thank Heaven I didn't have to add nose weight. The fuselage is so roomy that the battery can be moved quite a distance in either direction. Speaking of weighing things, without the battery, but with everything else, my model weighed 27 ounces. I felt this was very respectable considering the size, construction, and complexity of this kit. However, when my feeble mind added the 12.6 oz. battery weight to this figure, I was discouraged to realize my 119 was 2.6 ounces overweight. I don't ever seem to be able to achieve the weight a manufacturer does. Perhaps if I had clipped off the excess battery, ESC lead, and servo lead lengths, I might have save a little. I have a little extra weight in motor wire, because I wanted the extra length to be able to pull out the motors. I also told myself I could save even more by using a 1000 mAh pack, or better yet, buy a nickel hydride lightweight pack, but in the end, I decided to go with it the way it was for now. DARE says it will fly at 37 ounces, and I hoped it would at 39.6!
The full scale C-119 had a series of porthole like windows down the fuselage length, so for the sake of historical accuracy and cooling air, I drilled nine 1/4" holes down each side. They make passable window representations and will at least vent some battery BTU's.
As I admired the finished product, I began to forget that my boxcar was overweight. It is a distinctive model to say the least, and it looked like it might just work. I figured I would get the camera and perhaps my Mark Rittinger designed P2V-7 for pictures and comparison, and worry about flying later.
On a 1 to10 scale, I'd rate the DARE C-119 a 6 or 7 in construction design. I'd give it a similar rating for instructions, and an 8 for finished product potential. That said, I'm sure that DARE might be tempted to rate my abilities as a modeler in the 5 to 6 range. The C-119 is not terribly scale, especially in the cockpit area, and it only hints at the "boxiness" of the full size machine. Nit-picking aside, in the final analysis, it is a very attractive and exciting model, and as usual with me, I knew that if it flew successfully my evaluation of it would climb proportionately.
Readers might have noticed that I did not mention the kit recommended control throw settings in the previous text. The reason for that was threefold. Partly this was due to the fact that these settings are on the plans and not in the instructions and therefore received little of my attention, and secondly because I usually have more throw than I should on most of my models. (If some is good, a lot must be better, right?) Finally, the control horns are wood and come with the kit, and I figured they were designed specifically for the throws DARE expected. In other words, I did not pay attention and screwed up.
The weekend came and I grabbed a volunteer photographer. We marched into my overgrown field of flying dreams for the first launch. There was very little breeze, perhaps 1 to 3 mph, at most. "Tail cone off, switch on, tail cone back on, all 'flippy' things moving freely", went the checklist. I went to full power and released, and wow, release it was, as there was no need to throw this model! The C-119 climbed like a monkey. But not just a monkey, also a porpoise, that's it, a monkey-porpoise, and holy moley, it was all over the sky at something just slightly less than mach one. When my it reached an altitude of sufficient magnitude to allow thought over panic, I realized the problem. I shut the motors down to test my theory, and sure enough, the C-119 calmed down a little. Without all that prop wash moving over the elevator, I was no longer over controlling to a point of possible structural failure. I knew that the first flight would be only a confirmation of my guess. The more the little missile galloped over my field, the more obvious it was that I needed to change the control throws, especially the elevator! I executed one long final circuit from high above in a power off glide to return my prize to the tall dead weeds. With the power off (and heartbeat near normal again), I was able to enjoy and marvel at the distance this model could travel sans power. Before making any more flights, there was a small intermission to allow changing the control throw percentages on my JR radio. After some experimentation, it ended up at 45% for the elevator and 70% for the ailerons.
That translated to a little less that 1/4-inch travel on all surfaces. With my stupidity out of the way, it was easy to evaluate my 119. It is very fast! (Don't blame the photographer if the pictures are bad.) I think it would fly okay with 7.2-volt motors. Perhaps a little more scale and less like a pylon racer. The 2.6 ounces excess weight in my model seemed not to matter. As far as maneuverability goes, take it from me, you can rip the tail off, if that is your thing. The flight duration with the aforementioned 8-cell 1200-mah battery pack allowed at least four minutes of full power flight. However, judging duration on my first flights might be misleading due to the near panic control and throttle inputs I was providing.
My 119 made a lot of noise. The motors/props really howled, plus there seemed to be a hollow resonance sound coming from the fuselage or boom/cowl assemblies at full chat. I don't know why I mention this noise; I was just surprised how loud it was. Perhaps my fuselage pod window/cooling holes had acted like an aerial flute!
It will glide a very long way, but it lands at a very sedate pace. Stalls were easy, and it fell off to the right each time. I doubt that wing is heavy. It's probably more a case of being rigged incorrectly during construction. More than likely, one of my bullet path measuring sticks was incorrectly spaced during assembly.
I was happy about the paint scheme I had chosen. Tracking the model wasn't a problem, even at altitude. (And pinball flight) It is a very distinct shape in the sky and fun to watch.
I have a well-worn Jim Ryan P-38 I've been campaigning for 250+ flights, and this model tends to be my benchmark for comparison. The C-119 is much faster at very similar weights. The 38 has more wing area, but the 119 seems to be more maneuverable, even with correct control throws! Both models glide and land at about the same speeds. The P-38 was easier to build, is quieter in the air, and feels more solid. The C-119 is sexier, but it does not convey the somewhat ponderous flight characteristics I remember from its full size brethren. Overall, however, I'm very happy with the DARE C-119. We'll see how it compares to the 38's longevity! I may yet add the cosmetic jet pod, but I don't think it will be necessary to use auxiliary jet-ex or rocket thrust!
When a good friend ran MotoCalc info for me on the Dollar Nineteen, it became obvious the 6-volt motors, large props, 8-cell pack, and three servos all added up to watts a little too close to the rating of the FMA 30.
I immediately switch it out to one that will handle 40 amps, and I would advise anyone else building this model (per manufacturer suggestions) to do the same!
Also, please see the pictures above of the newly added "jetpac", non-functional white foam to be sure. No adverse flight characteristics have been noticed.