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Posted by UpNup | Nov 18, 2021 @ 07:15 PM | 11,407 Views
Building, flying, and competing with RC scale planes takes time and money. As the year winds down, I'm trying to finish a Nakajima B5N2 Kate by December 7, when 80 years ago that plane led the attack on Pearl Harbor. Matsuo Fuchida, the attack leader, accepted Christ after the war. It's a pride thing that this is my first scratch build from my own plans. It's been challenging, but I've learned a lot.

The Lord has brought Proverbs 28:19* to mind as I press toward my self-imposed deadline. The verse is a good warning and has caused a check in my walk with Jesus. The Fellowship of Christian Modelers (fcmodelers.com) is one organization that exists to help modelers improve their relationship with God and those they love. Being well-balanced requires hard work, a certain life-vigilance, and places this great hobby in its place behind our Lord, job, and family. (FCM is free to join.)

*"A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies ends up in poverty" (Proverbs 28:19).
Posted by UpNup | Nov 16, 2021 @ 11:20 AM | 6,266 Views
Control rods went in my plane today. Here’s what I did and you can, too.

For a 68” wingspan scale plane like, use 1/16” metal rods with adjustable clevises on the ends and a strong wooden rod 1/4” in diameter in the middle. (Think flag stick.) Make one for an elevator and the other for a rudder.

The metal wires were angled 90° and epoxied into holes drilled through the wooden sticks. Next, I ran thick thread across the ends. Finally, I CA’d the threads to the wire and wood.

My tests show no wobbles for the 26” runs. I don’t really like the rods being 1/8” apart, but they don’t touch.

UPDATE: Wooden rods can shrink and swell over time as they absorb moisture or dry out. These 26" lengths have about 14" of dowel rod exposed. These are okay and work well on this scale of a plane, but still expect some trim changes over the years. For a plane much larger, I'd recommend pull-pull controls.
Posted by UpNup | Nov 12, 2021 @ 08:11 PM | 6,417 Views
Several years ago a lady sold me her 800° high temp soldering iron. She used it to make stained glass windows. I used it to make landing gear wires until this week.

In my original plans for a scratchbuilt Nakajima B5N2 Kate, I really wanted to have internal controls for at least the rudder and elevator. I studied Zero RC plans.

My version uses a brass control horn below the elevator and a brass control horn for the rudder buried deep in the tail just above the elevator. The brass is from a discarded electrical wall outlet.

Then I messed up. I got the elevator done, but the rudder control would stick out of the fuselage. I bit the bullet and cut out a path for the control horn to be soldered 3/4” lower. I dreaded how this would be soldered. However, after lining everything up, the whole change took just 2 seconds. Zoop! The solder softened and I used the soldering wand to slide the brass arm just 3/4”. It was easy to plug the “hole” I had made with 1/8” balsa sheet.
Posted by UpNup | Oct 29, 2021 @ 04:21 PM | 18,652 Views
A year ago I bought what I thought was a German WW2 plastic model by Tamiya. It was at an estate sale for just $.25. They retail for at least $40. It was just an old box of sprue. Well, this past June when I attended a scale model show, I bought this 1:48 scale version of the Do335A-12 trainer that the allies called Anteater.

But the Swastica and what it stood for bugged me. Tamiya had included the decal for it in the kit. So I researched if the plane had ever been captured. It was! The U.S. Army found two nearly finished, marked it, and flew one to England. The RAF marked over the US insignia.

Just something different. In this kit build, I tried to upgrade my airbrush skills and masking a very specific pattern. Masking two cockpit canopies was difficult. This build was strictly out of the box, so I used the decal seat belts, but I hand painted the instrument panel. I used some pastel chalk on the engine exhaust stains and wheels. I also hand painted over the German marking with a small brush and olive drab paint.

So, at one point I had a perfectly good German Warbird. However, I kept going. I tried to simulate the Allies using their color of paint abs nothing sprayed on. I held my breath when I applied the British decals right over the US star. They stuck just fine with no slivering. There is some bleed through on the marking and that was intentional....Continue Reading
Posted by UpNup | Oct 26, 2021 @ 08:51 PM | 9,922 Views
Each build has its own needs, but here are some essentials for anyone building balsa scale models.

Hobby knife, microsaw, metal straight edge, scissors, rotary tool, screwdrivers, level, drill, and also cutting mat, sanding blocks, Titebond II, CA, straight pins, adjustable light, and a work bench.

As an addendum, let me add some items essential for some but not all:
:: an 800 watt soldering iron was essential for landing gear. I got it for only $10 from a lady who worked on stained glass
:: canopy glue is incredible stuff
:: an iron for Monokote
:: CorrisionX for float planes

Whew! What did I miss?
Posted by UpNup | Oct 02, 2021 @ 11:00 AM | 10,828 Views
How do you maintain focus on a long building project? Flying and family? There are a number of opportunities that come up during the year:

1. Fly, crash, and repair. This can lead to a shelf full of damaged and almost-ready-to-fly tweak jobs. Some guys keep wrecked foamies in the trunk or van, but these are hard to see adding up.

2. The Long Building Slog -- a complex building project that just won't quit. I'm slugging it out with a Nakajima B5N2 Kate 1/9 scale. I don't have anyone to blame but myself. And I've also begun plans for a Seabear L-72, but that's hit or miss.

3. God, family, job, and friends -- these are huge life priorities. Our daughter bought a house in Nashville this summer and has required lots of travel time. Then you know the drill being active in my church, married to a wonderful wife (40 years! Woohoo!) and a father turning 91 soon, having an incredible job, and friends. And I'm not even going into ballgames that I occasionally catch. At least I can watch them on my phone while I'm at my workbench.

4. Good causes -- I've recently joined the Fellowship of Christian Modelers (www.fcmodelers.com) and have been planning how to man a booth at a competition. This is a good national club that offers prayer and support as well as a newsletter.

5. Plastic models -- I try to make a plastic model of the planes I plan to build. I joined a local hobby club and I keep winning plastic planes. I have taken a break from building RC to build a 1/48...Continue Reading
Posted by UpNup | Sep 09, 2021 @ 09:30 PM | 13,435 Views
One of my favorite WW2 stories came from the end of the Battle of Saipan (the D-day of the Pacific). After 240 American planes had been launched in late afternoon to find the Japanese fleet, they had a long return flight back to their aircraft carriers.

Then the sun set.

Many planes ran out of fuel and had to ditch into a dark sea. All the pilots were desperate.

Then several destroyers steamed ahead of the fleet to meet them. They were instructed to break all wartime protocol and turn on brilliant spotlights that pointed the way to the carriers.

The pilots saw the lights pointing home. 99 planes and 46 crew members didn't make it home that night, but the others found their way thanks to the spotlights.

Jesus said for His followers to be the "light of the world." We must keep pointing the only way Home through Jesus.
Posted by UpNup | Aug 07, 2021 @ 01:30 PM | 33,760 Views
Just a quick report on finishing the 68" wingspan of my 1/9 scale Nakajima B5N2 "Kate" from scratch and my own plans. It has a .60 motor.
The wing took 60 hours and about eight weeks through the summer due largely to working on itmaybe 8 hours each week and having a vacation in there and a business trip, too.

Changes from the original plans:
1. Plastic horns were fabricated from old credit cards and an ID plastic card. These were wedged between hard balsa aileron rib ends.
2. The wing tie-downs were close to the plans, but bigger. Once I found the 1/4"-20X1" nylon bolts at Lowes, then I could see the original perspective was too small.
3. The servos I bought were huge compared to what I had originally planned. I had to reposition everything. And worst for me, I had to relocate the holes in the 1/8" thick light ply hatches. I also decided to epoxy the servos to the hatches. (I covered them with packing tape before gluing.)
4. The tongue for the wing to the fuse had to be redesigned since I'm keeping a central set of ribs to strengthen the wings.
5. The 8 degree dihedral on the wings was difficult to match left and right. I am within about 1/16" of an inch matching wing height.

One of the other slow-downs is that I'm trying to correct the plans as I go. At least every other week, I jump on the electronic version of the plans (done in PowerPoint) and make some tweak.

Building a plane from scratch is much more difficult...Continue Reading
Posted by UpNup | Jul 10, 2021 @ 12:54 PM | 5,552 Views
After five months building a Nakajima B5N2 "Kate," I think I'm about halfway in for me. I have a full-time job, but the weather has been really lousy in Ohio and it provides more bench time. I try to work at least an hour each night and about three to four hours on the weekend.

Here are some insights:
1. Reality bites: This build is the first using my own plans and boy am I humbled. It is so easy to draw plans into software. But in the 3D real world, a polyhedral wing that has 8 degrees dihedral on the outer sections has to bring reality into play at some point. The great news is that I am really good at admitting my mistakes and re-doing a rib here and former there and updating my plans.

2. Measure: I've joked that I measure twice, go to bed, wait another day, measure again, and then cut once, then sand for fit. I don't think I'd be a very good carpenter given my skills at mitering joints. But I've done some daring-do with these plans. The LE starts off at 3/4" wide in the middle and taper at the dihedral breaks down to 1/2". If you've built wings, you know that I am way past the point of sanity here. The good news? The 64" WS wings are level and the wingtips rise just right to hit my 4" mark. Okay, one does. The other is 1/8" and I can sleep at night.

3. It takes Perseverance: Making changes, creating a mess, coming back and seeing a glued rib leaning to one side, and other forms of modeling mayhem may continue to plague a...Continue Reading
Posted by UpNup | May 31, 2021 @ 09:09 AM | 24,386 Views
My wife and visited the National Air Force Museum in Dayton, Oh. When making a scale Warbird model, there’s no place better. I’ve visited there for a P-51B and an F-15B.

There are no intact WW2-era Nakajima B5N2 Kates to view, so I got photos of the Zero and George. There were details on these planes that will transpose to my scale model: thin window frames and fabric on control surfaces for starters.

Here are some photos....Continue Reading
Posted by UpNup | May 21, 2021 @ 07:39 PM | 27,623 Views
It’s tough to say when I begin a new build! I dream it out for quite a while. I have to budget. Research can be fun, but laborious at times. And this time I developed my own plans. This project is electric and from scratch as much as possible.

I have a build log underway. See it here:

When I developed the plans for a Nakajima B5N2, it took months. I actually got burned out on it last November and built another plane.

Now, I’m ready. Here’s some progress to date in photos....Continue Reading
Posted by UpNup | May 08, 2021 @ 09:50 AM | 6,407 Views
Completed a 1/48 Scale Revell T-6G Texan. I got this 1991 kit for $6.00 at an estate sale last summer.

It is to honor Russell O'Quinn, God's test pilot. Russ learned how to fly much earlier, but he had to take lessons in a plane just like this at Hondo AFB west of San Antonio, Texas. I weathered mine by griming it up a bit because in 1949, dirt and dust was a constant there. I do plastic models so that one day if and when I make an RC version, I have a good resource for reference.

Russ went on to test and even design jets for the USAF. His testimony is outstanding! I can highly recommend this recording:

Love Worth Finding: Russell O'Quinn Testimony [#30601] (47 min 13 sec)
...Continue Reading
Posted by UpNup | Apr 28, 2021 @ 08:37 PM | 6,595 Views
Today it was great to get the proper screws in the mail and bolt the rings in place. She looks good too and bottom. Now it’s time to get tweaking on CG and throws.

It for today I’ll enjoy the Direct Connection FA-18 Blue Angel converted to my friend’s F-15 in Langley tail flash and from glow to electric. It was a huge challenge, it worth the build.

53” WS, 59” long
.80 Rimfire motor
100 ESC
Posted by UpNup | Apr 12, 2021 @ 01:08 PM | 8,986 Views
My Airfield Tempest 800mm (31”) Warbird would just never fly right. It only had one battery and a dedicated Tx that took 8 AA batteries. When it did a destructive nose dive it had enough cracks and bent motor shaft that I was done with it.

The electronics came out easily enough. It was like stripping out the nervous system of some kind of dead robot. The control rods were very long and thin. The ESC was more like a motherboard. However I was impressed with the multiple inputs on the receiver and the string servers.
Posted by UpNup | Apr 09, 2021 @ 03:34 PM | 8,057 Views
Lost my Carl Goldberg Electra in a gust. Hit a tree which sheared off the firewall forward. Then it glided into a nearby tree where it jammed into place 45’ up for four days and through one thunderstorm. .

Footballs thrown at it broke the fin/rudder. 50’ of 1 1/4” PVC jabbing at it just made me tired. What worked to bring it down was a golf ball taped to mason string. An underhanded slingshot throw wrapped around the offending limb. A few minutes of yanking on the limb finally brought her down.

She should be good to go in an hour or two. It’s one of the advantages of being a model-maker!
Posted by UpNup | Apr 03, 2021 @ 04:16 PM | 7,223 Views
Here’s how to put a watermark on your airplane wing.

1. Decide if your wing is gloss, satin, or matte finish. Choose the opposite clear spray. My wing was covered in dull gray Monokote, which is more satin. I chose a rattle can spray that had a chalk dry look. The best for this is Testors Dullcoat.

2. Develop a design on paper. Imagine that it’s a negative. Cut it out and size to fit on the wing. I really like the Jesus fish (Ichthus).

3. Tape down what you can. I intentionally cut 1/4” gaps and filled them using blue painters masking tape. This helped provide some adhesion for the paper over the Monokote.

4. Spray the design right on to the wing and let dry.

5. Carefully peel back the tape and paper mask. Voila!
Posted by UpNup | Mar 27, 2021 @ 07:12 PM | 13,129 Views
Gave some attitude to the red rubber pilot that came with my PZ Extra 300. Reflective visor was from a Twix candy bar wrapper. Straps were silver duct tape. Photos were printed from the cockpit of a real Extra 300. Paint: Tamiya gray primer, Rustoleum gloss black, Testors purple and orange. Canopy glue.

Don’t miss the pattern call sheet on the instrument panel.
Posted by UpNup | Mar 26, 2021 @ 06:38 PM | 14,425 Views
The Parkzone Extra 300 manual included settings for Exponential plus high and low rates. Given some reports about this plane being twitchy and quick, I thought addressing the settings would be wise. I also set the Throttle Cut on A. I plan to fly on low rates.
Posted by UpNup | Mar 23, 2021 @ 08:50 AM | 11,106 Views
Buying planes is so much fun! My daughter's boyfriend sold me his Sig LT-40 and got me into RC planes. I have a friend who loves antiquing. He's found a prop jet for me for $200 that has been a learning experience, for sure. I found a Carl Goldberg Electra powered glider uncovered balsa frame in an antique mall for just $25. And I've seen a Jetco Navigator with fuel stains all the way back to the elevator for sale for $400 "firm." (I ran away from that one.) FB Marketplace had a Nitroplanes Long EZ near my parent's home that I quickly bought. And just last week I found a Parkzone Extra 300 in excellent shape from a guy living just 10 minutes away.

I've picked up some tips. Keep in mind even if you want to convert to electric like I do, there's money in the old glow engines (I sold a .91 Super Tigre and tuned pipe for 57% of what I paid for the whole plane. Hobby shops aren't the only place guys sell planes. Look on FB Marketplace, Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, etc. Buyer beware, but with some careful analysis, I think you'll have a good experience.

Here's my checklist that I've been cutting and pasting into for a couple of years. I appreciate all the wisdom passed along!

Throw the battery out and get a new one. Lipos, NiCad, watch battery, AA's, AAA's, etc.
Hand turn the prop to check for compression and other bad feelings.
Look for signs of pitting and rust in the piston/engine
Dirt in the carb
Replace the glow plug
Check for stripped servo gears
...Continue Reading
Posted by UpNup | Mar 19, 2021 @ 09:39 PM | 17,592 Views
Today I purchased a very used Parkzone Extra 300. It was produced around 2010 as a BNF ($230) and PNP ($185). I got it for $60 through FB Marketplace from a guy that lived just 10 minutes from me.

Walt Extra, a German, developed the Full scale Aircraft. The RC version is 1/7.9 scale. Dimensions:
Length: 22 ft 8 in // 36.8”
Wingspan: 26 ft 3 in // 40.6”

The RC plane was reviewed and discussed many times. Some people got a version that flew better with the wings bolted on upside down. This plane has an AR600 receiver. The AR500 that originally came with it was discontinued because of multiple failures. The seller threw in an Orange receiver.


My $60 version of the plane had a new cowl. The replacement cowl did not have silver and purple trim, but I’m working on that. It had a bloated 3S 2200 Lipo that had to be coaxed out of its cramped cubby hole. Both orange wheel pants were long gone. The cigarette smell was knocked down by Windex.

After binding, all the Servos and control surfaces seem to be working great. The “15-size” motor and custom 10.5 x 5e prop seem very strong.

The seller was not the original owner. I applaud him for selling it when he realized that electrics were not for him. He was a balsa builder / glow engine flyer and was glad to get it into the hands of an electrics guy.

Update: Sanded and repainted the scuffed spinner. Found an orange Sharpie and touched up the scuffed places. Upgraded wheels from 1 3/4” to 2 1/4” foam. Painted orange sections black on the bottom side.