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Jun 14, 2009, 02:14 PM
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Build Log

Peter Rake's Pachyderm - A Martinsyde Elephant build


Arrival of a lovely package of laser cut bits from Charlie and Vickie at Manzano has finally eliminate all excuses and I have dedicated the rest of this day to making serious progress on my project to build and document the latest Peter Rake design - a WW I Martinsyde G100 Elephant.

As with most Peter Rake designs, the average enthusiast is forced to do a search - whether on the internet or in their library to determine what a G100 Elephant is (or was). The Elephant is firmly entrenched in the second tier of British WW I types and yet, it was a very interesting design with good looks, a relatively long service life and some successes during the war.

Designed in 1915, the Elephant was a fairly large airplane at the time and, although a single seat, with the appearence of a fighter, the Elephant was really a "scout" or reconnaissance airplane. The true fighter type had not really appeared at the time of the Elephant's design and the Elephant was more closely related to types such as the Bristol Scout than to later fighter types. As such, the Elephant owed its size to the need for long range and a large fuel capacity which gave it an endurance of 5 1/2 hours - pretty good for the time. The Elephant also had a capability as a bomber and saw much of its use in this role.

The prototype G100 arrived in France in the Fall of 1915 and began to equip squadrons in early 1916. No. 27 squadron was perhaps the most successful operator of the type and the only squadron to be fully equipped with the Elephant. The Elephant also saw use in the Middle East and was being used in a combat role as late as 1919 which was a pretty good length of service for the time. Elephants saw some success in the fighter role and were equipped with an over wing Lewis gun in the style of the time. Less typical was the use of a jury-rigged Lewis gun for rear defense which had to be operated by the pilot while flying the aircraft. The Elephant was slower than most fighter types and lacked the rear defensive gunner that was typical of other reconnaissance and bomber types. The rearward firing gun was an attempt to provide some rearward protection and, apparently, some pilots were pretty good at flying and defending themselves at the same time.

The Elephant was gone by 1919 and none are preserved. The most lasting legacy of the Elephant is the fact that No. 27 squadron preserved their WW I "Elephant" squadron badge which has been retained to this day and was recently chugging around on 27 Sq. Chinook helicopters. A bit earlier, it was seen on 27 Sq. Tornados and Vulcan bombers. Only a few other WW I types have been so honored (Camel and Dolphin).
Last edited by Gerry Markgraf; Jun 14, 2009 at 08:59 PM.
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Jun 14, 2009, 02:25 PM
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The first order of business was to do some research. A good library is a great help - although nowadays, the internet provides a tremendous amount of information at little cost. There are a number of publications that have good information about the Elephant and I was surprised to find that I had 2 publications that were devoted solely to the Elephant. They were the old Profile Publications issue number 200 "The Martinsyde Elephant" by J. M. Bruce and the Windsock Datafile No. 70 "Martinsyde Elephant" by (surprise) J. M. Bruce. The Profile Publication is very hard to find today, but the Windsock Datafile should be easy to locate and, comparing the two, I find little change in the text between the two. The Windsock Datafile is excellent and contains all of the information you will ever need about the Elephant. It is highly recommended if you are going to build this model.

Gerry
Jun 14, 2009, 02:33 PM
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Pete was keeping me informed as he proceeded on the design of the Elephant, so I was able to start planning and ordering materials I would need. The powerplant recommended by Pete was the AXI 2814, but he allowed that an Eflite Park 480 would be an acceptable substitute. I've had good experiences with Eflite products, so I went that way and ordered the motor which arrived in time for me to compare with Pete's drawings.

Gerry
Jun 14, 2009, 02:49 PM
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I'm a bit of a markings nut and interesting, accurate markings are a priority on any model I build. This used to be a problem as it took a lot of masking and painting to duplicate the markings of most scale models. Usually, the markings provided by a kit were poor and inaccurate while after market decals and markings were also limited in scope and usually very poor.

Then I discovered Callie and scale modeling has been a dream ever since. I haven't built a single non-scale sport model since discovering Callie about 3 years ago. Callie is fast, unbelievably cheap, her markings and colors are accurate (providing you give her accurate information) and she has a real feel for the aircraft and how the markings will be applied. I tell my wife that Callie is the second most important woman in my life.

Having said all of that, an early order of business on the Elephant was to order markings from Callie and I asked her to do a 27 Sq. bird with the little "Elephant" squadron marking on the side. One bit of detail that seemed to be unique to the Elephant was very intricate little re-enforcing plates at the junction of the wing fuselage struts and the landing gear struts. I thought about doing these in plastic sheet, but realized I could get a better effect by having Callie do them in vinyl. If you look closely at the vinyl sheet, you can see the little detail bits that will really help the model look the part.

Foe those not familiar with Callie, I will inform you that she charged me about $25.00 shipped for these markings. That is remarkable considering she had to do the computer artwork, cut the vinyl, package it and ship it. Plus, the turnaround time is about 1 week and, whenever I screw up (often) she can provide replacements in no time.
Jun 14, 2009, 02:54 PM
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I receive the plans from Peter a few weeks ago and decided to start building a little while awaiting the laser cut parts from Manzano. The horizontal tail surfaces were simple and required little in the way or parts other than strip stock. I really wanted the build to primarily use the laser bits so I could prove out the cut files; so the horizontal stab and elevators remained the only built part while I awaited the rest of the kit.

Gerry
Jun 14, 2009, 03:12 PM
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Anticipation started rising when I got an e-mail notice from Vickie that a package was on its way. I got the package a couple of days later - a bit dented and bedraggled, but all inside was OK.

I love to open a new laser kit. That burnt wood smell that I used to associate with wood burning sets (remember those?) is intoxicating. It is so satisfying to receive a package full of absolutely accurate parts all cut out of balsa and ply without having to spends days cutting and chopping to acheive far less satisfactory results. I am old enough to remember breaking a Guilette "Blue Blade" in half so I could use it to cut out all of the printed sheet parts for my latest modeling project. I remember peeling loose bits of skin from my shredded thumb that was always cut up from the sharp edges of the blade. I remember the sting when glue and other irritants attacked my poor thumb and the pain of peeling glue and skin away at the same time. I know there are those who enjoy cutting out their own parts, but I've been there, and for me, this is much better.

Even so, it took a couple of hours to cut all of the laser bits from their tabs, identify them and place them in bags, one for the fuselage/tail and one for the wing. There were sure a lot of wing parts. I liked the fact that the trailing eges were supplied as laser cut parts as well as the center trailing edge section. It looks like a pretty complete kit and very nicely done. A fair amount of excess wood was left over at the ends of some sheets and this was cut off and placed in my spare wood box.

Gerry
Jun 14, 2009, 03:21 PM
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As a bit of added history on the Elephant and its use on 27 Squadron's badge, I am attaching a picture of the Squadron' badge as well as a photo of a 27 Sq. Tornado in commemorative markings taken several years ago. The use of the Elephant in both designs is prominant.

Gerry
Jun 14, 2009, 03:38 PM
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One last entry today and I will get back to working on the Elephant. I was spoiled in past years by the fact that Superior Balsa was located within minutes of my flying field. It was fairly easy to visit them after flying or even during my lunch hour at work and I was able to pick out whatever I needed in the way of balsa or other wood materials. They were a fixture at the AMA Show each year and I bought more from them there. When Superior closed their operation in Long Beach, it was a tramatic event, but I still had lots of backlogged balsa supply.

Recently, I have started running low on certain types of balsa stock and, to make matters worse, I found that Pete was calling out 3/8 by 3/16 basswood spars on his design - a size that I didn't have. I checked the local hobby shops with little enthusiasm as I knew they have all but given up on building materials in recent years. With no luck, I was forced to contemplate a new balsa/wood supplier.

After a bit of searching on the internet, I decided that the Balsa USA site had everything I needed, prices were right and their website seemed pretty user friendly. I placed an order with Balsa USA for the basswood, balsa and other products I needed and waited to see how it would turn out. I got a little impatient after a few days when I didn't get one of those "your order has shipped" e-mails, so I checked my account at Balsa USA. It said "order completed" (what does that mean). Anyway, shortly after that, a long, skinny package arrived (I ordered mostly 48 inch lengths), in perfect condition and I was delighted to see the fine quality of the wood that had arrived. I would recommend Balsa USA. I was happy with their service and product.

Gerry
Jun 14, 2009, 04:51 PM
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I lied. I'll include another entry to show off my only other Peter Rake project completed to date. This is a Bristol Scout which I purchased from Aerodrome back when Pete and Kurt were collaborating on designs. I had been reading a lot of Pete's articles in various publications, so it was fun to actually work with one of his designs.

The Scout is a good flyer - very solid and dependable. The markings are pre-Callie. I used a laser printer to print onto a self-adhesive fabric material that I discovered. The markings looked pretty good, but tended to spot with water, peel away with time and were a big maintenance headache (still are).

The motor originally was a geared sp400, but I later substituted a Razor 400 brushless. It is much more reliable and just as powerful, but I had to add a lot of lead to re-balance the plane so it is nearly a push.

I'm looking forward to building more of Pete's design. They tend to be a little heavier and more robust than some of my lighter stuff. Its been a very windy spring and I tend to fly the slightly heavier scale stuff these days. Our field is grassy and rough and I find aircraft like the Scout handle the wind and the rough field very well.

Gerry
Jun 14, 2009, 05:00 PM
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As if I'd pick obscure types. Perish the thought. Anyone fancy an RE5?
Jun 14, 2009, 05:08 PM
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Gerry, I am really looking forward to following your build. I really appreciate the chatty commentary and no doubt will get much useful information on the build. Like you, I get a rather boyish burst of excitement when opening a kit box - so much potential (or disaster) lurking within
Please keep up the words and music on this build AND the history lessons. All great stuff.

Good luck with it

Pat
Jun 14, 2009, 05:14 PM
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See what I mean. As soon as Pete mentions a new type that he is going to design, I have to go do a "Google" search to try and find out what it looks like. Turns out the RE5 is covered by Windsock Datafile 62 which I think I have. Guess I'll have to read up on it soon. It looks like relative of the BE2c.

Some people probably have all of these WW I types embedded in their memory - not me. I'm better at stuff from the '50s, but I'm learning.


Thanks for the encouragement Pat. It means a lot.

Gerry
Jun 14, 2009, 05:16 PM
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The Elephant can't be THAT obscure - even I have a couple of publications on it . Pete, don't start talking about re5/7 or be2/12 planes - they make me drool An Re5 would be fairly big even at 1/8 scale wouldn't it? Drat on those skids.....
Pat
Jun 14, 2009, 06:43 PM
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OK. That wasn't so bad. I just finished (mostly), the left upper wing. I'd say it took about an hour. Everything is fitting very well - although the basswood spars and the cutout in the ribs for the spars are exactly the same size, so there is a bit of interference. I find it is necessary to sand the spar cutouts in the ribs just a tiny bit to let them slide onto the spars.

I identified all of the ribs when I cut them out of the sheet. I don't usually do that. I prefer to figure it out as I go along. Usually it becomes apparent that I've put the wrong rib in place just after the CA cooks off. There are so many different ribs on this airplane that, for once, I took the cautious way and identified the ribs before installing them. Worked out much better this way.

The building board is sitting on carpet on the floor. Lest you think I build while crouched on my hands and knees, I will confess that the modeling area is so cluttered, I find it is better to carry the board to a less cluttered place for photographs. I'll try to get things cleaned up in a bit.

Gerry
Jun 14, 2009, 07:24 PM
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Gerry, you've just made my day. I thought I was the only one who worked like that. Trouble is, if I tidy up I can never find anything.

Pete


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