Balsacraft Warbirds Appreciation Thread - RC Groups
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Aug 02, 2010, 04:39 AM
Sloping off....
leccyflyer's Avatar

Balsacraft Warbirds Appreciation Thread

There's an excellent Alfa Models Appreciation Thread, started by Stuart Warne, which illustrates what excellent models Alfa tuns out and I thought it would be nice to do the same thing for the Balsacraft/Model Designs kits.

These have been tremendously popular on the eZone, and RC Groups, over the years and have become much sought after, since the kit range was discontinued. I was prompted to post this thread after having such fun flying my Bearcat yesterday, on brushless and lipo, and comparing that with her performance on Nicd and brushed motors.

The original Model Designs concept, dreamed up by Pete Nicholson, was revolutionary and years ahead of it's time. Modular construction of a CNC-cut set of parts, based around a combined self-jigging battery box and motor mount was unheard of. These were available as plan packs - with a cowl and canopy - and with an optional wood pack, containg the CNC cut wingribs formers and modular crutch assembly.

The core of the model was assembled in the hand and the hit with CA to fix it. The aeroplane shaped bits were assembled around that crutch. The sheeted balsa wings were similarly lightweight and strong and the whole design concept was a breath of fresh air for electric flyers everywhere.

The Model Designs "funfighters" rightly became very popular in the UK electric flight scene, even with the constraints of 7 cell nicads and speed 600 motors. Hop-ups, using hotter buggy motors and 8 cells gave even better performance, which was further boosted when brushless motors came on the scene.

When the Model designs plan-packs were kitted by Balsacraft the supplied product was superb. A very complete kit, that for a time even included optional IC conversion parts, and a power set of motor, prop adapter and propeller.

I've gone on record as saying that these kits were years ahead of their time and probably at too low a price. They must have sold well, but perhaps not well enough in the face of a growing storm of ARTFs. At just under fifty quid a kit they were tremendous value for money. Gradually though, these costs reduced and the last kits went out of the door many years ago at about 35 a kit, almost the same price as the Model Design plan packs, yet in a big glossy box, with a full set of accessories. Madness. That was before lipo power became widely available.

Now of course, they go for a premium on eBay and the power systems available, with inexpensive brushless motors and lipos have pushed the performance up into the stunning category. These models work superbly.

So I've started this thread in order to show appreciation for Balsacraft's (and Model Designs') super electric models. There are signs of an upsurge in kit building here in the UK and, though there have been many rumours that Balsacraft kits might come back into production, nothing has materialised - this might, just might, be the ideal moment.

So put up your Balsacraft models and we'll send a link to the thread on to the designer, and the kitters, and lets get a campaign going to Bring Back Balsacraft Builds!
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Aug 02, 2010, 07:08 AM
Oh no, not again!
jhspring's Avatar
Wow, Brian, I had no idea you had so many of these kits under your belt. I'm like you, I think BC were well ahead of their time, limited in the main by the motors and batteries that were then available. With modern electronics, they just beg to be tarted up, although some (like me for instance) tend to get rather carried away. If they ever get re-released, the do need to be modified to take retracts though.

You know about the Blenheim, I still have an Fw190 and a Sea Fury on the shelf.

Aug 02, 2010, 10:14 AM
Sloping off....
leccyflyer's Avatar

I'm particularly interested to learn of anyone who has modified the kits to take retracts and who has solved the "use the wing as a hatch!" conumndrum. I did see a nice B/C Spitfire, built by Chris Bott, at Walsall last weekend that had a new front end, after a ceash and incorporated a neat hatch for battery changing. That particular Spitfire - pictured below -had a Turnigy outrunner, rear mounted on a new firewall, and A123 battery pack.
Aug 02, 2010, 10:03 PM
Not enough hours in the day
Slaanesh's Avatar

Balsacraft Spitfire

I'm currently completing a build of a Balsacraft Spitfire.
I literally started in years ago - hmmm let me see - I think it was in 2002/2003. However, suddenly I had a young family and everything went on the back-burner.
Now, after years of sitting dormant, my Balsacraft Spitfire has been pleading with me to get finished off. And it will be!
I only get about 1 hour of construction a night so building it is slow but most of it is now complete. The fuselage and wings are pretty much all done. I just finished off the fuselage wing fillets.
Originally this was going to be flow with some pretty heavy electrics - 600 speed brushed with an inline gearbox and horrible weighty Ni-MHs and some big servos and big RX.
Now I've got lovely modern replacements and I think the weight savings will make it a lovely flier.
I'm hoping a Turnigy 35-36C motor with a Flightmax 3S 2200mah will power it sufficiently.

I'm performing a couple of mods to mine:

* Moving the motor so that I'm using a full size scale spinner. I didn't like the smaller spinner idea.
* Not installing some scale features to save weight. ie. underwing air-coolers, fuselage cooler, tail wheel. We're talking about 60 grams saving here. I really don't want to add any more weight to the tail than is necessary as I don't want to add any ballast.
* Instead of tissue paper/dope I'm going to do a very light as possible fibre-glass covering over the entire model.

Now I was just wondering about engine down/right thrust. The IC versions mentions right thrust however the electric does not. Is it required?
There is also no down thrust though it looks like the wing/elevator are angled slight to give the same effect. Is that correct?

I'll post some old construction photos (I took some back then with my then brand new digital camera) and I'll take a few current ones too.
Aug 02, 2010, 10:37 PM
Registered User
OK folks, here is a BalsaCraft Hurricane my buddy Glen and I build about six months ago. I'll have to look and see what motor and retracts we put in it. She had a couple of maiden flights and was dorked on the third, apparently due to an elevator horn pulling out. The damage is pretty bad and the Hurri is stored away waiting for us to generate the energy necessary for a rebuild. When rebuilt it will have a battery hatch.
Last edited by wahrhaftig; Aug 02, 2010 at 10:56 PM.
Aug 05, 2010, 09:15 AM
Dunetop Flyer
jcarstan's Avatar


Here's my Bearcat that I built a few years ago and had the brushed motor installed. Never flew it am now toying with installing a brushless motor. So, I'll be interested in reading what others have done to produce a successful combination for this plane.
Aug 06, 2010, 08:53 AM
Registered User
jimm1962's Avatar

I see in the foreground of the pic of your Hurricane that you have a Lancaster sitting there. Is it from a kit or plans?

Aug 06, 2010, 09:36 AM
Registered User
Warbird@home's Avatar
Originally Posted by jimm1962

I see in the foreground of the pic of your Hurricane that you have a Lancaster sitting there. Is it from a kit or plans?

Hi Jim thread on the Lanc is here,

she's still going strong on the geared speed 300 7.2 volts motors and a 3700mAh NiMh 8 cell pack...

Pictures are a little way into the thread

Aug 06, 2010, 11:34 AM
Sloping off....
leccyflyer's Avatar
Originally Posted by jcarstan
Here's my Bearcat that I built a few years ago and had the brushed motor installed. Never flew it am now toying with installing a brushless motor. So, I'll be interested in reading what others have done to produce a successful combination for this plane.
Lovely Bearcat Jan

My Bearcat started off with Magnetic Mayhem, 8xRC2400s and an 8x4 Slimprop. She would ROG fro a dolly with that set-up and flew reasonably well.

She now has an AXI 28/20-10, 3s1p 3000mah Tipple 20C lipo, Jeti Advance Plus 40 Esc and a JP 10x6 bendy nylon prop. It's a big improvement power wise and she comes off the dolly in <10m, very easily and climbs out from there. The greater power:weight would make for an easier handlaunch, but I greatly prefer the dolly.

The only modification that fitting an AXI required was cutting a slot in the side of the motor box, to exit the motor leads.
Aug 11, 2010, 08:33 PM
Not enough hours in the day
Slaanesh's Avatar

Balsacraft Spitfire

Here's my Spitfire. Almost ready for some ultra-light all over glassing,
I'll weigh it before hand and then afterward to see how much "fat" she has put on!

Still to do:
Cut out the ailerons and sand the rudder and elevator. [Now Done]
Mount the cannon stalks.
Mount scale motor exhausts after glassing.

I've made the under-wing and fuselage radiators but will probably not mount them to save weight.
I've also not adding other scale details behind the CoG to save weight (like the tail wheel, radio mast) and I'm using carbon fibre push rods for rudder and elevator.

Note I've also deleted the stock motor mount extension. I will be using a full size, light weight spinner and mount the motor at the correct scale position.

All up: What a great kit! Lots of fun to build.
Last edited by Slaanesh; Aug 22, 2010 at 11:51 PM. Reason: Updating information.
Aug 15, 2010, 05:01 PM
Sloping off....
leccyflyer's Avatar
Just to add a few flying and static pictures from last weekend.

I'm really enjoying the Bearcat at the moment, but she had a narrow escape yesterday at the Angus MFC fly-in. Luckily the pre-flight checks revealed something was awry and we noticed that the pin on the elevator clevis had sheared, leaving the Bearcat with minimal elevator operation - just enough to be fatal, Given that we were 300miles from home with no spares, other than a spare prop, that meant the Bearcat was grounded, but saved to fly another day

The FW190 maiden last weekend didn't go well, with not enough grunt from the Mega 22/20-3 and 8x4 prop to ROG from the dolly and an aborted take off. Might have been okay if the grass had been cut that weekend, but ot was a little long and the axle on the dolly can be a bit draggy when that happens. No time -or inclination - to try a hand launch, so the Butcher Bird has yet to fly.
Aug 22, 2010, 04:59 PM
Sloping off....
leccyflyer's Avatar
Yay! Maidened the Balsacraft FW190 today and I have to say that she was the nicest of all the Balsacraft models that I've flown so far. Literally not a click of trim needed, nicely neutral in flight and excellent perfomance off the dolly. A lovely model to fly and the camouflage wasn;t too bad to view in the air, contrary to my earlier concerns.

The only change I made was to swap out the incorrectly fitted 8x4 prop for a 9x4.5 APC-E. Unfortunately that prop and a much thicker boss and needed a change of prop adaptor, which produced an unsightly gap between the spinner and dummy spinner. With that prop and the grass having been cut the take off was competely uneventful. I'm going to enjoy this one. .

Anyway - pictures - courtesy of my boy Tim.
Aug 22, 2010, 06:57 PM
Former Durafly Brand Manager
Stuart Warne's Avatar
How could I have only just seen this thread! Sorry for the late posting leccy, too many distraction of late.

Yes got to love these BC kits. Only today I was looking through the images of my Balsacraft Hurricane and remember just how much I enjoyed it (and how I'd do it differently too). They do fly great, and I'm glad to hear your FW is a sweet flier too leccy.

I was actually watching a BC Spitfire that was on ebay today. The seller had listed it as a 'model designs' kit, so I was hoping it wouldn't have attracted as much attention as it would if he had list it as 'Balsacraft'. Anyway it went for more than I had hoped in the dying seconds so, I'll have to wait for the next one to show up. The only problem is that with everyone that goes for sale, there becomes less and less chance of seeing them for sale again. Rare kits indeed, but I guess that is a good indicator of just how kits are.

I did however manage to grab a Blenhiem for a bargin price last week, and although I now won't be starting on it next, I plan to keep it on the shelf until the time is right, I've got a Brian Taylor 58" Kingfisher to build before then.

Below is my Hurricane from last years build, a Spitfire I brought made, resprayed then sold again, and the kit I just received. Oh an the Bearcat I got from a great gent here on RCG.


Link to build thread for those that might be interested in what all the fuss is about:
Last edited by Stuart Warne; Aug 22, 2010 at 07:46 PM.

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