Funaero Albatros DIII - RC Groups
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Oct 25, 2010, 08:18 PM
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Pete Thomas's Avatar
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Funaero Albatros DIII

I have always liked the appearance of the Albatros DIII and DV. The cigar shaped fuselage and sesquiplane wing arrangement provided a cool-factor that was unrivaled by any other WWI bird. My experience to date has been building two 1/8 scale Peter Rake designed Albatros DIIIs. The first one was a decent flier but met its demise on three occasions over a one-year period. The first two crashes were pilot error and resulted in a rebuild. The third crash was due to ESC failure. Since I was about 2/3s complete with the second Albatros DIII, I chose not to rebuild the first one (for the third time).

I applied several lessons-learned from the first build such as keeping the aft end as light as possible and being very precise with the wing incidence and alignment. The second Albatros DIII flew great and tracked noticeably more precise than the first.

This past summer I purchased the Hangar 9 Fokker DVII and quickly learned that bigger certainly flies better when it comes to WWI biplanes. The DVII is truly a fun plane to fly and it can handle rather substantial winds. Now if I could only get an e-powered Albatros DIII in that same scale (1 : 5.5). Along comes Funaero. They offered an Albatros DIII in a 1 : 5.5 scale that can be easily converted to electric power. I finally decided to order one and after a brief delay (Funaero was in the process of replacing some manufacturing equipment damaged in a storm), it finally arrived.

I have been studying two build threads of this plane – one on RC Groups and one on RC Universe. I would like to start out by thanking Thunder1, Hot Rod Todd, Dai Phan, and others for posting their work. Since the wingspan and weight would be almost identical to the Hangar 9 Fokker DVII, I decided to use the same power train which consists of an E-flite 60 motor and a Castle Phoenix Ice 75 amp ECS. I plan to use two Turnigy Nano-tech 3S 3300 batteries in series. I also plan to follow the fuselage modification shown by Thunder1 in his build thread to facilitate the installation and hopefully easy removal of the batteries. Like I did on my second Peter Rake DIII, I will try to keep the aft end of the plane as light as possible, thereby minimizing the amount of lead that will have to be added to the nose (typical of any WWI biplane). The fuselage will be covered in 1/16 balsa panels simulating the plywood panels of the prototype and the wings, rudder, horizontal stabilizer, and elevator will be covered in Solartex.

I really enjoyed the paint scheme that I used on my second Peter Rake DIII. This scheme is patterned after that of Jasta 2 pilot Gerhard Bassenge, as documented in Albatros Aces of World War 1. Jasta 2 planes were easily identified with their all white tail sections. Although the Funaero DIII is considered semi-scale, I want to add as much scale detail and realism as possible without gaining excessive flying weight.

I estimate that it will take about 6 months to complete this project. I hope to provide weekly updates as I progress and welcome input and suggestions from other modelers. I have started on the core fuselage box and will be posting photos of that within the next few days.

Till then, Pete
Last edited by Pete Thomas; Oct 31, 2010 at 11:15 PM.
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Oct 25, 2010, 09:41 PM
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Prowler901's Avatar
Hi Pete,

I'm with you in your fascination with the Albatros. It is a beautiful design. Your two previous models are quite outstanding. I am looking forward to seeing your progress with the Funaero kit.

Oct 26, 2010, 12:32 AM
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javelina's Avatar
fantastic work! I like the Albatross lines too. As for WWI birds, something about the SE5a for me too. I like the look of that bird too.

excellent job with your detailing. Once I master this hobby, (flight wise), I'd love to detail a project like yours.

Oct 26, 2010, 01:17 PM
Huge member!
BRUTUS2238's Avatar
Powerline Hobbies has an Albatross thats pretty good size but Im not sure of the exact model. Brutus
Oct 26, 2010, 02:01 PM
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Pete Thomas's Avatar
It is a 52" ARF version of the Albatros DV with pilot head restraint. Most DVs that had these head restraints had them removed because it it impeded the pilots peripheral vision.
Oct 26, 2010, 02:58 PM
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Pete Thomas's Avatar
My first task is to build the fuselage core box frame and figure out the best placement of the batteries. Assembly of the core box, which is made from plywood, is facilitated by Lazer-Loc tabs which ensure precise alignment. After gluing the core box sides and bottom plate to the firewall, I decided to follow a modification done by Thunder1 (RC Groups) to accommodate the two lipo batteries. Learning from Thunder1, I was able to do this at the beginning of the build. I can only imagine the difficulty he had in making such a modification after the plane is complete. Using a dremel cut-off disc, I cut battery compartment openings in the firewall that measure 25mm wide and 50 mm in height. This opening should provide me with a little extra slack to install and remove the batteries without too much difficulty. The Turnigy Nano-Tech 3300 batteries that I intend to use measure 23 X 45 X 139mm. In addition, I provided some cutouts on the sides of the core box for better battery cooling. I will determine the depth of the battery compartment and complete the internal part of the battery compartment once I have the batteries in hand. Additional ventilation openings will be cut into the fuselage former behind the firewall to allow air to escape.

I used the E-Flite motor mount to locate and center the motor mount screws. The 8-32 blind nuts were epoxied into place to prevent them from accidently dislodging when I mount the motor. The firewall was reinforced on the inside using triangular balsa gussets. Nylon spacer tubes, purchased from Hobby Lobby, will be used to obtain the correct offset when mounting the motor to the firewall.

Lower wing-mount saddles were made by laminating four sections of balsa together that followed the upper contour of the lower wing. These saddle assemblies will be further sanded to match the contour of the fuselage.

Front and rear cabane mounts were epoxied into place using the etched guidelines on the core box. Once glued into place, I added epoxy gussets to each side of the cabane mount to provide even greater strength. Once the epoxy cured, I ran a 1/8” drill into each hole to ensure that the cabanes had a snug fit.

The next step will be to add the longerons and the rest of the formers to complete the framing of the fuselage. Stay tuned.
Oct 26, 2010, 06:50 PM
Wow--you do good work. Let me know if you ever feel the need to thin out your hangar.
Oct 30, 2010, 03:06 AM
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Very nice work! You're going to have a nice geschwader of Albatrii! It'll be nice to see another flying, as it's such a terrific model.

The biggest concern I had with mine was getting airflow past the motor. I cut two sections out of the lower cowl as an inlet. The batts still get pretty warm, so I'll probably increase the inlet area by cutting out another section from the lower cowl. I'll also probably get some higher capacity batts, as I've got four ounces of lead in the nose which could be batteries. I think some 42000mAH or maybe even 5000mAH lipos would fit.

Here's an in-flight shot of mine. She does all the moves with ease, and landing's a breeze!
Oct 30, 2010, 06:53 PM
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mistairjoe's Avatar
Pete, I built my tail feathers to a scale out line and using balsa laminations taking out half the weight.I still have the formers and could make you some pieces if you choose to make them this way.I will post some photos of how my pieces look as opposed to the kits. Joe
Oct 30, 2010, 07:21 PM
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mistairjoe's Avatar
Oct 30, 2010, 08:42 PM
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Pete Thomas's Avatar
Thanks Thunder1. What prop and what size are you using in the attached photo. It looks like a Xoar prop.

Mistairjoe - Thanks for sharing you tail section photos and your offer to share your formers. I just completed a custom horizontal stabilizer and elevator based on the techniques used in my 1/8 scale Peter Rake DIIIs. I knew that I could not live with the Funaero designed tail section. I will follow up with some photos.

Oct 30, 2010, 09:38 PM
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Pete Thomas's Avatar
One of several modifications that I will make on this model will be the horizontal stabilizer and Elevator. Funaero suggests that you cover the horizontal stabilizer with 1/16” balsa sheeting. The only component of the tail section of the Albatros that was covered in plywood was the tail fin. The horizontal stabilizer (HS) and elevator were covered in fabric with the silhouette of the ribs showing. Others have put thin balsa strips on the outside of the balsa sheeting to simulate the ribbing. The thickness of the Funaero HS before sheeting is 3/16”. I would have to build up the HS by 1/8” to get it to match the 5/16” thickness of the elevator before I can cover it with Solartex. After some thought, I decided to build the HS from scratch using the same technique that Peter Rake recommends on most of his models.

This technique is quite easy. I started out by cutting four strips of 5/16” balsa strips from a 1/16” sheet. I used a scrap piece of Depron foam as my building board and T-pins to hold my work in place. Using the HS blueprint to follow the outer contour of the HS, I laminated the four strips of 5/16” balsa using thin CA (see photos). Make sure to put a layer of wax paper between your work and the blueprint. Once this dries, you can fill in the ribs and other HS structural components. I used 3/16” X 5/16” balsa for the ribs and 5/16” sheet balsa for the center section of the HS that attaches to the fuselage. I used 3/16” X 1/16” balsa strips for the raised portions of the ribs. These were tapered on each end with sand paper prior to gluing down. The outer edges of the HS were then sanded to a round shape. The HS assembly will be covered with Solartex covering material (ordered from Balsa USA). Even after covering and painting with off-white latex, the ribs will be somewhat visible when viewed from underneath.

For this reason, I decided to build the elevator from scratch using the exact same technique that I used on the Horizontal stabilizer. The ribs on the HS should line up with the ribs on the elevator.

One interesting side note - I decided to weigh all of the stock Funaero HS components including the estimated material for sheeting and came up with 94 grams (3.9 ounces). The weight of the scratch-built HS came to 68 grams before Solartex covering. I estimate that the final weight after covering will be around 75 grams (3 ounces). This weight savings of approximately one ounce should be significant in reducing the amount of lead to balance the model, which in turn should result in a better flying plane.

Mistairjoe - I like your idea of making plywood formers for the tail section. It would make bending the 5/16 balsa strips much easier.
Oct 30, 2010, 09:50 PM
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Pete Thomas's Avatar
The next component that I will tackle is the rudder. One of the distinguishing characteristics between the Albatros DIII and DV is the shape of the rudder. Unfortunately Funaero used a DV rudder on the DIII. The rudder on the DV has a rounded shape whereas the DIII has a more squared off shape (see attached photos). I also plan to design a hidden rudder control that does not use a conventional control horn. I have not seen any photos where an Albatros uses an external control horn for the rudder. If I can survive this head cold this weekend, I hope to have a completed rudder.

Last edited by Pete Thomas; Oct 30, 2010 at 09:58 PM.
Oct 31, 2010, 12:00 AM
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mistairjoe's Avatar
I used a Datafile on the DIII went to Kinkies and blew up the tail feathers to match the wing span of the funaero kit. I did not like the kits tail feather outline, that was the reason I made my own including the rudder changes you mentioned.If you look at my photos you'll see that they differ from the plan.Not that it matters much since the fuse isn't scale either.The wing will get the same treatment.Joe
Oct 31, 2010, 02:44 PM
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Pete Thomas's Avatar
I have a couple of more questions:

1. Thunder1 - what size and length of motor mount screws did you use. My E-Flite 60 came with 6-32 screws and blind nuts? The longest 6-32 hex head cap screws that I can find are 1 1/2" long.

2. Mistairjoe - you mentioned that the wing will get the same treatment. What modifications did you do to the wing?


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