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Jan 19, 2013, 01:42 PM
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Build Log

FMS T28 part 2: the cockpit


part 2: the cockpit

A prominent part of the fuselage is the enormous cockpit. Because of this prominence it required extensive modifications to give it a more realistic look. Test fitting it on the fuselage showed an unacceptable step at the front part. Being limited by the forward mounting lip, the only solution was to completely remove the plastic canopy from the foam cockpit bathtub, then sanding off the excess foam till the plastic canopy could me aligned flat with the forward fuselage.

Prying off the plastic is no problem because it was glued with the (in)famous never drying FMS glue. Just gently inserting something between the glued parts, and slowly but constantly applying pressure pulling them apart finally separates them, leaving a mess of remaining glue on one or both surfaces, and in this case they used a lot over the rather large contact area.

What’s left was an ungainly looking time deteriorated area, with awful decals and the all too familiar face and disproportionate built of the stock pilot (often referred to as Goofer). I had read the disastrous results of sunshine on the greenhouse, causing the flat black areas to bubble up. Having detailed pictures of the original cockpit (found on the internet from back when the aircraft was offered for sale in the USA), I also saw my plan of inserting faithful side panels could not work the way FMS made the sides. It would take me two weeks to modify this horrible assembly.

First of all, Goofer got removed, not so easy because they screwed him tight in his seat with his butt into a thick puddle of stiff glue. Next the decals came off easily. I put the knife into the dashboards to recess them deeper under sun covers, and carefully carved out the inside foam parallel to the outer cockpit angle so the horizontal side panels would be wide enough. The created areas were then lined with 0.8mm balsa wood to form a flat sun heat insulation on which details could be applied. All wood got soaked in filler and after drying painted gloss white.

It then took me some time to resize the real cockpit pictures, print out on normal paper, cut out the parts and bend them around corners to trial fit them on the various panels.

When I finally found the compromises I printed the mosaic of panels out on a single semi-gloss photo paper sheet. I then used the scissors to carefully cut out the various panels the same way the paper panels now on the table looked like. After bending the side panels as required I applied double sided scotch tape and pressed all the bits onto their spots identified by the total cockpit pictures.

Partly cutting and angling gear retract handles and rudder pedals helped create some depth but the slight distortion of the wide angle lens used to shoot the original cockpit pictures still annoys me (but I’ll have to live with that). After those panels got in I could make the overhanging glare shields in balsa wood and cover the last bits of sunheat sensitive foam areas. But I first carved and sanded the front till the plastic canopy assembly would fit flat with the foam bathtub and the fuselage panel. This required numerous trial fittings.

After a few soaks and sanding the front panel was covered in satin black vinyl, the middle part being painted white with black vinyl covering of the overhanging edge. With this completed it became time to select and install suitable pilot figures. The owner always flies with a baseball cap, David Clark headphones and has a rather narrow face. He mostly wears a pale or Nomex flying suit and I have seen pictures of him flying with different passengers/pilots in his back seat. I still hope he ever will take me along for a ride and as such decided to install an anonymous female pilot behind him. A search in my stock provided following suitable basics.

Trial fitting those busts on the original FMS seats proved inadequate in many ways so extensive modifications were planned.

The scale didn’t look too much out of proportion with the real picture but the pilots horse race helmet, disco sun glasses, shirt and tie, and rounded cheeks were a far cry from the original. The small busts without torso nor arms were totally inadequate to fill the huge very visible cockpit .

Intensive use of the Dremel on the pilots face and helmet formed a better base to work on, and I used lightweight putty to change the shape of his sunglasses into a more aviation related Ray Ban shape. I also grinded his cheeks away.

At the back his helmet was reduced and hair shape below an adjustable cap strap crafted. Area around the headphones got carved out deeper.

I then used balsa to make the headset overhead adjustable section and glued on a more realistic baseball cap sunfront. Lauri got a more contrasting jacket while the owner exchanged formal wear for a flight suit. A piece of foam was glued under his shoulders to be carved as a torso, and Goofer’s arms were amputated to be grafted on the new guy with hands on the stick and throttle.

After much gluing, sanding and filling with various materials Goofey understands why he had to leave his seat in the cockpit. Pilot and co-pilot are getting close to final painting and installation in their respective seats. His passenger was fitted within the available space with a denim miniskirt (the only way to climb in a warbird wearing a skirt and allow the stick free movement between the legs), and her arms and hands (built up in layers of lightweight body putty) in a natural passenger fashion.

I then drilled out cockpit ventilation holes that are hidden because they end behind each of the canted rudder pedals, exhaust holes were drilled under the passengers elbows. The greenhouse is so huge the temperature rise better be controlled as much as possible (without drilling holes in the canopy). The fresh air comes from the fuselage where the prop blows it in through the added cooling holes. When everything was painted as to represent the owner’s worn khaki baseball cap and David Clark headset, and hands, faces and legs were in a more natural color, it became time to install both new crewmembers in the cockpit. Control sticks were fabricated for both, as well as balsa strips to make their shoulder straps attached to the hardpoints in the cabin. The pilots’ hands came out perfect on the stick and throttle and the overall sight is a serious enhancement compared to the original FMS version.

The canopy was then cleaned and the bows covered with glossy white vinyl stripes. Copious amounts of the FMS glue were then applied to the foam and canopy to join them, pressing hard where necessary for them to make a seamless shape to the rest of the fuselage, especially at the front. I intentionally used that “bad” glue to later be able to remove the greenhouse if ever needed. When dry, lightweight body putty was used to fill in the slight gap at the back and bottom of this large plastic cover. Applying vinyl over those complex curves was another challenge. To get it done without excessive waste I reverted to the method a seamstress uses to go from a plat piece of fabric to a dress hugging the complex curves of a woman. She first makes up individual small patterns and that is how I proceeded. I took a sheet of paper and tried to make it hug around the parts I wanted to cover. I then roughly marked the sides and used the scissors to refine the shape till it covered just the desired part. Even if vinyl is stretchable it is always better to start with a correct flat shape instead of forcing it around. After a few trials I ended up with a flat version of the glare panel, turned it upside down and marked the contours on the protective side of the vinyl.

After cutting it out slightly larger I again trial fitted and trimmed every side before peeling off the middle part of the protection. Starting from the middle, pressing down and out with minimum stretching, one centimeter at a time in all directions, and only peeling the protection off as the application evolved, provided a perfect and stable fit without creases nor bubbles.

Mind you, it requires patience and precision and it took me a whole evening just for that one part.

The white sides were applied in the same fashion but I didn’t dare to do it in one go. Because on the real airplane the cockpit slides open in parts, I used those separation lines to make shoulder to shoulder joints of the separate vinyl panels. I am very satisfied with the final result and will continue using this method for the remaining compound curves on the nose. During the final mating with the fuselage strong rare earth magnets will be glued and ultra-thin black stripes applied where the separate canopy openings are. I forgot to weigh the assembly before tackling the changes, it now comes out at 212 grams but aesthetics are important form me in a semi scale model like this.


Click here to read Part 3 of the T28 build log
Last edited by BAF23; Jan 25, 2013 at 04:05 AM.
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