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Sep 04, 2004, 12:21 PM
Park Jet Guru
jetset44's Avatar
Thread OP

F/A-18 Hornet Foam Parkflyer

Here’s my latest project, an original design foam pusher F/A-18 Hornet. It’s still bare foam right now, but I plan on painting it in Blue Angels colors this weekend. I’ve got 5 flights on it so far with about an hour of flying time, and the flight performance is fantastic! This model has a wide speed range and excellent handling characteristics, and looks fantastic in the air. Here are the specs:

Wing area: 275 sq in (effective area, which includes the effect of the wing strakes)
Span: 28.4 in
Length: 41.7 in
Weight RTF: 15.6 oz as shown
Wing loading: 8.2 oz/ft2 (based on effective wing area)
Motor: GWS EPS-350 with “C” gearing
Battery: 11.1V 1200 mAh Lipo
Prop: GWS 8x6 SF
Current draw: 9.7 amps
Power loading: 101 watts/lb
Radio equipment: GWS R-6 receiver, GWS Pico and Hitec HS-55 servos, 10 amp ESC
Flight controls: Wing flaperons, full-flying horizontal stabilizer, twin rudders
Materials used: Either 6mm Depron or BlueCore fan fold foam

The design goals of this model were:

* True parkflyer: I do most of my flying in nearby small school fields, so this model was designed to be a good small field flyer—meaning good slow flight characteristics. This was achieved by keeping the wing loading under 10 oz/ft2, sizing for a high thrust/weight ratio, incorporating wing flaps to allow easy hand launches and slow landings, incorporating rudders to improve control at low speeds/high alpha, and carefully shaping the wing strakes to provide a good vortex roll-up over the wing and tail (just like the real thing!).

* Simple construction: The design features all flat sheet foam construction with minimal carving, which allows it to be built quite quickly. It’s based on a scale outline of the F/A-18 (1/16 scale), but the fuselage and inlets were simplified considerably to make it easier to build. Balsa triangle stock is used at the corners to allow sanding the corners round, which greatly improves appearance. This model was built over a 2 week period working only evenings and weekends, totaling about 30 hours building time. However, since this was a first-of-kind model that had much to figure out, I think I could build a second one in half that time.

* Capable of using inexpensive brushed motors: This model was designed to fly well with the GWS EPS-350C geared motor. Brushless motors will provide even better performance, but are not necessary for good performance. The setup recommended above produces 14.4 oz static thrust with a 48 mph pitch speed, which is ample for this model. While this provides slightly less than a 1:1 thrust/weight ratio, the model will climb at 60 degrees indefinitely and cruises at only half throttle—more than enough for flying in small fields. I do plan to test a geared Himaxx 2015-4100 in this model soon (as soon as I can get my hands on a TP 1320 3s pack—everyone is still out of stock!), so I’ll have a point of comparison soon.

After I finishing tweaking the model, I will clean up the plans and post them here!

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Sep 04, 2004, 12:23 PM
Park Jet Guru
jetset44's Avatar
Thread OP
This model was built almost entirely from 6 mm Depron, but BlueCore foam would also work well. I chose Depron because it is slightly lighter (saves 0.5 oz overall on this model) and doesn’t have to be peeled (all the fuselage pieces would need to have the film peeled off). The reason the canopy is made of BlueCore is simply because I ran out of Depron. :-)

This model came out nearly 2 oz heavier than I originally estimated (15.6 oz versus 13.5 oz). Probably half of that difference is due to stuff I just missed, but half is because I used 5-minute epoxy for the entire model. I chose epoxy not just for the strength, but mostly because it cures so quickly. However, I realize now that convenience cost me at an ounce of additional weight. In retrospect, ProBond and a little patience would have been a better choice!
Sep 04, 2004, 12:25 PM
Park Jet Guru
jetset44's Avatar
Thread OP
Here’s a preview of the build plans as well as some photos taken during construction of the model. These highlight the flat foam construction, the controls installation (the rudder mechanism was particularly tricky to figure out!), and the canopy and strake details (the canopy is removable and is made from 10 sheets of foam laminated together and then carved to shape). The removable canopy provides access to the battery (which is mounted using Velcro to the fuselage floor to allow CG adjustments). A second hatch is installed over the wing to provide access to the receiver, speed control, and rudder servo.

Note the shaping on the wing strakes. It’s very important that these have a rounded upper surface with a sharp edge as shown. The real F/A-18 was carefully designed so that these strakes create a strong vortex at low speeds that passes over the wing to prolong wing stall and passes over the vertical tails to enhance directional stability. This allows the F/A-18 to fly well at extremely high angles of attack and very low speeds. This model has captured these capabilities. I’ve already learned I can fly the model right down onto the deck at low airspeed/high angle of attack, and then at the last minute chop the throttle and pull full back elevator. The result is the nose comes up to 60 degrees alpha, the model goes into deep stall, and then gently sets down on the ground near-vertically with almost zero forward airspeed.
Sep 04, 2004, 12:40 PM
Air Addict
Sparhawk's Avatar
I am ..... speechless!

Awesome work Steve. You are going to release the plans to this beautiful ship right ?????

Sep 04, 2004, 12:50 PM
Man WOW please please put up a set of plans!!!! what great work
Sep 04, 2004, 03:17 PM
Supersonic hover
Esprit440's Avatar
Steve, what a sweet model! I'm particularly impressed with the way you did the canopy, at first I thought it was CNCed - did you do any pre-cutting of the blue foam, or just carve it down from a solid block? Did you have any trouble sanding through the epoxy as you shaped your laminated areas?

Big thumbs up on this one!

Sep 04, 2004, 03:25 PM
Great Looking Jet!!!!
Sep 04, 2004, 03:32 PM
EDF rules... :)
AirX's Avatar
Nicely done and well presented...

Eric B.
Sep 04, 2004, 03:40 PM
Park Jet Guru
jetset44's Avatar
Thread OP
All--Yes, I will post plans once I have everything tweaked. I believe it's important to work out all the bugs before releasing the plans to the public!

Esprit--For the canopy, I cut out 10 identical side views, laminated them with 3M 77 spray adhesive (not epoxy), carved it to rough shape using a coarse file, and then used a sanding block to finish it up. It's all done by eyeball, and brought out a sculpter in me I didn't know I had! The nose cone is built the same way.

By the way, I just finished editing a 5 MB/2 minute flying video of this model and am trying to find a way to get it posted. When I posted the .WMV file to my Verizon web account and then tested it a few minutes ago, all I got was streaming ASCI code instead of a movie. I'm trying to troubleshoot the problem now and will post a link once I fix it. The video really shows how well this ship flies!
Sep 04, 2004, 05:05 PM
Park Jet Guru
jetset44's Avatar
Thread OP

F/A-18 Flying Video

This video was shot yesterday evening using a digital still camera in movie mode, so it's not the best quality. But it does show how well this model handles in small fields. Someday soon I'll get a real video camera...
Last edited by jetset44; Sep 10, 2004 at 01:14 AM. Reason: Changed link to a new server location (thanks to the good folks at RCGroups!)
Sep 04, 2004, 07:29 PM
Registered User
Mr. Boogie's Avatar
Hey Jetset44,

Nice job!

I also designed a pusher F/A 18 out of Bluecore.

Here's a separate thread so as not to interrupt this one:

You've got to love foam for it's ease of use. Your video also shows how well your small field flyability requirement is met.

Mr. Boogie
Sep 04, 2004, 11:41 PM
Registered User
Kevin Murray's Avatar
Great work Jetset. Can't wait for the plane and I thank you in advance for preparing them for us so we can all enjoy your creation.
Three thumbs up.
Sep 05, 2004, 12:36 AM
MSgt, USAF Ret.
Jim Frahm's Avatar
Very nice plane, nice flying, and nice build thread....... nice to have plans too.. LOL

Great job!
Sep 05, 2004, 09:33 AM
Registered User
Very nice. It looks like it might even be a little too "hot" for that field you were flying in. All that with a GWS motor, too.

Now it needs color!


Sep 05, 2004, 10:43 AM
Registered User
Appie's Avatar

Cant wait for the plan(s) to be released


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