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Nov 29, 2016, 10:34 AM
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Models from "Flying Scale Models of WWII" (1974)

On several threads recently there has been discussion of the classic book "Flying Scale Models of WWII" published by Model Builder magazine in 1974. A few of us (well, two, but maybe more will join) have committed (well, expressed a vague desire) to build some of the plans in the book soon (well, or not so soon).

Although the book has been talked and raved about for years on rcgroups, I've searched and haven't found a completed build of any of the plans. The closest was a guy who started the Hellcat back in 2011 and it doesn't look like he got very far.

I'm starting this thread for general discussion/encouragement of builds from the book. If you start a plan from the book, feel free to post updates here or links to a separate build log book. If you just want to discuss the plans or this general type of build, feel free to jump in.

First, an introduction to the book and some personal thoughts on its contents. To begin with, scans of the book are freely available from various plan sites including Hip Pocket and RC Library.

The book contains 12 plans for rubber powered WWII fighters curated and edited by Bill Northrop. As a group, the plans have several outstanding features. First, they are exceptionally accurate for balsa plans of this size. Second, they are relatively complex and detailed. We are not talking dime scale, feather weight, bare-bones kits here. Third, they presume a fairly high level of building ability, including the ability to vac form at least the canopies and often some opaque detail parts as well. Finally, they are all to 1/24 scale, bucking the almost universal practice of designing models to a wingspan or other size parameter rather than a common scale.

The combination of these attributes means that if you were to build all 12 (if anyone ever has), you would have an outstanding lineup of common-scale fighters. There are some drawbacks. The common scale means that there is a range of sizes that could require different setups if converting to electric RC. Wingspans range from 16.5" for the Bf 109E to 21.5" for the Hellcat; actually the Ta 152 has a 23.5" span, but because of the stretched wing it will build like a smaller plane.

The subject choice is US centric with 7 of the 12 planes being US fighters, covering pretty much all the main single-engine fighter types: P-39, P-40, P-47, P-51, F4F, F6F, F4U. You only get the obvious 1 or 2 types from Britain (Spitfire, Hurricane), Germany (Bf 109, Fw 190) and Japan (Zero). Being done in the mid 1970s, when the contributions of the USSR to WWII were pretty much written out of US history books, that nation is unrepresented, as are Italy and France. If I were to imagine a second volume with an additional 12 fighters, they might be F2A, P-63, Typhoon, Tempest, Yak-9, La-7, Ki-43, J3M, Ki-84, Ki-61, N1K, Re.2002, MC.202, MB.152. Oops, that's 14. Well, you get the idea.

I haven't decided which one to build (first) yet. I have been inspecting the plans and comparing with what I am already flying, kits and plans in the stash, and kits that are available. Here are my initial notes on each one, in the order they appear in the book.

F4F-3 Wildcat, Harry E. Bagley Jr., 19" span. This is the only plan in the book by Bagley. I have never seen any other plan by him. The plan and build photos look accurate and attractive. This is the subject in which I have the highest initial interest because it is the one type of plane that I don't have flying in any form. Then again, the Dumas 17.5" F4F kit is good looking and would no doubt build a lot easier. My issue with the Bagley plan is that it is probably the most fussy plan in the book. I like to build out of 1/16" sticks as much as possible, and Mr. Bagely was clearly quite taken with custom wood sizes. When I see a callout on a plan like the one for the wing trailing edge - 1/8" x 11/22" taper to 5/64" x 7/32" at tip - I think, "Nah, don't think so." That will become a flat piece of 1/16" or maybe 3/32" if I build it. Like almost all of the plans in the book, this one calls for inlay sheeting of the forward part of the fuselage.

F6F Hellcat, Bill Hannan, 21.5" span. Hannan's plan makes much more use of standard sized and non-tapered wood, with very little use of the 1/32" balsa that Bagley uses for the sheeting, ribs and tail. It has less printwood and would be an easier build all around. Its size gives it some separation from the Guillows 17" and Dumas 18" Hellcats. I already have a Guillows conversion in the hangar, but otherwise this would be a contender.

Vought F4U-1, Frank Scott, 20.5" span. This looks like a beauty, again without a lot of exotic wood sizes. It is all 1/16" and 1/8" but with 1/32" ribs. Scale fidelity is good although the nose may be stretched a little.

Mitsubishi A6M2, Bob Peck, 19.5" span. Bob Peck is known for many things, among them his classic peanut scale Zero kit, and this looks a lot like a scaled-up version of that. I have Zeros covered by a Guillows 500-series Rufe awaiting conversion and a couple of Aircores, but for a nice simple, easy-building Zero from plans, this would be a good and accurate option. Construction is very straightforward and Peck doesn't expect you to build a whole 3d dummy engine like some of the other designers.

Hurricane Mk.I, JD McHard, 20" span. McHard designed 4 of the 12 plans in the book. His style is in the middle of those discussed so far, not quite a simple as Peck's but not too fussy. It is expected that you will vac form the canopy, radiator, forward wing fairings and some other stuff, but since 1974 we have the miracle of styrofoam as an alternative for shaping these bits. The plane generally looks good but the dihedral is exaggerated more than most; this could be corrected if building with ailerons. Like the other non-US types in the book, it looks way more accurate than plans designed during or shortly after the war. Could be a real winner.

Spitfire Mk.I, JD McHard, 18.5" span. This looks to be one of the outstanding plans in the book as far as appearance is concerned. Going with the short-nosed Mk.I was gutsy from a weight-and-balance perspective but it makes the model worth considering even if you have a shelf full of Mk.IXs. Shape accuracy looks good, although it is up to you to sand balsa blocks to get the nose right.

Bf 109E. JD McHard, 16.5" span. Accurate balsa 109 kits are rare and all I can say is this one looks exquisite based on the build photos. It shows the full value of the greater intel that was available by 1974 compared with the atrocious affronts to accuracy that are the Guillows #505 or Dumas kits. (The Guillows is clearly descended from a wartime plan; I don't know what Dumas's excuse is.) Construction looks very straightforward. Though small, this could really be a gem, and the size works well with the Horizon 1s UMX planes.

Focke-Wulf Ta 152, Hal Cover, 23.5" span. The stretched Ta 152 was a brave choice for a 190 variant and it eliminates all those 190A kits/plans out there as potential competitors. Who wouldn't want to show up with one of these at the field? I have some misgivings though. I think it would be awkward to store, likely to suffer hangar rash, and I worry about those long wings warping or twisting after a few months of changing temperature and humidity. But if you have room in your cigar humidor or wine cellar for it, this would be a lot of fun. Construction is not exotic and the wing has beefier spars and ribs than most in the series, likely to help keep them straight. With the long nose there is no need for extra weight up front, so relative to the other models, this one has no sheeting up in the nose and not as light of construction in the tail.

Bell P-39, Clarence Mather, 17" span. The compact little P-39 is a leading contender for my first built, as I have no micro one and am not impressed with the looks of the Dumas kit or of any of the plans I have. This one looks pretty good and is of very conventional construction. Again, no need for front sheeting with this long-nosed type.

P-40C, JD McHard, 18.5" span. This is a nice change from the available P-40Es and Ns and looks more accurate than the old Comet kit/plan. There are a lot of 3d parts to make by sheeting, vac forming or sanding down balsa blocks. Otherwise, construction is standard. This is another front-runner for me.

P-47D, EI Coleman, 20.5" span. With most available kits and models being bubble tops, this is another nice change, unless you own the Horizon UMX. Scale outlines look pretty good, but with the Jug's complex fuselage contours this makes the plan more complex than some others. There is a lot of printwood and many stringers. At least you can probably manage the canopy without any vac forming.

P-51B, Clarence Mather, 18.5" span. There are a lot of nice Mustangs out there and based on the build photos, this does not appear to be one of the most accurate. It at least seems to look better than the Dumas kit of the same variant. It wouldn't be hard to correct some of the fuselage profile issues by modifying the keels with reference to some good drawings. Closely spaced 1/32" ribs and a lot of fuselage formers make for quite a bit of printwood on this one. Not a bad model but I tend to think you'd have to be out to build the whole series in order to tackle it.

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Nov 29, 2016, 12:35 PM
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glewis's Avatar
Thanks for starting the thread.

I was just studying the plans and considering which to take on first. I have amassed quite a number of UMX receivers, servos, and motors both the 1S coreless and 2S brushless varieties.

What I will not do is build a model when there is an ARF already out there. It really bugs me to be asked if my balsa plan built model is company ABC's newest beer cooler foam ARF model. So with that limitation in mind, my choices are...

My first choice when I discovered the book of plans was the P-47. Since then the UMX foamie was released. So that eliminates that one.

Second choice is the Hellcat. Surely an ARF version of that one is just around the corner. Don't want to repeat my T-28 build where the UMX version came out just as I finished my Guillows 900 kit conversion. But I'm willing to take a chance because it is a nice plan and a definite maybe to replace my departed 1S 500 series version.

Next would be the Hurricane. I like this one. Nice thick airfoil and good scale proportions. Another maybe.

A micro 1S version of the 109 would be cool and different. But I already did the Guillows 109. Don't really want duplicate models in my hangar, too many other planes to build.

Wildcat. Humm, would be interesting to build a 2S brushless version and possibly come up with retracts? High on my list...

P-39, already in my hangar. Did the Guillows version.
P-51, nope. Just what the world needs, another Mustang...
P-40, already an ARF, so nope.
Spitfire, ARF...
TA-152, already did a 500 series FW-190, so been there, but with shorter wingspan.
Corsair, ARF and I have the UMX version.
Zero, a good possibility, 2S brushless and AS3X?.
So... Which to choose?

I have a little time to think about it as I finish the Twomosa currently on the board.

Nov 29, 2016, 12:38 PM
Destroyer of foamies
Cool! Thanks for putting this thread together!

I bought the wood and downloaded the book a couple days ago. The Hurricane looks really tempting to build as a rubber test model to build while I'm at school, then the TA-152 or the f4f as a full house RC back home in Colorado around Christmas. My updates might be a little spotty, but I'm excited about this build!
Nov 29, 2016, 12:50 PM
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speedy01's Avatar
Great intro, August!!!!

I'm looking forward to the magic you and Glenn will conjure up, with hopes that others join in with as much enthusiasm.

Gene K
Nov 29, 2016, 01:16 PM
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K5083's Avatar
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Glad there is interest!

By the way, on rclibrary's sister site outerzone, the plans are cleaned up and stitched together, which may save you some time:

Bf 109E
Ta 152

Nov 29, 2016, 01:56 PM
Electric flier convert
EZflier's Avatar


and maybe in time I might join the fun. And for sure I will learn something which is why I joined RCgroups.
August, a great intro. My choice would definitely be the F6F Hellcat.

Nov 29, 2016, 02:57 PM
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Hey, cool idea August, I have similar schemes, one thing I really like about older plans is the use of balsa skins , it seems like much more of a real miniature flying model to me .The frame of the Convair Xf92a I want to build is balsa instead of aluminum,so why shouldn't the skin be balsa too.? I wonder if you have checked out Deil Engineering This guy is 100% 1/24th scale,and almost exclusively WW2 , but obscure planes , like Vought Vindicators and a half dozen Japanese fighters I never knew about . He's just nearly remade most of his models into laser cut kits , there's a Curtis Helldiver that's got hundreds of parts ,and half a dozen sheets of plans. I know what you mean about this all planes are 800mm wingspan models thing , it bugs me , and If I were still 10 building my Monogram and Revel Air Force , I honestly think I would have switched brands if they weren't all scale to one another. John
Nov 29, 2016, 03:28 PM
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Tim Cullip's Avatar
Would we be allowed to deviate from the plans and still have a build log tied to this thread? For example, use the plan as a starting point but change things up like a fully sheeted fuselage?

Several years ago I built a 21" Spitfire that had a fully sheeted fuse and wing which ended up with an AUW of 3.8 oz and flies like a dream (still a micro, but not an indoor plane).

I'm tempted to see how good a result I could get going down to this 1:24th scale (I'd choose something other than the Spitfire).

But if this thread is dedicated to sticking to the plans as drawn I'll understand.
Nov 29, 2016, 03:56 PM
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John, thanks for that link. I had forgotten Diels. That is a good source of canopies for many of the kits in this book, and kits/plans once we have all caught 1/24 scale fever. Have you built any of the Diels models? I do not recall seeing any RC conversion threads for them here, but have not searched.

Nov 29, 2016, 03:59 PM
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Tim, I am not into restrictive rules! Absolutely mod the plans any way you want. I enjoy sheeting, myself, and may do more sheeting than is called for by the plans.

Nov 29, 2016, 04:36 PM
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Thanks August, I have been just about to order a Diels , model many times but never can make up my mind. You brought up a good point earlier, the small planes like the obscure Japanese interceptors would be tougher to convert , he makes a cool looking Kate with a big span. I almost got that, it's such an example of an ideal airframe of that era . All in all the models are definately Rubber FF in construction , they would need more strength than some others,he seems like a opinionated type guy ,like he doesn't mention conversions at all. However looking at the different sizes of planes makes it worth visiting. I have this Easybuilt Russian Karpov kit that is 1/24 also , it would be a tricky conversion , doable, but things would get a bit tight when it came to Airlons especially. John
Nov 29, 2016, 05:55 PM
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Tim, PS, I like your Spitfire. It is just about exactly the size and weight of the discontinued Flyzone Aircore foamies. I have made a few minor accuracy mods to mine, and it is one of my favorite flyers.

I see you sheeted the wing also. I have never tried that. I will look to your example if you show us how you do it here.

Nov 29, 2016, 06:36 PM
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Tim Cullip's Avatar
Thanks for the compliments on my 21" Spitfire.

Yes, the fuselage and wings were all sheeted with 1/32". In that plane, the fuselage has no internal stringers, longerons, etc., just the formers and sheeting. The technique I use to do that is probably not very common. You can see the technique here:

The wing construction is more conventional.

Hopefully I'll commit to one of the listed planes and do a detailed build thread.
Nov 29, 2016, 06:44 PM
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I see what you did there. That reminds me of how the boat guys plank a hull, except they would usually cut the sheet into strips before applying. That must be lighter and stronger than inlay planking.

Nov 29, 2016, 07:26 PM
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glewis's Avatar
I built my Guillows 109 like a Jim Ryan warbird. Formers were modified to fit onto a stepped crutch. Once sheeted, the crutch was removed. No stringers or keels. I did use the vertical keels to keep the formers straight.

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