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Mar 29, 2018, 10:54 AM
It's all about scale models!
MrSmoothie's Avatar
Thread OP
Build Log

Dynam's Northrop P-61 Black Widow Rebuild


Welcome to my latest Build Log, for Dynam's new Northrop P-61 Black Widow.

By now, many of you are aware that Motion RC has decided not to sell the P-61. Once I received my kit (from Bitgohobby.com), I could see why. Any customer used to the quality coming from MRC's FlightLine series of warbirds, or even other recent Dynam releases for that matter, will find much to complain about here. I will show some of the issues, not so much to throw stones at Dynam, but to show aspects which I intend to correct in the course of this "rebuild."

I say "rebuild" deliberately -- if your goal is to simply put this P-61 together and fly it, there's really not all that much to do. And judging by the great videos posted by Geert (Icarus the 2nd), it's clearly an excellent flyer. While there are many cosmetic flaws, on an all-black model, most won't be visible from ten feet, let alone while in the air.

My intentions are to both improve functional aspects, as well as do a variety of cosmetic and scale detail improvements, including new paint. One of the really good things about this model is that the outlines and 3D modeling look quite good. In particular, I was impressed with the sculpting of the lower central nacelle, where the four 20mm cannon were housed. It looks spot-on to me.

This coupled with reports of excellent flight characteristics makes me thing this plane has "good bones" as a basis for a rebuild. Those of you who followed my extensive rebuilding of the first version VQ Models A-26 Invader have some idea how I approach a project like this:

https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...-conversion%29

As mentioned earlier, I ordered my Widow from Dynam's new US Distributor, www.Bitgohobby.com. The order process was very simple and straightforward with expected email confirmations and updates. The package was quickly shipped via FedEx and arrived in perfect condition. At the present time, it doesn't appear that any spares are available.

At the same time, I ordered several reference books on the P-61 to start soaking up details and to research possible color schemes.
Last edited by MrSmoothie; Mar 30, 2018 at 06:37 AM.
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Mar 29, 2018, 11:12 AM
Oh no, not again!
jhspring's Avatar
I've followed the P-61 thread and all of yours. You have your work cut for you, but it will certianly be a lot of fun to watch.

Regards,
jeff
Mar 29, 2018, 11:13 AM
It's all about scale models!
MrSmoothie's Avatar
Thread OP

Unboxing


My package arrived with no damage whatsoever, with all components securely held by foam blocks or in smaller boxes. But was instantly apparent that the foam used for this model is on the soft side, and flat black paint quite thin and easily scuffed. In fact, simply removing the foam packing blocks revealed areas where the paint had been partially removed. This is not an issue for me, since I will be repainting -- but most will not, and should expect that they will need to touch up some areas.

I liked how the cowls are removable (magnets), but disappointed that they have no plastic reinforcement on the front lip, and as mentioned, quite scuffed.

Also quickly apparent -- large gaps between components, such as the nacelles and the wing, and plenty of glue smears.

One of the real mysteries is why Dynam chose to use the most inappropriate wheels imaginable -- they look like they go on a cheap race car toy.

Another disappointment: the distinctive top turret, which housed four .50 caliber machine guns, was molded integrally with the filler unit which goes over the wing. In addition, it's not even very accurate, with big slots, presumably for the guns to be swiveled up and down. This is an area I plan to spend a good bit of time improving.

Do I have anything good to say? Well, as I said earlier, the outlines and contours on this model look really good to me, and I've spent a lot of time recently going over scale drawings and photographs. It's far, far more accurate than the VQ A-26 Invader, which is probably best described as semi-scale.

I was surprised at how good the clear canopy moldings look, and that, for once, the frames were not molded twice as wide as they should be. I was also pleased that Dynam left them unmounted. That makes it much easier to add whatever cockpit detailing is desired, and pilot figures (we'll get to THAT later).

I'm also glad that they left the graphics off, which makes it much easier to repaint or at the least, upgrade to quality graphics from Callie. The graphics that came with this model are among the worst I have ever seen, short of a toy. I'm not kidding. The stars (in the stars & bars) appear to have been drawn freehand. As a professional graphic designer, this just hurts my feelings.
Mar 29, 2018, 08:57 PM
It's all about scale models!
MrSmoothie's Avatar
Thread OP

The "Rats Nest"


I've been following the P-61 thread for months, and a few guys overseas got their Widows a while back. They quickly discovered what was described as a "rats nest" of servo connectors and adapters buried in the fuselage. One of the first things I had to do was find out just how bad the situation was.

The nacelles and wing center section are a unit, which bolts to the center fuselage with four screws. Removing this from the fuselage revealed the wiring, which was tightly packed down into the bowels of the fuselage. Let's just say I just say I was astonished and wished somebody was there to share the experience when I extracted and laid out all of it!

Once all these wires enter the wing, they travel to the nacelles in channels molded into the wing's lower surface, then covered up with a foam filler strip -- which in my case, did not fit flush, as there were either too many wires for the size of the channel -- or they weren't all down in the channel with the filler strip was attached.

I actually have what I think is a very good plan to eliminate most of these extensions, so stay tuned...

As the photos will show, we are still in the "deconstruction" phase of this project. But coming up next: changes to retracts and landing gear.
Mar 29, 2018, 09:18 PM
Registered User
Im going to watch what you do also....Maybe we can swap ideas as we progress.. Mine is being rebuilt from a crash. The price I paid was too good to ignore.

The wheels I think are as a result of cost cutting..They are the same ones used on their B-26.

The channels on mine were a bad fit too...I deepened the channel and also carefully made a groove on the cover panel.

I also replaced EVERY wire that was too long and replaced them with ones from my spares "stash"
Mar 29, 2018, 10:23 PM
Classic jets rule
AIR SALLY's Avatar
ohh another nice build coming but I must Add it is" Northrop " looking forward to this as I have been working for Northrop for the last 31 1/2 years
Mar 30, 2018, 02:01 AM
Fly as high as the sun
icarus the 2nd's Avatar
/subscribed
Mar 30, 2018, 02:12 AM
Fly as high as the sun
icarus the 2nd's Avatar
Nick, I'm really looking forward to see what you will change to enhance the scale details of the model

One of my cowls was scuffed also, but it looks like my plane was definitely better glued by the Dynam factory workers.

Don't be too dissapointed, all gaps or other errors are so easily filled or fixed.

Those foam filler strips were the pain in the a** on my P-61 (and also my new Dynam Gloster Meteor) ... they are very uneven and stick out so much that they might even change the wing's profile just a tiny bit, also the flying characteristics are still really good.

My foam fillers were almost impossible to get out, they were the best glued parts of the whole plane actually, I had to break and bend them to get them out

One advice, be carefull with at the servo wires comming from the wings, if you pull them too hard you will loosen the servo extensions that are sitting under those foam fillers !
Mar 30, 2018, 03:40 AM
Registered User
Thats so true... Also..where they did glue it wasnt very even...I had to use a flat metal rod to carefully free some of the wires from the excess glue.
Mar 30, 2018, 03:52 AM
Fly as high as the sun
icarus the 2nd's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by agedflier
Thats so true... Also..where they did glue it wasnt very even...I had to use a flat metal rod to carefully free some of the wires from the excess glue.
if I think about it now, some balsa instead of those #@|&$*% foam fillers, screwed into the wings would be a lot better and prettier and easily taken of again when needed
Mar 30, 2018, 06:22 AM
3d and EDF, some scale
MustangAce17's Avatar
Can't wait to see the end result
Mar 30, 2018, 06:37 AM
It's all about scale models!
MrSmoothie's Avatar
Thread OP
Quote:
I must Add it is" Northrop " looking forward to this as I have been working for Northrop for the last 31 1/2 years
D'OH! Fixed. Thanks.
Mar 30, 2018, 06:42 AM
It's all about scale models!
MrSmoothie's Avatar
Thread OP
Hi Icarus and AgedFlier!! I've followed all of your posts, so no need to repeat your ideas from the P-61 thread. I'll happily steal any I like, haha. It helps a lot to see what others have tried, and what to expect as I dig deeper.

I'm bit further along than the photos show -- I've removed all of the wiring from the wing center section and forward nacelles. You'll see my solution soon. I can tell you that my "spare servo extension stash" is about to double.
Mar 30, 2018, 10:05 AM
Spad Driver
parkcityskier's Avatar
I really like doing true scratch builds but since they can take many months or years I also pick up a foamy from time to time and like you I spend a lot of time fixing glaring errors in design and getting the plane closer to scale fidelity. It's a nice offshoot from this forum and still shows the talents of a good builder in getting the plane right. It looks like you will spend some time on this one and it will be interesting to see the finished product.

Jim
Last edited by parkcityskier; Mar 31, 2018 at 09:43 AM.
Mar 30, 2018, 03:58 PM
It's all about scale models!
MrSmoothie's Avatar
Thread OP
Quote:
It's a nice offshoot from this thread
Thanks ParkCitySkier! Obviously this isn't a "kit' in the traditional sense. But I can assure you it's no "ARF", at least the way I'm going about it. There's really sort of a gap in the Form categories for projects like this. I found that if I list under "Scale ARF/RTF" nobody follows. Seems to me most posters in those threads are primarily concerned with how to make a model go faster, or what's the best size lipo, or... Nothing against that -- I read those threads closely after I buy a truly ready- or almost-ready-to-fly model. If you want to reach what I would call the "traditional modeler", you have to put your build log under "Kit/Scratch".


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