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May 28, 2018, 09:21 AM
Slip the surly bonds...
Sopwith Mike's Avatar
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Build Log

Ivan's DH 86 Express by Mike Roach

This lovely but flawed De Havilland design has been a favourite for many years. I saw Ivan and Trevorh flying the sole model example back in 2010, and more recently Ivan flew it at Chilliwack last year. It is graceful, large, has four motors and when looking at the plan, not all that difficult to make. I shall have to dust off my sandwich method of making ribs but everything else looks pretty straightforward.

Rather than make a replica of Ivan's model, I've chosen an Imperial Airways plane "Dorado" and there are some very good pictures of her in 1936 in the Far East. All over silver makes covering easy and those big Union Jacks will be a fine talking point.

Although I have said I will build her according to the plan, there are some differences between the model plan and the 3-views and photos, particularly at the tail end. I'll scan my alternative structures and outlines as and when and I'll keep a material and hours log for anyone planning a similar adventure.
Last edited by Sopwith Mike; May 28, 2018 at 01:55 PM.
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May 28, 2018, 09:26 AM
Slip the surly bonds...
Sopwith Mike's Avatar
Thread OP
Five building hours ago I made the first cuts in balsa and the result is the two fuselage sides, joined by my favourite method of pre-made balsa frames. These help to keep the fuselage from twisting or bending in this critical stage. As I put the result down on the grass, Alfie decided he wanted in on the act and lay down right beside it. On guard, Alfie!
May 28, 2018, 10:27 AM
Registered User
Interested in building this model as well! Good luck and I'm following...
May 28, 2018, 01:31 PM
Registered User
destrat's Avatar

I have a set of DH 86 Express plans from Ivan that I'm not going to build, send me a PM.

May 28, 2018, 01:42 PM
Slip the surly bonds...
Sopwith Mike's Avatar
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And here is the Master with his Express back in 2012, flying in his usual exuberant fashion!

And here is Trevorh flying the same model on the old field at Chilliwack in 2010. Watch out for Ivan telling him to loop - and does he? And his comment at the end "That is lovely"
Last edited by Sopwith Mike; May 28, 2018 at 01:51 PM.
May 28, 2018, 04:51 PM
Registered User
Kiwi's Avatar
Link to the videos is non productive, comes up with "no videos found"
May 29, 2018, 01:59 AM
Watch out for that planet....
Shane McMillan's Avatar
The links are to Mike's own edit page within You-tube.

If you copy and paste the last section, from the second = sign into You-tube search bar you will find them.

May 29, 2018, 04:52 AM
Registered User
Kiwi's Avatar
Thanks Shane.
Heres a couple of shots of the original 'AEF
May 29, 2018, 09:03 AM
The Junk Man
"This lovely but flawed De Havilland design..."

Yep, a beautiful killer. And what was worse was the government cover-up that occurred.

Pretty amazing the lengths the British government went to to "protect" the De Havilland company's (and British aircraft manufacturing in general) reputation.

May 29, 2018, 10:21 AM
Slip the surly bonds...
Sopwith Mike's Avatar
Thread OP
Plus ca change....
May 31, 2018, 04:55 PM
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Sopwith Mike's Avatar
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Another five hours in the shed (admittedly, quite a bit of that time was "thinking"), the battery tray, servo tray and linkages to the rudder and elevator and all the stringers on one side - until I ran out of 1/8th square.

One very unusual construction item was to insert 3/16th oversize horizontal spacers along the centre line from F5 to F9, in order to give the fuselage sides the required outward bowed look . So the inevitable result would be cracked glue joints all along the centre longeron. So I reinforced inside all the centre line joins with small straps of 0.8 ply to either prevent this happening, or to provide some insurance if it did. In the event I only heard one ominous crack as a joint failed, but it all seems strong enough to me.

So far it has just been "glueing sticks together": not diffficult, but it does take a large number of sticks!
Jun 03, 2018, 05:46 AM
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Sopwith Mike's Avatar
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The nose section and cockpit is built separately and gives access to the battery bay. I changed the shape very slightly to make the back of it follow the line of the cockpit windows...still not sure if this was a good idea!
Jun 03, 2018, 11:04 AM
Summit Model Aeronautics
Steve85's Avatar
Ahh, the only thing better than a stick-and-tissue build is a BIG stick-and-tissue build.

Nice work so far, Mike.

Jun 05, 2018, 01:07 AM
71% of the world is runway . .
Bart83's Avatar
Nothing like an Ivan build. Nice work on the fuselage frame work Mike , very clean!


Jun 10, 2018, 04:20 AM
Slip the surly bonds...
Sopwith Mike's Avatar
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On to the wings then. This was always going to be the crux of the model, with sweepback, dihedral, taper and rigidity throwing up various challenges. The spar is the key and proved reasonably straightforward, despite the need to cut oblique angles in hard wood, a razor saw and metal guides being essential.

The wings are divided, the tip sections on opposite sides being detachable. You could easily make both tips on both wings detachable, at the cost of some extra weight and complexity, but my car is long enough to take the Ivan suggestion.

So I had a go at one of the detachable tips. I don't like building wings and I'm not very good at it, always ending up with compromises along the way, hoping that the sanding block and the covering will conceal my mistakes...but this is not too bad so far. The three view and study of the photos shows that the tip shape is slightly different from the plan (and more elegant: this is an elegant aircraft) so I've used a card template to make alterations.

I was planning to use the sandwich method for cutting out four lots of 14 ribs, but it proved impractical, so I printed the rib drawings onto Decadry A4 labels and, after cutting them out with scissors and peeling off the backing, was able to stick them onto the balsa and cut each one out, using them as patterns for the three extra of each rib. And only four mistakes!

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