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May 16, 2007, 09:40 AM
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Joe 1320's Avatar
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Build Log

F-18 Blue Angels Formation Flyer Beta Test build log (video added)

I'm beta testing a new product that will be available from Sureflite, it's a Blue Angels F-18 formation flyer! It will be brushless powered, ailerons and elevator control, landing gear, 6mm depron and carbon fiber, plus an incredible look in the air. A few others are testing the kit as well, I'll be posting photos of the kit contents as well as photos along the way. This is definately one of those unique flyers that any Blue Angels fan will just have to obtain for their hanger!

I'm not sure how the final kit will be offered, but my guess would be the typical ARF.

Here's the recently added flight video with a new powersystem

Last edited by Joe 1320; Apr 15, 2008 at 01:01 PM.
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May 16, 2007, 09:53 AM
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Joe 1320's Avatar
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And here are the first pics of the kit contents. The 6mm depron is Laser cut, nice and clean work. The kit contains four airframes, carbon fiber tubes, landing gear, stick and motor mount, plus everything on disc to print out decals! This particular flyer will use a brushless outrunner, CC 18 amp ESC, and lipo for nice long flights that should please the crowds!

Hopefully I'll have this completed in time to bring it with me to Pensacola on my vacation. I'll be going to the Blue Angels' base, with any luck I can get some publicity photos taken as well as some autographs.
Last edited by Joe 1320; May 28, 2007 at 12:43 PM.
May 16, 2007, 03:49 PM
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simonslim's Avatar
Keep it coming, looks great.

May 17, 2007, 07:13 AM
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SRush99's Avatar
Hey Joe 1320,
I received mine last Saturday and started building last night. I'll post some details of my build tonight.

I'm running a thread in foamies

Last edited by SRush99; May 18, 2007 at 11:37 AM.
May 24, 2007, 11:18 AM
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Joe 1320's Avatar
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Since this kit involves the use of depron, I can't say enough about the
importance of a new razor sharp blade. Anything less will result in small tears in the foam rather than a clean slice. Since one of the initial steps is to cut the depron so that it can be bonded to a carbon tube, I decided to show what happens with a blade that isn't quite up to the task. You can see the difference between clean cuts and cuts with small tears. The first pic shows the typical small tears with a dull blade. The second pic shows the nice clean cuts with a fresh blade. (see pics 1, 2 and 3 below)

The two outer planes in the formation are prepared first. Following the instructions, the ailerons and rear portion of the airframes are cut apart so that the carbon tube frame can be bonded to the depron. Note the offset from side to side, the outer wingtips of both planes are secured to the wing and are not seperated. i chose to make a clean cut tough the entire airframe, then seperate the wingtip portion and glue it back on. The end result is that the carbon tube does not go all the way out to the outer wingtip, it stops at the end of the aileron.( See pics 3 & 4) Cut the extra width that the carbon rod will take up and by laying the wing portion on a strip of packing tape, the carbon rod is layed into place with in this case, 5 minute epoxy. The packing tape is then drawn around the tube and secured to the depron. It's a good strong bond. The other plane is done mirror image and glued while resting on a flat surface to make sure that both outer plane's wings and fuselage are in alignment. The same technique is used to re-attach the tail assembly of the other planes.

The seperated ailerons are beveled and hinged with more packing tape as per the instructions. Now the partially assembled outer planes and cross support can be set aside. The rear airframe uses both ailerons on the wings as elevators, both ailerons are cut out, beveled and hinged according to the instructions. A 1/16" wire joiner is used to connect both surfaces for use as elevators, make sure the joiner is used on top of the wings and not the
bottom side. Secure by making a trench in the foam, layer in some epoxy and cover with packing tape. (See the 5th pic below) Once the flat portion of the rear airframe is completed, set aside and move on to the lead plane.

The lead plane also must be seperated in similar fashion to the outer two planes in order to be bonded to the carbon tube frame. This is a full width seperation and is even from side to side. Following the instructions, the parts were seperated and joined in the same fashion as the outer planes, the tail section is bonded as well and set aside for everything to dry. (see pics 6 and 7) Now that all four horizontal portions are completed including their bonding to the carbon structure, we'll be ready for the next step. The total build time for these portions was 2 hours including interuptions by offspring, pets and the obligatory food breaks!

there are a few supplies that I was fresh out of so the cunstuction stops here for the night. One I pick up some unwaxed dental floss, it's time to start lashing the frames together and the Blue Angels Formation Flyer will really start to take shape.

This is really an easy build, it takes a little analizing of the pictures to make sure the orientation of certian things is correct, but the construction is simple. I can't wait to get this showpiece in the air.
Last edited by Joe 1320; May 28, 2007 at 10:23 AM.
May 24, 2007, 09:02 PM
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this is a BIT off topic. but what the heck. I saw the blue angels yesterday down at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. took LOTS of video of them flying in that "diamond formation"...all I can say is AWESOME....I know this isnt RC...or related too much to your Plane.. BUT thought you guys might wanna take a look at the real thing.. this pic is about as fresh as they get . ;-)
May 25, 2007, 10:12 AM
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Joe 1320's Avatar
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Nice addition of the Blue Angels pics! That diamond formation is what we're going after here.

After work it was time to hit the kit, no pun intended. I'm finding myself excited to see the whole thing unfold. Some builds are more fun than others, this one definately has a pleasure in it's build. One idea perhaps is the thought of something unique, maybe one part is that this is more like a scratch build rather than the typical plug and play "kits" out there. They call them "kits", but in reality it's closer to install the electronics and go fly. Even though this is more of a build, it is still a kit that anyone of average ability in models can assemble. The main thing is patience and taking your time to do it right. this could easily be one of those that you want to rush though it quickly and get it airborne. Must....... resist..........
So now the lashing begins! Since I couldn't find unwaxed dental floss, I had to adapt. In order to keep things light, i decided upon good old fashioned sewing thread soaked in epoxy. It's doubled up and used in about the same quantity as you would with dental floss. I simply lashed the rods together as per the instructions and gave them a coat of epoxy to bond it to the carbon. Strong, lightweight and paintable. That last reason is why you can't use waxed floss. Adhesives and paints don't like to stick to wax.

I've also made a change in the fore and aft airframe attachment to the carbon tubes. The original kit calls for bamboo, which is typically round. The problem is that the round bamboo doesn't put even pressure on the wing, it cannot...... it's not flat on the side that touches the depron. Rather than start splitting bamboo rods and such, I recycled a lightweight replacement. My thanks to Starbuck's coffee for their coffee stir sticks. They are very light and most importantly flat...... that way when lashed, in the event of any impact to the front, the load is distributed over a wider area and less likely to dent the depron. (See pics 6 & 7) It will better resist pull though and compression of the depron, the result would be a loose joint from a compressed foam core. The sticks are cut to length and glued to the topside of the wing, directly over the bottom tube under the wing. Now it's ready for another lashing. Because of the angle in the picture below it looks like the wood stir stick in not directly over the top of the carbon, it looks offset. Rest assured, it is not. Just position them over the top of the carbon creating a foam sandwich in this joint. Once all the frame lashings are finished, again the threads are soaked with a small bit of epoxy. Not enough to make a mess, just enough that the threads absorb the product and bond with the carbon. Any small nubs of thread left that become hardened can be filed down easily. It very clean looking and strong.

I layed this portion down on a flat surface and let it dry. So far this portion only took another hour, it build fairly quickly. I went back after a break with the family and started adding the fuselages to all the airframes. Now we're getting some added dimension. A few notches in some of the locating tabs are required, remember there is carbon fiber running through the wing portions right at the locating slots. A few trims and the vertical portion of the fuselages are glued in place. The lead plane in the formation is slightly different in that it will have the motor mount and some additional carving of foam is required for correct fittment. That stuff begins tonight!
Last edited by Joe 1320; May 28, 2007 at 10:29 AM.
May 25, 2007, 10:57 AM
Strange Plane Central
frankenfoamy's Avatar
You are doing a great job on the build. The flat sticks are stronger but overkill as I have never had one pull through. Interestingly, an f-18 engineer looked at the formation and said " you even have the wing hinges" he was refering to the folding wing points which by chance are at the same location as the bamboo sticks.

Your flat build is good. Becareful of the alignment when you add the fuselages.
I used rulers but a couple ten inch wide boards either side of the fore and aft fuselages would work. Note I used soda cans which provide a uniform platform.

I have had more than one person suggest," cut off those missiles (wingtip) and glue some balsa stick there". They are very fragile and you will be regluing them during the build a few times.

Looking forward to your comments and modifications
May 25, 2007, 12:12 PM
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Joe 1320's Avatar
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Thanks for the encouragement!

I had the same thought about the wingtips, they haven't broken off yet. I am eyeing a few places that some carbon fiber might be a little extra insurance against breakage. Granted, some of this may be overkill. All I can say is that when I built an Ikarus flat 3mm depron pusher jet, the extra carbon fiber I added came in handy. I lost orientation in the sun one day and it did it's impersonation of a lawn dart and just stuck nose first in the ground with a hard thud. I walked over, pulled it out of the ground and there was little damage. Re-seated the battery and sent it right up again. 6mm depron by itself is really tough and if I decide to apply ludicrous power, I'll have a little extra margin of strength.
May 26, 2007, 09:54 AM
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Joe 1320's Avatar
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By the way, it's a big thanks to Mike aka Frankenfoamy for being the mastermind behind this kit. If you couldn't tell by his post, it's his baby and hopefully we'll see this as a regular production item through Sureflite. I could see this also being produced with a larger span too.
May 26, 2007, 10:11 AM
Strange Plane Central
frankenfoamy's Avatar
Thanks for the Cudos.
Your point about the size was made by people before the first flight!
So you are not alone.
The size as it is fits into my trunk
It would need some on the field assembly for a bigger version.
The bigger size would allow some nice extras like retracts
As you can imagine I wanted to see if this doable before tackling a version that breaks down.

by the way I have plans for a steerable nose wheel.
pretty simple but does add weight up front
May 26, 2007, 10:30 AM
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Joe 1320's Avatar
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Wow. I was already thinking retracts and such.
May 26, 2007, 02:18 PM
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lslewis's Avatar


I am also doing a Beta build for Sureflite & Franknfoamy. I have had all of the issues Joe has mentioned but nothing that would stop the show! I would like to be able to take the formation apart for transportation in a suit case so I am trying an alternate method of connecting the planes. If it works OK, if it does not you will not hear anything more about it.

I have departed from the sequence of assembly in the instructions and decided it would be easier to paint and detail them before connecting them together.

Hurricane Larry
Last edited by lslewis; May 26, 2007 at 02:19 PM. Reason: Correct spelling
May 26, 2007, 10:08 PM
disciple's Avatar

What kinda of paint?

Just wondering what the actual color and type of paint you used for the blue and gold. The water color blue I have is way darker.
May 27, 2007, 10:00 AM
Stilwell Shipyard
lslewis's Avatar

Paint, EPP and Depron

I had a difficult time trying to find a paint that did not eat foam. Lowes had a Royal Blue enamel (American Tradition Valspar) that was exactly the correct color but it contained foam-eating chemicals. I tested it on scrap EPP and confirmed the problem. I also tested it on a piece of Depron and nothing happened. I could not believe it so I painted the test sample a second time. No problem on the Depron. Anticipating the worst I had also purchased a spray can of MinWax Polycrylic a water based polyurethane. I have used the product before to protect EPP on foam wings. I sprayed the two mid planes with the Polycrylic. I sprayed the lead plane and the last plane without any protection and did not have a problem. Then I sprayed the middle two planes with the enamel. The middle planes would have turned glossy had I continued. with a third coat of paint. For the yellow I used Tamyia acrylic from the LHS.

If I were to do this again I would spray all the planes with the polycrylic and then the blue glossy. Of course there is a weight penalty because it will take three or four coats to turn glossy.

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