I am not very artistically talented. As I was working on finishing the Junior Commercial, I was taken by the fact that the color scheme that I had imposed upon this poor little free flight airplane made it a candidate for worse color scheme ever. However, now that the plane is complete, the color scheme is growing on me. I suppose we all love our ‘children’ no matter how ugly they are!
The kit for this model came with white and orange tissue paper. I liked the orange and decided to cover the flight surfaces with it. As for the body, I decided to cover it with the white tissue and then paint it a complementary color. The color wheel shows blue to be complimentary to orange so blue it was to be. Unfortunately, the shade of blue I selected turned out to be lighter than I had hoped and it didn’t seem to go well with the orange. After painting, I was digging around trying to find some extra tissue paper to apply over the tissue seams on top of the wing and I came up with a nice hunk of dark blue tissue. It went perfectly with the orange. But at this point, I decided I didn’t want to strip off the painted tissue and recover the fuselage so it remained a shade of blue that I wasn’t happy with. I then applied the dark blue tissue stripes to the wings and also added some stripes to the tail. They didn’t go on too well (my first time applying tissue over tissue) and besides looking like a sloppy application the plane now had 2 different shades of blue on it. And I thought it looked ugly. But I decided to leave it alone and continue on finishing the build. So what you see in the photos is my little ‘ugly duckling’ (you can zoom in on the photos by clicking on them).
Even if I wasn’t happy with the color, I was happy with the way the paint job came out on the fuselage. This was my first attempt at airbrushing and I found that my old Marine Corps aircraft painting skills worked beautifully when applied to this small-scale situation. I used water based acrylic modelers paint over the doped tissue and it gave me a wonderful finish.
Speaking of dope, one mistake that I made in finishing this model was in the use of butyrate dope. I forgot all about its’ shrinkage characterists until I was all done. I was able to deal with the issue…mostly…the left wing ended up with a very noticeable twist to it. I have been able to work out most of the twist but some still remains. I am sure it will have an effect on the flight characteristics of the plane and hopefully I can trim those issues out. The next time around, I will invest in some nitrate dope and use it instead.
Another first for me on this model was the use of Canopy Glue. I like it. Although, the next time around I will apply it by ‘painting’ a thin coat onto the structure with a brush instead of applying a thick bead directly from the tube. That should prevent the glue from globing on to the inside of the canopy where it can’t be cleaned off from.
Lastly, instead of applying the tissue with a glue stick like I did on the Kharkov, I applied it this time by ‘painting’ a 50×50 mixture of Elmer’s white glue and water on to the edges of the structures and then applying the tissue over it. I seemed to have pretty good success with this technique. At this point, I see advantages and disadvantages to the use of both the glue stick and the glue mixture so I am not sure how I’ll proceed with my next free flight build. Maybe some combination of both techniques depending on the surface being covered.
I have to say that I am quite pleased with the final flight statistics for this plane. The final weight (minus flight rubber) came in at 36 grams (1.25 oz.) which results in a wing loading of approximately .35 (where < .50 is desirable). And the Center of Gravity came out exactly spot on hopefully meaning that no additional weight will need to be added for balancing. I am hoping that the weight and CG will contribute to a good flying airplane!
I did a pretty lousy carving job on the nose plug since I was in a rush to complete the build and that was the last item left to finish. Despite that, I am satisfied with the structure build that I did on this plane as it does represent some improvements over my last build. However, I am still working thru techniques and issues with tissue covering and finishing and have a ways to go before I am satisfied with my work in this area. In the final analysis, I am giving myself a Grade of ‘B’ for this build.
Oh, and one last thing: I started this build on September 22 and finished on November 15 with a total investment of 66 man-hours of work. I still think I am a slow builder.