While it is still very early in the build of the Kharkov, I wanted to post some initial first impressions related to this kit. To date, I have completed about 80% of the wing structure and I will base this report on that much of the build so far.
This is both my first ‘Easy Built Models’ kit and the first rubber band powered freeflight kit that I have built. I have to say that I am very impressed with the kit so far. The quality of the balsa and kit components is top notch. The balsa is extremely lightweight (critical in a freeflight model) and accordingly it is also very delicate. An ‘easy touch’ is critical when working with this kit so as to not damage what you are trying to build. All the balsa pieces are laser cut which is also excellent. The pieces practically fall out of their balsa sheets and the fit of one piece to another is right on. Very little sanding will be required once the airframe is all constructed. All of these factors greatly speed up the construction process.
I have noticed that the instructions are somewhat lacking. They are pretty much along the line of ‘build the wing, build the fuselage, cover the plane, …’. While this is a bit of an exaggeration it is not too far from the truth. Even though this is a relatively easy kit to build and building most of it should be intuitive to an experienced builder, I would not necessarily recommend it to a first time modeler based on the included instructions.
The plans are also a bit deceptive in that not all balsa pieces are shown. The center section of the wing has one place with both a top and bottom spar in the same location on the the ribs. The plans show the top spar. The bottom spar is slightly longer and this is not shown. As a result, I cut and glued in the bottom spar only to later learn it is a bit too short on each end. This mistake will be easy to correct and it could have been caught with a little better study on my part of the spars and ribs prior to gluing them, however, it does point out that careful studying of the plans and parts is needed before applying glue.
This wing has compound dihedral and that is the last thing needing to be dealt with in the build phase. The center (straight) section of the wing is actually 2 separate pieces each with 3/32″ of dihedral from the center rib to the end rib of each section. The tapered wing sections are then added with an additional 1.25″ of dihedral on each of them. All of this can be seen represented by the four separate pieces of the trailing edge in the below photo. After the wing sections are glued together with the proper dihedral there are a couple more small spars to be added and then the wing assembly will be completed.
Here is a photo of the wing assembly as it currently stands:
(Click on the photo to get a large image with higher resolution)