My wife took a trip down to the local hobby store and picked out a Parkzone P-51 RTF as a Christmas surprise for me! Although she is not into RC, she shares my passion for aircraft and aviation (she has a Masters in Aeronautical Engineering from MIT). Knowing I am a fan of WWII warbirds, she specifically looked for a P-51. Unknowingly, she picked out an RTF which includes a Spektrum 4 channel transmitter. This works out perfectly as I also have a Parkzone F4F Wildcat bind-and-fly that I won in a raffle earlier this year, but I only have a Futaba transmitter. The included Spektrum radio is pretty basic, but it will definitely do until I am ready to lay out the cash for a full featured Spektrum radio.
I decided to hold off on hinging the elevator/rudder and move on to fuselage construction today. I went back-and-forth a few times, but finally settled on building the razor-back version. So far, I have managed to sort through and separate the parts for the fuse top. Construction in earnest will begin in the morning.
After three short months I have finally finished the tail feathers – well mostly finished anyway. I still need to add the hinges and round the leading edges of the elevator halves and the rudder. To give a more scale-like look, I decided to cut the elevator and rudder tips with curve instead of the straight cut called for in the plans. Below you can see where I marked the elevator for the curved cut near the tip. To generate the curve, I enlarged a section of a three-view drawing on a photocopier (by trial and error) until it matched the size of the stab-elevator assembly. This was transferred onto thin card stock to make a template.
If you look closely, you will see two lines drawn onto the elevator tip. The curve of the “scale” line (bottom line) extends slightly past the solid balsa tip. I modified the curve slightly (the top line) to blend directly into the existing gap – close enough to scale for my purposes. The curves were carefully cut with a jewelers saw. The left tip came out perfect, but unfortunately, the right tip ended up a bit rough. To fix this, I carved the trailing edge of the elevator back slightly and laminated on a piece of scrap 1/16th sheet balsa. Once sanded and blended in, the curve matched up with the elevator perfectly.
The same techniques were used to complete the curve on the fin-rudder assembly.
Well it has been over a month since I last posted and unfortunately, I am still working on the tail feathers. Between work travel and holiday travel, I really have only had a few hours here and there to putter around in my workshop since then. No real surprise, as I knew this was going to be a long slow process!
My major accomplishment on the stabilizer has been to complete carving and shaping the tips. This went much easier than I feared. Below you can see the blocks carved into rough shape using a razor plane (the masking tape helps ensure that I don’t accidentally damage the existing sheeting) and the result of final sanding.
My next step will be to cut the elevator free from the stab. Instead of the straight cut shown on the plans, I will cut them using a scale curve near the tip. I decided to hold off on this for tonight as freehand curve cuts have always been my woodworking “Achilles Heel”. You can see that I have added some lightweight balsa filler to touch up a few low spots, although a bit more final fussing will be needed before final finishing.
On the fin, the right skin has been glued down along with both left and right skins on the rudder. Note the reinforcing blocks added to the rudder to help secure the hinge points. The fin has been lifted from the board (not shown) and the left side prepped for its skin – but that’s as far as I got.
I am back traveling again this week, but I will have some time off after that. Hopefully I will finally be able to get some quality time in my shop!