Hi all, it’s a new year. Hope your 2021 is going well so far.
Things slowed down a bit over the holidays, but our modelers have finished their Miles M.18 models and they’re ready to fly. In this update, we’ll touch on details, final assembly, noseplug assembly and specifications. This will be our last build update.
Tissue covering & markings, Cowling and Landing Gear installation – we’re closing in on finishing this model!
Well, it’s been about a month since we’ve started building our 24inch wingspan Miles M.18 rubber powered flying scale models. Already, we’ve got a couple of ships nearly ready for that first test glide.
Our modelers continue to improvise a bit as they go, and as always it’s interesting to watch this play out.
Wing construction, Fuselage construction Part 2 and the first Trial Assembly
Another two weeks have passed (4 weeks total) and the builders are making good progress. All three are experienced modelers and are making minor modifications from the plan as they proceed. Such is the attraction of scratch building – the builder has the freedom to inject their own preferences into the build.
Join in on the build and/or share positive thoughts via the Comment Forum.
It’s been two weeks since we announced this online build and we’ve got 3 folks building the 24in wingspan Miles M.18 Mk2 free flight rubber scale model. Two modelers are on the East Coast and one in the Pacific Northwest. All have completed the tail framework, one has constructed the wing and two have made solid progress on fuselage construction. We’ll share some to-date pics along with some of the techniques employed so far.
We’ll document this Build in a series of photo essay posts.
Join the Miles M.18 Build!
Join the start-to-finish Build of the Tom Nallen-designed Miles M.18 Mk2 rubber powered free flight scale model.
This relatively simple FAC Scale model will make a nice addition to your fleet. The model can also be flown in the FAC Low Wing Military Trainer event if finished in the appropriate color scheme.
We’ll document this Build in a series of photo essay style posts to the Aeromodelling blog on thegeebee.com. Why not build one along with the group and share your questions, tips and techniques, in the comment stream on the posts? We can all learn from each other.
A Vermont modeler’s experience flying free flight rubber models off the water
I have always been interested in the many aspects of model airplane aviation. Last year I was talking to some modeling friends who were recalling days of flying rubber powered, Mylar covered planes off of water. My friends called it ROW/LOW (rise off water/ land on water), or ROLO for short. I realized this was something I would like to try.
Four of the top ten finishers in the 1930 Cirrus All American Derby were Great Lakes Trainers
Great Lakes Trainer – Gee Bee Competitor Extraordinaire
In a recent post Mystery of the Gee Bee X, we told the story of the last flight of the Gee Bee X in September, 1931 in Brattleboro, VT. A year before, the Model X and its pilot Lowell Bayles won 2nd place among 18 entries in the 1930 All-America Derby, a coast-to-coast, city-to-city reliability tour of 6,553 miles for Cirrus engine powered aircraft.
A photo essay with commentary on the Gee Bee R-1 build, plus a test flight video. This Gee Bee flies!
The R-1 has been on my Free-Flight (FF) build list for years. It is such an icon for aviation buffs- with its winning history and dramatic color scheme. As this ship moved up my build list, I began to reacquaint myself with the airplane and its history.
“One problem which needed to be licked was the fact that both ships…would float when close to the ground”
Zantford Granville’s Double-Hinged Flap
Did you know Zantford Granville was among the first, if not the first in the U.S. to patent a flap system to control aircraft airspeed and increase lift, especially while landing? And Zantford, or Grannie as he was called, didn’t even have a formal high school education.
Periodically, we’ll highlight some of our favorite tools & techniques.
Little Giant Razor Blade Planer
NOTE: this tool is not a toy and should not be used unsupervised by children.
Hi Gang. Every now and then, we’d like to highlight some of the little tricks of the trade that we use to design, develop, build and fly scale models of aircraft of the Golden Age of Aviation.
As with any task, there’s typically a proper tool for the job. Modelers are great improvisers, but there is no substitute for the proper tool.
For shaping balsa or other softwood leading and trailing edges (wing, horizontal, vertical stabilizers, etc.), the Little Giant 3 Way Curve Razor Blade Planer is one of those tools. Use this plane “with” the grain to remove a uniform amount of material over the length of the strip of wood and prepare the piece for final finishing with sandpaper.
The short video at left demonstrates the Little Giant 3 Way Curve Plane in action. A 1/16 square balsa stab leading edge is pretty small to be planed and most often in this case I’d simply round the edges with a sanding stick before tissue covering. But you get the idea. The tool really shines when planing larger strip wood over greater lengths where the sanding stick would remove material more slowly and in an uneven manner.
First introduced in the mid-1950’s the Little Giant was released in Flat and Curved Plane versions. This article and the accompanying video discusses only the 3 Way Curved Plane.
The Little Giant measures approximately 2 inches wide, by 2 in. long and 1.25 in. deep. Cast in metal, it weighs just over 100 grams and is shaped to fit the hand well with the thumb and forefingers falling naturally to the sides of the plane.
The Little Giant uses a standard double-edged shaving razor blade, which means this tool is not a toy and should not be used unsupervised by children. Change the blade and use the plane with care.
Used properly, this tool will deliver excellent results. The Little Giant plane can be found for sale periodically on ebay.
The first issue of the Around the Pylon online newsletter was sent on Thursday May, 28, 2020.
Around the Pylon Issue #1 Released
The first issue of the Around the Pylon online newsletter was sent on Thursday May, 28, 2020.
In each issue of Around the Pylon, we’ll bring you new Aviation History and Aeromodelling posts along with new plan releases into the Nallen and Golden Age Reproductions Plans portfolios.
We’re still settling into the cockpit and getting familiar with the instruments here, so bear with us as we get up to speed.
Speaking of instruments, isn’t that a neat photo of the dashboard of Jim Jenkins’ beautiful Model E replica at the top of this post? It was taken by Henry Haffke at an airshow in 1992 at Westover AFB in MA, where both the Benjamin R2 and Jenkins Model E replicas were flying. Wow! Perhaps we’ll share additional pics taken at this show in future posts.
Back to Around the Pylon (AtP) – if you’re not receiving it yet, sign up at the link below. It’s free and you’ll get a 20% discount coupon code to use on The Gee Bee.com.
If you’re already subscribed, first thanks! And second, if the AtP email lands in your Spam or Promotions folder, you’ll need to mark it as not Spam – and enable image display while you’re at it. Copies of AtP will not be retained on The Gee Bee.com, but the featured content of course will be – check out the Blog page for an archive of all posts shared through Around the Pylon.
“a short photo essay with brief commentary on the Q.E.D. wing rebuild… A short video of a test flight was also captured”
Click to Enlarge Images
I recall the anticipation of the first test glides of my Gee Bee Q.E.D. model more than 20yrs ago in the back yard of our first house. In the time between then and now, this model – I know, it’s not really a Gee Bee (see post) – has been flown hard in fair weather and poor, placing in its share of contests and even winning a few. And I must admit to a crash or two along the way.
The last crash was flying in an FAC Thompson Trophy mass launch event at the Rocky Hill sod farm in CT. Unfortunately the sod had recently been harvested and the summer sun had baked the bald surface to hardpack. Launching into the breeze, the Q.E.D. hesitated a bit and lost airspeed. Many times before, the knock-off landing gear had prevented damage, but not this time. She came in on a wingtip and crunched spars, ribs, the whole bit.
Fast-forward to last month. In preparing the Q.E.D. plan for publication and examining the model for reference, I decided to re-build the wing and get her back into the air. Following is a short photo essay with brief commentary on the Q.E.D. wing rebuild which took place over several days. A short video of a test flight was captured and the link follows this post.
Pic 1 – The Initial Lay-Down. Wing ribs are cut out using the templates on the plan, followed by lay-down of the Trailing Edge and bottom Wing Spars. Inboard ribs W1-W3 are fitted to the spars and trimmed at the aft end to join tightly against the T.E., and then cemented in place. Next, the Leading Edge and top spar are cemented in place – except at the center rib, which is Cyanoacrylate-glued (CYA’d) together later when the dihedral is added.
Pic 2 – Install wingtips and build in washout. Laminate the balsa wingtips with thinned aliphatic glue (Titebond). Trim the wing tips to join tightly with the L.E., T.E. and lower wing spars. Note: don’t trim the spars to exact length during the Initial Lay-Down – trim them to fit snugly as the wing tips are fitted to the L.E. and T.E. The wingtip should be raised 5/32in off the building board at the front wing spars, which are “cracked” at rib W5 to angle up or down to join with the wingtip. Also note that the lower rear spar is shimmed up off the building board ~ 1/16in such that the rear spar rises to join the wingtip. The rear spar slot for ribs W4 and W5 is deepened to allow the aft end of the rib to join with the wingtip. This approach provides built-in washout at the wingtips which should be gently enhanced when dihedral is added and the tissue wing covering is shrunk. Washout is important to flight stability with this model.
Pic 3 – Install the Landing Gear Mounts. This is an important step as any time spent here will be saved many times over in repairs later. Plus the knock-off L.G. is actually easier to make and much lighter than any fixed music wire gear could be. Install the L.G. mount balsa sheet fill areas before you block up the wing panels and CYA the dihedral in place at the root rib L.E., spar and T.E. joints. Remember to block up the T.E. slightly more than the L.E. to add in a bit more washout. The forward and rear Dihedral Braces are cemented in place after the wing is lifted from the building board. Now, carefully locate and countersink holes in the underside of rib W1 to receive the earring clutch main L.G. mounts. The stiff nylon pins embedded into the top edge of the L.G. legs will plug into these clutches and the rear of the leg will be held in place by a small Velcro patch CYA’d to the underside of rib W1 and the sheet fill after the wing is covered with tissue.
Pic 4 – Making the Tissue Markings. My original Q.E.D. carried the incorrect colors (shame, shame!) for the registration and racing numbers and this was fixed as part of this re-build. The de Lackner/Galletti 3v indicates Orange with Black pinstripe for the Registration and Racing markings. To make the Orange tissue markings pop better on the green tissue base, I printed the markings “Orange on Orange” with a black pinstripe using my Epson durabrite printer. This worked nicely and to deepen the contrast,I chalked the back side of the printed tissue with Orange Pan Pastel chalk and went over the printed black pinstripe with a Sharpie and straightedge. The letters and numbers were cut out using a new Xacto #11 blade and attached to the base green tissue “skins” with a spray adhesive using the wing plan underneath as a location/alignment guide. The vertical tail registration was simply printed on a small patch of green tissue and fixed in place with spray adhesive. It all seemed to work well.
I also rebuilt the horizontal stabilizer on the Q.E.D. which was a bit droopy with age. So now, the model should be good for another 20 years. We’ll see!
“The International Sportster appealed to her (Cochran), but she specified that it be fitted with the Curtiss engine”
Click to Enlarge Images
The Gee Bee International Sportster and GMD Q.E.D.
Our last story told of the final flight of the Gee Bee Model X in 1931. Today, we fast-forward beyond the turbulent years of 1932 and 1933 where the Granvilles reach the pinnacle of glory only to fall into an abyss of misfortune culminating in the liquidation of the Granville Brothers Aircraft Company in September 1933.
Following this, Zantford Granville and chief engineer Howell Miller, the creative design team behind the Gee Bee R1 and R2 Super Sportsters, join with aeronautical engineer Don deLackner to form an aviation consulting company in New York City. Known by the acronym GMD, the firm pins its hopes on three projects; the R5 International SuperSportster for the MacRobertson race, the Gee Bee Atlanta Indy Car, and the Ascender Roadable Aircraft.
On February 11, 1934, tragedy strikes again when Grannie Granville is killed landing his Gee Bee Model E in bad weather while avoiding construction workers on an airstrip in South Carolina. The three designs in his briefcase that day never get built.
On their own now, Miller and deLackner press on with the International SuperSportster. Enter Jackie Cochran noted aviatrix and up-and-coming air racer. She visits GMD’s New York offices, expresses interest in the racer and helps make a connection to financial backing with her future husband Floyd Odlum. But there’s a catch, the racer must be fitted with an inline liquid-cooled Curtiss Conqueror engine – just like her Northrop Gamma which is her first-choice entry in the 1934 MacRobertson race.
Jackie helps Pete Miller modify the R5 International SuperSportster into the R6C, the Conqueror-powered design which is destined to become the Q.E.D. (See general arrangement drawing).
In a turn of fate, Curtiss-Wright cannot deliver the Conqueror engine in time for the MacRobertson race scheduled to run on October 23, 1934. So, with some relief (he prefers Pratt & Whitney radial engines) Pete Miller and Don deLackner rapidly rework the design to fit the P&W Hornet, calculating an improved top speed in the process.
The second International SuperSportster 3v at left is very rough, a blueprint copy of the original marked up copy, but it does seem to convey the urgency at which this redesign was made. The detailed engineering work that the design was founded on is evident as well.
Looking at the documents and reading the first-person accounts of this period, one gains insight into how these small teams worked to rapidly develop and deliver some of the fastest aircraft in the world. The R6H (Hornet) Q.E.D. in the hands of Jacqueline Cochran and copilot Wesley Smith was a top challenger to DeHavilland’s Comet racers in the 1934 MacRobertson.
Personally, I am intrigued by the additional fin area that is sketched onto the redesigned Hornet-powered R6 general arrangement drawing. Was this a lesson-learned from the R1/R2 Hybrid racer that Roy Minor ran into a ditch in 1933? I find it interesting because my free flight scale model of the R6H Q.E.D. needed a similar fin area increase to track well in flight. It wasn’t until recently that I noticed this fin area addition on the marked up three view of the R6C International SuperSportster. I like to think this is one more example of how scale modeling can help make aviation history come alive.
Let’s conclude with “The Rest of the Story” as Paul Harvey would say. It turns out that Jackie Cochran was right to have the Q.E.D. readied as a backup for her Conqueror-powered Gamma as it washed out and was not ready for the 1934 MacRobertson. She and Wesley Smith did fly the Q.E.D. in the race, but they didn’t have much flight time in the airplane and their unfamiliarity with it showed. They also chose a dangerous over-mountain route to Rumania which ended with a landing mishap in Bucharest due to trouble – again likely unfamiliarity – with the innovative but tricky Granville double flap system first installed on the transcontinental Gee Bee R2 racer (another story for another time). The Q.E.D.’s stabilizer was damaged on landing and Cochran and Smith retired from the race which C. W. A. Scott and Tom Campbell Black went on to win in their DH Comet “Grosvernors House”.
A terrific video of the 1934 MacRobertson race, including in-flight footage of the Granville, Miller & deLackner R6H Q.E.D. can be found on youtube here.
Build your own flying scale model of the R6H Q.E.D. and re-enact a bit of this exciting period in aviation history where a small team with big ideas, but little time and money built some of the fastest airplanes in the world.
Built for Speed, The Story of Race Plane Designer, Howell Miller, An American Aviation Genius; Wings 1978, Walter Boyne
The Final Gee Gee Designs; Sport Aviation, Dec. 1977, Robert H. Granville
Gee Bee in ’33; Sport Aviation, Robert H. Granville
R6-C SuperSportster and GMD Q.E.D. general arrangement drawings; Howell Miller/Premo Galletti
I’m excited to let you know about our new site www.thegeebee.com . Tom1 and I talked about doing this for a number of years, but with work & kids it never happened. Now it has.
I’d like to do my part to help keep the Granville and Gee Bee story alive. I’ve talked with June Granville (Dakin) and she’s fully supportive. We’d like to tie in aeromodeling/scale modeling as a rewarding activity that can make aviation history come alive. We’ll use thegeebee.com as a platform to release the many model airplane plans we’ve drawn over the last 50yrs or so. Many of these are large-format and not suitable for newsletter publication…and we all know what’s happened to the model mags that used to run our sort of stuff. We’ll see what happens.
Oh, and through an agreement with Jim Fiorello, Golden Age Reproductions Plans are being made available through The Gee Bee.com as well. These are the original, high-quality Joe Fitzgibbon offset prints, not copies. We’ll start with ~30 plans with another 200 or so to come over time if there is interest.
There are no illusions of profit-making, but stuff on The Gee Bee.com is not free either. This may wind up as a non-profit org and we have some ideas there, but first things first.
Anyway, check out the site and I hope you sign up for the free bi-monthly Around The Pylon newsletter – we’ve lost some of these lately too. Around The Pylon will be brief and online-only. We plan to share interesting bits from the Len Wieczorek, Bert Pond and other collections as well as new plan releases, freebie downloads and FF modeling stuff. Subscribers get 20% discounts. Contributors to the newsletter are welcome so let me know if you or someone you know is interested.
Please help spread the word by sharing this Announcement.
Hopefully society will reopen soon and we can return to our lives.