That's no Hellcat
It's a P-47 Thunderbolt..
Christmas is over, it’s grey outside, and you want to look at pages of blue skies, exotic locations, and smooth, aerodynamic models. Yes, you’re ready for El Reg’s dabble in the extreme end of modelling... aircraft modelling that is. Way back in the summer we were invited to a day out at Stow Maries, a refurbished WW1 …
It's painted as a late-War P-47 of the 61st Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Group, the HV coding is the give-away. If you look closely it has the 13" longer nose of the later models, which means it can't be a B model, so could be a late C-5 or early D as the 61st didn't fly the B model, and the early C-1 and -2 had a short, vertical radio mast, missing from this otherwise accurate model so unlikely to be an oversight. The D and C were virtually identical with mainly internal differences until the cut-down rear fuselage and bubble canopy was introduced on the D-25 block. If you can read the tail number or the code letter just in front of the tail then you could probably identify the pilot of the actual machine the model represents here (http://www.littlefriends.co.uk/56thfg.php).
(MIne's the anorak with far too many books in the pockets.)
Or you can see the real thing - full size, piloted - at Hood Aerodrome, Masterton, NZ.
Film mogul Sir Peter Jackson chooses to waste his money on re-building and reproducing WW I aeroplanes, a vice I most heartily approve of and for which I am extremely grateful! :)
Or the shuttleworth collection, if your in England.
They have a collection of original and reproduction aircraft plus a "late production model" of a Sopwith Triplane, so called because it was so faithful to the Sopwith original that Sir Tommy Sopwith decreed after inspecting it that it was a continuation of the original production line rather than a reproduction.
The engineer in me sees no difference in principal between an R/C aircraft and a full size/real aircraft. Sure, payload capacity is different, and the drinks on the R/C flights are quite small, but those are a matter of scale, not principal.
It's the very same science and mechanical forces that allow both models and 'real' planes to fly, but with a model you can interact with the science. What happens if you lop 8" off the wing tips? If you add nitromethane to the fuel what are the performance gains (the answer is none, but now I know that :) Anyway, if you're building a model from raw materials, following someone else's blueprints or your own, you are building an aircraft.
Whether it's a model or a full size plane, it's the plane doing the flying, not its cargo. A pilot is piloting inside a real plane, but still interacting with the same forces in the same way as the R/C pilot, but in both cases, the plane is flying, not the people.
Besides, big is cool and all, but I've really gotten into the micro R/C models the last few years. They aren't as realistic as my larger scale models and not as showy as my turbine model, but let's see you fly the big models or a full size plane in your living room :)
Sure, the view and feelings are different, when you sit in the cockpit of a machine you feel the forces through the flight controls and buttocks and when you are standing on the ground you will have to judge every tiny flutter by its consequences.
But other then that, he is very correct that the way these machines fly is nigh on the same. And flying RC is much much cheaper then flying the bigger counterparts, and easier to do(not easier to fly as such). Its also more open to experimentation.
Speaking of the view, in a GA aircraft you never get to experience the joy of 'flying towards yourself' when left and right get swapped around. Far and away the hardest thing to learn when flying RC. (as it the real world, model helicopters just don't count - every law of physics says they should screw themselves into the ground, so they must fly using magic)
but flying RC you don't get to say BUMFICH nearly as often :-)
Persnly I think these guys are mental, if you have 20 grand to spaff on a hobby you could get a 20% share in a brand new spitfire replica (full size).
Sure, the view provided is different, but that's a function of your size, not the principals of powered flight. Were you small enough to get in an R/C aircraft the view would be the same.
I have asked my GI-Joe pilot if he finds my various model aircraft comfortable, and if they provide enough outward visibility, but he chooses not to respond. He's quite stoic and doesn't waste many words but I'll get back to you if that changes :)
"'The engineer in me sees no difference in principal between an R/C aircraft and a full size/real aircraft.' I think the view it gives you is a bit different… no?"
Here's movie about the differences - or the lack thereof - between model airplanes and the real ones: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Flight_of_the_Phoenix
(The 1965 version with James Steward is very highly rated at both IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes.)
Well, if you were to install a video camera in the cockpit that fed to in-line video goggles you would get the same view. I know it's done over here in Blighty by R/C glider pilots, not sure about 160mph jet planes though! That would be quite a rush when flying low!
Naughtyhorse, I feel extremely offended as a RC helo pilot and therefore felt the need to downvote thy! Alas I cannot take my flying gloves and slap you in face in a duel to the death, otherwise I would!
Insinuating that helicopters fly on magic is already considered extremely rude! How could you be such a insensitive person!
Now excuse me, I need to go the helicopter-magic-parts-unlimited, I just noticed I ran all out of magic juice for the anti-gravitational device!
Pepper, as a fellow R/C helicopter pilot of some years standing, I can heartily agree. My helicopters do not fly by magic.
Indeed, on the contrary, they crash, wrap themselves around tree branches, get tangled up in clothes lines, make perfect landings on the exact centre of house roofs which are not even in their flightpath and perform arbitrary manoeuvres in response to non existent commands (such as flying in th opposite direction to the one transmitted, but only when this takes them further away or positions them for a perfect landing on someone's roof).
Anyone want to buy a 3.6 metre R/C helicopter? It's over there, on top of that building. Yours for a tenner.
of other things this is a great article.
There is a lot of cross interest between all the model types, I personally do 4mm scale model railways, but also like building 1/72nd aircraft and also balsa rubber powered aircraft like the West Wings.
So you will see us Railway Modellers getting excited by these machines, as we also appreciate all the work put into these.
Now I am going to have to try an RC aircraft!!!!
"Still flying the paraglider though: model planes scare us and we do our best to keep well away."
I wish... there are lots of good paragliderists, but there are a minority who seem to feel entitled to fly wherever they like whenever they like, even at slopes where there are long standing agreements between model fliers and the local PG clubs. The same minority also seem to spend a lot of their waiting around time getting the nerve up with the help of funny smelling fags...
Human safety comes first obviously but having to risk crashing an £800 model because some knob has deliberately decided to keep flying across directly in front of the RC slope is painful. Frankly with a few kilos of pointy nosed carbon fiber model doing unpredictable aerobatics at 100mph+ I'm not sure I'd want to invade the RC airspace, but then again I wouldn't risk flying a PG either, so maybe it just enhances the 'fun/danger' aspect for them..?
When we co-operate, it can be very good. I'm always happy to scout around for thermals then leave them to the PGs if they are having trouble finding lift, and many PGers are happy to work together at the meeting of the airspaces. But some PGers seem to be on a power trip from the get go and cause nothing but trouble and bad feelings.
Some modellers are as bad probably, but then again PGers seem to be mainly 30-40ish well-off blokes, whereas RC gliderists are largely 55+ retired blokes. Sometimes obnoxious certainly , but not really so aggressive.
Cost to obtain a pilot's license in the USA is about $5,000 to 6,000, it is good as long as you can pass the not-very-rigorous third class medical (which may be eliminated anyway).
Cost to buy a serviceable Cessna 150 in the USA is $15,000 to $20,000.
For $25,000, you're all set, fly yourself and a companion anywhere you want to go. That's about GBP 16,000 or so. Of course, it is easy to spend a LOT more.
BTDT for the last 35 years. The models are neat to look at and show a huge amount of work and dedication - I'd rather fly a real airplane with me inside of it . . . but that's just me.
I got my fixed wing PPL in the states back in '97 for around £2000 + flights & food, the accommodation was included in the price of the licence. You can either get an FAA licence and then convert it to an EASA* one when you get back to the UK, or go to one of the places that has EASA licensed examiners and get an EASA licence which is what I did. If you can spare the three weeks or so off I'd definitely recommend it as you can do two or three flights in a day and really notice your progression. Plus flying down Daytona beach and past Kennedy Space Centre isn't something you'd get to do on your UK Nav flights!
*When I did it it was the CAA but it's the same difference.
> Anyway, our mole predicted, before too long, your average airshow will largely consist of models, if only because the real things will be too rare, if not unsafe, to risk over a crowded airfield.
Duxford can field a ludicrous number of Spitfires these days. I could be wrong, but I don't think there has been a bystander injured at an air show for many years. The problem is that the CAA's red tape keeps getting thicker and more deviously tangled everyday.
The CAA's airline chums would like all the plebs in little 'planes to fuck off and let their cattle trucks have free reign. Vintage aircraft are sadly low hanging fruit in the getting-rid-of-the-plebs master plan.
I don't think that'd be a major problem, for instance TCAS doesn't really care what the course of the other aircraft is, it just plots the bearing of the contact and its range, for an advisory it calculates the rate of closure to see if you're going to hit. For anything moving at a moderate speed a para-glider would be more or less a stationary contact. It should also reduce the ATC traffic reports where they can only tell you there's something near where you are, possibly, based on two faint radar returns and you spend the next few minutes being overly paranoid. Lots of returns in the same area shouldn't be a problem, although ATC may want to put a filter on that area if it gets too much.
Personally I'm in favour of anything that makes it more likely I won't hit the slow moving white thing against a background of slow moving white things, but apparantly glider pilots are less concerned about being hit because their planes blend in with the clouds.
Having said that I think it'll be another generation of transponders before there's one that's practical for use in unpowered air vehicles without having to carry a massive battery.
"Personally I'm in favour of anything that makes it more likely I won't hit the slow moving white thing against a background of slow moving white things, but apparantly glider pilots are less concerned about being hit because their planes blend in with the clouds."
We're up there near cloud base because that gives us a longer cruise before we need to find our next climb. As for the white colour: that's Regulations, mate, and dates back to the mid '60s when composite structures first appeared. The Powers That Were thought that a composite structure was bound to soften and fail unless it was painted white when, if anything, the opposite is true. As a result, gliders with a fibreglass or carbon structure, i.e. everything built since about 1970, has to be painted white except for the outer 1m of the wings and the nose area.
Comment: if you want to fly a full size aircraft reasonably cheaply, come gliding: operating costs are a fraction of that for any GA aircraft and most microlites. Flights of several hundred km are routine even in the UK. You can get very nice older gliders for a lot less than some of those large jet models cost, and a years' flying (all costs included) will be around £2500. I fly a Standard Libelle and really enjoy the challenge of going cross country without an engine.
"Lots of returns in the same area shouldn't be a problem, although ATC may want to put a filter on that area if it gets too much."
Common sense says this shouldn't be a problem, yet the introduction of mandatory mode-s on gliders has shown it IS. Atc can't filter them properly and gets overwhelmed by the many returns. In the meantime most heavy metal TCAS systems filter GA signals, meaning the mandatory mode-s transponder has given us a negative safety benefit.
I remember a day spent on the display line at RAF Waddington in the late 90's keeping a pair of video cameras going to record evidence of display infringements... all maneouvers had to have their momentum angle pointing to the safe side of the display line and no-one was permitted under any circumstances to be on the crowd side within a couple of miles either side of the enxtnded display line... was fun when the SR-71 Blackbird came in for their high speed passes... they were lining up over Hull for each one... took three counties to turn around... ;)
Display lines have been getting further and further away from the crowd line with each year... bit of a bummer when you've got this nice big feature of a runway to line up on and you're not allowed to fly along it as it's too close...
To the 1950s and my dad building balsa wood models on our dining room table -- much swearing and a strong smell of the dope used to stiffen the tissue paper wing covering. Fuel tanks were improvised from metal cigarette packs cut and shaped and sealed with solder.
Then the trip to a farm nearby and much swearing and smell of ether as the diesel (pre-glowplug) engine failed to start. In the days of valve (tube) radio, remote control didn't feature. It was start the engine and launch by hand hoping that the plane would come down within walking distance. I recall going with him the next day to pick up one which got away. The people whose caravan it had crashed onto seemed pretty decent about it.
I don't think I could have matched my Pa's patience, ingenuity and handiwork, creating a fleet including Gipsy Moth, Gloster Meteor, de Havilland Vampire (the experiments with Jetex solid fuel engines didn't work out so well).
The main skills in RC are being able to actually fly the plane and know how to figure out things like remembering to switch directions when flying towards you.
I know this because I lack these skills and have written off RC planes. Twice.
Drones, OTOH, have inbuilt stability control. They don't have to actually flown, just told where to go. No piloting skills required.
Drones have onboard navigation and stability controls the same way Windows has security. It's on the tin, but not inside.
There have been 11 non-classified crashes of large drones out of Naval Station Norfolk this year alone. I only know about those because we made some parts for them, there's no telling how many crashed elsewhere. The vast majority of military drones are R/C aircraft and honestly they're not up to the standards of serious R/C enthusiasts. Better electronics, absolutely, but the aircraft are equivalent to hobby shop RTF kits, complete with wings held on by rubber bands.
The large drones, Predators et al., are serious equipment, but they're still wonky. Again, fabulous electronics, but the airframes are still fairly experimental. Not as bad as immediately following WWI plane research, but pretty bad.
One thing they've got it common is automated crash/splash and burn. If anything goes wrong while in mission mode they destroy themselves, they won't even allow pilot recovery. The one that landed nicely in Iran was down to being in the wrong flight mode (Human error). It didn't know it was on a mission.
My point being, drones aren't as super flash as people think :)
The subsequent "learning" bit which generally involves miscalculating a certain aspect of physics, and therefore succumbing to gravity is (usually) a lot less fatal for the pilot.
yes there are exceptions and they do recommend you actually have insurance for any model ( dropping on innocent bystanders/ramblers or killing the odd family pet is often to be frowned upon.
but in general safer, and easier to store then the real thing, also with the advantage that below a certain size which is subject to regulation, pretty much anything goes!
I love my micro RC choppers as has been said, I can fly them indoors, I have a small electric park flyer epo jet too, nothing like those beauties by a long shot, bit still bloody good fun. I think that's the best thing about model flying is you can start really small and learn and progress, instead of going out and buying a 20k machine and wrecking it straight off, it really is accessible to all people with some space and a few pounds/dollars to spare
That aircraft is not a Hannibal. It's an HP42. This aircraft type never had a type name just a number.
Hannibal was in fact the name of one of the aircraft G-AAGX.
Others in the class were Hanno, Horsa and Hadrian.
Aircraft G-AAXF was Helena an HP45, a modification for use on the European route, the HP42 being used on the "Empire" routes to India.
Before this turns too much into a anorak love fest (Note I like RC planes as much as the next geek, but you can take a hobby too far) let me just say the author got some nice shots.
Taking photo's of full size planes is difficult, taking ones of scaled down copies must be even more challenging
...wants to introduce their children/grandchildren to the hobby of building and operating models, I run a website which carries all the plans for the old Keil Kraft EeZeBilt series of starter model boats. And they're free...
These are simple little models - between 1 ft and 2 ft long - that are suitable for a starter in the field and intended to let a kid actually make a working model themselves. Just download the plans, spend a couple of quid on balsa wood and glue, and you may be looking at a budding modeller of the future...
Apparently the latest trend is DIY jets, using recycled hard disk motors.
Seems that even if the windings are shot the bearings are usually fine, and good for another couple of years.
A lot of the 3D printing folks know this and use them as bearing races, also a similar hack can be done with old optical drive motors.
The trick with jets is to use an intercooler based on a similar setup to heat pipes.
The chamber is sealed and pumped down with a small amount of water used as the cooling fluid.
This also allows relatively thin metal to be used even down to the thickness of tinfoil in places, it certainly works well if the foil is electroplated then anodised with boric acid (thanks Jeri!) to form a refractory Al2O3 layer that resists the superheated fuel.
Also relevant, a lot of recycled motors are rewound, remagneted and used for planes because they are precision made and a lot of the time to replace the weak external magnets with NIB ones is a trivial task albeit fiddly.
See EPE magazine for more information :-)
"...never knowingly getting into anything with propellers...."
Never really considered how your garden variety jet air craft engine operates I see. Short of a ram jet or a rocket no plane propulsion system in use is lacking in canted blades on rotating wheels that pull/push air for either direct propulsion or to compress it. Real prop jobs also usually glide better too.
It's a good idea not to have a prop sticking into the airstream if you want to go really fast. In fact, it's a good idea not to have anything sticking into the airstream - including air intakes.
That why the FASTEST model aircraft are gliders. Here's one capturing the World Speed Record, at 468 mph. Yup - Miles per hour - not kilometers:
Don't forget that the moment you attatch a video camera to a plane or 'copter it falls under the CAA's new drone regulations ... and requires you to register the thing, your company and where you intend to use it.
Worse, they also require the operators to be trained and licensed ... and you can only fly under manual control, within line of sight, unaided by binos. This applies regardless of the size/weight of the thing, so no matter that your tiny electric heli has a video cam with 30ft of range ... under the regs, you need a license.
Basically, before it's even got going, they have taken all the fun out of it.
read the depressing details here:
When I was involved with R/C about 25 years ago, a buddy of mine was a staff writer for RCM. He told me about an event he was covering where a gentleman from California set a R/C air speed record. He had custom built a Mirage that was about 5' long or so. It had two really big turbax ducted fans and it put out enough thrust to push that thing up to just over 220 mph. Other than a couple of really cheap and tiny helo's, I've all but gotten out of R/C, so I can only imagine how advanced things have gotten now and how much further the range of maintaining control has gotten. We didn't have gyro's, or any advanced automatic stabilization, when I was flying, if I did, I probably could have recovered from a "figure 9", with my F-4U Corsair. Judging from the damage and given it was almost 6' long, I'm guessing it hit the ground at around 80 miles an hour.
But, given the relative expense, it wouldn't be that difficult something comparable to a drone. Yeah, you'd probably have to install video and really amp up the transceiver, but god knows, you'd probably be violating just about every international regulation for radio broadcast power and interference.
It'd be fun just to try, if anything, to tangle with a real drone.