I keep telling myself to scale back on the foam airplanes, but when the Freewing A-4 Skyhawk came up on pre-sale, I knew I had to have one! The A-4 is a classic design that I’ve always appreciated. In fact, I still remember seeing the Blue Angels fly A-4s back in the 80’s. It was such an agile yet graceful airplane to watch fly, they will probably always be my favorite Blue Angel aircraft. The F-18s have brute force, but it just doesn’t have the grace and maneuverability that the A-4 did.
If you follow this page on Facebook or Instagram, then you know how this one ends for me. For those who and for full disclosure up front, this airplane flies really well when setup right, but I actually crashed the airplane twice in the process of making this review…mostly a result of my own error. The first time was due to installing an already flown battery into the airplane. It only took a couple laps before the fan quit and of course it was too low to get back to the runway. Bummed, but not to be defeated the airplane was refinished with a few upgrades (which we’ll talk about). It came out beautiful, I loved it! Unfortunately, the CG moved further back than I anticipated and the airplane over rotated on the second takeoff and I didn’t have enough altitude to fully recover. It’s fixable, though I’ve debated just buying a replacement instead…it’s currently hanging in my shop waiting in limbo.
With that being said, I still wanted to provide this review because as I mentioned, the airplane flies really well. But, it’s an A-4 and there definitely some things to be aware of when setting it up for best success.
AIRCRAFT ASSEMBLY NOTES
The A-4 is a quick assembly requiring the aft fuselage section be glued on and then the dorsal, horizontal tails and wings bolted onto the airframe. From there, it’s just a matter Continue reading →
Another year, and another AMA West Expo show! Catching up with old friends and seeing what’s new is always the name of the game and there was certainly plenty of that! The big news this year was that the expo will be held in a new location next year (which will actually be this November), the Pomona Fair Grounds (promo vid at the end of this article). This should be a nice change for the show as it will allow significantly more outdoor activities including flying, racing and all that other good stuff that we can only get limited doses of in Ontario. For the show itself, there was a nice assortment of vendors as there always is, but there seems to be a bit of turnover in the hobby right now. Some of the old stand-by vendors and shops don’t seem to be standing by as much as they used to and newer vendors seem to come and go. Hopefully this new location will help re-invigorate things a bit and bring in some additional interest and vendors!
For me this year, I was only able to make it on the Saturday so I setup shop with a couple airplanes on display in the Scale Squadron booth. I didn’t think the bring Lady Alice last year, so I brought it along with our kit bashed Kfir which fit well within the booth. There was also on hand an absolutely gorgeously built F3D Skynight in work by Rob Han (his own design). I’ve known Rob for a long time and he has always done some really ingenious work. He actually plans to run the airplane with a geared glow engine driving two ducted fans. I of course told him EDF would be far simpler! 😉
Some of the “new stuff” highlights included getting a sneak peak at Horizon Hobbies’ Continue reading →
Happy New Year everyone! I never thought I’d end up writing about a Lego build, but when I saw the Lego Saturn V rocket kit in my kids’ Lego catalog, I knew that I had to have one. So, I thought it would be fun to do a little video and article in the process. That’s not to mention an afternoon spent building Legos with my son; talk about like the perfect day! This kit seems to sell out rather quickly, and I actually had a couple failed attempts to locate one. However, I was lucky enough to find one just in time for Christmas (it was a Christmas miracle! 😉 )! Lego really does some incredible models these days and my son (the Lego expert in the family) is all about it. Lego didn’t have the licensing deals when I was a kid that they do now and the models that they create these days as a result are just awesome. If you’ve not seen their special edition Millennium Falcon kit, it is their largest and most expensive set ever and it is amazing!
Being an aerospace engineer, I’ve always had a fascination with the Saturn V. It still is the largest and heaviest rocket that has ever been launched into space and it was done in a time where the first computers were only just starting. I remember building an Estes Saturn V kit with a family friend when I was a kid. It used a single D sized motor and had so much mass behind it, it launched much like the real thing off the launch pad.
The Lego Saturn V kit itself comes in a big box (labeled for ages 14+…I barely made it!) that has someContinue reading →
The Best in the West Jet Rally if I had to guess, is one of the largest RC Jet gatherings on the west coast. Held at the Elk Hills-Buttonwillow airport with regularly over 100+ registered pilots, the result is 5 straight days of non-stop jet flying from a measly 3200+ ft long runway. Plus, being held in early October in Southern California means that the weather is usually just about perfect (and it was this year!).
It had been a few years since my last visit to this event. I had actually attempted to get there last year (even paid my entry), but wasn’t able to work it out based on the proximity of the dates to the US Scale Masters Championships. So, when the event came around again this year, I knew that I wanted to get out there. The cool thing was, my dad decided to come with me and so it was a great weekend spent flying jets with my hero! That really made the weekend that much more memorable and fun.
There’s always a nice assortment of airplanes at the event ranging from sport jets to scale. And they all typically have one common theme…BIG! In years past, I remembered there being notably more sport jets than scale jets. However, my observation this year was that sport jets were far less prevalent and scale jets reigned supreme! For this scale geek, it was nice to see and there were some absolutelyContinue reading →
Welcome to the final episode in our foam kit bashing series! It was quite the journey getting here and I actually didn’t intend on it taking as long as it has to document the whole series, but life has been crazy with no signs of slowing down it seems (plus, I just started a new position at work!). If you’ve just found this series, we have gone through and completely transformed a Freewing Mirage 2000 into an Isreali Kfir. As a part of that, we covered the transformation process talking through the building methods in converting the airplane using balsa wood and foam, we’ve talked about painting and finishing and we’ve also covered how to make panel lines and add realistic weathering. I hope that you guys have enjoyed the series and are geared up with some new techniques to try on your models! To finish this series up, I thought it would be best done providing a little discussion on how the airplane flies in it’s new form as well as some of the things that were done in wrapping the airplane up and getting it tuned in the air. Also, I had a little incident with the airplane at the Warbirds & Classics event which tore out the right main landing gear mount. So, I thought it would be a good opportunity, now that we have this nice new airplane, to show how to make cosmetic repairs when they are needed as well.
In doing all of the final setup for the airplane, I didn’t want to change too many things all at once since the airplane flew well in the Mirage 2000 configuration. I knew however that I did want to change out the radio. Airtronics has been my go-to radio for quite literally, decades (even had a sponsorship with them). Though a good radio, it’s a system that’s just not supported in the US anymore and frankly, SANWA/Airtronics gave up on the airplane market years ago anyway.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Iron Eagle, there’s an incredible sequence in the movie where the lead character, Doug Masters, flies a Cessna 150 through this race they call “the snake.” This consists of him racing a guy (Knocher) on a motorcycle through a canyon. It’s a totally hokey scenario and it results in a kind of crash landing due to the guy Doug’s racing sabotaging the airplane (of course!). Though, I think Doug might have had a better chance if he wasn’t racing with full flaps down… That said, the whole flying sequence is a display of some pretty incredible flying by Art Scholl who was an amazing aerobatic pilot from back in the day. He flew for a number of movies throughout his carrier but unfortunately his carrier ended too soon while filming the spin scene for the movie Top Gun.
So, when I saw the E-Flite 2.1m Cessna 150 Aerobat, it took me back to when I watched Iron Eagle over and over as a kid (quite literally) and I knew that I wanted one. It captures everything great about the airplane and that sequence as the airplane looks great and flies aerobatics wonderfully. So, there just might be a repaint in this airplanes future… but before that, I wanted to give you guys a full review on this awesome Aerobat. The box is huge, and the airplane is big, and it’s awesome!
As noted, the airplane comes in a very sizable box that took up most of my workbench. The airplane is nicely packaged and I didn’t find any damage at all through shipping. E-flite has broken the airplane down into a small number of large components. You have the fuselage, the wings and horizontal stabilizers, Continue reading →
Panel lines and weathering are something that can really make or break a scale model. When we started this Kfir kit bash, I knew that I wanted to use it as a canvas to show some simple weathering and panel lining techniques. Very often we can get too heavy with either and so my hope here is to give some pointers for adding some realistic and effective looking panel lines and weathering that’s easy to do. These are some techniques that are pretty simple to employ and that I actually use on my competition models also.
There are so many different techniques we can turn to for this stuff, so these are just a few that I regularly use. Ultimately the best techniques are the ones you like and give you the results you’re looking for so experiment and try different techniques. The only way we develop these skills is through practice and use.
As we talk about panel lines and weathering, my recommendation is less is more. What I mean is that if you feel that a panel line is too dark, or the weathering is too heavy, then it probably is. Also, it’s highly recommended doing all of this final finish work inside under artificial light. The sun washes out much of what we apply and so the results are much less subtle once we bring the airplane inside since we’ll continue to darken until we can see a result. So, just a couple things to keep in mind as we go through this (it’ll be stated again too 😉 ).
THE PANEL LINE PROCESS
To apply panel lines to the surface, we are simply applying all of them using a mechanical pencil. This works excellent in this case because the pencil lines when applied, are darker than all of the colors on the airplane. So, as a result, you can get aContinue reading →
Continuing in our Kit Bashing 101 series, in this installment we are talking about painting camouflage and adding markings to our Kfir. The transformation from Mirage 2000 to Kfir has taken place and we’ve even added some nice Kfir specific cockpit details. So, there’s no more procrastinating, it’s time to prep and paint this jet! We have an awesome 4 tone Isreali camouflage scheme lined up that we’re going to paint and so we’ll talk through the process of achieving that. We’ll be utilizing an airbrush in the process along with some humbrol plastic model paints for the camouflage and then once painted, we will be applying our markings.
First things first though, the airplane was made paint ready. The process used was the same as what we did in our How to Refinish a Foam Warbird Series where we applied 6 coats of minwax polycrylic, primered and sanded a few times, and then finished it off by wet sanding with 600 grit sand paper to get it paint ready. There were a couple things done differently here though that are worth mentioning. First of all, there was quite a bit of texture coming through after the initial primer coat, so I decided to spray a some Rust Oleum gap filler primer. This helped build up the lower areas to even out the surface. After sanding it down with a sanding block, many of the imperfections disappeared. Being foam it’s difficult to get a perfectly smooth finish, but this helped really smooth it out. Also, this primer is ideal for prepping 3d printed parts and getting rid of the striations you get due to the layer build up.
The last thing was, I had a couple areas of the pink Home Depot foam react to the Evercoat primer when I applied it too heavy which melted some areas underneath the polycrylic. To fix it I just filled it back in with some spackle and sanded it flush. I’ve Continue reading →