Well, it’s been a little while since my tease at kit bashing a Freewing Mirage into an IAI Kfir (“Kfir” is Hebrew for “Lion Cub”). We started with an assembly & flight review for the Freewing Mirage 2000 which out of the box flies awesome. However, the Kfir is such an awesome looking airplane and with canards and a little extra wing area we’ll add in the bashing process, I can only imagine that the airplane will fly even better! So, in this article, we’re covering the transformation process of turning this airplane into a Kfir and we’re using 3D printed parts as a part of that as well as employing some traditional building methods. Through this whole process we will be employing the foam refinishing method I covered in our How to Refinish a Foam Warbird series. I don’t plan to get into much detail about the foam prep work itself in this series as I want to focus on the kit bashing aspect to compliment the refinishing we did previously and use the next couple articles to go into more detail on painting, simple panel lines and weathering.
Now, one of the reasons that it’s been a little while is, in addition to of course a few distractions, is that I’ve been working out the 3D printed parts with a friend of mine. CAD modeling takes time and there were a number of parts that we ended up making. These include printing a new nose, the exhaust shroud and turkey feathers, the dorsal inlet, external wing tanks, lower ventral tank, and the afterburner cooling scoops and inlets on the fuselage. As a whole, we printed a total of 23 individual pieces for the conversion (many of the parts required multiple pieces to be printed).
With the 2016 Scale Master’s Championships just a few weeks away now, here’s a little glimpse into the journey in getting there. In addition to this, I also had some pains at the Gilman Springs qualifier too which I wrote about in my coverage from the event. So, it’s been an interesting year that ultimately has improved the airplane as a whole, but not without a lot of frustration and multiple stints of repair work through the year. But, with a little persistence (and lots of complaining), I think we’ve got it all worked out and the Mirage IIIRS is ready to go big at Woodland-Davis! 😉
It has been said there are two types of model airplanes…those that have crashed and those that WILL crash…
Well, if you follow this site on Instagram or Facebook then you know that the inevitable happened! My competition Mirage IIIRS crashed! I was at an event back in October last year and for whatever reason, the fan wasn’t making the power it typically does during takeoff. The takeoff roll was sluggish and instead of aborting and taking home a perfectly fine airplane, I forced the airplane off the ground thinking it would be ok once airborne. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and I couldn’t get enough altitude to get the speed up and the airplane ended up landing in a few large bushes. I walked up to the airplane expecting the worst and found it upside down but thankfully mostly in tact. I was very fortunate! The most damaged area was the nose section being broken but thankfully still connected to the airplane. I later discovered that the lack of thrust was likely due to a combination of tired batteries not holding voltage under load and a partial blockage in the exhaust duct being caused by some loose tape that I was unaware of. Thankfully it was repairable and so I thought it would be a good opportunity to discuss some basic fiberglass repair. Oh, and the lesson here??
LESSON OF THE DAY: If your airplane isn’t doing what you expect it to, abort and troubleshoot!
The most impacted area from the crash was the nose. Though technically still attached to the fuselage, it was pretty “crunchy” and loose. Both sides of the noseContinue reading →
It’s no secret, I love deltas! The Mirage, Kfir and Skyray are some of my favorites if you couldn’t tell from my builds and the aircraft in my hangar. There’s just something about the look of a delta wing that is so wicked in the air, especially with the addition of canards like the Kfir. So, when I received a Freewing Mirage 2000 as a gift this last Christmas, I was stoked! I had been eyeing them for a while, especially after all of the fun I’d been having with the Freewing F-14. Of course, I can’t leave well enough alone, so we will actually be spending a few articles covering the transformation of this Freewing Mirage 2000 into an IAI Kfir…yes, you read that right! 😉 So, consider this as our first installment of “Foam Kit Bashing 101” as we work toward transforming this Mirage 2000 into the wicked looking Kfir. However, before tearing into a full kit bash, I wanted to discuss how this airplane assembles and performs stock out of the box.
The nice thing with these Freewing jets is that they are an all inclusive package. The full power system, retracts, and servos come fully installed and at $299 for the Mirage 2000 it’s a pretty killer deal. They’re EPO foam which I do have a love/hate relationship with, but none the less you get a pretty cool airplane and they are a great canvas to do fun things with (which we’ll start next in our next installment). They’re fully finished and Continue reading →
So, how does the Freewing F-14 Tomcat fly? In short, pretty darn awesome! The distinguishable shape of the F-14 looks menacing in the air and the flight characteristics are fantastic. As discussed in my assembly review of the airplane, there are some tricks I’d highly recommend in setting the airplane up which at the end of the day, provide a great flying airplane. This comes from not just flying this particular airplane, but also flying the Freewing production prototype (stock and tailerons only) as well as the twin 70mm F-14 I helped design, test, and fly for my folks at JetHangar.com. They have all exhibited similar characteristics and fly very much the same.
AIRCRAFT SETUP & CG
In my assembly review, I covered the installation of two 6s 30C 5800 mah batteries that I’m using in the airplane. To maintain the CG, the battery area was modified so that the batteries could be pushed as far back as possible up against the swing wing carry through spar. This maintained the CG well per the manual (87mm measured back from the leading edge of the forward most hatch cut on the overwing fairing hatch) which has shown to be about perfect! Also the manual provides a trim elevator setting (31mm measured Continue reading →
The F-14 Tomcat is without a doubt one of my top 5 favorite jets. Honestly, as a kid, I dreamed of flying them. I would guess, anyone who has enjoyed the movie “Top Gun” probably had the same dream? — Fun fact: my dad and his company Jet Hangar Hobbies built the models that were used for the special effects in the movie “Top Gun” — For me, I just love the design of the Tomcat. Something about the shape combined with the variable geometry wing and sheer power of the twin turbines just bleeds awesome. So, when I caught wind of the Freewing F-14 80mm EDF foam jet I was honestly intrigued. I remained on the fence until I had the opportunity to fly the production prototype at the Big Jolt. I subsequently had the opportunity to then take that airplane with me to demo at the AZ jet rally as well. That’s what sealed it for me and so, in a moment of weakness I saw that they showed in stock at MotionRC, and I went for it! At $580, you get quite a bit of airplane (full airframe with ALL electronics, including fans, motors, and ESCs) for the money that’s overall pretty well done.
Truth be told, I don’t normally deal in foam. I very much enjoy building and my preferred mediums are the traditional balsa wood and fiberglass. In fact, back in the early 2000’s, I helped to design and bring to market a twin 70mm EDF laser cut all built up F-14 Tomcat kit (Matt Halton design) for my folks at Jet Hangar Hobbies (pics below). It flew awesome, even with the limited electric tech that existed at that time (the maiden flight was performed with NiMh round cells!) which was right as Continue reading →
In case you couldn’t tell, I love RC jets. I suppose that comes from a combination of a secret desire I have always had to have been a military fighter pilot (my eyes went bad in Jr High, so ended that dream which led my trajectory towards engineering) and growing up watching my dad fly RC jets most every weekend. He was one of the early pioneers of RC jets helping to make common place ducted fan and later turbine powered scale jets. In fact, he was one of the first 10 to even hold a turbine waiver in the US. So I suppose it’s a family passion that runs multiple generations, haha!
The Arizona RC Jet Rally
When it comes to events, the Arizona Jet Rally is probably mine and my Dad’s favorite event of the year. My dad has not missed this event in it’s entire 27 year run thus far! Always held on the weekending before Thanksgiving and hosted at Superstition Air Park in Mesa, AZ by the Arizona Model Aviators, the event is Continue reading →
I had originally intended for our last article and this one to be a single write-up. However, as I continued to write more and more on the construction, I realized that the article really needed to be split into two. Also, since detailing and the application of raised rivets is extensible to more than just speed brakes, I figured a single article on this process would be good since it is a process that can be applied to aircraft as a whole. As with the last article, I’ve also included a how-to video to help illustrate the process which is at the end of the article.
Let’s Get Things Ready
Last time we built our speed brake assemblies to where we had 4 fully functional speed brakes that could be installed into the airframe. However, detailing the internals is quite a bit simpler with the speed brakes outside of the airframe and broken down into their components. The first item of business was to finish the inside speed brake by adding the sheet metal close out surface on the inside. This was cut from 1/64″ ply and glued onto the basswood stiffeners that create our hinge mentioned previously. Continue reading →
All I wanted was to install bulkheads…but somehow ended up with 4 speed brakes instead…
We have a pretty sizable article this week which is the first in a two part series discussing how the speed brakes were built, actuated and detailed for our Frankel F4D Skyray. In addition, I’ve put together a couple how-to videos to support (the first being below). So, let’s get to it!
Fuselage ready for surgery.
In our previous article, we completed (mostly) our dorsal assembly. With that completed, we can finally move on to work on the fuselage. Typically I would go to the wings next (I generally like to work on the largest parts last), but in the case of this build, we need to have bulkheads installed in the fuselage first before working on the wings. This is so that the wing mounts and spars can be setup in the foam cores before they are sheeted.
So, this originally was going to be a quick task; cutting hatches, installing bulkheads, that’s quick right?!… Continue reading →