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 →
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.
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 →
It’s hard to believe that the year is half over already! It feels like since the US Scale Master’s Championships last year until now, I haven’t done all that much flying. At least certainly not as much as I could hope for. Between my kids getting into competitive travel sports added to having limited accessibility to our flying field here where I fly my large airplanes, it’s been a little difficult just getting to the field. So when the Scale Squadron’s Warbirds & Classics event peeked around the corner, needless to say I was excited! It was going to be 2 straight days of RC airplane goodness and some much needed flying! Leading up to the event, I had been focusing my spare time in the shop trying to get our little kfir kit bash project finished up for the event and this was her debut outing!
Between the Scale Squadron’s hospitality, the picturesque back drop of OCMA’s Black Starr canyon flying site, and the incredible assortment of airplanes, this event is a must go for me. I look forward to it every year and there’s always a ton of flying to be had. Plus, it’s a chance to spend a weekend flying with my dad which I cherish deeply. The beauty of the event is that there’s a great assortment of airplanes, but there’s never an issue with the flight line backing up causing much of a line. Anytime anyone wants a flight, it usually happens straight away.
The UMX Warthog that will have you brrrrrt while you fly!
Ever since the UMX A-5A Vigilante scratch build project with my friend Brent, I have been playing with a few UMX aircraft of late. I have to say that there are some really great and unique UMX airplanes out there and Horizon Hobby has really been leading that charge. The technology is such that you can create some really neat projects at basically 1/32 to 1/24 scale…essentially plastic model sized! So, when the E-flite UMX A-10 arrived at my door step, needless to say, I was stoked! I had been eyeing the airplane for a while, though surprisingly hadn’t seen one fly in person to that point. I had heard that they fly great and so was excited to give the airplane a try.
The full sized A-10 is arguably one of the most iconic attack aircraft of all time and is just an incredible machine. Designed for the close air support role, it really succeeds in that mission sporting a 30mm nose cannon and having a considerable stores carriage capability to back it up. Mention the A-10 and usually someone in the room will crack off with brrrrrrt! Emulating of course the sound of the 30mm cannon firing (What else would you think that was!? 😉 ). So to see a twin EDF UMX A-10 realized and on the market is awesome and this cute little A-10 looks the part really well.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
The cool thing with these micros is they come out of the box completely assembled and ready to go. All that is needed is a flight battery to install and a Spektrum radio (all the E-Flite UMX’s are Bind n’ Fly). Opening the box and unpacking the airplane, you are met Continue reading →
Once in a long while my good Friend Brent (Corsair Nut) gets to spend some time in San Diego. We’ve been friends since we were kids as his dad used to work for my dad at one point in the shop. I have memories of him, his brother and I running around the back of the shop just doing what kids do. We reconnected about 10 or so years ago and pretty much picked up where we left off! So when he’s in town, there’s always some RC madness going on whether sporadic fly days or projects and it’s great! We’re always encouraging and pushing each other to go for that next project or running ideas off of each other on builds, etc. One thing about Brent, he is a master when it comes to working with foam and he’s shown me a lot of the techniques that I’ve been sharing with you. So, when he mentioned he was coming to town, we talked about teaming up on a quick Ultra Micro (UMX) jet. The subject? The A-5 Vigilante.
We actually planned this project (including sizing some drawings!) over a year ago on one of his previous trips. For me, I have always had this airplane in mind for a build as the proportions are perfect for an RC subject. It has a big wing, big tails and a nice wide fuselage which means good flying characteristics. For a big bird, landing gear are kind of an issue (they always are!), but for a UMX bird like this, that’s no matter. Fixed gear chicken legs here we come!
BTW, I have included the templates for the build further down in the article (no instructions), so if you’d like to give building one a shot, do it!
Now, I can’t say I was a huge help in the building process since our schedules really didn’t line up very well for the week he was here. Add to that that I was a hand down based on abroken finger I was 3 weeks into resulting from an ice hockey injury. I was fresh out of a cast but had a removable splint and couldn’t grip anything very well still even without theContinue reading →