Author Topic: DRACHENBALLON  (Read 4515 times)

Offline Dirigible-Al

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DRACHENBALLON
« on: July 14, 2014, 10:14:27 PM »
Hi All

My name is Alan Pask, I have seen some familiar names on this site so some of you will know me from the GWITA forum. Of late I have been interested in the more unusual subjects with this one being one. I have seen a few models made of the Drachen Ballon but to my knowledge there is no kit available (there was a few years ago by Italeri? I think but try and find one).

It is a shame balloon subjects are covered so poorly in the kit and modelling world, it should be remembered that this was mans first form of flight and in fact the only form of flight for over half a century. Tethered spherical balloons were first used for observation purposes by the French Army in 1794. During one battle the French aeronaut got into difficulty so the opposing Austrian cavalry rushed over to help the French bring him down safely. Once on Terra Firma the French let the Austrian cavalry officers take turns ascending in the balloon. When all the frivolities were finished the Austrians returned to their lines and started fighting again (such is the madness of war). No significant changes were made of the Spherical observation balloon for nearly a century and it was in fact used right up to and including the Great War. Its role and importance however did take a turn during the France-Prussian War of the 1870’s. Rather than primarily noting defences, troop positions and movements it proved devastating as an artillery spotter when combined with the Krupp Cannon. After this conflict all the major powers had an interest in the Observation Balloon however it did have some flaws. Aerodynamics were little understood in the late 1800’s and even a mild wind would make the spherical balloon want to rotate, weave from side to side, up and down or all of the above. Worse the many tethering ropes would oscillate causing the whole balloon and basket to vibrate, sometimes so violently that the observer would find it difficult to hold binoculars to his head. The answer to this would be to use the wind and put some guy up there in a kite. For a short time observation kites were developed but I know very little about these, in any case they made obsolete by the invention and patent of Captain Von Sigsfeld and Major August Von Parseval. Both young offices in the German army, they combined both ideas to come up with the Kite Balloon. Its simple design enabled it to always face the wind and using current airship technology an internal balloonette was fed by an air scoop inflating it as the main envelope deflated. This made it keep its shape.  At the time Germany was striving to be the world’s number one industrial and commercial powerhouse and in such a climate it was not difficult for the pair to find a commercial backer. Sadly Major Sigsfeld was killed around the turn of the Century in a ballooning accident and thus never saw the full potential of his invention. The full potential was of course was reached during the Great War when huge numbers were employed and huge efforts were made to bring them down. It must be noted that one German company alone made over 4000 of these, when you also bear in mind Germany was not the only country making these it must make the Drachen or Sausage (French) Balloon one of the most numerous air machine types built in this era. Other, better balloon types superseded the Drachen although they were used right up to the end of the war. Observation balloons reached their peak in the Great War but continued to be used even as late as the Second World War when front lines became static.

Of the Drachen/Sausage Balloons I have seen made by modellers most seem to be an all yellow scheme with a few being all green. This is understandable as a great deal were made like this but there were also a very large number of two tone, multi colour and even camouflaged balloons floating over the front (and the sea!). I was about to say here  what I will build but that would be like telling you the plot of a film before you watch it so you will just have to find out! I managed to download plans from the internet as well as a copious number of pictures. Before building this I had done a little experimenting on insulating foam. This stuff is extremely easy to cut and sand and I figured out this would save weeks when building blimps and balloons yet also be nice and light. Its properties change dramatically when paint or glue is added. It becomes hard but at the same time cannot be sanded, this means I have to get the shape right from the beginning – no half way thru alterations. When gluing pieces together I found the glue cannot go anywhere near the edges, if so it will form a flange when sanded that cannot be removed. I intend to build this by using its soft, sand able qualities to shape it with the aid of a drill and sanding tools, then coat it with varnish to get a hard skinned envelope that the rigging and other bits will attach to.

To start this off I cut out cardboard discs at a slightly greater diameter to the plans. I glued together about four sheets and did this twice to get a nice, thick and solid template. I made a small drill guide by wrapping 0.25mm plastic card around the drill bit and plopping it in boiling hot water. I then cut out loads of small right angle triangles from 0.75mm and glued them around the tube and onto a plastic card base to form a drill guide that will cut a perfect 90 degree hole thru the insulating foam. Thru the holes I put a 6mm rod (a hollow aluminium 6mm rod will form the spine) and attached the cardboard discs either side of the insulating foam. I then cut out the discs with a carving knife. I glued sandpaper to the bottom of the 90 degree guide I made, attached it to the drill with the 6mm rod poking thru and slid the discs down the rod so the ends got smoothed off perfectly flat. To form the semi spherical ends I made a sanding tool out of plastic card using the GA’s as a guide and simply gluing sandpaper to the inside. A cut of piece of 6mm rod was put thru it. Simply sliding two of the foam discs down the rod while the tool was spinning in the drill shaped it in seconds. With the two ends done I glued the centre foam discs on the aluminium rod and the semi spheres to get my envelope. I then finished it off by putting the rod end in the chuck of the drill, spinning it and putting a straight sanding tool against it made from a thick strip of plastic and with sandpaper glued along its edge. I now had a perfectly smooth ‘pill’ shaped cylinder.

Some pictures of Drachenballons show the envelope to be drum tight whereas others have bulges between the rib tapes. I do not know whether this is because they are underinflated or bursting at their seams but I would like to build the later because otherwise this will just look like a solid object rather than an inflated one. I marked out all the rib tapes (I call them these only because they look the same as the ones on aircraft wings, I do not know what they are called) by cutting out cardboard templates and marking their positions on the foam with marker pen. I then made another sanding tool by taping with stick backed foil a strip of plastic card to the inside of a cup. I filled the cup up with hot water to shape it to a curve. I then cut it in half and glued it back together to form an ‘m’ shape. Sand paper was attached to the bottom and I glued a handle to the top. I could not spin the envelope in the drill doing this otherwise it would cut the wholes too deep and I want this effect to be subtle. I stuck a 4mm drill bit into a piece of wood and slotted the aluminium rod over it so the whole thing could rotate. I then turned it by hand 3-4 times with the sanding tool against it. To my surprise the marker pen had gone quite deep into the foam so the rib tape lines still showed even after sanding.

With the envelope shaped I will now move on to do the steering bag next.

Cheers, Alan.


Offline Dirigible-Al

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Re: DRACHENBALLON
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2014, 10:16:19 PM »
Cannot get them all on one post.........

Offline Dirigible-Al

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Re: DRACHENBALLON
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2014, 10:18:59 PM »
And finally.........

Offline bobs_buckles

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Re: DRACHENBALLON
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2014, 12:52:27 AM »
Hi Alan,
 Welcome to the forum.

I like the Heath Robinson approach with the drill  ;) Works like a charm!

I will be keeping an eye on your progress - I foresee good things coming from this build.

Cheers,
Bob

Offline coyotemagic

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Re: DRACHENBALLON
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2014, 01:38:41 AM »
Welcome aboard, Alan!  Glad you finally made it over with your lighter than air art!  Your BE2 airship (sorry I forgot the name) was a masterpiece and I'm certain this drachen will be equally brilliant.
Cheers,
Bud
« Last Edit: July 15, 2014, 06:20:40 AM by coyotemagic »
"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream in the dark recesses of the night awake in the day to find all was vanity. But the dreamers of day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, and make it possible." -T. E. Lawrence

Offline RAGIII

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Re: DRACHENBALLON
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2014, 01:58:13 AM »
Alan,
Glad to see you have made it this forum! Like Bud I really enjoyed your former build and am looking forward to this one!
RAGIII
"A man has to know his limitations": Harry Callahan

"Don't slop it on" Lynda Geisler

Offline lone modeller

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Re: DRACHENBALLON
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2014, 02:11:27 AM »
Having seen your BE2 balloon conversion I too am looking forward to seeing more on this one. An interesting subject and certainly one which is not well covered by either kit manufacturers or even most modellers (including yours truly). Great stuff - keep it up please.

Offline Squiffy

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Re: DRACHENBALLON
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2014, 04:46:34 AM »
An interesting build, Alan. What scale is it?

Offline coyotemagic

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"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream in the dark recesses of the night awake in the day to find all was vanity. But the dreamers of day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, and make it possible." -T. E. Lawrence

Offline Des

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Re: DRACHENBALLON
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2014, 08:03:09 AM »
This is a very interesting subject and a build I will be following closely, what you have done so far is looking extra good.

Des.
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Offline Terri

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Re: DRACHENBALLON
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2014, 08:56:16 AM »
Hi Alan  :)

It is nice to see you here as well sharing your fascinating builds , really looking forward on seeing this come together and by the look of things you are off to a great start !




Terri

Offline LindsayT

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Re: DRACHENBALLON
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2014, 11:32:30 AM »
Hi Alan, nice to meet you. Really looking forward to seeing someone scratch a Drachen. Please keep the updates coming. This should be good...

Lindsay

Offline Old Man

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Re: DRACHENBALLON
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2014, 02:18:20 PM »
Great project, Sir!

Glad to see you over here. Remember your 'Sea Scout' very well.

Offline Nigel Jackson

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Re: DRACHENBALLON
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2014, 09:26:26 PM »
Hello Alan and welcome to the forum.

This sounds and already looks like a fascinating  project. I'm really looking forward to seeing how it progresses.

Best wishes
Nigel

Offline guitarlute101

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Re: DRACHENBALLON
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2014, 09:31:19 PM »


Hi Allen,

  She's looking good! Definitely one you hardly ever get to see in model form. Great to see you here!


Mark