Author Topic: First attempt at a scratch build - 1/48 BE12a  (Read 11667 times)

Offline Brad Cancian

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First attempt at a scratch build - 1/48 BE12a
« on: September 10, 2016, 02:21:52 PM »
Hi all,

For many moons now, Roden has promised us a BE12a version of their BE series of British early war bombers.



This aircraft was a variant of the BE12, which was itself a variant of the BE2. The BE12a had BE2e wings, and was used as a single seat fighter. It was not effective in this role, but it did see some successes in the middle east, where it was flown by 1 Squadron Australian Flying Corps (hence my interest in the aircraft).

Alas, this kit has never materialised.  Back around 7 or 8 years ago I went about converting the rough Aeroclub BE12 to a BE12b, and Roden promptly released a kit of the BE12b, so I figured the only way to get them to release one would be to scratch build one myself!  :)  I thought about converting their BE12b or BE2c but there are enough differences (and errors) in the Roden kits to make this harder than one would initially think. I have the ancient Aeroclub BE12a and it is very rough and chunky, lacking the refined detail that I prefer. Plus it's made of very hard plastic which has a tendency to chip and flake. Hence I thought I would try my first ever full scratch build. Wish me luck!

My first thought (and dread) was scratch building wings. I figured that if I couldn’t get a set of wings then the whole project would be pointless. I considered using the strip styrene over a styrene core approach, but this has never looked convincing to me, and is allot of sanding and smoothing to get the wing to look half decent. I had heard of the Harry Woodman approach to skinning wings over a balsa core, described here:

http://web.archive.org/web/20080327095940/http://www.wwimodeler.com/harry/chapter3/09-wings.htm

…so thought I would give that a try.  I went out and bought some balsa wood and sheet plastic, plus something suitable to roll the balsa core on to get the required camber (it might also come in handy later…).



So following the method, and using the data file plans for reference, I made the cores:



I decided to make the wings in single pieces then cut each piece out later, in order to ensure I had straight leading edges and constant chord across all of the wing panels.  I then embossed the skin, using the recommended 0.10’’ plastic card.  I found this way too thick, and very difficult to bend. It also didn’t have a very thin trailing edge. So I tried again with 0.05” card. This was much better, and produced a surface reminiscent of the Eduard Albatros D.II, though not quite as pronounced (this may be too much for some, but I found this more pleasing for me than the less pronounced ribs that the 0.10”card produced). This was then bent and secured over the balsa core as per Harry’s method by heating and flattening the leading edge, and using double sided tape and Tamiya thin cement.



The trailing edges and wing tips were then refined, until I had this:



The panels were then appropriately separated, as were the ailerons. These were then re-secured using wire for hinges. They are still a bit fragile.

 

All in all it took me about 4 hours to get to this point, through a bit of trial and error. These wings are VERY FAR from perfect but it was a good experiment and I learned allot. They seem to be reasonably robust – the grain in the balsa helps prevent too much span-wise flex, which will come in handy when it comes to struts and rigging (which seems like a VERY, VERY long way away…!)

Learning points –
1. Don’t try this without a good double sided tape. Just…. don’t.
2. Getting constant camber and a dead straight wing for a long wing panel is very difficult – I didn’t get it right, as there’s a bit of anhedral and some twist in that long upper wing, but it’s good enough for a first try and some I can straighten up now that I have the panels separated.
3. The thickness and camber seems to differ from the bottom wings to the top wings, simply because I approached the sticking of the upper wing skin on the double sided tape in a slightly different way for each set. I'ts a little noticeable but i'm not going to throw a whole set of wings away.
4. The wing tips are a pain, and require quite a bit of clean up, incluiding filling and sanding due to the thinness of the 0.05" card.
5. 0.05’” card is really thin! It is susceptible to dents and dings, or use of too much glue (which results in what looks like ripples). Seams also pop if I twist the wings too much.  There is also very little margin for sanding before you sand through the card, requiring more filler and sanding. 

In any case, these are not so bad that I’ll scrap them and good enough to carry on with, given it's my first go. Next I’ll build the tail feathers then onto thinking about the fuselage.

As this is my first full scratch build, I welcome any tips from here!

Cheers

BC

Offline ermeio

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Re: First attempt at a scratch build - 1/48 BE12a
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2016, 06:28:19 PM »
Great start!

Tips:soak the balsa core with tube glue thinned with liquid cement until it becomes sitff and rigid like glass.
You can use a flat Brush, sanding when one layer is dry and repeating until the core is smooth and rigid.
This pass  also helps double side  tape adhesion. I prefer two-components glue, though since double side tape tends to get loose with time.

Offline RAGIII

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Re: First attempt at a scratch build - 1/48 BE12a
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2016, 08:30:33 PM »
Outstanding start Brad! The wings look excellent to my eyes.
RAGIII
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Offline IanB

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Re: First attempt at a scratch build - 1/48 BE12a
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2016, 11:46:39 PM »
Those wings look great from here! For a first attempt I'd certainly give 10/10. Do I take it that you used the double sided tape to actually hold the plastic skin to the balsa core?

Ian

Offline bobs_buckles

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Re: First attempt at a scratch build - 1/48 BE12a
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2016, 02:35:15 AM »
A great start, Brad! In fact, a superb start on what promises to be a brilliant build - Good luck!!

vB



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Offline lone modeller

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Re: First attempt at a scratch build - 1/48 BE12a
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2016, 03:13:02 AM »
Great start which I will be following with interest. I have never used balsa cores for wings - I just think that they are too much trouble but you seem to have produced some excellent examples on your first try!. I am also wary of double sided tape for the reasons Ermio has given - I would have used epoxy or something similar.

Stephen.

Offline Des

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Re: First attempt at a scratch build - 1/48 BE12a
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2016, 08:44:49 AM »
I'm looking forward to following along with this build Brad, your wing building technique is quite a good idea and one I could use during my 1:32 scale scratch builds.

Des.
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Offline Brad Cancian

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Re: First attempt at a scratch build - 1/48 BE12a
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2016, 06:29:50 PM »
Thanks for the feedback and tips folks - this is very much still a learning experience for me! 

Yes the tape is used to keep the wings skins down. I didn't have any epoxy to hand, and superglue wasn't going to permit me the time to work the skin into position. What seems to 'seal' everything together is the plastic glue around the edges of the plastic skin. So in theory, if the skins are down tight then there shouldn't be too much of a concern about the tape degrading over time.   I don't know how well the skins and balsa core will hold up over time, and if they will bend and twist or not, but time will tell. I'm still debating about whether to have the rigging as structural rigging or use my usual elastic. Proper structural rigging will give me the strength required but I fear that over time the tension may warp the wing.  Anyone have any experience with this?

In any case, I spent some time building the tail feathers today. These were thinner and I used plastic card as the core. In this case, because they had a plastic core, I could extend the core slightly wider than the tips, which provided a surface to glue the plastic skin to. This made cleaning up the wing tips far easier.



I think next time I scratch build wings i'll use a balsa core but build up the core with plastic wingtips to help with the cleanup.

So, I now have a full set of flight feathers, which means the next step will be to start thinking about how to build the fuselage...



Cheers again!

BC
« Last Edit: September 11, 2016, 06:36:30 PM by Brad Cancian »

Offline bobs_buckles

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Re: First attempt at a scratch build - 1/48 BE12a
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2016, 10:17:52 PM »
Magical workmanship, Brad  ;)

vB



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Online macsporran

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Re: First attempt at a scratch build - 1/48 BE12a
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2016, 11:33:02 PM »
Hey Brad, good to see some good old-fashioned modelling again. Nice results. Keep up the great work.

Re longevity of balsa core wings etc, I built a 1/48 FE2b like this back in the early 70s and did an article on it in Scale Models magazine back in 1974 if I remember correctly. I eventually sold it on ebay round about 2000 and the wings were still perfectly sealed and in good order at that time. So 25 years was quite easily achievable with the glues etc at the time.

Surprised you don't rate the Aeroclub BE series, I thought they were pretty good at the time although I haven't seen them for a while. I would always trust John Adams' plans over other sources as I know the care he takes in drawing them up - often from original sources. I remember visiting him when he had premises in Nottingham and he showed me some original Meteor drawings. He'd visited the Gloster factory as it was about to be demolished and found workmen carrying armfuls of original drawings out to a skip. He asked if he could have some and was told to help himself so packed his car with as much as possible! (But had to see the rest go off to a tip somewhere, what a waste.)

Don't know if it's true but one of the traders at the Scottish Scale World show last week in Edinburgh told me John had supplied the plans to Airfix for some of their big 1/24 kits. (I'd trust John's dimensions above any Datafile or other plansets.)

Anyway, nice model, look forward to seeing it complete.
Sandy

Offline Ernie

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Re: First attempt at a scratch build - 1/48 BE12a
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2016, 02:13:55 AM »
Great start, Brad! :D

Cheers,
Ernie :)
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Offline Borsos

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Re: First attempt at a scratch build - 1/48 BE12a
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2016, 02:17:12 AM »
Wonderful scratchbuilt wings. And flawless for a first try! I have to try out that Method too... If I should give an answer to your question I think I'd go with elastic rigging in this scale, fearing structural rigging could bend the wings. That's not based on experience, just a feeling in my stomach. I cross my fingers for your plastic cores. When I scratch built my Nieuport 12 I had used two layers of 0,5 mm plastic card glued together. They are badly warped meanwhile ???
Borsos
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Offline GAJouette

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Re: First attempt at a scratch build - 1/48 BE12a
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2016, 03:03:27 AM »
 Brad,
Outstanding project my old friend. Your Master Level skills and craftsmanship serve you well. Hard to believe this is your first scratch build judging from her wings. Great technique and well planned execution. I'm looking forward to following this latest project of your's. Keep up your high standards of excellence.
Highest Regards,
Gregory Jouette
" What Me Worry"

Offline ALBATROS1234

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Re: First attempt at a scratch build - 1/48 BE12a
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2016, 02:50:13 PM »
great start brad, i remember your conversion from way back, want to say you kitbashed a roden se5a nose onto the aeroclub fuselage correct? that was a beautiful build.must be 10 years back and your skills have become far more refined,should turn out to be a mini work of art.

Offline Manni

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Re: First attempt at a scratch build - 1/48 BE12a
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2016, 05:41:03 PM »
Great start. It looks so easy to make the wings, but I think it is very tricky.
I will follow your build. I think I can learn here a lot.
Manni
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