Back in the fall of 2007 I completed a P47 using pink fan fold foam. It was to be my largest yet at about 45 inches, and I spent a long time trying to figure out how to make the fuselage. Time told me that eventually I would need to upgrade my motor, install a larger prop, and upgrade my power supply.
The original motor I sadly don't have the specs for at this point, but plan to get them up here, seemed to not be enough to get this big arse bird climbing. The problem was found to be upon launch that the plane would stall and tip to the right heading nose down ending in a crunch. This taught us a critical lesson on maiden flights! Start low! Tossing in the air only leaves more distance to fall if something is drastically wrong! As it turns out there was.
I learned more then one lesson building this warbird, in fact this was the point I finally got glassing down (sort of). The original cowl was made carving a stack of Owens Corning pink foam then coating the whole deal with light cloth and an epoxy zap resin. It was a tough nose, but I feel the entire thing was too heavy even after hollowing most of it out, of course I didn't know that then. Either way, it was a nice looking cowl.
Next was to cut and form the fuse. This entire process took a lot of time. There is a serious art in making a fuse in this manner. Note the protractor, calculator, and other tools in the below pictures. Finally however I felt I had a really nice looking body. I decided also to add the small fin for more directional stability as well.
Well to me this was massively advanced from my previous build! It had a fiberglass cowl, vac formed canopy, and a semi-symmetrical airfoil. It was larger, more scale, and the hot wire work was moe better. The linkages to the ailerons were very clean and functioned with a slip fit joint to allow for the funny angle they sat on the wing to function without binding. Sadly the motor was underpowered, and the whole thing stalled out on it's first maiden....
Or so I thought, consequent repairs/rebuilds showed the bird continuing to tip stall in the same direction. The motor was upgraded to a 500XTH (same as what I had in my BF109, now FW190) and on one of the last flyable days before the snow came in '07 was it's final flight. It started wonderfully, a nice gradual climb to about 15 feet. The left wing began to dip and I slowly corrected, only it began tipping more rapidly, I pushed harder, and now it was completely inverted flying nice and level at about 20 feet. THE AILERONS WERE INVERTED!! The ground crew had let me down again, and it was too late for me to correct, 20' inverted is no time to make an emergency landing. Split second decision making left me at the initial full throttle setting, heading straight for the ground at 10 feet and closing. Needless to say the only thing that survived was the rudder, canopy, pilot, and a smashed up fiber glass cowl.
Thunderbolt - Modern Building
Over the course of my very busy winter I discovered Googles Sketchup, 3d design for everyone. Read Free 3D! With the ability to unfold complex shapes and applying some new ideas I got from the great folks active on RC groups I remade the P-47 fuselage and came up with a neat way to cut weight in the nose while still having a durable yet scale looking nose with the control of carving.
Gone are the protractors. Calculators on the cutting table are a thing of the past. Computer aided design works. Starting very simple I put this entire concept to test.
Stacked up nicely here is the new 2 hour cut and formed P-47 fuselage. Also seen in the pic are the remnants of the old, surviving canopy/ cockpit, parts from the tail and a dented up cowl.
The new cowl was carved out of the same pink foam with some extra details and sat on the vacuum table pallet ready to be formed.
Once formed it's cut and painted silver to fit on the new nose.
Next pic shows whats left of the largest part of the original wing sitting on a newly hot wired wing.
Details are added with the very flexible "FOAMIES" foam that can be bought from Walmart cheaply.
Then new wing was entirely glassed on the bottom to prevent it from cracking apart on a tough landing as the fist wing had done, several times.
Magnets are used to hold the entire nose on.
This decision was made after the hot glue let go when testing in the garage and I nearly cut my hand off with a spinning prop... another lesson learned there! Don't test holding near the prop!
An army green base and dove gray bottom base coat was added and then it was flown again for the fist time.
-And you had better believe I checked the ailerons at least seven times before we let it go!
It was incredible. This plane put my 109 to absolute shame.
It flies with power, yet it's very forgiving. A tremendous climb rate, and boy what a dive!
I have a great time every time I take this one out.
And that's why there will always be scratch builders, an ARF will never give you that same feeling.
Final paint scheme shown here
Check the Gallery for pictures of this foam fighter.