Some time in 2009 Ivan Pettigrew sent me a free copy of his Shoestring plan and this lovely little model fitted right into my self-improvement class (I really did need to be able to fly better).

While I was at Chilliwack, Ivan very generously let me fly his own Shoestring and while he was giving me tips on flying technique, we both commented on how realistic it looked flying around against the sky and the mountains, and we agreed that a single-engined fighter, built to the same standards, would be just the job. So here's the start of mine: a Mustang drawn up to 1/8th scale (55" span) with a minimum structure and a ladder-type fuselage. The motor is a 3536/1100 from George at 4-Max and the spinner is not quite large enough at 3.25" diameter, from falconsrcss on eBay. (Excellent delivery and service from both, by the way)

The tail surfaces and wing are pretty well as per the Shoestring, as is the basis of the fuselage. It will have to have lots of curved formers, sheet covering and planking round the curvy bits (no, I don't want a profile model thanks) but at first it will have no UC, just a strengthened air scoop for belly landing. There are areas of longer grass at our field that will cushion the arrivals. Later on I might try the new e-flight servo-less retracts, providing it all works!

The substance of the model will be in the covering and decoration. At the moment it could be any mark, from the early Allison-engined version, through the similar Merlin Marks with either the flat or Malcolm hoods, or the bubble-hooded later Marks - even the final lightweight version is possible, although the wing didn't have the LE extension. I'm hoping to get the canopy from a commercial supplier, since the scale and size is standard.

Here she is at the moment. The wing pegs in from the rear and will have a couple of bolts at the front, in order to allow the large air scoop to be made in one landing-proof piece. Everything else is "Ivan" standard.

27 Oct 2010

1 Nov 2010

The build has progressed well and only the fuselage skinning remains of the major building tasks. I found 1/8th canopies at Vortex Vacforms and they were delivered the next day. The “glasshouse” one was too small but the bubble-top is the right size, if perhaps a little too streamlined, but very good value at 8, and it fits neatly on top of the fuselage.

I’ve had two surprises during the build: the first is just how big the fuselage is compared with the Shoestring: it must be at least twice the volume, and will use far more balsa that I had estimated. The other is how far back the battery has to be to balance at 27% chord. The LE extension fools the eye into thinking the nose is not that long, but I’ve had to move the servos and extend the battery tray back a whole bay more.

All the planking is from soft 2.5 mm sheet. I found this a very enjoyable part of the build and the results are far better than I had imagined, once the ridges and bumps are sanded off

The top rear fuselage decking, planked with 2.5 mm sheet; as built on the left and after a couple of minutes with a sanding block on the right.

The cockpit hatch has taken the most time per gram so far (this is the second attempt) but is starting to look OK. The canopy is a stock item from Vortex Vacforms at exactly the right size.

16 Nov 2010. Almost there! A few more hours work on the cowling and various details and she’ll be ready to cover.

17 December 2010. Where does the time go? Covered with solartex and waiting for the Callie Graphics and some other detail. No chance of flying in the cold weather we have at the moment.

Finished: or as finished as she’s going to get until there’s some flying weather. Callie’s Graphics really bring the model to life, don’t they?

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