I built my first Veron Cardinal back in 1993 when I was 11 years old. Having spent my pocket money on a succession of small Veron, Kiel Kraft and Guillow’s rubber powered aircraft I felt confident with the build and did not encounter any real problems. In fact compared to some of the more complex and fiddly rubber powered stick-n-tissue WW2 fighters the cardinal seemed overly huge and very simple in design. Instead, as my first engine powered model it was the noisy lump at the front, a Cox 049 Black Widow, that threw me. Once again, having picked a hobby several generations beyond my own and not having anyone to help me, I was faced with going it alone. Many hours of flicking the prop over in the garage on a test bench soon turned into days. The fact that the engine in question was in the hands of at least its 7th owner and was a ratty old thing certainly didn’t help. I was no closer to getting it running other than a few spluttering coughs when eventually things just ‘clicked’ into place, the garage was filled with fumes, and the poor engine was bolted into my shiny new Cardinal for the first flights.
It was a cold but calm winter’s day and the whole family followed me out for this one. Test glides over, I managed to get my adrenalin under control and was amazed when the Black Widow burst into life first flick. Up I stood and threw the thing into the air with a joyful cry of triumph! I will never forget that flight. The cardinal soared magnificently out of my outstretched hand, tracking straight as a die with the winter sun glinting off its wings. Away it flew for all of 1 meter, stopped dead in the air and blew up!!
Glancing down at the scattered wreckage and trying not to listen to the hysterical laughter from my audience; I noticed the poor little engine, now separated from the front of the plane, was lying there still joined by the length of wire I’d forgotten to detach leading from its glow plug to the heavy starter battery……..
Back to the present day and I sourced the Cardinal portrayed on this page as an unbuilt kit from eBay at a not unreasonable £65. Now I know you can buy a brand new ‘Replikit’ version for £55, and included in that price are laser cut parts, but there is something nice about building an original. This kit had been well looked after as the balsa was still soft but I personally cannot see the enjoyment in hoarding unbuilt vintage kits. After all, there gets a point when the wood is so brittle and the plan has turned to yellow flakes that it looks a mess. This sorry-looking state of affairs unfortunately coincides with the conclusion of that decision to horde in the first place. The result is an attempt to sell the kit on and get much less in return than expected. Many poor kits never get a chance to be built and probably never will as another ‘collector’ takes on the task of storage. Thankfully this particular kit has been ‘rescued’ by yours truly and put together as originally intended!
There really is not that much to building a Cardinal. After all the plane was designed for those new to the hobby. I built mine as per the plan with no modifications. The way the top tissue is uninterrupted from leading to trailing edge producing an exaggerated ribbed effect is one of the unique characteristics of the cardinal. It seemed from my research on the net that many now add an extra top spar to aid with a two-tone tissue-only covering scheme, or an overly strengthened centre section. In my opinion both ruin the wings pleasing lines. If built well, and that means not missing out those all-important gussets, the wing is sufficiently strong enough to cope with most ‘free-flight’ scenarios. With the wing holding bands meeting in the middle above the canopy there is no risk of crumpling the tissue as many seem to fear.
Colour has been added to mine, adopting a yellow and black scheme, with 3 coats of thinned down Revell water based acrylics applied by brush. It’s a technique that I’ve used with a lot of success and creates little mess. The black was painted onto masked-off yellow and the entire model was finished in Flair gloss fuel-proofer. A nice shiny re-built Cox Black Widow, represent with a now obligatory eco-conscious silencer, completed the front end. The max target weight without engine is quoted as 200 grams and the Black Widow weighs in at 65 g minus silcener/prop/spinner. Overall mine comes in at a very healthy 265 g including nose ballast, prop, wheels etc showing how water based acylics are the way to go!