The ME109 and Me

Veron Tru-Flite ME109G D4 Completed (26.07.14)

I grew up in the days just prior to internet ordering. Obtaining model kits meant ringing up or going into to a local model shop. Not being old enough to own a credit card the only option for me was cash in hand. Unfortunately learning to drive was still a long way off so trips to a proper model shop were rare and came at a price – having to accompany my mother when she decided she was bored of the local shops and wanted to browse the department stores in the larger surrounding towns. Que many hours of frustration as the model shop was the last on the list and my mother seemed to want to browse through every item of clothing on display. Furthermore, attendance was conditional on me demonstrating the very best of behaviour…..

At this time the family car was a Volvo and the dealer for servicing was located in York. By lucky chance the garage at that time was within walking distance of P&S Hobbies and Models (a great model shop still open to this day) and if I accompanied my father he was agreeable to visiting the model shop. P&S Hobbies had a considerably larger range of models and this included Veron and Keil Kraft kits. After a diet of museum gift shop purchased Guillow’s kits, complete with their distinctive large moulded plastic cowlings, radiators and exhausts, the Veron Tru-flite kits took me by surprise when I first came across the kits on display. How was the cowling reproduced in such a thin box? Well curiosity took over and I purchased an ME-109G.

Unwrapping the cellophane in the car on the journey back it was with more dismay than excitement when I found merely printed balsa sheets, with not a die-cut part in sight, and that the more complex detailing had to be reproduced entirely in balsa. This may sound trivial but it was a difficult hurdle when I wasn’t old enough to buy scalpels, there was nowhere in my local town that sold them anyway and my budget did not stretch far for additional building accessories. In short I was forced to cut-out, craft and finish off the entire model with one ‘throw-away’ hobby knife!

That said I spent a few pleasant winter evenings in front of the hearth fire putting the kit together and ok, the exhaust stubs disappeared as a lot of crumbled balsa but the overall effort was reasonably aeroplane shaped and they did fly.

Back to the present day and this eBay purchase served as a bit of light relief between other more important commitments. I’ve already mentioned how I feel strongly about ‘collecting’ unbuilt kits and that models should always be built. Consequently I had no qualms about taking a knife to the contents, no doubt much to the disgust of those hoarders! I’ve left this model in bare doped tissue to replicate how my childhood attempts would have looked. This time the balsa details are fitted and I’ve given the model a couple of extra coats of dope for longevity.

Veron Tru-Flite ME109G  Frames Completed

Balsa frames completed

Veron Tru-Flite ME109G B2 Dry Assembly (03.07.14)

Dry assemply prior to covering

Veron Tru-Flite ME109G C2 Panels Covered (20.07.14)

Panels covered in doped tissue and ready for final assembly

Veron Tru-Flite ME109G D1 Completed (26.07.14)

One ME10G finished and ready to go!

The Veron Cardinal; A First Flight Failure!

Veron Cardinal (C1) Finished (23.05.15)

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.

Veron Cardinal Aeromodeller Dec 1951

The Cardinal is an old design by the late Phil Smith and first appeared on the market in 1951 under the trading name of Veron (named after Veronica; a wife of one of the company owners). Amerang purchased the rights to Veron from Model Aircraft (Bournemouth) Ltd when the latter folded in 1978 and kept production going for another few decades. By the end over 170,000 had been sold!

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!

Veron Cardinal (26.11.12) (3)

Nothing beats opening the box on a kit to be faced with a feast of balsa goodness!

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.

Veron Cardinal (A) Parts Cut Out (25.04.14)

Parts all cut out and ready for some glue

Veron Cardinal (B) Frames Completed (13.05.14)

Panels completed – note the all important wing gussets on the centre ribs

Veron Cardinal (B1) Frames Completed (13.05.14)

Dry Assembly

Veron Cardinal (B1) Tissue Covering Completed (30.05.14)

Covered in tissue. Thinned down Deluxe Materials Eze-dope was used to both affix and shrink the tissue.

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!

Veron Cardinal (C) Finished (23.05.14)

All ready to go. My kit came with original Veron wheels with removable rubber tyres so painting the hubs was easy.  As a simple finishing touch these really bring the model to life.

Veron Cardinal (C4) Finished (23.05.15)

Reconditioned Cox Black Window looking right at home in the engine bay.   5 g of lead ballast is tucked away under the engine giving an all up dry weight of 265 g.


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Balsa Bashing a P40 (part 6)

Guillow’s Series 400 P40 Warhawk Build:

Well, it’s taken a while but I’ve finally finished it. Having made the engine cowling detachable I had not helped myself when it came to the tiger shark decals.  With lots of Klear (Johnsons) I managed to coax them into position and make a successful cut in the right place.   A little touch up of the teeth with paint around the front of the cowling finished off the front end nicely. The rest of the decals were applied over a localised pre-coat of Klear before the entire model was sprayed with satin fuel proofer (Flair spectrum) to both seal the decals in and protect the model from the glow engine up front.

With only top-entry fill and overflow pipes on the Cox .020 Pee Wee’s tank it does not matter where the tubing is placed. Not wanting to spoil the top of the cowling with any further holes I elected to route the filling tubing below the engine with the portion sticking out hidden among the shark’s teeth.

The final picture shows it on display hanging from the ceiling in pride of place above the breakfast bar. Unfortunately Rachael took one look at it and with words to the effect of “DOWN NOW!” I’m going to have to find a new home for it…..

Gulliows P40 Finished

Front Left.

Gulliows P40 Finished

Front Right. The guns were made from the wooden doweling supplied in the kit for use with the rubber motor powered version.

Gulliows P40 Finished

Rear Left. The pitot tube was constructed from a toothpick.

Gulliows P40 Finished

Rear Right.

Gulliows P40 (R12) Finished (19.04.14)

Ok, the poor engine is swinging an oversize 6×3 ” propellor but the correct 4.5×2 ” barely clears the cowling and wouldn’t be much use.

Gulliows P40 Finished

close up of the tiger shark markings. The auxiliary fuel tank was carved from balsa.

Gulliows P40 Finished

Cox .020 Pee Wee installed with filling and overflow pipes routed using ligthweight saddle clamps.  The Pee Wee is a great little engine and was first introduced in 1957!

Gulliows P40 Finished

Cockpit Right.

Gulliows P40 Finished

Cockpit Left.

Gulliows P40 Finished

On display…. albeit temporary!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed building this kit. I’ll leave you with this build sequence slide show of the build from start to finish:

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Balsa Bashing a P40 (Part 5)

Guillow’s Series 400 P40 Warhawk Build:

If you have read my previous posts you may remember me drawing reference to the slightly ‘elastic’ feel of the Deluxe Material’s ‘Eze-Dope’ once dried. Thankfully the paint has stiffened the tissue covering up considerably. Following a spray with white primer the main colours were applied by brush. I prefer acrylics (Revell Aqua Color); after all what’s not to like with an odourless, water-thinnable paint which cleans up under the tap afterwards? Several coats were needed, as is to be expected from brushing, plus I don’t like the transparent look interspersed with brush strokes when the model is held up to the light.

Guillows P40 Base Coat Applied

Top base coat applied.

Guillows P40 Base Coat Applied

Underside base coat.  You can also see the spruce blocks into which go the cowling mount screws

Gulliows P40 (Q3) Camouflage (28.04.14)

Basic camouflage applied.

Gulliows P40 Camouflage

Cowling fitted into place with cut-outs made to suit the engine.

Gulliows P40 Undercarriage

Undercarriage oleos constructed from silicone tubing with masking tape wrap-around strips

Painting any model, especially in more than one colour, is going to incur a weight penalty. The weight is now 152 grams including the cockpit detailing and undercarriage. A Cox Pee Wee .020 (0.33 cc) engine weighs 26 grams so I’m on track for staying under my maximum target weight of 200 grams. This engine is not exactly a power house when compared with a similar sized electric motor, but neither does it have to lug around a battery. For free flight this is good – landings are not going to be smooth and no battery equals no internal damage in the event of a sudden stop!

Balsa Bashing a P40 (Part 4)

Guillow’s Series 400 P40 Warhawk Build:

That’s the plastic parts and fairings glued into place.  A case of measure twice, cut once and carefully sand for a perfect fit.  I used liquid polystyrene cement throughout for the plastic and cyano for the balsa fairings.  A little more ‘persuasion’ was required for those, even with 1/32” balsa, and white glue was never going to set in time.

The cowling is held on with self-tapping screws into spruce blocks glued onto the firewall.  I would rather be able to get at the engine than permanently glue the cowling in place as per the instructions.  I’m very much doubt there is adequate cooling airflow.  Normally with enclosed engines you want a ratio of 1:2 inflow to outflow.  Any extra inflow without sufficient area for exit creates a ‘wall’ of air which inhibits any further fresh intake.  Short of cutting the base of the cowling there is little else I can do to keep any potential cooling holes in the cowling concealed.  It may just be best to run it rich – it’s not as if a free-flight power runs (or perhaps that should read ‘free flight models’!) last for long.

Instead of thin card I used 1/32″ balsa for the fairings.  Simply personal preference as I find it easier to shape and glue into place.

The cowling is removable for convenience and takes with it the overlapping parts of the exhausts and top air scoop.

The front and rear belly pan cowlings clean up the lines nicely. A bit of filling will be required to blend in undercarage nacels at the wing leading edge. Next step is painting – looking forward to that part!

Balsa Bashing a P40 (Part 3)

Guillow’s Series 400 P40 Warhawk Build:
Tissue Covering:

I elected to try Eze-Dope, by Deluxe Materials, instead of cellulose dope to affix and shrink the tissue.  Marketed as being water soluble it was certainly easier to clean up afterwards and considerably less smelly!  I found a weak solution worked better than water alone for initial tightening, followed by several coats at 50/50 until slightly glossy.  It was difficult to brush on a thin enough coat if applied neat straight from the bottle resulting in an uneven crazed surface.

My only other criticism is that once dried the tissue can be ‘stretched’ if enough pressure is applied to a small area, resulting in a slightly sagging panel.  I suspect this is the ‘polymer’ nature of Eze-dope, which once ‘dry’ then behaves as a plastic.  No amount of additional water or dope would encourage the tissue to re-shrink, and heat, whilst initially successful, still failed to provide a permanent solution.  The only option was to cut away the offending area and re-cover; not difficult but slightly annoying.   I’m hoping paint will maintain the surface tension somewhat but failing that it will just be a case of handle carefully!  On the flip side, slightly stretchy also equates to puncture resistance and the sagging wouldn’t be sufficient to affect flying performance.

Guillows P40 (N) Covering Completed (07.01.14)

Assembled and ready for the plastic parts and wing fairings.

Guillows P40 (N2) Covering Completed (07.01.14)

The kit supplied tissue was used throughout and (mainly) applied dry using Eze-Dope at the edges.

Guillows P40 (N3) Covering Completed (07.01.14)

I’m still debating on using 1/32″ balsa instead of thin card for the fairings. IMO it’s considerably easier to sand and shape balsa a bit at a time than cut card.

Guillows P40 (N4) Covering Completed (07.01.14)

The belly pan stringer detail was a little vague on the plans and required a bit of comparison with photos of the full size P40 and then a bit of guesswork. I reached for the white glue to encourage the tissue to stay attached to what amounts to a concave structure during application.