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We engineers sometimes get a "feeling" for the artefacts we make. This is not condusive to the analysis of cold logic but it greatly affects our viewpoint. That's why, a couple of years ago, I gave away a "Bowden Contest" after its first flight: it had never seemed "right" throughout its construction. The same applies, but more so, with regard to what has been known in this household for the past year as the "Bl**dy Aeronca."


It was Roger Stanton's masthead illustration in his BMFA News column that aroused my interest, followed by the outstanding free flight version by Terry Aydon that deservedly won the calm Bowden of 2009. Roger put me on to the designer, Phil Smith who supplied the plan. This, in turn, led me to a manufacturer which claimed to Replicate the kits of the past, and for a tidy sum the box duly arrived. I should have stopped there. The "full kit" contained some of the bits needed (probably less that half,) and some, the manufacturers admitted, were knowingly the wrong size. There followed a polite but carefully worded exchange of e-mails, after which the kit was taken off the market.

It was, of course, a free flight model, although the original Mercury instructions make passing mention of radio control conversion. Essential reading in this event is the Dave Deadman article in "FlyingScale Models," (it's on the Web) who admitted to the mistake of using the F/F wing attachments for a R/C version. He was honest enough to show the resulting carnage and repairs.

That almost every component had to be redesigned to make this a) electric and b) radio was understood, and is part of the pleasure of the building programme. I reverted to a conventional fixed, soldered undercarriage, for example, and as for the wing mounting, piano wires in tubes were OK for A/2 Gliders, so they will be fine here. The wires are the belt, the struts the braces.

I have a long standing "thing" about Scale models. It's just something with which I have never satisfied myself. This Aeronca was clearly not going to overcome my problem, but at least I could learn something by persisting. The build also coincided with a slight health problem that I found distracting. Some betes noir, such as the fitting of windscreens, have largely been overcome, but it became clear that this would end up as yet another "Sports-model-in-the-shape-of-a-fullsize" which is the best I have yet achieved. In the end I was just pleased to get the D*mn*d thing finished.

I built it light, with covering of doped Polyester and colour from my dwindling supply of blue heavyweight tissue. Would a two-cell power unit be enough? Initial test flights proved that this was so, especially since I have become one of those wimpish R/C flyers who quail at a breath of wind. (That's strange: I'll launch F/F in anything I can stand up in, but...) The model has had the latest laugh, however, dropping its cowling into a cornfield somewhere near Crowland. Bernie said use a stronger magnet. Magnet? Oh, I should have thought of that...

July 2012

Links:- Intro page to Aeronca 15AC Sedan - N1331H.
          To the Dave Deadman article in "FlyingScale Models" mentioned above. (A .pdf file)
          Model Aeronca Sedans.