Scratch build 1/72 Short Biplane No 2

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2 months 3 weeks ago - 2 months 3 weeks ago #355 by Stevef
Evening All,

The subject for this build came to my attention last year when I was walking with a friend on the Isle of Sheppy in Kent. I was unaware that Sheppy has an important place in the history of British aviation, as it was the site of the first successful flight by a Briton of an all-British aircraft. The machine in question was the Short Biplane No 2, an original design which drew heavily on the Wight Flyer and the experience gained from the Wright brothers' attempts to develop their design. 6 Short Biplanes No 2 were built: one of them was bought and successfully flown in 1909 by J. M. Brabazon (later Earl of Tara), from a grass field next to some sheds owned by the Short brothers:





The field today has a cereal crop.

As I have been unable to find any line drawings of the Short No 2 I have had to make up some of my own, based on the Biplane No 3, (a smaller version of the Biplane No 2), for which there are drawings, and photographs of Brabazon's machine which were taken in 1909 which show a good deal of detail. I cannot be certain that I will have every feature of the aircraft 100% correct, but I will try my best to do so. I am led to believe that there was/is a model of this machine in the Science Museum in London: I am still making enquiries if this is so, but I do not fancy going up to Town to look at it so I will fall back on modeller's licence and intuition if am in doubt.

The following site shows some good photographs and drawings of the Short biplanes:

flyingmachines.ru/Site2/Crafts/Craft28384.htm

Excellent photographs of the Biplane No 2 taken in 1909 can be found at:

www.thisdayinaviation.com/tag/short-biplane-no-2/

and there are many other photographs of the machine on the net, some of them being of very high quality indeed.

As usual with my scratch builds I have started with the flying surfaces which have been cut from 30 thou card. The card for the wings had been bent using a pipe filled with hot water:



I have also started to make the Green engine which replaced the original Vivinus: Brabazon wanted to fit the Green but late delivery meant that the earliest flights were made with the French engine. I cannot find any photographs of the Vivinius so I am opting for the Green instead. The engine block is laminated card and the cylinders are rod. Paint and pipes are still to be added. The struts are leftovers from earlier projects which can be used for this one.

Thanks for looking.

Stevef.
Last Edit: 2 months 3 weeks ago by Stevef.

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2 months 4 days ago #356 by Stevef
Evening All,

Recently I have not had much time to keep my tray company, and even when I do I do not have the urge to do much. However in the past few days I seem to have gained a little momentum, which is just as well because this is part of a GB and the deadline is fast approaching.

I have put the ribs on to the flying surfaces - Evergreen strip (10 x 20 thou) which I sand down until it is nearly flat and then add Mr Surfacer to the edges to smooth them out. Further sanding gives a slight ridge:



The Short biplane was different to most aircraft in that it was basically a pair of wings on skids with a canard structure and a fin on poles at the rear. Therefore I decided that the next step should be to make the skids. I constructed these from 20 x 30 thou Evergreen strip which may be a little over-scale but has to be strong enough to support the wings and front elevator. The upper and lower frames were bent by marking out the curves on a block of wood, pinning the strip to conform to the curves and immersing the strip in boiling water for about 10 seconds:





With the top and bottom frames bent to shape I could pin them to a plan and insert the uprights that held the structure together:



The gap between the rear of the skids and the wing was filled with a sheet of fabric - this was simulated with some plastic card. I have also made a fuel tank form an old plastic knitting needle which was exactly the correct diameter:



I have done some more work on the engine but I will not take any photos until it is finished. The next stage will be to start painting as most of the parts will have to be fixed directly to the lower wing or frame.

Thanks for looking.

Stevef.

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1 month 3 weeks ago #357 by Stevef
Evening All,

This is taking longer than I had anticipated, in part because I do not like painting. (There is no decorating on this model so I am relieved of trying to find suitable transfers or having to print my own). However I have at last painted the flying surfaces a mix of Revell white with a small dash of beige (314) to take the brightness out of the white. The wooden skids are Revell SM 382 enamel. I also painted the fuel and oil tanks in Humbrol copper and the radiator block matt black:



Prior to painting I epoxied the booms to both wings. These are florist's wire and were held in place by my usual sophisticated and expensive jigs while the epoxy set:



With the skids and wings painted I could cement the former to the lower wing and add the cross strut at the front of the skids:





Now I could start on the "cockpit" and add extra details to the engine. Because I have excellent photos of the model in the Science Museum in London, I have been able to make reasonable representations of the seat and Vivani engine:





I am now pondering the next stage(s) in the build sequence, because the engine, seat, radiator, oil and fuel tanks will all be a bit fragile and in the case of the oil and fuel tanks, potentially difficult to mount. I may have to use some modellers licence with those parts just to be able to put them in their correct positions and keep them there. I also wish to avoid knocking things off at a later stage of assembly and rigging, so I am working through different possibilities. Hopefully I will be able to post results before too long.

Thanks for looking.

Stevef.

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1 month 1 week ago #358 by Stevef
Evening All,

Well the best laid plans of mice and men..... Sometimes life offers distractions which we do not want or would prefer to come in an orderly, rather than disorderly manner, but then we rarely have a choice in such matters. Consequently I have either been unable to do very much or simply not had the energy until recently, and then I hit one or two tricky problems which have caused further delay. But to the model...

The first thing to do was to attach the top wing. Given that I do not have proper drawings for this one I used the wonderful model in the Science Museum and contemporary photographs to guesstimate the gap between the wings: it worked out at close to 6 feet (1.9m). I cut 2 pairs of struts and cemented these to the underside of the top wing, one bay inwards from the wing tip. I used Revell Contacta for this. When the cement was partially set I inverted the wing and dropped the lower ends of the struts into the holes in the lower wing into which I had placed drops of cement. I rapidly assembled a jig to hold everything steady until all of the cement had set:





Note how my modelling tray is being used for the purpose for which it was designed, and the range of expensive and sophisticated tools on display!





With the 4 struts in place I could insert two pairs of struts on either side to help stabilize and strengthen the wing structure:





The inner pairs of struts have been left off to allow me access to the centre section where the engine and seat will be inserted at the appropriate times. Now I could add the radiator to the centre section: this extended the full space between the wings on the Short No 2 biplane. This was followed by the engine and flywheel (at the rear), and a return water pipe from the bottom of the radiator to the engine. I made the pipe from 20 thou rod:



To stabilize and strengthen the structure I added the fin between the rear of the booms:



With the struts, radiator and fin in place the model is robust and can be easily handled, turned or rested on the skids or top wing as necessary.

The drive shafts for the propellors were mounted between the rear struts of wing bay 2. I made these using 30 thou rod for the drive shafts, 25 thou rod for the supports and the wheels were cut and shaped from pieces of 40 x 125 thou strip:





It was at this point that I went on a fool's errand. I thought that the plastic structure might not be strong enough to hold the large propellors, so I tried to make up a structure using brass rod. Having cut the rod I found that everything was so small I would have had a major problem keeping it all aligned and inserting the tip of the soldering iron between all of the stabilizing pins. I gave up in exasperation, only to discover that, when I had assembled the plastic structure and allowed it to set it was more robust than I had originally thought. The drive shafts have been duly inserted between the wings:





I will put in the (motorcycle?) drive chains next - these will be made from waxed black cotton thread. The waxing stops the thread absorbing moisture and slackening over time, but more of that next time.

Thanks for looking.

Stevef.

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3 weeks 11 hours ago #359 by Stevef
Evening All,

Thanks to those who dropped by and left comments - as ever they have been most welcome.

I have been incredibly slow with this build recently as I have been distracted by other things in life, including having a bathroom revamped. That has sapped a lot of time and energy but is at last nearing completion. In addition some of the model has proved more tricky than anticipated so a combination of tiredness and awkwardness has hindered constuction.

I used black cotton thread which I waxed from a candle to stop the thread from absorbing moisture and slackening later. The thread was wound around the small "wheels" on the drive shafts between the wings and the drive shaft at the rear of the engine. I secured the ends with superglue. The right side was just a little slack when fitted but that was corrected easily when I inserted the chain guides:





Apologies for the second photo but I could not quite get the image in focus. My model differs here form the Science Museum model because the latter does not have the chain guides: why this is so I am not sure because all of the contemporary photographs of the aircraft clearly show them to be present. In addition the Wright Flyers (upon which the Short design was based), also had these guides. A mystery indeed.

The front elevator was constructed by putting in the numerous struts:



The control rod and supports under the elevator was made from strip and rod:



This was attached to the underside of the elevator and the struts and mechanism painted:



Further progress is likely to be hampered because I have to visit a family member next week - more time lost! However further updates will follow when I have made more progress.

Thanks for looking.

Stevef.

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