Treasures from Chris Parent

Recently, Chris Parent sent me the following four pic's of his F4B-4. Click any image for a larger picture.

The model is from a Golden Age Reproductions Boeing F4B-4 kit: 22" span, a little under 50 gm. balanced (w/o rubber), lots of wing area (close to 110 in. sq.) but very short coupled.

This was my "winter project". I got a little sidetracked doing other (simpler) planes, so I finished it in May. It's covered in JCI yellow, white, red, and lt. gray (fuselage) as well as Aleene's silver on the wings. Everything is lightly sprayed with Krylon. Markings are a little of everything: paint, cut tissue, gray marker, pencil, rub-on letters (U.S. Navy, F4B-4 9029), and the nifty Felix decal from the kit. Rigging is elastic thread for the wings, and lycra thread for the tail and antenna. Pilot is vacuum formed from Small Scale in the UK, acrylic paint. The whole cowl and engine thing is mostly balsa. The headrest is absurdly soft balsa carved then hollowed out.

The stab/elevator is enlarged to ~22% of the wing area. If you buy the Golden Age kit, order the Tomasco F4B plans (from Golden Age) as well. They are virtually identical in size, with much better scale detail.

The plane actually came out nose heavy, so what you see is the second, lighter weight cowl ring. Note the detailed tail hook and documented scale instrument panel.

Flying: This plane is definitely a handful, as expected. It is very short coupled with a big draggy nose. I've only had it out once (it's been done for less than a week) in pretty breezy conditions. I actually got it going pretty well for short test flights, and did one lucky ~25 second flight at about 50% turns. Under the weather conditions, it was too unpredictable to go any further. I'll take it out again in calm air as soon as possible.

Because it is more a sesquiplane than a bipe, I put in very little dihedral. It would certainly benefit from more dihedral in the bottom wing and a little something in the top wing (maybe a little bit of a curve to raise the tips). I really like the way it looks, so if calm air test flights prove it necessary, I'll do the wing surgery. Bear in mind that I'm not a very good flier.

Although I've seen much fancier models, this was a pretty complicated project for me. My next few are definitely going to be simpler.

A few days later, Chris sent me the following

F4B-4 Update - Additional Flying info:

I took it out again last night in a baseball field size area. Up till now I had been trying to make it fly left/left. This is based upon my limited indoor experience, and the fact that my Ryan flies great left/left. Now starting with the long, thin Ryan it's hard to imagine a plane more different than the stumpy F4B bipe. You have to begin to wonder about my reasoning.

The F4B remained inconsistent in a left/left pattern and required a surprising amount of rudder and thrust line offset. Not a good thing in such a stubby plane; stalls get very aerobatic.

By removing most of the left rudder and a lot of the right thrust I've been able to get into a pretty nice left/right pattern with a much cleaner overall setup. There is a very long transition from left to right that might best be described as "straight". Hard on the nerves in a small field, but it consistently settles into a nice right circle. Now on to a bigger field.

I guess the lesson is - Listen to the Plane.


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