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Build Log: Building My Dad's/Uncle's Guillows P40

#1
Introduction

This thread is dedicated to the build log of my Dad's Guillows P40. This plane has a very interesting and unique history, and I have really grown quite attached to it. I am really looking forward to completing the plane and seeing it in the air, and I hope you will too! Please feel free to provide any sugestions or constructive criticism at any point during the build.

I have already been working on the plane for a few months during the weekends, so forgive me for starting the thread in media res, so to speak.

The Plane

The plane, as I mentioned earlier, is a half built Guillows Balsa Model P40 Kittyhawk. The plane is quite old, from around the 1970s (?) when my uncle bought it for his growing collection of warbird models. However, he barely began constructing it before it was pushed to the backburner as he finished high school and moved away. The plane ended up in my grandparents' attic in Winsconsin when my dad found it. He was still pretty young when my uncle first bought it, so the plane was in storage for quite a few years!

Anyways, my dad pulled it down from the attic and over the course of the next few years, he gradually built the entire airframe of the plane: the wing, fuselage, horizontal and vertical stabilizers. Basically the whole thing was complete and ready to be skinned and finished as a shelf model. But he never finished it. For one reason or another, he didn't skin the airframe. Instead it was wrapped up and put in a big box with his other balsa models and put back in the attic. It was beginning to seem that the plane would never be built at all. :(

Instead, about 3 months ago my dad and I were discussing what I should do with my free time after I had stopped playing lacrosse. I was already neck deep in RC Planes, model aircraft, and Flite Test, so this became the focus of the conversation. I mentioned that I wanted to start a club at my high school ( looking for suggestions btw) and also creating a workshop in my bedroom to build planes instead of at my desk in the office, where I do HW. The discussion came to a close and then my dad surprised me by going down into the basement and came up with a big cardboard box. Inside, neatly wrapped in paper, was a model TBF Avenger, F4 Phantom, and finally - the real treasure -
the incomplete P40.

This came as quite an astonishment to me, and my dad explained it's story and how it came to end up in our basement. The model planes box remained in my grandparents' attic while my dad went off to college. My dad rediscovered it when he was helping them move closer to us shortly before I was born. He reclaimed it, and then it was promptly put into storage in our basement. Now, with the plane unearthed and entrusted to me, I vowed to finish the model and treasure it as a "high school family heirloom" (my Uncle, dad, and now I only worked on it while we were/are in high school).

So....yeah. After I had been working on it for a little while I thought, "Hey! I should make a build log for this and convert it to RC!" Unfortunately I only have a few photos of the plane before I started work on it, so I am just gonna pick up the log where I am now. I'll make sure I post the pictures soon (probably tomorrow).

Thank you for reading this whole thing and I hope you enjoy the log. Also, please feel free to provide any suggestions and comments you think may be helpful! I am sure there are quite a few folks here that know much more than me. ;)

Take care,

- Sir Fly
 

nhk750

Aviation Enthusiast
#3
Thats a great story and a great find! Can't wait to see pictures. This plane sounds like it will be a family heirloom and a conversation piece. Have fun with it.
 
#4
Okay so I promised that I would post the pictures today, but it won't be till the afternoon.

In the meantime I had a quick question: would CA Hinges work with a cotton- ish material instead of fiberglass? The Guillows kit provided a patch of cloth that it only refers to as hinge cloth. I was wondering if this material would work the same to make a CA hinge.

- Sir Fly
 

nhk750

Aviation Enthusiast
#5
If its fiberous material, then thats probably the CA hinge material. CA hinges are ok, you could also get some small Dubro nylon hinges.
 
#7
I'm just gonna put this out there....
Have you ever considered just finishing the plane as it's meant too be ? seeing as there is such a family history attached to it ;)

Guillows make great display models and that's some history,3 generations working on the same model ! I've never heard the like !!
 
#8
Here are the pictures from before I started any modifications.

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I might buy some dubro hinges, but they have to be very small. The box has the scale on it, but over all the control surfaces are not very thick. As for clear tape, I feel like that wouldn't be durable enough for my liking. I had used that on my tiny trainer after I cut through the elevator hinge with my razor blade and the elevator began to come off mid-flight.

Anyways, thanks for the suggestions. Right now I am building a battery hatch in the nose and I'll make sure to take pictures of that and the other changes I have made when I get the chance.

- Sir Fly
 
#9
I'm just gonna put this out there....
Have you ever considered just finishing the plane as it's meant too be ? seeing as there is such a family history attached to it ;)

Guillows make great display models and that's some history,3 generations working on the same model ! I've never heard the like !!
Yeah that was what I was originally intending, but in the end I decided to go through with it. I have already cut ailerons into the wing so there's no going back! :D

Also, my uncle was the original owner, then my dad, and then me, so its really only two generations.
 

PsyBorg

Wake up! Time to fly!
Mentor
#10
Wow that is a cool story. Looks like it has passed the time and aged well. It also looks like your father and uncle had some building skills as it all looks straight and neat. I would tend to go with the static model thing just because of the history. This will get you more into balsa work and then you could do another kit to fly and not lose that history should you crash. That might also win you some points with the old timers as well for preserving it.
 
#11
I hear ya. I just really want to see this bird in the air.

One other question while I am thinking about it: what should I do for the spinner? The kit came with a spinner for the rubber band powered version, but I wasn't sure how to attach it to a prop or if I even should....
 

nhk750

Aviation Enthusiast
#12
It's not a static model, it says flying model on the box! It is born to be in the air. I wouldn't worry about the spinner until you decide on the motor as some motors come with spinner/nuts. There's lots of spinner selection out there if you want to try for a scale look.
 
#13
Haha, "Balsa flies better!"

I already picked out my motor for the plane because it was what I had around. It's an Emaxx 2204 (I think). It might be a little small but I think it should be fine with a 6x3 prop (for reference the plane fuse is about 1.5 ft and the wingspan is about 2 ft.) Let me know what you guys think.

And I'll make sure to look around for a prop with the right sized spinner. Thanks for the tip!
 
#14
You can also use the stock vacuformed spinner if you want to. I have done that with several kits. All you do is cut a 1/8" plywood backplate for the spinner that goes behind the prop. Harden the side edges of the backplate with thin CA, and drill a couple of pilot holes for your mounting screws. Then thread in a couple of small self tapping screws to secure the spinner to the backplate. And you can use whatever props you want, since you are making the prop cutouts!
 
#15
You can also use the stock vacuformed spinner if you want to. I have done that with several kits. All you do is cut a 1/8" plywood backplate for the spinner that goes behind the prop. Harden the side edges of the backplate with thin CA, and drill a couple of pilot holes for your mounting screws. Then thread in a couple of small self tapping screws to secure the spinner to the backplate. And you can use whatever props you want, since you are making the prop cutouts!
Okay awesome! That was pretty much what I was thinking but I figured that I would ask here before I did anything drastic! ;)
 
#17
UPDATE:

A lot has happened since I last posted in the thread. Here's what I have accomplished in the last few days:
Added torque rod to control ailerons
"Mounted" servos
Created battery hatch
Made motor mount
Cut room in fuselage for central aileron servo

And there is still a good bit more to do!

Will keep posted and will post pictures soon!

- Sir Fly
 
#19
I agree, the lighter the plane is the better it will fly. However, I only have a 2204 motor. I thought it would be reasonable to use because the P40 is only a little bit larger than the mighty mini's, and they use an 1806 (if I am not mistaken).
 
#20
Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! :cool:

Here is some of what I have done this past week. I'll upload the rest later this weekend to give a little bit of time in between so that I don't overload anything with my bulk posts! Also I apologize for the messy desk. :p

Ailerons:
I decided to control the ailerons via a central servo to prevent overloading the wing and compromising its structural integrity by cutting holes for the wires to pass from a wing mounted servo to the Rx. I also wanted to keep the system as simple as possible (KISS), so I added torque rods to control the ailerons. I have really only seen this method used with flaps, but they should work with ailerons as well. I mounted the servo in the thickest portion of the wing and then sent a pushrod wire through the aileron and through the wing where the aileron would pivot. The wire is long enough to reach the center of the wing. There, I will glue servo horns to the ends of the push rods and connect it to the central servo. This creates a torque rod to transfer the motion of the servo from the center of the wing to the ailerons.
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Tail servos:
I determined where the servos to control the tail surfaces were going to be placed. Put right behind the cockpit, I will be able to access them if they break or something by cutting through the bulwark behind the cockpit, which is only made of cardboard and can be replaced. This also moves the CG more forward. In hindsight, it might be better to place them inline so that one is in front of the other, but I think this system will work as well. I won't glue any of the servos in until I am ready to skin.
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Battery Hatch:
I cut the battery hatch out of the top of the nose, leaving the front rib to attach the motor mount to and maintain some structural integrity. In hindsight, I should have made the hatch smaller, but I don't think I could give up the accessibility it provides. I can attach and remove the motor and esc with the cowl still attached, making the powerplant somewhat swappable. To open and close the hatch, I will make a hinge from paper, tape, or the hinge material the kit provides. The hatch is secured with neodymium magnets I salvage from an old magnetic toy. I also created a battery tray from the hobby plywood provided in the kit for the receiver tray (back then Rx's were so big!) and my 2s fits very nicely.
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Elevator:
The elevator was not very hard to create. The kit provides plans and instructions to make the elevator from 1/8" balsa. The rest of the horizontal stabilizer is still used, but with the elevator replaced. The elevator is made from cutting the halves from balsa, adding a bevel to the front where the hinge will be, and then attaching the two halves using piano wire (pushrod wire). They also include plans for the rudder and vertical stabilizer, but I ran out of 1/8" balsa. The piece they provide is too narrow to cut the vertical stabilizer from. I am going to run out to the craft store today and see if I can grab some, and if they don't have any I'll stop by my LHS soon.
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So that should be all for now. Like I said I will upload pictures of the motor mount and cutting room for the central servo later this weekend. ;)

Take care,

- Sir Fly