What's It all About ???

This page is all about the building and flying of radio controlled model aircraft. It's a highly diversified hobby that takes in as many skills as you like to use. Everything from electronics to carpentry, to painting, to drawing and designing with a little bit of metal work thrown in. Some builders even go into doing their own machining, pattern designing, fibre glassing, moulding and engine design. You can use electric motors, 2 stroke or 4 stroke internal combustion engines or even minature turbine (jet) engines for power. My own models use 2 and 4 stroke internal combustion engines and range in size from about a metre in wingspan to well over 3 metres from tip to tip!

The Harvard to Wirraway Conversion

Harvard to Wirraway conversion.

New updates are now added at the top to save you scrolling all the way down to get the latest progress.

Post 11th February 2013

I've finally got back onto the building board as my health has improved - or at least stabilised - over the past few weeks so one of the first projects I've pulled out of the back of the Hanger is this conversion. Since the last post there has been some progress which is best illustrated by the following photographs.

I've completed the modifications to the top deck of the fuselage. This is the final sheeting

Then I had to use some block balsa to shape  the gun blisters to the right contours 

And add the decking to the rear of the cockpit. It's a little different to the Harvard/Texan

The next job was the gun troughs in front of the blisters. I soaked some 1/16th sheet balsa in warm water for about 10 minutes and used a couple of old Xacto handles to get the right shape and size . A pair of Williams Brothers scale Vickers Mk 5 machine guns will go in the troughs.

Then for a bit of a break I decided to finish covering the tail feathers - Solartex linen fabric will be painted in the RAAF colour scheme of the period

Then back to the grind and I started to fit the internal tubing in the cockpit. It is proving to be a difficult and intricate job to replicate the whole structure. I'm using hardwood dowel which will eventually be painted in a flat aluminium colour.

Once the cockpit is done I will cover the fuselage in Solartex. One of the big differences between the Wirraway and the Harvard/Texans is that the Wirraway fuselage has stringers and is fabric covered as apposed to the metal skinning of the other two aircraft.

Post 3rd November 2012

I've started to work on the top of the fuselage in front of the cockpit. There are a couple of compound curves that need to be duplicated so I've used a combination of balsa sheet and block

First I wet down some soft, straight grained 1/16th (1.5mm) balsa and glued it to the formers using Aliphatic white glue. The white glue takes a little time to cure so I had the opportunity to move it around a bit and as it was damp I could induce it to bend a little in both directions. I used pins and rubber bands to hold it to the formers

The "tricky"bit was the transition curve on the two rear formers

All in place and the compound curvature is there.

The pilot decided to inspect the workmanship

The deck to the rear of the cockpit - no tricky curves this time

Pilot sticking his nose in again

Back to the front and the balsa block installed and roughly shaped

Looking down from the top - some fine sanding and shaping to do yet

Earlier posts

I've started to rebuild the top of the fuselage starting from the front and working back. The fuselage in front of the cockpit is interesting and a little confusing to model. It took a lot of research and finding the right photograph to get things just right. I think I'm on the right track now - a combination of memory from my time in the Air force, accurate three view drawings and several helpful photographs.

The best photo of the forward fuselage top

Other references

And accurate 3 view drawings all help

First I had to make a template to get the angles right

Then add some semi bulkheads

Get the side angles right

And blend them in with the correct curvatures

The next job is to add block and shape the gun mountings  - then install the dummy guns I'm building.

Older Posts

I've done much research - still doing more - and I've started to strip the Harvard fuselage down ready for the conversion rebuild - and, of course the more I learn the more I have to strip the fuselage  down! So far this has meant:-

1. Removing the complete top of the fuselage from the engine firewall back to the bulkhead behind the rear cockpit  
2. Removing the cladding on both sides of the fuselage
3. Removing the split flaps
4. Removing the rudder

Once I am sure I have removed everything that needs to go I then have to start the conversion rebuild. This will mean: -

1. Replacing the fuselage side cladding with six stringers on each side that run from the second engine bulkhead to just in front of the elevator hinge line.
2. Replacing all the top decking from the engine fire wall to the rear of the cockpit area.
3. Replace the engine firewall detail & cowl.
4. Rebuilding the cockpit area including a new crew protection bar between the front and rear cockpits
5. Replacing the Harvard instrument panels, seats and interior detail with Wirraway replicas
6. Replicating the panel detail and twin Vickers  303 machine guns at the front of the cockpit.
7. Building  a Vickers 303 machine gun that runs on a rail on the rear cockpit combing.
8. Modifying the underside of the wing centre section and building mounting points for bomb racks
9. Rebuilding the flaps to conform to those fitted on the Wirraway.
10. Cover and paint the model in  the chosen colour scheme.

How it first came home

And one or two of the "incidents"

Beginning to strip it for the Wirraway conversion

Down to the bare bones

I've now got most of the information I need to  start the conversion. My thanks to Derek Buckmaster for permission to publish his drawings - his website at :-

is a mine of useful information and accurate drawings on the Wirraway, the Boomerang and other Australian prototypes. You can download these drawings and others in PDF format yourself from the website.

 This is the prototype that I've selected to model. Interestingly it has a twin Vicker's 303 machine gun installation as opposed to the usual single unit.

Accurate, highly detailed and dimensioned drawings are essential for an accurate conversion.

I've started to add the stringers to the sides of the fuselage - 6 per side. It's a fiddly job and as I'm only using 1/8th square balsa for it there is no real structural strength there. I've retained the basic fuselage structure underneath the stringers and with the Solartex covering I'm pretty sure there will be no problem. The photos are a bit confusing because some of the underlying structure gets in the way but I'm sure you'll get the idea.

Taken over the port side stabiliser - it's the washed out white bit!. There are 6 stringers here but as I said the underlying structure gets in the way and confuses things

This is taken midway along the port side - the stringers are are little easier to see.

Portside rear

Portside front. you can see the underlying structure a little clearer in the last two photos.

Update 22/09/12

I've done quite a bit of work on the conversion but it seems to amount to very little. One of the consequences of planning and working out how to do things as you go I suppose.

Every thing stripped down and ready to start converting

The offending retracts that started this conversion!

Getting the right rudder shape was harder than it looked

New rudder on the way