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Camel upper-wing cutout

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Dear all

The upper-wing cutout on the Camel, while very handy for providing a view, is something of an aerodynamic disaster area, especially for those of us building low-powered free flight models. Is there any evidence of Camels without the cutout, or with it covered in a see-through material? If so I would be grateful for references.

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I don't think I have ever seen a camel without the cut-out as it was essential for a bit of upwards visibility. I would think that, for your purposes though, it would be fair enough to cover the area with some kind of clear film. I assume that by 'free flight' you mean not under remote radio control? The Camel was an aircraft that would most certainly not fly on it's own requiring constant input from the pilot to keep it airborne and stop it trying to spin off to starboard and head for terra firma. The flying characteristics of the Camel were notorious for fatalities among inexperienced and even experienced pilots.

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Yes, the cut-out appears on all the photos I can find too.  I've seen a suggestion that the prototype in its original form didn't have a cut-out, but no proof positive.

 

Fortunately over the last  century the art of trimming has advanced considerably so you might be surprised what we can make fly quite nicely nowadays without artificial stabilisation or any form of remote control. The Camel is indeed not the easiest subject but it's not as tough as the Fokker Dr1, which is a real pig to make fly on its own. (The D.VII is pretty easy in comparison)

 

Here's a rubber-powered Camel on an early test flight (cut-out uncovered on this example):

 

 

... and, to show the sort of qualifying competition flight to which we aspire, here's a lovely rubber-powered D.VII that's somewhat further along the trimming process, built and flown by a real expert.

 

 

Edited by Work In Progress

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Those are rather impressive. Doyou not worry about  losing all that hard work in a crash?

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For the free-flight ones:

 

You hope for them to have a happy life for a couple of flyng seasons before the end comes, and usually what ends them is not a crash (they're very light and slow, so don't hit things hard) - either it's a flyaway (when flying outdoors) or a handling accident, like one time when I dropped one and caught it before it hit the ground completely crushing it is in the process. Or the explosion of a fully wound rubber motor with 1,200 turns on it just before you seat the prop.  If a new model doesn't get its moment, it's a cause for regret. For for an old soldier, nope. It's just life. And seeing them fly is more than adequate compensation. In any case, if your average project is 1/24 scale or 1/16 scale, and usually a single-piece highly fragile non-dissassembleable model, you need them to go away after a while or you'd quickly run out of space to make new ones.

 

With radio controlled models it's usually a crash, in my case often from flying in wind conditions more turbulent than the combination of the model and my skill can cope with. Sadly the weather is no respecter of reduced scale.

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I can't deny that I am tempted to try my hand at those although, living in wet and windy Argyll I reckon they wouldn't last long outside. The only rubber band powered models I have ever tried were the very basic slot together type.

 

Are these your standard Guillows type kits or built from plans?

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All Camels to my knowledge had the upper wing "cut-out" for visibility. This was one of the attempts at the time to offset pilot blind spots due to the upper wing, the Sopwith Dolphin being a different attempt by the same company at increasing visibility. In the real thing the upper wing cut-out was the least of its worries, the Camel was a handful, huge engine torque (especially with the later higher powered engines eg Bentley) and with all the weight distribution effectively at the very front of the aircraft. However in skilled hands she was a brilliant close in dogfighter being able to turn on a sixpence. 

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8 hours ago, Beardie said:

I can't deny that I am tempted to try my hand at those although, living in wet and windy Argyll I reckon they wouldn't last long outside. The only rubber band powered models I have ever tried were the very basic slot together type.

 

Are these your standard Guillows type kits or built from plans?

A lot of the older Guilllows kits are designed and generally bult like tanks, there are better choices out there for beginners. 

I normally build off plans (usually modifications of other people's designs) or design my own structures from scale drawings, but I've been doing this for 45 years.

 

There are some good modern kits out there which are designed to be suitable for relative newcomers and which will go welll indoors or out. And which use carefully selected materials in the kits - MOST important.

 

Anything off the home page here

https://www.vintagemodelcompany.com/

though if you are not used to trimming flying scale models then I strongly recommend starting with a non-scale high-winger as a warm-up. Such as  the Sparrowhawk.

https://www.vintagemodelcompany.com/sparrowhawk-sports-flier.html

And then as a WW1 fan the SE5a perhaps.

https://www.vintagemodelcompany.com/mfmSE5Aweb.html

 

VMC also reproduce a lot of older 'classic' kits but those are much less suitable for beginners, so I would stick to the home page kits for first attempts.

 

If you do decide to have a go I suggest reading just about all of this website

http://www.ffscale.co.uk/ 

 

and especially the step by step illustrated guide section here, where Mike builds a Comper Swift from plans

http://www.ffscale.co.uk/comper.htm

http://www.ffscale.co.uk/comper.htm

 

 

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Thanks for all the info/advice. Methinks I shall be doing a little investigation into these free flight fellows.

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The Sopwith Camel was noted for being tail heavy when flown,  especially when fully fuelled. The forward stick pressure required to maintain level flight could become tiring to apparently. As a result of this it wasn't that unusual for some pilots to actually enlarge the cut out. It improved visibility and made the aircraft more comfortable to fly,  at the expense of increasing the wing loading slightly.

 

Based on that I think it is probably  unlikely that anyone modified it the other way.

 

Here's a pic of Elliott White Spring's Camel after a landing mishap. You can see the he has enlarged the cut out on this Camel

 

10_eliot_white_springs.jpg__800x0_q85_cr

 

 

 

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At least in Rise of Flight, the enlarged cut-out is almost essential to maintain situational awareness in a turn. And if you're fighting in a Camel, you'd better be turning.

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