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Mig 15 Scratchbuild

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I am new to this site and this is my first post.


I used to scratchbuild model aeroplanes when I was a kid. After many years of building 1/48 kitsets I decided to have another go a scratchbuilding the old fashioned way, just for fun.


I am in the process of building a 1/48 scale Mig 15 bis from scratch (with one or two aftermarket parts to speed things up a bit). I hope you enjoy following along. I'm hoping to have the project finished early 2017.


Here are the plans I am using - graciously provided by a well-known aviation modelling magazine. it's a good idea to photocopy the plans several times before you start - you will need plenty of copies. Note that this set of plans also came with an underside view - it's just not in this shot. I also have a few books and articles on this subject - but I'm definitely no 'rivet counter' so I'm not going to allow myself to get bogged down in too much research. If you like laser accurate models - look away now - this one will be 'good enough' and that'll be that!





Note the presence of the cross section profiles on the plans- they are very important.




I selected a good piece of wood - straight grain no knots - in this case very hard Jarrah from Western Australia, but I daresay any decent strong wood with a straight grain should be fine.  I like to use hard wood - never balsa - because hardwoods hold any carved detail better, they provide much needed structural strength and are less susceptible to surface damage such as scratches and dents.  Cut out the relevant drawings and stick em on. I used PVA glue; nothing fancy - but if anyone can suggest a better alternative I'm all ears.





Carefully Cut around the paper profile using a bandsaw, you could use a fret saw but a bandsaw saves a lot of time.





in this shot the side profile is cut but the wood not removed (note the scalpel blade stuck in the cut as a marker for the photograph- I don't remove any wood until both profiles are cut as it's much easier to run the bandsaw against a smooth surface and not the contour left from the first cut. I also leave surplus wood beyond the end of the fuselage (both tail and nose).  This excess wood can be used as a handle during some of the subsequent work.





After both cuts are made you have the rough shape, in both side view and plan view of a Mig 15 fuselage.  It doesn't look like much at this point - but stay tuned - with a bit of luck it will get a bit better over time.

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Thanks to all for those encouraging words – not so sure about the ‘master-class’ comment as it’s been a long time since I did this and I’m making plenty of mistakes along the way. I’m a long way from being a ‘master’ in this field. Nevertheless, I will persist and pass on any tips and tricks I can. Updated photos will follow very soon.  

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Having make a roughed out cut of the fuselage it's now time to carve the fuselage to correct cross-sectional shape.  Here I have laminated the profiles provided on the drawings and have cut out each fuselage profile with a scalpel. Laminating provides the profiles with enough strength and rigidity to use as a guide to the carving process.











A rasp (a very coarse woodworking file) can be used during the process of rounding the fuselage into the correct cross section. There are also various power-tools available for this kind of work but I don't own any.








The main tool I use for this process is an old-fashioned  wood carving chisel - I have a set of a dozen or so of them each with a different profile. This one, has a 'scoop' shaped blade that enables the user to either hollow out a rounded shape or round off corners nice and evenly.  In this case I am rounding off the fuselage.





The profiles are used frequently to check that I am approaching the correct shape in cross-section. As I get closer and closer to the final shape the process gets slower and slower and the cuts smaller and more precise.  Eventually the rasping and carving stops and the final profile is achieved using progressively finer grades of sandpaper.


And so now the fuselage outline is complete and 'about right' in all three dimensions. At this point I'm sure I took some photos - but cannot for the life of me find them. So, just so you don't loose all faith that all this will end up looking at least something like a Mig-15, here's a sneak preview of where I'm up to now (underside view).


Next post I will waffle on about how to make the wings.




Best Regards,


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Hello, Back again.


Once again thanks to everyone for your encouragement - it helps keep me on track and working on this. As promised I have some notes on the construction of the wings. Note that this is wings plural - because I had to do the process twice; I wasn't happy with the first set that I made and the photograph below might give you a clue why.





I thought when I started this that I would be able to get away with using a regular 'any old' bit of plywood from in the shed. I wasn't too worried about the large knot you can see in this photograph because it was not part of the wing and would be cut out and disposed of but as you might be able to make out there is also a slight warp in this wood. See how the edge near the knot stands slightly clear of the table while the corners rest on the table top.  Now, I noticed this warp when I started - but stupidly I carried on because this was best bit of plywood I had to hand. My thoughts were that the warp was quite subtle and that I could sort of 'work it out' of the wood later by judicious layering of thinker bits of ply and sanding and setting the wood in a flat vice and so forth.  But as the process continued I realised that this was at best working only 'so-so' and that I would never really be happy with the outcome. The warp could not be fixed to my satisfaction and my poor Warsaw Pact pilot was going to be locked into a permanent gentle turn to Port. In fact he was doomed to be a left wing socialist!  So, after finishing the wing - I threw it out and started again. This time with a decent bit of plywood!


Here's what I've learned about plywood - if you want to use this stuff for scale modelling (and it's pretty good to use) you have to get good stuff - flat, knot free, fine grained, smooth surface finish and available in a good selection of thicknesses. I got mine from my local hobby shop and the stuff I bought is specifically made for the construction of flying model aeroplanes, and it's expensive. It is however, a dream to work with and I have not regretted purchasing three or four sheets each of different thickness.  


I guess the real lesson is the age-old one applicable in any field - cutting corners and choosing substandard materials or tools does not save time in the end. Most of the photographs below were taken during the construction of the dud first wing - but the process was exactly the same for the good wing - so you aren't missing out on anything.




The process is very similar to working on the fuselage. Start by cutting out the relevant shape from the drawings and sticking it on the piece of wood you want to work on. Strictly speaking it's not actually necessary to cut out the shape from the paper as any surplus paper will be cut away with the wood. If you don't cut out the paper to delineate the cutting line it's probably a good idea to mark the cut in some way (in the instance above with a red pen marker) as it's a good idea to plan and mark the cut in advance. You do not want to 'get lost' half way through a band saw cut. Once you have finished with the bandsaw cut carefully check the plan view shape of the wing against plans - the bandsaw cut will not be perfectly accurate and you will want to adjust the plan view shape to get that correct before you do anything else.


The photograph above shows the wing outline after the first bandsaw cut and the photo below shows the rather exciting moment when I first 'saw' my Mig-15. It really was in there somewhere!




Now those of you with too much time on your hands might be wondering why I'm building a Mig-15. Well, there are several reasons; their extraordinary history, their distinctive rugged appearance and the vast array of markings possible.  But one of the main reasons is that it has been a very long time since I have scratchbuilt and I was looking for a simple subject to work on until I got back into the swing of this.  The Mig-15 matches this requirement nicely - single engine, simple 'barrel shaped' fuselage but above all - a simple wing with very limited anhedral.  Anhedral and dihedral are a bit difficult to model using this method as the wing cannot readily be built as a single unit. More significantly, each wing must then be individually set at the correct angle to the fuselage.  All this can be done OK, but a nice 'flat' wing such as this one is much easier to deal with. Wings that combine anhedral and dihedral say F4U Corsairs, Stukas, F4 Phantoms would be a right pain and very hard to build with good strength. If any of you ever have a go at this scratchbuilding business pick your first subjects carefully, simple is good. One day I am going to build an F14 Tomcat this way...one day...


With a Mig-15 what small amount of anhedral there is, is mostly due to the taper of the wing from the root to the tip, the bottom of the wing is almost dead flat from wingtip to wingtip- so this makes the tapering easy to model. Just cut out a  couple of appropriately shaped wafers of a thinner plywood and sandwich them on to the top of the main wing cut out nearest the fuselage. Cutting them to the correct shape and gluing them on the right spot will form a rough contour model of the wing's 3D shape.  I used PVA glue and leave it to dry for a good long time.





Now you are nearly ready to start contouring the wing into a 3D tapering aerofoil (or a least a fairly good approximation).  but before you start rasping and sanding and whittling here's a good tip.  Get some red paint (or any other high-vis colour) and paint the edge of the plywood of the shape you want to preserve. During the rasping and sanding process to come it's all too easy to get carried away and accidentally abrade away the edge that you spent all of that time getting to be the correct plan view shape.  If you paint the edge like this you can shape the wing with much more confidence - if you can still see a trace of red all the way around the wing then you have not damaged the plan view shape.


From here, you can probably guess the rest. Start with coarse sandpaper or a rasp, or a file - or whatever is your favoured weapon, and start contouring the wing until it's an appropriately tapering Aerofoil. The drawings that I'm using do not have cross-section profiles for the wing - so I cannot check the wing cross-section against any sort of plan - to be honest I'm just eyeballing it into a decent looking aerofoil with a moderately sharp trailing edge.  As always, work from coarse to fine tools so that you end up with a smooth finish. 


That's it for now. Next time I'm going to have a go a sticking the wing to the fuselage - here's a preview...





Wow! she looks rough in this photo - let's hope that some plastic-wood and some primer can still save the day!


Best Regards and thanks again for following along...



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Hello Back again and as promised in this post the wings are going on.


Since the wings are mid-fuselage mounted the fuselage must have a rebate cut out of it. This is a taxing job - but this is not a tax rebate. That's entirely different thing.<_<


In the case of the MiG 15 the cockpit is right at the front of the wings, so just one rebate for both the wings and the cockpit is required. I need to cut away a single block of wood along the spine of fuselage that extends from the trailing edge of the wing to the very front of the cockpit canopy.




This leaves a chunk (a 'rebate') cut out of the fuselage and a single platform running along the centre of the fuselage onto which both the wing and the cockpit's interior detailing can be attached.  I used the bandsaw for the upright cuts and coping saw for the run along the fuselage. Next time I will use a fretsaw for all of these cuts because a fretsaw cuts a much narrower slot and therefore there will be less filling required after re-assembly. 




The wing can now be attached directly onto the fuselage. For strength I have used both PVA glue and small woodscrews. You can see in the photo above that I have cut a slot out of the front of the wing to accommodate the rear of the cockpit detailing set.  I used to make my own cockpits, but it's time consuming and modern detail sets are fantastic. I'm using a 1/48 true-details Mig-15 resin cockpit. The trick is, the cockpit has to fit inside the fuselage, so the front half of the spine block has to be hollowed.


First, cut out the relevant 'top of cockpit' view from the paper plans and glue them onto the spine (see above). Then drill a pattern of small holes into the block including a series of holes drilled right on the outline of the cockpit.  The holes are useful because you can stick a needle into them while carving and thereby monitor the thickness of the remaining wood. Most of the wall had to come down to about 2mm thick - otherwise there would not be enough room for the cockpit.




After some fairly careful work with a scoop chisel this is the result. Almost a success - I was doing pretty well until right at the end about 1 cm of side-wall broke off from the port side ahead of the wing root.

In the photo below you can see that the starboard cockpit wall reaches all the way down to the cutting mat whereas the port side stops about 1 cm short, that's the bit that snapped off. Some filling of this area will be required once the cockpit is finished and the spine is back in place. Drats!




Now use a scalpel or a craft knife to carve out the cockpit entrance and you should be good to stick your cockpit in place.  I am not going to write much about building and painting the cockpit because I guess that that's all familiar territory to you people. Suffice to say the detail set was great, it saved heaps of time and went together very easily. The pilot has been 'redeployed' from a kitset in my stash. I used two-part epoxy araldite to stick the cockpit onto the wood - it's great stuff IMHO.











Note the small sheet of plywood in front of the cockpit - that's just a filler to ensure a tight fit and less plastic wood filling when the fuselage spine goes back in place. if I had made the rebate cuts with a fret-saw I probably wouldn't have to have done this.  The sheet of plywood over the top of the wing directly behind the cockpit will assist with forming the wing root detail as there is a fairly distinct fillet from the top of the wing to the fuselage.




Now just scour the fuselage and the spine block to assist the glue in gripping and stick the spine back in using PVA - clamp it down and let it dry. Too easy!





And this is what you get!  I'm well pleased with this so far - it's starting to look a bit respectable.  Next time I shall look at how the tail got there and how to drill out the air-intake and the jet-pipe.


Until then - are there any thoughts on what colour scheme this should be done in?  All suggestions welcome especially if you can advise on an appropriate decal set. I guess the big question is whether-or-not I have the courage to it in NMF!


Best Regards,




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Amazing to watch some old fashion modelling in action!


Looking at what you have done so far I would elect to go NMF! Why? Because if you can produce results like this, (;)), then you can do it! Then keep some photos to prove to non-believers that your model is indeed constructed from wood.


Christian, exiled and transported to africa

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Thanks for the encouragement. I like the Egyptian suez crisis markings. NMF with Islamic green roundels and black I.D stripes  or of course numerous Korean War options. Open to suggestions.

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Very well done. Enjoying seeing the aftermarket fill a hole. 

If it matters, i have always been partial to Polish marks.

Bare metal would be an exercise, but I enjoy doing the trim on cars. How different can it be? 



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Actually my woodworking is dreadful. I gave up woodwork at school because I hated the subject. I didn't exactly fail it but no-one complained when I dropped out and took up cooking.  The difference between this and 'real' woodwork is that when is finished it will be painted not varnished, so just about any mistake, can be concealed with bodgy work and wood filler. Also because it's just a model it doesn't have to be that strong so there's no fancy joinery involved. I really think anyone with an interest and a few basic tools could do this. Thanks for the comments though, they are greatly appreciated.

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