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Since every collection should have at least one Bleriot XI - it being one of the most important aeroplanes ever built - I decided I needed one. It also consists of only sticks and strings with some wings stuck on, which makes it show the construction in all its glory, which is always interesting. Unfortunately I’m stuck with 1/72, so it will be limited how much one can see without a  looking glass.

 

I plan to built it from scratch, except the engine. Not sure exactly which machine yet (there’s plenty to choose from!), but I’m considering one of the two-seat versions. They were significantly larger, which will make construction easier - or so I hope!

 

This will be a slow build for me as I want to partake in other GBs as well, and I expect it to take many months.

 

Edited by Torbjorn
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Sounds like a good option for a 1 year group build. 

And you have plenty of reference material available. 

Good luck 

Colin 

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Posted (edited)
On 1/2/2020 at 1:00 PM, Colin W said:

Sounds like a good option for a 1 year group build. 

And you have plenty of reference material available. 

Good luck 

Colin 

Personally I only have a photobook so far, but even online there is plenty of material. 

 

I have made a start. 
 

I’ve decided to build one of the XI-2, the larger two-seater powered by a Gnome Gamma of some 70 hp. Bleriot built many different sub-versions of the XI-2, so some care has to be taken when going through references. For several air forces, the XI-2 was the first aeroplane. The Swiss Air Force museum in Dubendorf has a particularly nice example (see eg. here: https://www.lowapproach.be/museums/switzerland/dubendorf/) and that is one of the contenders for this build.  Several walkarounds of that plane are published online and will be a main source for me. 

 

Anyway, I found some rough drawing showing the correct dimensions for this version and started building the cage structure out of .4 mm square evergreen strips. In reality the longerons tapered and got exceedingly smaller cross sections further aft but in 1/72 I dare anyone to notice the difference 😛

 

The XI was constructed as boxes of wooden girders with wire cross-bracing of each box (up, down, on the sides and inside - meaning I have 40-50 crosses of wire to attach since almost all of them can be seen). Only the front sections of the fuselage are covered. To get some rigidity and protect the delicate girders I added the bottom cover using 5 thou sheet. The rest will either be the same sheet or paper: since the edges are visible I have to use the thinnest possible material.

 

spacer.png

 

The curved «wood» around the pilot’s compartment is plastic rod bent to shape around a pen. 

 

I have made one simplification: I added a 1 mm thick firewall behind the engine for structural purposes. This does not exist on the real plane, where there is open space with brackets to hold the engine in place. The engine recess is quite deep on this version and the firewall will only be seen if you flip the model upside down and peek inside.

Edited by Torbjorn
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Painted the wood now, since it will be difficult to do it later after I start putting stuff inside and covering the sides. It looks a bit too dark, so I might try to ligthen it.

 

Cradle for the fuel tank has been added aft, and simplified chair frames ( the latter only be seen from above anyway).

 

JNC5dFF.jpg

 

 

In addition to the fuel tank, there will be two large oil tanks in front of the pilot - the back end of these will clearly be seen since there is no instrument panel to speak of. Unsure if they should be coppe, but for now they are:

tfI1n1w.jpg

Edited by Torbjorn
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An excellent counterpoint to the high tech wonder of 3D printing and just the kind of variety I'd hope that a fully voted Anything but Injection GB would bring. My only worry is that you're getting this built quicker than I do a conventional kit, but there's lots of reasons to worry about my model making and not just the knives and chemicals involved!!

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On 1/14/2020 at 6:56 PM, Mjwomack said:

An excellent counterpoint to the high tech wonder of 3D printing and just the kind of variety I'd hope that a fully voted Anything but Injection GB would bring. My only worry is that you're getting this built quicker than I do a conventional kit, but there's lots of reasons to worry about my model making and not just the knives and chemicals involved!!

Have no fear, several GBs are starting where I want to partake. This will be dormant for such periods :D

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  • 7 months later...
On 1/17/2020 at 12:18 AM, JOCKNEY said:

Look amazing well done, keep up the good work.

 

Cheers Pat

Thanks Pat! 
And I haven’t forgotten, just got distracted by other group builds. In fact I’m currently pondering on the next step. The sides are covered by linen and, up front, metal plates. I’m trying to figure out whether the metal plates should be seen from te inside, or if there were cloth under the plates. There seems to have been quite some variation. 

 

Unfortunately I can’t find any pic of this nice Swiss machine’s front cockpit:

http://www.grubbyfingersshop.com/walkaround_galleries/BLERIOT_XI_Walkaround_Swiss_2015/content/BLERIOT - XI - WALKAROUND - SWISS - 2015 - 09 - GrubbyFingers_large.html

 

Though of course, not sure about the pedigree of that one - it appears to have a Le Rhone engine.

Edited by Torbjorn
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Started with the stick. The typical bell was shaped from sprue, the steering wheel from a punched styrene disk and the rest from metal scrap:

 

csT7fGF.jpg

 

 

Unfortunately I’ll have to make a new one: the Bleriot XI-2 apparently did not have this bell, instead it was connected withe a rod to a linkage wheel behind the pilot. Meh.

 

Whatever detail I want to make on this machine seems to require that something else is added first. I’m trying to close the fuselage - as much closed as it gets that is - and started on the structural bracibg wires inside the covered parts. Also added a fuel line from the fuel tank behind the observer.

 

Rudder control cables currently end under the observer’s chair. I will attach the secpnd parts that should run all the way to the rudder just before adding the fuel tank and closing the sides. No idea how to keep those lines out of trouble until it is time to glue them to the rudder.

 

57kfHtw.jpg

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Made a new stick without a bell. The predecessor of the XI, the Bleriot VIII was the first to adopt the stick-and-pedal control system that has become standard ever since. I added ridder wires, but cut them under the observer’s chair - the rest will be added later. I’m a bit sceptical on this configuration since the observer would have to be very careful not getting entangled...

 

 

All the furniture was added: three tanks, two chairs, a linkage wheel connected to the stick. A fuel throttle was prepared and will be added once the panels are in place.

 

Here I have added the port side covers: went for metal also on the inside on the metal parts. The image is a bit overexposed, the linen looks more dirty in real life.

 

Unfortunately I used styrene sheet for the linen cover - I should have used paper! Even 5 thou styrene is too thick. There is no way I can get it off without damage to the frame though, so done is done.

g6QJQiV.jpg

 

 

Searching for a lost part I found the tail skid of a Pfalz I built half a year ago! So it finally got completed. I’ll use it here for a size comparison:

 

WK12QDw.jpg

 

 

The XI-2 is not that small compared to later designs: it is considerably larger than a Fokker Eindekker - I’ll show that later when the wings are made. Maybe I’m the only one surprised by this, but there it is.

 

I’ve decided on a machine (based on the availability of decals!): the first airplane in the Serbian airforce, nicknamed “Oluj” (Storm), flown by Miroslav Tomic during the opening years if the Great War. It was one of the very first machines to be armed and used to fight fellow men. It seems a bit like heresy for me to put a gun on the plane that crossed the Channel and the Alps and raised hopes for a brighter future of peaceful progress - but such is mankind. It does tell a double story of the peaceful pioneering years of aviation and the war that put an abrupt end to it. Tomic himself went on with a long carreer in the Serbian and Yugoslav airforces lasting all until 1941 and his capture by the Nazis in another war - he survived and eventually emigrated to the US.

 

More here: http://warnepieces.blogspot.com/2018/07/the-serbian-bleriot-xi-storm-and-its.html?m=1

Edited by Torbjorn
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Tailplane next. Rudder and stabiliser with elevators were made the same way: double layer of 5 thou sheet, ribs embossed on the insided before glueing the pieces together. On the rudder I tried to make faint marks only, while on the stabiliser they should be sharp. Rudder:

 

Eozrbvb.jpg

 

 

Stabiliser with elevators. The brackets on the stabiliser are to fasten it to the underside of the fuselage frame and are made from beer can (so are all control horns).

vNaJidw.jpg

 

As you can see it had what later became the standard configuration with elevators attached to the trailing edge of the horisontal stabiliser. Earlier Bleriots had the entire outboard halves of the stabiliser move as elevators. I’ve seen a photo of a crashed XI with the old style tail claiming it to be the wrecked ”Oluj” - however I’ve also seen a picture of Oluj which clearly had the new style tailplane so I went with that.

 

A dry fit before final finish to check that it all fits. It did, but it’s tight:

E8zWhum.jpg

 

 

One of the most difficult parts, in my mind at least, is the peculiar cowling:

640px-Bleriot_XI_JSalis.JPG

 

Those bulges which allow the engine to spin are not only difficult to make symmetrical, they need to be thin enough to allow room for the engine.

 

Decided to plunge mold them by making a male mold from a wooden clothespin. The bulge was then sawed off, sanded down to have a flat mating surface before glued on a styrene sheet that was first cut to fit on the plane. The last part (except finish trimming and polishing) was to wait for the glue to cure and then cut an opening in the flat sheet where the bulge is. Holding up theh piece in front of a lamp showed the outline of the bulge clearly and it was easier than anticipated. A nervous test fit showed that the enginge will be able to fit after all :o

 

 

 

Here is the moulding going on, showing my makeshift setup. I’m using my clothespins sparingly: the other end is the mold for one of the plates that will cover the top of the fuselage.

KJj2YSU.jpg

 

 

Below: female and male moulds, the left-over plastic after the bulge was parted, and the bulge being test-fitted to the cowling plate. 

 

HXghEHu.jpg

 

 Below: the level of symmetry is acceptable for me. In the middle a brass tube can be seen: the engine will be mounted on another brass tube that slide-fits into this one.

wEZoqp9.jpg

 

 

Enging spin test was successful (barely barely):

NwRH2OE.jpg

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I have become addicted to the Smallstuffmodels engines - I caught myself trying to find pushers or other early models with the engine in the open to scratchbuild, just so I can get justification for buying more.

 

Here pushrods are being installed. After the glue has set the rods are cut with a trimmer.

 

JXusqU0.jpg

 

 

A last of many tests to see if it still fits, seen from above:

 

3qc72Rl.jpg

 

The ignition wires (sprue, a bit overscale in thickness) and painting:

a55rYSH.jpg

1uzWEjp.jpg

 

The wires will be seen later from below, so no cheating possible. Next up is mounting this and finishing closing the fuselage. 

 

Edited by Torbjorn
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Preparing the metal plates. Wondering whether they ought to be shiny and evenly coloured like modern replicas or show patterns from being worked, for example like the cowl of Fokker Eindeckers.

 

PYLlSdK.jpg

 

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Small update. The forward upper plate depicted in the previous post was binned as it was slightly too narrow and another clothespin sacrificed to make a new mold. But first the black frontal grille sort of thing, shown on photo a few posts up, was prepared. It consists of four pairs bars which have an odd ski-slope shape if seen from the side. I decided to carve this out of a plate that was first plunge-moulded to attain the ski-slope. Pictures may be better at describing this:

 

Mould material - birch stock. Ski slopes were carved/filed in each direction, here pre-marked by pencil:

 

YqadWpV.jpg

 

Plastic sheet of suitable thickness was heated and pressed onto it. An old drillbit was drilled through the centre to help keep it in place while cutting out the bars. The bars were marked and small holes drilled:

3vmSJZS.jpg

 

 

These small holes represent the location of all curved cut-outs: they were subsequently drilled with appropriate diameter drills:

 

UUAqJMr.jpg

 

The cut-outs were then made by straight cuts with a knife, tangentially between the holes and voilà:

 

vbRCtKD.jpg

 

The sides are ugly but due to the moulding they had to be cut away and replaced by plastic sticks (20 thou square) anyway, before painted black fitted to the front:

 

GqYlLWn.jpg

 

 

Here is also the new top cover. The forward holes are for filling fuel or oil - the tanks are right below. Through the smaller single hole a reclaimed oil vent will protrude. The anti-head-bang protection is milliput.

3MPoiCX.jpg

Edited by Torbjorn
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Posted (edited)

Wings.

 

I intended to use the method described by Mr Woodman in his book, with a carved wing as core,  skinned with thin, embossed plastic sheet. Did some slightly different in the end.

 

Started with the skins, or covers (”skin” sounds morbid to me). These were made from 5 thou sheet with ribs embossed on the insides with an awl. The embossed ribs were then marked, also on the insides, with ink:

 

fgIdRHo.jpg

 

These are to be wrapped around and inner wing core. The bend is at the leading edge, which is made during heating to prevent snapping.

 

I started making the core of the wing, carving and sanding out of thicker plastic to give it a correct cross-section. After spending quite some time on this I put the final wing away. Next day it was gone. I couldn’t find it. Being quite fed up, and also being displeased with the result anyway, I decided to try something different. Sanding a wing down in that manner is very difficult to achieve the correct shape of the camber and thickness all along the wing. 

 

So I decided to build it up instead. I made 2 crossections (ribs) and took care to get correct camber and thickness. These were glued to the skin, on the 2nd rib from the tip. Care was taken that the skin conformed to the rib and not the other way around.

 

The wingtips are the biggest problem, being curved in several dimensions. I cut a piece if plastic, sanded to get a varying thickness and bent it using heating to attain an acceptable camber:

 

Inp1iS0.jpg

 

 

And sanded to shape:

 

tWBlsae.jpg

 

On the image above you can see marks from the awl: I had the plastic wing covers lined up to the drawing and continued the lines, so to speak. Anyway, from this wingtip I cut away the outer 1.5 mm, which gave a curve in 3d that follows the wingtip. This was glued to the lower side of the wing cover/skin, making sure that the skin conformed to the wingtip curve and not the other way around.

 

That done, the wing spars were glued to the skin (underside). This is easy: the thickness is constant and given by the already added rib. Outside the rib it has to be sanded down, but the wingtip curve makes it easy:

 

U5NhlLj.jpg

 

 

By the Third Law of Modelling, at this point I did find the wing core but put it in the scrap box. Instead I added one more rib, at the root, with cut-outs for the main spars so they can be used as mounting pins. To gain robustness, a metal plate was epoxied to the forward side of the main spar: it prevents any sagging, and will continue into the fuselage to make a strong joint. The Cover was then closed, being careful not to use to much glue, as that will damage the thin plastic. 

 

So why this complicated way? First, it’s actually easier than carving a solid wing, and maybe even quicker too once you’ve got the hang of it. Second, the results are more accurate. What would have been difficult and time-consuming were making the ribs (unless you have a 3D printer - I’m tempted to buy one now!) but these I skipped since they are embossed anyway.  It is surprisingly sturdy anyway.

 

There is also a third reason. Here’s the wing with some colour:

 

A6ZxIy8.jpg

 

Look what happens when the sun shines from the other side:

 

kO6bt9R.jpg

 

It’s translucent! :yahoo:

 

There will be a roundel on the other side too, but the ribs will be seen, and I shall have to try this with something that has roundels on only one side sone other time. Here’s one more pic, to show that you can get a consistent camber without ribs:

sgloteY.jpg

 

 

Starting to look like a Bleriot now:

5IdzYlT.jpg

 

 

edit: the decals are from Blue rider Serbian aviation set by the way, and though printed in 1994 (I like when they add the year on the sheet!), they’re still in excellent condition. I did cut carefully around the roundels, removing the clear parts, to avoid potential silvering of these. The letter markings on the side of the fuselage will be the real test.

Edited by Torbjorn
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Posted (edited)

Wheels.

 

 

EIFoTO9.jpg

 

 

9UrlPLs.jpg

 

 

17TBbGF.jpg

 

Some filling sanding and painting to go.

 

Next up the undercarriage.

Edited by Torbjorn
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Awesome! 
 

Especially impressive in 1/72 scale.

 

I particularly like how you made the wheels. I will be stealing that one day. 

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Thanks guys, steal away. :)

 

I may potentially have made a small boo-boo regarding the wings. There were many variations on the XI and there seem to be two variations in the wing cut-out, one sharp one curved.

 

Sharp: 

640px-RFC_Bleriot.jpg

 

Curved:

640px-Oskar_Bider_1913_Bern.jpg

 

 

I am making this one below but haven’t figured out which kind of wings it had, but I’m suspecting it is the sharp one.

 

640px-FirstSerbianArmedPlane1915.jpg

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Torbjorn said:

I am making this one below but haven’t figured out which kind of wings it had, but I’m suspecting it is the sharp one.

 

640px-FirstSerbianArmedPlane1915.jpg

 

My guess judging at the shadow on the ground is sharp. Look at the shadow line underneath the pilot along the fuselage side. Vertical not curved, then look at the shadow on the grass under the observer/gunner. Also straight edged not curved. So my $€£ is sharp straight edges on this one not curves. 
 

Dennis

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I am not really sure whether this shape of wings was real on this example of Bleriot, but OLUJ was Bleriot XI-2 Genie, if it helps to resolve the issue.

 

BR402c.jpg

 

Me friend made the kit of this example few years ago, but unfortunately, he left the hobby for unknown period of time, and subsequently deleted all of his accounts on forums and photo-sites, so I can not access to his photos of finished kit, neither do I have information about changes he made to tha basis of kit :( We're not in touch already few years, so I can't contact him for some info about the wings, but if I find something I'll post here...

 

Also, take a look at this forum about serbian military, you may find some info if available...

http://www.paluba.info/smf/index.php/topic,20367.0.html

 

Cheers,

S.

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Thanks S. Too bad you lost contact with your friend (not because of wing issue, but it’s sad to lose friends), but don’t stress about finding anything on wings. I think it is pretty clear they should have the sharp cut - if they were curved the «J» in «OLUJ» would be partially covered by the wing since the curved cut is not so far forward and I see no reason why they would paint the letter through the wing. I have also drawn a line along the letters where they get hidden by the wing and it is perfectly straight. I’ve seen pictures of Genie versions with either wing type, and I think the profiles of Oluj are mistaken regarding the wing. 

 

Thank you for the link to paluba, it was some interesting reads and pictures. I should have thought about googling in Serbian.

 

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I'm glad I could be of some help Torbjorn ;)

Keeping fingers crossed for your work - doing a good job so far, can't wait to see it finished.

 

Cheers,

S.

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