Jump to content

Royal Aircraft Factory BE 2a


pheonix
 Share

Recommended Posts

This project has come about almost by default. When I completed the 1/32 de Haviland 1A scratch build :

I put it in a purpose made perspex display box, only to find that I had made a measurement error and the box is only just big enough to hold the model! I bought a second larger box for the de Haviland and now have a spare box. What to put into it? The box restricts the size of the subject: I had thought of an RE 5 or RE 7 but both of these are too large to fit. Other smaller subjects either do not interest me, are available as kits or are going to be released in the future, so they were all crossed off the list. Then the idea came to me to build a Royal Aircraft Factory BE 2a, (the predecessor of the better known BE 2c), as this was my first "free-lance" conversion (ie. I did not use an article but built it myself using the Airfix DH 4 as a donor kit for the wings, wheels, prop and struts), and it is very unlikely that a kit manufacturer is going to issue one at any time soon. This is the model I built in 1978:

 

51770905240_7b975e5035_c.jpg

 

When I made the above model I had originally wanted to build a BE 2c but detailed sources were limited and I could not find any drawings of the type. Therefore I built the BE 2a because I had a copy of Profile No 133:

 

51770910065_3af0e22d36_c.jpg

 

Building a model of an aeroplane in 1/32 scale means that a great deal more information is needed. Fortunately DataFile No 163 provides excellent 1/48 scale drawings and many photographs:

 

51770269753_df97b2536c_c.jpg

 

There are also many photographs of replica machines at Point Cook in Australia and Montrose in Scotland, and there is a replica BE 2b in the RAF Museum at Hendon. Recently this fine volume has appeared on the type:

 

51769204862_08d5566a23_c.jpg

 

This book is a mine of information on the type and a go-to source for information: there is a review in Cher Ami vol. 10 no 1.

 

There was only one outstanding problem: I could not find enough information on the 70 hp Renault engine dimensions to be able to scratch build one, (there are no kits of this type available in this scale). In the meantime I continued with other True Scale projects until I had a breakthrough via RichieW of ww1aircraftmodels.com. He is scratch building a 1/32 BE 2c and has to make a 100 hp RAF 1A engine. He was discussing how to make the cylinders on that website when "Rookie" gave him the engine sprue of the WingnutWings RE 8 which had an RAF 4A engine. The RAF 4A engine was a 12 cylinder V which had been developed from the 8 cylinder RAF 1A. The latter was an upgraded version of the Renault 70 hp and as Richie only needed 8 cylinders for his model that left two spare cylinders which he kindly passed over to me. I now had a potential solution to my biggest problem - how to scratch the 70 hp Renault engine - because I could now calculate the critical dimensions and had sufficient information about specific details to make an attempt. If I can build the engine, I can build the remainder of the model.

 

I intend to use as little aftermarket material as possible on this build, so I will only show it if I use any. Apart from the engine the other part that I was concerned about making was the 4 bladed propellor. I have made 2 bladed props in 1/32 scale, and 2 and 4 bladed props in the True Scale, but this would be my first 4 bladed prop in 1/32 so I started with this. I have a supply of hardwood strip, (I do not know what the wood is - I inherited it from my father many years ago), which I use to carve RFC and RNAS props. I cut two long strips and 4 shorter ones:

 

51770029381_9590356bd6_c.jpg

 

The long strips were glued to make a cross and the 4 shorter pieces then glued to each of the 4 arms with Evostick wood glue to give me the correct thickness of wood to carve. This was pressed for 24 hours in my state-of-the-art press (a pile of books):

 

51770669694_0a4096fc29_c.jpg

 

The shape of the blades was drawn on to the surface of the cross and arrows drawn to indicate which way the blades needed to be filed:

 

51770910455_f6660ebc68_c.jpg

 

The shape of the individual blades and boss were cut and filed first. This ensures that each blade is the correct shape and size when looked at head-on. The next step was to shape one of the blades: this was done with files only - it is too easy to slip when using a knife and the wood does not always cut smoothly, so an accident is possible and much time and effort can be wasted in a second if a mishap occurs. Filing may take longer but errors are much less likely. The arrows indicated the slope of the blade face - each one has to be identical to its neighbour and mistakes can be easily made here too. Final shaping and smoothing was done with glass paper:

 

51770269888_a59d9159af_c.jpg

 

The quantity of dust that filing and sanding one blade is shown here:

 

51770910215_dc347f7754_c.jpg

 

This is the finished propellor waiting to be varnished:

 

51770269798_4db99ba253_c.jpg

 

51770269623_03057b8ea0_c.jpg

 

I will use a resin boss from Proper Plane, (an aftermarket product), as this will be in a very prominent position on the model and for once I am taking the quickest route!

I will post more on the engine later because at present it consists of a lump of laminated plastic waiting to be filed to shape.

 

Thanks for looking.

 

p

  • Like 16
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great job on that prop. I carved my first ever wood propeller (actually, filed & sanded, like you) for a 1/48 Jenny recently. It was hard enough getting two blades to look the same, doing four is a real demonstration of skill.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Toby

 

Many thanks for posting these - they are clear sharp pictures which are extremely helpful to modellers. The finish and contrasts in colours of the fabric surfaces is especially useful (and difficult to achieve on a model).

 

One point however is that this is a BE 2c which was a later variant on the BE 2 design. It was introduced to service in 1915 and became the most numerous reconnaissance type in the RFC in the period 1915- early 1917: thousands of these were built.

 

The machine that I am modelling was an earlier variant (from 1912 to 1914)which was built in much smaller numbers and saw service with the RFC and RNAS between 1913 and late 1915.

 

P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh my gosh Pheonix - lovely to see your work again. That propellor is a wooden masterpiece in its own right.

I can't wait to see how the rest of the aircraft develops!

 

Is any of the engine information here of use?

http://www.aircraftinvestigation.info/airplanes/Renault_V8_70hp.html

 

 

 

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks again for the pictures Toby - I am certain that they will be useful because although it is a different variant there were many common details.

 

Thank you for the kind comment Baron: it is much appreciated. The engine photo you have referred to was of the type fitted to other contemporary aircraft: the flywheel has been enclosed and it is used to drive a fan to help cool the engine. On the BE 2a the flywheel was uncovered, as was the top of the engine and air was passed directly through the cylinders from the front. However the cylinder and exhaust details are useful - thanks for your help.

 

Mark: the engines shown are of different types - the 70 hp was smaller than these. I do have some photos of the type - the biggest problem is making cylinders with cooling fins. I am in the process of making the cylinders and have some ideas as to how to represent the fins, but I have a feeling that they will only just pass the 3 foot test when finished....

 

Thanks for the offer of more references Ian - much appreciated.

 

P

Edited by pheonix
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 minutes ago, pheonix said:

the engines shown are of different types

I know, the Janes book is pretty hit or miss on engines, for some you get a blurry photo for others full scale drawings, and some like the RAF engines are completely missing.  
 

Still it is vaguely possible that some of the detail may be similar across stablemate engines :) 

Edited by Marklo
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is this any help? Not much in the way of pics but it does give overall dimensions.

 

51789983280_063b0ba427_c.jpg

 

 

51789964455_bbc66cc07a_c.jpg

 

51788282497_503bba59ab_c.jpg

 

The comments on Page 412 refer to the 50hp engine.

Taken from the Airplane Engine Encyclopedia, available online. I downloaded it free. It was printed in 1921 so has a lot of info on WWI era engines.

 

Ian

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Eveing All,,

 

I commented above that I intend to use a Proper Plane resin boss but did not provide a picture, so here is one:

 

51778242651_104fb06e43_c.jpg

 

Ideally I would like to make one of these, but I do not have the right materials and tools to do so, so I am opting for the [strk]easy[/strk] lazy route.

 

In between other activities I made the main and gravity fuel tanks from laminated card and painted them:

 

51803169366_4b3dca1903_c.jpg

 

The filler caps may look large but that is partially an exaggeration caused by the lens, and partially because the originals were actually quite large.

 

I have shaped the engine block and made the timing cover for the front. All is from laminated card and strip with the circular plate and prop shaft support from rod: not difficult to make but fiddly and time consuming:

 

51803169411_df55962e17_c.jpg

 

"Bolts" were added to the sides and rear of the engine block to represent the joint between the sump and head of the engine, the front was glued to the engine block and all painted in aluminium:

 

51803287113_5e3f268ae0_c.jpg

 

The arms sticking out of the sides are mounts which will rest on the fuselage frame later. The protrusion at the front is the magneto. I have also made a flywheel cut from a disc of card. The disc for the wheel was scribed using a pair of dividers and then the centre was shaped to a cross:

 

51803892545_9f7c08f5e8_c.jpg

 

51803528259_a8b2cb1f17_c.jpg

 

The arms are a little too wide but I cannot thin them much more or they will be so small that they will be too weak to handle.

 

Finally I am struggling with the cylinders. I have filed down the end of a piece of sprue to make the cylinder shape and then cut each length in turn:

 

51803528244_8678686f79_c.jpg

 

The top of the cylinders was wider than the trunk because the inlet valve was positioned here. To make this wider part I cut and shaped some 60 x 180 thou strip:

 

51803892470_eee398c846_c.jpg

 

The cylinders were bolted to the engine block via 4 long bolts. The bolts passed through cruciform clamps on the top of the cylinders so I shaped the latter from 40 thou card. First I cut a disc of card, then I marked a cross and finally I cut out the arms. On the right of the image is a cylinder with the head and arm in place:

 

51803287128_f69001e58f_c.jpg

 

There are still many more details to add before a cylinder is complete but I am having second thoughts about this method as I am not able to represent the cooling fins very well: scribing the plastic with the end of a scalpel is not as effective as I had hoped. In addition I will need to mount a small piece of aluminium strip to the top of one set of cylinders to represent the cowling and cover of the engine. This will need to abut the back plate of the engine which in turn must be made to exactly fit the fuselage frame.... In short I am of the opinion that the final engine assembly, including the bolts, push rods and valve springs, (which I intend to make from copper wire), and other assorted delicacies are best left until I have the fuselage frame and possibly lower wings completed. I can of course change my mind at any time and continue with the engine manufacture and assembly, but for the time being I will start to make ribs for the exposed parts of the wings, and the fuselage structure and interior details.

 

Thanks for looking.

 

P

  • Like 10
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a longtime BE.2 tragic I'm really enjoying watching this one come together. I think you're wise to focus on the fuselage because not only did they do that for real (well, there was a separate factory for the engines I guess!) but it gives you more time to plan and plot your approach to the engine.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I see you are starting from the front and working backwards :) Lovely propeller.

 

For the cylinders, would wrapping them with thin wire help for the cooling fins? Or, if having a helix is a bother, wrap the wire round a former and cut down the side, then flatten out the hoops before popping them over the cylinder?

 

If I were building eight cylinders, I think I’d be reaching for the casting kit…

 

Looking forward seeing this build!

 

Regards,

Adrian

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you gentelmen for the very kind and encouraging comments.

 

Adrian: I have thought about using wire but the thickness of the sprue is just ideal for the cylinders and adding wire would increase the diameter and make the cylinders too large. However I could sand them down and then add wire.... On the other hand I have been offered some 3D printed cylinders which I am going to take a look at - no guarantee that they will work yet but they will be worth a try. As for casting I prefer to make them all - a pain I know but I have 30 ribs to make for the wings, (I had 60 on the DH 1A - thought I would never get them finished!), so making 8 cylinders will not be too much of a trial (I hope).

 

P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Evening All,

 

I have stopped working on the engine for the time being - I am experimenting with some ideas but have nothing worthwhile to show for it. I have also decided that until I am ready to fit the engine to the fuselage frame I do not want to assemble much more because the cylinder head bolts were used to hold part of the cowling in place and I will need to instal part of the cowling at the same time that I put the cylinders in place. If you are confused all will become clear later.

 

The fuselage will need to be robust to support the weight of the model so I have opted to use brass bar for the longerons and some of the frame. I soldered the sides first using the standard method of holding the parts with pins while solder was applied:

 

51820249473_a47b5e4526_c.jpg

 

The forward part of the upper longeron was steel tube on the real aircraft so I soldered some brass rod to represent this. With two sides made it was straightforward to join them with some horizontal bracing:

 

51820853580_91963af35d_c.jpg

 

A rudder post was soldered to the rear - again brass rod:

 

51820134891_d2c8030568_c.jpg

 

All of the joints have been cleaned with a file: the remaining parts of the frame will be CA'd into place later.

 

I have started to make the ribs for the wings. One lower wing and half of the upper wing will have the structure exposed so I will need approximately 30 ribs. The ribs closest to the centre had lightening holes, the remainder had slots. I tried 3 times to make the ribs with holes before I got it right... I have also cut one with slots. The image below shows the sequence of manufacture: top - a strip of 40 x 188 thou Evergreen strip, strip cut and shaped and  holes drilled for spars, spar holes cut square, 2 versions of the rib with holes, bottom a rib with slots:

 

51820248663_c52c1e6066_c.jpg

 

I will take some time to make the ribs and will work on some of the fuselage interior while I do so. I will be visiting family next week so progress will be even more glacial than usual and the next update may be some time away.

 

Thanks for looking.

 

P

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Evening All,

 

I have not posted anything for a while because I have been trying to make ribs for the exposed parts of the wings. I need 23 full sized ribs and 6 smaller ones for the tips. I had made the 23 full sized examples and was in the process of making the remaining 6 when i discovered that I had made a mistake - I had drilled and cut the holes for the spars in the wrong places for the larger ribs - all 23 of them....! Given that each rib takes about 45 minutes to make and I am not in the most motivated of states to make them, I will leave to your imaginations how I felt when I discovered my error. (It will save the mods having to delete this post if I do not write any more about that). At last I have finished the new ribs.... That was not as easy as I had expected either because I managed to spoil/ruin 10 more! In all 60 ribs made fro a total of 23 useable ones. I do not think that I will be attempting another large scale strip down model for some time. These are what the new ones look like - not all of them but you get the idea:

 

51899945433_651f6df40a_c.jpg


If anyone is wondering why I am making all of the ribs in one go, the reason is to try to maintain a consistent standard. If I were to make a few ribs, make something else and then start making ribs again I find that it is difficult to remember what has/has not been made/finished, and to keep a consistent standard of parts. I have also been experimenting making my own wicker seats but have not had much success there either so I may resort to some Barracuda resin examples instead.

I have been sent two printed engines from Beto: they are superb - I may use one of them but equally I may continue to try to scratch build one using the printed engines as a template. This is no disrespect to Beto's work - it is just that I would like to be able to scratch build as much of this model as possible. I am also experimenting with using some wood for interior parts - hopefully I can now focus on those next and start to make real progress rather than going around in circles and repeating errors...

 

Thanks for looking.

 

P

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As I said elsewhere I'm so sorry to hear of your spar hole issue Stephen, what a horrible realisation that must have been. Good on you for persevering - I'd hate to have seen you shelve this very cool project. More power to you!
 

Quote

If anyone is wondering why I am making all of the ribs in one go, the reason is to try to maintain a consistent standard. If I were to make a few ribs, make something else and then start making ribs again I find that it is difficult to remember what has/has not been made/finished, and to keep a consistent standard of parts.

That makes perfect sense to me, a very sensible approach - just like building the real deal.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The wings and cylinders would be perfect for 3d printing. Fairly simple to design, and repeatable. Plus you could still claim to have made them yourself.  So scratch built, just using a different technique.

But I know you won't!

She'll still  be amazing in the end too!

 

Ian

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Evening All

 

Many thanks Zac, Ian and Baron for your kind and encouraging comments - they are much appreciated, especially as this build has been very frustrating of late.

 

You may be right Ian that 3D printing would be easier - in fact @Beto has kindly sent me just such an engine, but you are quite right - I wish to make one of my own if I can. It is just that doing so has taken longer and tried my patience more than I had anticipated.

 

I was unhappy with my first attempt to make the engine cylinders because they seemed to be too small, so I made a second larger set. They were too large for the engine block! When I checked (again) the size of the engine block I found that it was too short....so I had to make another one. Still the new cylinders did not look right, so I did what I should have done long before - I got out the resin kit and looked closely at the parts only to find that the first set of cylinders were the correct size!!! So I fitted 4 on one side of the block and all seemed to be well:

 

51999393702_46dfae544c_c.jpg

 

52000406731_d6da0e8af3_c.jpg

 

Then I had to put on the bolts which were fixed via cruciform brackets on the cylinder head to the engine block. They were external to the cylinders and very thin - but I could not decide what material to use to represent them. I tried some guitar wire but that was too thick. Then I lost motivation.....

 

Later I found some fuse wire which I had completely forgotten about and of course that was the correct size - but I baulked at the idea of fixing it in the small gaps between the cylinders. Another delay. When I came to fit the wire it was not really a problem after all!  

 

52000406206_17bae60a8f_c.jpg

 

Fitting the cylinders and bolts on the other side was then relatively easy:

 

52000939870_7d719a3f59_c.jpg

 

I know that some bolts on the inside of the engine are not quite straight but they will be hardly visible when the inlet pipes are in place so I am not going to keep circling trying to get them perfect. For the moment I am setting the engine aside because I need to add tiny details such as spark plugs and inlet valve springs and push rods on the inside of the cylinders, and exhaust valves and push rods on the top. These will be easily and inevitably damaged if I put them on now - I will wait until the engine is mounted on the fuselage before I attempt them. I will also add the inlet and exhaust pipes at a later stage.

 

While I was struggling with the engine and in an attempt to revive my motivation I decided to mould the covered wing blanks. I carved moulds for the upper and lower surfaces from basswood: both ends have wing tips because I intend to represent the port lower and starboard upper wings covered. The wing plans were marked on the wood and the corners cut off. By making the moulds longer than a wing half I can use one set of moulds to make both wing halves. I cut a simple card template to measure the curvature of the surface and then proceeded to file the moulds to shape:

 

51999394222_4b459a0194_c.jpg

 

51999393957_1e2a9f045c_c.jpg

 

I was pleasantly surprised when I managed to get 4 moulds from the first 4 attempts. I have learned something from making large moudings in the past!

 

52000663074_1b7a2ca88e_c.jpg

 

I am making no promises about when the next posting will be - Easter is looming which means family visit but I am hoping that I will be able to solder the lower wing spars to the fuselage frame and then finish the fuselage structure with plastic strip. After that I can start to make and install the cockpit parts. Well that is the plan!

 

Thanks for looking.

 

P

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Evening All,

 

I have managed to make slightly faster progress lately - possibly because what I have done is a little more straightforward: ie I have finished soldering the fuselage frame and lower wing spars.

I soldered the lower wing spars to the fuselage longerons first using my usual hyper-complex and expensive jig:

 

52027052576_15225dd339_c.jpg

 

The method involves adding a rib to each end of the spars and supporting the longer end of the spars with a simple support. The front spar sits in a small slot created by the fuselage longerons and rib, the rear is held in place by its own weight. A set square was used to check that all was square which it was because the slots in the fuselage frame were correctly aligned. A quick action with the soldering iron ensured that they are firmly and permanently in place.

 

52027568575_a4d09ce12f_c.jpg

 

The starboard, (right) side spars are longer than the port, (left) because the port side will have the solid wing and the spars do not need to run the whole width of the wing, whereas the starboard side will be uncovered and so the whole of the spar will be exposed on the completed model.

 

Having put the spars in place I realised that I would have been better advised to wait until I had finished soldering the fuselage frame.......
So having made the mistake I nevertheless proceeded to complete the framework. I used plastic strip at the rear as the sections were so short that cutting and filing the brass bar to length was too trying: the strip is easier to cut and file and was CA'd into place. The remaining framework was brass bar and was soldered a few pieces at a time. The top and bottom sections were straightforward as the piece could be laid on the balsa block and pinned, but the side pieces were more difficult because the spars got in the way... However all is finished and joints filed:

 

52026011097_7b02bb29fa_c.jpg

 

52027297769_ce6872d091_c.jpg

 

Deciding what to do next has involved some deep thought, (well deep for me). I had to think about whether to put in the cockpit internal details and the rig the fuselage frame before adding the port wing, or add the port wing and then the rig the frame and insert the cockpit details. I have decided that the potential for damage will be less if I attach the wing first. I will have to prime the brass before I do anything so that will be the next step, and then on to constructing the two wing halves and drilling holes for struts and rigging before they are fixed to the spars. That at least is the plan at the moment, but experience so far with this build means that could yet change. The next post will show what I actually decide to do.

 

Thanks for looking.

 

P

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...