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Flight Fantastic ......... a 1930s Aerobatic Champion


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Germany’s Gerhard Fieseler was one of the most important figures in the history of aerobatics. He dominated the formative era of European competition aerobatics from 1926-34, a period which saw it evolve into a disciplined sport, in which a series of pre-determined figures were performed and given scores by judges, according to degree of difficulty and precision of execution. 

 

Aerobatic competition was the second phase of Fieseler’s remarkable aviation career. He began as a fighter pilot in WW1, where he became the top scoring fighter ace in the Turkish theatre with 19 victories, where he acquired the nickname ‘Tiger of Macedonia’.  Some of his victories were scored in second-rate types like the Roland DII, which perhaps gives some indication of his proficiency as a pilot.

 

After the war, he became involved in sporting aviation, one of the few fields left open to German pilots after the limitations imposed by the Versailles Treaty. He was test pilot for the small Raab-Katzenstein company and flew modified versions of their sporting biplanes in his early contests, winning the German aerobatic championship 4 times in the late 20s/ early 30s, as well as performing at demonstrations throughout Europe. A significant factor in this success was his pioneering development of an inverted fuel system which permitted sustained inverted flight and negative ‘g’ manoeuvres.

 

By the early 30s, Raab-Katzenstein was experiencing financial difficulties, so he decided to strike out on his own and build a new aircraft, optimised for aerobatics. To that end, he used his competition winnings to acquire a small maker of sailplanes in his home town of Kassel, along with the services of their designer, Emil Arnolt. The Fieseler F2 Tiger was the result, the first aircraft in the world designed specifically for aerobatics. It had an extremely robust structure, designed for the highest ‘g’ manoeuvres, but was consequently heavy and needed more power than was available from the low-powered German engines, leading him to select a 400 hp Czech Walter Pollux. The plane had marginal stability about all 3 axes and Fieseler refused to allow any other pilot to fly it on safety grounds. A cramped second cockpit behind the pilot was incorporated, in which Fieseler’s trusty mechanic rode with him to events across Europe, with his legs wedged on either side of the pilot’s seat. Another interesting innovation was the ‘sunburst’ marking used on the top wing, known at the time as ‘Fieselerstreifen’ (= Fieseler’s stripes) and widely copied by aerobatic or sporting aircraft the world over, ever since....

 

Fieseler used the Tiger to great effect, winning the 1932 & 33 German aerobatics championships, the 1933 European championship and finally, the crowning achievement of his career, the first World Aerobatics Championship held in Vincennes, France, in June 1934. His main competition in the international events came from Frenchmen Marcel Doret and Michel Detroyat, whom he usually managed to narrowly beat. After this victory, he announced his retirement from aerobatic competition to concentrate on aircraft manufacture, the final phase of his career, which lead eventually to his best-known creations the Storch and V-1 flying bomb. The F2 Tiger was retired to a museum in Berlin, which it occupied with many historic German aircraft from WW1 and the pioneer era. All were sadly destroyed by RAF bombing in November 1943.

 

Some nice films of the Tiger in action are seen here, with Fieseler executing some of his hallmark manoeuvres. Good also to hear the rather rare Walter engine :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFl0pGVWmwk

https://digital.tcl.sc.edu/digital/collection/MVTN/id/685/rec/307

 

Here is my 1/72 model in its 1933 season markings, scratchbuilt (apart from the modified resin engine) in plastic sheet. It's a small model, with a wingspan of around 4.5 in (11cm) :

 

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Some WiPs:

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Walter Pollux IId and Schwarz propeller:

 

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Fieseler and mechanic :

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Very beautiful! The finest scratch-built model I've ever seen. It's actually hard to believe that it isn't built from a commercial 1/32 kit. Thanks for the captivating history, too.

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I can only echo what others have said here. An amazing scratch built model in any scale, even more so in 1/72!

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8 hours ago, Toryu said:

Very beautiful! The finest scratch-built model I've ever seen. It's actually hard to believe that it isn't built from a commercial 1/32 kit. Thanks for the captivating history, too.

Thank you Michael ! Your work is pretty special, too. Plus, we share a passion for the history/context of our models and good aviation books....

 

7 hours ago, Spitfire31 said:

Top notch work by the researcher/designer/mouldmaker/builder/finisher!

 

And the background story about Gerhard Fieseler is highly appreciated.

 

Kind regards,

 

Joachim

Thanks, Joachim !  Yes, my projects usually require me to be most of the above. Most people think of Fieseler in connection with the Storch, but he was much more than that.....

 

2 hours ago, Bandsaw Steve said:

An outstanding bit of scratchbuilding. 👍
 

A standard for me to aspire to but perhaps never reach. 

Well keep at it Steve ! Us scratch builders are a fairly rare breed, nowadays..

 

8 hours ago, KeithR said:

That's superb as usual Roger.

We need to see more of your work please!

Keith.

Thanks Keith ! Got a few older models to post, which I'll get around to in due course.

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What a little gem! I second Keith's request to see more of your models, Roger, along with explanations of some of your scratchbuilding techniques please!

Jon

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Hi Roger,

thank you very much for sharing your sensationell model of Fieselers mount with us. The acurateness of the white lined sun burst especially on the tips in the centre makes me speechless.

Please, explain how you have created the rib and stringer structure on the wings and fuse? 
Happy modelling

Rolf

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A fine example of the modellers' skill and pursuit of historical context. Fascinating narrative about Gerhard Fieseler. Beautifully crafted and painted model; the colour scheme is striking. I too am intrigued by how you achieved the rib and longeron surface detail. Just gotta award the Golden Kookaburra for one of the most outstanding models I've spotted on the internet, and for the unique nature of the subject. It is indeed inspirational and exciting to see what is possible in this medium.

 

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20 hours ago, Jonners said:

....along with explanations of some of your scratchbuilding techniques please!

Jon

 

10 hours ago, paddington said:

 

Please, explain how you have created the rib and stringer structure on the wings and fuse? 
Happy modelling

Rolf

 

7 hours ago, Maginot said:

I too am intrigued by how you achieved the rib and longeron surface detail. 

 

Thanks for your kind comments, gents !

All the surfaces are covered with very thin plastic sheet, embossed on the inside surface with a sharp object ( scriber, fine ball pen,etc). Basically the method 'pioneered' by Harry Woodman in his classic 1970s book ' Scale Model Aircraft in Plastic Card'. I read that book as a teenager and have been using the techniques I learned there ever since, sometimes with my own 'tweaks'.

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That's certainly a colourful little gem, Roger... beautiful work on an unusual subject.  Well done... ;-).

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