Flair SE5a from kit

I bought the Flair  SE 5a kit in October 2000, just before joining Northampton MAC. This is, as thousands know, a great kit. Everything fits (apart from the dihedral braces, which are at the wrong angle and far too small).

The airframe was straightforward, though longwinded. There are, as with all biplanes,  too many wings. There are 63 bits of wood in the top wing centre section alone. The construction uses standard Flair techniques: cappings over the wing ribs, hollow trailing edges from two pieces of 1/16, then fill between the ribs. Good instructions and well detailed plans.

 

 Then came a long pause whilst other projects were started and completed. I kept getting out the RAF SE 5a and trying to get back to my intentions the last time I picked it up. Several times, when I got to the question of rigging wires and how to attach them, I put it away again.

It was only after covering with olive drab and antique coloured Solatex that I became tempted to liven it up a bit with some near-scale detail. If I may offer a tip, that is way too late. If you intend doing the scale treatment, think it out before starting the airframe. As one for instance, the bulkhead in front of the cockpit needs moving forwards about an inch, and angling at about 60% to vertical.

For another thing, you can add a few more wing ribs and the all important riblets to give a better scale effect. Of course, a Flair Scout is never going to be anything more than semi-scale, but you can add a few touches to what is a superb flying model.

I learned a lot from this project, and acquired the scale bug. Next time, I shall plan the details before starting, and add some bungy cord to the undercarriage. I had a lot of advice from Denis Pitcher (a friend in Northampton), regarding varnishing and rigging wires, and other things as well. I developed my own technique for hand painting roundels.

Here are a few pictures.

 

 The weight turned out at 7 lb, which is about right, I think. Balance point is correct as designed with no extra ballast. Motor is an OS 52 FS. JR 35 MHz radio is fitted and all throws set. Nuts tightened.

After showing the model to the Friday club meeting in Northampton, and receiving various bits of advice, I decided to improve the cooling arrangements. I sliced the tops off the dummy engine rockerbox covers, scooped out the balsa and built them up to nearly the correct height using strip. The final item is a piece of 2mm liteply that fits in the top of the rockerbox when the plane is on the ground. When removed, there is a significant improvement in the air outlet area.

And, after much putting it off, I added the rigging wires. 

All that now remains is to swap out the 35 MKz receiver for an AR7000, and replace the battery with one of a smaller capacity than the 2600 mAh that is in there at present. Then wait for a very calm sunny day and find someone to test-fly it.

A good representation of this famous first world war aircraft and whilst very forgiving in less experienced hands it can also perform impressive aerobatics for the more experienced.

Flair Models Ltd

Specification:
Span 51" (1295 mm)
Engines .35-.45 2 stroke,    .40-.60 4 strokes
Radio 4 channel
Weight 6 lbs (2.7kg) 

Kit Contents:
Strip and sheet wood
Cowl moulding
Pre cut parts
Fuel tank
Engine mounting
Hardware pack
Plans and instructions

C of G position. 100 mm back from leading edge of the top wing.

Control Surface Movements
Rudder    20 mm each way
Ailerons  up 20 mm, down 10 mm Elevator  15 mm up and down