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covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

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Old 05-26-2010, 12:43 PM
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Default covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

I want to build a warbird approx 105 inch wingspan. I love polished aluminum planes but I have not found paint, flight metal or anything that up close looks like aluminum. I want to cover it with thin aluminum sheets. The compound curves, I am not concerned about but what should I consider as far as material, conctruction techniques and attaching the aluminum to the balsa frame of the plane. I realize weight could be an issue, but my calculations show that a 106 inch wingspan model with the aluminum sheeting and glue ready to fly will be around 34 pounds. This seems like a reasonable weight for a scale 106 inch wingspan WW2 aircraft. I plan on using Futaba 2.4 with two recievers in parallel with the antennas exposed, not covered by aluminim and spaced a distance apart. Please keep comments to within the criteria I have stated above. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Denny
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Old 05-26-2010, 12:49 PM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

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ORIGINAL: tenacious101010
I realize weight could be an issue, but my calculations show that a 106 inch wingspan model with the aluminum sheeting and glue ready to fly will be around 34 pounds.
Thanks, Denny
Denny, what is the base of your calculation?
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Old 05-26-2010, 12:58 PM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

I weighed every part of the plane including the engine, fuel tank, prop, cowl, canopy, rudder, vert and horiz stab, hinges, wings, kill switch, kill switch bracket, reciever, battery, servo and y cords, control rods, power switch, servos, servo leads etc. That part is not in question. I have almost all the materials on hand. I measured the sq in of aluminum needed to cover the plane, and weighed that much material also. The only thing I didnt weigh was the adhesive to hold the aluminum on, the exhaust and the wood to mount the servos and gas tank. Everything except the afore mentioned items and the aluminum and the adhesive only weighed 22 pounds. If I install a cockpit, it will add to the weight of the completed plane.
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Old 05-26-2010, 01:28 PM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

Flight Metal is thin aluminum sheet so I don't understand why you don't think it looks like aluminum. It has the adhesive on it already which also solves your issue with how to attach it.
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Old 05-26-2010, 01:38 PM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

Hello Chad, I purchased a sample of Flight Metal. In my opinion it didnt look like aluminum when I placed it next to a piece of polished sheet aluminum. Its closer than paint, but does not have the same look. Actually, I am not sure flight metal is aluminum. I am going out and try using metal polish on it, that should tell me for sure. I think I would have better luck on making alumim sheet into a fillet than the flight metal. Can you tell me about your experiences with Flight Metal? I would like to learn all I can about its use, resistance to damage and ability to contour to compound curves.
Thanks, Denny
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Old 05-26-2010, 02:10 PM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

just thinking out loud here , so please don't anyone slam me but..... would aluminum foil be an option ? if you adhered it using epoxie resin ?
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Old 05-26-2010, 02:23 PM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

LOL, I would never slam you. The foil would be way too thin in my opinion. It seems that it would easily wrinkle and just seems too tough to work with to me. Tha aluminum I plan on using is approx .008 thick. It wont have to have sheet balsa under it, its strong enough to withstand fingernail marks and minor types of damage. But you're right, at least aluminum foil is real aluminum and if it could be used correctly, it would look like it should. The only other negative to it would be that its too thin to work into compound curves. That being said, I have never tried to use it, so maybe it would work with the right preparations, planning and care.
Thanks for your input, Denny
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Old 05-26-2010, 03:26 PM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

Thanks to all whom have replied, but has anyone tried putting actual thin aluminum sheets on a built up balsa or composite RC aircraft this size? Unless my weight scale is way off, or my math is really bad, or my estimates of adhesive weight or something similar is off, I think it may be feasable to do this with aluminum on a plane this large. So lets assume that it will not be too heavy and that I have the skill to work the aluminum into compound curves for the fillets and the tips of the flying surfaces. Now, any thoughts or considerations other than those issues would be greatly appreciated. I am not sure of the effect of such amounts of aluminum on my radio signal. I am also concerned with the right adhesive to attach the aluminum to the composite fuselage and the built up wing and flying surfaces. I know that in the Florida sun the aluminum will expand, I dont want the sheeting warping and coming off. I will use screws in some places where the scale aircraft has them to assist in securing the sheeting. The vast majority of the sheeting needs to be secured by adhesive. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. If this idera of using aluminum sheeting doesnt work, at least we will all know why, I will share everything I learn as I go, but if it does work.........it should be one impressive looking plane on the ground and hopefully in the air too.
Denny
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Old 05-26-2010, 03:30 PM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

my thought was to fully sheet the surface like you normally would using balsa , then glassing the wing using conventinal methods but on the second to last coat adhere the foil using resin then perhaps a final coat over it to seal it in. this is all in theory like I said just thinking out loud, i would be interested to see what other solutions might be out there

best of luck to you

Mike
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Old 05-26-2010, 03:36 PM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

Denny I can tell you that a 2.4 is suppose to be bullet proof, metal or not , at least that's what they say I personally have experienced this to be a true statement, but I am sure there are other who have had the latter. I don't think the 2.4 has been around long enough for anyone to make a concrete claim one way or the other but if I were you I would air to caution as you have std that I agree with you on leaving the attena exposed would be a safe bet better safe then sorry I guess

Mike
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Old 05-26-2010, 05:01 PM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

Denny,
There are a few ambitious people who use lithoplate to cover models. The key is taking that material and removing the temper by annealing it. One method is to coat the piece with dish soap, and then heat it with a torch until it turns brown signaling proper annealing. The material can then be worked much easier. If it is worked too much it will start to work harden and you may have to repeat the annealing process. There have been posts on this technique before I can't seem to recall where exactly off of the top of my head. I will search for it and send you the link if I can find it. By the way is this Denny Deweese?
Regards, Dave
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Old 05-26-2010, 05:47 PM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

Thanks for the information Dave, thats good stuff to know. The aluminum I am going to use is .008 thick, I believe its the same thickness as litho plate. The aluminum I have is actually for roofing and it works great for non-compound curves. For the wing fillets, its just too thick to hammer and dolly to make shapes. I have some thicker stuff I had some luck with as far as making a fillet for the vertical stab. I would enjoy learning anything I can about the process of using the litho plate. Thanks again for your post.
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Old 05-26-2010, 05:56 PM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

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ORIGINAL: tenacious101010
Hello Chad, I purchased a sample of Flight Metal. In my opinion it didnt look like aluminum when I placed it next to a piece of polished sheet aluminum. Its closer than paint, but does not have the same look. Actually, I am not sure flight metal is aluminum. I am going out and try using metal polish on it, that should tell me for sure. I think I would have better luck on making alumim sheet into a fillet than the flight metal. Can you tell me about your experiences with Flight Metal? I would like to learn all I can about its use, resistance to damage and ability to contour to compound curves.
Thanks, Denny

It is advertised as "real aluminum" and I've never heard any claims to the contrary. I suppose it's possible that it may look different than sheet aluminum simply because it is dead soft and not hardened. Of course aluminum tends to vary somewhat in color and texture anyway. My use of Flite Metal has been limited to using it for hatches, panels, etc. and I've yet to use it on an entire model. It's on my "to do" list however! There are a number of build threads on RCSB where Flite Metal has been used and that may be a good research source if you want to do some searching.
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Old 05-26-2010, 06:15 PM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

Thanks for the info Chad. I am planning on using aluminum sheeting as I have described, but there may be a couple places where a product like Flite Metal would work well. The specific area on this project where Flite Metal may be the right material is the tailcone. I believe the next toughest areas for me to do would be the flying surface tips. I have already made an aluminum fillet for the vertical stab out of aluminum and am very happy with the results. I dont think theres a lot of difference in the weight of glassing and this thin aluminum. At least the way I put glass on
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Old 05-26-2010, 07:58 PM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

The late Col. Art Johnson covered his 1/5 scale P-35 completely in in aluminum sheet. He did a beautiful job on it, I wish I could find a color picture of it. Here's a link to an article describing the materials used and the application process.

http://www.rcmplans.com/issues/reque...091991-1-1.pdf
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Old 05-26-2010, 08:15 PM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

I've heard of some people using beer cans, ok you can use soda cans too I guess but what's the fun in that
Kelly
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Old 05-26-2010, 08:21 PM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

Here are some models by Car Bachhuber and his website. http://www.carlb-rcplanes.com/

Carl uses a simulated aluminum covering product from Dynamic Decals. His models are very impressive to look at look and fly awesome.
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Old 05-26-2010, 08:30 PM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

WOW, thanks Warbird, that was a great article. I think he has proved it is feasable to use aluminum. There will be some differences in the way I do it, but I will not be glassing my wings before applying the aluminum sheeting. I will add wide cap strips on the ribs and sheet directly over that since my sheeting is thicker, it is stronger and can withstand the handling. I have even experimented with making rivets. I used a spring loaded punch and put in some very convincing rivet lines. I am way beyond deciding if I will do it, but have moved on to how to do it. Any help in completing the project with the materials I have selected would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks to all who have given inputs.
Denny
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Old 05-26-2010, 08:51 PM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

Heres some of the beginnings of the project. I formed the fillet for the vertical stab from thicker aluminum, I am very happy with the way it came out.
Denny
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Old 05-26-2010, 08:58 PM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

Denny another suggestion for your covering requirements would be the 100% aluminum patch tape they use for patching up holes in the old airstream campers
I don't know if you can still get it or not I'd try one of the camper places ,the stuff I saw came on a roll in varying widths 2,3,and 4" and was self adhesive
100% soft aluminum and pretty pliable/moldable.
I helped a friend of my dads fix up an old airstream he bought about 10 years ago, from my memory of the stuff make certain its where ya want it as you'd be hard pressed to peel it up once its stuck down.
The stuff also buffed out to a mirror shine, the few patches we put on were barely noticeable once we buffed the whole thing down as the 5 star polish we used in conjunction with
with felt pad on the buffer feathered the edges of the patches to almost invisibilty.
If memory serves right the stuff was a little pricey for 10 years ago, I want to say it was around $80 for the 4" roll I don't remember how many feet was on a roll of the stuff.
I'm contemplating using the same stuff on my first attempt, let me do some digging and see what I can find out.
I'm going to upstate N.Y. flying this weekend and will be going by a half dozen or so camper places.
Shoot me an e-mail address or a cell# and I'll let ya know what I find out
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Old 05-26-2010, 09:42 PM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

Looks really great Denny. You gotta love the old "Vibrator"! Surprised that none of the ARF manufacturers have pulled the trigger on a BT yet.
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Old 05-27-2010, 05:32 AM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

i have used that aluminum tape and alum foil on many projects for a real meteal look. i neve pulled the trigger on the whole plane. the foil looks great but easily scratches but the plane looked more weathered.


the alum foil was sprayed with adhesive and then applied, read how to do it in some article, but any inperfections showed right up and you would remove it and star again.

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Old 05-27-2010, 07:50 AM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

Denny I have seen Flite Metal done right and it looks fantastic,, but depending on the look you are trying to achieve it will need to be worked to get it to the finish your are looking for. It sounds like you are trying to get the GRAIN to show in the aluminum like a sheet of 040 aluminum. That would have been the look of the aluminum fresh from the aircraft assembly line. Flite metal does have that look and with some work it will look very realistic. But if you’re looking for a polished aluminum aircraft the GRAIN of the sheet of aluminum is polished out, that’s what gives it the mirror shine. Again I have seen flite metal achieve this look. I think in your case you might like to mix and match... This means that you can use several different aluminum materials to get the look want. The flite metal is malleable and can be used on the curved areas but on the large flat areas you can use the sheet product you are talking about.

But if you want to take the easy way out you can always call me
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Old 05-27-2010, 08:22 AM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

Hello Metal, The polished look is what I want. I am modeling a BT-13 thats here in Florida. I really like the color scheme. I will probably end up doing exactly what you said. I will sheet large areas with the .008 sheeting and the compound curves will be dealt with as I have to. It looks like I can form aluminum sheeting for all areas except for the top of the vertical stab and the tips of the wings and horizontal stab. The front of the cowl gets painted red, so I dont need aluminum in that area. The tailcone may be the place I will also use somethignlike flight metal.
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Old 05-27-2010, 11:05 AM
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Default RE: covering scale WW2 warbird with thin aluminum sheeting

I have been toying with the idea also, I have a pile of .004" litho plate that I am going to use. the .004 plate is used on small printing presses (generally under 20")

I also have a few sheets of 26" .008" and a few sheets of 40" .012"

I may opt to cover it with flight metal, I think the key with flight metal would be to make sure the model is perfectly sanded smooth so no imperfections or wood grain would show through.
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