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Senior Moment almost ends my A6M2 Zero

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Senior Moment almost ends my A6M2 Zero

Old 02-07-2023, 07:07 AM
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Default Senior Moment almost ends my A6M2 Zero

After almost 15 years of enjoyment, I almost killed my ESM A6M2 Zero. All started with a leak in the pneumatic retract system. After my 1st flight that morning, the retracts had one of the "O" rings failing and leaking air when in the wheels out position. in order to continue flying that day, I cracked open the wing without removing it from the fuselage and reach into the Zero's gut to add a bit thin oil to the wing hoses. This stopped the leaking air, but unknowingly caused another problem.

Since I had already had flown the model that morning, I did not do the flight checkout. Proceeded to start the engine and taxied promptly to the runway in order to insure that no air pressure was lost in the retract system. Tremendous mistake and a retaught lesson that in RC'ing, nothing should be done in haste.

I took of and immediately noticed something strange, I could not level the wings with the ailerons. The Zero started to do very weird things and in the first 15 seconds almost lost it twice. Quickly I realized that the model had no aileron control and mentally realized that when I cracked open the wing, I most have disconnected the aileron lead.

Now that I knew what was the problem, I had to bring the veteran Zero back hopefully in one piece. Those that have a Zero, know that the plane has very little dihedral. This make the rudder effectiveness low when you try to level the wings. It will change jaw well. But it takes a while to level the wings. I switched to full rudder movement in the dual rates and started the long flight back to a landing approach. On top of the aileron predicament, the wind was about 60 degrees north of the runway.. Once I got the Zero almost in line with the runway, the perpendicular wind started to drift it south of the runway and bank the model also.

I had already brought the landing gear done for the landing approach, but decided to go ahead with the landing in the grass, not on the runway since model guidance was not accurate to hit the paved runway. It was better to land in the grass softly than to to hit the pavement. I switched back the retracts but it had leaked air and only one of the retracts went up. The other stayed in the landing position, not too good for a belly landing in the grass.

Still this option was better than trying to go around the circuit once more. I cut the engine and proceeded to loose speed and height. I was able to flair the Zero pretty good but the landing gear that was sticking out got stuck in the grass and jackknifed the model.

The results were disheartening. The wing had ripped out of the fuselage bringing with it the hard points that attach it to the fuse through the wing screws. Also in the front end, the fuselage in the area to the rear of the firewall suffered some stress fractures. The ESM Zero fiberglass is quite thin to make it a light airplane. That feature was not appreciated at this time. At least I had the model and all the equipment included.

Back at the pits, I started dismantling the model to asses the damage. After removing the engine, I realized that my prior strengthening of this area had paid off. The fuselage was perfectly attached to the firewall with no damage whatsoever. Only the side fuselage between the nose and wing saddle had cracked. It was still in one piece, but with ugly hairy cracks. The wing attachment was completely ripped off. Some areas in the rear of the fuselage right behind the wing attachment had some cracks in the fiberglass.

I am no fiberglass expert and initially I thought I could mechanically repair it well, but not achieving cosmetic quality. Still I decided to keep it and try and refit this model I had enjoyed for years and liked so much.

Thanks God I did that, I have repaired my Zero and through the guidance and directions of fellow modeler Wilfredo "Bombero" Rivera, the Zero is once more operational an it looks like nothing has happened to it. The wing attachment area is perfect. None of the damage can be noticed at all. The fuselage between the firewall and wing saddle is perfect as well as behind the wing attachment area. Also is very strong now and gained very little weight.

I have repaired the landing gears replacing the "O" rings and no leakage is happening now. The left retract which had stayed out had been ripped of the wing, that was all repaired. The wing actually suffered no damage except for the retract mounts that serve as a mechanical fuse.

Attached a few pictures of the repaired A6M2 Zero. Today I will be balancing the model and hopefully re maiden it next Wednesday, 215/23.

Will let you know how it goes.

Old 02-09-2023, 09:15 AM
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I learned my lessons crashing two warbirds with the ailerons reversed many many years ago,, I since have a routine of checking the direction of all surface travel as I taxi out every flight,,, I encourage all to take up this habit,

Glad you were able to put her back together,,, have fun

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