Another picture showing the work done on the fuselage. The bottom half of the fin has been built into the back of fuselage along with the centre sections of the wing which run through the large ply box that the structure fits onto.
As per the forward fuselage, limited data was available for the rear fuselage sections. Of the 9 shown above, we only had drawings for 3 of them. Manual drawing techniques were used to generate the additional 6.........once in position, it was clear they were close but not perfect, so a little trimming & packing would been necessary to retain the smooth lines of the upper fuselage & air intake areas.
The rear of the aircraft is a real challenge. Our research photos from the Florida SeaDart and a few other 3 views from other sources have been used as a guide to produce the rear end of this SeaDart. nIt uses two Westinghouse J46 after burning engines which gives the rear a very different shape when compared to the first SeaDart.
The exhaust pattern is being sculpted by John from FighterAces who's just retired from a career in TV & film set/prop design. Sculpting something from a load of photos is a perfect task for him. This has seen a few iterations but its finally getting to a shape that we are happy with. The rear end has also been slightly re modelled. We always knew the back would be time consuming due to the lack of any accurate drawings but FighterAces are doing a great job with the all our research photos to accurately recreate this part of the model.
To say that this small part is by far the most complex part of the patter is an understatement.....there isn't a straight line in it!!!! Built from a mix of liteply, balsa block, light grade Chemiwood (Necuron 301) with a healthy dose of car body filler, this in itself represents a good couple of days work.
The hull will be built once the CAD work is complete so with the supper surface fully sheeted, we made a start on the upper surface glassing work.
As per the wings, the fuselage has been glassed in heavy 4oz cloth to give a rock solid base to the pattern.......the whole upper rear fuselage being done in 1 piece (good game, good game!!!)
Also not the 'patchwork' at the very rear of the fuselage ahead of the jet pipe area in photo #2. We said this area was a problem due to the lack of documentation and this patchwork of balsa is the result......I'll happily admit the final shape was actually Mk.3 of the rear end as there was a lot of packing and sanding involved to achieve a shape we were finally happy with.
Phil Clark, FighterAces
The surface prep & priming stages we are going through are a little different to what we'd normally use on a flying model.
The 'Re-Face' Alex has mentioned is a U-Pol product which is in effect sprayable car body filler. It is VERY thick and is like spraying treacle so has to be used through a large gun (1.8mm in this case). It builds very fast and once cured sanded beautifully filling every imperfection. After the 1st sanding with a small electric pad sander (flat surfaces only), we are applying 1 heavy coat of Klass Kote epoxy primer. This again builds very fast & sands superbly. This is then wet sanded with 120 before a 2nd coat. This has a 3rd sanding with 240 (wet) which leaves a very good surface.
As the pattern will be fully detailed, the application of flush rivets into an epoxy primer proves problematic as the epoxy doesn't melt very well...........multiple coats of standard grey cellulose primer were then applied to give a decent thickness to burn the rivets into as well as scribe in the flush panel lines.
A long process yes, but the end results as we'll show are well worth the effort to achieve the desired results on the pattern.
I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been very fussy with the surface detailing. Every rivet is being added to the pattern which amounts to over 100,000 each individually applied. It’s not only the rivets which will be emulated but we want to capture the whole character of the aircraft which involves producing every ripple or bowed panel which can be seen on the full-size. So often very large models are impressive only due to their size but lack any real depth of character. The full size was built to withstand 126,000 pound landing! thats around 7G at its max weight. It really was a bit of a battleship with regard to its construction and this creates a very distinctive appearance which we want the model to have. You can see the amount of effort FighterAces have put into this and really does look incredible... photos just don't do it justice. It's a very subtle effect which looks more prominent than it is in the flesh. While we wait for the hull CAD work on the fuselage FighterAces have used the time to make a start on the wings, fin and control surfaces building in the very subtle undulations in the surface which you can see below.
The below picture hopefully shows the undulations in the panel work, our historical research also backs up this look. Ignore the large raised panel that runs though the wings. This is patch work to cover up where they chopped the wings off for transport.
Here is the result after the first topcoat of 2k. Having seen this in person I can testify to the fact I’ve never seen something so convincing. Not only does it look incredible but the model is also very tactile… you’re just drawn to dragging you hand over the surface and feeling the subtle undulations. The photos really don’t do it justice. In the daylight the wings and fin look very good but more importantly its created an effect almost indistinguishable from that of a real aircraft. Well done FighterAces as I know this was a big ask when I laid down the specification of the pattern!
It’s time to finish the fuselage structure now that the CAD work for the hull is complete. The CAD work has used the dimensions from the Florida SeaDart and it’s important that the hull is built accurately as the ski mechanism is very geometrically sensitive.