CONSTRUCTION - September 1994 to August 1995

At the end of 1993, I scratch built a P-47D Thunderbolt to 1/6 scale so that I had a model to display at the UK model shows whatever the weather. Driving home from the Elvington '94 show in late August, I was chatting to a friend discussing how a 1/6 scale Fort, to match My P-47 and his P-51, would be nice. It wouldn't be that much work would it??

By the end of the two hour journey, the decision was made. Part plans were drawn up in the following two weeks, and wood cutting began shortly after that, on what would become a record build for me...... a 17 feet wingspan bomber from design to flight in eleven months!!!!!

By the end of September/early October 1994, most of the fuselage structure and vertical stab was complete.

The inner wing panel therefore had a 39 inch root rib and a span of 50 inches. The flaps alone are 50 inches by 6 inches ( the size of a wing on many sports models ). The spars were 5/8 by 3/8 hard wood top and bottom in the scale positions, webbed by 1/16 ply. A laminate of 1/8 ply, 1/16 epoxy/glass sheet and 1/8 ply formed full depth front and rear tongues which entered the fuselage to bolt the the formers at each end of the bomb bay. A static 'G' test showed the spars and root joiners took a load of 9 'G' before I stopped loading them up.
Since there are many windows in the B-17's cockpit, including the roof, the office needed to be filled out with detail, and with 39 sq feet of wing area to carry it all, weight shouldn't pose too much of a problem. Regardless of that, it gave me great personal satisfaction to reproduce the cockpit in miniature, right down to the Boeing logo in the control columns. The picture to the right only shows the instrument panel and centre throttle/engine control pedestal so far.

The instrument was a colour photo while all the small details were made from pieces of styrene, acrylic or cast in resin. The seat buckets were vacuum formed over a wooded plug while the seat supports were soldered from brass tube.

Even the pilot and co-pilot were made, from a combination of resin cast heads and hands with vacuum formed bodies.

The B-17's structure is built in the same sub-assemblies as the fullsize airplane with the joints in the model at the scale break position. This picture, taken in late January 1995, shows ten of the sub-assemblies:- Forward and Rear fuselage, tail turret, left and right inner wing panels, left and right horizontal stab and the vertical stab.

With both of the outer wing panels complete, it was time for another photo. The garden was rapidly getting smaller. Up until this point, the B-17 had been sitting on bricks. It was time for some legs and wheels. Originally, they were retracted by electric screwjacks, but later were converted to pneumatics. All the drag struts, torque links, etc, work as per fullsize. The torque links themselves were cast in aluminum into a plaster mould before final machining took place. It took a camping stove and a gas torch to get the ali hot enough to flow. The main leg components were all aluminium rod and tube, with a silver steel axle.

The outer wing panels were lightened foam cores with hardwood spars laid into them. The core was skinned with 1/8 balsa.

Almost complete, with just the engine cowlings and fronts of the nacelles to finish. A fictional name and artwork was added to the B-17 for the test flight. At this stage, the nose, radio room, waist and tail windows were just painted on. These would be glazed after the test flight.
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