Building the Model Airways 1/16th Scale Sopwith Camel

Partial Kit 3 of 8

The Top Wing

Uh oh. Actual woodworking will be needed for this step. Nothing too complicated so I should be okay. It'll be good practice for the last kit where they evidently expect me to carve a propeller out of a block of wood. I tried that once before many years ago for an old Guillows kit and result was laughable. An Epic Fail as my kids would say now.

Here's what comes in kit 3.  Lasercut ribs, some basswood stock of various sizes, whitemetal fittings, a brass rod (for the trailing edge), and the plans.

The first step for the top wing is to attach rib caps to all of the ribs. This involves pinning the rib to the board using a small piece of bassword to hold it 1/32" off of the board. After soaking the cap strips in water for a few minutes so that they'll bend, you glue them to the rib edges and use the T-pins to hold everthing in place while the glue dries. Repeat 32 times!

I have A.D.D., so I have to admit that this got real tedious for me. I can't say I'm looking forward to the bottom wing.

Here's the completed rib set. The two at the bottom center are nearest the center. The pair on the left side with fewer holes are doublethick and are near the cabane strut attachments. The stubs on the left side are the edges of the airlerons.

Once the ribs are done they need to be slid onto the spars and pinned in place on the plan. When everything is aligned, thinned wood glue is brushed onto the spars and allowed to dry.

When that is all dry, you add the various cross braces along with the aileron spars and ribs. The spars must all be tapered to fit the wingtip spar and then notched (the rat tail file very handy here) and tapered to fit the whitemetal wing tip.  

Now comes that woodworking part. The leading edge must be carved from a stip of bassword into something resembling the leading edge of an airfoil. Fortunately, bassword is soft so an x-acto can be used for a very rough shape that can then be sanded into a rounded form. I actually managed this without too much trouble. When you have the right shape, the back side of the tips must be notched to fit over the wing tips then rounded off and tapered to blend.

The instructions suggest staining the wing now since would be much harder after all the metal parts are in place.

The spacer bars must all be drilled through at both ends for the rigging lines before mounting them. I also discovered quickly that it is MUCH easier to attach the turnbuckles and thread the rigging through the bar before it is mounted. Four of the bars have mounting points for the struts and these are attached to the bottom of the main spars, the others are attached to the top. Then the cross brace rigging is added.

Now the center ribs are shaped to accept the trailing edge cutout and the trailing edge rod is glued in place. Copper tape is used to blend the edge to the ribs.

Note that the wing has been built with the ailerons as an integral part. Time to get out your dremel and the cutting wheel.

The ailerons are cut away from the wing assembly and remounted with hinges. Then the control horn and wire guides are added. The control wires will later be run to the yoke in the cockpit. The bottom view shows the mounting points for the main struts.

The last step is to add the framing around the visibility cutout in the center of the wing. The center of the upper wing is not covered with fabric in order to provide the pilot with a better view up and forward.

Well, once again I survived. Other than being bored by the seemingly endless rib capping, it was fun. Even the leading edge wasn't too bad. Fortunately, the Camel's top wing is flat so the spars can be straight. Not so with the bottom wing which has considerable dihedral.

That challenge comes next.

STEP 4 - The bottom wing

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