Hawker Hurricane

Derek Robertson

For me, the building process holds little in the way of joy, so I'll go straight to the most interesting part, flying my recently completed electric powered Hawker Hurricane. It's a Balsacraft kit with a cheapie Speed 600 motor up front, loaded with the 8 cell 2400 mAh pack that I currently use to power my four engine Dash 7.

It was mid April and disappointingly, the finished model was some 6 ozs overweight, but I wasn't overly concerned because a steady NW breeze dictated that the maiden flight would take place off Brimmond. Lots of space and plenty of lift!

Of the three other club members present, I managed to persuade my regular launcher Mike Pirie to do the honours. With a successful range-check complete, off it went with a firm chuck, dropping around 4 feet before the prop eventually began to bite. The flying was, I'm delighted to say, uneventful, with the Hurricane proving to be very stable once a few clicks of up-trim had been fed in. Cutting the power in an attempt to slope soar wasn't very successful, my new toy going down faster than my wife eating a bar of chocolate, but set on half throttle it cruised around quite happily. Even when throttled back, it flew a lot faster than I had anticipated, with landings requiring a lot of space, but what else could I expect with a wing loading of 22.5 ozs / sq. ft!

Less than a week later, there I was, on my own at Calder Park, in ideal conditions with a light easterly caressing my freshly cut hair (by sheer coincidence, the grass had been cut too!). Checks complete, I gave the Hurricane full throttle and a good firm throw &&&. but before I could get me hands back onto the Tx, it had buried itself into the middle of the park. Didn't get it up to flying speed, did I! Result, broken prop and bent motor shaft, but no structural damage. Phew! (Fortunately, I wouldn't need to rob a bank in order to buy replacement parts. Going through my wife's purse at 3am in the morning would just about cover it!)

I arrived back home from this disappointing outing around lunch-time and was in the process of unloading my plane as a bunch of primary school kids accompanied by an adult walked past. A deep voice boomed out, "Hey grandad, does your 'effing Spitfire really fly?" (Terrible language for a school chaplain to use, I thought). In all honesty, the answer at this stage would have been "very possibly", but I was still too upset to even bother correcting his simple mistake, so I turned the other cheek and made a dash for my front door.

Must book Geoff Capes for my next visit to Calder Park though! But what of the build itself?

Construction of this model proved to be fairly straightforward, with the wings and fuz. taking shape quite quickly thanks to the many CNC cut liteply components. Apart from installing one servo per aileron (making 4 in total), no other mods were made. Being picky, the wing section and length of the ribs near the tips of the fully sheeted wing would have resulted in wafer thin trailing edges after sanding &&. I had no alternative but to apply filler to the top sheeting/ TE joint in order to leave enough meat and maintain the correct planform.

Started in mid-September last year, this model was 7 months in the making, with a disproportionately large chunk of the time spent on preparation for painting (and helped along by approx 14 boxes of red wine and around a kilo of tobacco. Prior to this, I had hardly touched the stuff; my only bad habit was sniffing glue, another legacy of aeromodelling!). Getting an acceptable finish using the recommended dope and tissue method proved to be almost a bridge too far for me. It would take 8 coats of sanding sealer, lovingly rubbed down between coats, just to remove the wood grain, but add to that the now evident sags and ripples of a poorly sheeted wing, and the job became a marathon. So, as you might imagine, the build progressed ever so slowly. Throughout the winter months I would be transformed from a wrinkly, middle-aged nice guy into a crazed albino during lengthy sanding sessions, which would take place at least a couple of times per week. The dust got everywhere, up my nose, coating my moustache and even covering my bald patches. There was that much of it about!

Monday 11th March '02 and I'd gone about as far as I could with this sanding lark. This would be the last time my wife would call me "Whitey"! Still a long way short of achieving a concours finish, I stuck strips of Solartrim onto the rear portions of the wings and fuz to simulate the ribs and stringers of the original Mk 1, then began the painting. I wanted something a little more eye-catching than the usual brown/green camouflage, so the colour scheme selected was taken from video footage of a recently restored Hurricane. Brown/pale yellow upper surfaces, red spinner and split black/white undersurfaces. I have no idea whether or not this is a genuine WW 11 scheme or just one of those pseudo paint jobs, but I really liked it &&.. and I wanted to get the bloody thing finished!

And that's my winter tale of woe. Think I'll by-pass the dope 'n' tissue next time. I could have saved myself a lot of unnecessary work by covering the airframe with Litespan, a coat of dope and straight into the painting, for only a marginally inferior finish. Now, I wonder if there's any chocolate left....?