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Aquabird Diary - January 2013

When I first saw this bottle it was the section towards the bottom of this first photograph that I had in mind for a cockpit. However, as I offered it up to the fuselage I changed my mind and went for the section shown here. I have always struggled to cut out canopies with knives and scissors before and this bottle was much thicker and tougher than the acetate mouldings I am used to. Eventually I hit upon the idea of cuting it out out using a Dremel with a cut-off disc. This worked very well so I'll try to remember the technique for next time!

Once happy with the general positioning, the top stringers were added followed by a 1/32in balsa fairing 'underlay'. This first layer of 1/32in balsa supports the canopy - the second layer will be cut to fit around it.

With the second layer of 1/32in balsa in place, the rear fairing to the base of the fin is complete. The canopy will be rendered opaque (either by dyeing or painting on the inside) so the fact that the fin leading edge goes straight through the pilot is not a problem!

With the model assembled for a balance check, the overall impression of the cockpit can be assessed. I'm quite pleased with it.

Because of the sharp dihedral break between the main wing panels and the tips, the inboard ribs of the tip panels are canted over quite steeply. Unfortunately no allowance for this was made when the ribs were drawn on the plan.

The plan also shows a single upper 1/4 x 1/4in balsa spar. Fair enough, but vertical shear webs are also shown which, in the absence of a lower spar, does seem rather odd. The dihedral brace drawing is also wrong but at least the dihedral angles are accurate. To be honest, I am really only following the outlines of this plan and making my own structural decisions but I pity anybody who might be tempted to take it literally.

I used 1/16in ply rather than the specified 1/8in for the dihedral braces. This proved useful, in that the last little bit of misalignment can be taken up by the flexibility of the ply rather than just filled with epoxy!

Once those tip panels are glued on, the wing is going to become even more unwieldy and prone to damage, so I will spend a few days trying to get as much tidying up done as possible, both on the wing itself and around the wing seat, before gluing the tips on.

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