by Graham Woods

I finished my first 'Lockdown' model, the Aeolus, designed by my brother David, in mid-March 2020 and began a second balsa model shortly after. This time, it was a French design, also from the 80s, called a MadSlide by a famous French designer, Benoît Paysan-Le Roux (great name btw).

This model was a model with the +/- 90º MadStab all moving tailplane set-ups to enable flips and other peculiar slope manoeuvres. I opted for an obechi/white foam wing rather than a built-up one this time. I tried a couple of new things too: a fibreglass canopy and a rolled balsa upper rear fuselage decking behind the canopy. Both worked well enough for a first attempt... I surprised even myself. The most enjoyable part of a balsa build is fuselage shaping. I love creating the final shape with a razor plane from a basic balsa 'box' and seeing piles of wood shavings; not so keen on the balsa dust though.

The canopy shape was carved and sanded from blue foam and then wrapped in brown, polyester parcel tape. I layered over it two pieces of 105gsm glass twill with epoxy resin. (Use release agent if you have it.) Twill drapes better than a straight weave for compound curves, of course. When set it pops off easily and the glass outer pattern was filled with a light filler and spray painted. Not perfect but good enough I thought.

The upper rolled fuselage decking is simply made by soaking the balsa in warm water, carefully rolling it around the foam former and wrapping with a regular cotton (First Aid) bandage. This is left to dry (airing or boiler cupboard overnight) and it takes on the curve, it can then be glued in place. With hindsight I should have removed all the foam for extra lightness.

I covered the finished model with white Oracover and added self adhesive vinyl pieces more or less following the original design. It took ages but I am pleased with the result. The pastel colours are quite eye-catching I think. The decals were created with Photoshop and printed with a regular £50 Canon inkjet printer. It looks better in the photo than real life,btw.

I used four servos but the +/- 90º  MadStab AND regular elevator movement proved to be a struggle for me to set up without too much slop in the elevator movement... I had help from Mike Shellim (OpenTx guru) who pointed me in the right direction. (Click Image left for video) This model was subsequently remade with a 2.3 metre span and is said to have more inertia as the smaller one I made at 1.5m span came out at just over 1200gm before weight/CG trimming. Being a lightweight, this and my other lockdown model, the Aeolus, will probably be quite different from the moulded aerobatic model I usually fly which probably have more inertia. Even so, it has already served one purpose, namely, to keep me busy during the extended Lockdown we have all suffered across the World. The model uses my Horus, OpenTx and a TBS 868MHz Tx module with a Nano receiver. If it flies well and I enjoy it then that's simply a bonus, the cherry on the top of the cake.   

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