Well, I’m back with an update; I’ve had some time to work on this Fine Structure Zero since I’m almost complete with my Group Build project (and the due date got extended a month!).
So, next up was to start the rear fuselage. This is a pretty fiddly part of the build because the PE is extremely thin, sometimes very long, and difficult to trim and file the attachment “nubs” off. I heartily recommend holding these long pieces with some flat jawed pliers close to the nub, and file gently to remove the excess attachment point.
This part of the build is different from the Mustang in a couple of respects. First, the entire rear fuselage including vertical and horizontal stabilizers, rudder and elevators and former and stringers are all built as a single piece. I like this method a lot because it will be a lot stronger, I think. Second, they actually supply you with a PE jig to start the rear fuselage construction, something that was completely absent from the Mustang.
Here it is:
The photo shows the front and rear formers in the jig with the top two stringers in place. Something to note here is that like every other assembly in these kits, the first few parts to be glued in place are a pain because you have 2, 3, or even 4 pieces not yet glued together all moving in different directions at the same time. The jig helps but not completely. All I can suggest is a patient heart and some persistence and you will get it right.
Also, note that the large former on the right in the photo is the front part of the rear fuselage; ultimately it will mate with the cockpit portion of the fuselage. For now, it’s only a single former, but soon, it will be 3 laminated PE pieces which makes it quite strong. The only issue with this is that when you glue the stringers to it, the instructions make a big deal out of keeping CA off the front of the former (obviously, so that the laminations will fit completely flat to one another). Well, this is almost impossible working with thin CA, so my advice is don’t worry about it. When you are ready to install the laminations, you can just remove any excess CA with debonder and a micro brush and you’ll be ready to go.
It’s still pretty fragile, but we take it out of the jig and add the lower two center stringers:
The instructions would have had you mount more formers before the lower center stringers are in place, but that’s just too unstable a way to do it, so I mounted both top and bottom stringers and carefully fit the remaining formers by setting them at an angle and sliding them into place in their slots. Here’s the result:
Note that I added the 3rd and 4th stringers on both top and bottom to give enough attachment points to keep the formers stable when I mounted them and glued them in place.
Now, it’s time to attach the first parts of the vertical stabilizer. Be careful here to bend the pieces as shown on the instruction sheet. It’s important because these pieces have to line up correctly and be attached to the vertical rudder post:
A few more formers and a LOT more stringers to attach before this part of the rear fuselage assembly is complete, but when it’s done, it came out looking like this:
As you can see, I bought a cheap photo booth on eBay, and this is my first shot with it…I would appreciate any comments you have on whether you prefer this kind of lighting and backdrop, or would you like for me to go back to the photos on white paper towels. This is all about you being able to see clearly what is going on, so don’t worry about hurting my feelings if you don’t care for the image above.
Time now to move on to completing the vertical stab, rudder, horizontal stab and elevators. I might even get some painting done on all of those cockpit parts so I’ll be ready to do that assembly when the time comes.
As I mentioned last time, the aft fuselage was complete at the start of this phase (and I have a white background photo to prove it:
So it was time to move on to the difficult part of this section of the build. Assembling and aligning the Vertical Stab, Rudder, horizontal Stabs and elevators. We essentially had completed the Vertical Stab and rudder, so I won’t spend much time there except to mention that the skins for the rudder are a spectacularly bad it, and there isn’t much to do except to try to keep them from looking too unrealistic and retaining their strengthening properties.
I guess I didn’t do a very good job of documenting this part of the build; apologies all around. Here is what I do have; It’s a photo of the aft fuselage with the formers which will extend up into the vertical stab in place which you have already seen at the start of this update.
So, let’s let that subject RIP, and move onto the elevators and horizontal stabs. The elevators should not have been too difficult because the ribs were twisted into place and a nice little leading edge skin was bent into place. It turned out to be pretty ugly because there was quite a long continuum where that leading edge skin could be glued and it had to be right, or else the elevators wouldn’t mate up with the horizontal stab. Would also have been a lot easier if the trim tabs had been in white metal instead of built-up; classic over engineering, but, then again, isn’t this entire kit a case of classic over engineering!!???))) In any event, they went together given about 2 hours of effort for each one and then on to the horizontal stabs:
Here is one of my classic parts layouts for the left horizontal stab:
Note that at the bottom right of the photo there is a little piece of white metal which the instructions tell us is a wingtip. There are two of them, and they are close to identical, but not quite which means we have to figure out which is which. Well both of these parts came out of parts bag “L”, both are wingtips, both are the right size, but which is 9 and which is 10. As we have learned before in this build, let the parts layout be your guide. Looking at them, we see the following:
Looking at the parts guide, we see that L9 is a part marked with an “B” and L10 is marked with an “A”. Why A and B….why not just stamp them with 9 and 10, or even better, let the lower number be “A” rather than “B”. Oh well. Just to verify, here are the two parts; I used a little Magic Market to “color” the letter on L9 so it would stand out just a bit. Keep in mind that these photos magnify the parts by 10x or 15x, so you can see it isn’t easy to pick out with the unaided eye.:
The wingtips correctly identified, we can move on to the assembly of the horizontal stabs which turns out to also be a bit problematic. If you had referred to this set of instructions for guidance while building the horizontal stab, you would have been dead wrong. What looks like it should be a right angle in the diagram isn’t, and it isn’t until you actually use an assembly manual that you discover this rather egregious bit of misleading information.
all of those right angles between the ribs and the trailing edge apart……aren’t. We’ll see it in a moment. First though, not that the leading section of each rib is bent slightly to form an angle which is roughly 90 degrees with the leading edge spar. Gentle bends, all of them requiring some amount of care. Here they are before assembly.:
If you look closely, you can see the slight upward bend in most of the ribs of the horizontal Stab.
So, how did we figure out how to get the rest of this aligned and installed? The saving factor was another diagram in the instructions which clearly shows critical ribs installed at acute angles and one merely has to glue in accordance with the life sized model:
From this point, it went rather smoothly to complete the stabs and elevators.
As a side note, for those of you who have given me sainthood status for my work on this model, it just ain’t so. Notice the libation I keep handy when working at all times……and, no, it isn’t Coca Cola!!
The stabs are actually mounted to the fuselage using 4 rods which mate into 4 holes in the innermost wing rib. Here you can see the rods in place:
And, it’s a simple matter to mount the stabs to these rods and attach the elevators:
Finally, we mount the tailwheel and box with it’s arresting hook in the tail:
And, as a final farewell to this phase of assembly, a detail look at the tail feathers of our Zero.
So, now it’s on to the cockpit and equipment compartments and the final assembly to make it complete.
Hope you’ve enjoyed it and thanks for reading.