Curtiss 1911
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I will be building this model completely from scratch, the book I purchased is excellent with some very highly detailed plans and drawings, there are also a large amount of great photos of original aircraft throughout the book. The engine has been covered in great detail in this book with drawings not only of the engine but individual engine components, all wonderful reference material for the scratch builder.

I started off by scaling the plans from the book, my model will be built in 1:32 scale so I had to scan the book plans, load them onto my drawing program then scale them to the correct dimensions. Once I was satisfied with the 1:32 scale size I printed the plans onto high quality 100 gram paper which gives a very smooth semi glossy finish. The front and plan views had to be printed onto two separate sheet then taped together to give me a full size plan. For the initial start of the build I have made three copies of each of the plans.

Construction has begun on the main float, this was quite a large float and was covered in plywood. I used 0.50mm styrene sheet cut to shape by using templates cut from my plans. I fitted bulkheads to the inside of the float for added rigidity. The model would probably be tail heavy so I filled the first two chambers of the float with weights, this will ensure that the nose stays on the ground, hopefully.

After the weights were glued in position the top was fitted to the float, again made from 0.50mm styrene sheet. The sides and the top of the float has been marked with a sharp pointer to simulate the many screws which held this float together. The two brackets up front are for the main engine supports which will be pinned to the brackets.

Three skids, made from 1.0mm x 1.0mm styrene square section, were glued to the bottom of the float, the nose and tail of these were sanded to shape once the glue was dry. The whole float assembly will now be given a light sanding then sprayed with a light Gunze acrylic colour as a base coat, then oil paints will be used to simulate plywood.

I am in the process of making the twin control wheels, these are made from watch parts, brass tubing of various sizes, 0.25mm brass sheet and styrene for the pulley. The whole assembly is held together with CA which has made it quite a sturdy unit, bit it will not stand a lot of knocking around. I will add some paint next then add the rudder control wires, an unusual set-up as there is no rudder bar.

This is the float attachment pin where it connects to the two main engine support beams, these beams are made from 1.0mm x 1.5mm styrene stock with brass tube added to the rounded bottom end of the beams, the brass tube was flattened and drilled with a 0.50mm drill bit. The 1.0mm brass tube running across the two beams is the foot support, still to be added are the throttle pedals one for each of the crew. When fixed the beams will be sitting at a 24º angle to the float.

The twin steering assembly has been painted using Gunze gloss black, the actual wheels are painted with Gunze H66 sandy Brown. Once dry the whole assembly was sprayed with a coat of clear, I used a 50/50 mix of Humbrol Satin Clear and Humbrol Matt Clear, this results in a very nice low sheen finish. I still need to add the control cables.

I used a base coat of Gunze H313 yellow acrylic on the float and once dry I used raw sienna oil paint to simulate the wood, I added a small amount of Liquin to assist in drying. I placed the float in my heat box and within 24 hours it was perfectly dry, I then sprayed it with a coat of Humbrol clear orange. I assembled the main engine beams which are held up with a brass tube frame, this will also support the front of the seats. All the brass pieces will be painted black and the entire float sprayed with a clear satin coat. The plan in front of the float is the 1:32 scaled plan I printed after resizing the book plan. The colour photo is the front cover of the book just to give me an indication of the wood colour. The plan on the right is an enlarged front view, I have coloured the different frames to separate them and make it easier to follow.

All the brass pieces have been painted black and the entire assembly has been given a spray of 50/50 Humbrol Satin Cote and Matt Cote. I also added the twin control column, this is secured with two pins that pass through the engine beams and into the tube on the control column frame. I also added the six drain plugs, three either side of the float. These were made from 1.0mm brass rod with a slot cut into the ends to represent the screwdriver slots. A 1.0mm hole was drilled into the float at the appropriate positions and the plugs pushed in, they are flush with the outside surface of the float.

I made the twin seats from styrene sheet, the frames are from styrene stock. I used the same colours as I used on the float then coated it with the same clear coat. There is quite an elaborate frame set-up for the aileron wing warping which is operated by the crew leaning their shoulders against the frame.

I have started the bottom wing, the wing on the original machine was only thin so when scaled to 1:32 it comes down to 0.8mm thick. I used two layers of 0.4mm styrene sheet glued together then formed over a cylinder of the appropriate size. Once the glue had set the wing retains the shape and adds strength to the wing. The rib tapes are made from Bob’s Strippers, they are 0.75mm in width.

I made the seat aileron shoulder frames. These are used by the pilot leaning against the frame with either his left or right shoulder depending on which way he wants his aircraft to turn. The frames were made from 0.4mm copper wire bent to the appropriate shapes and held together with super glue, the bottom of the frames are bent at 90º and fitted into holes drilled through the seat frames. The whole seat assembly is only posed for photo purposes.

The wings were first painted with Gunze H85 Sail Colour acrylic, then the ribs were masked and a shading of black sprayed over the masks, once dry the sail colour was again sprayed after the masks were removed. I made the two wing support frames, one to hold the leading edge and another for the trailing edge of the wing, these were made from 0.8mm brass tube with the ends flattened and a 0.5mm hole drilled. As can be seen by the side on photo, the wing is very thin but it still supports itself nice and level. These photos show the wing and seat posed for the photos, I still need to paint the underside of the wing and the wing support frames. The original 1911 wing was made in 5 pieces hence the join lines, these will have metal wing joining brackets fitted. Bob’s strippers do a fantastic job and take paint very well, they are very easy to use.

The radiator has been made and is now ready for paint and then the mesh will be fitted, I will be painting the radiator a brass colour. The radiator mesh is from RB Productions RB-T026 Radiator Mesh Wavy 22/10, it is PE so cutting it to size caused a few problems. I also made the engine bearers, these were bent to the appropriate shape, they will be a wood colour.

I made the radiator support strap which runs under the radiator, half way up the sides and bends at 90º to allow it to support on the engine bearers, for this I used the thin metal from a coke can, I fixed it to the radiator with CA. The two outlet water pipes at the rear of the top tank are from 1.0mm brass tube. I painted the radiator body using Mr Metal Colour Brass and when dry (about 30 seconds) I fixed the two radiator mesh screens, to hold these in place I used very tiny drops of CA only at the top and bottom of each mesh. I will be leaving the mesh the colour that it is, when fitted to the plane it will have the engine behind it and the top wing just above it so the shade from those will darken it somewhat. The match gives a size comparison, it is not a huge radiator for 1:32 scale.  

Apart from a little paint touch-up on the two bottom corners the radiator is finished. This particular aeroplane had a hand starting crank for the engine, this is mounted ahead of the radiator and the shaft protruded through the radiator to connect with the engine. I made the crank handle and the support frame with 0.25mm styrene sheet. The handle is made from 0.9 and 0.7mm aluminium tube while the crank axle is made from 0.8mm brass tube, the nut on the front is an RB Motion brass nut. The crank assembly was painted with Gunze black grey then coated with a satin clear. I also added the water inlet connection pipe at the bottom of the radiator, this is made from 0.7mm aluminium tube, and also a drain cock was added, this is done with 0.5mm brass tube.

I started work on the engine by firstly making the top half of the crank case. I used 0.25mm styrene sheet cut to size and glued together to form the 90º needed for the two banks of cylinders. The cylinder mounting plates are made from 1:32 scale Vintage Instrument bezels from Aeroclub, these just happen to be the correct size and they have eight fixing screws, perfect for my application. I will fit the eight 3.1mm diameter cylinders inside the bezels and will use 5 minute epoxy to secure them. As can be seen by the match comparison, it is not a huge engine for a V8 even in 1:32 scale, still got heaps to do yet.

The Engine build and detailing

I manufactured the bottom half of the crank case using 0.25mm styrene sheet. The cylinders are cut from 3.2mm round styrene rod, these are cut to 9.3mm in length. Brass sleeve will be fitted over each cylinder, these are cut to 4.9mm in length. The rear backing gear plate has been made but not completed at this stage.

The eight cylinders are now glued in place. I filed a small chamfer on the bottom of each cylinder to allow them to sit inside the 3.1mm opening in the brass bezel, I then used plastic glue to hold the cylinders to the crank case, a small drop of CA run around the base of the cylinders ensures a good strong bond to the brass bezels.

I made the two water pipes that run down each side of the bank of cylinders, these pipes are made from 1.0mm styrene rod. I drilled 0.5mm holes into the bottom of each of the brass cylinder sleeves, I drilled corresponding holes into the 1.0mm rods then fixed the rod to the cylinders with short lengths of 0.5mm copper wire, CA holds them in place. I also made the rear gear housing, this was made from 0.5mm styrene sheet, I punched various sizes of 0.25mm styrene sheet and glued to the outside of the housing, I then drill a heap of 0.3mm holes around the housing and fitted 0.25mm brass wire glued in with CA, they were then cut to length and sanded. I added a second layer of 0.3mm styrene sheet to the front of the housing then the housing was glued to the back of the engine, the part protruding above the crank case will be the drive for the magneto.

I made the hold down yokes from 0.3mm styrene cut to a cross shape, I drilled 0.3mm holes in the end of each arm, the yokes were glued to the top of each cylinder. I used 0.3mm brass tube for the tie down bolts, these where pushed through the holes then positioned on top of the crank case mounting plates, I place a small RB Motion brass nut (B1279) over the brass tube and let it slide down onto the yoke, it was then glued using CA, I also added a small drop of CA to the bottom of the brass tube where it rested on the brass bezel. Once the glue was dry I snipped off the excess brass tube above the nut then sanded it smooth. This process will take place for all 32 tie down bolts.

The engine has been painted using Humbrol 27002 for the crank cases and a colour I mixed up close to Stainless for the cylinders. I made and fitted the inlet manifolds, these are made from 0.75mm styrene rod. I also made and fitted a magneto, this was made from carious pieces of styrene sheet. As can be seen all 32 tie down bolts have been fitted to the cylinder head tie down yokes. I also made and fitted the water pump at the rear of the engine, the copper pipes are 0.65mm copper wire bent to shape. I am now in the process of making all the rocker assemblies for the eight cylinders, this will be very time consuming and eye straining work.  The next set of photos will be the completed engine.

I have made and fitted all the rocker assemblies to the top of the cylinders. The rocker arms are made from 0.4mm brass wire bent to shape then flattened in a pair of smooth jaw pliers. The rocker arm support rod is made from 0.65mm copper wire with the top end sanded to half its thickness then a 0.3mm hole drilled, a corresponding hole was drilled in the rocker arm and a piece of 0.3mm brass tube was used to hold the arm to the support rod. The valve springs are cut from 0.7mm diameter small coil springs, two holes the same size was drilled into the top of each cylinder and the springs fitted with CA. The push rods are 0.5mm brass tube with a spring fitted to the bottom end, the top was flattened and glued to the rocker arms with CA.

The exhaust pipes are made from 1.0mm brass tube, they were cut to length then glued into holes drilled into the side of each cylinder, CA holds them well. The eight spark plugs are also made and fitted to the top of each cylinder, these can be seen clearer on the previous set of photos.

The engine is now completed. I added a carburettor to the rear of the engine, added the exhaust pipes, the ignition leads and the cable manifold tubes. Here are a series of photos of the completed engine and as a size comparison I sat the Curtiss V8 beside the Wingnuts Beardmore straight 6 engine. I also included the obligatory engine in palm of hand shot. The engine has taken quite a bit of time to construct but as it will be in full view I needed to add as much detail as possible. If you have any question as to how I detailed this engine please free to email me at:

The bottom wing has now been fitted to the main float, the wing is actually sitting on a frame at the leading and trailing edges of the wing, this frame is fixed to the float. I also fitted the seat assembly. I fitted the engine bearers to the engine and once the glue was dry I then fitted the radiator. I added the forward and rear mounting frame to the engine bearers and have just temporarily positioned the engine into the bottom wing, a lot more frame work needs to be made and fitted to the engine bearers and under the bottom wing, these extra frame will add a lot of rigidity to the whole engine/wing assembly.

I made the two fuel tanks from styrene sheet, these were cut to size and the outer skin wrapped around three small baffles in each tank. The tanks were painted black then fitted to each side of the engine. I also added the copper water lines to the top of the radiator, these are made from 0.6mm copper wire. The propeller was a four bladed prop cut down to a two bladed prop. As can be seen all the tubing which makes up the frame work to mount the engine have all been fitted now and painted black.

The struts are made from bamboo toothpicks, they have been sanded flat on opposite sides to be 1.2mm thick, the strut was then sanded to give a more rounded appearance. I painted the struts with Humbrol clear orange then sprayed them with a clear coat. The strut support brackets are made from brass sheet bent to shape around the struts, a 0.4mm hole was drilled in the end and a short length of 0.4mm brass tube was soldered onto the bracket, the brackets were then painted black.

These three pictures show the struts just sitting very loosely in the bottom wing. I drilled 0.5mm holes in the wing then inserted each strut into its appropriate position, the length of the struts still has to be determined then they will be cut and a mounting bracket, similar to the bottom ones, will be fitted to the top of each strut. The propeller is also shown here in it’s finished state.  

These two close-up photos show the fuel tank mounted to the side of the engine bearers, there is a tank on each side of the engine. I still need to add the fuel feed lines from the tap to the carburettor. A good view can also be seen of the strut sitting in its support bracket which in turn is sitting in the wing.

Work has recommenced after a long break, I suffered a severe back injury which prevented me from sitting at my work bench for three weeks, hopefully I will be able to catch up on lost time.

The top wing has been made and fitted. I made small rigging brackets from flattened aluminium tube with 0.4mm holes for the rigging wire. The wing section connecting brackets on top of the top wing are also made from flattened aluminium tube. At this stage there is no rigging so the wing is just self supporting, it has dropped a little at the outer ends of the wings but this will be rectified with the rigging.

The wing rigging is now complete. I used 0.12mm monofilament pre stretched then fitted using small 0.5mm brass sleeves and CA. As each bay was completed I painted the mono with Mr Metal Color Stainless, I didn’t polish the wires for this model as the salt water would tarnish the wires very quickly. I had to apply quite a bit of tension to some of the lines to get the wings to sit level, this is the advantage of using mono over stretchy line. The propeller has now been fixed in position.

The two tail booms have been fabricated from 0.8mm brass tube, the tubes have been soldered together which gives a good solid bond. The tail plane, elevators and rudder have been made from styrene sheet and I used Bob’s Strippers as frame and rib tapes, they have been painted using Gunze H.85 Sail Colour. I Did the shading using black pastels and a small stiff brush. Once the pastels were applied I lightly sprayed using the Sail Colour again until the desired effect was achieved, once dry I sprayed them with a clear coat.

I made the two wing tip floats from 5.0mm plastic rod, I turned the ends in my small watchmakers lathe. All the brackets and metal straps are made from aluminium coke can material cut to size, shaped and drilled, they are glued to the plastic tube with CA. The wing tip float flippers are held in place with thin strips of Tamiya tape and CA. The two small brass tubes are for the side bracing.

The wing tip floats have been painted using a 50/50 mix of Gunze Gloss black and Gunze Tyre black. Once dry the floats were fitted to the 0.4mm brass tube protruding through the bottom of the wing which formed part of the strut mountings, a drop of CA at each point holds it securely. The side bracing brass tube was also added and CA’d in place. The flat metal piece protruding past the end of the float is call a Wing Tip Float Flipper.

The tail booms are now fitted the the wings, I used 1.2mm brass tube to form the mounting brackets top and bottom. At this stage the tail assembly is just sitting in position for a trial fit. I made and fitted all the brackets for the tail assembly for the rigging, these were made from flattened 0.7mm aluminium tube with two 0.4mm holes drilled, one to take the 0.4mm brass tube mounting pin and the other will take the rigging line, there are 26 small brackets including the two on the top and bottom of the rudder.

I painted the bamboo tail booms (brass tube) with Humbrol No.63. The bamboo bands were made from Tamiya tape cut to 1.0mm wide then coloured black using a black permanent marker. I cut the strip into 4.0mm lengths then at 10.0mm intervals wrapped the tape around the booms, once they were all applied I ran a small amount of CA around each band just for added security. I also cut 0.4mm styrene into small gussets and glued them into the corners to take the rigging. I used Humbrol No.33 matt black to paint the remainder of the black areas on the booms. The bamboo is a little too yellow to my liking so I may give it a coat of clear orange.

I made and fitted the two skid fins (side curtains either side of the engine), these were made as per the plans and fitted using thin strips of Tamiya tape, after they were fitted I applied CA. The two ailerons have also been made, they have been made from styrene sheet. I used Bob’s Strippers as the ribs and painted it after using pastel powder to simulate the shading. I have also made the small brackets to hold the rigging, they are made from flattened 0.6mm aluminium tube then cut to 2.0 lengths, a 0.4mm hole was drilled in each end then the bracket was bent to the appropriate angle at its centre. The “A” frame supports were made from brass tube then fitted to the ailerons using CA. I will be using elastic rigging thread for the rigging, this will put less strain on the thin ailerons as what the mono would.

I rigged the ailerons before they were fitted to the struts, I used 0.12mm monofilament and 0.5mm brass tube, CA holds it all together. I also fitted the control rigging for the ailerons, this runs from behind the seats, there is a small bracket fixed to the seat, then it runs through a pulley and through a guide tube then to the ailerons.

This picture gives an overhead view of the entire aeroplane, as you can see the ailerons protrude past the length of the wings. All that is left to do now is the rigging on the tail.

I completed the tail rigging by using a combination of ModelKasten elastic rigging thread and my usual monofilament. The only thing left to do is to add the control cables for the rudder and elevators, these will be done with mono then painted with Mr Metal Color Stainless.