This is a delightful model of a curious tiny aircraft - the first ultralight - built in 1909 by Mr. Santos-Dumont in Paris. Like others in this series, it is printed on colored paper of several weights to produce the various parts. More than most paper models, the original structure is duplicated in paper - one gets a good sense of how the original actually went together. The designer makes liberal use of temporary jigs to make sure that all the parts are exactly aligned. They are printed on a separate bright yellow sheet - glue this first to the cardboard stiffener that came with the kit and you will be ready to use them as they come up in the construction. The instructions are copious, well written, and humorous, with lots of sketches and drawings, but they are in German. The kits are very "user friendly". There are lots of sketches and drawing to help, and all the critical pieces are duplicated, so that if you goof up, you can try it again. The other thing to do before you start the actual model is to make a goodly supply of stiffened thread - this is needed for the wheel spokes and the rigging. I do this with black cotton thread, which I hang with a weight. I then drip thin cyanoacrylate down the thread, and also run a glue stick along it - there may be other glues that would work too, and I am still experimenting. Many of the parts are given thickness by gluing two or three layers together. With the thin paper, my Aleene's glue tended to warp and buckle the paper. UHU Bond All or another waterless glue is what you need here.
You start with the three long tubular spars that form the fuselage structure. I suspect the originals were bamboo. I rolled and glued them around a stiff wire, so that they would be strong enough, and cut the wire with tin snips. Then these three are placed in a jig with three holes drilled in it, so that they are in exactly the right position, and you glue the other ends together. The two lower spars butt against each other, and the upper one is attached to them with a tiny connecting tube of paper. That end of the structure rests on a prop while it dries. You wrap little strips of paper at the marked locations along the length of the tubes, forming the joint points of the structure, and you add all the other tubular elements, cutting them to fit and gluing them in place. Only after this has all dried do you take up the tin snips and cut the fuselage structure free of the jig.
The wing is made in two pieces. Each is built up within with a king of rib structure that is built up from strips of paper of varying lengths. If you curve these slightly as they are drying, they will hold the wing in shape nicely. The forward leading edge of each wing is cut back to give clearance to the propeller - (surely Mr. Dumont miscalculated something here?), and a built up strip of brown paper forms the leading edge along this cut away. Once you have the "ribs" and the "leading edge spar" built up and in place on the lower surface, you just fold the top surface down of the m, and glue it into place, being sure that it is all aligned. After both wings are formed, you glue them together, and glue special strips over the central joint, using a jig to maintain the dihedral as it dries. Once the wing is finished, you join it to the fuselage by building the final jig, that holds the wing and the fuselage in the right position. You roll the tubes that finish the forward fuselage structure and glue them int place, joining fuselage to wing while it is all on the jig. I used wire inside several of these structural tubes in order to have a rigid and sturdy model. The seat is a basket like affair that fits between the two lower fuselage tubes, I glued the extra duplicate seat to the back of the seat so the basketry is visible on both sides. The flying controls, a handle and a tiny wheel, are mounted on the tubes at the very front of the structure. The motor is a tiny gem - two cylinders, with wire magnetos, a simple brass colored tube sticking up behind that must be the carburetor, and a tiny brass fuel tank. The tank is held onto the plane by little gray straps that wrap around it and attach to the top of the wing. The tail feathers are cut out, glued back to back, glued to each other to form a cruciform fin and elevator, and attached to the end of the upper fuselage spar.
Now you can turn to the wheels. These are unique structures. The idea is to use the stiffened thread as spokes, and trap them between two rings of paper that form the tire. First take one of the tire pieces, that has marks showing where the spoke threads will go, and cut out the inner circle, but leave the surrounding paper attached to the tire. You then glue bits of stiffened thread, in pairs, across that hole - each thread is glued down to the marks, and let this dry. Then take another tire piece, and cut out the inside of that hole (a little circle cutter comes in handy here), again leaving the outside circle uncut. You glue this down onto the other tire, so that the threads are between them - a thread sandwich as it were - being careful to align the holes. This should be held under some flat weight as it dries. Then cut around the outside circle, through the fringe of threads and all, and you have a dandy little wheel. Glue the tiny axle disks on to the center and it is done. This plane takes three of these wheels, to make up the undercarriage. The two main wheels are fitted with short tubular axles sticking out on either side, and attached to the fuselage structure - it helps to use the final assembly jig while these dries.
A few other stray parts, and it is ready to rig. Here, the key is a fine pair of tweezers, patience and a steady hand. I cut each little piece of rigging to fit by eye, and place it with a dab of white glue at either end. The drawings in the instructions and the photo on the front sheet give you ample and clear advice for this.
The final model is amazingly small and delicate, though sturdy with the wires inside the structure. I suspended mine from the ceiling to keep it out of harms way. The wings are so short and stubby that it hard to see how it ever actually got off the ground. As a model, this is moderately difficult one, because of the number of tiny parts that easily jump off a table onto the carpet. However, because it is simple and relatively straightforward, it is a good introduction to the series of Old Timers that this designer has produced. The design is clever, the ft is excellent, and the instructions clear and well illustrated, though an English translation would be useful.
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This page was created by:
Saul H. Jacobs M.Ed.
Avionics Specialist, United States Air Force (Retired)
Microcomputer Technology, Pima Community College (Retired)