Modifying a Flying Styro Me-262A
by Rob Caso
(see photos below)
The “262” is way up there on the list of my “85 favorite airplanes”. Aside from its “means business” shark-like looks, the 262 embodied a number of technical achievements and at least one significant first: it was the first operational jet fighter. Giving the Allies a real scare when it appeared in 1944 (“what the heck was that?”), it was never built in enough quantity (1,443 units) nor had enough reliability to effect an alternate outcome to WWII. Engine longevity, spare parts availability, fuel problems and the metallurgy of the day conspired to limit the operational readiness of the aircraft. When it did appear in combat however, nothing could touch it, forcing Allied aircraft to poach it while landing or taking off. Even though they were on the “wrong” side, you have to give the pilots a lot of credit to go to battle in a 540mph experimental aircraft, produced under primitive conditions by forced labor that couldn’t wait for the opportunity to omit a few rivets, or worse.
Fan, motor and duct upgrade:
The model had sat on my shelf too long before I got the nerve to get it going. Having no prior experience with ducted fans, I kept walking by the model thinking to myself “someday”. My procrastination paid off however as, in the mean time, ducted fan and motor technology had improved greatly. Victory comes to those who procrastinate. The 5-blade fans were designed using solid modeling technology and the compact Ammo motors give me significantly more thrust than the recommended units. Since I am such a bad pilot, I figured I needed all the help I could get.
The fan’s instructions are very clear and even I had an easy time assembling them. I took the time to scrape off the mold parting seams on the various parts using a rounded Xacto blade. Be careful if you do this to the moving parts. I installed the nose cone on the impeller, but omitted the front duct housing flange since I was going to fabricate ducts fore and aft. The kit calls for (and supplies) stiff paper for the ducts, but this seemed too crude for me and my perfectionism and I also felt that they might not stand up to the motor upgrade.
I decided to make fiberglass ducts from a “poor man’s mold” (actually, a “lazy man’s mold”) comprised of an appropriately sized tube which, of course, didn’t exist in my shop. Finding a slightly undersized plastic tube, I wound paper around this until I had the correct OD (ie., the fan housing OD) and then covered it with a layer of wax paper. I was not out of the woods yet as the duct needed to neck down to the nacelle’s exhaust opening. I cut a series of discs from ¼” balsa with a ¼” hole drilled in their centers. The first disc matched the OD of my modified plastic tube and the last, the ID of the nacelle’s exhaust. The discs in between connected the dots. After affixing the discs to a ¼” dowel, I spun this by hand in my lathe (a drill press would work) while applying Evercoat auto body putty and then sanded until I reached the edges of the discs. I made one more disc that just fit in the end of my plastic tube and taped the tapered plug to the end and covered it with packaging tape. A little wax and I was ready for the schmutz, which consisted of two layers of 2oz glass cloth and epoxy finishing resin. This worked perfectly and I was able to make both ducts from the same setup. I had to cut lengthwise along the taper to release the duct from the plug and then I glassed the seam back together once I had wrestled the part free. Miraculously, the straight end of the duct fit over the fan housing perfectly and the tapered end also fit the nacelle. One “after action” recommendation; make the plug long enough so that when you section the ducts, you wind up with both fore and aft pieces. In other words, don’t do it like I did.
I wanted the ability to remove the fans from the nacelles. The kit says to glue them in, but, see above. Also, if you glue them in, you have no good way of determining that they are installed “zero-zero” on the bulkhead since everything’s buried. I fabricated four 1/16” ply rings that slid tightly over the fan housing, gluing one to each of the forward nacelle bulkheads (Part #94) and one to the fan housings. Use the molded flange on the fan to properly align its ring. I sanded the bulkhead ring slightly to allow a smooth but positive fit when I installed the fan through the front of the nacelle. The two rings were also predrilled to accept (6) 0×1/4” sheet metal screws.
To mount everything, first install #94 as shown in the instructions, taking equal measurements from the front of the nacelle in 90 degree increments. Once it’s located, epoxy it in and inst
all the fan. Test fit bulkhead #95 in the nacelle and test fit the entire nacelle to the forward slot in the wing. Mark #95’s location in the nacelle and tack glue it in with epoxy. Slice the rear of the nacelle at the top of its exhaust and slide in the duct through #95 and over the fan. If it all looks good, remove the duct and glue in #95 permanently. Reinstall the duct and epoxy this in and the cut in the nacelle. Install the aft half bulkhead (inexplicably also numbered “95”) after test fitting it to the wing. Cut into the duct to access the wires, hook up the ESC and check the fan’s rotation. Note – if you are making the nacelles removable, it is not critical that each #95 bulkhead be perfectly aligned with wing slots – just get them close.
Considering my newness to “EDF land”, I hated the thought of not being able to completely remove the nacelles. With the mounting ring mod above, the fan is easy to remove but you still have to get to the leads. This would be impossible if you glue the nacelle to the wing. I therefore made (2) lite ply box-like nacelle mounts which are attached to the bottom of each wing panel and key into each nacelle. These tie into the wings’ spars and are not unlike the prototype’s setup.
The idea here is that each nacelle would have a corresponding box that slips over its mount on the wing and is bolted thereto. Both nacelle bulkheads’ (#95) mounting tabs must be sawed off, a 1/16” ply frame is built inside of each nacelle and the wing’s box is built inside this. Everything is then drilled together for the screws. A further twist here is that the nacelle’s forward mounting point to the wing must moved to the rear of the main spar so that the forward tab on the box slides up through the wing and is glued to the back of the main spar. All this is easy to see in the photos. I also lightly glassed the inside of each nacelle.
If you make the nacelles removable, you should do the wing also. I went with a standard setup here – 3/16” dowels in the front and a bolt in the back. Before joining the wings, I laminated 1/64” ply to the main dihedral brace and also installed balsa sheet “fences” inside each wing so that when the brace was installed blind, I knew it was being forced against the main spar. I also made two balsa half ribs to tie the spar to the forward wing mount. 1/8” balsa front and rear fuselage bulkheads were fabricated to accommodate the wing’s dowels and mounting screw. Face the forward bulkhead with 1/64” ply and install it after drilling for the dowels. Set the wing in the saddle, tape it to the fuselage and then mark and drill for the dowels.
I didn’t want the rear hold down screw bearing against a foam wing, so I drilled a large hole through the wing and installed a generous ply bearing plate on top having a hole just large enough for the mounting screw. After covering the aft section of the wing with wax paper, I taped it to the fuselage and, working through the cockpit, tack glued a corresponding plate to the rear bulkhead. I removed the wing and beefed up the plate with triangles. Then I reinstalled the wing and drilled the plate for the screw and installed a captive nylon nut to accept the screw. I also beefed up the wing saddle with pieces of soft 1/8” square. I left the plastic wing fillets on the fuselage during this process. They were fighting me the whole way so if I were to do this again, I would remove them and reinstall them once the wing’s mounting system was finished.
Removable nose cone:
The model comes with the nose cone as a separate piece, so I turned it into a battery access. This took a little doing since you’re essentially starting with a built model, working from the outside in and can’t see anything. The plan was to make two bulkheads, one for the fuselage and one in the cone that mate together with dowels and magnets. Fabricate (2) lite ply bulkheads that just fit into the nose cone about 3/8” deep – tack glue them together and sand their edges to a taper for a good fit into the cone. Drill them to accept 1/8” dowels and magnets; install these and cut out the centers of the bulkheads. Separate the tack joint and fit the bulkheads (the magnets now holding them together) into the cone and continue to test fit the cone up to the fuselage until the cone mates perfectly. Apply a couple dots of epoxy on the inside edge of fuselage opening, fit up the cone and tape it. If you apply too much you will glue everything to the fuselage. Remove the cone (leaving its bulkhead attached to the fuselage) and apply a couple of dots of epoxy to the inside of the cone, but see the last sentence. Tape the whole mess again to the model. If you did it right, when you remove the cone again, you will be left with a bulkhead on the model and a mating bulkhead in the cone. Securely glue each of the bulkheads. I later removed the gun channels and fabricated separate parts that were more accurate. These were attached to the fuselage – see the photos.
While this modification is not really necessary, it fit my adage: “anything worth doing is worth doing to excess” and I like the look of functional rudder. The rudder is conveniently provided as a separate piece; start by cutting 3/16” off its LE. Mark off for the hinges, and embed a few chunks of balsa at these locations and sand flush. Sparingly epoxy on a piece of medium 3/8” sheet, already cut close to the rudder’s thickness. Sand the LE flush with the sides of the rudder, sand in a taper from 3/8” at the bottom to ¼” at the top, round it out and fill the seam with spackle. I doped the new LE and notched it at the hinge locations. Install the 1/16” Robart hinge points by starting the hole with a large “T” pin – a drill readily follows. .
On the fin’s TE, vertically slice in a “V” with one edge very close to the model’s skin. This is a game of millimeters, the idea being that the rudder’s LE should nest inside the fin’s TE. Use a Dremel tool to further round out the inside, being careful not to disturb the skin. Cut a few chunks of 3/16” sanded to a “V” for the fin’s hinge mounts and drill 1/16” holes in each and fit them to the hinges – dry. Fit this assembly up to the fin and make adjustments to the both the hinge mounts and to the fin until the rudder slides in and nests. Also make sure it’s on center. When this looks good, place the hinge blocks back on the rudder, lightly epoxy the blocks and slide the whole assembly in the fin. When this cures, remove the rudder, install the stab/elevator and then the rudder, this time permanently.
Full cockpit and opening canopy:
With no propeller on the nose, people will automatically attempt to see what’s in the cockpit so it had better look the part. I don’t like flying a scale model with no pilot in the cockpit, but pilots tend to hide all your hard work so I made the seat replaceable with a scale pilot. The kit provides a fairly accurate cockpit tub, basic panels and a ¾ pilot. I made the tub removable and being able to work on it as a “model in a model” was very convenient.
As most of the details were made from plastic sheet, strip, rod and tube, there is no real magic here, but a couple of things. For the instrument bezels, I wrapped copper wire around steel rods of various OD’s and cut the wire across two winds while still on the rod. Mount the instrument face to a square of painted plastic sheet, lay the painted bezel on this and apply thinned white glue over the face. This will affix the bezel and create a “glass” lens. The eye-catching gun sight was made from balsa faced with thin plastic and dressed with plastic rod, tubing and clear sheet for the reflective sight.
An open canopy says “hey, look in here” but you don’t want it parting company at Mach .75. Such a dilemma, since I wanted to show off the cockpit. The canopy is supplied in two parts; a white plastic bubble with framework (nice!) and a clear smooth bubble that fits underneath. I separated the opening section (the “hood”), cut out the glass areas and affixed the fore and aft sections to the fuselage. I gave the edges a swipe of spackle to fair them in to the fuselage so they don’t look “slapped on” and sealed the filler with Polycrylic. I framed out both the hood and the fore and aft open areas with ply and installed hinges on the right of the hood. On the left side of the hood, a couple of 1/8” magnets, one in the cockpit sill and one on the hood’s frame, do the trick keeping the draft out. Don’t forget the handle on the roof inside the hood and the stay cable that keeps it from flopping over when open.
I wanted to eliminate any visible molding seams in its foam skin and this required a repaint. Changing the scheme was a primary motive as I hate showing up to a party with the same costume as somebody else. I chose Heinz Bar’s 262 – “Red 13” – the #2 jet ace. I liked the RLM 81/83 scheme and I felt that the number would cancel any bad luck!
I sanded the fuselage seams with 320 and prepared a mix of Minwax Polycrylic and vinyl spackling putty. This really sticks to the foam skin but use it sparingly as it will sand harder than the surrounding foam. Do not use solvent based fillers! I sealed these areas with a coat of Polycrylic; if you don’t, they will show through the paint. Testor’s Model Master does not attack foam and comes in Luftwaffe colors, so I used this for the refinish. I compared the kit’s splinter scheme against my references and it is accurate (cudos to Flying Styro!), so I masked to the kit’s scheme to apply the new colors. The fuselage mottling was done with a single action airbrush which takes a little practice on a piece of poster board. Shoot at about 10-15 lbs pressure with the paint mixed to a milky consistency.
I painted my markings, but the kit decals were very nice, albeit delicate to apply. Make sure you apply them over a gloss surface – Testor’s gloss or Future floor polish works for this. Use Solvaset decal solution to get the decals to snuggle down on the model. The panel lines were done in gray felt marker and protected with a spritz of Testor’s Dullcoat.
Is all this too much work? Yes and no. One could simply scoff and say that “it’s just a foamie”. On the other hand, I say that the model is a scale diamond in the rough. Its outlines are good (although the nacelles are a little out of scale), it’s intelligently engineered and the fan/motor upgrade gives it some serious smoke. Although I always wanted a 262, I was not about to build a large, complex and costly fiberglass jet turbine but yet I wanted something representative of the real thing. With the upgrades, the Flying Styro model fits this requirement perfectly. Plus, you certainly don’t see them everyday and you won’t get passed by 1/12 scale Mustangs at the field.
· German Aircraft Interiors 1935-1945 Vol. I, Merrick, ISBN 0-914144-41-3
· German Jet Aces of Word War 2, Moran/Weal, ISBN 1-85532-634-5
· Modelling the Messerschmitt Me-262, Green/Oehler, ISBN 1-84176-800-6
· Stormbird Colors, Green/Evans, ISBN 0966070690
· Walk Around #42 Messerschmitt Me-262, Stapfer, ISBN 0-89747-500-3
· Me-262 Vols. 1-4, Smith/Creek ISBN 1-903223-10-5, 0-9526867-32, 1-903223-00-8, 1-903223-040
· Messerschmitt Me-262 Arrow to the Future, SPAN>Boyne, ISBN 0-87474-276-5
· Project 262 The Test Pilot’s Journal, Czaia, ISBN 978-3-9811615-0-2
· Luftwaffe Camouflage and Markings, 1935-1945, Vols. 1-2, Merrick, ISBN 1-903223-38-5, 1-903223-39-3
· Official Monogram Painting Guide to German Aircraft 1935-1945, Merrick/Hitchcock, ISBN 0-914144-29-4
· Luftwaffe Colors 1935-1945, Ullmann, ISBN 1-902109-34-1
A 2” drum sander is useful for enlarging the bulkhead openings. Use a circle template first to plot the enlargement.
The duct is cut after taking measurements from the exhaust opening to bulkhead #94. Use tape to guide the cut.
1/16” ply rings are applied to bulkhead #95 and to the fan housing to provide the ability to remove the unit. The ply ring for the fan is 3/16” wide and barely fits through the front opening in the nacelle. The flange applied to the bulkhead provides a base to accept the 0×1/4” sheet metal screws.P>
I sprayed the paper wrapped tube with artist’s adhesive to affix the wax paper. No release agent is needed when applying epoxy resin over the wax paper.
From upper left to lower right: the fan unit, the finished glass duct, the plastic tube mold and the tapered plug for the exhaust end.
Applying the two layers of glass cloth and epoxy to the plug. Note that the glass applied to the rear of plug must be cut and overlapped to allow it to go over the conical section in the plug. When applying the second layer of glass, offset the seams.
A look at the finished glass fan duct prior to cutting. Be smarter than me and make the constant end long enough to provide both the inlet and exhaust parts. You will have a few bumps, glumps and waves, but anything is better than the paper idea. Plus, it looks really cool when you sight through the nacelle. The 9 7/8” long aft tubes are extremely strong and won’t flex at full clap, putting the thrust where you need it.
The duct test installed in the nacelle. Note the cut in the rear of the nacelle to allow the duct to be installed from the aft end.
An epoxy/glass streamlined tube was fabricated over a piece of wood and wax paper and is used to fair in the motor leads. Note the marks on the nacelle that were used to line up the bulkheads with the wing slots.
Each forward duct measures 4 1/16” long and its OD fits the plastic nacelle inlet cover perfectly. If you glue the duct to the inlet as a unit the assembly can then be white glued to the nacelle, making it easy to get off. I drilled a bleed air hole (jet terminology) in each duct and also in the bulkheads to get some air to the ESC’s which reside above the ductwork in the nacelle. An exit hole was drilled on the inboard side of each nacelle.
Here, my mix of Minwax Polycrylic and spackle has been applied and sanded off to eradicate the mold parting seam on the model’s skin. Use 220-320 paper to smooth the seam prior to filling, but go lightly and do not “grind” the foam skin; wet sanding is also an option. After filling and sanding, prime the area with more Polycrylic.
I cut the glass sections from the painted canopy, separated the hood and installed a framework. Use the cuts as a template to plot the clear sections. Another way is to keep the canopy as one piece, install the framework on the model and then separate. Note the hinges and magnet on the hood. Hinges consist of a brass cotter pin into which was soldered a tube and through this goes brass wire which is glued into a groove in the bottom of the hood’s framework. I had initially separated the tail of the aft section which was a mistake – here it is being rejoined.
The most tedious part of the redo was installing the clear canopy sections. When I cut away the “glass” areas from the opaque canopy included in the kit, I left a small flange onto which I planned to glue the clear glazing. This worked pretty well. The three windshield pieces are flat so I cut them from butyrate sheet and then rounded the corners and beveled the edges. Put dots of “Formula 560” (water based white glue) in the corners and install the glazing – the glue will dry clear. With a brush, apply a thinned coat of glue around the perimeter of the glazing to lock it in.
Here the clear bubble canopy section is being plotted so that it can be sectioned to fit in the framework. Of course, cut it larger than you need and keep working it down a millimeter at a time until it just fits in the framework’s recess, but does not fall through the opening. Remove the plotting lines before installing the section.
The cockpit tub, seat and instrument panel are very basic but, when compared against my “German Aircraft Interiors 1935-1945” reference, are surprisingly accurate. We can make them better. Nevertheless, Flying Styro did their scale homework on this model.
Detail hounds will not be able to stop adding stuff to the cockpit since it’s a key focal point on this model. Most of it was done with plastic sheet, strip, rod and tube. The removable cockpit tub makes the detailing easy to do. Test fit the tub and the canopy frequently during the process as the gun sight is a tight fit.
The fin’s internal area along its TE is relieved to accommodate the rudder’s LE and the hinge blocks (next!). The rudder is notched to align the hinge points on its rotational center.
The nacelle’s wing mount is shown here along with the framing applied between its bulkheads. The box like wing mount slips into the nacelle and the whole mess is bolted up with (4) 4-40 screws. The tabs on the mount go up through the wing skin and are epoxied to the fore and aft spars. Note also the extended 18 gauge leads to the ESC and the 9” servo extension
The nacelle mount installed on the wing. I glued the mount to the wing with the nacelle installed to ascertain a proper fit, but be extra careful with the glue. The notched ply in the rear keys to a corresponding notch in the aft nacelle bulkhead.
Make a pair of covers for the aft section of the nacelles from plastic sheet. Using the stock parts would make the nacelle difficult to remove. Note the cooling air exit hole on the inboard side of the nacelle.
The nose cone is turned into a battery access with the addition of two mating bulkheads held together with magnets.
Here’s all you need to make the (4) 30mm machine gun channels for the nose which consist of 7/32” plastic tube cut at an ang
le and ellipses of .015” sheet. I cut the molded channels off the nose cone, ground some foam away from the fuselage and epoxied these in, fitting the cone frequently during the process. The original channel is on the right. Numerous accounts describe the 262’s firepower as “devastating”. The weight of firepower from a P-47’s eight .50 cal machine guns for a three second burst was 20lbs. The 262’s: 96lbs and the shells were explosive.
I also added the characteristic shell casing ejection ports by framing out plastic sheet over a piece of balsa to form an opened ended box. These were very easy to do – use the molded lines on the fuselage for sizing the balsa strip and box out from there. Epoxy them in from the inside. Each detail adds a little more to render an overall impression of realism.
For the forward mount, I faced a piece of 1/8” balsa with 1/64” ply and drilled the holes prior to installation. The rear 1/8” balsa bulkhead has a 3/16” sheet support between it and the aft foam bulkhead as well as 1/16” sheet at the corners for support. Note the liberal use of glass and epoxy and the stiffeners around the wing saddle area. The instructions call for a solid ply plate to across the wing root, but I modified this idea to accommodate the removable cockpit tub, making the plate lighter in the process.
A shot prior to the repaint and another good look at the MG channels. The only remaining parts to be installed are the canopy and the forward nacelle fairings.
Another photo prior to the repaint.
A shot of the model just after painting – the upper surfaces are a lightened RLM 81/83 and a washed out RLM 76 for the undersides. These are typical late war colors and were specifically called out for Bar’s aircraft per my resources. Starting to look good, but still a bit too “model like”. We can fix that. Note the turntable that I use to spin around small models during the painting and weathering process.
I removed some of the masking tape’s tack after applying it to the edge of a section of cheap aluminum foil. This method was used for masking the splinter camouflage, as well as for the general areas around the markings and weathering along panel lines. Note that these may be reused a number of times. The masks for the markings were made from clear shelf paper with the foil masks applied to this.