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Carl’s Colossal Convair Cosmo

Carl’s Colossal Convair Cosmo

When it comes to thinking really big, Model Airplane News contributor and giant scale guru, Carl Bachhuber can usually be counted on to come up with something truly amazing. Producing one of these modeling monsters takes a surprisingly short period of time for Carl and his newest project, the Convair 580 airliner took him only six months to build. We caught up with Carl to get the inside story on his amazing airliner. Here’s what we learned.

Carl, you come up with these colossal projects on a pretty regular basis, tell something about the process for your Convair 580.

I started working on the project in September 2011 enlarging Don Smith’s 132-inch span Convair 440 plans. I also modified the drawings as the nacelles needed to be redrawn to simulate a Convair 580 or Canadair CC-109 Cosmopolitan.  Canadair was a Canadian subsidiary of Convair which manufactured the plane as a VIP military transport. Actual building began in October, 2011 and continued through April of 2012.  So it took about 8 months from drawing to first flight.

Video by Rich Behrend

What about the construction method and hardware?

The model is constructed primarily of lite ply and balsa covered with fiberglass cloth and epoxy. Most of the molds for the formed fiberglass parts were made using various silicone rubber molds depending on the number of parts required to get the parts off of the plug master. The plane uses 18 Hitec servos and is powered with two of Horizon’s Evolution 80 engines turning 22×10 4-bladed props.  The radio is a Futaba 12FG 2.4GHz. The wheels and brakes are from Robart Mfg. The landing gear was designed and built by my good friend Bob Walker the retired founder of Robart Mfg.

Is there anything special, besides the span, in making such big wings?

No, not really. The wings are built up in typical balsa and light-plywood fashion using balsa and basswood front and rear spars. The outboard wing panels are attached with an aluminum joiner tube which slides into a mating aluminum socket tube. The Cosmo spans 200 inches and with a fuselage length of approximately 156 inches the plane is about 16 percent of full scale.  Weight is 105 pounds.

What about its beautiful finish?

Having some great Canadian friends required me to use the Canadian CC-109 Cosmopolitan Canadair livery. The plane is prepared just like you were going to paint it with fiberglass cloth and resin and lots of sanding and priming to produce a smooth surface. However, instead of silver paint, I use a polyester mylar product used by sign makers called “Orafol” which comes with a bright chrome color finish. It has an adhesive backing and I apply panels of the material to replicate the look of the polished aluminum finish of the full-size airplane. The material also accepts painted trim nicely and I used Krylon spray paint but most anything can be used.

How does the Airplane perform?

Being 105 pounds it does fly with an AMA waiver. The plane performs fairly well with the Biela 22×10 4-bladed props however, landings are another matter. I have had several embarrassing landings where the very effective Fowler flaps and 4 bladed props have very quickly slowed the plane to a stall situation. My “expert” handling of these situations has resulted in the replacement of several expensive 4 bladed props and broken gear mounts. I hope to improve my piloting skills after a brain transplant!  There is a YouTube flight video and more pictures on my webpage carlb-rcplanes.com/Convair580.html. One other special feature that usually garners a few chuckles is the aft side door opening and a Royal Canadian “Mountie” who makes an appearance after landings waving his hat and a Canadian flag.

Text by Palmer Johnson PHOTO CREDIT: Palmer Johnson & Carl Bachhuber

Updated: July 16, 2015 — 4:27 PM


Add a Comment
  1. Another great plane Carl!

  2. Love the Nav lights. Where did you get them?

  3. Beautiful!! Carl, Need a Fuel Can?

  4. I am dying to know how much materials for such a scaled model would cost, as well as how many hours were put in.



  5. Carl,

    You are simply the best I have seen!

  6. He was at our clubs 2012 War Birds Fly-in! This model is truly amazing! If you ever have the opportunity to check it out be sure to do so!

  7. I flew on one of these (the real plane, not the model) over to Andros Island about 1982. The pilots looked like they were about 12 years old. We had to unload the cargo when we arrived, but it was a good flight on an old airplane (the pilots handled the plane very well).
    Jim Vinson

  8. Very nice job, I think it would sound real nice using 4 stroke engines But nice job

  9. To My Friend-Carl—You have done it again Carl–I was hopeing to meet you at the warbirds over Deleware-7-14-2012–
    your new aircraft is out standing .Well done.–I wish you the best.
    and hope to meet you in the future…

    be safe and keep building–Jim K.

  10. I have seen two (B-36 & “Connie’) of Carl’s creations at Monster Planes a couple of years ago and his aircraft are outstanding. He is my hero!

    Bob Barth

  11. Man for such a big plane it just looked like it was floating! The vertical climb out was strong and the landing was feather soft! Great flight and flight characteristics!!!

  12. Like your flying, especially the landing. So many times we see models bounce on landing. Your landing made the plane look like the full size. Thanks for sharing your plane with us.

  13. Carl!
    Looking forward to seeing you @ Owatonna & Fond Du Lac!
    The Minnesota Guys

  14. Great model! Being a devoted scale modeller and also having flown the full size Convair 580 on night freight in New Zealand, I have often thought about modelling one – not quite so big though! To be strictly scale though, I would have to fly it at night – quite a daunting prospect!
    Here’s a thought for you though – even after 18,000 hrs flying, I found the 580 quite tricky to land – hope that cheers you up!.


  16. Carl,
    Your new 580 is a beauty. I look forward to seeing it in the air.
    OK, what’s next?
    Nick Ziroli

  17. Great to see a C-580 RC Model!

    I flew full scale 580’s for a few years and can tell you it was the hardest airplane to land well I ever flew.
    Once I learned to carry about 700 pounds of thrust on the engines all the way to the flare I finally was able to grease it on.
    if I ever learn to fly RC well maybe I’ll try to build a smaller version.

  18. Excellent Carl, I wish I had such talent.

  19. This is the best I have ever seen. Speechless I stand before a true guru of monster models. I wish I could have the plans and have a go at building such a beautiful bird. Congradulations and many thanks for sharing it with us.

    From impoverished Greece,
    Dimitris Papadopoulos

  20. if any one can help me plz tell me in my email id mbc.malik@hotmail.com i need find the turbine and digram for plan and turbine if any body can help tell me thanks

  21. I have a Canadian Air Force buddy who flew these things when Canada used them for VIP transport. Very nice job with the scale finish. A great airplane and an awesome dedication to the history of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

  22. Absolutely stunning Carl!

    My son is a pilot in the commercial strech version of the Convair 580, the 5800. I have been searching for plans so I can build the plane he flys daily. (Much smaller version than you built here). Can you point me in right direction of where I can find plans. Thanks and agian, you have a spectacula build.

  23. The full size Convair 580 is not easy to land well either.
    It took me a while to be able to land it well….

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