PHOTOS BY LARRY PIERCE
Larry Pierce and his Miles Messenger M-38
The M-38 project taking shape on the workbench. Larry started it in 2009.
Like most people in Canada we all like to follow each other's projects on the Internet, and I was blown away with the skill level of Larry Pierce. Larry is from Wasaga Beach, Ontario, is into scale and builds everything completely from scratch—he even hand draws his own plans! Larry said he started his Miles Messenger M-38 build on November 8, 2009, and flew it for the first time on September 19, 2011. The plane is a British-made, private plane designed by Miles. The M-38 was a pre-war design that also served as a liaison/communications plane during WW II. I got the chance to meet Larry at the Kingston IMAA Giant Scale Rally and asked him about his M-38. Here's what Larry had to say.
Why did you select this plane as a scale subject?
I have some basic rules I always follow. First, can I achieve a reasonably good-flying model, and in the case of the Messenger, it filled the bill in many ways: It was a Miles aircraft, it was a STOL (short takeoff and landing) airplane, its undercarriage was interesting, the flaps were huge and it was a warbird.
You did a great job. Tell us about the build.
“Everything is handcrafted including the moulding, the windshields, etc. The build included hand-machined landing gear. I added two degrees of washout on the wings and the plane is powered by a DLE 55cc engine. It's a sweet, reliable-running powerplant. The plane is balsa sheeted and all covered with one ounce fiberglass cloth on the fuselage and ¾ ounce cloth on the wings and tail group. I tried a new epoxy resin called “51 Cure” which cleans up with alcohol, sands really well and doesn't gum up the sandpaper. The paint is Latex. Lots of time was invested in the instrument panel and cockpit detail. The plane weighs 24 to 25 pounds and this makes for a lightly loaded wing. It's a real floater!
Really, I build for pleasure, however, I do manage to compete in scale contests like the Kwartha Lakes Scale event now and then. I never do very well due to nerves and not enough references.
What about the first flight?
The test fly day for the M-38 was a bit windy. The DLE-55 ran spot on and the M-38 lifted off in about 20 feet. No trim changes were required-all trims stayed in the center position. The model is fast for its size but can be slowed down for landing. Full flaps were deployed at a good height and other than the model slowing way down, there were again, no trim changes needed. All landings were done with flaps in the up position and the first approach way too fast. I had to slow the speed way down. Looks like wheel lands are the best for this model!
The detail in the cockpit is amazing. Everything is handcrafted.
A labor of love—here the tailfeathers are being fit into place.
This is the highly detailed rudder pedal assembly. Even the company name is molded in place.
The Miles M-38 ready for its first flight!