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On Sale Now! Plans for Fleet Model-2 Biplane by Pat Tritle

On Sale Now! Plans for Fleet Model-2 Biplane by Pat Tritle

Fleet Model 2-Biplane: got to: https://www.airagestore.com/plans/fleet-model-2-biplane.html

Construction Article from September 2011 issue of Model Airplane News (complete text)

By: Pat Tritle

The Fleet Model 1 was originally derived from the Consolidated Model 14 Husky Junior. The Husky derivatives were a series of two-seat trainer and sport biplanes produced in the United States and Canada in the late 1920s and early 30s. They all shared the same basic design and varied mainly in their power plants. They were all conventional biplanes with single-bay wings of equal span and fixed tailskid.

The Fleet Biplanes featured tandem seating with dual controls. The fuselage was made of welded steel tube and the wings had a wood spar with duralumin ribs, and were fabric-covered. Originally designed as a means for Consolidated Aircraft Co. to enter the civil market, the company abandoned this ambition shortly before the completion of the first prototype. The manufacturing rights were purchased by designer and Consolidated Aircraft company president Reuben Fleet to put into production himself under a new enterprise, Fleet Aircraft. The Fleet Biplane was an immediate success, and in the first year of production alone, over 300 airplanes were sold. Consolidated Aircraft quickly responded to the demand by buying Fleet Aircraft and retaining it as a subsidiary while opening a second production line at Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada. Canadian manufacture was also very successful with some 600 examples built for the Royal Canadian Air Force as the Fleet Fawn (Model 7) and Fleet Finch (Model 16). A small number of US-built Fleet Biplanes were purchased by the US military, including a batch evaluated by the United States Army Air Corps as the PT-16, though they were not bought in quantity. In addition, six specialized N2Y trainers were built for the United States Navy equipped with hooks to catch the trapeze on aircraft-carrying airships and were used to train F9C Sparrowhawk pilots.

The Model The Fleet Biplane was designed at 1:8 scale, with a 42-inch wingspan, as an electric powered 4 ch. R/C scale Park Flyer. The model is primarily of wood construction and features removable plug in wings for easy transport should it be necessary.  The Fleet is true to scale in outline and includes the air foiled lifting stabilizer which allows a more aft CG. There were also several different vertical fin and rudder configurations that were used on various Fleet models. This design features the Model 2 tail, but can be easily modified for any of the tail shapes used and still be accurate in outline.  Construction is “stick and tissue” style and incorporates laminated balsa outlines for the stabilizer and rudder to keep things strong and light.  The wings are of the more modern “egg crate” style for easy, accurate, and quick construction. The result is a strong, yet light airframe that allows the use of the economical Park 400 Outrunner motor on two cells for power, and delivers flight times of up to 20 minutes using a 1600 mah Li-Poly battery.  Also featured in the Fleet design is the vac-formed scale Kinner radial engine and cowl. Another unique feature of the Fleet Biplane is the landing gear cross bracing which by design is easy to build and is laid out in detail on the plans.

Building the Model Construction begins with making up the bowed outlines for the horizontal stabilizer and rudder. Patterns are provided on the plans for the templates that are made up from 3/16-inch thick Artists Foam Board. Select medium firm straight grained balsa for the bows. Glue the sticks together at one end to form a 1/8-inch Sq. cross section. Then soak the sticks in water for 30 minutes or so to soften them up. Tape the glued end of the wood to one end of the form and carefully pull the wood around the form and tape the inside layer to the form. Then run a bead of glue around the inside stick and pull the outer stick around it. Tape in place and set aside to dry.

Tail Section Build the rudder and stabilizer assemblies directly over the plans using the wood sizes shown. When the glue has dried thoroughly, remove the parts from the board and sand the edges to a radius. Cut the hinge slots and make up the hinges from 5/32-inch wide strips of light Cya hinge stock. Slip the hinges in place, but don’t glue them in until after the frames are covered.

Top Wing Begin construction with the Top Wing Center Section. Pin CMF, CMR and A5 in place over the plans. Assemble ribs CR1 and CR2 over the Main Spar A1 and glue it in place over the plans. Add the CR3 ribs and the 3/16-inch X 3/8-inch Balsa Leading Edge to complete the basic assembly. Remove the C-Section assembly from the board and sand to shape. Fit the 1/8-inch O. D. X 4 1/4-inch Joiner Tubes and glue in place. 

The wing outer panels are built directly over the plan. Begin by pinning A3 over the plan, and then glue the Main Spar A2 in place. Fit and glue Ribs R1, R2, R3 and R9 in place on the spar. The tip plates A4 and gussets A4A are glued in place next, followed by the Leading and Trailing edges. Remove the wing panels from the building board and sand to final shape. Finally, fit and glue the 5/32-inch O. D. Receiver Tubes into the wing to complete the wing assembly.

Bottom Wing  Pin SM1 in place on the plan, then align the Main Spar A6 and glue it in place.  Fit the Ribs and Rear Spar A7 in place and glue the assembly together. Fit and glue the Leading and Trailing edges in place followed by the Tip plates. Sand a bevel onto the bottom of the Aileron Spar A8 using the Aileron Hinge Detail drawing as a guide — be sure to make a L. H. and a R. H. spar.  Glue the Aileron Ribs AR1 in place on the outer ends of the spar, and then glue the aileron assembly onto the trailing edge followed by Ribs AR2 and A11. Fit and glue the strut hard points A9 and A10 in place, followed by the SM2 and SM3 Servo Mount gussets.

Remove the Wing Assembly from the board and sand to shape. Cut the aileron assembly from the wing, sand to final shape. Fit and glue the 5/32-inch Aluminum Joiner Tubes in place. Glue the aileron servos into the trays with silicone caulk and add the wire extensions as needed. And finally, fit the aileron hinges in place, but don’t glue them in until after the frames are covered.

Fuselage Build two Fuselage Side Frames directly over the Framing Drawing. Note that PRG is located on the R. H. side frame, glued in place flush with the outside edge. Make up the Cabane Mount Beam assemblies and the 1/8-inch X 1/4-inch balsa Landing Gear Mount Beams and pin the rear Beam in place over the plans.  Glue the Side Frames in place on the L. G. Beam followed by the Bottom Cross Pieces at B1, and top Formers 3, 4, and 5.

Block sand the tail post to match the angles shown and glue it together using Triangles to insure the proper vertical alignment. Fit and glue the bottom Cross Pieces and top formers in place.  Moving forward, align and glue the front bottom Cross Pieces, top formers and Cabane Mounts in place beginning with Former 2, and finally the Firewall. Note: The Firewall Motor Mount slots are offset to accommodate the built in right thrust. Use the Firewall Cross Section drawing as reference to insure proper orientation.

Fit and glue the 3/32-inch Sq. Balsa Top Stringers in place. Now the frame can be removed from the board and sanded to rough shape. Fit and glue the servo mounts as shown and install the servos and elevator push rod tube. Run in the rudder pull/pull cables and tie them off to the rudder control horn. Mark the exact location where the cables will exit the fuselage on the plans to be used later after the fuselage is covered. Glue the 1/16-inch X 1/8-inch Balsa Side Stringers in place on the Fuselage frame. Build up the Landing Gear Assembly as shown and lash it in place on the mount beams. Add the balsa gussets to the L. G. Beams as shown in the Section 2 and 4 detail drawings to complete the L. G. Mount. Build up the Tail Skid mount and glue it in place. Bend the Tail Skid from .046-inch dia. steel wire and fit it into the mount, but don’t glue it in place until after the fuselage is covered. Then using the pattern provided, make up the Cockpit Fairing from yellow File Folder and glue it in place on the fuselage.

Build up the motor mount assembly and glue it in place. Note that the right thrust is built into the mount. Mount the motor and ESC and check its operation to insure the motor is running the right direction of rotation.

Covering For the adventurous type, the Fleet can be covered with light Silkspan and dope, or with any of the light weight films such as Microlite or Nelson Litefilm. Whichever you choose, follow the manufacturers instructions for best results. Because the structure is very lightly built, I don’t recommend the use of materials like Solartex, Monocoat or Ultracoat due to their excessive weight and shrinking qualities. The prototype was covered with Dark Green and Yellow Microlite with vinyl graphics available from Callie Graphics. There are several different trim schemes available, so pick your favorite scheme and trim your model accordingly.

Final Assembly Begin with inserting the 1/8-inch O. D. X 8 1/2-inch long Brass lower wing tubes into the fuselage, center them, and glue them in place. Slip the bottom wing onto the joiners, and using the wing for reference, align and glue the tail-planes in place. Note that the horizontal stabilizer is glued to the 1/8-inck balsa spacers on top of the fuselage frame. Run in the elevator pushrod using .025 steel wire with a Z-Bend at both ends, and a V-Bend in a handy spot for adjustments should the need arise. Also note that the elevator is deflected downward about 3 degrees in the neutral position. Build two sets of Interplane Struts over the assembly drawing on the plan. Make up the Top Wing Incidence Jig from 3/16-inch Artists Foam Board. Insert the cabane struts into the mount beams and pin the Jig to the fuselage on the centerline. Plug the outer wing panels onto the center section and slip the center section onto the cabane struts, resting on the jig. Slip the Interplane Struts into the hard points on the wings and align the top wing to the bottom wings. When satisfied with the alignment, glue the Center Section onto the struts.

With a model as lightly loaded and inherently stable as the Fleet, washout is not all that critical. However, a degree or so of washout never hurts, so when setting up the Interplane struts, add a dab of washout. The amount is not nearly as critical as that all four tips have the same angle. The bottom wing has four degrees of dihedral built in, the top wing is flat. Once the set-up is achieved, glue the Interplane Struts in place. Though the scale Wing Rigging on the Fleet is a simple “X” brace I don’t recommend flying the model without it. I use 30 lb. test Kevlar fishing line, not because of the pull strength, but because the size looks about right on a model this size. Run the rigging from the top wing root down to the bottom of the interplane strut. Then from the bottom wing root to the top of the interplane strut to form the “X” brace. Pull the rigging taught, secure with a drop of thin Cya, and trim off the excess string.

Build up the engine and cowl, paint the details and mount the engine assembly on the model. Add any final details to suit. Mount the wheels and double check that all the systems are working properly. The last step is to set up the CG and mount the battery. Use the battery location to your best advantage to get a good C. G. Once the location is determined, make a tray from light ply and glue it in place. Secure the battery to the tray with Velcro. And with that, the Fleet is finished and ready to fly.

Flying the Fleet Pick a nice calm day to test fly your new model. The Fleet handles breezes well, but trimming a new model in turbulent air can be a real challenge. To get started, load a freshly charged battery, double check all the control throws, and directions, and test the power system for proper rotation. If all is well, point the model into the breeze and advance the throttle to about full power. Once the model lifts off, maintain a shallow climb up to a safe altitude and trim for straight and level flight at just over half power. In the turns you’ll need to coordinate a bit of rudder to overcome the adverse yaw produced by aileron input. Control input is docile but effective, and very well balanced with the recommended throws. The Fleet sideslips very nicely too, though the rudder will overpower the ailerons with too much input.

As with any biplane, you’ll need to carry a bit of power in the landing approach. On final, keep the nose down just a bit to keep the speed up. Then just before touchdown, pull the elevator to produce a nice smooth flair for a 3 point landing.  Overall, the Fleet is a very solid, but gentle and docile flyer, and truly has no vices. The model flies in a very scale-like fashion. And if you like to go out and just shoot a few touch and go’s the Fleet is going to be very hard to beat. 


Size:                1/8-Scale

Wing Span:     42-inches (Top and Bottom)

Length:            32-inches

Weight:           18 oz.

Wing Area:      470 Sq. In.

Wing Loading:5.45 oz. / Sq. Foot

Gear Used

Radio:             Spektrum AR-6000 Receiver

Motor:             E-filite Park 400 Outrunner (920 KV)

ESC:                Thunderbird 18 w/ BEC

Propeller:         APC 9-6E

Battery:           Intellect R/C 1600 mah 2S Lipoly

Servos:            Two B-8 (Rudder and Elevator); Two- Hobby King 5.4 gr. (Ailerons)

Fleet Biplane Materials List

Laser Cut Parts and Plastic Pack – Available at www.patscustom-models.com


2- 1/16” X 4” X 36” Sheet Balsa (If Parts Pack is not used)

2- 1/8” X 4” X 36” Sheet Balsa (If Parts Pack is not used)

9- 1/16” X 1/8” X 36” Balsa

3- 1/16” X 1/4” X 36” Balsa

4- 3/32” Sq. X 36” Balsa

7- 1/8” Sq. X 36” Balsa

1- 1/8” X 1/4” X 36” Balsa

4- 3/16” X 3/8” X 36” Balsa


1- 1/8” O. D. X 36” Brass Tube

1- 5/32” O. D. X 36” Aluminum Tube

1- .025” Dia. X 36” Steel Wire

1- .032” Dia. X 36” Steel Wire

1- .046” Dia. X 36” Steel Wire

1- .062” Dia. X 36” Steel Wire


18” Sullivan #507 Pushrod Tube

1 pr.- 2 ½” light foam Main Wheels

4- EZ-Connector Keepers (Wheel Retainers)

2- 9” Servo Extensions

1- Servo Y-Lead

20’ Kevlar Fishing Line

2 Rolls- Microlite Iron-On Cover

Photos & Captions


The Horizontal Stabilizer is built directly over the plans. The structure is completed before removing from the plan and shaping.


The Rudder assembly is built directly over the plans. The structure is completed before removing from the plan and shaping.


The control surfaces are removed from the plan and sanded to shape. The hinges are cut in but the hinges are not glued in until after the assembly is covered.

The Fuselage Side Frames are built directly over the plan. The rear elevator pushrod guide is glued into the R. H. side frame.  The side frames are then pinned to the plan and joined beginning with the bottom cross pieces and top cockpit formers and rear cabane strut mount assembly.  

While the frame is still pinned to the board the tail is pulled together and glued, and the remaining top formers, firewall and cabane mount assembly added. The frame is then lifted from the plan and the top and bottom stringers added.


The Servo Mount Beams are aligned and glued in place and the servos screwed to the mounts. The rail spacing will be determined by the servos used.

 The Landing Gear components are bent to shape using the provided paternsand the cross brace ring soldered together. The assembly is then taped onto the fuselage frame to insure proper alignment and soldered together.

The balsa Landing Gear Fairings are fitted into the LG assembly and glued in place and are then sanded to final contour.

The tail Skid assembly is built up and glued into the Fuselage Frame. The Skid is bent to shape and fitted into the mount but not glued in until after the fuselage is covered.

The Cockpit Fairing is cut from File Folder paper using the supplied pattern. The fairing is glued to the frame with white glue.

The Top Wing Center Section is assembled directly over the plan. The completed frame assembly is then removed from the board and sanded to shape.

The Top Wing panels are built directly over the plan. The assembly is done in a simple “egg crate” style to make assembly quick and easy. The Top Wing assembly begins with the Interplane Strut Hard Point and the main spar. The ribs are fitted onto the main spar aligned and glued in place. The top wing leading and trailing edges and the tips are glued in place and the panels sanded to shape to complete the outer panels. The wings are then fitted against the center section to complete the basic wing assembly. The Cabane Mounts are built into the wing center section. The Center Section will be glued to the cabane struts and the panels plugged into the center section making removal easy for transport.

The Bottom Wing Panels are built directly over the plan. The ailerons are built into the panel and sanded to basic shape. The ailerons are then cut free and final shaping done. After the ailerons have been sanded to final shape the hinge slots are cut in and the hinges fitted, but are not glued in until the frames have been covered.

The Motor Mount assembly is assembled and glued in place on the firewall. The motor doesn’t require any down thrust, but right thrust is built into the mount assembly.


The Cabane Struts are bent to shape, then blocked up and soldered together. The top angles will be bent after the struts are plugged into the fuselage. The finished Cabane Strut assemblies are plugged into the fuselage and then the angles are bent into the struts at the proper angles.

The finished cabane struts are plugged into the fuselage and the top wing center section fitted onto the struts. An Alignment Jig is made from 3/16-inch Artists Foam Board and is used to set up the proper wing incidence. The top wing center section is fitted onto the cabane struts and then the excess wire will be trimmed from the top of the struts.

The Interplane Struts are built directly over the plans. The struts are then removed from the plan and sanded to final shape.

The rudder and elevator assemblies are dry fitted onto the fuselage.

With the framing and rough shaping completed the wings are plugged into the mounting pins and the tail section dry fitted to insure proper fit and alignment.


The frames are covered with Microlite and the trim added using vinyl trim sheet and Microlite. After the frames are covered the hinges are fitted and glued in place.

The horizontal stabilizer assembly is covered and the hinges glued in place and ready for final assembly.

The wheel Hub Caps are made from orange juice carton seals, glued in place with Canopy Glue and painted with Model Master Acryl.

After the covering has been completed, the vinyl graphics are applied. The vinyl graphics were made up by Callie Graphics and are ready to apply to the model.

 The vac-formed Engine assembly is detailed to the desired level using bits of plastic tubing, dowel and insulated electrical wire. Note the cut-out in the mounting ring for the motor wiring.

The scale radial engine is mounted in the cowl and the cowl fitted onto the fuselage. The cowl is painted with Model Master Enamels and the desired level of details completed.

The finished Fleet Biplane is parked on the ramp and is ready to for her maiden flight.

The Fleet Biplane looks right at home in the air. The model is a very stable and gentle flyer and truly lives up to the full scale Fleet’s reputation as a great flying airplane.

Updated: July 16, 2015 — 4:45 PM


Add a Comment
  1. Great article. I’d love to build this but AirAgeStore does not list the full size plans among their plans. Where can I get them?


    Annapolis, MD

  2. The September issue of MAN has just gone on sale so the plans should show up for sale very shortly. If you dont find it on the AirAgeStore.com website in a week, email me at gerryy@airage.com and I will check into it.

  3. Plans are now available at the AirAgeStore.com Website.

  4. Hi – has anyone made a 2X size Fleet biplane from your plans – 84″ span ? If so, can you please provide details for me to contact. Thank you. MalcolmL


    1. They will be available at http://www.AirAgeStore.com shortly!

      1. It took a while but the store now has a working link for Pat Tritle’s Fleet Model-2. it is here: http://www.airagestore.com/fleet-model-2-biplane.html

  6. It took a while but the store now has a working link for Pat Tritle’s Fleet Model-2. it is here: http://www.airagestore.com/fleet-model-2-biplane.html

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