Disney Inspired Build-Along Balsa Dusty

Disney Inspired Build-Along Balsa Dusty

What is a ‘kit-bash’? This is the question asked when my latest project was described to a modeler friend. The popularity of ARF and RTF aircraft necessitates the a little more explanation. It’s part way between building from scratch and building a traditional kit. Using an existing kit as the basis it is modified to create something unique.

Inspiration for a “kit-bash” can come from a variety of sources, books, movies, magazines, TV shows or cartoons. Recently our family attended the Disney movie ‘Planes’, this provided my inspiration. “SPOILER ALERT” as the story progresses the main character Dusty Crophopper (looks like an AT-502) under goes a metamorphous after a crash in the ocean leaves him very damaged. His wings are replaced with T-33 wings & retracts, new exhaust system, propeller & many other parts. Only Disney would have the ability to dream the concept of merging these into one aircraft. At the end of the film Dusty is on the aircraft carrier with a “Jolly Wrenches” colour scheme. This was the airplane I wanted to build.

Hidden on a shelf in the workshop was an old HOB Mustang 20 kit, this would be the start of my Navy version of Dusty Crophopper.  This sport scale model had about the right proportions to pass as a Dusty, it would need a few changes, however most of the build will follow the original instructions. The plans were unrolled & pinned to my building table, then plain white paper was taped over the sections of the fuse that were changing, the canopy, chin scoop, & rudder.

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The canopy was redrawn on to resemble the greenhouse style canopy of an Air-Tractor, the P-51 style chin scoop of the kit was completely eliminated. The fuselage sides were shortened 1 inch with the rudder & vertical fin moved forward.

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I also lowered the elevator & horizontal stab 3/16”, however that is completely optional. It was more work with limited benefit. The original method of attaching stab & elevator is fine.

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The fuse was constructed following the instructions, a couple of the die-cut parts did need to be changed/not used. The ply nose ring needed to be reshaped to be a 1 ¾” ring without an opening for chin scoop. The intake scoop under the wing on the aft fuse is also not needed, just sheet the bottom of the fuse with 1/16”. The chin scoop balsa block will need a lot of sanding to create a smooth taper to the 1 3/4” nose ring, a razor plane may help with this too.

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The canopy area was enclosed using 3/16” balsa in the same way the fore & aft turtle decks are constructed. Using the outline for the new canopy sides are constructed using 3/16” balsa. Cut the canopy area on fuse to accommodate gluing the ‘Dusty’ style canopy in place. Use 3/16” balsa to sheet the top & back of the canopy.  The tail surfaces remain unchanged, I did remove the extension that was forward of the vertical stab.  The tail surfaces will be glued in place after covering.

[singlepic id=7665 w=300 h=230 float=left][singlepic id=7666 w=300 h=230 float=right]

This Dusty will be using a brushless motor for motivation, this was done by adding a firewall between the nose ring and the original ¼” ply FW. You can follow the instructions for IC motor or switch to electric it’s up to the builder. It’s a “Kit-Bash” make it the way you want.

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Next time it’s the wings, adding tip tanks & retracts.

Updated: July 27, 2015 — 2:31 PM


  1. do they have a kit at any of the hobby shops around are can i find a balsas kit of this plane

    1. Hi Vincent,

      The HOB Mustang 20 is one I’ve had for several years. A similar mod could be done to other kits like the Great planes Mustang 40. If you are looking specifically for the HOB Mustang 20 they appear to be sold out on all the usual places, you might have success on ebay.


    2. One more idea is the MAN Build to Win Contest, you could create a ‘Planes’ character of your own. Visit http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2013/07/22/build-to-win-contest/ for more info.

  2. I have built countless kits and some great scratch built planes also. These days with the quality of ARF’s that are available, including the very fine foam ARF’s it is hardly worth putting the time and effort into kit or scratch unless you are a purists or have ton’s of time on your hands. If you haven’t tried one of the latest FOAM ARF’s you are missing the boat, they are very nice planes. But don’t go for the bottom shelf or cheep stuff.

  3. chardesa, the modern ARF’s are amazing, but for one thing: there’s nothing to BUILD, man!

  4. Looking good Carl, hope to get some building time in later this year. I have one in CAD that I’m still in the process of building the Cut files for the laser.

  5. Fun project. I agree, there are many good ARF’s today. But sometimes I miss building. It’s hard to find kits here in Norway. But I am happy, there are still some kits for sale on the net. It’s a pleasure to sit in my hobby room, building, in the long cold, dark winter nights. Here up North.

  6. Thanks Guy, appreciate the feedback.

  7. Arne,
    Living in Newfoundland I share a similar building season with you merely different sides of the big pond 😉
    Many a chilly evening is spent making balsa dust, it’s a fun way to spend the winter. And flying off skis.

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