My son Sean and I have been flying RC for about 10 years here in sunny South Florida. He started at the age of 8 and quickly became a confident, fearless pilot, which is typical for the savvy youngsters who aren’t paying for the stuff. We progressed through the trainers and got into warbirds and eventually 3D, but our love of those “terrors of the sky” remains passionate.
We started flying warbird formation about six years ago and quickly realized that it takes some skill and more importantly, practice and discipline, to stay together up there. We’ve had our share of spectacular and expensive mid-air disasters, but eventually we began to learn what the other was doing. Whoever leads the formations calls the maneuvers and gives about a two-second delay before initiating each skill of the routine. Honestly, my son is the one who stays on my butt and the reason why we look so good. Once you call “Smoke on!” and do a few synchronized loops and rolls, everyone starts watching … and then you hit them with a low-pass, high-speed bombing run!
Pictured are our Hangar 9 P-47 150 and the Hangar 9 Supermarine Spitfire. The Jug runs a Zenoah Air 26 with a 16×8 prop and in the Spitfire, an O.S. 91 four stroke with a 13×8. Each aircraft in our warbird fleet is equipped with Slimline smoke system components and custom-fabricated bomb releases. While we do drop the beautiful scale H9 bombs, they tend to get pretty busted up after a few drops, so for practice, we use the Hobby Lobby ‘red bombs’ that are inexpensive and easy to find in the tall grass! I can’t tell you how many lost bombs are still somewhere out in those fields!
Making a simple bomb release
The bomb drops are made by cutting roughly a 2 ½ square on the underside of each wing as close to or on the CG line. Next, CA some balsa strips along the inside of the edges of the openings that are used to screw the hatches back into place
You can then attach the bomb release to the cutout hatch. We used the drop mechanisms that come with the red Hobby Lobby bombs and they are simple and reliably release.
Cut a hole for the servo linkage to drop down through the hatch and attach it to the hatch with wood screws.
Use a micro servo and attach it to the inside of the hatch with CA. We built up the servo mount with a few balsa pieces to elevate the servo slightly. Use a small piece of medium-gauge wire for the push rod, which is so short it will be plenty strong enough. Depending on your wing size, use the appropriate servo extension to make it to the wing center. If you have a one-piece wing, you can use the Y-harness right there to tie-in with the other wing’s bomb. With a two-piece wing, you’ll have to run a Y-harness from your receiver and hook each one up separately. Assign it to an aux channel and with a flip of a switch, you’ll be blowing up the enemy in no time!
TIP: Be sure to add a little nose weight to each bomb (about three pennies works well) so they drop away and stay level, otherwise they’ll tumble after a second or so.
What can I say, RC smoke systems are just cool! Although mostly seen in 3D planes, a good smoke system looks amazing in a scale-flying warbird any day! We use a 24 oz. smoke tank in the P-47 and a 12 oz in the smaller Spitfire, which gives us about two minutes of good smoke. The smoke goes fast, so we use it only for the called maneuvers “smoke on” finish out the move and “smoke off.” When you synchronize it, it looks like you know what you’re doing. We’ve been known to smoke out the pit area with the low passes…
So, if you fly a warbird, you should try outfitting it with a smoke system and some bomb releases! If you run flaps and gear and want to be able to smoke and bomb ’em with separate controls, you’ll need eight channels. Slimline makes superb smoke mufflers, pumps and all the necessary smoke system gear for all-size engines.
We are based at the Palm Beach Radio Control Association in Delray Beach, FL, which has the largest club membership in the country. If you’re ever down in the area, be sure to come out and fly. We have a beautiful 600 ft. tennis court-grade asphalt runway and a well-manicured grass strip to boot.
By Chris Seiler firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by: Emily Wooten