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Masterpiece in the Making: 35% Model D Bristol Scout

Masterpiece in the Making: 35% Model D Bristol Scout

During my recent trip to the Father’s Day Fun Fly in Kingston Ontario, I ran into my good friend Brian Perkins. One thing I have learned is that, whenever you see Brian on the flightline, chances are you’ll see an RC Bristol Scout in the air. Brian has been a scale modeler for most of his life and he has really perfected his scale modeling skills. We have featured Brian in the Canadian section before with his impressive ¼-scale S.E. 5a Scout, but I learned that his love for the “other Scout” has been around a lot longer. Here’s what I learned while chatting with him at the annual Kingston Fun Fly.

(Above) Brian still flies his 60-size 6ft. span Bristol Scout on a regular basis. Note unusual tail feathers.

So tell us Brian, how many Bristol Scouts have you built.

My newest Scout is my third model. I built my first one many years, years ago from a set of Hal Wallace plans. It was a standoff scale 40-size version with symmetrical wings. It was very popular in the 60s and 70s at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome’s WW1 Jamboree back when it was a competition. Hal Wallace designed it to be easy to build and to have good flight characteristics. Then I built my second version which has a much more scale construction and is designed for a .60 size 2-stroke engine. I have been flying it at the Fun Fly for many years and it just keeps on going strong. It has great slow speed characteristics. Now I have this big one almost ready to cover.

Tell a little about the Bristol Scout

Well I really like the way the Scout D looks. It was first flown in 1914 and it was used by the Royal Air Corps (RFC), for many tasks during the First World War. It was used by both the RFC and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and a few hundred of them were produced. The Scout D found continued service after the war by becoming a popular aircraft for flight instructors. The first truly production Scout was the Scout C, which entered service in early 1915. About 160 C models were built. These were followed by over 200 model D varients. The D was basically the same airframe as the C with minor changes to the engine mounts, the cowling and wing struts as well as having other improved fittings. Also, many D model Scouts flown in by the RNAS had a heightened rudder and a fixed vertical fin added for increased stability.

What is the scale if your newest Bristol Scout and how big is it?

My newest project is a 35% scale Model D which is 100% scratch designed and built. It has a 103-inch wingspan, weighs 36 lbs as it sits now and has a Quadra 100cc engine bolted to the firewall. I am using a modern Spektrum radio and servos throughout.

How did you develop the plans?

I enlarged some scale drawings and tried to make the internal structure close to scale as I possibly could. The drawings I based my design on were from the Bristol Scout Windsock Datafiles and Profile Publications. Further details were obtained from the excellent WW1 Aero Magazine. All my drawings were done on a drafting board not with CAD with the exception of the ribs which were develped using CAD so that my friend Rolly Siemonsen could laser cut them so they would precisely fit the dowel leading edges and the I-beam spars.

What about its construction? It looks like you really outdid yourself.

I started out wanting to do as good a job as I could and whenever I felt like taking a short cut or not doing something 100 percent, I would stop for the night and leave for another day. To make the rather large and huge number of ribs more manageable, I had the ribs laser cut. I used thin basswood capstrips and dowel leading edges. Having the ribs laser cut allowed them to fit precisely to the round dowel leading edges. Then with the basswood capstrips, I used CA glue to first adhere them to the fronts of the ribs so they would not lift from the curvature. Then I glued them to the rest of the rib working back to the trailing edge. A light sanding made the capstrips blend perfectly into the leading edges.

These leading and trailing edges don’t look like a standard hobby shop supply items. Where did you get them?

Actually I found a large supply of long, clear grain dowels at the local home improvement outlet and I called my good friend and fellow scale modeler Martin Erving about my find. We got together and cleaned them out. For us scale modelers you never know when you’ll need some strong straight dowels. The trailing edges are made from a lamination of thin plywood for straightness and strength.

Tell us about the fuselage structure.

Well, the shape of the fuselage longerons is interesting. They aren’t just gentle sweeping bends. To get the proper shape to set properly, I used solid spruce where I could and then where I needed sharper  bending I cut them lengthwise and inserted with thin plywood strips. I then glued and laminated them around a form to set the curvature. This is particularly noticeable where the fuselage transitions past the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer and ends at the rudder post.

All of the model’s rigging wires, attachment points and hardware are functional and the wing spars are scale I-Beam construction. The Engine cowling was easy as it is an aluminum unit available from Balsa USA.  I enlarged the opening and for the distinctive Bristol blister on the side of the cowling, I made of by vacuum-forming some plastic sheet over a mold. It took several trips to the hardware store until I found the right shade of silver spray paint painted to match the aluminum cowling. The dummy scale Clerget engine I got from Mick Reeves Models, and the wheels here are from Du-bro but I have others on order from Williams Bros.

Everything else in the model is scratch built including the cockpit detailing. I also got a little carried away and made the functioning control yoke stick and rudder bar. All in all, I am pretty pleased with it so far. All I have left to do is cover up all the detailed work with fabric covering and give a scale paint job.

Functioning metal hatch covers

Functional Tail Skid







Quick Specs

Scale:                    35%

Wingspan:          103 in.

Engine:                 Quadra 100cc gas

Weight:                  36 lbs.

Elevator control horns and cable attachment detail.

Elevator cable pully detail

Lower wing strut attachment point

Aileron Servo installation

Rudder Tiller Arm

Updated: July 16, 2015 — 3:15 PM


Add a Comment
  1. A hell of a job. Congratulations for the build so far. Can’t wait to see the skin cover and paint job. With interest from Athens, Greece.

  2. I really appreciate the detail of this model. And I like your attitude toward avoiding taking short cuts. You obviously have put quality over quick build. I need to develop that attitude in my own building. Apple Valley, MN

  3. Very nice craftsmanship here. There is one thing that I’m worried about though. I notice that the spar has horizontal grain sheer webbing. I hope that these are laminated to a vertical grain web or there could be a structural spar failure. The flying wires will certainly attenuate a lot of the loads but this needs to be addressed before the covering is applied. Overall a nice subject and a shame that all that work has to be covered up.

  4. its almost a sin to cover and hide such detailed workman ship

  5. Can’t wait to see it finished, although I agree that hiding all that fabulous work is a shame. I enjoy building as much or maybe a little more than flying, so your work is a real inspiration. Thanks.

  6. Going to see this at Toledo next year?

  7. I saw his SE5-a and it is a master piece which is beyond museum quality, and it flys! This one looks like a step above the SE5-a. Well done Brian!

    I am building the Balsa USA SE5-a and will be painting it using Brian’s colours he used on his. Could you confirm the mix ratio was 2/3 OD and 1/3 black?


  8. To come up with the dark green colour of the SE5a at Shuttleworth, I had to mix approx. 1 part black with 2 parts O.D. green. I also had to add a touch of red to nail it! (I was fortunate to get a paint sample from the good folks at Shuttleworth ahead of time)

  9. Hi!


    That is so impressive!

    How does one start building this size of aircraft?

    I have built kits etc would love to find a way to get into building this type and size of aircraft.

    I am open to any suggestions.


  10. My last Hal Wallace Bristol was 38 yrs ago, A couple years ago I built another one to bring back that great feeling and looks in the air. I was always attracted to the rudder of this plane and the way it flew. I was at all the Rhineback meets as a member of the Mid Hudson RC club (George Buso etc). Lots of Bristols including the Endicott group who had 1/3 size geared Bristols. We are talking l969 or so. Also at that time Walt Mocha had his J-4 which was a really big deal in those days because we didnt have the power available like today. Hal was quite the aviator (full scale etc.) and easy to talk to. Lots of model history at those meets.

  11. The original was 48″ and someone told me it was an Aeromaster in disguise. The plans are available thru AMA

  12. Brian, you are a master builder. I agree with others that it is a shame to cover it up. However, it just won’t fly unless you do!
    (how brilliant can I get?)
    I enjoy the building but come nowhere close to your skills. I can only dream!
    But , to see your magnificent master peice is a thrill all of it’s own and I congratulate you for creating it!
    Good luck in the flying!!!
    Les Harding

  13. I am a novist and love to build from kits.I took on the project of drawing and started building a DH-2 WW-1 1916′ war bird. There is not as much detail as yours and other models I have seen. I do know I will get better is I build. My plane has a 65″ double wing wing span. Here is my problem. I have been taking the photos off the internet and a photos from some of my books. The two wings are not very wide and when I saw that you said you had your wings “lazer cut” that got me very interested . How can I see about having all the ‘ribs’ on my plane LAZER cut?? any help would be appreciated. I have asked other builders questions and maybe because I state that I am a novist and new at building ,,I do not get a response. Can you help me on my project? Thanks

  14. Ray: I plan on having the Bristol at Toledo in the spring.
    Les: I think with the Q-100, I can probably fly it without covering!!! Can use the nose weight however!
    Dave &Tommy: An easy way to start is to take a good 5-view dwg of your subject to a print shop and have it blown up to what ever scale you want. That will give you basic outlines (w/ some distortion that you can fix up on a drafting board). Check your lengths w/ a calculator & fill in the details. If you have built kits, you may want to use similar construction techniques until you develop your own. Secret to my success is use of a digital inclinometer to accurately set up wing &tail incidence and dihedral. Especially necessary on bipes! C. of G. & engine side and down thrust also critical! I set up the SE5a with 4.5 positive wing & tail incidence, which effectively give me 4.5 degrees of engine downthrust which prevents ballooning with power typical of the WW1 birds. I use an undercambered Benedek airfoil as well on my WW1’s Looks scale and works great. Keep them light too! Good luck!

  15. To Tommy Flores:
    I read your concern about “Laser Cut Wing Ribs” contact me at
    tayronateam@hotmail.com with the words “Laser Cut” as subject, I will help you!

    To the editor:
    What a wonderful job!!! I’ve been scratch building all my models since 1962 when I started this great activity.

  16. wow a labor of love. a thing of beauty is joy forever

  17. awesome.state of the art.love and patience can do miracles!!keep it up.from athens greece george fyntikakis!!!

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