A new project for the coming building season is a vintage Midwest Products AT-6 Texan kit. Though no longer available, kits are available online and at swap meets of your are lucky. I thought we’d document this kit build to show some of the basic techniques used.
The Texan has an 83 inch span making it about 1/6-scale. A great thing about the model is that there are still parts available for it including the Robart retracts (air or electric) and formed parts like the fiberglass engine cowling, wheel well fairing and the vacuum-formed greenhouse canopy. These are available from Fiberglass Specialties. The fiberglass parts replace the original vacuum-formed ABS plastic kit parts.
I also scored a set of “like new condition” Robart 1/6-scale AT-6 Texan retracts from the Facebook Marketplace for RC airplanes. The scale 4-inch wheels and tires are still available from Robart Mfg.
For the finished paint scheme we are going to duplicate the attractive scheme of Nick Ziroli Jr.’s full size Texan.
At the Workbench
Being an vintage kit from the 1980s, sometimes some of the parts will be missing or damaged during storage. With my kit I had to replace some of the lite ply parts that were water damaged and I had to replace the firewall which was missing, along with some of the plywood wing rib doublers.
I happen to have a set of the CAD drawings from the kit designer and so it was an easy task to use my CNC router to make new 1/4 inch plywood parts.
Made from the print wood kit’s parts, here are the tail feathers. The rudder and elevator have a core sheet of balsa with ribs and other parts glued to them and then sanded to shape. Each part is printed on balsa stock and you cut them to size, sand them to the line and then glue them together over the plans. I used Elmer’s wood glue as it is easy to sand.
Above you see the rudder. I cut slots for the hinges with my X-Acto knife and added temporary hinges. Later I will use a Du-Bro Hinge slot tool to make the proper slots for the pinned hinges.
The horizontal stabilizer is first built up and then sheeted with balsa on top and bottom before being sanded and shaped to its final outline.
I had to replaced the damaged fuselage crutch, the keel and the two main side stringers, cutting the new parts with my laser cutter. Easy enough though I did have to cut the parts into sections as my laser cutter only has a 12×20 inch work space.
Using a square to ensue the formers are properly aligned and square to the crutch, here you see former F-1 being glued into place. I used a section of poly bag to prevent the parts from being glued to my work surface. I am using Medium Zap CA throughout construction.
Each former has tabs that are placed in its slots in the crutch. Each one is then squared and glued in place working from the front to the back.
The former # 7 is laminated with 15 minute epoxy using F7A and F7B. I used clothes pins to clamp the formers together until the epoxy set.
Here all the formers have been glued in place. Notice that former #2 is the firewall made of 1/4-inch plywood. All the other formers are made of 1/8 inch lite plywood as are the keel and the main side stringers.
Here the bottom keel has been slipped into place to check the alignment of the formers before the side stringers are slid into place. Nothing is glued at this time.
For power, I am going to use a Zenoah G-38 gas engine. With a B&B Specialties motor mount extension, it is the perfect length to be installed without any modification to the firewall. No emgine box structure required. I also bought the engine from the FB Market place.
So that’s it for this weekend. Stay tuned and we will continue this fun project. Also, planned is the installation of working 3-section split flaps. The stock wing did not have flaps, so we’ll modify the wing structure accordingly when the time comes.