|NOTES:||Made from plastic sheet, rod and strut with the aid of a Fiddler's Green paper Fokker T-2, price $8.50.|
The Fokker F. IV was the largest design which Fokker had yet built, and was constructed in their usual fashion with a high, thick wing which allowed for internal bracing and was thus cantilevered for its huge span of 81 feet. As in the earlier F series, the pilot sat alongside the Liberty L-12 engine. Fokker took two to the USA on a promotional tour, but met with no success since the 12 seater cabin was larger than any operator needed. However the US Army Air Force bought the two aircraft and relabelled them the T-2.
One of the T-2s was used for a number of long-distance flights over the next few years, culminating in the first non-stop transcontinental flight across the United States, an idea that originated with Lt. Oakley Kelly, one of the test pilots. The Army modified the aircraft to carry more fuel, and installed a connecting doorway between the cabin and cockpit so that he and fellow test-pilot Lieutenant John Macready could take turns with the flying. An extra set of controls inside the cabin was also installed to facilitate the handover. This T-2 would take off with 620 US gallons of fuel on board, making it 2,450 lb over the prescribed take-off weight.
In late 1922, Kelly and Macready made two attempts at the transcontinental flight, the first on 5th October 1922, from San Diego to New York. After 35 hours in the air, they were forced to abandon the attempt due to fog. They tried again on November 3rd, but this time a cracked water jacket on the engine forced a landing after 25 hours. They made an emergency landing on the brickyard at Indianapolis Speedway.
The following year, they made a long-duration flight over a closed circuit in Dayton, Ohio, remaining aloft for 36 hours, 14 minutes 8 seconds between 16th and 17th April. This established a new world duration record, but also a new distance record, weight record, and eight various airspeed records. On May 2nd, they set out from New York to attempt the transcontinental flight again, this time travelling in the opposite direction. 26 hours and 50 minutes later, they landed in San Diego, having covered 2,521 miles.
Their aircraft is preserved in the National Air and Space museum, and there are many good and useful photos of it on various websites. The second T-2 was converted into an air ambulance and designated the A-2.
I had already made a vacform version of the Fokker F. II which can be found on this website, and thought that this, a much larger though similar airliner, would make a nice companion piece to it. There is a vacform version of the T-2 by VLE models, and various reports on the net suggest it is very good, although you will need to supply your own roundels.
For this one however I thought I would try something a little different. I had been browsing various paper model websites, which is something always worth doing as they have some rare and exotic types. And I came across a version of this on the Fiddler's Green site. They are a company which makes all sorts of paper models including cars, buildings, and even balloons.
I had already tried my hand with a small French paper model of the Potez 60, which showed the strengths but also the shortcomings of paper aircraft models. On the plus side, they come ready coloured with markings in place. The pinstriping and lettering on the fuselage of this T-2 is complex, and I doubt I could reproduce it with home made decals.
But the downside of paper models is that they find it very hard to replicate compound curves, and things such as struts and wheels, which always look two dimensional in paper. So I decided on a hybrid version. The box section fuselage and tailplane is paper. All the rest is scratch built plastic.
Before anyone starts scoffing that it isn't real plastic modelling, and is in some sort of way cheating, please be advised that assembling a fuselage from paper is just as demanding as doing it from plastic. You need to cut the paper outline very, very carefully. Then glue the various tabs equally carefully. You will then be presented with a series of white lines where the joins occur. These will need to be coloured in with some thinned paint of the correct colour, in this case a greenish olive drab. What must always be borne in mind is that any mistakes or inaccuracies can't be covered with putty and sanded. You have to get it right first time.
Which is why I copied off three separate sheets of the model. It took several goes before I was satisfied.
Like any form of modelling, paper modelling has its own set of acceptable oddities. One of them is that canopies and windows don't need to be clear. Plastic modellers of 1/144th airliners have the same convention.
This Fokker T-2 doesn't have much by way of windscreen, but the side windows are large and so I cut them out early on before assembling the fuselage and glazed them with some clear plastic sheet. There are various struts inside, together with an extra seat and control column, behind and below the cockpit. This looks a whole lot better to my ancient plastic eyes, but presumably paper modellers look on it with indifference.
The tailplanes were made with little trouble, and were drilled to take the control horns.
The wing was made up from one sheet of 10 thou plastic card. I used the paper model as a template, but to help keep the aerofoil shape, various ribs and spars were inserted inside.
You then have the incredibly tedious process of reproducing the wooden panels of which the wing as composed. It is worth checking the pictures of the T-2 which is in the Air and Space museum. They show a network of small panels, all of them of different sizes, all of them with the grain going in different directions, and all with a high polish.
There is nothing for it but to mask off each panel and paint it separately.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
I used three different shades of wood brown, varying from a pale cream colour, a mid stone to a yellow ochre. Some streaking with a dry brush of dark earth gave it some grain. Then the panels were given coats of clear orange or clear yellow. Finally, a coat of satin varnish. I tried gloss, but, as usual, disliked the results on a 1/72 aircraft, as it resembles a skating rink. It also gives off strange reflections when being photographed.
The signature mark of this aircraft, or what marks it down as different from anything else of its ilk, are those two exhaust pipes. They emerge asymmetrically from the engine cover, and are of different lengths and have different bends in them. They also have spiral cooling fins. It took an hour of cunning bending and scraping various lengths of plastic rod to get them right, and then some thickish thread was wound around them for the fins. The ends are especially tricky and need to be cut at odd angles.
A small windscreen was made from clear sheet, with a green surround masked and painted. There are various lumps, fairings and bumps on the nose panels, which can only be properly done in sanded plastic. Paper equivalents just can't replicate a three dimensional tear-drop fairing. The oil cooler on the port side is a strange pink colour, as can be seen on the Museum example.
After that it was all over bar the little final bits. The pitot tube is long and made from wood, with a brass nose. It is supported by a short vertical strut with some rigging wire. A couple of rigging wires (stretched elastic thread) make up the tail control lines.
Undercarriage struts were from plastic strut material. The wheels from the spares box and are doped linen colour. The nose radiator was made from scored card, with brass surround. And the prop came from the spares box. Note that it is mounted asymmetrically off to starboard.
There you have it, one colourful record breaker from the Golden Age of record breaking, when every new flight was a huge risk. On the second attempt, which had to be abandoned due to engine overheating, it is said that the two pilots tried pouring their soup into the engine cooling system, and, when all else failed, tried urinating into it. Imagine doing that into a red hot Liberty L-12 engine, undulating around in mid flight, and you have to admire their courage.
The Fiddler's Green website comes with plentiful notes and pictures.
This is some early film footage of the flight, including the manufacturing of the aircraft, which is useful for scratch building. Note how flimsy some of the metal panels around the engine are.
20 September 2016
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