Guillow’s Cessna 180 – part 2, the fuselage

As I mentioned in part one, I am going to endeavour to make this build a little more stage-by-stage than the Mustang build was.

Nearly all model aeroplane builds begin with the fuselage to one extent or another. This isn’t the first stage on the plan, but it’s where the build starts in the Group Build (mentioned in part one) and I’m going to follow that as closely as possible.

To start with, I weighed the wood sheets which contain the parts. Mine came out at just over 24g.

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Then I started gluing the pieces for the fuselage together. This fuselage is built the same way as the Mustang (with the two sides built and structure going in between them) instead of the same as the Hurricane (keel and formers glued together and stringers attached to the outside).

Here are the fuselage sides as the glue dries.

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Here are the sides with the various braces added:

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As you may notice, the pins have changed position. This is because this is the moment I made my first minor mistake. I pinned and glued the major parts of the fuselage sides without thinking about the structural braces. This meant that in order to see the precise positions of several of the braces, I had to remove the sides from the plan. What I should have done was cut the braces to size and lay them out appropriately before I even thought about laying down the major parts.

The next step is to glue the tail end together and then attach some of the major fuselage formers. The key is to get the formers as square as possible to prevent the fuselage warping. I failed in this respect and had to break the tail end apart and reattach it.

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Even then, after adjusting the fit of the major parts several times, I am not convinced that I have got it perfectly square. A poor workman blames his tools, but I think the kit leaves a little to be desired in terms of fit and the quality of the wood used. One of my minor adjustments turned into an awkward and time-consuming repair as I ‘adjusted’ the piece into several smaller pieces. The joy of balsa modelling as opposed to plastic kits is that it is much, much easier to make a replacement or repair a broken piece.

I have also found the style of construction in the last two kits (the box fuselage instead of the former and stringer method of the Hurricane) less to my liking as I think the whole plane feels less sturdy this way. The next kit I build will definitely be a laser-cut kit which should make the engineering and fit of the parts much better and allow me to get on with getting the basics right in other areas, like the covering.

After a lot of fiddling, I eventually ended up with a fuselage with which I was grudgingly satisfied.

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