Vagabond 40 (oz13828)
About this Plan
Vagabond 40. Radio control sport pattern plane. Wingspan 56-3/4 in, wing area 550 sq in, for .35 - .50 engines.
Kitted by Bridi Aircraft Design, then Kraft Kit.
Quote: "The Vagabond 40 is a fresh approach to the new 40 size sport model class. It is fully aerobatic and can perform any maneuver listed in the rule book. Its outstanding design features a full symmetrical airfoil, tapered wing and streamlined fuselage. The Vagabond 40 has the snappy look and built in performance that you always wanted in a low wing sport model."
Direct submission to Outerzone.
Update 17/11/2023: Added kit review from Model Builder, January 1984, thanks to RFJ.
Quote: "Kraft Kit Vagabond 40. Review by Dan Rutherford. 'Dirty' Dan gives it to you straight in this review of Kraft's Vagabond 40 pattern plane. If you are desirous of learning how to fly aerobatic maneuvers with precision and grace, this may be the flying machine for you.
I'm not known for wishy-washy articles about products - if I had trouble, I'll tell you instead of ignoring the problem. I have recently become semi-seriously interested in Pattern flying. I am not an expert level flier; and as I only care about what works, I don't have much tolerance for 'foof.'
Late last winter I decided a try at some Pattern flying would be interesting. I had been flying a Quickie 500 type of model and a Warlock 40, neither of which delivered much in the way of smooth, solid performance; pretty good for the usual "junk flying" where you just slap the sticks around, but it was becoming obvious to me that the real skill was in doing what appears to be simple maneuvers accurately and in the same spot in the sky each and every time. Three consecutive loops, for example. Anybody with most any type of model can perform the maneuver in at least a recognizable fashion. Fly straight and level, pull up - and wait. Easy.
But that is junk flying. I wanted to place all three loops right on top of each other, bottoms at the same altitude (real low!), to enter and exit the maneuver right on the money. The models I had on hand simply were too limited - or were limiting me - same thing.
Looking around, the Kraftkit line caught my eye, especially the Vagabond 40. Not an all-out Pattern model with pipe, retracts, and such, but a fairly simple model featuring built-up all wood construction (which I prefer over foam), a healthy tail moment arm, double-taper wing construction, symmetrical airfoil - and Joe Bridi's name right there on the box. Nothing like a solid reputation for designing good flying models to use the kicker. The Vagabond 40 has a strong resemblance to the Super Kaos series, highly recommended by many where I fly.
As for what is in the kit, the plans are neatly done, and the model can be built using them alone. In fact, in a couple cases should be, ignoring the written instructions. Yes, there is a mistake or two in the short-and-to-the-point instructions. And there is very little elaboration on construction hints, equipment installation, etc. I suppose the assumption is that by the time you get around to building a model like this, you should already know what you are doing. Fair enough, but I continually see modelers who build a model like the Vagabond as their third or fourth effort, and if they have started in the hobby cold, no previous experience at all, they do in fact need some extra help.
For what it's worth, I didn't have any problems building the model. But when the instructions said to install the tank floor I didn't, knowing (from experience) that the triangle stock backing up the firewall would then be impossible to install.
While that may be a little picky, especially considering the fact that many Vagabonds have been and will be built with total disregard for the instructions, a little caution is advised. There are a couple construction techniques (well illustrated with clear, although small, pictures) that I personally don't use. For instance, the leading edge sheeting is added to the ribs prior to the installation of the leading edge itself. I suppose that works, but I like to have the leading edge stuck in there just to keep everything lined up perfectly. The installation of sheeting locks in the structure, and I want all the ribs as straight as possible. Whatever works for you.
The overall quality of the wood was what l would call above average. Always wanting to build as light as possible, I did use some wood from the 'private stock' shelf, but most modelers would be quite happy with the kit wood. All the wood pieces are machined; there is no die cutting in this kit, an extra that is always welcome. Even so, a few pieces did not match the plans. The fuse sides in particular were off considerably, there was just no way to arrange the three or four pieces making up each fuselage side and have it match the plan just right. Actually, this wasn't a problem for me, as I had never intended to use the stock wood anyway, instead, I whittled out fuselage sides from 1/8 x 48 stock (kit pieces are 3/16).
More of a 'problem' was the fact that in each wing panel at least two ribs were too short at the trailing edge. They weren't off by much as a small scrap easily filled the gap and corrected the situation.
It you have gotten this far, you are probably interested enough to have checked out the pics and have seen where I cheated a lot in building this model. Most everyplace you look there are holes cut in parts, 1/64 ply substituted for 1/16 and so on. This is cheating because to do a completely factual review, the model really ought to be built completely stock - and I would build it that way if I had the time to build a stocker and then a tricko version..."
Supplementary file notes
Planfile includes hand-traced formers on sheet 2.
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User commentsThe Bridi kits were good kits, as kits go, sometimes sufferering from the main kit failing, which made them come out somewhat heavy. Why, you ask? They can't pick their wood like you or I might, so they were just overbuilt to compensate. I recently completed a KAOS, also a Bridi design, lightened up for electric power, it weighed at least a pound lighter than any other KAOS, flew beautifully. No, I didn't use some unobtainable super light wood, I just substituted thinner sizes everywhere. You can do the same. Notice the K&B 40 on the plans, once the most popular engine ever made. It ran perfectly. Then they had to make changes for muffler addition. Throttle response was no longer instant, and the good Perry carb was replaced with an Irvine, which never worked as well. Guys were buying the engine and replacing the Irvine with a Perry before even running the motor. K&B next re-designed the front end to accept a new crank and larger bearing, at the same time mounting a giant new carb of their own design. Some worked well and some didn't. I had one which was the best running motor I ever had, big carb and all. I ran it so much I finally just wore it out. I bought a new one as a replacement and it was a piece of crap, K&B's quality control having slipped by this time. I had to replace it with an OS, no more problems.
I see we have a HUGE advantage with this plan, a nicely traced sheet with all the kit parts, something we don't get with kit plans. Canopy can be cut down from one of the SIG models, no problem. If you move the firewall forward a little, an electric motor will fit, leaving more room for the battery. Don't even think about using a plastic spinner, you will never get it balanced. A metal version will run smooth. If your spinner is out of balance, it will wear out your bearings. Guess how I know. Give this model a try, all the Bridi designs flew perfectly.
doug smith - 16/05/2022
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