Ethereal Lady (oz36)


Ethereal Lady (oz36) by Vic Smeed 1948 - plan thumbnail

About this Plan

Ethereal Lady, Free flight power model. Wingspan 48in, powered by an Ohlsson 23, with average rate of climb 1,700 ft per minute. 1948 design by Vic Smeed.

Quote: "Ethereal Lady is one of those amiable little aeroplanes that will put up with minor modifications, over-loading, glider-towing and all the maltreatment inflicted on models by ingenious aeromodellers, and will still retain its viceless characteristics and delightful flying qualities. As a first power model, with the smaller engines, it is ideal, although not of the slab-sided construction normally recommended for first attempts. With larger engines it is a challenge to the pylons and freak models in its performance, and yet retains complete simplicity in trimming.

The maiden flight of the prototype was straight off the drawing board - 5 min 40 sec on a 40 sec motor run, in non-thermal conditions. This model was powered with an Ohlsson 23, and a careful compilation of performances over a period of weeks gave an average rate of climb of 1,700 ft per minute for this machine. A Mills-powered version climbed consistently at 800-900 f.p.m. So far five models have been built to this design - one with a Mills, two with E.D.'s, and two with Ohlsson 23's, one of which (the designer's) was converted to take a 2 cc Movo. Each of .these models was built by a different builder, and none so far has cost more than 9/- excluding motor and wheels, although built so far apart as South Africa, Germany, Yorkshire and Kent.

One trouble with the diesel motor applied to semi-scale and scale models is the difficulty of positioning the CG correctly with so much motor weight forward. Ballast seems a wasteful means of correctly relating the forces, and to provide a pleasing cabin and ready access to the motor without cranking the wings is a bit of a problem. Since however a semi-scale job is built for looks as well as performance, this weight set-up does offer scope for a careful colour-dope finish. This is the case with the diesel-powered version of the 'Lady' - the nose has been shortened as far as is practicable, and the fuselage is finished with two coats of clear dope, two of colour, and one of banana oil.

To anyone wishing to modify the design, it should be pointed put that, while an ample margin of longitudinal stability is inherent in the model, any increase in weight in the nose will mean ballasting and an increased pitching moment, with the consequent recovery-lag in a stall, etc.

The construction throughout is perfectly straightforward, but the following points may help. Some eyebrows may be raised at some of the materials used - for instance 1/8in sheet wing ribs - but if the wood used is graded correctly, a sturdy and reasonably warp-proof yet surprisingly light structure will result. The prototype weighed 23 oz with the Ohlsson 23, ignition equipment, and heavy-duty batteries..."

Update 19/12/2016: added article, thanks to RFJ.

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Ethereal Lady (oz36) by Vic Smeed 1948 - model pic


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User comments

Hello Steve, Herewith some feedback on Ethereal Lady. I built this model during my RAF national service about 1956. The first things that I noticed on receiving the plan were the engine bearers, which seemed to me to be under-designed. Instead of being fitted through at least two bulkheads, they terminated in bulkhead number one, being strengthened by small fillets. Never having built a power model before, I assumed that the design should be alright if I followed the recipe. On completion, the model was fitted with a Frog 2.5 cc diesel, which soon rattled the bearers loose, as I thought might happen. Notwithstanding this setback, the model was launched from one of the disused (at that time), runways at Fairwood aerodrome into a 25 mph wind with the engine at full throttle. The model rocketed skyward to a height of a couple of hundred feet, slowly turned, then went into a downwind dive from which, even to my inexperienced eye, it was not likely to pull out before hitting the tarmac runway. It was at an angle of approximately 20 degrees at a speed of about 45mph when it hit. I was mortified! Loud was the ranting and raving--I should have done this, that and the other-- test glides, engine side thrust and endless other things I'd read about but hadn't bothered to do!! Surprisingly, the wings and tailplane assembly survived the impact, as did the engine. This had catapulted into the air on impact when the prop had torn it it completely free from the loose mountings in the number one bulkhead. A blessing in disguise! The fuselage, alas, was written-off completely, so it was with a heavy heart and with my tail between my legs, that I had to admit to my billet-mates, that Ethereal Lady was, due my incompetence, well and truly 'Stuffed'! A few days of relentless chiding and queries about my IQ, from the lads made me absolutely determined that I would rebuild the model just to get myself myself back onto an even footing with them! I only had to build a new fuselage as everything else was alright, so I decided to build it slab-sided, not the more complex oval form as on the plan and definitely fit the engine bearers into formers 1 and 2. This, having duly been carried out over the next couple of weeks, I found myself with Ethereal Lady Mk 2 slab-sider version, ready to go. I even had to admit at the time that the new fuselage didn't look too bad but the proof of the pudding would be whether it would fly or not. Time would tell!! The day for launching turned out to be ideal-- very little wind with perfect conditions. This time, after a couple of test glides which to me appeared to be fine, I decided to fire up the Frog motor and 'Take the plunge.' The throttle was set to about half power using 'RAF special brew' fuel (ether, scrounged via one of the Waafs who worked in sick-quarters, which was then mixed with some rather dubious quality reclaimed oil from the mechanical transport section). Holding the model aloft, I ran a few paces and Eureka! it lifted gently into the air and climbed as though it had done it a thousand times before, climbing to an altitude of a few hundred feet, flying on a long circular path landing about half a mile away. I'd never seen a power model fly before, so now having succeeded in getting my own airborne, together with a beautiful flight, meant that the the lads back in the billet were in for some 'Stick'! They got it! All this was almost sixty years ago. I still have the Frog engine, which at this instant in time is soaking In kerosene to clean off the accumulated 'Goo' ready for a long-overdue start-up. As for Ethereal Lady, I would imagine with ultra-strong adhesives like Araldite AY 103, the original bearer design would be alright. As you appreciate, the model holds a special place for me, so If you decide to build one, I hope it may give you the same wonderful memories that it's afforded me. Best wishes,
BrianHendy - 03/03/2014
In reply to Brian Hendy's remarks my story is not so detailed but it all must have happened in the same era. His "60 yrs ago" relates to my 64 yrs ago in about 1950/51 and my Ethereal Lady was developed from Vic Smeed's original 48 in. version into a 60 in. big sister. It never got into the RAF National service but stayed at home while I played with a few others. She had a few adventures among her many flights in an area a few miles east of Portsmouth,. long before the days of A27M and A3M which rather messed up our flying fields. On one occasion, we were flying in the fields below the back of Portsdown Hill not much more than a mile or two from home when our last flight of the day meant my friend and I had to return home without her. Lost o.o.s. ! Imagine our pleasant surprise when, a few yards from my friends house, we spotted her about 20 feet up in a 50ft cypress tree in a neighbour's back garden. At some stage in her life, her undercarriage was replaced with a set of floats and we were occasionally seen in another friends canoe paddling our way at high tide across the north end of Langstone harbour between Portsmouth and Hayling Island to retrieve a wayward Lady. Probably never more than 1/2 mile, though, but it was enough. The Lady was put away in the attic for most of the rest of my life and even made the journey with me to southern Ireland for the last 15 yrs. In all the 65 yrs or so of her life, she finally became rather chewed up by the odd few mice who seemed to enjoy eating the dope encrusted tissue and balsa. About two years ago now I finally cremated her in a blaze of glory in the dustbin, amid tears of sorrowful memories. R I P
ColinGrainger - 22/02/2015
The plan doesn't show the C of G do you know where it should be? Best Regards,
GrahamB - 16/12/2016
The model in the photo balances on the front wing spar and flies very well with an original mills 1.3 fitted, hopes this helps.
John - 21/12/2016
Thank you for the C of G position, hope mine flys as well as yours.
Graham - 01/01/2017
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