Sopwith Bee (oz9855)


Sopwith Bee (oz9855) by Mike Roach 2003 - plan thumbnail

About this Plan

Sopwith Bee. Scale model for radio control and electric power, with geared Speed 400 motor.

Quote: "Full-size plan feature by Mike Roach. Harry Hawker's Sopwith Bee. Mike tracked down this unlikely WWI one-off and presents drawings for a 27in span replica for 400-size electric motors.

I have only two photographs of this endearingly silly aircraft, both from my Bible of Sopwithness ('...and his Aircraft', published 1970 by Harleyford) and the very minimum of description. It was "...used by Hawker for aerobatic displays... powered by a 50 h.p. Gnome and... built from Pup components", and that's about it. No dimensions and few clues except (by inference) the wing chord and the wheel diameter. You try sketching it as a three-view and you'll see that it's not as easy as it looks, particularly around the cabane and centre-section area.

I had at least three tries before the final drawings and I'm not really sure that it is finished. The span of the full-size must have been about 18 feet, compared with the Pup's 26 feet 6 inches, so it was quite a small aeroplane. For those readers like me, who look at a free plan to fire up the imagination, get this one enlarged by 100% and you've got a genuine quarter-scale model for a modest Speed 600, gearbox, scale prop and seven or eight cells, weighing perhaps 4 lb ready-to -ly and spanning only 54in. And it would still fit in a Peugeot 206!

But here we have a 20oz, 27in span 1/8th scale option for Speed 400 which flies wonderfully well on rudder and elevator, although the original had warping for lateral control. Should you wish to try, this option is easy to fit and very effective. Construction is straightforward, even though I have used a thin wing section and functional rigging. If this puts you off, just build the wings with a thicker section, like my Triplane or Tabloid or any of Peter Rake's lovely scale models, and I'm sure it will fly just as well - but it might not look quite so good on the ground.

Colour information is limited, but I strongly suspect that the Bee was made to look as much like a Service aircraft as possible. The roundels and markings are authentic, so PC10 khaki-green upper surfaces and plain varnished fabric underneath is the order of the day. Tempting though it might have been to the Works, and will be to the Lazy Bee fans amongst you, a yellow and black striped Sopwith Bee is not authentic!

Let's go. I started with the fin and rudder, to see what they look like at 1/8th scale (normally I can't wait to get at the fuselage) and completed the laminated wing-tips and the centre-section cut-away at the same time. Just make a line of pins to the inside edge, cut three or four strips of 0.8 mm balsa, wet them out, slosh on the glue and thumb them firmly together. Then lay them round the pin outline and gently persuade them that they want to curve round it by pinning the lamination tight up against the outline. Check that there are no gaps where air can get in, then leave for at least 24 hours to dry. Laminations are strong, light and very easy to plane or sand to section because you are always working with the grain.

Finish the rest of the fin and rudder with 3 mm strips, sand carefully, slot for hinges (I used simple and effective figure-of-eight sewn hinges) and control horn, then cover with your favourite material..."

Supplementary file notes



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Sopwith Bee (oz9855) by Mike Roach 2003 - model pic


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