Mini Me 262 A-2a
The Stormbird. It was a name that struck fear in the hearts of Allied pilots in World War II. In 1939, the RLM (Reichsluftfahrtministerium), or Air Transport Ministry, asked Messerschmitt AG to design a new fighter that would be flown with jet-turbine engines, which were as yet unproven. Ultimately powered by two temperamental Junkers Jumo 004 turbojet engines, the Me 262A-1a “Swallow” went into production. One hundred were ordered, but an Allied raid on Bavaria delayed delivery of these first units by many months. Hitler’s insistence that this wonder weapon be used as a bomber rather than as a fighter further hampered the jet’s effectiveness. By the time the 262A-2a “Stormbird” bomber variant became available, it was too late to change the course of the airwar in Europe.
Nearly 100mph faster than any Allied fighter, the Me 262 was a formidable weapon. Most Allied kills of 262s occurred during the plane’s takeoff and landing. It was dangerous to encounter it anywhere else, as it carried four 30mm cannon in the nose, and some carried R4M rockets under the wings. Made famous by Adolf Galland, the 262 taught many lessons to the Allies after the War, both in jet technology and in aircraft design, particularly in the area of swept wings. I have always liked the distinctive shape of the Me 262 with its swept wing, high tail and triangular fuselage that resembles a shark.
I built a prototype Mini Me 262 in 1999, with two handmade fans and a span of about 44 inches. The fans didn’t have the power I was looking for, so I switched to pusher props. These worked well, but they needed 480 motors instead of 400s to fly. So I went back to the drawing board and came up with the design shown here. It has proven to be easy to build, durable, light and fast. It’s all you could ask for in a Speed 400 twin ship.
Anyone who can handle a fast-moving, low-wing model can fly it. It grooves well, and landing speeds aren’t that high. So, if you fancy yourself a jet jock and you want a model that stands out from the crowd, gather some balsa, and let’s get started.
There are some new techniques here that you might not have encountered before. Not many planes have a cross-section like the Stormbird’s. Start by cutting the fuselage bottom to shape from 1/16-inch medium balsa. Do not cut out the center piece on the bottom of the fuse where the wing is attached. Laminate all bulkheads from two cross-grained layers of 1/16-inch balsa. I found it most convenient to laminate a 3-inch– wide piece and then cut out the parts with a jeweler’s saw. Prop up the front and rear of the bottom fuse, and add the triangle stock, bulkheads and stringers. The battery tray also fits in now. This stiffens up the structure.
Sand the tri-stock to the correct curve to match the sides, and begin sheeting the fuselage from the rear. First, glue the 1/16-inch sheet to the tri-stock, bend it over to the top stringer, then mark, cut and glue it into place. This works for all the rear and lower sheeting. Do not glue together past F5; the fin fits in here. When all the sheeting has been done, remove the fuse from the building board and cut out the wing– saddle section. Add the small doublers, and cut the saddle to shape. The nose block and wing hold-down blocks go in next; then, all that’s left is to cut out the cockpit and the fresh-air holes in the nose that double as cannon muzzles. Cut a small hatch in the bottom sheeting through which you will install the elevator servo; it will be covered later.
Cut the fin from 1/8-inch medium balsa, and carefully mark the stabilizer cutout. It must have +1 degree of incidence. This may seem minor, but it is important to the handling. The fin extends from FS to the rear and all the way to the bottom of the fuse. Cut the stab from 3/32-inch balsa, and glue it in using a square to make it true. The tri-stock under it will add some strength. After building the assembly, pin down the fuse to the flat building board, and glue the tail into place. Make sure it lines up true in all directions.
Cut out all ribs, spars and plywood pieces first. Make the lower wing skins from 1/16-inch sheeting, and cut them to the exact outlines. Add the leading edge (LE), spars and aileron facings. Prop up the tips 1 1/2 inches on each side, and glue the two lower wing skins together with the correct dihedral. Lay in the 1/2-inch-wide glass tape with CA, and carefully fit the block in the front section where the bolts go through. Put the 1/64-inch ply piece in the trailing edge (TE) and add the gussets shown. You will have to put some small holes through the ribs and spars to fit the Sullivan cable through for the ailerons. Make sure you put them high enough in the center to ensure that the servo output arm will not bind after you’ve connected the cables. Use the tiny cable-not the heavy one. At this point, use a bar-type sander to radius the LE, and lightly go over the ribs and spars to ensure there is sufficient contact.
Make a washout guide from 1/8-inch– square stock, 1/8 inch high at the tip and tapering down to zero at the root. Pin the wing down with the guide on the board under the aileron faces, and glue on the top skin. I typically use medium CA for this, but some may prefer slower glue. After the glue has set, cut the other skin to match the root of the sheeting you’ve already installed. You’ll need to sand the sheeting’s edge slightly concave. Follow the same procedure on this side, and apply some nylon or glass tape to the center top.
Trim the excess wood from the skins, and sand the LE to shape, along with the tips and the ailerons themselves. Cut out your aileron servo hole so you’ll eventually be able to fish the motor wires through.
These aren’t as hard to do as they may seem, but to build them straight, you do need to pay attention to detail. Once again, assemble bulkheads from laminated 1/16– inch sheet. Don’t try to cut corners by using one piece of 1/8 inch-it has strength in only one direction, and you’ll need it in both directions. Note that there is an angle on the top for the dihedral.
Assemble the four basic balsa formers and four stringers. You will need to remove half of the top one for it to fit flush with the bottom of the wing. From the LE forward, it is still 3/16– inch-square stock.
Stand the wing on its TE, and, using a triangle, mark the center– line of the nacelles on the bottom of the wing. Now, make a line 3/32 inch to either side of it, and you have the location of the center stringer on the wing-both perfectly parallel. Glue your nacelle frames to the wing, and fish the motor wires through the wing and nacelles. Sheet the frames with 1/16-inch balsa, and add the tail and nose blocks. Hollow these out as much as possible to save precious grams. The motors are mounted on round, 1/16– inch-ply bulkheads with 2.5mm Allen– head screws, which in turn are mounted on the 1/16-inch-ply rings on the nacelles with sheet-metal screws. With this step done, the Me 262 really starts to look like a jet fighter.
By now you have probably set up the pieces on your bench, “just to see how it looks.” Pretty good, huh?
Next, set the wing-to-tail incidence; it isn’t that hard, if you’ve built true to the plan. Set the wing assembly on a flat surface. The nacelles are straight across the bottom, so as long as they are flat, the wing is flat also. Set the fuselage in the wing saddle, and check for +1 degree in the stabilizer. If it isn’t where it ought to be, sand the wing saddle until you achieve correct alignment; this is critical. Without it, the plane will climb as speed increases. At this point, also check for correct down– thrust, but no right thrust is necessary. Make sure that the fin is straight and the stabilizer is not tilted.
Radio installation is straightforward. The switch goes in first, in the nose on the bottom. Put in the elevator servo using two-sided tape to attach it to the fuse bottom. Also install the aileron servo with tape, and feed the small cable through the outer Nyrod, through the joiner and out the other side. Try to set the joiner in the first hole of the output arm. It doesn’t need a lot of aileron throw to fly well. The ESC sits up front, the receiver fits under the rear wing hold-down block (a Hitec 555 does, anyway!). Then put the battery pack in. Now is the time to check the CG and shift the battery around until it’s correct. Balance it at the tips, right side up. Swept wings are sensitive to rearward CG, so get it right where the plan says.
I am often asked what I used on my Me 262. I wanted it to be light and accurate, so I covered the entire plane in Flat Gray MonoKote and then scuffed the top surfaces with a machinist’s “scrubbie” to provide some bite for the paint. Since it’s electric, there’s no need to dip into your pockets for “fuelproof” anything, so I went with Rustoleum OD Green and Flat Earth spray paints. These are perfect for military electric models. The colors look great, stick well and don’t add much weight. I estimate it added 1 ounce. The right colors add reality to a scale model! The markings are Major Decals, WW II German 1/12 scale, except those on the fuselage, which were cut from white trim dulled with steel wool.
The two Speed 400 6V motors are wired in parallel from the ESC, and I used Deans polarized connectors between the wing and the ESC and the battery and the ESC. I wired them so that I can’t accidentally connect the battery to the wing. Make sure both motors turn in the correct direction. I would hate to see the spin you’d have if one spun the wrong way. I used Graupner High Speed spinners, as they look a bit like the starter housings on the real ship. I use a 20A fuse on my twins, and things work fine at that amperage.
I hope you have as much fun as I do with the Mini Me 262! I’ll wait to see how long it takes for some industrious person to drop in two brushless 020s! A special thanks to Charlie Rittinger, Jack Rosenthal, John Fotiu and Prop Shop Hobbies for all their help.
Anyone who has questions or who’s in need of assistance, feel free to contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be happy to help a fellow modeler!
Copyright Air Age Publishing Oct 2001
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