Techniques & Tips: Mounting a biplanes upper wing

Rusty Keeler shares a simple but effective technique for getting those top wings mounted correctly on a biplane…. good stuff for me as I’m starting my first one!

The 1:72 scale Monogram F4B-4 and the Accurate Miniatures F3F series biplanes are superbly engineered kits and this can be said for assembling the wings as well. My only other experience with biplanes has been with Classic Airframes F4B-4. Therefore this comes from very limited experience but I can’t help but think that this would work for many other types of biplanes. For a short run kit, the overall fit has been great and the parts are very clean. With that said, the assembly of the landing gear struts and the upper wing is not for the faint of heart.

This tip is for the assembly of the upper wing and how easily it can be overcome. As a mechanical engineer I wish I could claim this but I have to give credit where credit is due and I took this idea from Clarence Wentzel after seeing a biplane he had built.

The lower wing of the Classic Airframes F4B-4 is a one piece part that spans across and forms the lower portion of the fuselage. Therefore the dihedral (if any) is already set. Using the color sheet that shows decal placement, I scanned a copy and using CorelDraw, I scaled the picture to the appropriate size. I then made two copies and glued them to a sheet of 1/4” foam board (the kind with the paper backing on both sides). Once dry, I cut out the pattern with an X-Acto knife. You now have a simple tooling jig that when assembled as seen in the photos, sets the correct height for your upper wing as well as holds things in place while glue dries. I mention “correct height” because the “N” struts and the cabine struts in the F4B-4 kit are slightly too long.

In my particular case, I have used both model glue as well as CA glue for this step in the assembly. The model glue was first used to tack the struts in place. I then used CA to build up the strut fairings as well as strengthen the joint. The mounting locations for both the cabine struts and the “N” struts are well marked. It will take a lot of fiddling and dry fitting to get the struts to the right length and keep the correct angle, just take your time. Since the photos were taken, I’ve installed the “N” struts and have filled in all the gaps around the fairings on the lower wing. Now, I just need to get busy and mount the upper wing.

If you’ve been considering building a biplane I hope this has not deterred you from tackling one but has given some inspiration in starting one and shown how to make the task easier.

Rusty Keeler has just come back to the modeling hobby in the last seven years after being away from it since Jr. high. With a strong interest in naval aviation, he builds mostly U.S. Navy carrier based aircraft. It was with this interest and building the Monogram 1:48 scale F9F Panther that Flattops & More Hobbies came into being. Wanting to display the Panther landing on a carrier and not being able to find a suitable base, his wife suggested he make his own. With her encouragement and support, Flattops & More Hobbies was born. For a look at what they offer check out www.flattopsandmore.com or contact him at rusty@flattopsandmore.com.

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