Website visitor Eduardo wrote to ask that I scan and
post this construction article for the Beechcraft Bonanza Debonair. I am glad to do so for anyone, at
no charge, as time permits. Usually, I am able to get requests completed within a couple days. If plans
are still available through the AMA
Plans Service, then only lower resolution versions are posted (typically
1500 pixels wide) in order to not cheat the AMA out of needed revenue. Besides, there are distortions
in the scaled-up magazine version that would not be present in the AMA's reproductions from the originals.
The AMA Plans Service will provide a version of the plans at a size different from the original, so,
for instance, if you want a 48" wingspan rather than 60" like the one featured.
I checked the AMA
Plans Service listing and they do not appear to offer these plans, so please end me an e-mail for my
full-resolution scan. The plans show a foam wing and a fiberglass cowl, so it will not be an easy build.
* WARNING * When I used the scale shown on the plans, it does not jive with component size
marked. For instance, the spinner is labeled as 2" diameter, but according to the scale it is only about
1-3/8". It appears that the length of the scale should be labeled as 4" rather than 3" in order for
everything to come out correctly. I have never seen this happen before. Maybe the AMA discontinued offer
plans because of it - just a thought.
By Mark Frankel
The first time I saw a Bonanza was during a Sunday excursion to the local airport with my father.
I couldn't have been more than five or six years old at the time, but the airplane's distinctive looks
left a deep impression. At that time, the Bonanza design was relatively new, having been type-certified
in November 1946, and its radical appearance implied that it was an ultra high performance lightplane.
True-scale models of Beechcraft's best-known aircraft. Conventional construction
and a delight to fly.
Over the past 25 years, the Bonanza has undergone several changes. The most recent model, the V35TC,
is a 285-hp turbocharged version of that swift looking, V-tailed aircraft I admired many Sundays ago.
The Bonanza line also includes a conventional-tailed model, the E33, which was introduced in the early
1960's under the name of Debonair. Essentially, it is a 225-hp Bonanza with a conventional tail (the
horizontal stabilizer was taken from Beechcraft's T-34 Mentor). It looked so attractive I resolved to
build a scale model.
Generally such an urge passes before I can clear the drawing board and reach for my T-square, and
the Bonanza was no exception. I rationalized that I'd rather be flying than building; besides, I didn't
have any three-view drawings. Alas, Flying (July 1968) ran a cover picture of a chrome yellow and white
E33 with black trim and I could resist no longer. The local Beechcraft dealer was able to supply Bonanza
brochures, as well as the address of Beechcraft Marketing Services in Wichita. Beechcraft promptly sent
drawings of their entire line from the Musketeer to the King Air.
Initially, I decided to build the conventional-tail E33 instead of the V35TC because I was leery
of stability problems with the V-tail version. I also elected to incorporate a non-scale flat-bottomed
airfoil to lift the model's projected ten pound weight. My fears were unwarranted on all counts. The
completed model flew at well under ten pounds; the scale airfoil on my second Bonanza proved to be far
more efficient; and the V-tail provides as much stability as any conventional-tailed configuration.
The plans show both the V35TC and the E33 versions. The only differences between the two models are
in the wingtips, the rear window outline, and the tail. To build the E33, cut that tail projection (shown
on the plan's second sheet) and join it to the fuselage side view at the broken line.
Photos by James Lipshutz and Robert Harris
Ready to taxi out, the Debonair responds to gently advancing throttle. Except for tip shapes, tail
surfaces and rear window outlines, the two craft are basically similar.
The fuselage is simple to build. Basically it is a box of 1/8" balsa sides with 1/4" sq. cross members.
A 3/8" balsa roof is glued to the tops of formers running from F9 to the back of the windshield former.
The roof line has a slight curve, making it necessary to score the 3/8" sheet above F5 and F6 to allow
its proper seating. 1/16" balsa sheeting fills in the area between F7 and F9. The roof is then carved
and sanded to the cross sections shown on the plans. The bottom of the fuselage from the trailing edge
of the wing aft is 1/16" sheet.
The windows are made from sheet celluloid and are glued in place with a nitrocellulosic glue, such
as Ambroid. The windshields on my Bonanzas are also cut from sheet celluloid; however, this won't reproduce
the full-size Bonanza's slightly bubbled windshield as shown on the plans. If the bubbled windshield
is desired, it can be molded from a male form. (The "Jungster" article, p. 20, Aug. 1969 AAM contains
an excellent, explanation of molding.) After the windshield and windows are in place, the 1/16" balsa
window frames are glued in the appropriate positions.
The cowling is made with fiberglass cloth and Hobbypoxy Formula II over a styrofoam mold. Four layers
of a medium weight glass cloth were contact-cemented to the styrofoam form and then coated liberally
with Hobbypoxy, After the Hobbypoxy cures, the styrofoam can be melted out with dope thinner. The outside
of the cowl is made perfectly smooth by filling the low spots with Epoxylite and sanding with 60 grit
paper. The cowl is held to the fuselage by wood screws that are driven into maple blocks attached to
The tail surfaces are
shaped from lightweight 1/4" balsa sheet. If the V-tail version is being built, care must be taken to
ensure that the tail is set at 0 degrees incidence. When done properly, the dihedral joint should be
perfectly parallel to the thrust line. The leading edge of the V-tail will not rest on the 1/8" sides
because of the shape of the fuselage. When the V-tail is glued firmly between F9 and F10, the triangular
gap between the 1/8" fuselage sides and the tail is filled with scrap 1/8" balsa. The E33 tail does
not pose any alignment problem, since the stabilizer rests directly on the 1/8" sides, thus setting
the tail at 0 degrees.
The wing is made using an Armalite polystyrene core covered with light 1/16" balsa sheeting. Since
the wing is rigged 5 degrees positive at the root and 0 degrees at the tip, a foam wing is probably
the easiest and certainly the most accurate means of construction. A built-up wing could be employed
if it were built without the wash-out and the wing incidence reduced to 2 degrees or less. I built the
original wing without wash-out, but the maiden flight taught me that a wing without this much positive
incidence yields the most unexpected and unforgiving snap rolls possible.
Further research at the local Beechcraft dealer determined that the full-size Bonanza has pronounced
wash-out. A new foam wing was cut and the results were quite different. When the wing stalls, it has
no tendency to, drop a tip; in fact, the ailerons seem to remain entirely effective throughout the stall.
This certainly supports the argument that Dave Platt and others have made: a scale aircraft tends to
fly best with the scale airfoil and force arrangement.
Taking off in a snappy climbing turn is the V-tailed Bonanza.
If one of the newer lightweight radio systems is used, installing a fully detailed interior should
be easy. The servos can be hidden under the seats, while the battery and receiver can be placed near
the firewall under the fuel tank. The current Bonanza brochure provides some excellent interior shots
which are valuable for adding detail to the model. Take care, however, to keep the aircraft's weight
at ten pounds or less.
Various general aviation publications as well as local airports are good sources of inspiration for
scale color schemes. The colors on my E33 and V35TC were taken from a Beechcraft ad in Flying. I brushed
three coats of Kampel's clear dope on all wood surfaces, sanding with 220 grit paper between each coat.
Then the model was entirely covered with heavy Silkspan and given two more coats of clear. This was
followed by four liberal coats of sanding sealer. At this point, the aircraft should be set aside for
a week to allow the sanding sealer ample time to dry.
Next, the model should be sanded with 320 wet or dry paper until all high spots and all evidence
of wood grain are removed. This is probably the most important step in a good finish and it must be
done properly to insure a good base for the color. If any grain or unevenness persists, recoat that
area with sanding sealer and re-sand when dry.
The color coats were sprayed on, using about 10 percent lacquer
retarder to aid the paint flow and prevent any blushing. The color, like the sanding sealer, should
be allowed to dry for a week before it is rubbed. If the spray has left any "orange peel," wet sand
the surface with 400 grit paper. I used DuPont's 202 orange rubbing compound for the initial polishing
and followed this with the fine 606 white compound. By now the airplane should have a mirror-like brilliance
and is ready for waxing. Any good automotive wax or Jubille household wax will enhance and protect the
The radio system should be installed to give the control surface movement indicated on the plans.
I used five servos: throttle, ailerons, flaps, elevators, and steerable nose wheel. The V35TC uses no
rudder, while the E33 does. Actually, the elevators act as a rudder when the V-tail is banked since
one tail surface becomes vertical. Thus a slight application of up elevator in conjunction with an aileron
command will give a beautifully coordinated turn.
Test flights should be made off a paved surface if possible; a scale model needs all the speed it
can get before lift-off. I have stalled my Bonanza when taking off from a grass field because it ·was
unable to build sufficient speed. Use only a slight nudge of back pressure on the stick to get the model
airborne; it is always better to run out of runway into the weeds than to force the airplane into the
air before it is ready.
Either version is highly responsive on all axes. The only difference between flying a scale model
such as the Bonanza and a typical pattern aircraft is the scale model's higher stalling speed. The flaps
help to compensate for some of the problems associated with a high stall speed. I was skeptical about
the effectiveness of flaps on a model until I tried them. With the power reduced to one quarter throttle,
lowering the flaps will produce a slight nose down pitch. The ailerons remain completely effective throughout
the entire range of flap travel.
Power should not be chopped completely until the Bonanza is over the edge of the runway with about
ten feet of altitude. A touch of up elevator after the power has been cut will produce a gentle flair
that will set the aircraft lightly on its main landing gear. I may install retractable landing gear
for additional realism. Several reliable units are on the market now, and my new Webra 61 Blackhead
should more than compensate for the added weight.
The effort involved in building the Bonanzas has been well worth it. Whenever they are flown, these
highly attractive models receive much attention from spectators and modelers alike. Either version builds
as easily as a typical pattern model and is twice as much fun to fly.
Bonanza Debonair Plans
The AMA Plans Service offers a full-size
version of many of the plans show here at a very reasonable cost. They will scale the plans any size for you. It is always
best to buy printed plans because my scanner versions often have distortions that can cause parts to fit poorly. Purchasing
plans also help to support the operation of the Academy of Model
Aeronautics - the #1 advocate for model aviation throughout the world. If the AMA no longer has this plan on file, I
will be glad to send you my higher resolution version.
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Posted May 2, 2015