The American Champion (later Bellanca) Citabria has always been one of my favorite private tail dragger airplanes. Since fortune has not visited itself upon me even after nearly forty years of playing by the rules (fifty-two years now; hmmmm, maybe that's my problem), I still could not afford a full-size Citabria. So, the next best thing was to build a flying model of the real Citabria.
BTW, everyone reading this probably knows, but the name "Citabria" was derived as a kind-of backwards-sideways manipulation of the word "Aerobatic." If you stand on your head and cross your eyes while looking at the word, it will make more sense.
The Citabria came from the Sig Manufacturing Company. Sig kits, in my humble opinion, have never been very well engineered. The die cutting (at least for the older kits) is typically poor so the parts fit poorly, but the wood selection is usually exceptionally high quality. Just the opposite is true of Great Planes, who has extremely well engineered kits, but the wood is absolutely crappy.
My Sig Citabria was built in Smithsburg, Maryland, in the early 1990s. It was covered in white and metallic blue MonoKote. A Super Tigre .46 with muffler provided plenty of power. As is typical for me, a Futaba radio went inside. The photos here do not show the blue trim paint that eventually was applied to the wheel pants.
It had been quite a while since flying R/C airplanes when I built the Citabria. I shakily took off from my back yard and within moments needed to get a ladder to retrieve it from a maple tree. Miraculously, there was no damage done... except to my pride. After that incident, the Citabria was parked in the hanger for a while, and Carl Goldberg Freedom 20 trainer was purchased and built. The Freedom 20 was flown extensively from my back yard.
The Sig Citabria was sold, along with the radio and engine, prior moving my family to Waseca, Minnesota, in 1993. Some day I vow to build another... maybe make it electric to keep all that mess fuel from mucking up the pretty airplane.
A couple months ago I bought a new Sig Citabria kit from a fine gentleman named Jim W., who lives near Cincinnati, Ohio. He had it listed on Craigslist. The shrink warp plastic was still on the box when it arrived. As usual, the first thing I did was go through the inventory list to make sure everything was there that was supposed to be there. It was. However, there were about a dozen balsa pieces that I did not think were suitable for use because they where about as hard as oak (well, not quite, but very dense). I e-mailed a list to Sig, and they immediately sent replacement parts - is that great customer service or what?!?!
After all the years that had passed, I had forgotten just how big the Citabria is... at least to someone who has been building models with less than four-foot wingspans (except for sailplanes) for the last 15 years. My intention was to convert the Sig Citabria to electric power, but after seeing how big it is, I realized that it would take a mighty large brushless motor and at least a 4-cell, 3,500 mAh battery pack. So, I took the plans to Staples and had them reduced to 70%, resulting in a 48-inch wingspan. Below are images of the plans. They are not meant to be good enough to scaled up for use, just to let you see the detail included.