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Phantom Article & Plans
June 1971 American Aircraft Modeler

June 1971 American Aircraft Modeler

June 1971 American Aircraft Modeler magazine cover - Airplanes and RocketsTable of Contents

These pages from vintage modeling magazines like Flying Aces, Air Trails, American Modeler, American Aircraft Modeler, Young Men, Flying Models, Model Airplane News, R/C Modeler, captured the era. All copyrights acknowledged.

Website visitor Richard P. wrote to ask for me to scan articles from the June 1971 edition of American Aircraft Modeler magazine. The two articles, subtitled "A Study in Design Ideas," feature two control line stunters, the F-4 Phantom and the B8 Crusader, presented together as complimentary models but with varied construction techniques. Designed and built by two separate modelers, Bill Suarez and Vic Macaluso, respectively, they are similar in that both represented at the time "the Navy's best current jet fighters," both have tricycle landing gear, have wingspans in the 55-60" range, and use inverted mounting for a .35-size engine. The big difference between the two is that the Phantom ahs a built-up wing while the Crusader has a foam core wing. The Crusader uses anhedral in the wing - uncommon for a stunter. See the accompanying Crusader article.

Phantom - A Study in Design Ideas

Phantom Article from the June 1971 American Aircraft modeler - Airplanes and Rockets

Two consistent contest-winners, these semi-scale stunters are based on the Navy's best current jet fighters. Should be most effective at the Nats.

The Navy's Blue Angels have opened a new chapter with not only a new show but also a new plane: the McDonnell Douglas F4 Phantom II. However, long before the Blue Angels ever received their Phantoms, I formulated the idea for a model of this ship.

By Bill Suarez

Photos by Bill Boss

With two P-38's behind me and experience in semi-stunt, I was looking for a new subject. It had to be impressive, easy to identify, have a trike gear, and be original to the Stunt event. The free world's most successful jet fighter, the Phantom II, was the answer. When the Blue Angels received their Phantom a few seasons later, my choice proved to be right.

After much thought and a little experimentation, I concluded that such items as gigonda (super-large) air inlets, anhedral-high-sweep stab, and dog-tooth leading edge could be included if the right combination of variables were determined. The large inlets are possible because of the relatively slow velocity of a stunter and the air vortex created by the prop blast. Placing inlets in already disturbed air makes an insignificant difference in drag.

The wing was designed with the ability to flex, thus allowing the airplane to turn a smooth tight corner and maintain stability. This old concept is a good one. The dog-tooth leading edge acts as a fence, preventing airflow from slipping outward toward the tips, and thereby maintains good lift on a high wing-sweep stunter.

Since realism also was one of the goals, the cockpit is strictly military and not like something out of "Star Trek."

Make no mistake, the model presented here is a true contest performer, capable of flying the AMA pattern to the book. It is impressive not merely by virtue of its shining blue and yellow dope. Although much of the spectator appeal lies in the fact that Angels fly Phantoms, this model probably would fare just as well with many of the other paint schemes. The Air Force Thunderbirds also fly Phantom II's now-another exciting possibility.

Overall view of Phantom shows mirror-like finish and built-in leading edge steps - Airplanes and Rockets

Overall view of Phantom shows mirror-like finish and built-in leading edge steps.

Exhaust pipe simply made from spray can tops. Rudder off-set also eviden - Airplanes and Rockets

Exhaust pipe simply made from spray can tops. Rudder off-set also evident.

Even simple cockpit detail attracts attention - Airplanes and Rockets

Even simple cockpit detail attracts attention. Fuel line filter always kept handy.

My Phantom model was ill-fated at the 1970 Nationals. During practice, the down line (flying cable) broke, resulting in a heavily damaged stunt ship. Only with the unending help of my partner, Guy Fletcher, in making repairs in the midnight hours was it possible to fly the ship on qualification day. It missed placing by three points, but it did receive 32 appearance points - not bad for a damaged airplane!


Wood selection is important. Choose strength where necessary, but use the lightest wood where strength is not a must. Although the model will fly well at higher weights, the best performance can be obtained at about 47 oz. Sig balsa was used throughout and is recommended.

Start wing construction by shaping the ribs. Place 11 rib blanks between templates W-1 and W-12A and then carve and sand them to contour. Discard the 5 outer ribs. Ribs for the outer panel are developed by placing 5 rib blanks between W-7A and W-12A. Shape and contour as before. Next, produce W-1, W-7A, and W-12A in 1/16" balsa.

All ribs for the outboard wing can be duplicated from the first set (note that W-12A is omitted on the outboard wing). Finally, form sub-ribs W-S1 and W-S2, using the leading section of W-7 and W-7A, respectively.

Pin down the trailing edge to a flat building board and glue the ribs in place, making sure that each one is straight. Carefully notch the ribs and add spars. The main leading edge is fitted to the wing by allowing it to pass through the ribs of the outer panels. Trim, as necessary, the main leading edge and fit the minor leading edge to the wing.

Next, add the trailing edge top plank and cap. Install the bellcrank platform and add the control system. Leading edge planking is done now, by cutting the planking at the dog-tooth edge only as far back as necessary to match rib contours of W-7 and W-7A ribs. Check for warps and steam them out if they occur. Plank the center section and add cap strips.

Glue wing tip blanks in place and carefully shape them. Remove the tips and hollow out. Add a 1-oz. weight to the outboard wing tip and glue the wing tips back in place.

After the control horn is properly fitted, carefully shape and assemble the flaps. For long life, use epoxy in this operation. Finally, hinge the flaps to the trailing edge and again check the wing for warps.

The main landing gear is bent to shape, J-bolted to the plywood platform and glued into place.

Assemble the fuselage main section (excluding scoops) in the conventional manner. Tack glue the top block and shape. Remove it and hollow it out. Join the main section to the wing, using fiberglass cloth and polyester resin. Check alignment. Shape and hinge the stab and elevator and add anhedral as shown on the plan. Reinforce the joint sparingly with fiberglass cloth and resin. The half horns must be fitted properly. Using one 3/32" section and two DuBro Kwik-Links, assemble the pushrods. Wrap the joint at 1/2" intervals with uncoated copper wire. Then solder it, using silver solder if possible. A good solder joint here is a must. Adjust pushrod ends and install them on the elevator. Install the other end of the pushrod on the flap control horn. Align and glue the stab to the fuselage.

The elevator and flaps must be neutral, and the controls must have free movement. Bend the axle section of nose landing gear wire. Join two sections with copper wire, wrap and solder. Slide copper or aluminum tubing over the joint and make final bends. J-bolt the nose landing gear to plywood platform. Add all other necessary components, such as the nose landing gear, the tank, etc., to the fuselage main section. Now match the fuselage top block for rudder and stab and glue it to the fuselage. Shape the rudder and install. Glue air scoop bulkheads in place as shown on plan. Scoop sides are shaped, installed on the model and tack glued at the wing joint only. When dry, carefully bend scoop sides around the bulkheads. Add 1/4" sq. filler to scoop sides and 1/8" sq. to the main fuselage. 

Fit and glue 3/16" thick sections to the top of scoop sides and fuselage. Glue and shape the 1/4" sheet fuselage bottom in place. Scoops are now fully contoured. Add all other details, such as fillets, spinner, etc.

Using a sanding block whenever possible, carefully and thoroughly sand the entire framework with fine sandpaper.

Much has been done with new finish and covering methods, but I still prefer the dope method. However, the choice is up to the modeler.

Brush on one coat of clear dope and sand lightly. Next, brush on two coats of a wood filler consisting of one part talcum powder, one part AeroGloss filler coat, and one part thinner. Sand between each coat.

Cover the wing section with medium Silkspan. When the covering is tight, brush on five thinned coats of clear. Sand off any roughness. Silk-cover the entire nose including the cowling. Then, add cockpit detail. The seats as well as instrument panels were made from pressed cardboard and epoxied into place. Mold the canopy from .040 acetate butyrate or plexiglass. Epoxy the canopy to the fuselage and add a 1/4" silk strip over the joint. Mask the canopy for painting.

Make up a filler consisting of one part thinner, one part talc, one part color finish, and one half part clear dope. Two coats of this filler are sprayed on, allowing at least one day for drying thoroughly. Sand between each coat. One coat of clear dope is sprayed on to seal off these coats.

By now the finish should be perfectly smooth and ready for color. Spray four to five coats of finish color but do not sand. Finally add the markings and AMA numbers, then spray on two final coats of clear. Allow the dope to dry for a least a few weeks before rubbing out.

Phantom Plans from June 1967 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and Rockets

Phantom Plans
<click for larger version>


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.

Try my Scale Calculator for Model Airplane Plans.



Posted May 24, 2023
(updated from original post on 2/22/2012)

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