Cloning a plane

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by LoLPilot, Jul 31, 2020.

  1. LoLPilot

    LoLPilot Line Up and Wait

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    Okay hear me out.... there are plans built planes, and among them are monocoque designs like the RV4. Has anybody ever plans built a clone of a classic monocoque plane like a Swift or a Luscombe? Looking at the bulkhead / stringer / riveted skin construction, it would seem to me that something like this would actually be EASIER to construct from plans and raw parts than a tube and fabric design. Am I way off on that?
     
  2. skier

    skier Line Up and Wait

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    I thought someone homebuilt a Cessna from scratch a few years back.

    here’s a 180/185 replica
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/St-Just_Super-Cyclone

    the Mooney M-18 was offered in a homebuilt version, the M-18x. The plans are essential the shop drawings for the original plane.

    I believe Aircraft Spruce was offering plans for the Culver Cadet for a while.

    I think Falconar Avia had sold plans for a few variants of the Jodel.
     
  3. LoLPilot

    LoLPilot Line Up and Wait

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    That's awesome! Thanks! So the truth is that I kind of have a thing for the Swift. Every time I see one (or a Luscombe, to be honest), I just sit and stare at it. And they aren't terribly expensive, per se, but I'd just be concerned about logbooks and AD's and corrosion on an unsupported airplane that's that old. Being at the start of my career, shall we say that the dollars I have are worth a lot more than my time right now, and I enjoy making things. So as I looked at them I kept thinking that these are from the 40's, and nothing in them is super exotic.
     
  4. Dana

    Dana Pattern Altitude

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    Getting the drawings would be the hard part. Without drawings you'd have to have an original aircraft to reverse engineer.
     
  5. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie En-Route

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  6. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Some people prefer aluminum, some rag and tube. And, apparently, there are masochists that prefer composites.
    Might be hard to find the full plans for something like a Swift or Luscombe - but with some effort you may be able to use your imagination to fill in the blanks. A few parts (perhaps not even airworthy) would make it easier.
    My brother built a T-18 from plans, and then a Pitts clone from measurements.
    "Unsupported" shouldn't be much of a problem if you built purd near the whole thing from flat stock. :)
     
  7. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Or do a "look alike" without worrying about original details.
     
  8. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Didn't the Russians build their own B29 or am I making this up?
     
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  9. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    Perhaps join the Swift Museum and work that angle. They got a copy of the original plans, all the original tooling and own the TC as well. Might be able to work something out and build your own version. Had an old customer who relished the Swift as well and thought along the same lines. But he bought a real one instead.
     
  10. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    Tupolev Tu-4.
    [​IMG]
     
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  11. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I wouldn't be surprised if they bought some B29's. I know they bought some Sherman tanks. Those were superior to the T34.

    Edit: See above post. Interesting history.
     
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  12. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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    After Germany surrendered, the Russians were technically neutral (they had never declared war on Japan). A few B-29s were unable to return to their island bases after bombing Japan and ended up in Russian territory where they were interred. At this point, I am relating a story from a guy I used to work for that grew up in the USSR during the war - his father was in some kind of production management... Stalin ordered copies of one of the B-29s. So they started to disassemble it to reverse engineer. At one point, they found a place where some previous battle damage had been repaired with a patch. It didn't make sense to punch a hole and patch it, but they were told to copy it - so they asked the manager what to do. The manager asked the head of the factory, and up the chain it went until it got to someone who reported directly to Stalin. That person didn't want to appear stupid by asking Stalin, but had to provide an answer. The answer was "Stalin said to copy it". And they did.
     
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  13. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Well, not really neutral on the European front. To call the Soviets allies would be a misstatement. Certainly, Germany was a common enemy and a threat to Russian security, but as far as the Soviets, and the Germans were concerned, they were both battling each other for the domination of Western Europe. East Germany was basically a compromise consolation prize to Stalin. And it set the stage for the European theater cold war up until the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
     
  14. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    Then there is the guy who built his own Spitfire from plans
     
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  15. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    I spent quite a bit of time talking to the builder when he brought it to OSH the first time. It's a really impressive 100% scale replica. A lot of attention to the details of R. J. Mitchell's original. But the EAA Warbird folks objected and made him park it across the other side of the road in the homebuilt area.
     
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  16. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Don't know much about the Swift, but one of our prolific local EAA builders bought a disassembled basket case Luscombe and meticulously restored it to better than new. It is gorgeous, and his wife has claimed it leaving him to figure out what to do with the RV-9 she built and used to fly.

    There's probably a few of them out there needing some TLC and a few AMUs to bring them back to life. The Luscombe airframe is so simple there's almost nothing that couldn't be replaced if needed due to corrosion, etc.
     
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  17. LoLPilot

    LoLPilot Line Up and Wait

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    That's what makes the Luscombe attractive to me, other than the fact that I think they're beautiful. I've considered doing the basket case thing, but the problem is that you then end up with something that is a nightmare to get airworthy if you're not an AP. I had considered getting a Decathlon fuselage and then "rebuilding" a derelict plane and keeping meticulous records of it. Everything I was able to find out from talking to AP's, from Internet reading, and from an email to the FSDO, was that it would be technically possible to take a derelict and rebuild it according to the 51% rule, but that it is made so difficult (it seems deliberately so) as to make it practically impossible. I actually bought a Luscombe repair manual that has the drawings for the airframe! And you can get all of the complex parts commercially and then you could build the remaining bulkheads that you needed to document it to make the 51% rule, but I'm not sure with a Swift. Because if you started with a full airframe, especially something that was a monocoque, it seems to me that you couldn't get enough that you are building to satisfy the EAB requirements, meaning that you now need an AP to sign off all of the work and you still have the problem of documenting 60-70 years of modifications and AD's.
     
  18. GeorgeC

    GeorgeC En-Route

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  19. Mtns2Skies

    Mtns2Skies Super Moderator Management Council Member

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    Less thinking. More sending.
     
  20. Omalley1537

    Omalley1537 Line Up and Wait

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    Sad that they felt the need to do that.
     
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  21. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    If you want a classic looking new EAB taildragger, you're probably looking at one of the steel tube & fabric designs.

    But before you assume an aluminum monocoque Luscombe or similar restoration is too much work you might check with your local EAA chapter. Our local chapter has a number of qualified people that work with and oversee other members working to save and restore these old barn finds and basket cases, get them flying and keep them flying economically. Over the years we have members that have restored to flying condition a couple of Tiger Moths, Luscombes, at least one Cessna 120, a bunch of short-wing Pipers, and such. They are simple airplanes, so even though they aren't EAB the supervised annuals and maintenance is not going to break the bank.

    One member is now contemplating getting started on a Staggerwing, much of which is in boxes in his hangar - now that's an ambitious project. :eek:
     
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  22. LoLPilot

    LoLPilot Line Up and Wait

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  23. Dana

    Dana Pattern Altitude

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    The guy who built my Hatz later built a full size Waco. I believe he got drawings from the Smithsonian.

    But is a new production (STC, not E-AB) Luscombe a replica or an original?
     
  24. skier

    skier Line Up and Wait

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    they have the drawings for a large selection of aircraft, but I believe when you order them you sign something or accept something saying you won’t use them to build an aircraft.
     
  25. LoLPilot

    LoLPilot Line Up and Wait

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    I'd just want to use them to build a fully functional, full-scale model.
     
  26. LoLPilot

    LoLPilot Line Up and Wait

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  27. Bell206

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    FYI: the agreement you sign indicates for non-commercial purposes, non-profit, etc. The other issue is that the Smithsonian may not own the intellectual rights to the drawings so you would need to obtain those permissions as well if applicable.
     
  28. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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    A Luscombe or Swift would be a little more of a challenge than, say, a T-18 because they are more roundish compared to the slab side T-18. But one could save a lot of work by buying a few things like wing ribs, gear, and struts. (Just keep an eye on your "51%" checklist per AC 20-27G appendix 8 remembering that assembling the control stick carries as much weight as fabricating wing spars...)
     
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  29. LoLPilot

    LoLPilot Line Up and Wait

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    Yeah the 51% checklist is kind of wild because, as you say, fabricating things like the panel, fuel lines, and brake lines all carry the same importance as major structural components. So I would much rather buy things like the ribs and the spars and then make things like the electrical system, control stick, brake lines, etc.

    And out of curiosity, I guess I never put the name together.... are you *THAT* Thorpe?
     
  30. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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  31. Spring Ford

    Spring Ford Pre-takeoff checklist

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  32. Shepherd

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    So typical.
    Yet big money concerns can build a warbird, essentially from scratch, and stick a data plate on it and it's a "real warbird".