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Keil Kraft Phantom Mite (1970s version)

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    Keil Kraft Phantom Mite (1970s version)

    Ok, this is My First Build Log so please bear with me!

    Why a Phantom Mite? First, I love building from plans. Secondly, I acquired an old, beautiful but unused 0.5cc Mills-ish diesel at a Hastings MFC swap meet in 2016 and finally got round to ungumming it this last winter. It runs a treat and needs to be flown! Lastly, serendipity: last year, my brother returned a box of plans from our collective youth in the 1960s and 1970s that turned up in an attic - including the original plan for a kit Phantom Mite he built about 1970 and perfect for the Mills. The version is similar to the Aerofred plan (link below).

    I'm most of the way through the build as I start the log, so I'll first upload photos I've already taken with annotations. Hope these are useful to someone - and I'm happy to answer questions.

    #2
    Here's the engine - a Russian-made 0.5cc diesel of the classic Mills layout. It was gummed solid with dried Castor Oil apparently from the factory test. A week in a jar of cellulose thinners got it free enough to dismantle, clean up and lubricate.

    The propellor is a Thimbledrome (i.e. Cox) 6" x 3" and it starts and runs sweetly on Model Technics D-1000. It has an R/C "throttle" fitted from new but it's really only good as a shut-off as the little engine cools quickly if throttled back so it's hard to get stable revs - easier to back off the compression a little if needed.

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    The engine could have been made to measure for the plan. First step on the model was to build the engine mounting. The original plan's mounting for the bellcrank looked weak but a small commercial bellcrank mounted on the cockpit floor came to exactly the same position for the leadouts.

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    Last edited by Pete in East Sussex; 03-11-2019, 05:08 PM.

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      #3
      Next up was to make a tank. My "semi-wedge" design has about 8cc capacity - enough for about 6 minutes running - and Uniflow venting to get consistent head of fuel when running. I drew up accurate outlines in Microsoft Visio, then cut the parts from a Llye's Black Treacle tin. It took me three attempts to get the tank right. The first would not solder because I skimped on preparing the metal. The second came out warped because I didn't allow enough space for the folds to tuck together. The third was a charm, once I'd blown air into it while under water (the tank, not me) to find the couple of pin holes that needed a dab more with the soldering iron.


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        #4
        On to the fuselage. I cut the formers from 3mm ply I had in stock - a bit thicker than the plan called for. The undercarriage is from 12 swg piano wire, bound and epoxied to F1. I had intended to use F1A and F1B to plank over the tank. In the end, I sawed them off square and carved a tank-sized space in soft block (as per the plan). I photocopied templates for the sides to follow on 3/32" balsa, then joined the sides to the engine mount, followed by the formers in the time-honoured manner. As the bellcrank mount was going to end up under the tank, I soldered its bolt to a scrap of tin plate and epoxied that in place on the cockpit floor.

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          #5
          The flying surfaces got a similar treatment to the fuselage of templates cut from sheet. With the main fuselage blocking trial-pinned in place, it begins to look like an aeroplane!

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          My tip for sanding accurate flats onto balsa (as for that angle on the lower nose block): fix the abrasive paper to the table and move the wood.

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            #6
            I added a tail skid (the plan has none) bent from 18 swg piano wire then sewn and epoxied to F3 to which I added a thin ply doubler. I wanted a skid both to protect the tail-end of the fuselage and to let me self-release the model with a pin through the loop on a string to the centre of the circle. Maybe. On the other hand, maybe it will just snag on the ground - we shall see!

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              #7
              I made the engine cowling from scraps of block as per the plan, carved inside to clear the engine bolts, fuel line and intake. I located (and I hope secured) the cowl onto the engine bearers with two short 18 swg wire pins, located in corresponding brass tubes through the bearers. In fact, I drilled the holes for the tubes first (with a drill stand, to get them vertical and parallel) then epoxied the tubes in place and used them as guides to drill into the block for the pins. Once it's carved to shape, the engine exhaust ports will be above the cowl. By the way, the spinner is the original from my brother's 1970s kit!

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                #8
                I decided to try making a canopy for the first time and I am pleasantly surprised how easy it was. First job was to make a male mould in soft balsa block using templates from the plan to get the canopy shape. It doesn't seem to need to be a fine finish as the acetate will be well stretched over any dents. I then cut a (fairly rough) female aperture to pull the acetate sheet over the male mould.

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                The mould was then glued to the top of a short post to hold in a vice. A piece of acetate (bought from my local Hobbycraft shop) was clamped to the female. As this is a tiny canopy, I was able to use my thermostatically controlled covering iron to find the right temperature (about 135C) to soften the acetate before quickly pulling it down over the mould. I had to be quick as the mould is cold this way but it might have been easier to heat the mould, too. I made a bunch of canopies and was glad I did as it took several goes to cut one out to fit well.

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                  #9
                  The wing blank was sanded to a reasonable section (it's basically an plate wing inclined to the thrust line rather than a good lifting aerofoil), then cut along the centre line and beveled for a dihedral joint. I cut wing joiners from thin ply, cut slots in the wing for them with a razor saw and other slots for the lead-out guide.

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                    #10
                    That just about finished the basic airframe woodwork with the exception of the fuselage bottom. The original building sequence from the kit left some of the covering until after the wings, tail and fuselage were mated. I chose to first cover everything then assemble. Lots of filling (Delux Materials Model Lite), sanding, doping (Phoenix Precision non-shrinking dope), sanding, doping, and sanding followed before the tissue when on, with Humbrol enamel in the engine bay, tail bay and cockpit. I don't have many photos of those stages, but I did carve a crude pilot to fill the cockpit as I think it looks weird to see models trying to look like real aircraft with nobody in the office. The pilot won't win any prizes but it still looks better than an empty hole!

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                      #11
                      The original instructions also left the fuselage bottom and wing fairings until after assembly but I added these before covering, too. I also stitch-hinged the elevator to the stabiliser during covering and added some paint-line framework to the canopy (not very well done). The colour scheme is pretty much my house (hanger?) standard style.

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                      I think it's all coming together nicely at this stage. Those little tail fairing pieces, still to be attached, were a pain - in retrospect, it would have been better and easier to make a solid block slotted to take the fin instead of a separate piece either side.

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                        #12
                        Last pieces of decoration are transfers (a.k.a. decals) which I made using water-slide transfer paper from Amazon, printed from Microsoft Word and coated with about six coats of matt artists' spray lacquer. I tried using gloss lacquer once but it didn't take dope so well.

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                        That's the build up to date. Still have the final assembly and final coats of dope to apply plus balancing (fore-aft and left-right) to sort. I will update this log as I progress.

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                          #13
                          Oh memories, I was 12 in 1959 with the KK Phantom, nice looking plane your Mite.

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