e-mail arrived requesting that I scan and post this construction article for Harold deBolt's Crusader
from the August 1959 edition of American Modeler. I offer the service free of charge for
anyone that writes, provided I already have the magazine. There have even been a couple cases where
I bought editions on eBay after people asked for them in order to be able to post the articles.
I'll never understand people who don't have the courtesy of signing an e-mail when asking for a
favor (this isn't the first time)... and no excuses about being old and not knowing how to use the
computer - would you do the same thing with hand-written letters? Then again, maybe he hit the Send
button accidently before finishing.
Harold deBolt's Low-wing Crusader for R/C
Here are all the "whys" and "hows" of low-wing flying. DeBolt gives the low down (pun). on what's
best; read this informative report!
presenting the "Crusader" I would like to do so in more of an informative way rather than as a strictly
constructive article. Space is limited and there is so much that can be gotten from this model that
it seems foolish to linger overly long on construction when so few that may be building one will
actually need such information.
Some 4 years ago George Swank and I decided that the time was right when we could come close
to duplicating control line stunt maneuvers with R/C models. We embarked upon an extensive evaluation
project which took us through most every sort of model configuration. To make a long story short
we found that the low wing design seemed to offer the best possibilities for top inverted performance.
The reasoning being that when a low wing is inverted it is in effect a "high wing" and except for
the dihedral effect it should have the highly desirable stability inherent with a high wing.
The results found at that time indicated that it would be imperative to use a low wing IF we were
to fly inverted equally as well as upright. The project was shelved at that point simply because
it became increasing important to spend more of the available time trying to solve the intricacies
(at that time) of the then new multi-control systems. Also, the advantage would have been relatively
small since the rules then would not have credited us for our inverted flying.
About a year ago an old friend of ours, Fred Dunn, startled the R/C world with reports of the
fabulous performance from his low wing design. These reports ignited the old spark and I decided
to have another look at the low wing using a more modem approach.
A lot of consideration was put into this first design and the "Crusader" was built as a strictly
experimental model to evaluate these design features and to provide an opportunity to tryout some
ideas for use with low wing types which seemed to have merit. Now the project has been completed
and I am pleased to say that it can be considered to be very successful, hence I feel that many
others can get some good from these results.
In general the basic aim of the "Crusader" design was to obtain the ultimate in inverted flying
ability and still have a model which could be flown without excessive difficulty. It was felt that
the model should be able to perform all upright maneuvers while inverted if the aim was to be achieved.
To this end all factors were directed towards a maximum of inverted performance and when a compromise
had to be struck it was allowed to lean towards the inverted factor.
When you think of inverted flying the first thing which comes to mind is the airfoil; you must
of course have one which is efficient in both respects. To me there can not be any other choice
for this other than a full symmetrical, after all if it is to have equal action in both directions
it must be identical on both sides. For the past several years I have been using a well proven and
extremely stable symmetrical foil, as a result there was no problem in choosing the foil to be used
on the "Crusader"- it would be this one.
The force setup (angular settings of the wing and stabilizer relative to the line of thrust)
used is a bit unusual for a symmetrical type airfoil, however there was a good reason for it. One
of the problems with a low wing when inverted is that the tail tends to fly high and thus the effective
center of lateral area is high also. This sets up a unstable factor which tends to cause the model
to drop off on one wing or another. It would not make too much difference which way the fall-off
flying my Live Wires I had noticed that they had extreme stability in this respect while flying
inverted. Once on their back they would stay there with no tendency to fall off; a flat bottom airfoil
was in use, of course. In analyzing this feature I finally realized that the full down elevator
which was required to hold them inverted was also forcing the tail end of the airplane to fly "low".
Thus, in effect this attitude was creating a low center of lateral area while inverted giving the
added stability which the Live Wire seemed to have.
I felt that it would be extremely desirable if something of this nature could be worked into
the low wing design. It could not be duplicated exactly for if it was the symmetrical foil would
be lifting when the inverted flat bottom type was not, resulting in an inverted climb instead of
tail low level flight.
The symmetrical airfoil lifts well at angles as low as 1 to 2 degrees and with this knowledge
in mind the wing was set at a 5 degree positive angle of incidence. The stabilizer was set at a
4 degree positive angle although this is not the least bit critical as tests indicated anything
from 3 to 5 would do the job. With these angles upright flight is minus any ballooning tendencies
due to the careful balance of stabilizer lift relative to wing lift, much as in the Live Wires.
However, when inverted enough down pressure must be exerted by the elevators 60 that the wing
will be forced to at least a 1 degree angle of attack before level inverted flight can be obtained.
In doing this the elevator action also forced the tail end of the model down somewhat in the same
manner as with the Live Wire. Thus, the lowest possible center of lateral area inverted was obtained
consistent with the rest of the model's design. In practice this seemed to be one of the more creditable
assets which the model had, it did fly inverted with the least tendency to fall off that we had
ever observed in an inverted type model.
One of the first questions which I was asked at a flying field was "How much thrust offset do
you have in the 'Crusader?'" My usual reply was "none at all" accompanied by a silly grin. Almost
every time the result was disbelief as the questioner walked away. This zero thrust was one of the
things which I am most proud of simply because I tried hard to achieve it and feel that it is most
necessary for the ultimate in all around performance.
My reasoning was brought home hard to me one night during a "bull session" in Ernie Kratzet's
cellar. In discussing inverted flying he stated that side thrust had an opposite effect from what
it had upright while in the inverted position, yet the torque which sidethrust was used to compensate
was the same. In other words you could expect torque effect and side thrust to team up when inverted.
We had some dramatic demonstrations of hanger flying with one of Ernie's models that night; in the
end I had to admit that he was right! Since then I have used every effort possible to get rid of
all thrust offsets on models intended for inverted flight.
The "Crusader" has no down thrust because of the high thrust line relative to the center of resistance
plus the effect obtained from the lifting stabilizer in its Live Wire force setup. The side thrust
was eliminated by creating a careful aerodynamic balance of forces pivoting about the C.G. By creating
a careful balance here the torque effect was balanced out by all the other factors which could be
worked against it. The end result is an arrangement whereby the thrust remains the same no matter
in what position the model is flying in.
Another advantage obtained from this neutral thrust comes in ground handling. At taxi speeds
torque is much more effective than any counteraction used against it. The natural result is that
the model tends to follow the torque at low speeds, side thrust being ineffective the model will
tend to turn with the torque and must be compensated for. With no side thrust needed this model
tends to go straight under slow speed taxiing conditions.
I have little doubt but what the "Crusader" could be flown with the simplest form of controls,
however it would seem to be a waste of good potential to try that. In any case the "Crusader" was
flown with the reliable Bramco "Regent 8" for the radio and Model MC type Multi-Servos for the actuators.
With this equipment rudder, aileron, elevator, engine, tail wheels and wheel brake controls were
used ... a "full house."
The rudder was used as a basic control at first. The ailerons were used only for maneuvering.
Both of these controls used the MCR type servo for its full self-neutralizing features. The elevator
and engine used the MCE type servo. For the MCE engine actuator the two normally-closed relay contacts
which usually actuate the neutral circuit were not connected (two wires were omitted) so that with
this arrangement the engine servo was completely trimmable giving infinite engine speed control.
The MCE used on the elevator was used as intended, self-neutralizing and yet trimmable about
neutral. This trim at neutral allowed the use of the "down-trim" necessary to fly the model inverted
with "hands off" on the elevator. The other controls were picked off these in the usual manner now
flying the model for some time trouble was encountered during takeoffs (just after being airborne)
and during the last stages of landing approaches a wing would drop and the rudder control just would
not lift the wing quickly enough under these circumstances. It was found that a tendency to slow
the model down so a short field landing could be made was causing me to fly it too slowly and actually
stall out. The simple answer was to switch to ailerons as the basic control so that the low dragging
wing could be lifted quickly when needed.
Another answer would have been to adjust the elevator servo so that no "up trim" could get into
the elevator, thus the model would always have the flying speed it needed. I think other flyers
will encounter my trouble when switching from a high wing or bipe to a low wing. I tended to use
a nose-up attitude with the model to slow it down on approaches which is okay with the stability
inherent in most models - however with low wings this is N.G. and you must fly them in all the way.
The catch is to break yourself of this habit before it creates trouble or else use ailerons only
for directional control.
Some of the features used on the "Crusader" proved to have a lot of merit. Common dural gear
saved weight and the work involved of a wire type gear in the wing. Just install the usual hardwood
mounting block in the center section of the wing. The dowels are buried in the wing which makes
a neater job. The only word of advice necessary: strap the rubber bands on tightly, otherwise the
gear could dig into the wing skin should it jump off of its block.
The "Crusader" uses the standard removable R/C unit as in my other models. It is inserted through
the wing opening eliminating access hatches. If you are familiar with this box you will remember
that the engine servo has been on the right hand side. With the addition of the aileron servo it
has been necessary to move the engine servo to the opposite side and install the aileron servo on
the right. By doing this the servos need no alteration and can be used in the stock manner.
The aileron system on the "Crusader" was an experiment to give something more simple to install
and maintain. The hinge arrangement which has worked very well was a "steal" from one which I have
long used in control line. There is nothing simpler than the trap and dowel hinge but be sure to
use material for the strap as called for. Too light a metal tends to fatigue after long usage.
This model used a torque rod type of control linkage. As mentioned before the the servo for it
was mounted in the R/C box. This was done to remove the weight from the wing and to make the box
interchangeable between models which does cut the expense of owning more than one model. Removing
the weight from the wing can help save it a bit if a "clobber" should occur. The torque rods were
1/16" music wire bent 90 degrees at the ends (one rod for each aileron). Suitable fittings were
made to connect the ailerons and servo push rod to them.
This system proved to be "soft" in action and possibly could have suffered from "blow-back" in
the air, otherwise it was simple and light to install. The answer I found in one of my Bipes which
also used it. I simply arranged the leverage so that the aileron reached its limit stop before the
servo reached maximum travel. What happened was that the servo tended to "wind up" the torque rod
after the aileron had reached full movement and thus you had a "solid" aileron action in the full
control position. Frankly this worked out quite well and no trouble was encountered, however, I
felt that the "softness" was a weak point.
The system shown on the plans is brand new and I call it the "flexible push rod." It was not
used at all in the original "Crusader" but tests with it in other planes have shown such good results
that I felt it best to present it here. This arrangement is simplicity itself. The heart of it is
a piece of flexible braided cable (size .050) which runs in a piece of suitably bent aluminum tubing
to get around the corner to the aileron's horn. It is a "positive" system with absolutely no softness
and no "play" providing the 3 holes required in the various horns are held within tolerance. I feel
that it has a great future and is just about as simple as anything can be. For those liking a wing-mounted
servo it is a simple matter to install the servo where the bell crank is shown and operate the push
rod directly from the servo.
The results of all these ideas have proven acceptable on the flying field. The model itself proved
out well by weighing in on a par with other types; at 5 1/2 lbs it is considerably lighter than
most other low wings. This lighter wing loading paid off in better maneuvers and the ability to
perform well with an average .35 engine.
After the author got over the "shock" of switching from high wings to the low wing some really
good flying was obtained. I do think however that one should have some multi experience before attempting
to fly any low wing. You must fly these airplanes all the time and without experience with elevators
that can be a bit rugged.
The "Crusader" is a very clean flying airplane, has no bad tendencies and responds instantly
to all controls. Both inside and outside loops are smooth and equal, rolls are on a "string" so
to speak and very little elevator action is necessary to keep them that way. Upright flight sufferers
for smoothness when ailerons are used for directional control but this is solved by using rudder
for turns while at altitude. Inverted flight is pretty nice, once there long periods of time go
by without need for correction and then a slight application of aileron is enough. All upright maneuvers
are easily accomplished while inverted simply by remembering as we had to in control line that "up-is-down-and-down-is-up"
PLUS that "right-is-left-and-left-is-right" on the rudder!
Inverted flight can be entered from all three ways, half an inside or an outside plus using a
half roll. I found the half roll to be more desirable simply as practice for doing the 2 pt roll.
Once inverted you adjust for the type of flight desired by trimming the elevator. A small amount
of down trim will give level inverted climb and of course full down brings it around to upright
Once you set the amount of trim desired the model is flown elevator "hands off," simultaneous
control is definitely not required. Directional control inverted by rudder is more sluggish than
upright so in general ailerons are used instead. They are just as effective as upright plus the
fact that they react in the same direction as upright, you don't have to reverse your directional
thinking by using them!
This being one of the first really fine inverted machines that the author had flown much time
was spent trying out new sorts of maneuvers which this perfected inverted flight offered. We had
a lot of fun learning how to do them and of course got our share of applause for accomplishing them
the first time.
Of these maneuvers one is Dick Branstner's favorite, an inverted tail spin. Rather spectacular
and confusing to watch it is relatively easy to accomplish. When inverted you simply apply full-down
elevator until the nose is straight up, then neutralize. When speed has just about completely diminished
you apply full-down and full-rudder simultaneously, the result is a tail spin with the model upside
down! Another crowd pleaser is to go into a inverted "Cuban 8." This is the regular Cuban 8 entered
from the inverted position. It seems funny to see the model in the upright position at the middle
of the 8 where ordinarily it would be inverted. The fact that the "Crusader" is a tight-turning
airplane makes this one much more pleasing to watch than with some other models.
The show stopper proved to be an inverted "Victory Roll." This one is accomplished from an inverted
level flight position, usually near the end of the flight. From this position you apply a bit of
up trim (or take out some of the down) which puts the model into a shallow inverted dive. When you
have approached the ground about as close as safety permits you apply full down elevator until the
nose has come up to about a 45 deg angle and then the elevator is neutralized. Just afterwards you
apply full aileron and hold for the number of rolls desired releasing the aileron so that you come
out in an inverted position. To recover you trim for level inverted flight as usual. The "topper"
is to repeat it going in the opposite direction and recover upright followed by an immediate landing.
Shades of the "Blue Angels" ... we'll catch up to them yet!
In general I feel that the "Crusader" proved out the theories which Swank and I envisioned 4
years ago and that this is only a start towards some mighty fine flying that is yet to come. The
answer to it all is of course the marvelous improvements which we have seen in R/C equipment during
the intervening years.
I would like to say that I don't believe any low wing model is the best for the beginner in R/C
or maybe even for the novice in Multi, but for the multi-flyer with any experience this sort of
thing can be it ... a really "spirited model" with the sky the only limit!
Wing Span, 66": Wing Chord, 13"; Wing Area, 858 sq. In.; Airfoil section, NACA 12% full symmetrical;
Wing loading, 14.6 oz./sq. ft.; Gross wt., 5 1/2 lbs; R/C equipment weight, 28 oz: Power, K&B
Torp R/C .35: Propeller, Tornado R/C 13-4; Fuel, K&B Super Sonic 1000; Radio, Bramco "Regent
8"; Actuators, Model "MC" Multi-Servos; Fuel tank, dmeco Model C6 oz Positive Flow; Wheels, Veco
3 1/2" R/C Pneumatic; Finish, Red, trimmed with blue & yellow Aero Gloss.
Harold deBolt's Crusader Plans (sheet 1)
Harold deBolt's Crusader Plans (sheet 2)
Full size plans for Crusader are on Group Plan # 859 from Hobby Helpers, 770 Hunts Point Ave.,
New York 59, N.Y. (85c). Order by number rather than by name of model.
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 November 24, 2012