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Fleet Canuck
A Scratch-built 1:32 Scale Fleet Canuck


On the 2nd of July 1952, I received my first flying lesson as an Air Cadet on a Flying Scholarship.  The aircraft was a Fleet 80 Canuck, designed and built in Canada from 1946 until 1967.  Wanting a model of that aircraft has been my wish for many years but without a kit the only way would be to scratch-build one, here is my version of CF-EAO operated by the Windsor Flying Club.

Drawings of the aircraft were obtained from the Museum of Flight in Langley, BC. and these were then scanned and sized in Coreldraw to give an accurate 1:32 scale working plan.  Multiple copies of each view were made and used as templates for the various pieces which were then transferred onto plastic card.

  The factory dimensional drawings were first converted to "inches" then carefully sized on the computer, printed out and checked for accuracy. Using the scaled drawings I made templates of each part then cut the plastic to fit the drawing. From top to bottom: the .015" bottom and top skins, doors, and vertical and horizontal tail cut from .040" plastic.  The tail pieces had the rib tapes made from .005" strip
  The fuselage sides were cut from .020" plastic and "L" shaped strip added to the top and bottom for strength.  I then added .030" plastic rod for the exposed tubing structure. The single double wide seat was made from sheet and rod and Milliput used for the cushions.  Seat belts were added later.  The gas tank and flooring along with the stick and rudder pedals were added...with brake pedals on the left side only.  Pretty scary for the instructor! 
  The top and bottom skins were first scored on the inside with a ballpoint pen the glued in place and the cabin structure installed. The door skins were cut out and a square tube structure added leaving room for a channel into which I installed the sliding window pieces. The inside of the doors were covered with a quilted material which is replicated using aluminum foil.  Brass handles finish them off.
  The tail assembly ready to install showing the very thin rib tapes and elevator trim tab.  The tapes are .005" strip sanded and filled until only a faint bit of detail shows. The instrument panel is very basic made from plastic card, wire switches and throttle and instruments and placards from Mike Grant Decals. On its gear made from .032" wire and plastic card with wheels from the crap box.  Sticks fully forward naturally!
  The factory wing rib drawings were used for reference in laying out the embossed ribs in the .015" plastic wing skins. The balsa cores are finished and the leading edges back to the main spar are hardened off using multiple coats of Super Glue which is then sanded smooth The aileron cut-outs are lined with .020" plastic and a .030" plastic rod glued to the tip bow.  The skins and cores are carefully  sprayed with Super 77 Contact cement
  The embossed wing skins show off the ribs and the correct "fabric sag".  That plastic rod mentioned earlier...used to glue the skins at the tip! The ailerons on the full size aircraft are aluminum with stiffeners embossed for rigidity.  Here the stiffeners are replicated using half-round .030" rod..that's 60+ tiny strips! A cowling plug was carved from balsa then used to vacu-form the finished product from .040" sheet plastic.  Only one attempt was needed to get a good copy.
  With all of the components completed it was time for one last test fitting.  Everything OK then the model was painted before final assembly.  Fleet Aircraft had a big supply of Consolidated Blue and Trainer Yellow left over from WW2, SOOOO! The windshield gave me plenty of headaches but it worked OK in the end.  The painted model received the registration decals which I made on an Epson 680 and Bare Metal Decal Paper.  Final assembly with little details such as gas cap and "bobber" gauge, steps and prop were added The prop was carved from two laminations of a coffee stir stick and yes there is a Continental C85-12F inside the cowling!
  Here is the finished product!  Not perfect but a pretty fair rendition of one of my favourite civilian aircraft.  Over the years I have flown 39 different Canucks as both student and instructor and it has always been a pleasant experience. The official Fleet Canuck logo My last flight in a Fleet Canuck was in 2003 as an instructor and the two brothers that I finished off for their Private Pilots Licence are now flying commercially.  Full circle, a 51 year affair with a fun machine.
    And to Jim Pelkie my first instructor, may the skies always be blue and the wind at your back wherever you might be..  Thank you Jim!  Per Ardua Ad Astra  
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Last modified: 10/05/12