This Hurricane Uses A Novel Technique

You’ve probably heard of the brave pilots, the so-called ‘few’, that took to the air in their Supermarine Spitfires and saved the day during the Battle of Britain. It’s a story that contains a lot of truth, but as is so often the case, it masks a story with a bit more complexity. Those pilots did scramble across the airfields of Southern England back in the summer of 1940, but more of them went into battle behind the controls of a Hawker Hurricane than its more glamorous stablemate.

The Hurricane might have been eclipsed by the Spitfire in the public’s eye, but not for [Marius Taciuc], who’s made a fully-functional RC model of one. Normally that wouldn’t be worthy of our attention, but in this case he’s employed a rather fascinating construction technique. He’s recreated the doped-fabric skin of the original by 3D-printing the frame of the aircraft and covering it in heat-shrink film, making this a very rare bird indeed.

The video below takes us through the steps including the development of the frame in a CAD package based on a tracing of a 2D aircraft picture, fitting the film, and finally attempts at flight that are unfortunately foiled by inappropriate wheel choice. But the short flight and crash does demonstrate that this construction method is durable, which leads on to our interest in it. While it evidently makes a functional aircraft, there are other applications that could benefit from such a lightweight and strong combination of materials.

[Marius] actually created a model of the somewhat more photogenic Spitfire using a similar technique, though as far as we can tell, that one has remained grounded. Incidentally, these pages have been previously graced by Hurricanes of the non-PLA variety.

16 thoughts on “This Hurricane Uses A Novel Technique

    1. That’s exactly why it’s so interesting to see it combined with 3D printed technology.
      It not only saves weight but it also saves printing time. Old and new combined, I love it.

      1. In my era, saving weight was the essential target. I’m not sure whether 3d printed formers are a win over balsa – I could see it going either way in different cases. Now that would be an interesting report…

    2. I thought about this years ago with the goal of making a very lightweight flying wing, but wondered if the heat required to shrink the film would deform the 3D printed ribs

  1. Well done proof of method, but I’ll stick to inexpensive balsa, ply, and x-acto to enjoy 1/4 the time to it done and with lesser cost and weight. Tissue paper is still good for covering and name brand plastic heat shrink iron on films are great. Someone had to try it though so here is the obligatory “Thank you for your efforts.”.

    1. Pretty sure PLA is cheaper than balsa at this point, and it seems unlikely a human could cut out all those pieces in the time it would take the printer to run them off. To say nothing of trying to maintain the dimensional accuracy the printed parts will have at no extra cost.

      Seems pretty obvious you don’t have much personal experience with modern desktop 3D printers.

      1. Router or Laser cutter using balsa plywood if you really want to use a 3D model

        3D printing probably wins once you get the model done but how long does it take to get your model made? Probably about as long as it takes someone to measure and cut balsa spars.
        For one-offs it’s probably a wash in terms of design/build time but if you’re selling kits, then printing might make sense.

        1. For me, it would be the inevitable crashes and repairs, followed by upgrades and experiments. Being able to take my model and mess with it on the computer, followed by simply printing it out… Big savings across the board.
          Plus, there are structures I can easily implement with a 3D printer that I just can’t do with balsa. A simple plastic guide for wires… Really difficult to implement and keep strong with a 3D printer.

  2. I do admit have seen some incredible results folks can get and to that I say bravo. But… IT itself becomes the hobby.

    Not for me. The prior big time and money sucking GREAT new thing was CAD. That’s where learned my lesson in mid 80’s and into the 90’s. Plenty useful, managed to create wondrous model aircraft with it, but after years of it realized was spending 3x the time getting a single plane built than if had been just drawn and cut out by hand. Didn’t come out looking perfect if you look close, but flies as intended and done in a lot less time… and CADKEY was a giant investment!

    Not dissing… it can be useful… just decided to put my time and money DIRECTLY into the project rather than time and money intensive glitter and hypnosis thing draining time and resources when could’ve turned out 3X the projects the old way. And with 3D printing you got double the problem…. you have to do the CAD and the 3D printer.

    Those that have invested, yes do keep using it. It’s your way. I don’t mind! It’s just NOT for me. I wish to get things done without extra time and money spent and discovered to my delight that my hands actually do the tasks well.

    Been there. Done that. The CAD experience taught me to step back away from CAD and I see the same pattern with 3D printers. It’s a hobby for gosh sake. I don’t need to make it harder and more expensive.

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