I built the "Build-by-Numbers series" Piper Super Cub 95 kit more than 30 years ago as my first balsa model - so I thought it would be interesting to re-live that experience. I was also hoping my skills had improved a little since building that model which, by the way, turned out to be a key factor in my eventual career choice. At the time I was only about 7 or 8 years old if I remember correctly. My motivation then came from my dad who also built (and still builds) free-flight, control line, plastic and radio control models. I have a very vague memory of him building an all-blue Sopwith Pup at the kitchen table when I was probably only about 4 years old. That model sure triggered an interest that never went away. So, when I got to around age 7/8, which I figured was old enough, I convinced him to buy the Piper Cub kit for me. I built it over several weeks, but never flew it. I remember covering it in yellow and red tissue, but cannot recall if that tissue came with the kit or from the local stationary store. It hung from my ceiling for many years until I must have eventually played with it to destruction.
So, let's get to it. Here is what you get in the box today:
I honestly cannot remember whether the box contents today is any different from those that came with the kit all those years ago. You'll notice small stickers on the three die-cut balsa sheets: I always weigh the balsa in my kits and calculate the density, which I write on those stickers as a reminder. I do the same with every sheet of balsa that I buy. Here is what I found in this kit:
Sheet A (1/20" balsa): 120 kg/m^3 (7.5 lb/ft^3)
Sheet B1 (1/20" balsa): 238 kg/m^3 (14.9 lb/ft^3)
Sheet B2 (1/20" balsa): 244 kg/m^3 (15.2 lb/ft^3)
The die-cutting itself was actually not too bad, but those two B-sheets were really way too heavy for me. Regardless, I wasn't really planning to use the die-cut sheets as I don't like the 1/20" balsa. I recently built the Typhoon and found once you sand the balsa to release the pieces and get all the fuzz off, it gets so thin that tail surfaces, in particular, would start warping over time. On the Typhoon I ended up re-building the tail parts from normal 1/16" balsa and they came out much stiffer and still at the same weight. My plan was therefore to re-make all the die-cut parts from my own 1/16" balsa. I could have used the die-cut parts from the A-sheet as that balsa was OK, but eventually decided to re-make all of it. The strip-wood was also pretty heavy and hard, but I prefer it that way for these kind of models. The model will be flown but only for fun, so I thought the strip-wood in the kit was a good compromise for the added strength and stiffness.
I have a couple of other criticisms: The tissue colours are really not very inspiring. I will use my own Esaki for this build. I can understand why Guillows doesn't use Esaki as it would make the kit too expensive, but some brighter coloured domestic tissue would really have been nice. They included a bright red domestic tissue in their new Pilatus Porter kit that turned out to work pretty well, so I think it would be nice if they could include something similar in this kit instead of the white and grey tissue.
The plans are very nicely drawn and the instructions are very clear. As I said, I built the same kit when I was about 7 years old with only minimal help from my dad, which gives you some idea of how clearly everything is explained. A minor point that I discovered when I started cutting my own parts was that not everything is perfectly symmetrical - that is obviously because the plans were originally hand drawn and not CAD drawn. That really wasn't too much of an issue though.
Everything else in the box looks like it can be used. Better rubber for the motor will obviously be a good idea. My 4-year old son, Kirill, is going to help me with this model. I'll try to post an update about once a week. Unfortunately I am not the fastest builder out there...