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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Parnall Pixie - Scratchbuilt, 1/72nd scale

 (This is the building article, the completed model is here:)

The lightplane concept of course isn't new, and during aviation history a significant number of efforts were directed to produce a small, affordable, low-maintenance, low-power, low-consumption, one or two person machine that could be (hopefully) acquired and used by a large number of people.
The concept, as we know, er...never really took off, but many interesting planes were produced, mainly in small numbers. England was one of the supporters of such concept, and organized many events and competitions to entice design and production of light machines.
The Parnall Pixie is one of such machines. Designed by Harold Bolas, it was produced in the early and mid-twenties and came in four flavors: The Pixie I, a long wingspan, two person machine; the Pixie II, a short-span, one person plane; the Pixie III with some modifications and refinements, and the IIIa, a strange-looking biplane obtained by the simple prospect of slamming a small wing on top of the plane.
The Pixie II, represented here, a sort of "racer", reached more than 70mph (110kph +) with a Douglas engine of 750cc! (bigger than the two-place Pixie one, that had a Douglas of 500cc). The plane had pleasant lines and had a very simple and awkward landing gear that did not have shock absorbers, but actuating just but flexing its steel components.
A small number of Pixies were produced, and eagerly participated in many sport events. Other power plants were used, but always on the smallish side.
The Pixie II was of reduced dimensions, with a span of 28"6' (5.43 meters!), so the model is also small of course in 1/72.
Applying the habitual techniques I normally use for my scratchbuilt models, the main components did not take long to line up. Aeroclub prop, engine and wheels were added to speed-up construction. Care must be exercised in replicating the particular change in airfoil section: thin at the root and wingtip and thick in the middle, a detail some times obviated by modelers.
A similar concept model of the De Havilland D.H.53 Humming-bird (manufacturer spelling) -a plane designed under the same concept and flown contemporarily to the Pixie- is being built in parallel:
Originally it even had the same Douglas 750cc engine.

Parnall Aircraft Since 1914 (E. Wixey)
N.A.C.A. Technical Memorandum No. 261
The Light Plane since 1909 - J. Underwood
The Light Plane Meeting at Lympne, Flight Magazine, Oct 18th 1923
The Lympne trials -Ord-Hume

 The spar shows the change in airfoil thickness along the span:

 The fuselage of the Pixie compared to the tail of the Blackburn Kangaroo:

 The Pixie compared to the parallel build, a D.H.53 Hummingbird:

 Control surfaces engraved, some of the interior parts:
Some reinforcement elements are added and a section of the deck prepared:
More parts are fabricated and some details are incorporated. Wing and landing gear struts, metal horns for the control surfaces, rigging holes are drilled, locating holes for the wing struts, inst. panel, etc.:
 The components so far:
Decided to discard the seat from the spares bin and make one. Once the cockpit is painted and assembled the remaining deck will go on top:
Talskid added, holes for the LG and spar drilled:
The props and potential engines for both the DH53 and the Pixie are readied:
The nose is made of Milliput:
Interior in place. Some instruments were external, and will later be added to the fuselage top:
The cockpit is then covered, and the components are ready for final assembly:
The fuselages of the DH53 and Pixie:

The flywheel for the engine and the landing gear legs:
 There are some details on the area ahead of the cockpit, a glass fuel gauge, the oil and fuel caps, a couple of instrument dials, a bank indicator, etc. All are being fabricated:
Landing gear and spar added:
Primer is airbrushed:
The aluminium dope color is airbrushed:
The fuselage is masked and painted, together with the D.H.53's:
 Masks are removed. The color for the cowl of the Pixie was chosen, after a long research that gave no satisfaction, as a color used by Parnall in some of its planes. In the process I found though, on the Flight Magazine archives, notes for generic colors of similar light planes, entered in events along the same years, which will be useful for future modeling endeavors:
Ready for final assembly, rigging, adding of small details and decaling:
The wings are added, together with their struts:
 Rigging and details commence:
Minute cute little thing:
 Only decals needed to add:
Exhausts added, and just waiting for the decals:
 With its buddy, the De Havilland D.H.53:
The decal sets for both models just arrived from Arctic Decals!:

 To be continued...

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