Few people let alone modellers will not have heard of the
Stearman. This highly successful training aircraft of the second world war was responsible
for thousands of airmen gaining their wings. Since that time the Stearman has been used in
large numbers for crop spraying, such was its versatility. More recently though it
has become a much loved restorers project and thousands still fly today Bigger and
heavier than the Tiger Moth the Stearman is impressive when seen doing lazy aerobatics.
The model takes slightly more work to build than the Tiggie and requires slightly more
experience to fly but both have been kitted so that they can be transported in the average
mid to larger size car.
Tony Shortell built this Flair Stearman. It is finished in the colours of an example his
son flies in the USA. Powered by a Laser 360 (much more than adequate) it has
over 200 flying hours logged
and is still going strong, (logged March 2005).
Tony Shortell did a
very good job of hiding a Laser 360!!! in the Stearman - adequate as Rolls Royce say.
I have spoken to a number of Stearman pilots and have concluded that the
Flair model flies in much the same manner as does the full size. This is very gratifying
and justifies the work involved in producing such a kit. If scale modelling is about
recreating the full size in miniature with accurate shape, finish and flying performance
then in our opinion the Flair Stearman has achieved this objective.
As stated above the Stearman flies much like the real thing. It requires the use of rudder
for take off and for smooth accurately aligned turns. It requires a shallow dive prior to
aerobatics such as loops, rolls and stall turns and it takes off in a sedate manner after
a scale looking run. These notes apply to our prototype fitted with a Laser 150 which is
plenty of power for those with reasonable flying experience. If you are a pilot who
regularly "gets the nose up" or if you are in the habit of having engines go
sick just after take off then more power is recommended such as the Laser 180 or 200 twin.
Line up the model into wind.
Get your assistant to restrain
the model whilst you rev the engine to clear it, then bring it back to idle.
Ask your assistant to leave the
Apply a little up elevator and
open the throttle gently to full power.
Apply rudder to correct any
As the model starts to accelerate
gently release the up elevator and the tail will rise.
Build up speed on the ground and
then gently apply a little up elevator to lift the model into the air.
Climb out in a straight line
until at a sensible height. Note any tendencies to yaw, pitch or roll.
Turn into a circuit and adjust the trims to give a well balanced straight and level flight
at slightly reduced power, (Laser 150, more powerful engines can be throttled back more).
Dont be tempted to check the stall yet; get a feel for the sensitivity of the
controls first. If the model is very sensitive on elevators then you may have a rearward
CG or elevator throws which are too large. If this is the case proceed to a landing being
careful not to loose to much speed on finals.
This model has a high drag factor. If you cut the throttle to idle it will come down at a
very steep angle.
Enter a standard rectangular circuit with about half power and assess the sink rate.
Adjust the power level, (not too low), so that by the time you are on finals the model is
sinking in a nice straight line towards the threshold. Combine the flare out with
progressive throttle reduction at about 1 meter altitude and allow the model to sink onto
the runway. You will probably find that you still have significant power on even when the
wheels touch. Cut the throttle to idle and control the yaw with rudder. Bring the model to
a stop and taxi it to the side of the runway. Cut the engine; DO NOT TAXI BACK INTO THE
PITS, this is dangerous and should never be attempted.
Tips for realistic
Gentle aerobatics can be performed by the Stearman, loops, axial rolls, barrel rolls,
stall turns etc. Unless you are using a large engine these will require full power and a
shallow dive to look perfect. Make neither the dive too steep nor the turns too sharp.
Rudder is an important control on the Stearman and should be used in turns. Try a turn without
using rudder. You will find that the tail appears to drop as you bank the model
adverse yaw, just like the real thing. We have suggested aileron differential for the
control throws which helps, but the proper way to turn is with rudder and aileron.
Try this. Initiate a turn with a little RUDDER, then follow with ailerons and of course
elevator to maintain the altitude. See how much smoother the turn looks without the tail
dropping. You will also find that you loose less speed in the turn and the model maintains
its altitude more easily.
When you have mastered flying the Stearman smoothly you will be delighted how realistic it
looks and will be proud to display it regularly at your club.
A lovely example by Colin Rann
Flying Scale Models - Nov/Dec 2001 - Stearman feature
issue - highly recommended - UK
International - kit review July and August 2002 - UK
Flying Scale Models -
kit review May/June 2002 - UK
Read a full R/C Scale review here, our thanks to Traplet
Publications and Simon Delaney, (editor)
Sept/Oct 2002 iss. 32 and Jan/Feb 2003 iss. 34
Model Airplane News -
December 2003 - USA
CNC and die cut parts
All strip and sheet wood
Wheels and fully sprung and damped undercarriage
Dummy engine, as in picture
Glass fibre forward fuselage mouldings
Complete Closed Loop Control System for Rudder and Elevators. Die Stamped Steel Bracket
Components. Steerable tailwheel
Various mouldings for windscreens and fairings
3 massive sheets of full-size plans
55 page instruction booklet, hundreds of photos and diagrams.
Only Adhesives and Coverings are required to complete the airframe.
Tony Shortell's Stearman still
going strong with well over 100 flying hours
Tailplane + 3.0 deg
Top Wing +3.5 deg
Bottom Wing +3.5 deg
from Stearman builders:
click to see their thoughts and any corrections we have made.
Spares for the Stearman
Note that the undercarriage as supplied in the kit
for the Stearman is available separately to mount on many other models.
Full set FL1282 excluding wheels
Replacement dummy cylinders can be supplied individually if required, part number
Forward fuselage moulding
All light ply, birch ply and paxolin component panels can be supplied - complete panels
All mouldings can be supplied.