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Author Topic: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.  (Read 1906 times)

Offline goozgog

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1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« on: February 07, 2009, 09:50:56 AM »
The other 1/2A series of kits we coveted as
kids (other than Muscianos) were the
Top Flight molded balsa planes.
 Does anyone else remember them?
I've never seen a reference to them, so they
might have only been popular in my area.

  You had a choice of a Zero, Hellcat or
Thunderbolt, and one other that I've forgotten.
I think they had about a 20" span and were molded
from 1/16" balsa. The wing was solid 1/16" sheet
with some ribs glued to the underside to give it a foil.
The fuselage was made from a port and starboard
molded shell and had to be glued together over
the firewall and a bulkhead. I think the kit came with
a strip of gauze to join the halves.
A Cox .049 was the mill of choice but an OK Cub
with a tank would have worked.
   These kits weren't as "kid friendly" as the
Scientific kits since they were much more delicate,
but they weighed half as much and flew great.

   I'm thinking of carving a plug and molding
myself a Thunderbolt, but I don't even remember
the span. Does anyone have some information?

These were great models and the kids loved them.
Anyone else have memories?
Keith Morgan


Walter Hicks

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2009, 10:13:41 AM »
Hi,

   I currently have all of them I will try to post pictures,only two are built.

Walter Hicks

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2009, 10:21:07 AM »
Hi again,


  They are 18" wingspan,fuse is 10",Stab is 6", I can trace the wing and fuse outline for you  and copy the stab, elevators rudder etc as this kit is still in the plastic wrap.,(Thunderbolt), I may just have to build it!

Offline nobler

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2009, 10:40:17 AM »
They are rather hard to find, and command a good price on ebay. They really have the capacity to fly well, and don't need an especially powerful 1/2A engine. For example, a one lunger Cox Babe Bee, or a Wen Mac (later McCoy or Testors) with the screw on head would work well here. Currell

Offline jim gilmore

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2009, 10:53:27 AM »
Thats one hell of a collection. Real nice.

Offline bob werle

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2009, 11:39:02 AM »
The 4th was the spitfire.  I remember it as it was my sons 1st "scale" nodel he entered in a contest.
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Offline nobler

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2009, 02:23:01 PM »
Hi Bob. My 1973 AHC catalog doesn't show the Spitfire. It must have come later, However, there was a profile Spitifre by TF, part of a Pro-flite series. Also with 18" span.

Currell

Offline John Crocker

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2009, 02:38:33 PM »
I had the ZERO and built it as a 7th grade history  project / paper for Mr. Crissmans class.  He didn't believe it would fly so I showed him a thing or two and flew it outside his room for the whole class.  Half the school watched noses plastered to the window as I coaxed it through whoop de doos and wing overs.  Small elevator never would allow me to get it through a loop.

Liked to have never gotten the Ambroid glue to cure for the body, finally wrapped it in kite string.  Flew mine on a Babe Bee mounted side oiler.

Thanks for the memory

Offline goozgog

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2009, 05:23:25 AM »
Ah yes! The little elevator. I remember that!
   It must have been the summer of 1968 that
we were building these. Between grade seven
and eight.
   Top flight had a marketing name for them.
Tru-form or Quik-build or Tuf-test. Something
like that.
 Holy Cow Walter! Don't you ever crash?
That looks like a life time worth of small airplanes.
I really enjoyed studying what else you have in that
picture.
  I would be very grateful for what ever measurements
and tracings you might be able to send me for the
Thunderbolt. I don't quite understand how you could
trace a kit that's still in the plastic but please don't
compromise your kit. If I can get a fuselage molded,
I'll try and get one to you, so don't build your kit!
   A few pictures with a ruler in the shot would help
a lot. I remember that the fuselage was long and thin
looking for a Jug. I'll mold a canopy and print up a decal
sheet too if I can find some reference. A picture of
the box art would be good.
  Sorry to lay my wish list on you. ::)

Does anyone know what the fourth design was?
I suspect it was a radial engined plane.

 
   
Keith Morgan

Offline Wayne Collier

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2009, 05:38:12 AM »

 Holy Cow Walter! Don't you ever crash?
That looks like a life time worth of small airplanes.
I really enjoyed studying what else you have in that
picture.
 

Looks like a motherload of Cox engines and planes and in the back ground hanging on a nail there appears to be an electric drill that has an actual cord that plugs into a wall socket.  I remember those.
Wayne Collier     Back in Northeast Texas
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never confuse motion with progress

Offline nobler

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2009, 11:36:56 AM »
TF called them Form-Flites. TF also offered two 42" span models using the Form-Flite "technology"...Hurricane and P-40. I have both. They used sidewinder mounts, and quickly develop a radial crack right at the firewall. You would have to fiberglass this area.

Still cannot find more than three of the aforementioned 1/2A models. Currell

Walter Hicks

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2009, 12:12:43 PM »
More Cox planes:

Walter Hicks

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2009, 12:14:22 PM »
Cox Planes:

Walter Hicks

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2009, 12:18:05 PM »
The Top Flite Thunderbolt was very difficult to find . I see  the Zero on ebay occasionally and the only Thunderbolt I have ever seen I got. The Hellcat I purchased already built. These are extremely cool kits. I will try to take some pictures of the Thunderbolt kit before I build it. Too bad they don't do this kind of stuff anymore.

The Cox planes are for display only. I buy the not so good ones on Ebay. I have 44 which I have collected over the last 10 years.  If they are not pristine the are much cheaper!

I plane on building the Thunderbolt so I will take it out of the Plastic and take pictures and trace everything.For sure the top Flite planes will not be flown.

Offline Dave Nyce

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2009, 05:18:22 PM »
We had a bunch of the Zeroes when I was a kid, and they flew well. We flew combat with them and Golden Bee engines. It would be nice if those kits were available again.

Dave
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Offline GGeezer

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2009, 12:27:46 AM »
I have always wanted one of these kits and I was finally able to Ebay one about a year ago. The Zero Form-Flite kit I got is in pristine shape with only a little fading of the front box art and best of all, I got it for $29.00!
It looks like it will be a good flier but will be fragile. I plan on covering the model with tissue in order to strengthen it and at the same time, fill the balsa grain. The landing gear mounted on that thin balsa wing is another engineering concern. The plans state that it was designed by Jim Davis, has an 18" WS, a 12" length and a weight of 4 oz. The box shows that there are only two other models available, the Hellcat and the Thunderbolt and says it builds in one hour and this is before CA glue. Only a kid could do this because it will probably take me weeks! My Cox Black Widow should really make it move.

Orv.

Offline George

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2009, 10:20:18 AM »
Wow! I find this thread very interesting. Apparently these came out during my "out of Navy, new job, build family" days. I had never heard of these planes.

From what I'm reading, this might be a good project to build a foam buck and learn how to mold balsa. Are the fuselages somewhat alike so the same fuselage could be used on several models? I know manufacturers sometimes take a lot of license?

George
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Offline nobler

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2009, 11:55:15 AM »
Hi George. Looking at the pictures in the 1973 AHC catalog, I think you are correct re the interchangeability across kits.

I know that TF did this in the larger 42" Form Flite Hurricane and P-40. All they did with the fuselage was move the canopy back for the P-40. The wings are very similar, too.

With regard to the 1/2As, the Zero and the Thunderbolt look quite similar, since it is a bubble canopy P-47D Jughead. Currell

Offline John Crocker

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2009, 01:29:12 PM »
One word of caution when flying these.  The wing section was not symetrical and therefore caused a pretty good deal of lift.  I lost mine (read: turned to splinters) the first time I ever got it inverted.  Flipped it over and it ust got closer and closer to the ground until SPLAT!  Later I realized that was caused by inverted lift.

Hey I was only 13.  What can I say I still can crash em with the best of them.

As I mentioned, I had a Babe Bee on mine.  A production engine would be plenty.  A Golden Bee or a Black  Widow would really make one of these things scream.  Be cautious of them though.  The light weight does not give much pull in the circle.

Offline goozgog

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2009, 02:46:31 PM »
I've had good luck molding 1/16" balsa over
a pine plug. I suppose that it might depend on
each particular piece of wood, but I've had no
problem getting it to go around a 3/32" radius.
   I use the "Tensor" elastic bandage and long soak
in hot water technique. A few days to dry.
   For this project, I would mold each side
separately and be careful matching the seam.
The original kit parts didn't match up very well,
as I remember, and the fuselages had a sort
of fishy sardine flatness to them.
Now that I'm older and wiser (ahem!) I would
certainly cover everything with silkspan.
   I can't remember if the stabilizer was in a slot
or if it sat on a flat bit. Geez, it was only
forty years ago. What's wrong with me?

Ah Walter! That pale green Cox Spitfire is just like
the one I had. It flew terrible but I have loving
memories of it anyway. It's fun to see the Helldiver
too.

Cheers!
Keith Morgan

Offline GGeezer

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2009, 10:44:36 PM »
One word of caution when flying these.  The wing section was not symetrical and therefore caused a pretty good deal of lift.  I lost mine (read: turned to splinters) the first time I ever got it inverted.  Flipped it over and it ust got closer and closer to the ground until SPLAT!  Later I realized that was caused by inverted lift.

John,
The cambered wing may not have been the major problem you had with inverted flight. My Jim Walker Firebaby has the same style of wing and it flies reasonably well inverted. I carefully checked the fuselage parts in my Zero kit and was amazed to discover that if the wing is located at the partially die cut wing opening it will have 5.5 degrees of positive incidence with respect to the stab/thrust center line. This may be needed to allow the plan-mentioned minimum .020 engine to fly the plane, but this is way to much incidence for a control line model and would pretty well rule out inverted flying especially with the model's tiny elevator. With a powerful engine, you would almost have to fly it with full down elevator.
I will set my wing at zero incidence, enlarge the elevator and maybe it will fly inverted..... we will have to see.
Orv.

Offline George

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #21 on: February 10, 2009, 11:39:19 AM »
Orv,

Do the plans show outlines? Builders can take a lot of license too!  >:D 

Perhaps larger stab/elevator, wings set to center, symmetrical airfoil...the rest stock?  ;D

George
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Offline GGeezer

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #22 on: February 10, 2009, 12:18:55 PM »

Do the plans show outlines? Builders can take a lot of license too!  >:D 

Perhaps larger stab/elevator, wings set to center, symmetrical airfoil...the rest stock?  ;D

George,
When I said "plans", I was somewhat misleading. There are only well illustrated assembly instructions and unfortunately, no outlines to scale up.
Your idea of a better wing airfoil is good. It would be easy to use two skins of 1/32" balsa separated by a few ribs to give a more symmetrical airfoil. This would add very little extra weight and almost look "stock".

Orv.

Offline Chris McMillin

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #23 on: February 13, 2009, 10:54:35 AM »
I built the Zero in 1969 for the Nats. I didn't mark the box for pre-registering in the event and was denied participation. I appealed to the Navy Captain there to let me fly but he wouldn't budge, rules are rules, son. Something like that. I was 10, built and painted and detailed it all myself. It was covered with silkspan and doped to make the finish as nice as I could make it, and used the Profile Publications for the scale markings. Dad had a lot of Letraset sheets and one had a bunch of black lines of various thicknesses and I panel lined it with these rub-ons. The engine was my Cox Babe Bee product engine from my PT-19 Trainer and I painted the rubber spinner and used a three bladed Cox round tipped prop. I had a detailed cockpit, but no pilot. The mounting of the vacuform cowling was iffy at best and I flew it once  think. The second flight was a crash as the elevators didn't move very well with the stock tape hinge, so Dad cut a dotted line in it with his pocket knife and we epoxied the gear and firewall back into it and flew it again. It wasn't anything to write home about flying wise.
I still have it, but it's pretty bad off, I had a teenage penchant for cannibalization and it was "stripped".

I don't remember the ribs under the wing, but I thought that adding ribs and covering the bottom with 1/16th sheet and then shaping the airfoil a bit would yield a much better flying model. I did it with a Wen Mac Day Fighter that I modified into a clipped wing air racer with thin sheet styrene and it did fly that way (probably the only reason as I clipped it down to replicate Charlie Tucker's King Cobra!). 

I have a bunch of those Thunderbolt kits and a Zero too, no Hellcat though, but I never saw a Spitfire in 1/2A. If anyone comes up with one I'd like to see pictures.  I had the P-40 and still have a Hurricane Stunter in the Form Flite series, and of the 3/4" to 1' P-40, Thunderbolt and  1" to 1' Mustang Form Flite Scalers I still have a P-47N and two P-51D's.

Sig had a series of formed plastic fuselage 1/2A's which one was a Spitfire. The other was a P-40, I think. I was tempted to buy a set of them in a Hobby Shop in Philly in the late eighties but bought a Sterling Skylark instead. Should have bought them all!

Chris...   

Offline Robert McHam

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Re: 1/2A Top Flight molded Thunderbolt, Zero ect.
« Reply #24 on: March 31, 2009, 11:13:02 AM »
I found some pics of the Hellcat kit (not mine).
They were called FORM-FLITE.

Enjoy the pics!

Robert
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