More than just a big model airplane:
For this project to be more than just ideas and design data on paper or the screen, it was important to start building physical things from the beginning. At the very basic level, this was to get a sense of the cockpit area, find the size and shape that would make the pilot feel like a fighter pilot, and get across the desired look inside and out. But then it was worth figuring out how much room there was with skins on. And how would the canopy look with the fuselage behind it? And how much room does the whole fuselage take up?
And is the cowling big enough?
And can we climb into this thing without breaking anything?
The result is a full-size representation of the Hellcat, which can be climbed into and holds two. It's made of wood, foam, and PVC. The canopy is welded steel. The landing gear don't retract, and the inside is still bare. But, in terms of helping illustrate what it is we're building and helping the design process along, it has been worth every hour.
The Original Mockup
When ScaleBirds became more than just an idea and turned into a project, was when Scott was at RISD. There he did an independent study with the intent to explore the merit of the concept of the modular warbird. The results of that project are reflected within this entire website, however at the beginning the study yielded a pile of concept sketches and this cardboard mockup of the cockpit.
At the time, the design was focused on a single seat LSA-type aircraft that would be metal and thermoplastic composite, and powered by the smaller Rotec 110hp engine. It would be even simpler than the current design, intended to be supremely modular and simple to build, while not being particularly geared towards high performance or features. Engineering analysis afterwards seemed to point that it was somewhere between worlds, and ultimately the design evolved into what we are working on today. However it is always useful to look back at that original concept and see what of those original core ideas may still provide some inspiration.