What follows is a description of the building and the
flying of the model. See also the assembly
drawing which is on this web page and the pictures of
the nose assembly and fuselage subassemblies above.
The X-1 model has a scale factor of 1/10. Diameter of
5.4", length of 37", span of 36", Wings just a bit bigger
than scale, for a wing area around 165 sq in (150 would have
All-wood construction. Nose section built-up using round
formers and 24 stringers, with 24 3/16" balsa "planks" glued
across the stringers. The 24-facet cross-section was sanded
to a round cross-section. Center fuselage also built up, but
a very simple frame with bulkheads, skinned by 1/8" balsa
curled to shape. Rear section was a straight cone made up of
3/32" balsa curled similar to how paper & cardboard
transitions are made. Some 3/16" balsa was glued inside the
lip of the slightly oversized large end of the tailcone so
when sanded down there was a 2" curved transition instead of
a sharp break. Not quite the right rear fuselage shape, but
practical and light.
Wing was also based on balsa construction, with 1/16"
wing skins, and using a Bob Parks BP-3d airfoil. The wing
had a 5.75" span center section that glued into the fuselage
mid-section, the outer panels of the wing plugging into the
center section using telescoping fiberglass tube joiners and
music wire alignment pins.
Wing control surfaces consist of what were flaps on the
real X-1 (going out about half-span from the root). On the
model, those flaps were used as flaperons, moving both as
flaps and as ailerons. More recently the flap capability has
been taken out, they act only as ailerons.
The horizontal tail section was built to be all-moving, a
"flying tail". That simplified making the tail removeable
for transport, slipping the two halves and their joiner rods
from the bellcrank inside thehollow fin/rudder assembly.
Power by 32mm reloadable motor, as used by the Aerotech
"Phoenix" Rocket Boosted Glider. For G12 and F13 power.
Might do an F16J someday but the endburners are more my
The burnoff of the propellant would cause a VERY
significant shift in the CG due to the far aft locaiton. To
compensate for this, a vac-formed water ballast tank was
added as far up front as possible. It held 90 grams of
water. With a fill/drain line and a vent line. At liftoff
the drain line came unplugged to allow the water to drain
out by gravity-feed. Tank is fully drained about 4-6 seconds
into positive-G glide after a G12 reload.
Final details of the model were that the upper and lower
ventral system tunnels were made out of vac-formed plastic.
The finish of the model was primarily by using orange
Towerkote iron-on covering. The lower ventral tunnel was
painted using a color-matched paint by Monokote. I wish I'd
painted the upper tunnel too, as the Towerkote produced some
bubbles that would not go away.
The big Stars & Bars markings were mostly cut-out
trim monokote, plus some red decal stripes that Ed Lacroix
added. The decals for "Glamorous Glennis", "Bell Aircraft",
and a few other markings were done in MacDraw (much traced
from scans of X-1 kit decals Alex Seltsikas did for me) and
color printed. The color print then was used as a master in
a color xerox machine to print onto some high quality clear
water-decal film tom Campbell gave me info on (From
Micro-Mark). Obtaining the decal material and printing them
was described in more detail earlier this week in the thread
about how to make decals.
The model's mass turned out to be around 30 ounces in
liftoff mode on a G12, 25 ounces for glide (5 ounces lost by
water dump and propellant burnoff).
Now, when I planned building this a few months ago, it
was going to be "for fun", to sport fly at NARAM. But part
of the way through building it, I started to think about
entering it in sport scale at NARAM. It actually was a dumb
thing to do if our team wanted to score well, the Little Joe
II has a good track record, while the X-1 would not score
well in static. But in helping to run NARAM this year, our
team wasn't flying as "seriously" as we usually do. Ed
LaCroix agreed it seemed like a neat thing to do this year,
so we decided to use that for Southern Neutron's sport scale
model after all.
Indeed it didn't score up there in static, 5th place.
On to the flying. Ed LaCroix assisted getting the bird
ready to fly from the tower, as we loaded the water ballast,
plugged in the battery pack, and popped the canopy in place.
At launch it took off out of the tower straight. But it had
a bit more up trim than it should have, it pitched up near
vertical and I had to use full down to keep it from going
beyond vertical onto its back. It also had a roll that I let
go while working the pitch control . Finally settled down
into a glide, as it stalled somewhat due to the trim still
being off. Got it sort of trimmed, and also trimmed out a
roll to one side. Finally ready to land, trying to land on a
real dirt runway at the NARAM site. Coming in just fine,
then put the flaps down and... it pulled to the left. The
flaps didn't deploy symmetrically. Landed safely, but missed
OK, so it was planned to be one flight. But that flight
wasn't satisfying. So, quickly it was ready to fly again.
This time with downtrim added, and aileron throw reduced (it
had been sensitive in roll on glide). The launch was very
smooth, as though on rails. Pulled a bit of up to bring the
final climb angle ot around 60 degrees, and corrected a bit
of roll. So it was a very smooth easily controlled boost.
Altitude was around 500 feet. Never even felt the difference
when the last bit of water ballast drained out, it felt good
in glide off the bat. Still a bit sensitive still in roll
during glide, so I went back to the boost low rate for
aileron throw. Did at least one very large racetrack
pattern, maybe two, before going to the far end of the
runway to set up for landing. Got there with lots of
altitude, so did a couple of 360's to burn it off, might
even have been able to use a 3rd. Got it on line and came in
to land... and it kept on going. Had expected to land 50-100
feet in front of me, but it flew 50-75 feet past (flaps
would have helped there to shorten the slope but after the
first miscue, they were not going to be used for the 2nd
flight). Fortunately landed on the dirt runway anyway... but
not with much room to spare. No idea of the glide time, just
it was a lot of fun (once it finally got into the air).
It scored some nice mission points, moving it past the
previous 3rd and 4th place static models. Unfortunately, the
1st and 2nd place models, John Pursley's (Jekyll & Hyde
Team) huge Saturn-V (around 1/66 scale, 60" tall), and Mark
Bundick's (All the President's Men Team) nicely built
Atlas-II both crashed, so the X-1 ended up taking 1st place
in the Team division.
The model flew 7 more times in 1997, 3 at Muncie (US Team
flyoffs 1997) and 4 more at a later Birmingham Tripoli
launch. One of the flights was timed, for about 2:15, though
that was probably with a bit of a thermal assist.
It also flew at the Mick Wilkins Memorial Scale Meet,
held during NSL-99 in Ardmore Alabama. It took first place
in Sport Scale.
Sadly, the X-1 literally crashed and burned at NARAM in
2000. The take-off was unusual and I tried to do a loop to
get it to enough airspeed to be controllable, but it hit the
ground a glancing blow, knocking the G12 engine mount loose.
The still-thrusting G12 caused the balsa tailcone to burst
into flames. Everything aft of the wings was destroyed in
the fire. It might be rebuilt someday.