The lineup of some of the planes at the 2013 Combat Graffiti event. All photos by Ken Burdick.

Scratch building for Combat Graffiti

By Ken Burdick

Yes folks, it's true.

To enter Combat Graffiti you pretty much need to scratch build something, buy a laser kit of an oldie or buy from eBay. (Sources: Barry Baxter's Control-Line Plans service ... Builtrightflyright's Half Fast ... Blue Sky Models).

I have done all three, by far the most enjoyable is to scratch build the model that has some nostalgia for me. Combat G is sort of a scale event for fast combat ships of the golden era before 1963. There are many unique wings and some of them even fly pretty well. The fun is in making one and rooting around eBay for the engine shown on the plans. (Extra points awarded for using the engine shown). See the Combat Graffiti rules.

Building the old stuff can present some challenges, but the real challenges lie in the painting. Using old materials will also give you bonus points and if you, like me, have been ironing on covering for the last 30 years it can get interesting.

The model I have chosen for this article is Wild Bill Netzband's Half Fast 111. I like it best for all the spar work and the reflex airfoil. It comprises a real lumber yard worth of balsa but “is strong like Moose!”

To build the thing, you will need at a minimum to hake spacers to align the leading edges so they are flat with no dihedral or the reverse . I urge anyone doing this, to use a stick and carve it rather than a pre shaped leading edge.

The Fox Rocket.


The engine I have selected for my project is a beautiful Fox Rocket red head., as supplied by Barrie Hobkirk.

Carl Berryman told when I interviewed him that back then they used Half Fast and “hot head Foxes.” I'm guessing it was this engine hopped up.


The covering for the lumber yard is Dharma silk, not dyed. I have dyed some and it looks pretty but I cannot get it to shrink tight --so nada to dye. The dope will be Randolph's nitrate tautening followed by same brand butyrate. So far so good with this combination. I have been using a silk I found at the local fabric store previous to this. It is 75% silk and 25% cotton, dyed yellow. It is slightly heavier than model silk but tightens up well and looks good doped. Part of all this is my relearning to use the old fabrics. If you do, remember that silk is organic and may burn or catch on fire if you try to hurry the process with a heatgun. Greg Davis aka 'The Big Cheese” and knower of most all finish techniques, found that using polyspan covered with silkspan will give you the original finish without the damage that you get with silkspan. Once you get hooked on these old combat models, it is fun all over again.

The rest is just pictures so I'll shut up now.

See a video of the 2012 Combat Graffiti event.

This page was upated Nov. 23, 2013

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