The Broadway Bod Busters

Splinter (left) and Nemeisis airplanes for Vintafge Diesel Combat. All photos by Ken Burdick.

Going Small in Diesel Combat
or putting the PEE in performance

By Ken Burdick

Yes Folks, it's true.

D-bat is a confounding event for many reasons that are mostly tied to the engine. One of the issues is lack of power, even on the good ones! What this does is to force the otherwise spoiled N.W combat flier into the old days of antique airplanes that would not over tax the available power. If you attempt to fly an overly large airplane in D-Bat, as I did in 2003 using a “scrapper” with a 2-1/2” thick airfoil, you will get the following.

It is very hard to beat a well trimmed British D-Bat airplane for the available power of our old time engines. Warlord, Iron Monger Paraná, Dominator and others are the standard models to use.

Having said that, there is an alternative. There exists in the history of 1970 and before, a few well thought out American aircraft that can compete with the European airplanes. The British designs were made and refined for wind, diesels, and god knows what other criteria that includes using the ground as a tactic. All things considered, the Brit planes are well thought out for the most part. So why deviate, why not just use what the old standards? (answer below)

But it's fun!

The fun can be in making different models other than the status quo. Some of the more interesting 1970 and before were experiments with high aspect ratio wing designs. Bill Netzband from the U.S. produced the “Splinter” in 1964 and it apparently cleaned up at the major contests in Europe. The Razor Blade, by Pete tribe, may be the highest aspect ratio wing in it's period.

Last but not least by any stretch is the FAI Nemeses. This airplane as most know from its name, was designed by Howard Rush. The airfoil is a bit small for the clunky fuel tanks required in D-Bat but using a larger airfoil fixes that problem. Just past the cut-off of 1970 there are still others such as Tamerlane, and FAI Monoboom, too bad they cannot be used. This still leaves us a few models to choose from, all being smallish in wing area, but longer in span.

The Splinter had three versions that ranged in span from 36” to 42” The Razor blade is unknown to me but the 1961 remake of the wing made the span longer and chord narrower. Both the splinter and Razor Blade can be purchased from Barry Baxter plan service.

The Fai Nemeses plans would have to obtained from Howard Rush, it is about a 6+” chord with span of about 37 inches.

How they fly

How these wings fly for Northwest Vintage Diesel, is not representative of the designers intent. The reason being is the engines were all much more powerful than our 64 mph speed limit. Bill Netzband was claiming to be close to 100 mph with a diesel! ….in 1964! I imagine it was more like a Super Tiger .15 that went that fast. I have actually flown a Splinter built to spec using a Cox Tee Dee .15. It flew great. However, when you bolt on a diesel that weighs about 2 oz more and much less useable power things change.

Notes from test session #1:

The challenge for all this is to get them flying well at the slower speed of 64 mph.

An update (about 2 months later)

The Splinter built by Jeff Rein, was corrected and is no longer shifting back and forth in maneuvers. The problem as too much engine offset and leadout position.

The FAI Nemeses fly's great but was covered with Ultracote light. The covering is not adequate for the abuse D-bat doles out. While light and good looking, it punctures and tears too easily for me

I built the Nemeses because I wanted to try out a different airfoil on it. I gave Jeff the ribs and he modified them to built the Netzband Splinter. The Nemeses was built to the plans and has a planked leading edge as well as cat strips and a built up trailing edge of 1/16 balsa.

Very light wing, covered and all it came in at around 15 oz. Not rugged enough for the event, but was made this way as a reference model.

The Splinter was built in a method that will allow the builder to crank them out by the gross and to be strong enough for the event. A solid d-bat leading edge, a 3/8” x 1/4” spruce trailing edge that the ribs are slotted to accept. No spars and very little planking.

If we get the Splinter to fly as well as the Nemeses than it's a go. The latest news from the Rein Man is that it flies great now since the engine has been straightened out on the mount.

Both airplanes should out turn any of the usual wings used in D-Bat but not without a price. Wind is a master that must be served and high aspect wings with limited power may not serve well. On a clam day….look out.

I still maintain that a well trimmed Dominator is the plane to use but no way will it out turn these two. To me, that's the fun in D-Bat, Variety.

-- Kenny-b


Splinter article Page 1 -- Page 2 -- Page 3 -- Page 4

Razor Blade article Page 1 -- Page 2

Dominator (top) and Nemesis wings.

Various Nemesis versions

This page was upated July 20, 2010

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