Round & Round

The Control-Line Modeler at Large

By John Thompson

August 2006

Modeling thought for the month:

"Man's mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to the original dimensions."

-- Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Are two engines more fun than one?

A thought on P-40 stunt rules

And an idea for some multi-engine fun in 2007

I've always liked the sound of a multi-engine plane.

There's something musical and magical about the harmony of model engines working together. Paul Walker's B-17 was truly a delight for the ears as well as the eyes. I've always wanted to build and fly a twin-engine plane, but have been daunted by the technological "multiplier" effect of more than one engine. Finally, this winter, I'm planning to take the plunge and build a little twin-.15 stunter to have some fun with in our P-40 stunt event.

I know I'm not alone in my fascination with multi-engine planes. There have been several multi-engine stunt planes campaigned over the years. In the past year, a couple of people expressed interest in building twins for P-40. The local efforts were stalled somewhat by the discovery that the engine of choice, the O.S. .20 FP, actually is closer to a .21 when its displacement is measured. Nobody wanted to risk being challenged on the field, and so the projects we heard about never materialized. (There was some controversy involved, which we will hopefully leave in the past. The issue is what to do in the future!)

The contest season for 2006 is drawing to a close, which has me already thinking of next year, and at the top of my thinking list at the moment is a two-part notion (perhaps a crazy one) aimed at both opening the field for twins in P-40 and generating a little interest in the whole multi-engine stunt plane concept. Here are my thoughts:

1. A rule change to allow "nominal" displacement engines.

The idea here is, I think, closer to the original intent of the rules (which I had a hand in crafting). when we wrote the P-40 rules, we weren't thinking about small variations in displacement. What we meant, I think, was to allow engines marketed as .40 or less displacement, in the P-40 event. We never intended to tear down an LA .40 to see what it's real displacement was, and to outlaw it if it was .400001. To put it another way, "If it says on the box it's a .40, it's a .40."

I am suggesting a Northwest rule change to that philosophy in regard to all engines in the P-40 event. Thus, if someone wants to build a twin with two O.S. 20 engines, they would be allowed under the idea that "If it says on the box it's a .20, it's a .20." We would overlook the fact that the actual displacement of the two engines combined might be .41. Close enough for P-40! Still, of course, if it was sold as a .46, or the twin engines were sold as .21s, they would not be allowed.

Yes, there would be some ways to game the system and try to slip in engines not intended, but I presume that the usual Northwest standard of honor and honesty would continue, and that nobody would try to slip in a .25 and say it came in a box marked .20, or, heaven forbid, deliberately start marketing an oversize engine in a .20 box. It's P-40, for goodness sakes! I would apply to anyone caught cheating the same penalty I've proposed for cheaters on the NW Sport Race engine rule: A smack with a rolled-up newspaper and a loud "Shame on you!"

The P-40 engine rule now says:
4. Engine: Any engine up to .40 size, including four-strokes (no 60% rule for four-strokes).

I would propose to change it to something like the following:
4. Engine: Any engine marketed as up to .40 size, including four-strokes (no 60% rule for four-strokes). In the case of multiple-engine airplanes, the total marketed displacement must be no larger than .40. (Small variations in total displacement for either single or multiple-engine planes would be allowed, up to a total variance of .01 per engine).

What do you think? I have not at this writing (August 2006) made this a formal proposal. I would like to hear from you Northwest fliers what you think of the above suggestion. If it seems to generate some positive support, I will craft a formal proposal and submit it to a ballot via the regular Flying Lines rules proposal system. The new rule would be targeted for an effective date of Jan. 1, 2007.

2. An idea for multiplying our stunt fun!

Of course, we all know that real, serious stunt flying (SSF) involves planes that look and perform a lot alike. Nobody who really wants to be the top flier in the region would mess around with multiple-engine planes (with one notable exception -- and he's exceptional!). We compete in precision aerobatics with what works, reliably. So all our planes tend to look pretty much the same, paint jobs notwithstanding.

But, hey, model flying is for fun, too. Why not throw caution to the wind once in a while and try something a little different -- such as a multi-engine plane?

My second idea is aimed at generating a little fun along these lines. I am suggesting a season-ending trophy, something like the Vintage Stunt Trophy, for multiple-engine planes.

If we can get the rules proposal through to liberalize the P-40 rules, I would offer to sponsor a trophy for the 2007 season. It would be awarded at the last contest to the top-scoring multi-engine contestant in the Northwest, using the usual Flying Lines scoring system. Multi-engine planes in any event (OTS, Classic, PA, or P-40) would qualify.

Hey, I might already be ahead in the race, because I have twin engines. Not the plane yet, but two engines! Surely somebody else out there will rise to the challenge.

So, what do you say: Will 2007 be the Year of the Twin?

E-mail me or post your comments on the NW Message Boards.

And, if the response is positive, look for the rules change ballot and get busy building your 2007 twin!

E-mail John Thompson

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This page was updated Aug. 11, 2006