Scratchbuilt 1/72 Lee-Richards Annular Wing 1913

By Gabriel Stern

Background

Look! it's a spaceship from Saturn!...a flying doughnut!...the last area 51 project!...well, actually not.

It is a pioneering plane devised by two gentlemen from Britain a few years ago (almost a hundred) to take advantage of an interesting aerodynamic concept. And yes, it flew...eventually.

It was powered by an enclosed 80 hp Gnome engine, could carry two people and had elevons.

Of course also included the rigging that is the delight of modelers affected by certain mental condition but, isn't it something you really would like to have on your shelf?

After a research session in my library and the Net, I found notes and images that helped a lot, but I also found the seemingly unavoidable contradictions among references that I like so much. Anyway, choices were made, a new # 11 blade was inserted in the handle and there we go, à la Monty Python, to travel across the meandering paths of scratchbuilding.

Scratch world!... well, the somewhat simple side of it, aiming for a quick, convenient and fun way to get those flying things that keep ruffling our feathers.

As you can see in the images, the usual pre-kit is cut from styrene, a 7 cylinder engine made of the same material and some spare parts adapted for the occasion.

The method used to build the plane can hopefully be deducted from the images, but it is basically an approach similar to the construction of a flying balsa plane (oh, my obscure past).

Regarding the interior, unknown to me, I just installed two seats, a stick, rudder pedals, a very succinct instrument panel and the engine -with a brass fuel tank- removing a small section of the top to show part of it. Although the engine did go inside the fuselage in the original, the way it is mounted is merely speculative. The pair of "cheeks" that streamline the protruding cylinders of the engine were glued on the sides of the fuselage and an opening was cut to "vent" the cylinders on the floor. The landing gear and king post were a mix of styrene rod and strut material.

Now it was time to cut the wing in halves and glue them to the fuselage, taking care of the incidence angle and the very slight dihedral. Four wheels were made with solder wire and styrene discs and set aside. Landing gear was added, rigging holes prepared and it was primer time.

Acrylic in three different hues was airbrushed, struts and other details touched-up, and rigging was done in a session characterized for the use of certain words.

Only in one photo the last-minute added cockpit coamings can be seen -before, they were unconvincingly painted-. Thin phone wire was used and the joint was hidden with a small blob of white glue, before painting. Canopy glue was used to attach them.

I added a picture of my growing stable of 1/72 scratchbuilt flying and not so much flying machines, my little personal museum.

Finally, the strange but beautiful shape of the Lee-Richards annular wing will cruise again the skies of imagination.

 

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