It all seemed a bold jump from Airfix models to a model that actually flew. I had persuaded my father to buy me a DC Merlin (my first engine) so the next problem was a model. As I did not have pocket money as such, getting the money together was a problem and to be truthful it was so long ago I don’t remember exactly how I achieved my goal.
I do remember where the model came from it was Allsports shop only a few yards up the road from our house. The shop was run by a couple of ladies so advice on model aircraft was somewhat limited. Amidst fishing rods, football, cricket and golf paraphernalia there were model aircraft bits and pieces. The KK Champ looked as though it would be ideal to learn on and it was the cheapest powered model they had in stock, at something like 12/9 (63.75P) in early 1961.
There was no one locally to show me how to fly a model so yes you guessed it the first flight did not last very long! I made all the usual mistakes taking off into wind line tension lost in the first quarter of the circle, model pointing directly at me etc. That was the first of many rebuilds. Eventually I gave up on the undercarriage and made one that actually worked! I used one piece of piano wire bent to fit underneath the engine bearer and held in place with two small aluminium brackets and two 8BA bolts. For 35 years I used a variety of engines a DC Merlin, Spitfire, Sabre, PAW 1.49, PAW 09, MK16 and one flight with a McCoy 35!!
Well yes the McCoy 35 was a bit nutty which even I had to admit. With extra wooden bearers sandwiched over and under the existing ones the McCoy was mounted much further back sidewinder fashion with lots of side thrust it was just incredible that it flew at all. I kept the original fuel tank to ensure the flight was going to be short. With my home made undercarriage the model had plenty of prop clearance. It took off like a rocket and I just hoped the lines didn’t snap. There was only about two laps then the engine stopped and the model went down like a doodlebug. It was quite an extensive rebuild.
The PAW 1.49 was used on this model for years, what an easy starter even if left for months between flights. Anyway in 1996 I went a bit crazy and fitted a Fox 15! The Fox 15 is a very light weight engine for its capacity even lighter than a PAW 1.49. With all the previous engines (except the McCoy 35) the maximum ever speed was 44 mph. On the 2nd Feb 1996 the first flight with the Fox 15 returned a speed of 64 mph. I then modified the model to use the Crackerjack drop off undercarriage, the speed got as high as 72.7 mph. More recent speed checks are a little lower at 63 up to 69.1 mph
I also made a Second Champ which was supposed to benefit from all the rebuilds from the first Champ. Apart from having to mend the fuselage this model has amazing remained intact for about forty five years. It has had a DC Sabre and two different DC Spitfires in it. In total I have recorded 52 speeds for it, the last one was this year at 33.3 mph. With an overall Speed range of 25 to 41.7 mph. The present motor is a very well worn DC Spitfire Blue Head.
My daughter tried flying this model and was doing well until I suggested she was flying it a bit high. The ensuing stuka dive was into very wet mossy patch of ground. When I got to the model it was stuck in the ground at an angle of about 70 degrees. To get it out of the ground was like pulling out a sink plunger. Unbelievably the model held together, the undercarriage taking the worst of it. The impact didn’t even break the propeller! I had to rinse the mud off the engine and take it apart and flush out the fuel tank. I checked the model over and the only damage was the connecting piece of balsa between the elevator halves had snapped!
I then persuaded my daughter to build her own Champ. I put a Gilbert 11 in it and got a speed of 45.45mph. My daughter said that was too fast so I put a Gilbert 07 in it. This was reduced the speeds range from between 30 to 36.6 mph.
As control line models go a KK Champ is a bit tame but as a model to sling in the car and fly when the radio flyers (including me) have stopped flying it is ideal. All Control line models are great fun from the flyers point of view and don’t you let anyone tell you different!!
Merry Christmas To One and All
Reproduced with permission from Sticks and Tissue