Foam & Glass Fibre Fuselage Construction

by Paul Janssens  - February 1990


Paul, a member from Belgium who flies full-sized jet aircraft, has bought a full-sized LS-6 sailplane and with over 300 hours airtime so far has set a Belgium distance record of 640km (400 miles) - Well Done Paul!

His PSS activities do not seem to have been impaired though, and recently he has increased his hangar of models with a Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star and a Grumman F9F Cougar.  These both have Foam/Veneer wings, with glass fibre fuselages and tanks.  Paul has developed his own quick build system for completing intricate fuselage shapes in fibreglass, and typically builds a complete model in around 60 hours from start to finish.  I quote from his recent letter as follows;


"What I do is design a model with conventional Foam/Veneer wings and balsa tailplane, but with a glass fibre fuselage.  I cut the fuselage out of a foam block, using side and top views for reference.  Sand the foam fuselage to its final shape and cover it with brown tape (the kind used to seal cardboard boxes.)  Use a warm iron to give the fuselage a smooth finish.  Add a coat of wax, let it dry and then put on 3 layers of glass fibre.  Immediately afterwards put on a coat of epoxy (or polyester) and micro-balloons. 


After it has all dried out, cut off the edges.  Then sand the glass fuselage - it is easy to achieve a smooth surface finish because of the micro balloons.  Then cut some of the brown tape away and use acetone to melt away the foam.  Pull out all the tape - Et Voila!!  The shape is no longer a problem and the average all up weight will not exceed 1300g (~3lbs).  This method has been used to build my new Learjet and Spitfire, as well as the new T-33 and Cougar!"

Paul's new models - the T-33 Shooting Star (above)

and F9F Cougar (right) both utilise the

described fuselage method