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Thread: Every Man a Tiger

  1. #1
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Every Man a Tiger

    Been pretty quiet here, figured to tell this story.

    Had some repairs to do on the left wing of my Fly Baby a couple of months back. My airplane has a long (~40in) inspection panel down the middle of the fuselage that gives me good access to the controls and other lower-fuselage components. When I pulled the inspection panel off, I noticed that the paint was really crappy. Figured I'd repaint it, while doing all the other work.

    Finally, time to re-do the panel. I was prepared to just paint it rattle-can beige, like I've done for other components. But I guess there's a latent artist in me; with such a large canvas to work with, I really wanted to do something more than just a plain panel.

    I asked the guys on FB^2 (The Fly Baby Facebook page) for suggestions, and Fly Baby builder Jim Katz came up with an amazing one: "Paint a canopy on it."

    For those who don't know the history, aviation artist Keith Ferris developed the camouflage scheme used on the Canadian Air Force F/A-18s (Ferris painted the full-size B-17 mural at the Air and Space Museum). One of the features of his design is a fake canopy (complete with helmets) painted on the bottom of the fuselage.
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    The whole purpose is to confuse another airplane in the quick glimpse in a close-in dogfight. Is the CF-18 turning TOWARD you, or away? Several other planes, such as some A-10s, have painted canopies on their bellies.

    It was a perfect idea for my Fly Baby. I'm not likely to get in another dogfight, but the guys hanging around the runway with judging score boards might get a kick out of it. I'd do a cockpit rather than a canopy.

    Trying strip the remnants of the old paint off the old belly panel didn't look too fun. But whenever I buy material, I buy enough for two parts...and the original sheet of aluminum was still tucked in a corner of the hangar. Lay down the old panel for a template, snip away, drill the holes, and bend the side edges slightly with a homemade wooden brake.

    Cleaned the panel off with Dawn, hit it with self-etching primer, cover it with Rustoleum's finest beige, then mask it off for the cockpit detail. Originally did the helmet in white (per Ferris' original), but didn't like the look....repainted it in brown to match my leather flying helmet.

    Didn't turn out too bad....
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    Give it a year to pick up a layer of dirt and oil to blend it in with the rest of the belly, and I'll be ready for my first F-16 intercept.

    Ron Wanttaja
    Last edited by rwanttaja; 04-15-2022 at 11:59 AM.

  2. #2
    Dana's Avatar
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    OK, now I want to see the same picture of your Fly Baby... inverted, from above.

  3. #3

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    F-16 XL-1 was done in the same manner, but with a full copy of the upper fuselage, including air refuel door and alignment stripes, as well as a vertical fin when she was repainted in the 4 tone gray scheme in 1982/83 time period.

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