Dave Morales is an extraordinary talent in the RC Scale hobby. Not only does he create perfectly realistic warbirds, he takes his craft one step further...beyond the “comfort zone” of perfectly applied paint, rivets, and weathering... and adds BATTLE DAMAGE! It seriously takes courage to detail a large-scale model and then cut HOLES in it... and then...actually go FLY it!!
Dave’s latest model is a Jerry Bates plans Curtis P-40B in 1/5 scale. I was thrilled to see this model at Warbirds Over the Rockies 2014. It really stood out on the flight line, because Dave had an entire diorama - tools, crates, a jeep- all set up around the aircraft, which just added to the professional presentation of this model. When I was walking around looking at this perfectly rendered aircraft, I quickly had a pang of anxiety... did someone bump into this model and knock a hole in the aileron?! I then quickly realized this “damage” was deliberately built into the aircraft, for it looked exactly like a canon shell passed through the right aileron! Awesome! Through the hole in the wing I could see ribs, stringers and twisted metal that looked like extreme violence was wrought upon it! A very convincing effect.
As a RC and full-scale pilot, I’m used to pre-flighting an aircraft and diligently looking for anything that would prevent me from flying it. I’m pretty sure a hole in the wing is on the list of things that would prevent me from taking to the air, however, Dave flew this aircraft regularly (see video above). I asked Dave if he could tell there was a hole in the wing whilst flying it. He said there where no noticeable problems while at regular flying speed. However, when slowed down to a stall, the damaged wing will tip first and the roll rate is a bit reduced. But that was all he noticed. Dave is pretty smart though and didn’t just blast a hole out of the wing will-nilly. There was a method to his madness. Any of the twisted bent metal damage was done within the airframe and not out in the slipstream to reduce drag and the possibility of flutter. The spar of the aileron is titanium (!) with heavy duty hinges and a heavy-duty, high-powered servo. All to be strong enough to counter any unforeseen effects of the “damage”.
This model bears the markings of a P-40B that Pappy Boyington flew while he was with the Flying Tigers. And of course I was thrilled that Dave chose the Best Pilots Pappy to go in the cockpit of this extraordinary model! Thanks Dave for being a customer and thanks for sharing your creativity in this hobby! - Lyle