The A1-D, or Juliet II project has slowly made progress during the flying season of 2018. But with the arrival of this fall, we started to finally see something shaping on our workbench. And they did it fast.
I was surprised at how much easier a CAD software design can make the building phase. First of all, I had the chance to view the model from every angle and improve the structure. And all without wasting time, wood and patience. Moreover I was able to get all the parts for building the A1-D printed out on paper simply from the home printer, ready to transfer on the wood. If something was not coming out as expected, I could still redesign it and have a new part ready to be cut in minutes. After experimenting with heat transfer, I decided to just glue the printed outlines on the wood/carbon pieces. Although not ideal when you want a clean surface, at least with my initial methods, I had to sand them smooth later anyway, so it was a good decent compromise.
Having the actual blueprint directly on the material made extra easy to cut all the parts accurately. This in return meant that the fuselage assembled mostly like a big puzzle, without any adjustement. Some modifications were applied where a sandwich thickness didn’t respect what was designed (after all, that was the point of this prototype), but for the rest all came together as planned.
Still at this point there were decisons left to make. We needed to decide about the external layer of thin balsa. this is not only a cosmetic addition but depended on the overall need for a little extra strenght in some delicate aereas. the tail for example, was designed extremly light to help balancing the plane. That worked great on paper, or betetr, on the screen, but facing it dry fitted in real life made us deciding for a little more support to the covering film. Aside from a couple of additional design choices based on the actual components we were chosing to utilize, all the fuselage parts were cut, leaving only the landing gear support plate to be produced with the next batch of carbon reinforced parts.
The weight of the non glued fuselage minus the spars is 89 grams, which is approximately 20% lighter than the A1-C fuselage, that was also considerably smaller.
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