Altered States:  Modified Fly Baby Pictures and Fly Baby Concepts

Every once in a while, I generate a...hmmm, "Non-standard" Fly Baby picture.  Or someone speculates on what a slight or major modification might look like, and I oblige with a bit of Photoshop magic or a new drawing.  I got asked if I could publish a set of links for my altered pictures.  Instead, I just crammed them all into a single web page.

By the way, UNaltered fun pictures can now be found on the Slight Weird Pictures Page.

The Fly Baby 1C

Back in the '60s, Pete Bowers did a little thinking about the Fly Baby model 1C.  The 1A is the monoplane, the 1B is the biplane, and the 1C would have been a parasol-winged airplane, kind of like a Baby Ace or Pietenpol.

This didn't get much beyond the speculation stage.  My guess is that too much stuff had to be re-done.  To allow access to the cockpit, the plane would have needed a wing center section set forward of the cockpit (like the biplane) and the wings swept back to maintain the CG.  But that would mean you couldn't use the stock wings...the ribs would be crosswise to the airflow.  The 1C would have needed brand-new wings, just like the biplane.  Pete probably figured it wasn't worth the bother.

But here is an idea of what the Parasol Wing Fly Baby might have looked like....

The Mach Busting Fly Baby

All right, I admit it:  I was feeling especially goofy that night. I had a copy of a photo of a supersonic F-14, and decided that a Fly Baby really deserved to be in the middle of that condensation cloud.

The Hurribaby

I can't help it:  I'm a sucker for military paint jobs on Fly Babies.  I've always loved the WWII British camouflage scheme, and figured I'd give it a try on a Fly Baby.  I dubbed the design the "Hurribaby"...just to forestall those who might call it the "Spit-Up".

Interestingly, Drew Fidoe painted his Fly Baby this way.  He painted the belly yellow...that was standard British practice for training airplane...and added D-Day invasion stripes.  He duplicated the paint job of the Miles Messenger that Field Marshal Montgomery used. .

Even scarier, he's got an old Volkswagen Bus that he has been driving to Fly Ins until he gets his Fly Baby finished. His wife, Marie, will be taking over the 'Fly-In Support Chores' when Drew's plane is ready.  Marie wants the VW to match the plane, and here's what she drew up

Here's how Drew's plane came out:

Doin' the Claude

I really do get a kick out of military paint jobs on Fly Babies, especially those where the 'Baby masquerades as a non-US military aircraft.  I like the Day/Gauld-Galliers Junkers, I like Bob Grimstead's "Bristol Balderdash."

I've been mulling over the potentials, lately.  I like the "Hurribaby" scheme, but, in all honesty, I don't really think flying in busy airspace with camouflage paint is all that good of an idea.  Which leaves us, really with the 'tween-wars period, so ably captured by Bob's airplane.

So: What could I shoot for?  First, I'd like to try to mimic a real aircraft.  It doesn't have to look that close, but I preferred something historical to point at.  The pre-war US Navy paint schemes were pretty nice, with yellow wings, gray fuselages, and lavish sections of colored paint to denote the squadrons the planes were assigned to.

I had been thinking of a mythical Curtiss F9C-3 monoplane prototype, when my mind flashed me with a vision of another nation that used gray and large splashes of paint on very pretty aircraft:  Japan.

It really flooded in, then.  I remembered that the Flying Tigers' first fighter adversary wasn't the Zero, but a *fixed wing open-cockpit* fighter.

Yow.  A bit of web-digging, and I found it:  The Mitsubishi A5M "Claude," the immediate predecessor to the immortal Zero.  The neat thing was, it was *very* close in configuration to the Fly Baby (except for the radial engine, of course).

So I had to do it.  I had to do a drawing of a Fly Baby painted up like a Claude:

This drawing has only three cosmetic changes from the standard airframe:  Filled-in gear Vs to go with the wheel pants (to simulate the big spats of the Claude) and a extended turtledeck.

To see a model of the "real" Claude, go to:

Gear Follies #1:  Trigear

The subject of tricycle-gear Fly Babies came up on the mailing list, and we had a bit of a discussion on the topic.  I ended up doing two drawings showing different approaches.  Here's one of them.

Gear Follies #2:  Retractable Gear

By gum, now I've gone too far!

Cleaning It Up

Cantilever wings came up on the mailing list.  I personally *like* the wires, but some people think a cleaner wing would be better.  I did this drawing to illustrate what a Fly Baby without wing wires might look like.

By the way, here's the original picture.

Auto-Engine Conversion with Shock-Absorbing Gear

I've always thought that if my Continental gives up the ghost, I might replace it with a Subaru.  However, the Subie is heavier than the I did some sketches showing the cockpit set further back for balance...and a second cockpit with a cover.  It started looking pretty racy at this point, so I added shock-absorbing landing gear like a Ryan STA.  A few bogus RAF roundels, and you get....

The Fun Meter

Hey, this picture's not even fake.  It's a photograph of an actual instrument I have in my airplane.
Building something like this is pretty simple.  Just pick up an old non-functioning gauge at a Fly Market or garage sale.  Take it carefully apart...the "face" portion of the gauge should be held in place with just a couple of tiny screws.  Measure the face area, then draw up something on your computer using just about any simple drawing package.  Print it on your ink jet using photo-quality paper, spray both sides with clear preservative, then glue it onto the face plate.  Reassemble the gauge, leaving out anything that's not visible (I even ran my gauge through my band saw to eliminate the back half of the shell).

Moonraker's Cockpit Club

I'm a strong supporter of Young Eagles, and my one regret is that my Fly Baby can't carry any.  One summer, though, I noticed that there were occasionally some sad kids who were too young to fly with YE.  I usually offered to at least let the kid sit in the cockpit of my airplane.

I came up with "Cockpit Club" cards as a memento for these fledglings.  I used my inkjet printer and business card stock.  On one side was the logo, and on the other side was information about my airplane...performance, size. etc.

P-26 Cosmetic Job

I've seen enough guys try the pre-WWII Army Air Corps paint jobs, I figured I'd see what could be done cosmetically to make the Fly Baby look more like the P-26 Peashooter.  The attached drawing incorporates three minor and one major costmetic modification.  The raised turtledeck, the fabric-covered landing gear Vees, and the wheel pants are all trivial and things that have been done before.  The only major change is the addition of a ring-shaped fairing over the front end of the airplane to simulate the radial-engine ring of the P-26.  Not completely sure how to do this...though it probably wouldn't take much more than a cowling front like the Graham Lee Nieuports use....

Long Range Fly Baby

I'll admit it...I got the idea for this one from the RV fact, Renate Reeve's Fly Baby is sitting atop where an RV-4 was, before.  But since she lives in South Africa, how else is she going to get to Oshkosh?

How to get the fuel boom past the propeller arc is a problem left to the student....

Using Photoshop for Good, Not Evil

An ordinary Fly Baby picture, showing a dashing aviator by his steed?  I think not.

You see, there was a little fly-in happening in the background, and it had a great, big, DeHavilland Turbo Otter on Floats parked behind me.  It *really* distracted from the hero...uhhh, the Fly Baby in the foreground.  So I used Photoshop to delete the Otter.  That's why the tannish-colored trailer behind my windshield looks a bit fuzzy.  A small version of the original is to the right....

The Bent-Wing Bird

Here's one you can't blame me for.  George Trepus, a friend of Pete's from way back when, sent me this drawing of an inverted-gull-wing Fly Baby.  Says George, "Pete and I talked about the possibility of such a variation lots of years ago. Maybe cantilevered or possibly a center section with wire-bracing, or both. I got busy raising a family."  Pete never dropped the idea of the bent-wing, as his two-seat Namu had the feature.

Twin-Tailed Fly Baby

OK, back to birds you can blame me for.  A discussion came up on the EAA's Oshkosh 365 forum page, asking about twin-tailed homebuilt aircraft.  Naturally (or as most people on the Fly Baby mailing list said when they saw it, "UN-naturally"), I had to come up with a twin-tailed Fly Baby.

Could it be done?  Probably, but it wouldn't be quite as simple as you might think.  The stock Fly Baby tail is wire-braced, and this would not be possible on a twin-tailed design (the Vertical stabilizers to horizontal stab could be wire-braced, but not the horizontal stabilizer to the fuselage).  You'd have to redesign the horizontal stab into a cantilever design.

Just for heck, I tried a trigear version, too....  Looks a lot like an Ercoupe, in this manifestation.

Ron's Dam Solution

There's a dam near where I live where they discovered some unexpected deterioration.  The announcement was made that if the Seattle area got heavy rains (and, hey, it IS Seattle...) they would have to open the sluice gates and let a bunch of water downstream.  This would could cause up to four feet of water in a highly-industrialized valley south of Seattle.

The valley where my Fly Baby sits in its hangar....

They're supposed to give us ~8 hours warning if this was going to happen, but if it's raining bad, it's quite possible I won't be able to fly the plane out.  The guys on the Fly Baby mailing list got to talking about solutions.  One was to build a raft for the Fly Baby to actually sit on in the hangar...and if the water came up, the raft would just float the plane.  We bandied this idea around a bit, but then I realized that a classic airplane like the Fly Baby needed a classic raft design to go with it...

Curtiss Sparrowhawk

Even before my knee started getting bad, it was kind of a pain to lift myself out of the cockpit.  Years ago, I contemplated building a set of biplane wings, just so I could have something above me to hang onto and hoist me out of the cockpit.

But I loved the monoplane configuration.

Install just the center section?  Naw, it'd look TOO weird.

What I needed was an excuse to mount some sort of structure above the cockpit.  But what kind of plane had that?

Then it hit me:  The Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk.

The F9C was a small biplane designed to operate from the US Navy's two dirigible aircraft carriers, the Akron and the Macon.  The top wing was attached directly to the top of the fuselage, and a big hook was installed above the cockpit.  A long rail extended forward from the hook.  The dirigible would drop a trapeze below its hangar, and the Curtiss would come up underneath and hook on.  The fighter would then stop its engine, and the dirigible would pull the plane up into its internal fighter bay.

(There's a cable channel that runs the old movie "Dirigible", with great footage of this process).

But the Fly Baby is a monoplane, not a biplane like the F9C-2?

Well, simple:  The Fly Baby can become the un-built follow-on to the biplane Sparrowhawk:  The Curtiss F9C-3!


Another suggestion for a grip was to add a Cabane structure above the fuselage, like a lot of WWI monoplanes.  I've got a separate page on this one....

Photoshopping Drew's "Stringbag"

Drew Fidoe made baaaaad mistake a couple of years back.   He sent me a very good picture of his recently-restored Fly Baby.  The picture was of the whole airplane, at an attractive angle, well-lit.

What's bad about that, you ask? just lends itself TOO well to Photoshopping.  Couple that with the airplane's WWII paint job, it's nickname "Stringbag" after the famed British Fairey Swordfish torpedo plane, Drew's status as a retired Canadian Navy Petty Officer, and his current job...well, the temptation was too much.

Of COURSE, Stringbag had to be showing taking off from a carrier, on the way to attack Taranto!

Swordfish are famed for crippling the German battleship Bismarck, allowing the British fleet to catch up and sink it.  Here's Drew escorting the mission:

The bravest pilots of WWII were those flying the Catapult Aircraft Merchantmen fighters.  Catapults were installed on ordinary merchant ships that would let them fling a fighter aloft to defend against attacking German bombers.  There was no way to land these fighters... the pilots had to ditch, and hope to be picked up before they drowned or froze.

History says they used Hawker Hurricanes for this task...but maybe there was a Stringbag, too....

Stringbag over the Falaise Pocket, August 1944

Finally...Drew's current job is as a Chief Engineer on a ferry.  We found out how he commuted to and from work....

Iron Crosses

Fly Baby builders have a tendency towards military paint jobs.  Occasionally, when someone builds a Fly Baby biplane, they even use a German WWI paint scheme.

Had some interesting discussion about two such variants...and, of course, they generated some pictures.  The first was a Fly Baby on floats, with a Kriegsmarine (Navy) paint job:

The second was even more interested.  One potential builder wanted to use "faux Junkers" effect on a Fly Baby biplane... to have a two-seat German biplane!

Discussion of these German configurations, coupled with the Morane mod discussed earlier, led to some speculation about a replica German "Taube." 

My drawing skills kind of failed on trying to duplicate the Taube's extended ailerons, though....

A German Roscoe?

"Roscoe," our Fly Baby mascot, is generally viewed as staunchly standing on the Allied side.  However, one can speculate whether his German cousin "Rosco" might appear on the planes with the Maltese Crosses...

Space Fly Baby?

Boeing's X-37B Space Plane isn't that much bigger than a Fly Baby.  It's kind of the Fly Baby of spacecraft....just room for one guy.  Hmmmmm......

Gee Bee?

Gee Bee paint schemes have been popular on Fly Babies, but have you ever wondered what one would look like with a small radial engine?

A Metal Fly...Ahhh, open-cockpit airplane?

OK, we were discussing how one could build a MODERN Fly Baby.  Aluminum construction was suggested.  Then I got to thinking...why not adapt a current design?

Drew and the Hucks Starter

Bill Hills and the Battle of Britain

Another On-Orbit Shot

Turnabout is Fair Play

The Boeing P-26 "Peashooter" has inspired the paint jobs for numerous Fly Babies.  There's an outfit in Washington state that's about to build some full-scale P-26 replicas...occurred to me that painting one like a Fly Baby would be only fair.

Invoking the Demon

One of our happy crowd likes to think about "Boche Baby" versions of the Fly Baby biplane. Recently, he suggested I look at what could be done to emulate the Hawker Demon, a '20s-era two-seat biplane fighter that was adapted from the Hawker Hart.

There are basically two distinguishing feature of the Demon... the classic Hawker vertical stabilizer, and an odd "notch" type bay for the gunner.

The Hawker (e.g. DeHavilland) tail is relatively simple; the basic structure would stay the same, and a built-up leading edge get a bit of convexity to invoke the shape of the original.

The gun position is tougher. The "Boche Baby" gun tub goes atop an intact aft fuselage but the Demon has that rather large "notch."

This is a big, draggy hole to be adding behind the pilot seat. I'd be concerned about turbulence, and potential blanking of the vertical stabilizer. One *might* be able to mitigate that with careful design of the dummy that goes into the position. Maybe.

Ideally, one could design a cover for that aft pit that covers the notch for non-demonstration flying (non-Demon flying. Ha!).

One interesting tidbit is that this *might* work as a an actual two-seater.  If the guy in the rear seat sits backward, the CG impact isn't as bad as a forward-facing seat.

Would have to work the CG calculations pretty heavily to verify this.  Also making sure the elevator walking beam can't isn't blocked and the elevator cables cannot be interfered with is left as an exercise for the student.

Release that Tiedown!

We were discussing hand-propping, and one of the Fly Baby Facebook page members posted that he tied a rope to his car to hold the airplane while starting.  This led to some speculation on what might happen if the rope wasn't released....

High Altitude Fly Baby?

During WWII, the British modified Spitfires for the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit (PRU).  The PRU planes were modified for altitude work including a distinctive light-blue paint jog.  They often removed the guns as well..

One of my EAA chapter members is building an RV-7 and giving it a PRU paint job.  Wondered what it would look like on a Fly Baby....

Comments? Contact Ron Wanttaja.

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