|Silver Dart (1:24 scale)
The first manned, powered flight in Canada (indeed, in the British Empire) was the Silver Dart. In celebration of the 100 year
anniversary of the flight, which took place on Feb 23, 2009, I decided to build a model of the plane. I found a Trillium Balsa kit
through eBay (I think). Except for the plans, I didn't use any of the materials in the kit. The balsa was replaced with basswood,
metal and plastic rod and strips. The tissue paper for the wings was replaced with fine synthetic cloth from a fabric store.
The original plane was made of bamboo, wood, silk fabric and about a mile of cabling. The engine was a water cooled V8 made by
Curtiss. The plane made a number of flights into the summer of 1909 and was destroyed during a landing near Trenton, Ontario.
I wanted to try and recreate the plane as it was on its historic flight at Baddeck, Nova Scotia. The more digging I did the more
interesting and conflicting the information became. The engine was eventually recovered and is now on display at the Canadian
Aviation Museum in Ottawa. I was given permission to photograph and measure up the engine so that I could scratchbuild an
accurate version. I also talked with Gordon MacRae of Baddeck, NS, who built two full scale replicas for the 75th anniversary and
was very helpful in clearing up a number of details that the Museum wasn't able to answer.
Even though I wasn't able to complete all the rigging in time, I entered it in the Heritagecon 3 model contest held in February 2009
at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum and organized by the Hamilton IPMS chapter. I discovered that the museum has a
1:2 scale replica of the plane and I was able to clear up a few more details about the plane. To my amazement, it won every award
possible and was put on display at the museum for a year.
It was also featured in an IPMS Canada article, which can be found here. The model came out of retirement for the IPMS Livonia
Can-Am Challenge in October 2016 and won two other prestigious awards.
Base Kit(s): Scratchbuilt (plans from Trillium Balsa kit)
Finished: February 2009
- vertical spars were tapered fore and aft
- wheels are photoetch items from Replicas and Miniatures, replacement wheels for the old AMT Sizzler kit.
- plastic rod and sheet used to scratchbuild front wheel support and steering arm
- engine scratchbuilt mainly from styrene, with many parts turned on lathe
- gear wheels notched using chisel point turned sideways, propeller drive chain is ribbed Evergreen styrene cut into thin strip
- rigging is invisible mending thread from a sewing store, passed through a Tamiya silver paint pen
- rigging turnbuckles and attachements made with wire and sheet aluminum
- Scale Hardware rivets and simulated nuts and bolts used thoughout
- stain/polyurethane one coat product used on wood parts, Alclad paints used on engine parts, Tamiya black acrylic on wheel
supports and various brackets.
- bamboo joints were simulated with a pencil line and Tamiya rust pastel
HeritageCon 3, Hamilton, ON Feb 2009, 100th Anniversary of Canadian Flight, Best Aircraft, People's Choice and Allan
Shelly Best of Show Award
2009 IPMS Nationals, Columbus, OH August 22, 2009, Premier award Large Scratchbuilt airplanes
Ajax XXIX Model Show, Ajax, ON Oct 2009, 1st place Scratchbuilt aircraft and Best Overall Aircraft
IPMS Livonia Can-Am Challenge, Livonia, MI October 1, 2016 - 3rd place Aircraft Pioneers - Dawn of Flight thru WW1, Best
Canadian Modeler, People's Choice Award
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