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Biplane Rigging Made Easy

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Below is an excerpt from a 1/48 Pyro Gladiator I rigged a couple of years ago using the drilling holes and fishing line method (which I still use today). While not the correct scale, I thought this might be useful to anyone who is looking for ways to rig a biplane for this GB. I apologize in advance for the poor photography, but hopefully you will see how easy this is and someone will find some value in it :)



This is my first attempt at rigging, and initially I thought I would go with the kit instructions of using one really long line for each side of the wing. However, after thinking about it, I decided to do individual lines and superglue one end of each line into the holes on the upper wing (except the cabane strut bracing wires which went into the fuselage) and the tail wires. So it turns out I did not need to drill all the way through the upper wing holes (we live and learn!), but it was good practice on filling the holes in once the wires are attached. Of course, I damaged some of the panel lines in sanding/filling, and thought I could just touch them up with a knife blade. Of course it went astray, so I ended up having to fill and properly scribe them! Below is the start of gluing the rigging line (I used 3.2kg/7lb fishing line for 1/48 scale) into all the holes for step 1:





Next I needed to fill the holes in the outside of the upper wing. For this I used Apoxy Sculpt, which is great stuff. You mix two parts together like Milliput, apply and use a wet finger to smooth it out (another advantage – no crust to deal with if it gets old):




Then sand to smooth out:




Now for the fun part, RIGGING! I placed the upper wing on the fuselage, leaning it between the windscreen and the cabane struts:




I started out from the center and worked towards the wing tip, running each line through its appropriate hole in the bottom wing, doing one side, then the other:




One should take care not to tangle the lines up, and ensure you are consistent on each side as to what line is on the inside/outside for lines that cross each other... Here all the rigging is in its appropriate holes in the bottom wing (sorry for the fuzzy photos):




Continued in part 2...

Edited by DougN

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Now I glue the upper wing to the cabane struts, and then put the outer struts in place on each side. Check to make sure everything is lined up, and here we are – now it is starting to look like I’ve accomplished something!:






Now I will let the wing struts dry, and the next step will be to tighten all the rigging, by pulling it tight through the hole and putting a drop of superglue to hold it in place! Here I am using some clamps to pull the rigging lines tight, after applying a small amount of superglue to the holes:





Suspended to pull the cabane strut support wires tight:




And finally, here she is with all the lines tightened:






Next, I trimmed off the excess with a fresh blade:



Continued in part 3...

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After cutting the excess off:




Sanding and filling to get rid of the remaining superglue and holes:




To finish off, I repainted the silver on the top of the upper wing and bottom of the lower wing (as well as on the rigging lines), then put some Future on and applied the decals. I am pleased to report that the Model Alliance decals went on beautifully without any issues at all:





Once decaling was done, I sprayed a coat of Model Master Semi-Gloss on to achieve the proper sheen. Here she is finished off as a member of No.3 Squadron at Kenley:






If anyone else has any rigging tips, please feel free to post them here as well so we can collect them all in one place!





Edited by DougN

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Awesome tutorial Doug! This one's a keeper, so I've pinned it.


One question though: I'm not sure I quite understand how you factor in painting with this approach. Do you paint first, and then continually touch up as you cut/fill/sand?



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Wow, I've been "pinned" :wub:


Sorry I did not include it Kev, but yes, I finish painting the entire aircraft, and then start the rigging. Once complete, I usually just have the bottom wing to fill/sand/repaint, so I can easily mask it off, fill/sand and repaint once I get it fixed. Same process works if you need to do part of the top wing, as it is very easy to mask these wings by putting tape all around the edges. Once that is done, then I decal the model. This process seems to work the best for me in that order, as it is easiest to fix mistakes!





Edited by DougN

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One other tip not mentioned, is to drill the holes at the angle the rigging line will be when pulled tight (if that makes sense). In the above example, I had drilled them straight down and had to make sure they were really tight in order to elimate any "bend" in the line where it entered the hole.

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Rather than starting a new thread, I'll just tag some pics onto the tail end of Dougs. These are of my hase Bf2c-1, rigged with fishing line.

A general shot with my beer can seat, and some bits in the pit. The orange tape secures a coil of line.


The same, but you may just see where the lines exit the side of the bird, and are coiled. Holes are drilled as close as I can get them. Keep in mind that no lines cross! I would drill my holes as close to the correct angle of attack as I could so the rigging enters/exits on as clean a line as possible.


The lower wings assembled, and lines coiled and taped out of the way. This facilitates handling the bird during construction.


Beginning paint. I made wee coils and taped them to struts to keep them out of the way.


As described earlier, I pre-finished the wing for fit, so when it was time to glue it up, I had the best starting point. here I have the rigging pulled tight, and then glued down and taped to hold it in place. I may have used epoxy for this. When dry, I simply trimmed the odd bits. The final bits are prepped, and ready to go. The cowl was tacked, and sanded to get the best fit, and painted, engine complete as a sub-assembly. When mounting I just added the engine, and then popped the cowl bits apart(a bit)and glued it up, and taped it back together. The tail was done with stiff wire bent to shape, with a wee "hook" on the end to attach to the tail. The rudder was drilled thru for this.


Here are a couple of what I came up with:




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