Home of Wasabi Air Racing

Elliot Seguin and Jenn Whaley's Formula One class air race team based out of Mojave, California. Pylon racing at the National Championship Air Races in Reno Nevada. Eight airplanes racing head to head around telephone poles in the desert. Mojave is the best place on the planet to build and modify a race plane, and Wasabi is lucky to have the best support in the business.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Bally Bomber Visit

Like most couples, Jenn and I spend a lot of time talking about what airplane we would want to build next.  A long time favorite has been a small multi-engine aircraft (think AT-9).  Jenn got very excited when we first saw the Bally bomber so we made some time while we were back East to go check it out.

Jack Bally Started the project some 14 years ago (his 4th homebuilt airplane).  The 1/3 scale replica of a B-17 is unlike anything I have seen from the home-built replica community.  At first glance it exists somewhere between that 1:5 scale RC B-29 (YouTube) and a multi-engine Sonex.

Like most Sonexs that you see, the airplane is bare aluminum (Jack says he used 2024 and 6061 for the primary structure).  Unlike a Sonex the Bally has fabric covered control surfaces.  The OML is entirely pop riveted but in the cockpit you can see the primary structure is constructed of conventional rivets.  The result is the economy that makes a project like this possible.  Flush rivets are the kind of thing that kill projects like these.

Like the 1:5 scale B-29, Jack's passion for the Flying Fortress is obvious through the details that make this a replica.  The gun turrets are built with amazing attention to detail, each needing to be blown custom.  The mufflers are built to look like the turbo chargers on the original for the added realness.

The cockpit is really what brought the whole thing into focus for me.  The pilot sits in a comfortable reclined seating postion.  His eyes level with those of the pilots in the full scale version and his rudder pedals taking the place of the Norden Bombsight up in the nose plexi.  Therefore looking through the nose turret one can clearly picture himself comfortable seated gripping Bally's period correct yoke, on a mission deep into occupied france, for a cheeseburger.

Jack estimates the current weight of the airplane at 1200 pounds.  He compares the airplane to that of a Cessna 150.  Jack has derated the Hirth powerplants to 60 hp per station.  Imagine your local flight school's 150 with 240 hp.  The airplane will have retractable landing gear and flaps all hydraulic.

Jack pointed out several times that there was still a lot of work left to do on the airplane.  Most of that remaining work appears to be systems related.  Specifically engine plumbing and instrumentation, hydraulics, electrical, and flight controls.  Jack is an old school DIYer, he built his house, his hangar, his shop, and even some of the tools in his shop.  This kind of thing is awesome to see, a guy who is comfortable learning a new skill in order to make coolest thing he can think of.

What are you working on tonight?

-Race 68

Engine #4
The turbo charger shaped muffler.
Engine cowling.  The box on top is Carb Heat.
Captains Seat
Reclined like your Lazy-Boy
Seat raises to aid egress
Cockpit as viewed from the (non functional) rear seat.
Cockpit looking aft through nose turret
Throttle quadrant and roll u-joints
Roll bell crank
Pitch cables, on the right side of the cockpit
Retractable main gear, Piper parts
Inside the gear well, fwd is left
Belly turret and flap detail.
Mid fuselage.
More flap detail

Tail gunner detail
Rudder and elevator trim tabs
Vertical tail, and Jenn