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Written by Stan Alexander Tom Wolf’s Cessna L-19 Bird Dog Additional RC Scale content from the February 2017 issue of Model Aviation.

I often receive information about new and beautiful models from true craftsmen across the country. This month I want to feature Tom Wolf’s Cessna L-19 Bird Dog.
Tom with his latest model, a Cessna L-19. He finished fourth at the U.S. Scale Masters Championships.

Tom scratch-built his Cessna with conventional built-up balsa, Lite Ply, and plywood. The finish is epoxy fiberglass and Klass Kote paint. The large markings were masked and painted, the registration number is a vinyl transfer from Callie Graphics, and the small markings are custom dry-transfer markings by Pro-Mark.
This shows the fuselage of Tom’s L-19 framed up on the workbench.

The aircraft includes a highly detailed cabin with instruments and safety harnesses from IFlyTailies. The scratch-built pilot’s seat is mounted on rails and slides forward and rearward as per the full-scale aircraft. The seat and the cabin side-panel leather upholstery were done by Tom’s wife, Debbie. Access to the cabin is through a scalelike functional door and hinged window.
The L-19 has great cockpit details.

A view of the pilot through the windscreen.

The fiberglass cowl includes functional access doors to the engine choke, mixture needles, ignition switch, and brake air fitting. The model also features functional navigation and landing lights from RAM, as well as pneumatic disk brakes with a proportional controller from Robart Manufacturing. The tires are from CB Associates and mounted on custom aluminum hubs and hub covers. The main landing gear is made from heat-treated 4130 steel. The leaf spring tail gear was formed from spring steel.
The L-19 quarter view.

A Futaba 10CAG radio driving eight servos provides control for the model. Power is a Saito FG57T twin four-cycle gas engine (57cc displacement) that provides plenty of power for the 121-inch wingspan, 38-pound model. The big Cessna cruises in a scalelike manner at approximately 1/3 throttle, and takeoff and climbout only require roughly half throttle.
Tom’s L-19 in flight.

Tom accumulated flight time in preparation for the 2016 U.S. Scale Masters Championships in Davis, California, where he finished fourth in Expert class. Tom’s static score for the Bird Dog came out to 99.25, which he was happy about.
A view of the top of the model and the incredible amount of detail added to the airframe with rivets and all of the bits.

Tom Wolf is a member of the Santa Barbara RC Modelers and the Ventura Comets in California. He recently completed and flew his scratch-built 28%-scale replica of the full-scale Cessna L-19 Bird Dog (N5247G), owned by fellow club member Scott Loepkey. Scott’s airplane is based at the Santa Ynez Airport, located in Santa Ynez, California, which allowed Tom easy access to the full-scale aircraft for measurements and photos for his project.
Scott Loepkey’s full-scale L-19 sitting near its hangar. Note the hat on the propeller!

From the beginning, this project was intended to result in an accurate replica of Scott’s aircraft, suitable for Scale competition in either the Expert or Designer classes. An evaluation of the available plans found that all had serious deviations from Scale, which would require significant redesign to correct. Because of this, Tom decided to draw his own plans, intending to be as accurate as possible. A large-size (22-inch x 34-inch) set of prints of the L.G. Halls’ three-view (August 1969 Model Airplane News) and measurements and photographs of Scott’s L-19 formed the basis for the plans.
Tom Wolf’s L-19 is in the front, with the full-scale aircraft behind. Impressive!

The plans’ development started in July 2015 and construction of the model began that September. Tom hopes the article and photos inspire other modelers across the country to try Scale, and maybe even a scratch-built or plan-built model. Congratulations, Tom, on a beautiful job!
Tom Wolf’s Cessna L-19 at the field waiting for its next flight.


Amazing job on the L-19. I have a Marutaka version and love the plane. Seeing it side by side with the full scale aircraft really gives you an appreciation of the detail and labor you put into this beautiful scale Bird Dog!

Hi, what a beautiful job done on the Bird Dog. I also have a L-19 Marutaka kit which I have not begun to put together. This is inspiration for me to begin.

Thanks Ron for the compliment. I really enjoyed the build, and my Bird Dog flies great!


Tom Wolf,
I really enjoyed reading the full length version and looking at the extra photographs of your Bird Dog.
In January of 2017 I got to fly in a full scale Bird Dog out of the Livermore Airport, CA with its Owner and Pilot, Daniel Dugan. That was an extraordinary and thrilling experience for me. Daniel told me how much he enjoys the Bird Dog as it "just sips the fuel!"

Daniel was the Project Pilot for the XV-15 and he flew the XV-15 with Bell pilots at the Paris Airshow in 1981.

The Bird Dog is a really interesting airplane. I too have had a ride; it was in the one that my friend owns, which is based at the Santa Ynez, CA airport. When flying in the 'Dog, you know you are airborne in a really special airplane.

Thanks for the comments!

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