Macchi 202 Folgore

Add a park flyer warbird to your hangar!
By Derek Micko
derekmicko3@hotmail.com
Photos by the author
 
 

01. The Macchi is ready to fly.

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For me, one of the great joys of our hobby is building a model. Seeing a model that you made from either plans or a kit actually flying generates a great sense of pride. Taking a new model to your club or field can draw the curiosity of others, often generating great conversation around the building process and allowing all of those present to share their experiences.

I often hear comments of, "I’m too busy to build," or, "I don’t have the space." Perhaps that’s why I’ve enjoyed designing and building small park flyers. These models can be finished quickly, often framed up in a weekend, and completed within a month.

Tail wings made of Balsa

02. The tail feathers are made from 3/32-inch balsa.

Macchi 202 Tissue and Covering Instructions

  1. All of the templates are printed on white tissue.
  2. Adhere the tissue to 8.5 × 14-inch sheets using temporary spray adhesive.
  3. Print them in color without borders and allow time for the ink to dry. Lightly coat the sheet with Krylon crystal-clear spray to help seal the ink.
  4. Trim along the part’s outline while still attached to the sheet and carefully remove the paper sheet before applying it to the model.
  5. Use the marks on each end of the part. They are spaced 3/32-inch apart and line up with the stringers. Glue the white fuselage section behind the white band tissue template before adding it to the fuselage. When attaching the forwardmost fuselage tissue panel, use the marked lines to match up with the center stringer. Starting at the center, move up and down, attaching the panel to F3. Moving toward the nose, cut the panel along the stringer lines (overlapping) to reduce wrinkles.
  6. Shrink then seal the tissue on the model with Krylon crystal-clear spray.
  7. Apply the badge to the fuselage in place over the appropriate, gray area. Do the same for the white cross on the vertical.
  8. Print the wing fillet sheet on light cardstock, cut it out, and install it.
  9. Print the canopy sheet on standard paper.
  10. Cut it out along the outside box and fold it along the dashed line and glue.
  11. Cut out the interior window panels, and then glue the sections (interior side down) to the clear 3mm plastic sheet.
  12. Trim around the outside of each of the panels.
  13. Glue the front windscreen first, followed by the center canopy, to the hatch.

These models also do not require a large building surface. I’ve built several on a card table while watching TV. The overall cost is modest compared with that of a larger, more complex model. Their size also allows them to fit fully assembled into a car for a quick "after work" flying session. One of my flying friends actually has a basket on his bike that fits this size of model, allowing him to ride out for some flying at the beach.

With the decision made to build another park flyer, the next question was what aircraft? After designing and building the ubiquitous P-40 (featured in the April 2022 issue of Model Aviation), I wanted to return to a seldom-modeled aircraft, and decided on the Macchi 202 Folgore.

The Macchi C.202 Folgore was one of the premier fighter aircraft that Italy fielded during World War II. First flying in late 1940, it moved quickly into production. The German-designed DB601 engine was built under license in Italy and was used to power the 202, allowing it to reach a top speed of 372 mph at 18,000 feet.

The Macchi’s armament was light compared with US and British fighters—two 12.7mm (roughly 50-caliber) machine guns were in the nose and some had two more 7.7mm (30-caliber guns) in the wing. Because of their weight, these were often removed at the field.

First seeing combat in Malta in late 1941, they fared well against the Hurricane Mk IIs, often coming out on the better side of these engagements. When encountering Spitfire Mk Vs and P-40s, the advantages were lost.

When updated versions of both of these aircraft were released and involved in combat against P-51s, P-47s, and P-38s, only the more competent 202 pilots could keep up. However, most of Italy’s top aces flew the 202. The Macchi fought both with and against the Axis powers, was flown by the Germans and Croatians, and even the Swiss were interested at one point in time. They soldiered on to the end of the war, eventually being outshone by other Italian aircraft, including the Macchi C.205 Veltro (an updated version of the 202).

Construction

The model features construction mostly of 3/32-inch balsa, with some 1/8-inch light plywood and 1/4- and 1/16-inch balsa. Manzano Laser Works offers a short kit for those who don’t want to hand-cut the parts. The canopy is made from clear, flat sheet, and there is an option for plug-in landing gear. The plans are available as a free download above, or on www.ModelAviation.com/plans, as are templates to print your own tissue covering. Rabid Models offers a spinner specifically made for this model. Both Manzano and Rabid are listed in "Sources."

The tail sections are from 3/32-inch balsa. With waxed paper over the plans, lay out all of the parts in place before gluing. Add the 3/32-inch square stringers, sanding the overall structure flat with a sanding block. The elevators can then be cut from the horizontal. A U-shaped piece of 1/32-inch wire is bent and used to connect the two halves. Both the elevator and rudder were hinged with strips of CA E-Z hinges.

Fuselage

03. The fuselage keels and stringers are sanded to the same thickness.

Formers attatched to Kneels

04. The formers are attached to the keels.

Strings attatched and in place

05. This shows the stringers in place. You can see the "piggy-back" stringers at the nose.

Horizontal Tail Section

06. The tail section shows the horizontal rail mounts.

Motor mount image

07. The motor mount is marked for 1.5° right thrust with a 1/32-inch plywood shim.

The fuselage is built in halves (left side first) over a keel. One feature that might be different for modelers is that there are no notches in the former halves that fit into the keel. There are stringers that connect the top and bottom of the keel parts, and the former halves are then glued to these. This creates an overall better fit for the formers. Any stringers in the way can be removed after the build is complete.

As was done with the tail feathers, sand the keel assembly flat with a sanding block. There are several subformers that are attached to the main ones. These are added before they are glued at 90° to the board. The outside face of the wing saddle is wetted before being glued to the formers, and the 3/32-inch square stringers are added.

The stringers near the nose are best added with the "piggy-back" method. This is done by adding a scrap stringer (slightly taller but still 3/32-inch thick) that is notched into F2 and butts against F3 right under the notch. The main stringer is then glued on top of the scrap, "piggy-backing" it.

When dried, you then plane and sand the lamination to match the correct curve and be flush with F2. (There is a detail on the plans to show this process.) This reduces the stress on the airframe and does not impact the model’s strength. The rear of the model has a subformer attached to F10, and three stringers are evenly spaced between F10A and F11, beneath the horizontal rails.

The tail cone parts are laminated and glued in place. Keep note of the order to later add the tail wheel. After all of the stringers are added, the fuselage is removed from the board. Now is a good time to set up your motor, spinner, and propeller combination. The prototype flies on a 24-gram, 1,700 Kv motor powered by a 450 mAh 2S battery pack and spinning an 8 × 4.5 three-blade propeller.

If you plan to use a three-blade propeller on your model, see the plans details on how to shim and offset the motor. Add the other former halves and stringers and also add the cardstock ducting.

Add the 3/32 × 1/8-inch magnets to formers F5 and F7C. Only one magnet is needed per former. The hatch rails are made from 3/32 × 1/4-inch balsa that is cut to length. (The current version of the design has a larger hatch than the prototype, but the overall construction is the same.) Add the bottom hatch rail and place clear tape on subformers F5B and F7B, as well as on the bottom hatch rail where the other formers will attach to the upper rail. This will help prevent the top and bottom from being glued together.

Add the upper hatch rail and allow it to dry before removing the tape and sanding the edges of the rails to match the fuselage. The tail cone parts can be shaped. I prefer to use a small block plane before sanding with 120- and 220-grit sandpaper to finish.

The motor is mounted with the spinner on the nose of the plane

08. This depicts the motor mounted with the spinner.

The Tail cone is Shaved

09. The tail cone is roughly shaped.

The elevator and rudder servos are mounted

10. The elevator and rudder servo are mounted. The 1/32-inch pushrods are "boxed" in with scrap balsa to stop them from flexing.

at a glance

At a Glance

specifications

Specifications

Wingspan: 30 inches

Power: 18- to 24-gram outrunner motor

ESC: 12 to 15 amps

Propeller: 8 × 4.5 × 3

Servos: Three 4.3 to 5.5 grams

Airframe weight: 6.6 ounces

The overall model is sanded to remove any bumps or high spots. It’s best to make sure the former sides are flush with the stringers. Some care should be taken here to improve the covering finish.

Cut the hatch free and sand the faces flush. Add the magnets to the hatch parts, taking care of the polarity. The elevator and rudder servos are added. The prototype used 4.3-gram servos.

The wing is built in two halves over the plans and has several subassemblies. The wingtips are made from two parts stacked on top of each other, and the trailing edge (TE) and the aileron bottom are glued together. There is also a washout jig (WOJ) from two parts. The leading edge (LE) is cut from 1/4-inch balsa using the template on the plans. If using plug-in gear, prepare the W4 assembly according to the plans.

Glue the wingtip, LE, and TE assembly together and carefully remove it from the board. Pin and put tape over the WOJ, setting the wing assembly back in place on top of the WOJ. Set the bottom stringers in place. These butt up against the wingtip assembly. Set pins between the TE/aileron bottom and stringer #4.

Set W9 in place. The rear will be elevated by the WOJ. Add the rest of the ribs, using the Wing Angle Guide for W1. Add the ALE and the top stringers then remove the panel from the board. Add the aileron ribs from scrap and sand it to match the airfoil. Sand the wing panel overall, including the LE.

Use a block sander to rough shape and the LE templates for final sanding. Cut the aileron free and infill between stringer #4 (top and bottom). Shape the aileron LE and hinge with CA hinges. Make the torque rod from .047-inch wire according to the plans. Slide it into the holes in the ribs and notch it into the aileron. Make the other panel the same way. Elevate the wingtips 1.5 inches on each panel at W9 and when satisfied, glue them together using wood glue for the strongest bond. Be sure that the torque rods are installed first.

There are several detail parts, including the radiators, exhausts, air filter, and turtledeck. Build and shape these parts according to the plans. Sand the backsides to best fit the contours of the fuselage. Testfit and tape the tail surfaces in place, temporarily installing the 1/32-inch control rods and horns. Test-fit the wing and sand the saddle as needed.

Although the model can be covered with lightweight plastic film, it really comes to life when covered with the downloadable printed tissue templates that are provided with the plans. Printing onto tissue is straightforward. I have included a link in the "Sources" listing that shows the basic process. Follow the instructions included with the tissue template and note the sizes of the paper sheets that are used.

If you choose the tissue route, there are several types of tissue options. The first is tissue designed for Free Flight (FF) models. This works well, but is more transparent, and some of the color saturation can be less vibrant. A different option that I have been experimenting with is crepe paper (also known as exam table paper). This is slightly denser and allows for more color saturation. It’s not significantly heavier than standard FF tissue, but it does not shrink to the same degree. There is another video link in "Sources" that further explores this tissue type.

wing's LE, wingtip, and TE assemblies

11. The wing’s LE, wingtip, and TE assemblies are glued together.

w4 subassembly and square brass tubing

12. The W4 subassembly, including the square brass tubing, is ready for the plug-in landing gear.

Wing Assembly with Stringers attatched

13. The wing assembly, with the stringers added, is sitting on the WOJ.

Air filter and Exhaust detail

14. This depicts the air filter and exhaust detail.

this is the completed

15. This is the completed airframe before covering.

The model features a canopy made from flat sheet plastic, roughly 3 or 4mm. This can be purchased online or from your local craft store. Print the canopy templates on standard paper, cut them out along the outside lines of the box, and fold/glue each one in half. This makes the interior and exterior canopy.

Cut out the "glass" sections before gluing on top of the plastic sheet. The actual panels can then be cut along the outside edge. Crease the lines on the front windscreen and use canopy glue to create the shape.

Glue the canopy frames (light plywood parts) to the hatch and paint the interior green. Attach the front windscreen with canopy glue before adding the main section. When the model is covered, install the aileron servo between the stringers to one side of W1. Trim the covering where the torque rods exit and make up the connection linkage from brass tubing according to the plans. These are glued in place with JB Weld. There is a slight rearward angle of the linkage to allow for more deflection (see the fuselage side view for details).

Test-fit the wing to the fuselage. Some of K5 and F6 might need to be removed to allow for the aileron servo movement. When satisfied with the alignment and fit, glue the wing to the fuselage. The tail section is next, and the control linkages can be connected. Add the detail parts, attaching them with either CA or PVA adhesive. The plug-in landing gear is made from .062-inch wire and detailed as desired. The prototype actually has two sets of landing gear: one for display and one of just the wire and wheels for flying.

Balance the model according to the plans, moving the battery forward or aft as needed to balance the center of gravity. (The lengthening of the hatch on the prototype was because the battery needed to be farther forward than originally projected.)

Set the control deflections to be 1/4 inch for the ailerons, 3/8 inch for the elevator, and 1/2 inch for the rudder. These are starting points and can be changed for the modeler’s flying style. There is also a basic cockpit with a pilot and squadron mascot, should you want to add some additional details. These are also available with the plans.

some of the printed tissue

16. Some of the printed tissue templates are shown on 8.5 × 14-inch carrier sheets.

Forward tissue pannels covered with crepe paper

17. This shows one of the forward tissue panels. This model was covered with crepe paper.

Hatch w/ canopy frames added

18. The hatch has the canopy frames added.

Glass sections

19. The glass sections are cut free and then glued to 3-millileter sheet before the outside edges are trimmed.

Aileron Setup w/ Torquerod

20. The aileron setup includes the torquerod ends created from brass tubing according to the plans.

You can fly the model with the gear attached or hand-launch it with the gear removed. Because I live in the desert and nice, soft grass is difficult to find, I did the initial flying at my club with the gear attached on the runway. The model has plenty of power and the takeoff run is short.

The model cruises well and is capable of standard maneuvers, rolls, loops, and Immelmanns. You might need to set controls for greater deflection if you want to do more aerobatics. Stalls are predictable, thanks to the washout and a light wing loading. The prototype weighed less than 8 ounces. Landings are straightforward. Gradually cut power throughout the final approach and near idle at touchdown.

I hope this unique Italian aircraft helps to fuel your interest to build. The Macchi can be quite rewarding. It goes together quickly and is seldom seen, so it certainly draws attention. The model’s reliable flying characteristics make it a fun and relaxing flying experience.

SOURCES:

Manzano Laser Works

https://manzanolaser.com

Rabid Models

www.rabidmodels.com

RC Groups

Park Flyer Models Fun Scale Macchi 202 at 30″ Build Thread https://bit.ly/3UHGxUQ

YouTube

Flying The Fun Scale Models Macchi 202 https://youtu.be.com/9IMLdQI42ek

YouTube

FSM Printing on tissue Ki 27 Nate https://youtu.be/0980sL-UjC0

YouTube

Fun Scale Models Printed Tissue Techniques Part 2 https://youtu.be/0Pn3qU_6c38

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