The Comet Mustang Boost Glider conversion



When I was in the local hobby shop buying motors and parts one day, I noticed a display of toy gliders that looked a little different from the ones I used to fly when I was a kid (just after Leonardo's day, when flying toys were a pretty hot novelty). Instead of having the wing surfaces printed and die cut from 1/32 balsa (crushed to about 2/3 its original thickness by the printing process) like the North Bend models I remember, these had molded plastic fuselages and plastic foam wings -- foam similar to what's used in supermarket meat trays, for those of you who aren't familiar with the various ARTF powered model kits produced by Japanese companies like Ryobi.  I looked that those gliders, with their price tags reading $149, and realized they could be assembled in about two minutes, and were proven designs in terms of flying stably in glide mode -- and they had a catapult hook on the bottom of the fuselage, implying they could stand up to high speeds.  In other words, ARTF glider units for a boost glider!

Naturally, I grabbed a couple (two gliders for about the ripoff price that shop charges for a single BT-20 balsa nose cone) and took them home.  It was the work of a half hour to build a boost pod to mate up to the catapult hook; I put canard surfaces on the pod, in hopes they'd prevent looping under boost (the concept taken from the old Astron Nighthawk, which used similar surfaces).  I felt that would be needed, because the boost pod was on the "wrong" side of the wing and tail surfaces -- that is, the thrust from the motor, rather than tending to rotate the stack opposite the rotation induced by the decalage, would accentuate that moment, and I was hoping the canards would offset that tendency.

Unfortunately, either the canards were too much area, too far forward, and rendered the stack unstable, or they didn't have enough pitch authority to prevent looping; it's looped tightly just off the rod every time I've attempted to launch it, and at this point I've retired it pending more inspiration on how to get it to boost.  Of course, there's always the parasite method -- I should be able to get it to hang on a Big Bertha or similar tug without problems -- but that defeats much of the purpose, when I was originally thinking this would be a simple glider to boost on 1/2A and A mini motors.

One possible bright note -- a local kid, around 12 years old, saw what I'd done with the Mustang, and while he reports he wasn't able to get the foam wing through the slots in the fuselage (I don't know the details, but I suspect he crumpled the wing trying to force it in), he has built some successful boost gliders from balsa chuck gliders similar in concept (though those, it turns out, need tape reinforcement on the wing to avoid shredding during boost).  And his fly with the boost pod on the "wrong" side, even without canards -- using a pretty long pod, to get the CG well forward of the wing and minimize pitch movement.  He might just have a better tack than I do -- so back to the building board!



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