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Balsa USA Nieuport 28

Balsa USA 1/4 scale Nieuport 28


After seeing the prototype on display at the Balsa USA booth during "Da Big One" swap shop in  Wheaton, IL, I was really torn! I had gone to the swap intending to purchase a warbird, having in mind a F-82 from either a kitbashed P-51D kit, or the Wing Mfg. P-82. I also wanted to look at Wings B-17.

In the end, I decided to go with the Nieuport, because a) it didn't need retracts, and b) if necessary, I could use a Saito 150 I had on hand. I am planning on the recommended G-23 engine though, since the Nieuport like most WWI models, are tail heavy, and will need the nose weight.

Upon opening the 49 2"x11 5/8"x5 5/8" box (weighing in at just over 11 lbs), I encountered a large sturdy looking one piece cowl on one side, and a cardboard tray covering the rest of the box. Upon removing the tray, I was greeted by a very large bundle of balsa and hardwood sticks! Also were some smaller die cut sheets with various ribs and formers, and the 4 rolled plan sheets and construction manual. Digging through this box produced labeled bags of hardware, a newspaper on the bottom that seperated the wood from the formed landing gear parts on the bottom of the box.

Also in the box was a bag with a couple of wood parts, and instructions that explained some errors in the first kit production run. The wood parts were replacements for the incorrectly cut parts, and advised the builder to throw away the incorrect parts. The instructions also advised the builder to put a missing notch in one of the formers.

After having read through the manual, which includes drawings of the die cut sheets, I went looking for various parts mentioned. I couldn't find the cockpit coaming that was supposed to be included, but then again, I have not removed everything from the box, as there are so many parts, I was afraid of losing something or not getting it all back in again! When I've used up more of the wood, I'll be able to verify that the coaming is missing and request a replacement.

The manual starts the construction sequence with the left upper wing, and is pretty straightforward except that the die cut parts are not marked, and you will need to refer to the drawings at the front of the manual and mark the parts. The die cutting was so clean, the balsa parts fell out when I poked them and only had to sand one or two parts. There were no "nubs" on the balsa parts. This is also another reason to mark the parts before you handle them too much! The ply parts however needed a bit more sanding. Construction started with laminating the wingtips in a balsa/ply/balsa sandwich. Even though I built the tips over the plans, I wound up with a 1/16" gap between the forward part of the tip and the sub leading edge. I also had to trim away a bit of the balsa sandwich away from the ply parts of the wingtip when I installed the tip rib, as this rib slides onto the wingtip at the leading edge.

One oddity was that the W4 rib part was about 3/8" too long at the rear, and was sticking out into the "cutout" where the pilots head would be. I spent a good while comparing the W4 rib, the die cut sheet drawings, and the prints with each other, and had to conclude it was the correct part, it was just too long!

Top view of the too long W4 rib

It took about 3 hours to get to this point, mostly because of searching for parts (remember the large bundles of sticks?), verifying the W4 rib, and just plain double checking. The next steps will be attaching the leading edge sheeting and the leading edge. I expect the right wing panel to take not more than an hour, 2 tops. Then I will join the panels, and start on the lower wing.

I think construction of the wings, fuse, and tailfeathers will go rapidly, then slow down a bit when it comes to rigging and soldering the various struts. I plan to build my Nieuport just like the prototype model, with solartex covering, and model enamels protected by a polyurethene paint.


After a couple of weeks of a few minutes here and there, the second wing panel is ready for leading edge sheeting and capstrips. It took about 1 hour to get to this point, now that I know what to look for.

Doing the cap stripping on the first wing panel revealed some flaws or problems. When you attach the wingtip bow, the 2 outer ribs w2 and w3 do not have their trailing edges centered on the wingtip bow. This is after following the instructions to the letter. This becomes a problem when doing the capstripping. The instructions don't go into detail about capstripping the bottom of the last 2 ribs, but the last rib, W3, has its trailing edge is not flush with the bottom of the wingtop other words, its under the bow when the bottom of the wing is up. What I would up doing is building up the rib to be flush, then capstripping it similar to the way the top of the rib is done, so that the capstrip is feathered in at the trailing edge of the bow.Fuzzy view of the uneven tip ribs


Its been quite a while since I've wrote about this project. At this point, I'm just sheeting up the first panel of the bottom wing. There have been no surprises, but I do wish there were some more photos or written instructions concerning the wing tips. The instructions tell you to have the die cut tips blocked up, but they don't tell you whether the ribs that contact this tip should be centered or be located where the tips wind up at blocking. This leads to more confusion when it comes to the cap strips.

The plane hasn't been hard to build, but my time has come in drib and drabs. I'm really doubting my ability to have this plane flying by the time of the local warbird fly in on June 8th.


Boy, lemme tell ya, time slips away from you when you wanna do something else!

At this point, I only have to finish the sheeting on the 4th wing panel, then its time to join the wings, and move on to the fuse. I'd like to make our NEXT fly-in, which is June 14th, but I'm not holding my breath!



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