As World War II approached, the US Army Air Corps (USAAC) believed that a low-wing, higher-performance basic trainer was needed. The government was looking
for a more demanding basic trainer that would better prepare
the fledgling aviators for the high-performance nature of the
combat aircraft being developed. This led to the USAAC
purchasing the Fairchild PT- 19 two-seat monoplane in 1939,
and to quote the movie Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say
I need to begin by thanking Bob Somers and giving him the
lion’s share of the credit for the development of this model.
I converted Bob’s good gas design into an excellent electric-powered aircraft. I cannot take credit for how well it flies. The
fact that it has evolved into a great-flying airplane is because
Bob’s initial work produced a light, stable gas model that took
minimal effort to rework.
His original design was a trussed structure built around an
inverted O.S. Max . 10 two-stroke with a 40-inch wingspan
and weighing roughly 30 ounces dry. It had excellent flight
characteristics with plenty of power for aerobatics.
As I watched him fly it my only negative thought was that
the . 10, being inverted, tended to be slightly finicky to start.
Shortly after seeing it fly, we decided to convert the design
to a Speed 400-size electric. Bob graciously loaned me his
original drawings. As a testament to his original design, the only
structural change made was lengthening the nose. This helped
achieve the correct CG with the lighter electric motors.
I have an older version of AutoCAD, and decided to use it
for the design. Having the program on my laptop allows me
to work on models while traveling and to select parts on the
drawings and set them up for cutting.
I chose to have John Valentine at Top Notch Product
Company cut the parts. He is willing to work with builders
who are learning the process of design layout. Because of the
amount of travel required for my job, time in my shop is a
premium and being able to email a cut file from a hotel and
have the parts waiting when I get home is a great advantage.
For the diehard scratch builder, I have made sure the plans
show all of the parts so that the short kit is not mandatory.
Having flown only glow/gas models, I have considered
electrics as toys. Similar to others of my generation, I carried
the preconceived notion that an electric would be heavier and
underpowered compared with any glow version.
With this mentality I began working with the idea of
cutting weight wherever possible, then I learned that Bob is
an advocate of light construction. As I made changes to switch
to laser-cut parts and ease construction, I added weight to the
As the model neared completion, I purchased a set of digital
scales and had trouble believing it weighed approximately 22
by Charles S. Pipes
49 Model Aviation OC TOBER 2013 www.ModelAviation.com