Vince Caruso's
Double-Size Vortex


Scratch built from plans provided by Bruce Tharpe.
Powered by ZDZ 80 with 22x10 Zinger Prop.
Span is 108", Weight is 38 pounds.

The following is a letter from Vince that appeared in the Feb 2004 issue of R/C Report:

Dear Gordon,

Sometime last April, on my last visit to the flying field in Sebastian, FL, a friend of mine was flying a delta-wing aircraft in the range of 30" wing span with a .40 size engine, and doing what looked like 125 mph!  As I observed his flight, I decided it would be great to build the same aircraft in giant scale.  The boys at the field informed me that plans could be bought from Bruce Tharpe Engineering.

After my return to the north in May, and after settling down to Pennsylvania living (Allentown area), I called Bruce Tharpe Eng., and our discussion about building a giant scale version landed me a set of plans, and the beginning of a project that has given me challenges I never before experienced in the modeling hobby (and I've built over 80 planes so far).

A few days later I received the plans.  Upon examination, I was taken aback on just how big a 54" plan would be when increased by 100%!  This baby was going to have a 108" span, and ribs up to 8" tall and 84" in length!  I have a nice size shop in my basement, but nothing that would accommodate a plan this size, so the next step was to construct a 10x10' work table, and layout the new plans.  With this completed, I began work on the materials list, and planning how I would change and modify the plans to make my giant in three pieces.  After all, I intend to fly this beast upon completion, so I have to get it to the flying site somehow.  Next I purchased what looks like the entire contents of a lumber yard in balsa and light ply, and began cutting the ribs and other structural parts.  In order to keep the weight as low as possible without sacrificing the integrity of the plane, a hole saw bit and drill press made a quick job of the rib holes.  The ribs were staked with their trailing edges in line, and then holes were drilled first for the wing tubes, and then lightening holes.

The critical part of this project is the wing tube placement and alignment.  Since there are two tubes front and back, both must be exactly parallel to each other, to make the outer wing panels removable.  Once I completed this part of the construction, and successfully tested the attachment and removal process several times, I knew I had a worthy and transportable aircraft.

Bruce told me that someone had already constructed this plane in larger scale, which came in at 55 lbs.  My challenge was to come in 15 lbs. lighter than that.  I'm now in the covering stage, and with all components installed, it weighs 35 lbs., including the ZDZ 80cc gas engine, Robart retracts, nine Hitec steel gear servos, and JR radio.

After spending 200 hours of work and a ton of money, I decided to get some flight time with the smaller version.  Since Bruce sells a .60-size 54" ARF, I ordered one.  I built it in five hours, and have been flying it for several weeks now.  I must say, it flies like a trainer and lands nose high on all three wheels every time.  If "The Beast" flies as well, it will be a sight to behold.

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