Sera's Aircraft Blog 2017
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Updates from the workbench with news on the latest aircraft being sculpted.
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Sera Staples. sculptor.
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July 14th 2017
My second pair of hands, the 3D printer, has been very busy recently. While I have been busy making Lightnings it has been whirring away printing out the parts for the Short S.23. The breakdown of the parts is pretty self explanatory but the S.23 has led to us using a new technique for aircraft with a bulky fuselage. Instead of a traditional one peice fuselage we are going to cast it in two halves. This allows us to make the fuselage hollow and improve the casting quality.
These 3D printed parts still need a lot of cleaning up, filing and filling before any mouldmaking.
To the right you can see the conical pedestal the S.23 will be mounted on rather than displaying it on its ponderous beaching gear.
June 30th 2017
And now as they say time for something completely different. For a long time we have neglected flying boats. For various technical reasons we have steered clear until we felt we could do this elegant aspect of aviation justice. Some manufacturers choose to model flying boats on their 'beaching gear' which does tend to make them look like a hospitalised elephant. Our opinion has always been that these most elegant of aircraft should be displayed 'in flight' and our in house, on base style lends itself perfectly to this. Our flying boats will be mounted on a single bronze pedestal mounted on a gloss black base enhancing the clean lines of these giants of the 'Golden age of flight'.
The image below is a computer render concept of how we intend the flying boats to look. Our first flying boat will be the Short S.23 'C Class' available in civil and RAF schemes.
This is a big aircraft and will be the largest 1:144 aircraft we have produced and is not without its technical issues. I am hoping to add the rigging to the floats but this may be too much of a challenge - it is 1:144 scale after all.
'C Class' Empire flying boats were built before the war mainly to deliver mail accross the empire but also carried passengers in the luxury and glamour of the day. The aircraft I have chosen are as follows and have some interesting histories
The first aircraft G-AETY 'CLIO' ( all C-Class flying boats were given a name begining with C)
is in the classic all silver scheme and has the red white and blue flashes which were added at the outbreak of war. It was based at Southampton and delivered mail until May 1940 when it was aquired by the RAF who fitted mid upper and tail turrets and gave it a camouflage scheme. CLIO replaced our next C-Class in the RAF.
Our RAF variant was actually designated Short S.30
as it was fitted with additional fuel tanks and in flight refueling! There is video of the in flight refuelling here (pretty hairy procedure). The video is of the actual aircraft G-AFCU we have chosen in civil guise as it was built. It was christened 'CABOT' after the Sebastian Cabot (c.1476-1557) the explorer who is associated with the discovery of Newfoundland. The in flight refuelling allowed the 'C-Class' to fly non stop from England to America via a northern route. This excellent range made it particularly attractive to the RAF who adopted it as V3137 painting it in camoufage and using it for north atlantic patrol duties. In April 1940 it was adapted as a Special Duties transport out of Invergordon delivering radar equipment to Norway but was lost in early May only to be replaced by 'CLIO'
You can expect more updates soon on this project as the parts are already 3D printed
and if all goes well I am sure Catalinas, Sunderlands, Dorniers, and even Blohm & Voss will follow. Of course the S.23 will be our first civil airliner as well - what a year our 20th anniversary is turning out to be.
June 21st 2017
Our stunning new Lightning F3 is now in full production and selling fast so if you want one be quick!
This will soon be followed up by a radical departure for us 'Empire Flying Boats' available here in both Civil and RAF schemes.
More details to follow about these exciting classic aircraft. Got to go - lots of Lightnings to make!
June 9th 2017
I am now up to date with production and have startded sculpting the Lightning F3. Although based on the Lightning F1A that we produced last year, this is a very special Lightning! Not only did it intercept an unsuspecting U2 at 66,000 feet but in speed trials with F-14s, F-15s, F-16s F-104s and Mirages XR749 was the only aircraft to overtake Concorde from behind down the North Sea. The image below was kindly supplied by Russ Smith via Air Britain - many thanks Russ.
Sculpting is going very well and XR749 will feature two optional pilots discussing tactics. I anticipate the sample being finished late next week when I shall post photos. The Lightning is a pretty quick mover for us as well with the F1A being our all time fastest seller, so if you want one don't hang around.
May 11th 2017
I have just returned from my day off at The Bovington Tank Museum where I had a fascinating time exploring the new Tiger tank exhibit. This showed the development of the Tiger tank with one rare tank shipped specially over from America. For more about my visit click on the image below which will take you to my 'tank blog'.
April 6th 2017
Lots going on now we have advertised the Tiger I which is selling well with many customers wanting to collect all our future releases. I certainly need to get out more and with a visit planned to the tank museum in May a visit to the War and peace revival show in July looks like a must. In the past have mainly visited airshows but the Tiger I has opened up a whole new world to us.
April 5th 2017
We have just recieved a copy of Britain at War which this month features the Tiger I. We are mightily impressed with this substantial magazine which features many in depth, well written articles not only on the Tiger but many other aspects of warfare. This month there are articles on the WW I air war, a downed Battle of Britain Bf109E, bombing raids on Portsmouth, and an RAF PoW in Burma and much more.
For more info on the magazine click on the image above. Tim and I both highly rate this magazine so it looks like we will be subscribing.
March 10th 2017
You will be aware that we now have in-house decal printing but you may not know that our latest tech also allows us to print very high quality T-shirts and mugs. Over the winter months I have created 20 aircraft designs based on aircraft through the ages as part of our 20th anniversary. All these exclusive designs have now been copyright protected and are available on both T-shirts and mugs. Our T-shirts are all top quality 215 gsm cotton. The T-shirts and mugs are available through our Diverse-Images website or via the new T-SHIRTS & MUGS button at the bottom of the left hand column. Personally I love the SR71A Blackbird.
We are now taking orders for the T-shirts and mugs but won't be in production until mid April. When ordering a T-shirt please state the size you require not your dimensions. This is the start of a new range which will grow and develop over the years. So if there is a particular aircraft you think we should add to the range please send me an email.
March 3rd 2017
The first tank in our new 1/48 range is now in production. The new Tiger I is absolutely stunning, we are really pleased with the result. The Tiger weighs over 1 Kg (2.5 lbs) and features our first highly detailed cast resin base. The level of detail we have acheived is quite fantastic thanks to our 3D printer which gives me a great starting point from which to work from. I have learned several new techniques during this project which I can carry through to our aircraft range. For more information on the Tiger I click on the image below.
Our next aircraft release will be the English Electric Lightning F3 in 1/72 scale. Some of you may remember our Silver Lightning F1A which sold out very quickly last year. This new Lightning F3 features the two tone grey scheme flown in the mid 1980s with the addition of a blue spine and tail to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Lightning Training Flight of which XR749 belonged. But why are we doing a model of a training flight Lightning? Good question, this particular Lightning is rather special. In the hands of its pilot Flt Lt Mike Hale it intercepted a Lockheed U2 spyplane flying at high altitude. It then went on to take part in speed trials down the North Sea with various other fighter aircraft of the period together with Concorde. XR749 was the only aircraft to overtake Concorde.
As you can see XR749 was a pretty special Lightning which is why we thought it would make an excellent subject.
February 10th 2017
A very busy time since my last post the Ultimaker is now upgraded to full 2+ spec and I have been hard at work on the Tiger I. For more on the Tiger I please visit my tank blog here. The 3D printer upgrade went well dispite some scary moments
The daunting sight of this wiring made me have second thoughts but the instructions were good and now I am back up and running again.
While I have been sculpting the Tiger tank I have been planning our next aircraft release and what subjects we are going to chose for the rest of the year. Now we have 'in house' decal printing the sky is the limit with what we can choose, but it is a bit like being a child in a sweet shop with so much to pick from.
January 27th 2017
I am sorry it has been so long since my last blog post but it seems as if everyone has bought our aircraft models with their Christmas money and we have been really busy.
I can announce that I am now on Tiger sculpting and, contrary to what some may think, we are NOT stopping releasing new aircraft - far from it!
We have a lot of projects in the pipeline and as ever continue to explore more complex subjects having developed techniques on simpler aircraft. The Tiger is leading me to try out new methods which I will be able to employ on the aircraft so there is a lot of synergy between the two subjects not forgetting that we produce both in 1:48 scale.
As you see below progress is good on the Tiger but for a more detailed explanation visit my tank blog here.
In other news we have just recieved the upgrade kit for our Ultimaker 2 3D printer. You may remember last year I fitted the 'Olsson block' to enable me to fit different size nozzels. Well now Ultimaker have released a more comprehensive upgrade.
You want to see in the box? Of course you do....
Well this is what you get for £380. The main part in the foreground is what's known as the 'hot-end' where the plastic is melted and exttuded out of the intercahangeable brass nozzel which you can see below the yellow triangle. This updated unit has revised cooling fans on each side. Next to the hot-end the black cylindrical item is a revised shorter spool holder so the printer won't take up so much space. Above the spool holder is the most important new part for me, a new feeder mechanism which will result in fewer print failures. The plastic I use (ABS) is very hard and rigid and is difflcult for the existing feeder to push through to the hot-end which, when it fails causes gaps in the print and I have to start again.
The rest of the contents are no where near as interesting.
I hope to fit the upgrade in the next week or so and first use it on printing the remaining tank parts. Then my printer will be the latest spec and known as an Ultimaker 2+.
January 1st 2017
This is a very important year for us as it marks our 20th anniversary. We have come a long way in 20 years when we released our first aircraft, the 1:144 scale Bristol Blenheim Mk IV. This was Tim's father's aircraft and from this little acorn we have continued to develop our skills to 1:72 and now 1:48 scale aircraft. Not only the size of the aircraft has changed but the complexity and detail has grown as well.
As you will be aware this year will see us launch our new tank range the website for which is already up and running. We do have several other projects underway which will be announced over the next few months so as ever - follow the blog for the latest news.