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Re: Thunderbirds Helijet

Malcolm Gibb » Jun 24 '15

My next build is as you can see is another craft from Thunderbirds. There are a number of helijets in this and many other Anderson series but I thought this design was pretty unusual and that`s enough for me.

This is going to be about 2 feet long and so I decided to use balsa wood for the main body. I glued sections together to achieve the dimensions needed and once dry its a fairly easy process to carve, cut and sand until you get the shape. That`s the thing with balsa its so easy to work with but off course there is a down side and that is the soft nature of the wood which is very easy to damage even with your nails.

To overcome this problem I decided for the first time to cover the whole thing in fibre glass which will give it a good surface to work with and of course make it much stronger.

The side pods which are the `engines` are actually solid white wood as I need this to take the strain of the landing gear.

Malcolm Gibb
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Re: Thunderbirds Helijet

Gareth James » Jun 25 '15
I`m along for the ride Malcom- this is gonna be good....


Gareth James
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Re: Thunderbirds Helijet

Malcolm Gibb » Jun 28 '15

Hi Gareth

Glad your along, hope you like the end result.

Now time for the really messy stuff, as I said before because this is balsa I`m going to cover it in fibre glass to give it a good strong surface.  I`m using the Fastglass stuff from Halfords as its easier to obtain than sending off for stuff.

I finished the shaping of the body and sanded it down, I cutup strips of the `fibre` and started sloshing it on. I gave it about three coats/layers of the matting as there is still a lot of sanding ahead. I did not put any fibre along the bottom edges as I wanted that clear to help in gluing the side pieces on later.

While that was drying I turned my attention to the two solid wood side pieces. Again after sanding I covered them both in P38 filler leaving the back clear. I personally like P38 but it does make a lot of mess when sanding and there is a lot of sanding. Once the first layer of filler was dry I sanded it down and then covered it again with more. This happened a few times until I was happy with the surface, I the gave them the first spray of Halfords Grey Primer which helps to show up any defects.

Malcolm Gibb
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Re: Thunderbirds Helijet

Malcolm Gibb » Jul 5 '15

Once the fibreglass was dry I started long process of sanding and filling until the cows come home. In between I would spray Halfords grey primer on which would show up any defects.

I also cut out the two in-dentations at the front of the hull which would be part of the engine intakes. These would require a lot of shaping/sanding and filling until I was happy with the shape. It always amazes me how long you can spend on what seems a simple bit of detail.

The side engine blocks have insets (intakes & outakes) at either end and to create this I drilled some suitable sized holes in mdf and then cut them out making `U` shaped pieces which once sanded down will create the intake. I tried to make sure the inside areas were smooth as once they are in place it will be difficult to work on them properly.

I glued them in place at either end and started the never ending filling and sanding.

Malcolm Gibb
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Re: Thunderbirds Helijet

Malcolm Gibb » Jul 13 '15

Once the side pods had been sanded and filled etc to within an inch of their lives it was time to attach them to the main body. During construction of the body and pods I left a `gluing area` to make it easier. However as the side pods will bear the weight of the model I also decided to fit a couple of metal rods right through both pods and body to give it some extra strength. So once the pods were glued I drilled  holes and hammered them in with lashings of super glue.

Afterwards I filled the ends of the holes with p38 and sanded them down, although the body is balsa the weight increased with the addition of the solid wood pods, I hope the landing legs will take the strain as they are quite spindly.

Malcolm Gibb
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Re: Thunderbirds Helijet

Marten Richens » Jul 13 '15
This is looking like it`s going to be another beast Malcolm!
Marten Richens
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Re: Thunderbirds Helijet

Gareth James » Jul 14 '15
Beginning to take shape. The helijet, as malcom rightly says, also features in Captain Scarlet- Its another great Meddings design. Excellent stuff!
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Re: Thunderbirds Helijet

Malcolm Gibb » Jul 25 '15

For the next stage I glued some balsa bits together and shaped the two raised aerofoil sections which fit on the top. It didn`t take long to get the required shape by using a rasp and rough sand paper. The rear section is more complicated as it has to conform to the various curves at he rear of the body, I wasn`t too fussed if it wasn`t quite right as there is plenty of time later to fine tune them. To strengthen these sections I once again covered them in fibreglass to prevent the balsa getting damaged and creating a nice smooth surface.

Once dry I cut away the excess and spread the usual P38 filler over the surfaces and also started to shape their bases to fit the main body. Just dry fitting the parts give an impression of actually getting somewhere.

Malcolm Gibb
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Re: Thunderbirds Helijet

Malcolm Gibb » Aug 2 '15


The `winglets` on each turret were going to be a problem with regards to fitting, do I cut a slot on each side and glue them in and probably end up with squint wings?

In the end I decided on the rather drastic method of sawing off he tops of each turret then screwing each wing into place, sticking the top back on and filling the gaps. 

The advantage of this method is the wings are one piece and will be straight and level though it does mean a lot of filling and sanding to blend everything together.

The wings themselves were cut from 4mm Perspex which was fairly easy once I`d figured out their shapes from continually watching episodes.

I also cut out a depression on each top section using a dremel which was finished off using P38 filler. Later on some mesh will be fitted in these spaces to represent intakes suppose.

The advantage of using balsa is its so easy to shape and saw which means your less likely to end up with a sloping cut.

The turrets are still not fixed to the body at this stage as they are still going through the shaping stage.

Malcolm Gibb
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Joined: May 17 '15
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Re: Thunderbirds Helijet

Malcolm Gibb » Aug 9 '15

Time to start the landing legs.

I first tried making them out of mdf with bent steel rods in-bedded to create the angle needed and to add strength I covered them in fibreglass, however even after sanding etc I decided they were just a tad too thick and I couldn`t reduce them any more.

For my second attempt I used some aluminium bent at the angle and with some perpex attached along its length to create the shape. The top end is wider and longer than needed as I had to fit this into grooves cut out of the solid wood side bits. The legs are the weakest part of this model so I hope everything goes ok.

I kept the original legs in case I can use them for something else one day.

Malcolm Gibb
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Joined: May 17 '15
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