Fiat G.55 Centauro
86" span
1118 sq. in. (approx.)
built-up balsa, plywood, and spruce
Scratch built from RCM plans
Designed by: Paul Byrum (Lt. Col. USAF Ret.)
As Julie and I started to improve our RC flying skills we started looking at bigger scale aircraft.  This is what Julie chose for her project build.  When we first ordered the plans from RCM, the thought was to scale them down to a .40 or .60 size aircraft.  Later we decided to just build it as drawn without any scaling.
Making templates

Numerous people build strait from the plans without making any templates.  When you look at what it takes to make MDF templates, it's not that much extra work.  With portions of the plans photocopied, we proceeded to glue them to ⅛ inch MDF board.  Contact cement, a disposable brush and a squeegee made short work of it without any winkles (commonly cause by water based adhesives).  After many hours with a scroll saw, the templates are completed.  Now to create a R-6 rib it takes only a few seconds with a sharp hobby knife.
Tail Feathers

Stab and elevators nearly complete. The stabilizers get sheeted with balsa while the elevators are fabric.  Here it is seen on the build jig without the soft balsa tip blocks.


Pictured here, upside down, you see a started fuselage. The general construction is slab sides with formers and stringers top and bottom.  With the exception of the control surfaces, everything get sheeted.

This is my first giant scale build and while the concepts in building are the same as smaller models, I keep bumping into its size.  Just turning over the fuselage requires avoiding things like light fixtures and garage door openers. The tools are different too.  I have this small four inch Starrett square I use for keeping things vertical as I build, but on this model I find myself grabbing for the twelve inch poly square.  Instead clothes pins and spring clamps to hold things together I'm using bar clamps.  I also have been using my saw table for more and more cuts. It may seem like overkill for balsa wood but it does keep things square.

Update June 6 2014

To make easier to paint, I decided to deviate from scale and sheet the control surfaces.  Both the elevators and rudder are finished and the stabilizers are being fitted to the fuselage.
Here is a close up of the rudder.  The wire seen sticking out goes through all three hinges keeping them alined and providing a means to accurate cut the radius.  The rudder was cut with a jig and a saw table using the wire as a referents, the fin was sanded to fit using the rudder.  Replacing the point hinge rivet with .062 wire made everything easier.  The hinges are perfectly alined and there is no binding anywhere.

Tail feathers are done with control horns internal to the fuselage.  It was a challenge because of the rudder and elevator hing lines are in aline with each other, but it all worked out.  Rather than using a piece of flatten brass tubing soldered on the end for my control horns I just heated it up the steel wire red hot and flattened the end.  It's one piece with no solder joints to fail, I like that better.

Update August 2014
Top sheeting is done

In the process of sheeting the top, I discovered an inaccuracy in the plans. The actual elevators have aerodynamic counter balances and the plans do not, also the razorback is too wide. The photos show a narrow fairing only slightly wider than the pilots head. I was lucky to find a three view that showed its actual width. The glass that makes up the cockpit is wider than the razorback leaving a gap. If anyone else is working on a Fiat G.55, a good source of detailed photos is at:

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