Christen Eagle II
by Clint Sims
Christen Eagle II
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The Christen Eagle was introduced in 1978 by Frank Christen and
set a new standard for kit aircraft due to its very high quality and
When I first saw it in 1980 I decided to scratch build one of my
own in about 1/24 scale. I ordered the info pack that was offered at the time
from Christen Industries and a poster set. From this information I was able to
build a brass tube fuselage frame. This was about all the further I ever got on
that project since I decided there were other models I wanted to build in my
Ever since, I have collected pictures from magazines, and even
taken a few of my own when I saw them at airshows. The Eagles Aerobatic Team was
one of the best in the World. Having seen the team perform many times in their
single place Eagle I aircraft, the action started right after take off with all
three aircraft doing a inside snap roll and the action didn't stop until they
About nineteen years or so after that first project, I was at the Williams
Brothers website reading their message board when I came across a posting that
said anyone interested in aerobatic aircraft. It was from Pete Groves the owner
of Airshow Models.com explaining that he was going to be making resin 1/32 scale
aerobatic aircraft. In 2 seconds I was at the airshow models site looking at
molds of what would soon become the Christen Eagle II kit. I could not believe
it! I contacted Pete about the kit and when it would be out. I got the kit in
June of this year and finished it on October 19th.
1/32 Scale Christen Eagle II
When I ordered this kit I thought “well its in resin and I will
do what ever I can to make it look like a Christen Eagle”. Having seen other
resin kits that look like some kind of molding accident I didn’t know what to
expect, but the pictures he had sent to me of it setting together looked great.
When I opened the kit box I was quite pleased to say the least. The contents
fitted my opinion of what a resin kit is supposed to look like. Clean crisp
detail, almost no flash, 2 canopies, (in case you screw one up), white metal
parts, a photo etched sheet, complete instructions with history and decals for 2
different paint schemes. Wow!
I started by assembling the fuselage and bottom wing together. Next came the
elevator. I cut the elevator at the hinge line to be reset later in the down
position. You will have to add some plastic scrap to the opening just after the
elevator on the fuselage. After the wing and elevator joint were filled and
sanded, I started on the cockpit. I decided that with such a large and clear
canopy, that I could assemble it in the closed position.
I also supplemented the details of the kit by adding a few of my own. The first
was a canopy frame made from brass rod. This was made to fit the white metal
cross member and simulated canopy hinge that come with the kit.
Next I added a small lip of plastic around the canopy opening to
give the brass frame a place to sit. This also gave me something to glue the
canopy to. Next I cut and fitted the canopy to the opening.
On the real aircraft the canopy is made up of a one piece plexiglass unit, set
into a metal frame work, with a fiberglass skirt. The whole unit opens to the
left side. I decided to simulate the skirt around the canopy with a thin plastic
sheet glued around the outside. While this was taped in position I decided to
dry fit the rest of the kit. After fitting all the pieces, they were removed and
I began painting the cockpit.
Click the thumbnails below to view
I decided that I was going to model this Eagle after the first
Christen Eagle built N2FC. Since this is the aircraft that appears in the info
kit I bought in 1981 it is the one on which I have the most documentation . The
cockpit of N2FC is mostly flat black with only the seat cushions in a medium
blue color. The cockpits of Eagle IIs vary from builder to builder since it is a
kit built aircraft.
The kit includes the front and rear seat assembly, with seat belts molded in,
canopy latch panels, throttle quadrants, and control sticks, I added a manual
fuel pump to the bottom left of the back seat and various small info decals. The
kit comes with a great dashboard and decal for instruments. There are also
decals for the EXPERIMENTAL text that is on the right side of the cockpit.
After a little dry brushing to bring out a few of the details I
was ready to glue on the canopy and the new skirt I had made.
Next I deepened the exhaust opening on the cowling and attached it to the
fuselage. This required a bit of sanding since the cowl is a bit wider than the
fuselage. The landing gear legs were next. After very little filling and sanding
I was ready to move on to the cabane struts.
When the kits were first done Pete e-mailed me and told me the kits were ready
to be shipped but he was just was not happy with the cabane struts and how they
were molded in white metal. I told him to send me the kit and I would make my
own. Which is what I did. This was kind of a blessing since I was modeling the
first Eagle built (N2FC) and it did not have a fairing at the top of the cabane
struts like the white metal part in the kit. I made my own cabane struts and
attachment points. It was at this time I final fit the top wing and outer I
struts. Next I fit and glued the wheel paints to the landing gear.
a small note: Pete has sent everyone who has bought a kit brand new brass parts
to replace the white metal ones.
These new parts are much stronger and molded cleaner. This
should give you some idea how committed, Pete Groves at Airshow Models.com, is
to making a quality kit and making sure, you as the buyer, are happy with it.
After I assembled the prop blades to the spinner I added a cuff that is around
the opening of the spinner. This has now been added to the new spinner you get
with the new metal parts.