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Old Bill

Eighteen Years' Faithful Service

By: Don O'Neill

Though I have been building 2/3 models per year - scale and sport - since 1981 - a few designs stand out for their robustness and sheer fun-content. One of these is the Dave Boddington "Old Bill" design, first published, I believe, in the "Radio Modeller" magazine in the 1970s. I built my first in 1986, in order to have a "workhorse" that would be flyable in just about any conditions, especially those which would make it undesirable to risk sensitive or fragile models.

The "Old Bill" is a simple 3-channel job, loosely based on a World War 1 monoplane configuration and would make a good trainer - I did indeed teach a friend in Turkey to fly on one of mine, and donated it to him afterwards.

Since 1986 I've never been without an "Old Bill" warhorse. I've built five in total, some of which have shared wings or tails with predecessors. One set of wings was completed with ailerons but the 3-channel version proved more satisfactory due to lighter overall weight. Two were retired due to sheer old age when they were beyond any further hope of further facelifts and two were given away. They flew in England, Turkey and Nigeria and the latest, dating from 2001, is still buzzing around UK skies. Engines used have varied from an ancient OS30, an original OS 40 FS, a Magnum 40 and an OS 40 FP. The aircraft have managed to stagger into ther air from the roughest airstrips, especially in Nigeria, where grass-cutting was by machete, not mower.

The atttached phoographs give some idea of my dynasty of "Old Bills" (and one gives an idea of how we transported "old Bill" to one of the flying strips in the Nigerian bush.

"Old Bill 1986" in Turkish Colours, built 1986 and flown in Britain and Nigeria. This was built exactly as per plan, with closed fuselage.

"Old Bill 1988" with Open Fuselage (as in a Bleriot) and Belgian Markings - Nigerian sevice

"Old Bill 1988" as No. 2 but with more flashy markings! - Nigerian service

As No. 3 but built to relace versio given away - saw sterling service in Turkey

As No.3 and built to replace No.4, whcih was given away on leaving Turkey. No.5 is still active in England at the Aldershot Model Club site.

I can strongly recommend this splendidly rugged design, which lends itself to colourful decoration, to any aeromodeller who wants to keep flying in adverse weather conditiosn - "Old Bill" has coped with extremes of heat and cold, and with mud, rain and wind. Long may he thrive!

By: Don O'Neill