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The Ben Buckle Majestic Major
The Majestic Major is a non-scale vintage model based on a scaled-up Junior-60. The structure is entirely a traditional balsa framework with fabric covering. It requires either a .40 2-stroke or .60 4-stroke engine and 3-channel radio. The wingspan is 88 inches and the weight should be between 5 and 8 lb.

The plans as supplied show the entire model structure in detail, with sufficient instructions. The quality of materials supplied is excellent, with accurate cutting of the bandsawn components.

ben buckle majestic major flying vintage model aeroplane


The fuselage sides are built up over the plan from 3/8 inch square hard balsa strip. The sides are joined by plywood formers at the front and balsa cross-pieces everywhere else. The engine is mounted upright on a thick paxolin plate which is screwed to hardwood bearers. The undercarriage is bent up from piano wire which is bound and glued to the front formers which results in a very strong installation. Typical of a vintage model, the legs are steeply raked forward, bringing the wheels a long way forward of the balance point. Clear plastic sheet is provided for the cabin windows.

The wings are made in two halves which plug together with 3 steel rods in brass tube. Assembly is straightforward with deep balsa spars, sheet trailing edges and strip leading edge. A flat centre-section is incorporated into the wing roots, which is covered in thin plywood. The front third of the wing is covered in balsa sheet on the upper surface, the rest being fabric covered.
The wings are attached to the fuselage with large elastic bands in the traditional free-flight style.

The tailplane, fin and rudder are built as 1/4 inch thick flat frames, while the elevators are sheet balsa. Surprisingly these parts have never shown any inclination to warp. As with the wings, the tail assembly is attached with large elastic bands.

Doped nylon covering is used on the whole model. More modern heat-shrink fabrics may be used instead, but be aware that the free-flight type structure derives a lot of it's strength from the rigidity of the covering.

There is lots of space for the radio installation in the huge cabin, which it shares with the fuel tank. The rudder is driven by closed-loop cables, the rudder horn being linked directly to the servo, while the elevator has a plastic snake type pushrod to the servo. There are no ailerons.

Flying the model

This is basically a very large free-flight model with radio assistance. As you would expect, it will fly itself. Having said that, the model does respond well to the controls and will loop with ease and roll on rudder control thanks to the generous dihedral.

The thick-section undercambered wing gives it a tremendous glide, which is just as well as the one feature I do not like is the fact that the engine is mounted high on the nose with the tank set low in the cabin. It is easy to get a lean run and premature engine cut. For 2-strokes this may be remedied by fitting a Perry pump/regulator driven by crankcase pressure, but the Perry inertia pump on my OS FS.60 does not seem to do as good a job.

Don't be put off by the wheels being so far forward. Mine has never shown any tendency to ground-loop at all. Take-off requires very little rudder correction, although a little down elevator is helpful in getting the tail up. Landings are easy and the springy undercarriage will easily absorb the heavier variety. This is a model you could use to teach the basics of flying to younger members of your family. It is completely stable and self-righting.

Structural assessment

For strength coupled with lightness you can't beat a vintage model. The old designers, working with low-power engines and the heavy loads imposed by the uncontrolled landings of free-flight models, soon learned to create structures which were able to perform well. Certainly the airframe of the Majestic Major has great strength without being in any way overweight. A high-strength covering provides an essential part of the model's structural integrity, so I wouldn't recommend covering one in plastic film.

Final verdict

This is a builder's model and looks good in semi-transparent covering, to show off the structure. It is a pleasant flyer and ideal for those times you want to fly a more relaxing model.

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