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Fisher’s R-80 Tiger Moth


 I took delivery of the Fisher Flying Products wing and fuselage kits in late September of last year. The Tiger Moth is a wood and fabric airplane which is an 80% size representation of the DeHavilland Tiger Moth used as a primary trainer by the R.A.F. prior to and during WWII. I say “representation” since it is not a perfect scale design, but it does try to evoke the spirit of the older plane. It is a two-place, tandem biplane and, with a gross weight of 1150 lbs., can be flown under the new Sport Pilot regulation.


 The kits consist of a pile of milled lumber and a set of plans. The wood is milled to final dimension and shape, though much of it is to be cut to length, bent, sanded, mitered or otherwise finished to fit where it is supposed to go. Ordinary woodworking tools, either hand or power, are sufficient to the job (so far).  For power tools, I am depending primarily on a drill press and a 14” bandsaw. I have a fairly complete range of woodworking hand tools, but most used are a block plane and wood chisels. The entire structure is joined using T-88 epoxy glue, though hardware will be attached using AN bolts. When finished, the structure will be covered and painted using the Stits process.


 The first step, as with many kits, is the building of wing ribs. The R-80 Tiger Moth sports 52 full chord ribs and 47 partial or “false” ribs. In order that all the ribs be the same, jigs must be fashioned for rib production and all the ribs, both full-sized and partial, built in the jigs. To make sure that all the jigs are alike, a single jig is made from the rib drawing in the plan, a rib built in that jig and then more jigs built around that “master” rib. I built a total of four jigs and my ribs have come out pretty much “alike as peas in a pod”.

















 This picture shows one of the jigs which was built from the “master” rib which came from the first jig. Also shown are jars of “popsicle-stick” pieces of geodetic material which have been cut to shape for the various locations in the structure of the rib. Facing the spectre of having to make 52 or even 99 copies of a geodetic piece, I made a first representation by hand of each separate piece and dry-fit to the first master rib  in the first rib jig. I then made a set of cutting jigs for the bandsaw in order to mass-produce copies of all the several geodetic pieces. If I had not done that, I’d still be building ribs.