I just received a new type of kit, one that I have not built before: This kit was printed with a 3D printer! The kit represents the popular homebuilt aircraft Van’s RV-4, and was made by an outfit named VFR Models in the UK. I bought mine on eBay for £33 (including shipping), and it arrived here in New Hampshire in mere 8 days.
Van’s RV-4 is an early design in the popular RV series of “kit aircraft” intended for those who want to build a 1/1-scale aircraft by themselves. It was introduced in 1980, and since then well over a thousand aircraft have been built.
I did a quick analysis of the kit, comparing it against scale plans I prepared a few years ago. My plans are based on CAD material I kindly received from Van’s Aircraft, so chances are they are pretty accurate. The kit matches the plans well. Basic (but simple) details are provided for the cockpit, and the bubble canopy is vacuum-formed; one of the better such canopies I have seen. The 3D-printed parts exhibit only minor printing-related artifacts (results from the fact that, ultimately, the print head does move in a stepwise fashion). These can be easily cleaned up with a bit of sanding and perhaps some Mr. Surfacer. Decals are provided for two aircraft.
On my “shelf of doom” is a project I started several years ago, a scratch-built Van’s RV-8. So far I have only managed to construct the fuselage, but perhaps now I will feel inspired to complete this project as a companion to the RV-4.
I plan on making my scale plans available in the future. Contact me if you are interested.