Fuselage Cutouts

Now it was time to turn this egg into something that resembles a fuselage.  Cutting out the windows was really pretty easy, with the help of my pneumatic body saw.  The cut lines were molded into the fuselage skin, so it was just a matter of slightly under-cutting, then sanding up to the line.  The value of this saw was becoming more apparent; any potential builders out there, take note and get yourself one of these.

The only tricky part of the operation was trimming out the front hatch.  For the windows, the solid cutout was discarded (to be replaced by Plexiglass), so the cut-lines could be sloppy.  This was not true for the hatch, as this part was retained, and both sides of the cut will be visible.  I tried several different cutting tools, but nothing cut as cleanly as the body saw.  I just wasn't sure how to control it well enough to guarantee a smooth, error-free cut.  I tried to devise some jigs and guides, but it just wasn't working well on the compound curves, which are pretty tight near the nose of the fuselage.  Finally, I just decided to take it slow, and free-hand guide the body saw (the hatch lines were also molded into the fuselage).  Happily, the cut turned out great.  I had a little incongruity where the starting and ending cut lines met, but it's nothing I can't correct later.

You may have noticed a fairly long time lapse between the first photo date stamp and the last one.  I was kind of toggling back-and-forth between window cutouts and filling the depression along the centerline joint.  Notice all the blue filler along the roofline in the left hand photo.  It took quite a bit of lightweight filler to get the contour the way I wanted it.  The bottom centerline is similar.

Chapter 10 of the manual also requires cutting a triangular shape from the bottom of the fuselage, just forward of the (eventual) firewall for the air inlet scoop.  The inlet, however, doesn't get installed for quite a while, so I opted to postpone this operation.  I figured there was no point in cutting it out now, and since it's a large cutout, leaving the skin intact will maintain the fuselage structural rigidity during the upcoming operations.

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