Before RC models were called “drones” and FPV was the only way to fly, we used to have fun with flat sheets of foam and a few servos. A recent series of events left me nostalgic for these “Shockflyer” models and a simpler time…
The Ikarus Shockflyer
With electric motors and batteries getting smaller and more powerful (yes, this was even before brushless motors and LiPo tech was popular), we saw the introduction of Depron foam as a building material. A German company called Ikarus was at the forefront of using Depron commercially for RC models and in 2003 released the Shockflyer range. These small models featured a completely flat plate design, supported by thin carbon rods and strip. You had to use special Depron safe glue (that never really set) and sticky tape to build up these brightly coloured aircraft.
My first Shockflyer was the F3a, a non-scale aerobat capable of some truly stupid stunts. I had fun with it for a while before eventually the foam got brittle and the crashes left it as more glue and tape than anything else.
3D Foamy and the others…
Of course, the simplicity of the design and low component cost meant the Shockflyer concept was easily and quickly copied. Free plans and commercial models popped up all over the place. The light weight of the Depron models meant they only performed really well indoors so larger, heavier “foamies” also appeared.
My favourite at the time was an American company called 3D Foamy. Sadly they no longer exist but you can still find information and images of their designs on the internet. My all time favourite model of theirs was the Tiburon Bipe, a 30(ish) inch span biplane with sleek looks and an awesome performance.
At the same time, the indoor models became lighter and more powerful. The introduction of winglets, side-force-generators, airbrakes and variable pitch propellers made for some gravity defying displays. F3P aerobatics was introduced into the FAI in 2006 and the indoor scene “took off”.
Project 3D Foamy
So, with a lot of nostalgia and a box full of spare bits I thought I would revisit some of the old ideas and try to scratch build myself a 3D Foam Aerobat. The project has only a few simple rules that I will stick to:
- I don’t have an indoor venue to hand and it is ALWAYS windy around here, so outdoor performance is mandatory.
- I’m not buying any new bits for this! If I don’t have the components somewhere in the Red20RC Cave or I can’t 3D print/CNC them then they don’t get used.
- It must be a profile fuselage, flat plate build. Absolutely NO built up components!
- It has to be a plane, rather than a flying wing. The end goal is a 3D aerobat, not an FPV wing.
If you reckon you can stick to those rules and want to have a go yourself then go for it! Let’s bring back some Line-Of-Sight aerobatic fun!