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Steam powered RC aircraft

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Paul Lousick28/07/2019 02:24:24
1150 forum posts
492 photos

We do not hear much about steam powered aircraft for obvious reasons but I found this article which appeared in ME Vol 194, No 424 in 2005 and a Youtube video of its first flight.



Michael Gilligan28/07/2019 06:15:49
13800 forum posts
599 photos

Wow that's impressive.


3404628/07/2019 08:52:59
695 forum posts
7 photos

Worth checking out John Stringfellow who is credited with a steam driven model, 10 foot wingspan in 1848.


John Haine28/07/2019 09:06:39
2591 forum posts
133 photos

When I was a lad I remember seeing a design for a flash steam plant for model aircraft, possibly in a book by F J Camm. This would be in the late 50s.

Kiwi Bloke28/07/2019 09:40:45
227 forum posts
1 photos

S'pose it'll be illegal in Blighty - isn't there some law against 'carrying fire aloft'? Hot air balloons must be an exception. Perhaps I'm just making this up...

Ian S C28/07/2019 12:19:15
7440 forum posts
230 photos

Somewhere about the time of the steam aircraft in ME there was a Stirling Engine aircraft (within a few years + or -). I think I saw a steam powered 'plane on U Tube.

Ian S C

Bazyle28/07/2019 14:10:19
4681 forum posts
186 photos

I'm sure the 205 article wasn't the earliest I recall a front cover photo maybe a decade before.

3404628/07/2019 14:27:02
695 forum posts
7 photos


One of Strinfellows steam engines.

JA28/07/2019 15:05:53
773 forum posts
44 photos
Posted by Kiwi Bloke on 28/07/2019 09:40:45:

S'pose it'll be illegal in Blighty - isn't there some law against 'carrying fire aloft'? Hot air balloons must be an exception. Perhaps I'm just making this up...

Writing as an ex-combustion engineer anyone who launches a "vehicle" in to the air containing uncontrolled combustion, naked flame, should be banged-up for a long time. The applies, particularly, to Chinese lanterns. The burners on a hot air balloon are obviously controlled.

Flying a model with a boiler would need quite a bit of thought. I think it would be difficult to get any insurance.

Edited By JA on 28/07/2019 15:07:38

John Haine28/07/2019 16:03:24
2591 forum posts
133 photos

In the case of the flash steam plant mentioned above, the flame is enclosed in a housing, there is a minimal volume of high-pressure steam, and the flame could be fairly well controlled, as much as a model jet engine I'd have thought.

Michael Gilligan28/07/2019 16:26:24
13800 forum posts
599 photos

Fascinating as the digressions have been ... I remain very impressed with the video clip that Paul posted.

I have to ask: How many steam powered model aircraft have been produced that can achieve an unassisted take-off ?


Rik Shaw28/07/2019 17:45:11
1310 forum posts
352 photos

Kiwi Bloke - I made a tissue paper hot air balloon for the kids many years ago and read in the book of ‘structions that it was illegal to “take fire aloft” in some states across the pond. Here in the UK we are a bit more relaxed but some folk do take liberties. Vast quantities of hot air commonly rise over regional and central seats of government for instance.

I have never tried fitting my seven cylinder radial in an air frame but it CAN lift my spirits when I run it up. (I didn’t build it by the way.)


3404628/07/2019 17:59:55
695 forum posts
7 photos

Rik Shaw

I found one part of your digression exactly as stated.


John Purdy29/07/2019 18:44:00
172 forum posts
59 photos

The series in ME that the aircraft in the link in the first post in this thread was based on, (and in ME 4248), was titled  "Comet"  and was a three part series by David Parker starting in vol. 162 #3848 5-18 May 1989 and was a full construction series detailing the engine and boiler for a model aircraft.  It also included outline drawings of the aircraft.



Edited By John Purdy on 29/07/2019 18:46:03

Edited By John Purdy on 29/07/2019 18:59:01

vintage engineer29/07/2019 20:36:55
156 forum posts

The Russians actually built a of nuclear powered aircraft that was to be steam powered!

Simon036230/07/2019 14:45:47
163 forum posts
58 photos

Try reading "Experimental Flash Steam" (Benson and Raymon), chapter 4 contains a couple of pages and drawings about a flash steam plant built by HH Groves - including a contemporary description (1916). Later in 1936 a set of plans for a complete plant weighing 5oz was published in ME (apparently).

Prof. Chaddock apparently built a replica 'many years' after the original.


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