Admiral Byrd Tri-motor model
After years of research and labor, the construction of the 1/8 scale Byrd Tri-motor is now completed. It is the largest model aircraft ever built in the Museums model shop with a wingspan of nearly ten feet. It is entirely covered with corrugated aluminum just like the original. The construction effort took 18 months to accomplish and the volunteers contributed an estimated 3500 to 4000 hours to build a truly stunning model.
The Story Behind The Project
The largest of the Byrd expedition aircraft was the Ford 4AT-B Tri-motor, NX4542. Through the auspices of Edsel Ford, this plane was furnished by the Airplane Division of the Ford Motor Company which retained ownership of the aircraft. In its original configuration the plane was a standard 4 AT -B powered by three 220 HP Wright J-5 Whirlwind engines with two bladed propellers. However, when tested by Bernt Balchen, the plane was found to be underpowered. It did not have sufficient service ceiling to clear the Queen Maud Mountains that lie between Byrd’s base at Little America and the Geographical South Pole. Accordingly, the nose engine of the Tri-motor was changed to a 525 HP Wright Cyclone with a three bladed propeller. At the same time the wing was extended 5 feet and two inches to seventy-four feet and additional wing fuel tanks were added. To save weight, a lighter covering was used in the repaired area. Further, the commercial cabin accouterments were stripped out and celluloid was substituted for glass in the cabin window. After modification the Tri-motor was deemed capable of making the polar flight.
The Frontiers of Flight Museum Model Shop recognizes these suppliers who helped make this project a success.
Basic kit – Arizona Model Aircrafters
Engines – Williams Brothers
Propellers – Scale Specialties
Decals – Kirbys Kustom Vinyl Graphics
Completed Models For Our Living History Characters