Introduction: Attack Helicopter Kite - Rooivalk

About: I have always loved the feeling of finishing the construction of an object and if I don't have something I need or want I usually give it a go to build it from what I have. Usually though, I look at a boring o…

I decided to make another autogyro/kite instructable but better than my previous ones. This one takes longer to make than my other gyros but is well worth the extra time and it looks a lot better too.

I live in South Africa so I decided to use the Denel AH-2 Rooivalk combat support helicopter to base this model on. South Africa was the fourth country to develop its own attack helicopter and the Rooivalk (Afrikaans for "Red Kestrel") is among the best in the world today, although only 12 have ever been made. And at 18.73 metres in length it is perhaps the world's largest dedicated attack helicopter. The Royal Air Force was considering the Rooivalk as a gunship platform but for political reasons chose the AH-64 Apache instead. To see a video of a Rooivalk flying, click Here. (Not a video of mine)

This model can be made in a scale of your choice, I made mine with the fuselage measuring 24 cm so that I could cut it out of one piece of foam. Expect this model to take you a long time to make if the glue you use dries slowly. ONLY use cold glue that you know will be safe to use on polystyrene foam and test on a piece of foam first to be sure. MOST types of glue will dissolve this polystyrene so be aware of the kind you use. I used cold wood glue (PVA based).

The weather in Cape Town is not right for flying any kite at the moment so I can't upload a video or photographs of it flying yet.

I have entered this into the kites contest, please vote for it if you like it :)

Step 1: Materials and Tools Needed

To make this really cool kite you will need:
  • Polystyrene foam (I used 2 polystyrene trays, from egg carton packaging)
  • 2 Pins
  • 2 Paperclips
  • Small beads (I used 9)
  • PVA-based cold glue (I used Alcolin wood glue)
  • Tape
  • A toothpick (Optional)
  • Scissors
  • Pen
  • Craft knife
  • Ruler
  • Pliers
  • Spool and some kind of line to fly the kite with
Before making the physical model I made the kite in Google SketchUp. Please click HERE for a free download of this 3D model for your own reference. The model contains the individual parts, assembly and complete fuselage with rotors.

I have included a numbered template in this step for you to copy and resize to whatever scale you may want to make this helicopter in. I will also refer to the parts later on by these numbers.

Step 2: Tracing and Cutting

Copy the last picture of the previous step to your computer, then re-size to whatever scale you want to make this model in. Print out and cut out all the numbered parts. Arrange these numbered parts on your polystyrene foam so that you can use up most of the space on one tray and not waste as much. I was able to fit the entire thing, with the exception of the main rotors, on one tray.

Using a pen, trace the outline of the paper shapes onto the flat polystyrene. If a part is needed twice (because the fuselage is symmetrical) then trace it once; then trace the polystyrene part (once it is cut out) onto another part of the polystyrene and cut that out.

Cut out all of the fuselage pieces from the tray using scissors and a craft knife. Also cut out the parts labelled (5). I cut out the tail rotors but I recommend that you only cut them out later so you don't lose them. DON'T cut the rotors out yet. Only trace them (Picture 3)

See picture 2 for reference after cutting out. [My cut-out parts will differ slightly from yours because I don't have a printer and had to trace from my computer screen backlight onto the foam. If you follow the template well, your model will be more accurate than mine.]

Step 3: Putting the Fuselage Together

This step is quite easy to understand and I have included a picture in this step with labelled parts to show the order in which they are put onto the model.(See picture 1)

Start by sliding the larger part labelled (5) into the bigger slot cut out of part (1) and make sure it is in the middle. the straight edge of this wing is the front.

Then spread a thin layer of glue onto the area shown in picture 4. Don't glue the whole side, just the parts that will be covered by the next part. Then slide on the part labelled (2) onto this area. The wing must also go through the slot in this part.

Then glue on the parts labelled (3) where shown in pictures 7, 8 and 9.

Glue the part labelled (4) onto the area shown in the last two pictures.

Repeat the above 3 paragraphs on the other side of the part labelled (1).

During these steps, the nose-mounted machine gun barrel broke off. I later replaced it with a toothpick which I coloured in in black.

When you are done with this step, your model should look like picture 2 from the side.

Step 4: Making the Tail Rotors and Adding the Horizontal Stabilizer

Put glue on at the base of the smaller part labelled (5) and slide it into the slot in the vertical tail fin. (See pictures 1 to 4)

The tail rotors are not necessary but make the kite look more complete.

Start making the tail rotor set. Cut out all the parts associated with the tail rotor.

Put a small blob of glue into one of the slots in the pentagonal tail rotor hub. Then slide one of the tail rotor blades into this slot. Repeat for the other four tail rotor blades (See second-last picture). Leave to dry.

Once the glue is dry, bend all of the blades as shown in the last picture. This will allow them to spin in the wind.

Step 5: The Main Rotors

I decided to make the rotors shaped more like the real helicopter and so I marked triangles on the tips of the rotors which I then cut off, but this is not necessary.

Cut out the four rotor blades but DON'T cut along the diagonal lines on the rotors. (See picture 2)

Score along the diagonal lines LIGHTLY with a craft knife and ruler. Bend the rotor on either side of this scored line about 3 degrees. (see pictures 3 and 4)

Cut out the main rotor hub if you have not already. Then put some tape on it as shown in picture 5. put the four rotor blades in place on this hub and ensure that they are all upright and will turn in one direction. Add tape on the other side of the hub in the same way to secure the blades. (see pictures 6 and 7)

Cut out a small piece of foam like the one shown in pictures 8 and 9. This part will secure the rotors to the fuselage and I will call it the mast. Also cut out 2 small disks of foam to put above and below the hub.

Add the rotors to the rotor shaft (one of the pins) as follows. Place 2 beads onto the pin. Then a foam disk. Then the hub (Make sure all parts are placed on through centrepoints) Then add the second disk. Then another 2 beads. (See picture 10)

Push the pin through the mast as shown in picture 11. Bend the part that sticks out of the bottom of the mast, at 90 degrees to stop the pin from pulling out. Make sure the blades are able to spin around the pin easily before continuing.

Tape the mast to the helicopter where shown in the fourth-from-last picture. If there is wind, take the helicopter as it is and hold it outside to test how easily the rotors can spin. If the rotors strike the tail often, angle the mast forward, trim it, and tape it on again.

Step 6: Adding the Tail Rotor

The process of adding the tail rotor is almost the same as the main rotor.

Onto a second pin, slide in the following order: 2 beads, the tail rotor hub, then three beads. Make sure that the pin goes through the centre of the pentagonal hub.

Then push the pin into the horizontal stabilizer as shown in picture 3. Blow it to see it spin.

Step 7: Landing Gear and Tethering

You don't have to add the landing gear to this kite but it will look more complete with wheels.

To make the landing gear legs, straighten a paperclip, then bend it in half (see picture 1)
Then push this into the fuselage where shown in picture 2. Slide it between parts (1) and (2). When the bottom of the paperclip is touching the bottom of the fuselage, add glue to the bottom and bend the visible parts of the paperclip out where shown in picture 3.
Then bend these parts down on either side and bend the tips up so that they are horizontal. (See picture 4)

Cut out two small circles from foam offcuts and make a tiny hole in the centre of each. Add colour now if you want to.
Then put a small blob of glue on each of the ends of the paperclip. Put the foam circles onto these ends and allow for glue to dry.

To add a hook to the nose (for attaching the line), poke a hole through the fuselage with another paperclip where shown in picture 7. Bend the ends of the paperclip down on either side of the fuselage and bend one of the ends into a loop shape for string to be tied around.
Clip off excess wire, it will add unnecessary weight. Add some glue to the parts of the paperclip that touch the foam to secure it in place.

Tie a string around this loop and fly the kite! The string (and spool) I used is the same as can be seen in my other kite 'ibles and is elastic (about 1.4 mm in diameter), but you can use any tether you prefer. I use this for my kites because it is the only roll of cord I have that is strong enough to handle the tension from a pulling kite. This kite is flown in pretty much the same way as a regular kite, but it looks unusual and sure to draw some attention. The second-last picture in this step shows where to tie your tether-cord to this kite and also the spool I used (Which is not made for kites but works anyway). The last picture shows the angle that this kite should fly at and the angle of the cord relative to the kite's fuselage.

Add colours to yours to make it look better if you want to, but keep in mind that some paints and kinds of ink can dissolve the polystyrene. Search for images of the Rooivalk to see it in its South African camouflage, it is quite a pretty beast.

I will add pictures and/or a video of it flying when the weather improves and I get a chance to capture it in action. I have still not had a chance to fly this thing properly because the wind has decided to take a break for a few days. This seems to happen every time I make a kite, but hopefully it will pick up soon so I can upload pictures of it in the air.

Step 8: Kerkythea Renders

I made some renders of this helicopter before I made the actual model, so I added this step in to show them.

Step 9: Photographs of It Flying

So there was enough wind for me to fly this kite; but the wind kept on changing direction and it only came in a few small gusts so I couldn't keep it in the air long enough for a video just yet. I did however manage to get a few decent pictures of it in the air (I know it isn't very high up, but that is because of downdrafts near the walls preventing it from climbing any higher) and it performed quite well. It was still fun and enjoyable to fly it though :). If I had a field to fly it in rather than a residential area full of walls and buildings, it would go much higher than it is in these pictures.

I apologize for the bad quality, my phone did not really focus as much on the helicopter as its surroundings and it is difficult to fly a kite and take a good photo at the same time.

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