Building a Giant RC B1 Bomber
Lance Corporal Zachary Geragi, USMC (medically retired) from Farmington, MN, an Iraq war veteran and his team of RC hobbyists are on a historic mission. To be the first to build and fly an AMA flight certified radio controlled ⅛ scale replica of the B1 Lancer Bomber jet aircraft (the actual B1 is shown here)! Because of the technical difficulty, this feat has yet to be successfully accomplished and no easy feat it is.
The ⅛” scale jet aircraft adheres to AMA weight restrictions and is built with the same space-age technology including honeycomb & carbon fiber composite construction and 820 epoxy resin used on the actual Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning! All of the CNC machining g-code for this project was generated using VisualCAM from MecSoft Corporation. This case study is our tribute to Zach and his team of RC hobbyists for taking on this historic project.
Why this Mission?
Zach’s radio controlled B1 Lancer Bomber project is a tribute to the aircraft that supported him on the ground during his deployment to Iraq in 2003. More specifically, Zach’s RC hobby and the comradery of his RC friends has helped him cope with the symptoms of PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder). To honor the service of Lance Corporal Zach Geragi, his friend Kyle Kazmierczak arranged for a B1-B Lancer to fly a mission over Iraq carrying the Stars and Stripes. You can read more here. That flag was later presented to Zach, along with this certificate commemorating the mission. We want to thank Zach for his dedication and service to our country.
Why VisualCAM for SOLIDWORKS?
Zach had no previous experience with CAD or CAM software but he is a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) which provides access to educational licenses of SOLIDWORKS for all of its members. Zach then purchased a Tormach 1100 3 Axis CNC machining center with PathPilot controller, a Grizzly Gunsmithing Lathe and a Jcut 1553 5×10 CNC routing table with water cooled spindle. Next he needed CAM software to generate G-Code. For this a friend who also owned a CNC machine recommended VisualCAM from MecSoft Corporation a Gold-Certified Partner plug-in for SOLIDWORKS. Zach essentially taught himself how to use CNC technology by research, watching videos and utilizing MecSoft technical support! The best part is that Zach is sharing his mission with daily progress updates, photos and videos on the The Minnesota Giant RC B1 Lancer Bomber Project facebook page. We invite you to visit for daily progress updates.
|“When I needed a good CAM software to go with SOLIDWORKS a colleague recommended MecSoft Corporation. Since then I have learned CNC from scratch by researching, watching videos and assistance from MecSoft technical support! I know engineers who are shocked that I was able to teach myself CNC machining! You guys have been an integral part of this project. Thank You!”
The Composite Carbon Fiber Fuselage
The fuselage core for the RC B1 Lancer was actually 3D scanned from a plastic Revell model kit including the actual panel lines!. The scan was then scaled to ⅛ actual size and converted to a closed surface model. The fuselage 3D model was then cut into sections so that they could be machined from 48”x96”x4” foam sheets on Zach’s routing table. The typical VisualCAM Machining Job is shown here. Each sheet is one SOLIDWORKS assembly of fuselage sections. The fuselage assembly section components are listed in the Parts section of the Machining Job. The setup for each sheet consists of a 3 Axis Horizontal Roughing operation using a ½” end mill and a Horizontal Finishing operation using a ¼” ball mill. Two of the sheets are shown below along with some cool images and videos.
Once the ⅛ scale fuselage sections were machined and assembled, they were used as the core plugs to layup each section of the composite carbon fiber outer shell. The carbon fiber sections were then assembled to form the complete light weight and extremely strong fuselage. Zach is doing an incredible job documenting the complete project on his facebook page so please check them out for many other videos, images and lots of technical discussion. The is a team effort and we want to give a shout out to Zach’s friends and fellow RC hobbyists Richard Steine, Darren Bitzer, and Rick Freeman for joining in on this mission. See below for the team roster and responsibilities.
|Richard Steine (Left) and Darren Bitzer (Right) assist with construction and assembly of the giant 18 foot long B1 Lancer carbon fiber fuselage.|
|Watch Zach show and discuss the RC B1 Lancer fuselage core mold, carbon fibercomposite components and assembly in the video links above!|
Other Machined Components
Here are just a few of the additional machined components that comprise the awesome RC B1 Lancer Bomber Project that Zach and his team have completed. This project is not for the faint of heart. I remind you that this IS NOT a pre-designed kit. Zach and his dedicated team will be the first to complete and fly a working ⅛” scale RC B1 Lancer Bomber jet aircraft! They have designed these components in SOLIDWORKS and programmed all of the CAM toolpaths using VisualCAM for SOLIDWORKS!
About the Giant RC B1 Lancer Bomber
Zack’s history making Remote Controlled Swept Wing B1 Lancer Bomber is an AMA approved ⅛” scale gas turbine powered jet aircraft with the following dimensions and specifications:
- Expanded Wingspan: 17.0 feet.
- Swept Wingspan: 10.0 feet.
- Total Length: 18.2 feet.
- Total Height: 4.2 feet
- Wing to Ground: 1.0 feet
- Fuselage: Honeycomb & Composite Carbon Fiber
- Engines: Gas Powered Jet Turbines
- Hand-held Radio Controlled
The history of attempting to build an AMA flight-ready RC B1 jet aircraft this large is long, complicated and thus far unsuccessful. However, with the valued input from those previous attempts and with the availability of lightweight and strong composite materials and expertise not available at the time, Zach and his team hopes to be the first!
The Team Roster
Building this 18 foot long history making RC B1 Bomber is a team effort. It requires dedicated RC hobbyists with working knowledge and experience in engineering, design, turbine engine installation & flight testing, composite carbon fiber molding, fabrication, machining, painting, finishing and more. Here is the complete team roster.