A Little Firefly with a Glow

Thursday, 2 March 2017  |  Jonathan

One of the real pleasures of my job is to test build some of our kits to see if the cut parts are accurate and the pack list includes the pieces needed to let a buyer put together the model as intended.

Modern wood selection and laser-cutting helps enormously, but producing good kits remains an inexact science or, perhaps I should say, something of an art.

There are many variables around sixty year old hand-drawn plans and printed or die-cut balsa sheets, so sometimes we send out models in good faith, thinking that they are exact replicas of the originals but with better "ingredients", only to find that the originals had faults or foibles that modelllers back in the day, were expected to cope with but which modern buyers think should be better.

Since we offer so many kits, I cannot expect to build them all, even though I would like to; enter our younger employees who have effortless and extensive computer skills and who can match and alter outlines with ease. This helps us enormously.

For some reason, the little Keil Kraft Firefly does not attract a huge following but after putting together a kit recently, I was struck by what a lovely little model it is and how good our version seemed to be.

Now I am a free-flight and radio assist man at heart and though I fly some control line models, I do it very infrequently and tend to just go round in circles of level flight until the fuel runs out or I fall over. Expert I am not.

The Firefly just looked so nice I had to have one even if it was just for test build and display here at the workshop.

The fact that I had a good DC Bantam glow knocking about made the decision to build an easy one.

One of the best-flying control line models I ever built was a Mercury Viper back when I was fifteen. It was powered by a PAW 1.49 that had been re-bored by the factory (then still in Chester Road, Macclesfield near where I lived). The model, like so many of mine over the years, relied on one of their lovely diesels for power, whereas I relied on a Raleigh 5-speed bike for my power as I was too young for a motorcyle or, horror, a car.

My bike had a spring rack over the rear wheel and the Viper was trapped beneath it to get to the flying field on Congleton Road. The engine always started easily and soon, with helpers, we were away. The finish of the Viper was a tasteless black tissue and what appeared to be tar and wrinkles, but it flew and flew well; even I could manage it!

Oh, I was happy as I got home smelling of fuel and model aeroplanes. Going through the gate I was aware of a sudden graunching sound, the kind made by a model aeroplane hitting the post and falling into the spokes of a rear wheel.

Another of my many write offs...

You will find pictures of the Firefly hereabouts both in kit form and as finished article and I have to say it was an absolute joy to put together.

There is some video too of an example flying - it is hard to see as it is so fast and so small but fly it really does.

I have reviewed our control-line prices in the past few months and the Firefly at just £34.99 is not going to make us rich, but I hope it will tempt you to build what is a truly happy little kit at a very modest price.

Get the KK Firefly here

You will need: glue, motor, tank and tubing plus finishing items like dope, but the rest is all there. I assume you have a handle, etc., but if not, I seem to think we have many of the above items here for sale.

As always, we welcome pictures or videos of any of our models that we can put on our website.