Focus on Workshops: Ballybrittas

Warbirds over Ballybrittas. (Reporter Paul Fetherstonhaugh)

Nestled in the verdant hills of Ballybrittas, County Laois, lies the home of long time scale pilot, the urbane and wise Mr Fergus O’Reilly who has many a trick when it comes to flying in recreational and competition class.

2011 Scale Workshop 2011 Scale Workshop

Visitors to Fergus, and all of whom are made welcome with a cup of tea, will be brought to an outside shed, where a cavernous workshop shaped around a stone structure is the sanctuary for model aircraft, from a WOT 4 to a large scale Fokker xxi in striking war bird colours. The surrounding walls are covered in scale plans for present and future projects, and noteworthy is a Douglas C-47, which Fergus has started along with a Top Flite Mustang.

Fergus has a well kept workshop, with power and hand tools, spray gun facilities, wood cutting bench, calibrated instruments and different glue types for wood and composite materials. The top score given by Fergus for his boundless work on scale aircraft is his reliable dremel drill, imported several years ago from the USA, but which required a reduction transformer for lower input voltage. No problem, Fergus had one tucked away in his miscellaneous accessory storage bay and which did the trick. The accompanying photographs show the broad range of tools, instruments and materials kept by Fergus, and also the aircraft stored for this coming season.

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In addition to the aircraft already mentioned, you will observe a Harmon Rocket in white with red trim and a Fokker Eindecker in blue. If the truth be known, Fegus is something of a Fokker aficionado, and his interest in the WW1 Eindecker is attributable in part to the synchronised machine gun which enabled fire through the propeller without damage or the need for metal bullet deflectors; designed by Anthony Fokker, the technology was adopted by the German Imperial Air Force from the Dutch Fokker. This in turn brought the pilots of allied pusher type aircraft to the then grim realisation that they were at best fokker fodder. Fergus intends to continue his Fokker scourge over the clondouglas bog.

Of interest, the last single-engined fighter to carry the name Fokker was the Fokker D. xxi pictured here with Fergus. This aircraft was used by three air arms, the Netherlands, Denmark and Finland, and the Finnish examples inflicted heavy casualties on Soviet forces for much of WW2. The Fergus Fokker D.xxi is in Dutch colours, and you can expect to see it in the air very soon. Power is a hefty brand new petrol SPE with a cubic capacity of 43.

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My sincere thanks to Fergus, his hospitality for letting me as your scale secretary have a good look at his first class workshop to bring you this report, and which it is hoped will inspire you like Fergus to finish those models and have them in the coming spring air very soon. Happy New year and happy flights for 2011.

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