On Friday, October 29, 2011 we received the first parts for the Panther project. We’ve been working with a CNC machine shop to create the sheet metal parts for the Panther. To start we had them make a set of form blocks and rib blanks for the main, nose and fuel tank ribs. We are really impressed with the quality and are excited to move forward with parts from this vendor. We will be forming the ribs, adding locations for the flutes, and verifying dimensions this week. We will have the ribs and parts for the main spars in a few weeks and then begin assembling the test wing. We hope to complete the static load testing by mid-December.
The fuselage design is coming along well and the prints for the welded forward fuselage section are basically ready. We had a short delay because I’ve been waffling on the fuselage width. Our fuselage mockup was 30 inches wide. Thirty inches was way too wide for me, and I’m a big guy. I had settled on, and designed for, 26 inches wide after sitting in both the mockup and my RV –4. The RV is 28 inches wide but has 3 inches of canopy rail. Twenty six inches with a thin canopy rail is about the same and felt perfect to me. After input from several fellow aircraft builders and pilots I decided to go with a 28 inch wide fuselage. This required changing the wing spars and all the fuselage drawings, yuck! But the wonders of CAD amaze me and it was relatively simple once I accepted it and got to work. The jig for the fuselage sides are in the works and we should have the fuselage “cage”, as we call it, welded up in a few weeks.
The landing gear design is finished and will be machined soon. We worked hard to design the landing gear mounts so that it was a simple process to install the landing gear, three bolts per side and no critical alignment to do. The leg itself is 7075 – T6, and will be airfoil shaped with routed brake lines. These could also be made out of simple bar stock. When we have the gear legs and fuselage cage welded we will do the drop tests to verify gear deflections, and make any changes at that time. The gear mounts can easily accommodate legs of different thickness, so if changes are needed they will be very simple.
We will try to have an update every couple weeks or as new info is available. Please feel free to e-mail me with any comments and feedback.
Thanks for looking.
Dan and Rachel Weseman