Phil Kraft designed the Kwik-Fli prototype in 1963. His stated reason was “combining high performance with the fastest possible construction time.” Fastest construction time was right – the first Kwik-Flies had no nod to appearance whatsoever, and Phil comments that when he showed up with it at the flying field he was almost laughed off the field. That is, until his fellow modelers saw it fly.
The Kwik-Fli went through two prototypes before the third prototype was deemed “final.” Declaring it the final design meant Phil put some effort into appearance this time. It still wouldn’t win any beauty contests, but at least the wings didn’t look like they were falling asleep.
Phil flew the Kwik-Fli at every opportunity and racked up some contest wins – including 4th place in Class III Radio Control at the 1964 Nats – but he was having problems with large engines and reliability and wanted something that could be flown with a smaller, more trustworthy engine. He also wanted to make it a little easier to transport the aircraft to contests. Enter the Kwik-Fly Mk. II.
The Mark II design began in 1964 and was finished in 1965. Phil shortened the fuselage, but otherwise it was identical to the Mark I. The same airfoil was used for the wing, but it was also shortened – from a wingspan of 66” to a wingspan of 60”. The tail assembly wasn’t changed.
Phil originally flew the Kwik-Fli Mark II with a Veco 45 but settled on using a larger engine – most notably the new MRC Enya 60 II TV. With this model and engine, Phil repeatedly won – and earned himself a spot on the USA Team heading to the 1967 RC World Championships.
At the World Champs, though, Phil flew a third version of the Kwik-Fli, which had, a new fuselage and tail assembly. He won first place. That same year, he won first place at the 1967 Nats, and repeated his win in 1968.
This competition record earned the Kwik-Fli the title of “Top Bird of the Time,” according to Model Airplane News.
The Kwik-Fli design was published in all its iterations in both Radio Control Modeler or Model Airplane News and the Mark II was kitted by Jensen Enterprises in 1966. It became a common sight at modeling contests and a frequent winner. As such, it played a large part in the development of Radio Control Pattern designs, and is an important part of modeling history.
In 2011, Giuseppe “Beppe” Fascione, a fan of Phil Kraft’s designs, flying vintage radio control models, and building, decided to build an exact reproduction of Phil Kraft’s Kwik-Fli Mk. II.
It is really ironic. When Phil Kraft designed the first Kwik-Fli in 1963 he named it after the build time, and not its flight characteristics. In other words, it was named Kwik-Fli because it was so fast build that got you outside flying quicker.
So, yes, the fact that it took Beppe almost two years to build one really is ironic. Not that we’re disparaging Beppe – he had a lot going on in his life, with work and building three other model airplanes at the same time. But we’re smiling at the irony all the same.
Please join us as we follow along with Beppe as he builds the Kwik-Fli Mk. II!
Next post: Beppe’s build log on February 20, 2019
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