TS-808 "Mercurial Sprite" . . The ThunderScreamer-808 "Mercurial Sprite" is a medium range light scouting vessel, designed for quick exploration, or even reconnaissance during wartime. It is made entirely out of lightweight metal and powered by several small, gas-powered steam engines. So named for its streamlined shape and gleaming exterior, the skies are no longer the limit, but rather its domain, through which it streaks effortlessly.
It has two pairs of wings with which it glides through the heavens. One pair is fixed in place and provides lift and steady flight, while the other set moves in a variety of ways and can rotate in various directions to provide extra velocity and control.
As seen here, the wings can be tilted up, among other directions, and can even flap to a certain level of effectiveness. This enables it to take off and land semi-vertically; raising it off of the ground enough to start it moving forward faster and faster until the fixed wings can create lift. They can also be used to fly somewhat faster or climb higher, allowing it an extra measure of strength when flying against the wind.
Since the Sprite can lift off of the ground before achieving any forward motion, it doesn't have any of the takeoff limitations that wheels would create. This allows the Sprite to take off and land in rather more difficult terrain than other airborne craft can handle.
Perfectly framed in the cockpit, the pilot has enough room to move around and very few controls to worry about. However, the weather is something else entirely, since the flight seat is open to the elements, adverse weather can cause the pilot extreme discomfort. He must also dress warmly if he intends to take the Sprite higher than a few hundred feet, even if it's over eighty degrees on the ground.
With the wings raised, you can get a better view of the fuselage area. Most of the mechanics can't be seen since they're covered up to reduce drag and keep the boilers from losing heat.
The landing 'claws' are rotated forward in the flying position, shifting the balance of weight towards the front of the craft. Since the wings and tail are angled back, this is necessary to tilt the craft properly.
Yet another function of the secondary wings is that when in an open position, as shown above, they provide extra wing area and allow the craft to almost float through the air. When gliding thus, it makes very little noise and conserves fuel, allowing it to travel greater distances.
The wings can be folded back for storage. Here they are partially folded. Notice the tailpiece, it contains the expulsion ports for the radical new propulsion system being developed by MMM Co. (Or at least it was radical back in 1897.) An engine collects air through an intake and pressurizes it before releasing it at high speeds, propelling the vehicle forwards very rapidly.
And completely folded. The pilot could also use this to put the craft into a dive, then unfurl them again upon nearing the ground to even out quickly, but this puts dangerous amounts of stress on the frame and shouldn't be attempted unless in extreme circumstances.
Here the Sprite is shown after landing. The landing claws have been rotated back, allowing the craft to balance upon them. The wings are folded when not in use.
The pilot climbing into the cockpit. Nothing really more to say.
This is what happens if you screw up your landing. The underside of the craft is also streamlined and covered. The landing claws can be rotated for landing or flying.
Here you can see the wing joints and how they're connected.
The wing is raised and extended, for another view of how it works. It' actually quite simple, yet offers a lot of mobility in most directions.
And lastly a shot of the hotseat, throne, dictator's pedestal, you name it, but it's where the pilot sits, and when in flight, his sovereignty is unquestioned. Perhaps it's because there is no room for whiny passengers.
And that concludes our tour of this little diversion that I built on this lazy Friday morning. It only took me two hours to build, and the most difficult thing to get right was the mobility of the secondary wings. It's a very simple design, but it was difficult to reach. Since the body is three studs wide, I had to find a way to get the wing mounts to go around the minifig's head, yet be securely attached and have room to move, as well as just looking good. After many tries, I finally came to the pieces that allowed me to offset by half a stud to get four wide and fit around the pilot. Then I had to find a way to attach them without them extending too far in any direction, but as you can see, it finally worked out quite well.
Regarding the name "ThunderScreamer", even though this model is fairly quiet, the model it's based off of is an armed military craft with engines that make an awful screeching sound to terrify enemies.
This creation was inspired in parts by Luis Baixinho's "A9 - Phalanx", Mark Stafford's "Kondor", and pretty much anything by Bionicle King Yuri Fassio. I wanted to finally put those Bionicle pieces to good use, and after laying some of them out on the floor, came up with the basic shape. After that it was pretty easy.
I've added a video showing the moving parts and different angles. Sometimes it's easier to get the full sense of something when you can see it in motion. The picture's a bit slow and slightly blurry on the closeups, but I'm trying to get the hang of video and YouTube.