Friday, 1 February 2013

Target Kite project - part 2

Time for an update on my project to build two modern 'replicas' of the Garber Target Kite. During the first test flight, it became clear that the 6mm frame was too small and flexible, giving too much billow to the sail. As a result, even though the kite flew, control was not what it should be.

What have I done since? Made the sail for the second of the two Target Kites, this time showing the silhouette of a German Focke-Wulf plane. Built a new, slightly larger frame, now using 8mm carbon. Bridled the Target:FW kite. So the key question was of course: does the kite fly better with the new frame?

Stoney Cross Plain, last Saturday, the Target:FW kite is ready to fly:

Wind was 6-12mph, so slightly stronger than last time. And boy, oh boy, did the new frame make a difference!

Much less flex in the frame, much less billow of the sail (just compare the picture above to the one shown here), and much better control! But don't just believe me; judge for yourself (and, again, compare this video with the one here):

Now watch this promotional video from the 1940s, and compare the way my modern replica flies with how the original Target Kite flew:

You have to admit I'm not a million miles off!

OK, next thing to do, obviously, is to make a second frame like this for the Target:Z kite. And then I need to start thinking how best to build the rudder. Even though I can control the kite and even fly pretty small circles without the rudder, a modern replica of a Target Kite just has to have a rudder!

As mentioned before, pictures of the entire build process up to now can be found here. To be continued!


  1. Interesting stuff! Two questions. In the video it looked like there was a pronounced rudder at the bottom of the kite. I couldn't tell if you replicated that on your version. Did you? second, there was a quite complicated contraption for flying the original versions. How are you handling the lines and such in comparison? Looking forward to the next installment!!!

    1. Am working on the rudder! I just wanted to make sure the kite flew better with the new frame before embarking on designing and building the rudder. You will have seen in the video that the kite is very manoeuvrable without rudder, so one wonders how much the rudder will add to that. Still, has to have a rudder (and it will!)

      As to the elaborate harness with bars and reels that was used to fly it, I am not planning on replicating that. Our aim is to fly the two kites in a pair routine, and any contraption like that is going to get in the way and hinder us moving around each other during flying. So we're flying them off our usual long team lines.

  2. Wicked cool! I never knew kites were used for target practice. You've done an excellent job replicating the target kite. Amazing flight without the rudder. It will be neat to see what the difference will be in flight control.

    1. I don't expect that the rudder will make much of a difference, to be honest. Without the rudder, I can already fly pretty tight circles, and a Peter Powell Stunter doesn't need it either. But there is just no way I can make a modern version of a Target Kite and not include a rudder! What's also interesting is that basically no other kite designed and marketed after the Target Kite included a rudder. Another indication it didn't "do" much, so it didn't catch on. The only other kite I know of that has a rudder is called a Scanner, and was designed by Wolfgang Schimmelpfennig. And he was very clear that, out of curiosity, he wanted to design a kite that combined modern dual-line delta design with the Target Kite rudder.