Tip Tanks: Design – Fabrication
For Designers and Homebuilders
By Michael C. “Mick” Myal, EAA 7978, for Experimenter
A two place Cavalier experimental airplane using Cessna-style tip tanks
Photo: Karl Walter
Ordinary building materials like stucco, drywall compound, and 1/4-inch Douglas fir plywood are transformed into a simple fuel tank shape, following the full-size patterns outlined in a new publication by longtime EAA member Mick Myal. The end result is a two-piece fiberglass/vinylester tank that is sized by the builder to meet his mission/fuel needs. His book, Tip Tanks: Design – Fabrication, shows you how to create tip tanks for your aircraft and includes full-scale plans that help take the guesswork out of the design.
The piece of mind, comfort, safety, and aerodynamic benefits of a tip tank installation are well-known assets to owners of some general aviation aircraft that have them. Far too often ignored by designers and overlooked by homebuilders choosing a project is the fact that tip tanks can also be a homebuilder’s time and money saver. Consider the cost of purchased composite wingtips and the amount of complex work involved with the installation of in-wing tank structures. Composite wingtips are usually specified by designers and are sourced from their shop or outside fabricators. That expense can be applied to homebuilt tip tanks with potential dollar savings. In-wing tanks can be complex structures that require specific attention to potential fuel leakage and maintenance. Tip tanks are relatively simple structures and completely accessible for inspection and maintenance.
Based on low-lift, low-drag arc airfoils and an elliptical master section, the design results in a clean, compound-curved surface via the provided patterns, and Tip Tanks: Design – Fabrication features an automated tank-sizing spreadsheet. Forty-two full-color pictures, 13 full-size patterns, and a step-by-step description of the mold-making process are included in the book.
Mick Myal is a licensed pilot, an engineer, and a homebuilder. His credits include several technical articles in Sport Aviation; publisher of the Alternative Engines books; and he founded CONTACT! Magazine in 1990. Mick is committed to technical support of this unique builder and designer alternative. His website www.TipTankPlans.com invites Experimenter readers to consider the tip tank alternative first.