New to RC flying? Get my popular ebook today, to help you on your way! Traditional balsa model airplane kits are still widely available but sales of them have taken a knock in recent years, thanks to the influx and wide availability of good quality pre-built rc planes. Perhaps this is due, in part, to those RTF and ARF owners now being involved in the hobby long enough to want to build their own plane, rather than buy just another stock mass-produced one? A traditional model airplane kit typically comprises the plan and building instructions, all the balsa and ply wood needed to construct the airplane and most, if not all, of the hardware needed such as servo linkages, control horns, undercarriage parts, motor mount, fuel tank etc.
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New to RC flying? Get my popular ebook today, to help you on your way! Traditional balsa model airplane kits are still widely available but sales of them have taken a knock in recent years, thanks to the influx and wide availability of good quality pre-built rc planes. Perhaps this is due, in part, to those RTF and ARF owners now being involved in the hobby long enough to want to build their own plane, rather than buy just another stock mass-produced one?
A traditional model airplane kit typically comprises the plan and building instructions, all the balsa and ply wood needed to construct the airplane and most, if not all, of the hardware needed such as servo linkages, control horns, undercarriage parts, motor mount, fuel tank etc. Above: a typical model airplane kit will contain all you need to build the complete airframe.
The components of the plane such as wing ribs and fuselage formers may already be cut out either by CNC machine or, more commonly these days, laser. Strip balsa will also be included in the kit for use as wing spars, leading and trailing edges, fuselage longerons etc.
Incidentally, despite its often soft feel, balsa is actually a hardwood and is ideally suited to model airplane kit construction because of its excellent strength to weight ratio. Thin model-grade plywood is also commonly used in certain areas of a model airplane construction, where more strength is required such as engine bulkheads firewalls and landing gear plates.
Above: a laser-cut balsa and ply kit, my Jamara Pitts S2B. Model plane construction Model airplane kit construction takes place over the plan which must be laid out on a flat modelling board. Typically the balsa components are held in place with pins until the glue sets, so the board needs to be soft enough that a pin can be pushed into it. Sheets of two or three inch thick insulating foam used in the construction industry make ideal modelling boards, as do boards made from end-grain balsa blocks laminated together.
An alternative is to have a flat steel sheet and use powerful Rare Earth magnets to hold the parts in place, instead of pins. Whatever is used for the board, the key issue is that it needs to be perfectly flat. Above: A CAP 21 fuselage takes shape over the plan. White wood glue PVA , aliphatic resins and cyanoacrylate CA glues are commonly used on balsa to balsa joints, but where stronger joints are needed such as landing gear plates and engine bulkheads then two-part epoxy resin is common.
Once all parts of the plane wing, fuselage, tail etc Any unwanted holes and other imperfections can be filled with lightweight filler and then sanded to shape. Use fine-grade sand papers such as , and grit for example.
Cover time! When the construction and final sanding of the airplane parts is complete, the parts are then covered in some kind of covering film, a common choice being a heat sensitive film which is applied using an iron.
The heat melts the adhesive backing which sticks the film to the balsa, then the iron or a heat gun is used to shrink the film over the plane parts. This rc airplane covering video is the first of a series, you can find the rest on YouTube.
Dope is then applied to the entire covered surface and as the dope dries it shrinks, tightening the tissue as it does so. Many builders of small scale model airplanes, such as rubber-powered ones, still use this method but these days ultra lightweight iron-on coverings are available to replace the tissue and dope method, should you prefer. The photo below shows a typical ARF kit, fresh out the box: ARF airplane kits have become very popular in recent years and there are some excellent quality kits out there - and some very bad ones too!
Read more about ARF rc airplanes. Most electric powered RTF Ready to Fly rc airplanes are made this way and in the last few years there has been a huge surge in the number and variety of foam planes available. Above: RC airplanes of foam construction are commonplace, particularly in the beginners sector. Foam rc planes are very convenient and are cheaper to buy than balsa ones, simply because manufacturing costs are lower. For these reasons foam rc airplanes are very popular as beginner rc airplanes.
The so-called hanger rash is a common issue with foam planes! There are traditionally constructed glow plug powered ones out there too, for example the Alpha Trainer DSM2 and NexStar Select 46 both shown below: Model rc airplanes like these let the beginner own and fly a brand new, traditionally constructed balsa rc airplane without having to build it. Read more about RTF rc airplanes.
Balsa vs. Depron Although balsa wood has long been the main material used in model airplane kit construction, there is a growing number of aeromodellers who are using Depron foam. Originally manufactured for floor insulation for the construction industry, the qualities of Depron were soon noticed by aeromodellers who quickly discovered its suitability for model plane construction.
The rigidity and ultra light weight of this foam sheet make it an ideal substitute for balsa and some incredible planes have been made with it.
RC airplane construction accessories Various modelling tools and accessories are needed to construct a model airplane from a kit, a typical list would include
Fahrwerk Pitts S2B Lasercut
Wood i Wood Wood is generally used to describe the solid or hard tissue of the stems trunk, branches and twigs of trees and shrubs. Add to cart Compare Add to list. Not suitable for under 14 year olds! The Community terms and conditions apply.
Undercarriage Pitts S2B
Bonanza V35 CNC Lasercut Baus Jamara 006134