How Big Are The Large Model Airplanes

The large model airplanes can be several feet long and occupy the space of a small car or a motorbike.

The costs of creating or buying a large model aircraft is of course much higher than the cost of buying an ordinary small model with scale 1:144 or so. It’s not an exception to pay $500 for such a model. But these airplanes are obviously so cool that they can’t be compared to a small toy. In fact they are so cool that people join associations of large model fans like this one.

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Here are some examples and details of the different types of large model aircraft:

Big RC Aircraft

70% is really huge scale and rarely RC airplanes are that big. The typical scales however are 1:18, 1:20 or 1:32, and in some exceptions 1:9. For even larger models the scale is given as percentage, for example 27%. As RC airplanes need to fly you can imagine that the bigger the aircraft is, the more power it needs. Often they do not follow exact scale for the purpose of better flying with less energy.
So, while exceptionally cool, these large RC models have serious downsides:
They can be very expensive. For example this 27% scale RC aircraft costs ~$900. And you have to pay $250 on top for shipping, because it’s an oversize box.
A lot of power required – the one above uses 10 cell 6000 mAh battery to fly just above 10 minutes.

Serious security risks – if you drop such one somewhere it can break things or even hurt a person.

This does not mean to discourage you of course. If you want a big RC model, prepare the cash, get to know where you can fly it safe and go ahead!

Big Static Scale Models

These models don’t have the problems of the big RC airplanes. They don’t need to fly so no need of power and no risk to break anything. Just like the regular-sized static scale models they represent real aircraft in great details. Due to the large scale they can be even more detailed, often including the tools in the cockpit for example.

The prices of these models are lower than equally sized RC airplanes. For example planes with scale 1:18 can be bought for between $80 and $200. And because they don’t have aerodynamic requirements to meet and fit in small weight, better variety of such models is available.

Large Paper Airplanes

Of course you can simply get an existing paper airplane like the Dart and make it with a large sheet of paper. But as you can see from this video this approach has one big problem. Paper can hold its shape when the model is small, but once you use a bigger sheet the gravity forces will make your wings and shell lop. A basic solution is to use cardboard from packing boxes. It’s rather robust and will support a paper airplane – 1 m wing span or even larger. Of course before throwing such one out of your window you have to make sure it won’t hit someone.

Building Large Models Yourself

Building large scale models does not differ much from building smaller ones. You just need more materials and larger tools. In fact building will be easier because you won’t be working with very small parts. You just have to find plans for your model and then recalculate the scale for the parts.

Keep costs in mind – if you use expensive materials like balsa wood your airplane may cost quite a lot. Think about buying the wood in economy bagsor blocks

Beginner’s Guide to Remote Control Airplanes Flight

Radio controlled aircraft modeling is one of the most exciting hobbies available. It involves many interests, disciplines, and skills. Some of these are aerodynamics, electronics, mechanics, drafting and design, composite material construction, and woodworking, and these are in the airplane alone. There are many other fields of interest in the hobby of aircraft modeling; far too many and too varied to try to list. Many people find that many new skills must be learned before they are ready to begin to learn to fly. The hobby is constantly changing as new technology is developed. A new modeler may become frustrated at times but certainly not bored.

To reduce the chance of frustration, a new modeler should become involved with other modelers in order to learn the necessary skills. This may involve simply visiting a flying site and becoming acquainted with experienced modelers or joining a club. These modelers are a source of knowledge and experience that can be invaluable to the new modeler when he begins to build his first aircraft and when he begins to learn to fly. An experienced modeler can act as an R/C flight instructor to teach a new person the skills required to fly the aircraft properly and to avoid the inevitable crash.
New modelers must realize that a radio controlled model aircraft is not a toy. It is a true aircraft in that it flies and operates by the same principles as a full scale aircraft with the difference being the size and weight. The average model will fly in a range of 20 to 60 MPH and weigh 5 1/2 to 6 pounds. The force of the model hitting an object can be devastating especially if it hits a person. Models must be controlled properly both for enjoyment and for safety. The skills required to accomplish this must be learned from an experienced modeler.

Before purchasing any equipment, the beginner should ask himself, “Is this a hobby I want to try to see if I like it or is it a hobby I am going remain involved in for years to come?” If the beginner is going to remain in the hobby for years, he might consider buying more expensive equipment such as a ball bearing engine and a six (6) channel radio system. Otherwise, he should try to keep his initial outlay as low as possible. A beginner can limit his spending to as little as $200 by buying good used equipment but care must be taken to ensure that the equipment is reliable. At the other end of the scale, a beginner could easily invest $1000 on new equipment if he is not prudent with his purchases.
The topics that will be covered will be relating to a beginner or novice and a trainer airplane. The information relating to all aspects of R/C powered flight can be overwhelming even to the most seasoned pilot. Those disciplines relating to the more advanced levels of R/C flight will most likely be learned as the skill level of the novice improves and the goals are more defined.

The Basics of Flight

The concepts of flight should be understood by a beginner. The theories behind the physics of flight are covered in many volumes of books. There are different and sometimes conflicting theories and arguments as to how airplanes fly, but the one accepted principle is that lift is generated as a result of the air pressure on the bottom of the wing being higher than the air pressure on the top of the wing.

Lift Diagram

The Lift Diagram shows some of the basic terms relating to a wing section. These terms are common to R/C flight.
Airfoil The cross section of the wing
Angle of Attack The angle between the chord line and the relative direction of flight
Chord Line The line between the leading edge and the trailing edge of the airfoil
Direction of Flight The relative direction of the wing in relation to still air
Leading Edge The most forward edge of the wing
Trailing Edge The most rearward edge of the wing
There are four (4) primary forces that act on an aircraft in flight; thrust, lift, drag, and weight. Thrust is the force applied by the combination of engine and propeller acting to pull the aircraft forward. Drag is the resistance against the aircraft by the force of the air against the forward facing surfaces. Weight is caused by gravity. In order for a constant speed to be maintained, thrust and drag must be equal. In order for a constant altitude to be maintained, lift and weight must be equal.

Flight Forces

Lift increases as the velocity of the air passing over the wing increases or as the angle of attack increases as long as the flow of air over the wing remains smooth. Actual flight is attained when the force of the lift equals weight.

An aircraft pivots about three (3) axes; the yaw or vertical axis controlled by the rudder, the pitch or lateral axis controlled by the elevator, and the roll or longitudinal axis controlled by the ailerons. It can pivot about any one of these individually or in combination based on the control surfaces that are moved and the direction of the movement.

Axes of Rotation

When the rudder is moved to the right, the aircraft will rotate to the right about the yaw axis and vice versa. When the elevator is moved up, the aircraft will pitch the nose upwards. The ailerons move in opposite directions. When the left aileron is moved up and right one down, the aircraft will rotate to the left and vice versa.

The Basic Trainer

Quite often a person has an interest in model airplanes and visits a local flying field just to observe. He sees all types of airplanes from trainers to pattern planes to scale World War II fighter planes. His interest is piqued by all the fabulous looking models. He thinks, “I have to have one of those Mustangs.” He immediately sets out trying to find a P-51 model to begin his modeling hobby. This is a serious mistake. Many hours of training and practice are involved before a beginner has the ability to handle the more advanced models. A beginner must realize the dedication that is required to gain the ability to fly the type of model that initially spawned his interest. He must begin the hobby with a basic trainer and progress through different levels of models until his goal is reached.
A trainer is a specific type of model aircraft that is designed to be stable in flight. This means that it has an inherent ability to correct itself and overcome the rotational forces applied so that it regains straight and level flight. Most trainers are designed to that they remain stable in slow flight so that they are easy to land.

Basic Trainer

The Basic Trainer diagram shows the components of a common trainer.
Aileron The moveable portion of the wing that causes a change about the roll axis
Cowling The part of the fuselage that covers the engine
Engine A 2 – cycle reciprocating machine that provides the motivational power
Elevator The moveable portion of the horizontal stabilizer that causes a change about the pitch axis
Fin Properly known as vertical stabilizer that provides stabilization about the yaw axis
Fuselage The main body of an aircraft
Landing Gear The supporting structure of an aircraft including landing gear struts and wheels
Propeller (Prop) The combination of blades that provide thrust
Rudder The moveable portion of the vertical stablizer that causes change about the yaw axis
Spinner Covering over the prop hub
Stabilizer Properly known as horizontal stabilizer that provides stabilization about the pitch axis
Wing The horizontal surfaces that provide the lifting forces
There are certain criteria that a trainer should have in order to be satisfactory for a beginner.
  1. High Wing – A high wing model is inherently more stable than a low wing model due to pendulum effect. Since the weight of the model is below the wing, the fuselage tends to swing downward like a pendulum in order to equalize forces.
  2. Flat Bottom Wing – The wing cross section should have a virtually flat bottom. This type of cross section has more gentle flight characteristics that are necessary for a beginner.
  3. Dihedral – The wing should have some dihedral. This means that the tips of the wings are higher than the center. The effect of the dihedral is to try to equalize forces and keep the wings level or to return the wings to a level orientation.
  4. High Aspect Ratio – The ratio of the wing length or span should be at least 5 1/2 times the width or chord. This will reduce the rate at which the model responds to command input allowing more time for a beginner to react.
  5. Constant Chord – The width of the wing should be the same from the center or root to the end or tip. This distributes the weight of the airplane evenly over the entire surface of the wing.
  6. Low Wing Loading – The weight of the model divided by the area of the wing should not exceed 19 oz./sq. ft. This reduces the speed required to maintain an acceptable rate that the model descends when the power is reduced resulting in a lower landing speed.
  7. Moderate Size – Most trainers are for engine sizes between .15 and .60. The smaller ones are more susceptible to the effects of wind and normally the wing loading is higher simply because of the weight of the radio equipment. The larger sizes are easier to fly and easier to see but are more difficult to transport. Most trainers are for .40 size engines. These trainers have been widely accepted as the optimum size.
  8. Structurally Sound – A trainer must be able to take the abuses imposed by a beginner. This is especially true for hard landings. It must be able to withstand minor crashes with minimal damage. It should be relatively easy to repair.
A trainer that meets these guidelines will give the beginner excellent service without the frustration that can occur with an inappropriate model. With proper instruction, the beginner can progress quickly to his solo flight and on to the novice stage and still get years of sport flying from the trainer.
There are several trainers on the market that meet and far exceed the guidelines. These range from the most basic kit to beautiful Almost Ready to Fly (ARF) models complete with engine and radio. There are a lot of considerations when choosing a trainer but the two most basic are time and money.
A trainer built from a kit has the advantage of being less expensive in some cases. It gives the builder the pleasure of building, the option of color and trim scheme, and the knowledge of the structure to perform repairs. The biggest disadvantage is the time required to construct the model when the beginner would rather be learning to fly. Another disadvantage in some cases is the emotional attachment the builder develops having spent many hours on his creation.
The big advantage of the ARF models is that they can be assembled in a matter of a few hours and the beginner can be ready to start his flying lessons. The disadvantages are the cost, the unknown structure that is sometimes weak, and the fixed color scheme. Most ARF models perform as well or almost as well as any kit built model on the market. Any beginner who purchases an ARF model should get an experienced modeler to check the model before assembly is started. An experienced modeler can point out areas that may need to be reglued or reinforced.
There are several models that are widely accepted as being the best in the field although there is disagreement as to which is the “All Time Best”. The list is not an all inclusive but includes those that are most widely accepted. Some of the trainers are also available in .20 and .60 size but the .40 is the most widely accepted.
Click on model name or supplier for additional information
Stick 40+ Balsa USA The most basic trainer kit available, inexpensive, easy to build, easy to fly, almost indestructable
Kadet LT40 SIG Mfg.. Inc. Very good quality trainer kit, relatively easy to build, easy to fly, excellent performance
Kadet Senior SIG Mfg.. Inc. Very good quality trainer kit, difficult to build, very easy to fly, good performance
Eagle II Carl Goldberg Very good quality trainer kit, relatively easy to build, very easy to fly, good performance
Aerostar 40 Midwest Very good quality trainer kit, relatively easy to build, easy to fly, very good performance
Telemaster 40 Hobby Lobby Very good quality trainer kit, relatively easy to build, easy to fly, good performance
PT40 Mk II Great Planes Very good quality trainer kit, relatively easy to build, easy to fly, very good performance
Trainer 40 Thunder Tiger Good quality ARF trainer, easy to assemble, easy to fly, excellent performance
Trainer 40 Tower Hobbies Good quality ARF trainer, easy to assemble, easy to fly, very good performance

Most if not all of the models listed have been reviewed by one of the major model magazines. A beginner can get information from these reviews that may help in deciding which model to buy and the areas of assembly that need special attention. Regardless of the amount of advice that the beginner gets from experienced modelers, the final decision is the beginner’s. The choice of a model is an individual choice and all the pro’s and con’s must be weighed. Each person must decide which model is pleasing in appearance and performance and which one will meet his needs. The final consideration should be that the model should be considered disposable. Many trainers are destined for the junk pile when it has served its purpose.

The Basic Radio System

There are many modern radio systems from which the beginner can choose. There are several common brands including Futaba, Airtronics, JR, Hitec, and Ace. Each of these offers a wide range of options from a simple 2 – channel to a computer assisted 8 – channel system. The buyer is limited only by his budget. A beginner should discuss his choice of systems with his intended instructor. There are several reasons for doing this, the primary reason being that the student’s systems must be compatible with the instructor’s system if it will be used as a buddy box. This issue will be covered in more detail later.
All basic radio systems consist of four (4) basic components.
Transmitter The unit that takes the input from the user through the gimbals or sticks, encodes it, and sends it to the aircraft
Receiver The unit that receives the signal, decodes it, and routes it to the appropriate servo
Servos The device that converts the decoded signal to mechanical force to operate a control surface
Batteries The device that provides power for the other devices to operate
There are specific frequencies assigned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for use with airborne R/C models. A beginner must ensure that the system that he chooses is tuned to one of these frequencies. Most radio system manufacturers place a sticker on the outside of the carton that says, “For airborne use only”. There is a frequency reference chart available that lists the purposes of all of the frequencies that are assigned for R/C use.
The radio that is chosen must meet the 1991 specifications for narrow band receivers. The actual requirements of these specifications need not be known by the beginner because the systems are required to be certified to this standard. The owner’s manual for the system will note that the requirements are met and many of the transmitters and receivers will have a gold sticker to signify this fact.
The radio system may transmit and receive on either an AM frequency or an FM frequency. The FM frequencies are less prone to interference than the AM frequencies although those using AM frequencies seldom have problems with interference. Some radio systems use one of two types of internal systems to help to nullify interference. These are called PPM and PCM. Each has its advantage but they are only available in more expensive radio systems and should not concern the beginner.
Regardless of the brand of system, the number of channels, or the price, all transmitters have the same basic components. Transmitters may have additional switches, slides, and displays depending on the functions they perform but the basic components remain the same.

Typical Transmitter

Antenna The telescoping tube that transmits the signal
Batteries The device that provides power to the transmitter
Battery Meter The device used to monitor the strength of the transmitter batteries
Crystal The device that sets the radio frequency of the transmission
Gimbal (or Stick) The device that allows the user to input desired control movements into the transmitter
Handle The device for carrying the transmitter
Power Switch The switch used to apply battery power to the internal components of the transmitter
Trainer Switch The switch used to allow an instructor to give control of a model to the student
Trim Lever Slides used to adjust control surfaces during flight
There are two (2) primary modes of operation, meaning the way the gimbals are set up for operation. There are unsettled debates as to which mode is the easiest to use and best for a beginner. The modes of operation have become switched between the United States and most European countries. Mode I is primarily used in Europe while Mode II is used in the United States.

Mode 1

Mode I started in the days of reed actuated proportional systems. The transmitters were uniformly set up in this manner. The thought was that the elevator and rudder or ailerons were the primary controls and each should be operated by an opposite hand for precision control. Later this carried over into the more modern proportional systems since this was the mode used by most modelers.

Mode 2

In later years, the thinking changed to the Mode II configuration. More modelers believed that it was easier to control the primary surfaces effectively with the same hand. Mode II grew in popularity and is used almost exclusively in the USA. A beginner does not have to be concerned about which mode he should select since most manufacturers install the gimbals according the most widely used mode for the nation to which the radio system is being shipped.
There have been discussions over the years involving the number of channels with which a beginner should start. Some people say that only three (3) channels should be used; rudder, elevator, and throttle. The argument here is that it is easier for a beginner to only be concerned with using the rudder to make turns and not be concerned with the ailerons. Others contend that four (4) channels should be used; rudder, ailerons, elevator, and throttle. The contention in this argument is that by not using ailerons, a beginner must go through a second phase of beginner training that being learning how to use ailerons. A four (4) channel system offers better control of the model during takeoffs and landings in cross wind conditions. If a beginner chooses to use only three channels, he can set up the trainer so that the ailerons are not used initially and then add them later. The four (4) channel approach to training is more widely accepted today.
A beginner might consider buying one of the more advanced six (6) channel systems to get some of the features that are not available in the basic system such as dual rate controls. This feature allows the user to reduce the sensitivity of the sticks thereby reducing the chance of over controlling. If the beginner is relatively sure of future goals that involve the use of a six (6) channel system, he can consider this an investment in his future modeling and therefore save money. A lot must be determined before the initial purchase and should be discussed at length with experienced modelers, especially the intended instructor, before the purchase is made.

The Basic Engine

The primary engine type used by modelers today is a single cylinder, two (2) cycle, air cooled reciprocating engine that uses a glow plug ignition and a special fuel mixture of methanol, nitromethane, and castor oil. Most of the components of the engine are made of cast, forged, or machined aluminum. The power that can be achieved from these small engines is phenomenal and can vary greatly from one design to another. A typical inexpensive .40 size engine can produce 1.1 horsepower at 11,500 RPM. The same size racing engine can produce 2.4 horsepower at 20,000 RPM. All of these engines are the same in their basic components.

Typical Engine

Air bleed screw Screw for adjusting the amount of air allowed to bleed into the carburetor during idle
Backplate Cover over the rear of the crankcase
Carburetor Device that mixes fuel and air and controls the amount of mixture entering the engine
Crankcase Main body of the engine
Cylinder The section of the crankcase where combustion takes place
Glow plug Device that provides heat for ignition of the air/fuel mixture
Head The component that forms the end of the compression chamber of the engine
Mounting lug The section of the crankcase used to mount the engine to the airplane
Muffler The device that reduces the noise level of the engine
Needle valve The device used to adjust the air/fuel mixture
Prop shaft The main crankshaft that transfers the power of the engine to the propeller
Throttle stop screw Screw for setting the lower limit of the throttle movement
The design of the engine affects its power output, reliability, and longevity. The prop shaft is supported by bushings or bearings. Wear takes place between the piston and cylinder wall and the prop shaft and bushings or bearings. Most engines on the market today are classified as ABC meaning the they have an aluminum piston and chrome plated bronze cylinder sleeve. This combination normally produces an engine that yields many hours of trouble free operation if properly maintained. Those engines that have ball bearings for supporting the prop shaft normally produce about 25% more power and last much longer.
New .40 to .46 size engines can range from $55 to over $400. There are several that are accepted due to price, reliability, easy starting, and longevity.
(In no particular order)
Click on the designation for additional information
OS 40 LA Inexpensive, easy to start, reliable, newest entry level engine
OS 46 LA Inexpensive, easy to start, reliable, newest entry level engine
OS 40 FX More expensive, easy to start, reliable, powerful, sport and competition engine
OS 46 FX More expensive, easy to start, reliable, powerful, sport and competition engine
Thunder Tiger GP42 Inexpensive, easy to start, reliable, fastest growing acceptance for entry level engine
Thunder Tiger Pro40 More expensive, easy to start, reliable, powerful, sport and competition engine
Thunder Tiger Pro46 More expensive, easy to start, reliable, powerful, sport and competition engine
Magnum XL 40AII Least expensive, easy to start, reliable
Magnum XL 46AII Least expensive, easy to start, reliable, powerful, sport and competition engine
Super Tigre GS-40 More expensive, reliable, powerful, sport and competition engine
Super Tigre GS-45 More expensive, reliable, powerful, sport and competition engine
Enya SS-40 Moderately priced, easy to start, reliable, powerful, sport and competition engine

The entry level engines are more than adequate for the average trainer and are a good investment. They will normally outlast several trainer airplanes if properly maintained.

Construction of the Trainer

The subject of actual construction of a trainer is far too involved and lengthy to be covered in depth here. The trainer that the beginner chooses should have a good set of plans and step by step instructions that guide the complete assembly of the trainer including the installation of the radio system. There are many books and articles on this subject that are excellent sources of information. A beginner who has no experience in building balsa models should seek help from an experienced builder to avoid the mistakes that can have disastrous effects.
A beginner should consider using a strong, slow curing adhesive to allow time to correct mistakes during construction. One of the best is an aliphatic resin called Titebond. This cures slowly but yields an exceptionally strong joint and it sands easily after curing. All joints that are subjected to high stresses such as the firewall and center wing joint should be joined with a slow cure epoxy.
The main thing that a beginner must be careful with is the alignment of the wings. Wing alignment is critical in the flight performance and stability of the trainer. The kit’s building manual should give detailed instructions as to how this is accomplished and special care should be taken to follow these instructions.

Effects of Control Surfaces

The new radio systems are proportional control meaning that the control surfaces move in proportion to the amount of movement of the stick. If the stick is moved half of its total travel in one direction, the corresponding control surface will move half of its total travel in the corresponding direction. A beginner must first know the effect that a stick movement has on the model. During normal flight, the throttle is set so that a constant speed is maintained. This means that thrust is equal to drag and lift is equal to weight. From this stable condition, the effects that the stick movements have on the trainer are described.

Right Stick – Pull Back

When the right stick is pulled back, the elevator moves up. This causes the nose to pitch upward increasing the angle of attack of the wing and increasing drag. If power is not applied, the airplane will slow down and eventually stall. This means that the air passing over the wing becomes turbulent and lift decreases until weight exceeds lift and the airplane will begin to drop.

Right Stick – Push Forward

When the right stick is pushed forward, the elevator moves down. This causes the nose to pitch downward reducing the angle of attack of the wing and reducing drag. As the airplane descends its speed increases until drag and thrust are again in balance.

Right Stick – Move Right

When the right stick is moved right, the left aileron moves down and the right aileron moves up. This causes the airplane to roll to the right meaning that the left wing moves up and the right wing moves down. It will continue to roll as long as the stick is held in the same position. When the roll takes place, lift is no longer oriented vertically so the effective lift decreases. As the angle of the roll increases, effective lift continues to decrease and the airplane will begin to drop.

Right Stick – Move Left

When the right stick is moved left, the left aileron moves up and the right aileron moves down. This causes the airplane to roll to the left meaning that the right wing moves up and the left wing moves down. It will continue to roll as long as the stick is held in the same position. When the roll takes place, lift is no longer oriented vertically so the effective lift decreases. As the angle of the roll increases, effective lift continues to decrease and the airplane will begin to drop.

Left Stick – Move Right

When the left stick is moved right, the rudder moves to the right. This causes the airplane to swing or yaw to the right. This causes the left wing to move slightly faster through the air causing an increase in lift. The combination of the yaw and the lift increase on the left wing results in a gentle turn to the right as long as the stick is held in position.

Left Stick – Move Left

When the left stick is moved left, the rudder moves to the left. This causes the airplane to swing or yaw to the left. This causes the right wing to move slightly faster through the air causing an increase in lift. The combination of the yaw and the lift increase on the right wing results in a gentle turn to the left as long as the stick is held in position.
When the left stick is moved forward, the throttle is opened resulting in an increase in speed of the airplane. This causes an increase in lift and results in a tendency for the aircraft to climb. When the left stick is moved back, the throttle is closed resulting in a decrease in speed. This causes a decrease in lift and results in a tendency for the aircraft to descend.
It is obvious from the descriptions of the effects of stick movement, that any movement can adversely affect the flight of a model. These effects can be overcome by using a combination of control surfaces to achieve the desired results. For instance, the right stick can be moved back when it is moved left. The result of this action would be that the nose of the airplane would be raised to overcome the loss of lift resulting in a banked turn without a loss of altitude.
In order to understand how to properly use the controls, a change in thinking may be required of a beginner who has some basic knowledge of control surfaces. A beginner must remember the forces acting on a model in flight and how they affect the model.

Field Equipment

The equipment required to get a trainer off the ground can be very inexpensive. There are a few basic items that will suffice to get a beginner into the air and learning to fly but there are other items that can be added to make the job a lot easier.
Glow Plug Driver Clip on battery for supplying power to glow plug
Chicken Stick Stick used for flipping the prop to start the engine
Fuel Fuel mixture recommended by engine manufacturer
Fuel Bulb Rubber bulb used to transfer fuel to model tank
4 – Way Wrench Combination wrench with sizes to fit glow plug, prop nut, etc.
Tool Box Any box suitable for carrying the other equipment
These items should cost about $40. This can vary depending on the brand of the items and the place from which the items are purchased. An assortment of screwdrivers, pliers, and allen wrenches may also be needed to perform field maintenance.
Starter Battery powered motor for starting model engine
Glow Plug Connector Clip on battery connector for supplying power to glow plug
Power Panel Power distribution panel for distributing power from a field battery to starter, glow plug connector, etc.
Field Battery Small 12 volt wet or gel cell battery
Fuel Fuel mixture recommended by engine manufacturer
Fuel Pump Special pump used to transfer fuel to model tank
4 – Way Wrench Combination wrench with sizes to fit glow plug, prop nut, etc.
Field Box Tool box specifically designed for carrying model field equipment
These items will cost in excess of $130. The cost will vary depending on the brand of the items and the place from which the items are purchased. Field box kits are available for a wide range of prices but can be built from readily available materials. Plans are available for a simple field box that will fill the needs of a beginner or for a basic necessities field box for a beginner who wants something a little more sophisticated. An assortment of screwdrivers, pliers, nut drivers, and allen wrenches may also be needed to perform field maintenance.

Learning to Fly

The single most important aspect of learning to fly is getting an instructor. An instructor does not have to be certified to any particular standard but must be a competent experienced R/C pilot who is capable of giving instructions with patience. Many people think that flying R/C models is easy enough that it can be learned without an instructor and many have succeeded but at great expense. Many have become frustrated and disillusioned because of a crash on the first flight and never tried again. This point cannot be stressed enough that R/C flying is much more difficult that it might seem and that without an instructor to correct mistakes, a crash is inevitable.
There are two ways that an instructor can help a beginner in learning to fly. One way is for the instructor to begin by taking off and turning the transmitter over to the student. When the student has a problem, the instructor takes the transmitter back and takes control of the model. There is a “dead time” that neither the student nor the instructor has control of the model. This can be enough time for the model to crash and be destroyed. The other option is to connect two transmitters together so that the instructor can take control of the model any time that he feels that the student is in trouble. This is the reason that the student should match his radio system to that of the instructor.
Another option available to the beginner is to purchase a buddy box. This is nothing more that a transmitter that has had the battery pack, antenna, and possibly some of the transmitting parts removed. This could be a box that is specifically built for this purpose by the manufacturer of the student’s radio system or an old transmitter that has been converted. The big advantage of this is that it allows the student to fly using only his radio gear and not interfering with the instructor’s gear. He has the option of using more than one instructor, each of whom might have a different brand of radio. At a cost of $20 – $40, this is very cheap insurance against a possible crash.
The last thing that is required of a beginner before he sets out to conquer the world of flight is to join the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) or the Sport Flyers Association (SFA). Each of these organizations provides insurance to cover the cost of a catastrophic incident resulting from a model airplane accident. Very few clubs will allow a beginner to fly at their fields unless he is covered by this type of insurance. Some clubs will only accept one type of insurance, either AMA or SFA. Joining a club is strictly optional but is recommended since this can be a large resource of information. If the beginner can find a suitable place to fly that does not have an ordinance against this type of activity, then a club is not necessary for success. Insurance should not be looked at as an option but as a necessary evil. There are many other benefits offered by the organizations. These benefits are covered by each organization when a contact to the organization is made. The easiest way to find a local club is to ask the owner of a local hobby shop for information. If there is not a hobby shop in the area, the AMA or SFA has information about the clubs.
When the beginner has acquired his equipment, an instructor and insurance and he understands the basics of flight and the use of the controls, he is then ready to start the steps toward becoming a qualified R/C pilot. Each piece of equipment should be checked out by the instructor to ensure that it works properly. The airplane must be checked for proper balance then test flown and adjusted for proper flight. If the test pilot feels that there is a serious problem with the aircraft, it must be corrected before the student attempts his first flight. Only after all of the equipment and the model have been approved by the test pilot should the training begin.
There are a few things that a student pilot should keep in mind when preparing for each flight. These will help in getting the feel for the model in flight.
  • Be very gentle with the controls. It takes very little movement to get the model to execute a maneuver. Remember that the farther the stick is moved, the more the control surface moves and the more the model will respond.
  • As long as the stick is held in a control position, the maneuver will continue. This is most important when using the ailerons. When the stick is moved to roll the model, it will continue to roll as long as the stick is held in that position.
  • Fly it in…fly it out. When a maneuver is executed, it takes equal and opposite controls to overcome it and return to normal flight. A turn requires the movement of the ailerons in the desired direction of the turn. To recover from the turn, opposite aileron input is required.
  • Keep the model high. A Certified Flight Instructor one said, “The two most useless things to a pilot are air above you and runway behind you.” By this he meant that if a pilot gets into trouble, he must have plenty of air below him to recover. When landing, the runway that is behind the airplane after touchdown is wasted because there is a reduction in length of runway to take off again in case of trouble.
  • Keep the model in sight. Do not fly too high nor too far away. Although the trainer may seem fairly large, it is easy to get it far enough away so that it is difficult to see its orientation. Do not fly into the sun. A moment of blindness caused by the sun can be long enough to lose a model.
  • Do not become discouraged. There will be times when nothing seems to go right. Each maneuver results in a near catastrophe. Everyone who flies R/C models today has been through this in learning to fly. Do not give up. The next session will be better.
  • DO NOT PANIC. When a maneuver goes wrong, take all the time necessary to recover from the mistake. Panic will cause a student to over-control in an attempt to recover and cause the condition to worsen in the opposite direction. Although the instructor may seem to be a casual observer standing at the side of the student, he will be watching in case the student gets his model in a dangerous situation.
The first few flights will begin with the instructor doing the take-off and checking out the model. The student should watch the airplane as the instructor explains each control movement as it occurs. This will give insight into what is required to execute a take-off. The same will be true for the landing. Learning to properly land a model is by far the most difficult part of learning to fly. The model is most vulnerable when on the approach to landing because of the close proximity to the ground, its slow airspeed, the reduced responsiveness to control input, and the disorientation due to reversed control.
When the instructor has flown the airplane to sufficient altitude, usually 150 to 200 feet, he will ask the student if he is ready to take control. It is normal to be nervous at this point. Assuming that the student is using a buddy box, the instructor will give control to the student by pressing and holding the trainer switch. He will tell the student the maneuvers that he wants him to perform and how each one is to be done. He will give him instructions as to how improve each maneuver as it is being done. He will have him perform gentle turns left and right, flying ovals around the field, flying rectangles and figure eights. Each maneuver serves a purpose in building the skill of the student pilot. The student will progress to steeper turns, slow flight and stall recovery, each in itself a maneuver required to learn to land.
If at any time, the student should get into trouble, the instructor can take control of the model simply by releasing the training switch. He can avoid a mishap and take the trainer back to a safe altitude. The instructor will not let a situation build to a point that is beyond his ability to recover yet he will allow the student time to attempt the recovery on his own.
If the student has the time to devote to flying often, he can progress quickly. The day will come when the instructor will allow the student to attempt his first landing. This is a critical time for the instructor since he must react quickly if the student makes a mistake. It may take several attempts before the student actually sets the model down on the runway. Even then, it might bounce and seem to be flying again. Even when this occurs, the student must continue to control the model all the way to the point that it stops rolling.
After what seems like an eternity to the student, the day comes when the instructor is satisfied that the student is proficient enough in his flying skills to fly solo. This can be a harrowing or an exhilarating experience for the student. He feels that he has finally reached his goal but this is only the beginning. At this point, the fun really starts. The student can now spend hour after hour practicing and developing his skills.

Using a Flight Simulator

A flight simulator cannot teach a beginner to fly. There are no magic programs built into a simulator that teach the user the correct way to perform a maneuver or alert the user when a maneuver is done incorrectly. A simulator is exactly what the name implies, a program that simulates the actions of an airplane. It is an easy and convenient way to practice the simplest turns to the most complex maneuvers even when it is dark, wet, windy, cold, etc. A simulator can benefit a beginner greatly if used properly. For a beginner, a simulator can be invaluable in developing approach coordination. When a model is flying toward the flyer or approaching, the controls are backwards. To make the model go to the flyer’s right, the stick is moved to the left. Being able to move the stick in the correct direction without thinking takes a lot of practice. This can be done on a simulator.
There are several commercially available R/C flight simulators that offer simulation of powered airplanes. Most simulators will run in any of the current Windows environments. Anyone considering the purchase of a simulator should check the system requirements to ensure that the available computer is compatible with the simulator. Some of the simulators require a relatively fast processor, a lot of memory, a 3D video card, and a sound card. Some of the older simulators use vector graphics to generate the images of the models and the surrounding area. Each one has its own distinctive features, requirements, advantages, and disadvantages. Most of the current simulators use photo-realistic graphics that give very realistic visual effect. A prospective buyer should examine each of these carefully before choosing the one to buy.
R/C Flight Simulators
Click on the name for additional information
Aerofly Pro $190 Offered as a complete package including software, dual joystick controller or adapter, and instruction manual.
Cockpit Master $200 Offered as a complete package including software, dual joystick controller or adapter, and instruction manual.
CSM Flight Simulator $195 Offered as a complete package including software, adapter for user’s transmitter, and instruction manual.
Dave Brown RCFS 2001 $125 Offered as a complete package including software, dual joystick controller, and instruction manual. Software can be purchased separately for about $80.
Easyfly $80 Offered as a complete package including software, interface cable, and instruction manual.
Flying Model Simulator Free Offered as software only, manual and diagrams for fabricating interface cables also available.
PRE-Flight $75 Offered as a complete package including software, adapter, and instruction manual.
RealFlight $200 Offered as a complete package including software, dual joystick controller, and instruction manual. Software can be purchased with a transmitter interface for $140.
A beginner can benefit from the use of an R/C simulator by using it between flying sessions to practice the things that he has been taught by his instructor. Using the instructions he has been given, he should practice only those things that he has been taught while working to improve coordination and developing a feel for each maneuver. He can use it prior to a flying session to build confidence in his ability to control the model.

Getting Started

With the help of experienced modelers, a beginner should be able to make a somewhat educated guess as to which trainer system best fits his needs. There are many sources from which a beginner can purchase the equipment that he will use to begin the hobby. Most people live in or near a city that has a hobby shop that carries R/C equipment. The prices may be higher than those from a mail order house but the owner of the shop can be a big benefit to the beginner. Mail order houses usually have a larger selection than local hobby shops but the beginner must know exactly what he wants to buy and place the order for everything at the same time to avoid incurring multiple shipping charges.
When a beginner makes the decision to become involved in R/C aircraft modeling, he must be willing to devote his time and money to the hobby. He must be willing to tolerate disappointment and frustration. Although R/C modeling can be frustrating and disappointing at times, it can be very rewarding and a lot of fun.

Soar Like a Bird With RC Gliders and Sailplanes

slide13Flying outdoors with your own little glider is both fun and relaxing. RC gliders and sailplanes offer a quieter and cheaper flying experience as opposed to electric or gas powered RC planes.

The first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, once said this about gliders. “Gliders, sail planes, they’re wonderful flying machines. It’s the closet you can come to being a bird.”

Neil was not wrong, RC gliders are just like there full size counterparts and really gives everyone the chance to soar like a bird. So you want to soar? Then read on. Continue reading “Soar Like a Bird With RC Gliders and Sailplanes”

Remote Control Airplanes Kits – Essential Tips

Flying remote control airplanes has become very popular as a hobby over the last few years. This hobby has evolved into a passion for many over time. Flying RC airplanes is not only fun and addictive but stimulating also. The hobby is equally popular with both young and old and anyone can start with this hobby at any time. This is a very good way to utilize your pastime.

a guest post by Roy M.

Capture8Like any hobby before you jump into it you must be sure about all pros and cons (if any) of radio control flying, the cost involved and the type of airplanes that you can fly. You should also learn why this hobby has become so popular nowadays. I suggest that you enter the world of RC flying with the help of RC model airplane kit. You’re going to get a great joy once you build and fly the first remote control airplane.

RC plane kits are generally known as ARF or Almost – Ready – To – Fly. The time required to assemble a model airplane is about 20 hrs. Once assembled the airplanes fly at a maximum speed of 30 mph and the landing speed is at 15 mph.

The cost of such kits is not very high. There are models which will cost less than 100 $ but if you are looking for a really good kit for a beginner and don’t mind spending then be ready with something like 250 $. However, a common question that usually haunts people is – how far can these airplanes fly? Let me tell you that the distance covered by an RC airplane will always depend upon the quality of the radio controller. Usually, these fly a maximum distance of half a mile but larger planes are known to fly till a distance of 1 mile.

RC model airplane kits are usually considered good for first-timers. These airplanes are controlled by a radio-controlled system that is made up of a transmitter, receiver, frequency crystals and servos. The transmitter is the device that controls the speed and steering of the plane and it is always in our hands. The servos are placed inside the airplane to control the speed of the propeller and to control the wings or rudder.

The transmitter and the receiver use a frequency crystal to determine in which the radio control system operates in. In an RC airplane the propeller uses either with the help of gas engine or electric motor. While electric motor needs a battery to work the gas engines use fuel which is specially blended for these model airplanes.

The airplane models are beginning to become a rage among the new generation. If you visit the Amazon or eBay site you will find hundreds of kits for sale at throwaway prices. Upon careful planning, you can get yourself a good deal and with it a good starter kit for a model airplane. This hobby is definitely more entertaining and intelligence stimulating than Xbox and PS3 combined.

Flying RC Planes for Beginners

Flying rc planes is a great hobby which will give you immense excitement and joy. Anyway, in case you are a beginner, well, you will have to take up this hobby seriously in order to master the art of RC model airplane flying.

a guest post by Roy M.

hangar_9The simplest way to start is the 2 channel electric type RC model airplane. You need not be an experienced one to fly these ones as they are relatively easy and are available everywhere. The level of expertise will depend upon the amount of money you are willing to pump in and your own seriousness about it. If you are not bound by budgetary constraints then you can purchase a RC flight simulator although this is a luxury for flying simple RC model airplanes.

Flying model airplanes can be a lot of fun if you are aware of the following things. Weight and balance are very important for an airplane. So if you have a bought a Ready to Fly airplane and followed all the instructions correctly then the weight and the balance of the airplane should be ok. But it is also important to check the balance before flying a RC model airplane. Just remember that an incorrect balance will make it very difficult for you to control the airplane and it might just crash.

The 2nd most important thing to do is to do the Pre-flight checks. This is an essential step for flying model airplanes. If you skip this test then your cherished airplane may end up with a crash. Go through the instruction manual and do the pre-flight checks as per the guidelines mentioned in the manual. The mandatory checks would include securing the wings and tail properly, checking the motor operation, to ensure the no necessary component is loose and also verifying that radio control gear batteries are in working condition. But the most important check is perhaps the Range Check. This is to make sure that the radio signal is strong so that you can safely fly your model airplane till a considerable distance.

The last check up is not essential but you can still go ahead with it. You can test glide your model airplane before an actual flight. This will give you an idea in case there is a failure with the motor of the airplane.

Finally I can only say that the onus of safe flying a model airplane lies only with the user. Remember that a large clear area is essential for a safe flight. The wind speed and distance also needs to be taken into account. If the wind is too gutsy that some of the trees are bending then it’s a clear sign not to fly your airplane. As emphasized earlier the radio batteries should be in peak condition. Trust me even if one of the batteries perform poorly then there is a high chance of losing contact with the plane and eventually a crash!

So I can conclude by saying that flying model airplanes for the first time will definitely make you nervous but with time you will gain valuable confidence and move on to more sophisticated RC airplanes.

P51 Mustang – Building RC Planes

Modelling the P51 Mustang

a guest post by Tony LeGrand

WW2 war-birds hold a fascination with most people that love the look of a great aircraft. During this era planes developed from slow flying bi-planes to sleek 400 mile per hour single wing fighters. There is nothing like a war to accelerate the development of aircraft and none more so than the period of the second world war. The Mustang stands as one of the pinnacle fighters of this era, being loved by all who have flown in them or had anything to do with this wonderful piece of history. So, I bought a plan from the internet (you can find some very good ones on Amazon or Ebay) and, I jumped at the opportunity to build it and do an evaluation and flight test on this ‘Cadillac of the skies’.

The plan I used for this amazing RC warbird is about 1:6th scale, with a wing span of 1.6m, (65inches), and a fuselage length of 1.4m. A good .60 2-stroke, or if you hate the scream of a two’eee, .80 to .90 4-stroke like the Magnum .91 I will be using, will do just fine. A warbird should sound as close to the real thing as possible, so a 4 stroke is just the ticket in my opinion.

Materials List

Just how much balsa will you need to build this plane? In all the construction articles I’ve read, no one has said just how much material is needed to complete the project. So I’ll set a new standard for others to follow.

Balsa Sheet

(All sheets are 1.2m x 100mm) 12 sheets x 1.6mm for wing and tail surface covering; 5 sheets x 2.5mm for wing ribs; 4 sheets x 3.2mm for fuselage sides and formers; 1 sheet x 9.5mm for the fuselage bottom engine cowl and elevators; 1 sheet x 12mm for the radiator and engine cowl.

Ply Wood

500mm x 200mm of 1.5mm for fuselage doublers and wing servo covers; 200mm x 400mm of 3mm for wing brace, retract mount doubler ribs and fuselage formers; 300mm x 100mm of 6.5mm for engine mount former and retract mounting plates.

It is a good idea to kit up all your parts before the building frenzy takes place. If you have access to a photocopier use it to copy the parts from the plan and then use a clothes iron, (hopefully not the one your better half uses for the clothes), to transfer the image of the part onto the balsa or ply. I used a band saw to cut out the ply parts and the wing ribs in their corresponding left and right pairs. The rest was cut out using a hobby knife and a razor saw, take your time to make a good job of this, making sure that all cut outs are a snug fit for the stringers and spars that go into them. Finish off all edges with a sanding bar to level off any ups and downs, checking the fit of the part over the plan to make sure it is a perfect fit. You are now ready; let the building begin!

Use a nice flat building surface to make the plane on, I got hold of some cork faced display board, which is great for pinning parts onto as the glue sets.


The two 1.5mm ply doublers and spruce longerons need to be epoxied onto the 3.2mm balsa side pieces, making sure there is a left and right side and not two left or two right sides! Formers F1 and F2 are epoxied together with the tank side crutches, which fit into slots cut into each former. Make sure they are squared up before the glue sets. Mark the position of the formers on the inside of each sidepiece to make it easier to line them up over the plan. Once the parts have cured the sides and the rest of the formers can be fitted in place over the plan or set up in a building jig to keep everything lined up nice and square.

Because the fuselage sides need to be curved from just behind the wing, use some ammonia and water mixed 50/50 to wet out the balsa to allow it to follow the required curves of the rear formers. This part didn’t fit into the jig properly so I just lined up the centreline of the formers using pins placed in the top of each and then eyeing up through the pins to make sure they were all perfectly in line. I used rubber bands to hold the sides in contact with the formers until the glue and balsa dried. After the glue had dried, the front and rear top sections were cut to size and again wet out with ammonia and water to allow them to follow the tight curves of the formers. I used Saturn Hobbies Gator Bond to glue these pieces in position, as it allows you working time to position the parts in the correct spot. The cockpit bottom was then cut out and fitted into position. At this stage I decided to fit a retractable tail wheel, I used the medium sized Robart mechanical retract. A 3mm ply former was fitted from underneath to mount the unit securely into position. The bottom was then sheeted with 9.5mm balsa. The fuselage was then sanded to the required shape, getting rid of the ups and downs and other rough bits.


Almost finished fuselage with 
sheeting in progress

This is where I didn’t follow the plan. Instead of making up a balsa cowl, (I hate carving and sanding block balsa), I used polystyrene foam to shape the cowl, using a bastard file to do the initial shaping, followed by 80 grit sandpaper then 220 grade paper to finish it off. Once smooth it was coated with PVA glue to stop the epoxy resin from sticking to it and soaking into the foam. It was then covered with two layers of 4oz fibreglass cloth, wet out with laminating epoxy resin. Once cured the surface was then coated with micro-balloons and epoxy resin mixed up to a thick paste, this fills up the weave of the cloth and any surface imperfections. It was then put aside for a week before sanding it off to a smooth surface ready for painting. The cowl ends up very strong but also very light and will probably outlast the rest of the model.


I was very tempted to make up templates and go ahead and make up a foam wing, as this is my preferred method of building good straight wings. But as it didn’t have them drawn on the plan, a built up wing it had to be as it is my job to make sure the plan is correct in every detail and that all the parts fit together correctly.

All built up wing showing the flap and aileron servos.

The ribs from R1 to R10 were first drilled with a 12mm drill in line with the wing mounted aileron servos to allow the wiring to pass through the wing. A sheet of paper can be rolled up and made into a tube so the wiring doesn’t get snagged when going through the ribs. This can be fitted just before the wing halves are joined together.

The wing is built in two halves over the plan by first pinning the spruce spars in position. The ribs from R2 outward were fitted to the spar, using a small square to make sure they were at 90 degrees to the building surface. (The centre rib R1 is fitted at a slight angle when the two halves are joined together to achieve the correct dihedral angle.) As the wing tapers towards each end in cord width and thickness, the rear of the ribs were packed to the correct height using a strip of balsa along the trailing edge. The plan shows two degrees washout built into the wing, and having had a few less than pleasant experiences with high and low speed stalls with a Spitfire and a Kittyhawk, two degrees of washout was a good idea.

The 9.5mm aileron rear spar was fitted to the rear of the ribs, checking that the washout was still set in the wing section. Next the 3mm false leading edge was glued into position, the 1.5mm shear webbing was then fitted to the rear edge of the main spare, by this stage the wing is starting to stiffen up nicely. The 3mm ply doublers for the retracts were epoxied into position before removing the wing half from the plan. With the wing upside down the rear 6.5mm drag spar was fitted as well as the 6.5mm ply retract mounting plate. With the two halves finished to this stage it was time to join them together using the ply dihedral brace. One half was weighted down on the board with the other end being set at 110mm above the building surface, giving 55mm dihedral under each tip. Slow set epoxy was used to give a strong bond and allow ample time to set it up without unwanted twists and other nasties.

Wheel wells were custom made by
making moulds then vacuum forming the
sheet over the moulds.

After the glue had cured the wing was checked with an incidence meter just to make sure there was still two degrees of washout in each tip. The ribs were then sanded with a 300mm sanding T bar to take any high spots off them before sheeting. The 1.5mm balsa sheeting was first glued together to the required width before sanding it flat and smooth. PVA was used to fit the sheeting in position with a few pins and rubber bands used to hold the sheeting tight against the ribs as the glue dried. A few mm overlap on the false leading edge was left so that it can be sanded off before gluing on the leading edge to get a snug fit up to the pre-shaped leading edge. The servo mounts were then fitted in position for the ailerons, mechanical retracts and flaps. A 100mm fibre-glass bandage was then epoxied around the centre joint, just to be on the safe side.

A bell crank was fitted to one of the retract rods to allow it to move at right angles to the rod so that it activated the retractable tail wheel from the one servo. A quick release ball coupling allowed it to be connected up as the wing is put in position. The wing tips were made of block balsa sanded to shape and hollowed out to save some weight, before gluing them on the ends of the wing. The wing was fitted up to the fuselage and the underwing radiator section was made up and fitted into position using foam and fibreglass for the job instead of the suggested balsa on the plan, purely a personal touch as the build-up version is easily made if you don’t like the fibreglass idea. The wing then just needed a final sanding before covering.

Finished retracts and air scoop.
Fixed undercarriage is optional.

The ailerons and flaps were then built up separately from the wing over the plan using ribs and sheeting with ply doublers fitted in the control horn mounting areas. Both wing control surfaces are hinged near the top edge, so each bottom edge was chamfered to allow the control to move up and down the required amount.

Tail Surfaces

These went together very easily, just like a very small wing really. The horizontal stabiliser was built up by first joining the tips, and leading and trailing edges together over the plan. I then packed it up so that the high point of the centre rib just touched the plan, then glued the rest of the ribs in position, working from the centre out to the tips. Once the glue has dried, remove it from the plan and sheet it with 1.5mm balsa. The vertical stabiliser and the rudder and elevators were built up in the same manner. Everything was then sanded smooth and the leading edges rounded off nicely, ready for fitting up to the fuselage.

The elevator control rod is fully enclosed in the fuselage so I had to manufacture a U piece which fitted into each elevator half with an arm in the middle to connect up to the control rod. This was made up using piano wire bent up with the arm bound with copper wire and then sweat soldered in position.

This was then fitted to the 8mm dowel control rod using a metal clevis and fitted into the fuselage from the rear. The horizontal and vertical stabilisers were then epoxied into position, making sure they were all square to the centre line of the fuselage. The control surfaces were then hinged using Dubro medium sized hinges, cutting the slots but not yet gluing them, this will be done just before it is painted.

Fin and Rudder are built up then sheeted

Elevators are solid balsa, the single
torque rod is about to be fixed in place.
Rear of the fuselage with the elevator
torque rod about to be fitted to the elevator.

Balancing Act

It was time to put everything in position and see where the C of G was going to be. With the 91 MAGNUM four stroke up front I suspected a nose heavy plane and with the servo tray in the plan position this was very much so. Being a plumber in a past life I don’t like lead and won’t put it in a lovely aeroplane so things needed to be shifted around so that ballast was unnecessary. This was achieved by reducing the size of the full width wing mounting plate to allow the servos to be mounted as far back as possible but still allow easy access to them. The battery and receiver were also mounted under the servo tray, with this small change the balance point worked out spot on.


I have always wanted to try panel lines and rivets and all that stuff that makes them look like the real thing so this is how I did it. The whole ‘plane was sanded down with a final 320-grit paper before all the panel lines were marked in position with a soft pencil then each panel piece was cut out of a $2.00 roll of brown paper, leaving 5mm extra for overlap. Starting from the back and the bottom work towards the top and the front, glue each piece on using 50/50 PVA and water. The paper has a dull and shiny side so remember to put it on shiny side out as it gives a much better finish. Once it’s dried, coat the paper with the 50/50 mix on the outside, let it dry and then lightly sand with 600 wet and dry. Do this again and it’s ready for the rivets and removable covers to be put on.

Servos were mounted as far back as possible because of the larger engine up front, still plenty of room available.

The Mustang had flush rivets, so drops of PVA wouldn’t do for rivets. After a bit of thought I came up with the idea of using the end of a hypodermic needle ground flat. This was then pushed into the surface without braking through the paper and rotated to form a round dimple, the effect looked very authentic. The quick release fasteners were copied by using a piece of 1/8th brass tube used in the same way. The covers were cut out of light card and glued in position with PVA. A final light coat of PVA and water, another light sand and she’s ready for the painting.

Fully sheeted P-51 with custom cowl.


I love the look of a silver Mustang but everyone paints them silver, so camouflage it had to be. Seeing Col and Judy Pay’s Mustang at Avalon air show this year and taking heaps of photos of it made it an easy choice as the colour scheme of the 3 Squadrons Mk IV Mustangs that served in the Italian campaign could be copied from them.

I had some sample pots of satin acrylic mixed up at the local hardware store at $6.00 per 250ml pot. The colours were chosen from the Dulux colour chart and matched the green and dark grey spot on. Some white toner was then just added to half a pot of the grey to lighten it up for the underside of the ‘plane. I used an airbrush to apply the paint only using 50ml of each colour. The acrylic dries very quickly and was easily fuel-proofed by giving it 2 coats of satin Estapol to keep the matt war-bird finish. Once it was dry, the decals that a sign writer friend made up for me on his computer were fitted in position. A final coat of estapol over these to seal the edges and to take the gloss off them completed the job.

After refitting all the gear and the motor to the nylon engine mount and checking and rechecking everything that has to work properly, all was in readiness for a safe and happy first flight. The flight pack was charged up overnight ready for a Sunday flight at my local club near Hamilton in the Western District of Victoria.

Let’s Light the Wick

Having heard glowing reports on the latest CNC operated factories in China that are producing the Magnum range of engines, I contacted Chris White, the man behind Hobby Wholesale Traders, the importer of Magnum engines. After some discussion Chris recommended the XL91FS for the Mustang and also suggested I use one of the Magnum aluminium spinners for it as well.

Magnum 91FS motor provided plenty of 
grunt for this warbird.

A few days later a package arrived at my local hobby shop with the motor and spinner inside. The motor was bolted to the test bench and fuelled up with the recommended mix stated in the instructions. The main mixture needle valve was set at the recommended 2 to 2 1/2 turns, with the low speed one left as it came out of the box. The choke flap was closed against the venturi and the prop rotated 4 or 5 times. Releasing the choke, the glow-driver was attached and the 14 x 6 prop flicked backwards onto compression. The motor burst straight into life and sang like a bird! The running-in instructions were followed by running the motor at full throttle and controlling its speed by richening up the mixture then leaning it out for progressively longer intervals of time. This was done for 3 tank fulls, about 1/2 an hour total running time. This initial running showed that the engine was a very easy to start and a willing performer.
The power plant was then put away while the Mustang was completed. This would be the real test for the Magnum, being fitted inverted in a very tight fitting cowl with minimal air flow. The motor was fitted to a nylon mount with a thrust plate fitted to give 2 degrees side and 1 degree of down thrust. To provide air flow the vent under the spinner was opened up and the cowl was cut out to allow the rocker cover to protrude through. Air could exit through the front four scale exhaust pipes on each side as well as the vented panels on each side and perforations drilled behind the glow plug access hole. A quick calculation had the correct 1 to 4 ratio of air going in and air coming out.

The motor was fitted up the night before the big day. I had just finished reading the latest Airborne and got an idea from Winchy’s ‘Engin-Ear’ article on oil recycling in Airborne issue number 182. As the motor is fitted upside down I would just run the breather pipe above the carburettor venturi and the oil will drip into it and end up out the exhaust pipe. Finishing the job at about 10pm, I filled the tank and primed it by holding my finger over the end of the exhaust pipe and turning the prop over 2 or 3 times, fitted the glow driver and, as I did on the test bench, flick it back onto compression. It again fired up instantly and settled down to a fast idle. A few rev ups and I stopped it so as not to upset the neighbours. A restless nights sleep was had, thinking about things that I might have forgotten to do before the test flight the next day. All was in readiness for the big test for both plane and motor.

Off into the Wide Blue Yonder

Make dummy exhaust from scrap 
balsa and brass tube.

The local group of modellers gave the Mustang a critical look over and gave it the big seal of approval. The strip was mown specially for the occasion before the obligatory walk to the other side of the strip, transmitter in hand, for a range check on the JR 388s and Hitec supreme 7 channel receiver combination. Everything worked fine and I couldn’t find any more excuses to delay proceedings. The motor was again easily fired up with a quick flick and set slightly rich for the first flight. A video camera was taken to the side of the strip to record the event, which put extra pressure on me to make it a perfect take off. Rates were set to low before taxiing to the edge of the strip, a quick check to make sure all controls moved in the right direction. The throttle was slowly increased as full elevator was held in as it built up speed then centred as the tail wheel left the ground. Another 20 meters and a small amount of up stick and the Mustang was airborne, flying away from the strip without any trim changes needed at all. (Good straight building or just plain luck!)

The plane was pulled skyward in a surprisingly short distance for the size and weight of the airframe. It was then flown around at various throttle settings for about ten minutes and brought back to idle to do a stall test and a test for flap authority and both times, throttled back instantly to cruise away. My other 4 strokes hate being upside down and refuse to idle for more than a few seconds before cutting out. The Magnum fitted with an OS FS plug will happily sit there idling for a couple of minutes and still throttle up without any hesitation. The motor pulled the Mustang around the sky with great authority and even though it was still very tight and still set on the rich side pulled the plane vertically for a few hundred meters before stalling out. When it is fully loosened up it will go out of sight! Overall I must say that I am very impressed with this motor, it starts almost by merely looking at it and runs very smoothly indeed. For the bargain price of just under $400 from your favourite hobby ship, you will get a good reliable motor that I am sure will give years of happy flying.

The plan is very close to scale and lends itself to going all the way and doing a full detailing job. This is a fairly straightforward plan to build, and you could go down a different track and not fit the flaps or the retracts if you don’t want to. The wings could also just be covered with a film as well. All these mods would reduce the weight greatly and make for a very light wing loading. This would speed up the building time considerably and still give you a very nice looking and easy to fly war-bird. The flying characteristics are very forgiving, as it shows no sign of tip stalling on both take-off or landing. I’m looking forward to many missions with this great ‘plane.

How To Avoid Crashing Your First RC Plane – 10+ Essential Tips

a guest post by Eddy Murano

There are very few things as enjoyable on a nice sunny day as taking out your remote control airplane and having a nice leisurely flight. If you happen to take your kids along they will have a great time and it will also make for a great family experience as well.

Some people think of RC airplanes as toys and some of them are. But other RC airplanes are complex and state of the art machines that rival the performance and appearance of their real life counterparts. From small 2 channel basic airplanes to full function jet engine fighters, the hobby has them all!

Contrary to popular belief, flying one of these airplanes is not difficult. It does take some practice and it helps if you have a little upfront knowledge and insight as far as what you are going to encounter and that is where this book will come in handy.

A lot of people spend a lot of money on their planes only to have them sit on a shelf because they don’t have the first clue how to get them up in the air and back down in one piece. Well, we are going to show you how to do all that in this article. By following the simple tips provided on this page you will get a great start on great hobby and leisure activity

First, you should buy a trainer that is easily repairable, in case of damage. To have a crash is common, especially in the initial days of training and learning. Hence, your plane should be easy to repair and not take away the fun from your hobby. Secondly, buy a trainer, whose parts are readily available, so that in case you need to replace a part, you don’t have to wait till you lose interest in flying, before getting the spare part.


  1. Get lots of practice with an RC flight simulator that uses your RC controller, and it will be almost a non-issue. For about $100, you can own a realistic training aid that can teach you all the basic tasks of flight. Although flying a model airplane might look easy, it isn’t. In fact, flying an RC plane is in some ways harder to learn than flying a “real” plane. That’s because when the plane is flying toward you, you’ve got to reverse the stick commands – you need to turn “left” to make the plane go right- and so on. Practice on a simulator, and it will be second nature after a few hours. Buying a simulator can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in crashes that won’t happen. I’ll recommend the best simulators in this book.
  2. Start with the basics before attempting difficult stunts like loops, rolls or inverted flying.  
  3. Get lessons from an experienced hobbyist. Believe it or not, you can get flying lessons absolutely free at RC clubs across the United States. I urge you to join your local chapter of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the AMA. More on that later. 
  4. Find a proper flying field with safety protocols or a very large empty car park and ‘fly’ the plane without letting leave the ground. In other words, you are just steering it and getting used to adjusting speed and operating the control surfaces. When you are confident at that take it to a large flat park and fly it. Landing is the tricky part but you can practice flying in low and level a few times beforehand. Also google for any RC Flying Clubs in your area. Here’s the biggest reason to join the AMA-you’ll get access to a dedicated flying field. Plus, membership in the AMA includes an insurance policy covering you for liability, medical expenses, fire and theft.
  5. Read the instructions properly, before assembling the parts together, if you are planning to assemble your RC plane. This will enable you to learn without crashing your plane often and it will also be affordable for you to replace the plane in case of a major crash. 
  6. Test and re-test your batteries before putting your electric RC plane in the air. Without battery power, your plane will transform into a pilotless glider–and a poor one at that. You do not want to risk engine failure. Check your batters and be certain that their fully recharged before taking off. Otherwise, you may be a witness to a costly and thoroughly disheartening RC plane crash.
  7. Determine wind direction by throwing some pieces of grass or light material into the air. Fly remote control airplanes into the wind for optimal performance.
  8. When landing remote control airplanes, first take note of the wind direction to land into the wind. Reduce power slowly, allowing the airplane to almost glide on its own. Cut the throttle when it is 5 feet from the ground.
  9. Never fly on a very windy day. Determine approximate wind speed by tying a ribbon to the end of the transmitter’s antenna. Hold the controller parallel to the ground. If the ribbon is parallel to the ground, it’s too windy. If the ribbon is less than 30 degrees, then it is okay to fly.
  10. If launching by hand, a friend can launch the plane for you so you can keep your hands on the controls at all times.

BONUS TIP Crashes are inevitable. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get it right the first few times. Just keep practicing to improve your flying skills.