How to Build R/C Model Planes

Written by paul bragulla
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How to Build R/C Model Planes
Many RC aeroplanes are replicas of historical aircraft. (Aeroplane image by Dusi from

Building and flying remote control (RC) aircraft is a pursuit that can give the hobbyist many forms of enjoyment. From the quiet joy of watching the model take shape on your workbench to the exhilaration of seeing it take flight for the first time; there is nothing quite like it. Additionally, making RC aeroplanes can be a window into history since many designs are replicas of actual aircraft of years past. Most RC planes begin life as a kit containing the plans and most, if not all, of the materials required to construct the model.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • RC aeroplane kit
  • Jigsaw
  • Sandpaper
  • Modelling board (flat board big enough for the plans to fit on)
  • Waxed paper
  • Epoxy
  • Screwdrivers
  • Iron
  • Heat gun

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  1. 1

    Lay out the plans on the modelling board. Lay waxed paper over them and pin the waxed paper and plans to the board.

  2. 2

    Cut out the wooden parts with the jigsaw. The kit will have included a number of pieces. Some of the model's components may be pre-cut, but many will simply be outlines marked on sheets of balsa wood that you must cut out.

  3. 3

    Sand the cut-out components until they are smooth and no longer show any surface flaws (striations from the saw, etc.).

  4. 4

    Place the parts directly onto their corresponding location on the plans and pin them in place (pins should go around the parts rather than through them). Assemble the frame in this manner, using the hobby knife to cut spars to length from the included balsa strips. Use an epoxy to glue the model together for maximum strength and longevity. Allow the glue to dry before continuing.

  5. 5

    Remove the completed sub-assemblies of the model from the plans and assemble them as indicated in the included instructions. Once the glue has dried from this final assembly, install the hardware and electronics included in the kit in the way indicated by the plans and instructions. Run tests on the electronic components to ensure that everything is correctly assembled before continuing.

  6. 6

    Apply the included heat-sensitive skin material to the model, using light strokes of a heated iron to adhere it to the frame of the model. When finished, apply a heat gun over the model until the skin tightens to form a smooth, taut surface.

  7. 7

    Perform any other final assembly steps in the instructions and check them over one last time to ensure you haven't missed anything.

Tips and warnings

  • Be careful not to hold the heat gun too close to the model when tightening the skin material, or it could burn through.

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