How to cover a foam wing model aircraft

Written by larry simmons
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Using foam to create the wings of a model aircraft is a way for remote aircraft hobbyists to speed up the building of models using a strong, sturdy easy to shape material. Though the foam operates well alone as a flying material, covering the foam with a separate material creates a smoother surface that helps the aircraft move through the air more efficiently. While the foam can be covered in multiple materials from thin plywood to aluminium, the use of plastic film can give you the benefits of the smooth covering without the added weight of other coverings.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Airplane part
  • Iron-on aeroplane cling film
  • Scissors
  • Model sealing iron

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  1. 1

    Sand the surface of the foam part smooth using a scrap piece of foam. This should remove any residue left from the foam cutting, though it will not reduce jagged edges or uneven surfaces. If such surfaces exist, use finely grained sandpaper to sand them down, and then finish the surface using the scrap foam.

  2. 2

    Lay the foam aeroplane part onto a sheet of iron-on aeroplane cling film such as Monokote or Ultracote. Cut the iron-on wrap large enough to cover a side and the edges of the part using the scissors.

  3. 3

    Remove the paper covering on the cling film protecting the adhesive layer. Place the sticky adhesive side onto the aeroplane part. The adhesive is heat-activated but will be slightly tacky, allowing you to place it onto the foam and move it into place, while maintain its place without having to hold it there.

  4. 4

    Turn on the iron and set the temperature for 104 degrees Celsius. Wait for the iron to reach the set temperature, depending on the iron it may take several minutes.

  5. 5

    Place the iron onto the covering and run it steadily over the covering's surface. The adhesive is heat activated and the wrap will quickly adhere to the foam surface. Do not allow the iron to rest in one place for any length of time as both the foam and wrap will melt. Begin the iron at a corner of the part and work your way around the edges, then towards the centre. While ironing the covering on, pull slightly on the covering to reduce the chance of wrinkles.

  6. 6

    Repeat the process of applying the covering on the opposite side of the part, overlaying the plastic along the sides of the part slightly, about one-quarter along the sides. Cut away any excess plastic and seal the edge of the plastic.

Tips and warnings

  • If a wrinkle does occur, just remove the plastic covering, sand the foam part using scrap foam and apply a new sheet of plastic.

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