Traditional balsa wood free flight aeroplanes.

When I was younger I had a bit of a thing for Airfix kits and it's safe to say I wasn't much kop at it. I also had a go at building a free flight plane from balsa wood and that didn't go terribly well either! Roll forward a few decades and as the Autumn nights start to draw in, I had a bit of an urge to have another go at building a balsa wood plane, after all, I built a bike frame out of Bamboo, how hard can a plane be! (I may well live to regret that thought.) I also thought it might be a great thing to do with the kids on rainy afternoon, but let's see how they feel about that.

Having decided to try my hand at this, I cast around on the internet and came across the Vintage Model Company who manufacture a nice range of models out of Laser Cut Balsa Sheets. The planes are a traditional stick and tissue design, so a balsa wood skeleton covered in tissue paper to give it a skin. They are designed to fly on their own and propulsion is provided by a rubber motor which you wind up before launching. I ended up purchasing two planes in the end, as well as a couple of other random bits including some Eze Dope, in which to cover the tissue paper.

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The Pilot is meant as a beginners kit, and as such is much more basic with fewer parts and simplified plans. The kit is really nicely presented and the parts are Laser etched into the Balsa and require minimal cutting free from the sheets, leaving precise and clean parts ready for construction. Hopefully me and the kids should be able to construct a flying model from it.

The pilot is not based on a real life plane and is just designed as a basic flying model, so I also decided to purchase a Tiger Moth, a plane that I find really classic in it's looks and should provide quite a challenge to construct. I'll probably tackle this one on my own.

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The kit itself is much more detailed, with an extra sheet of parts and some very comprehensive looking plans. The kits come with wood glue, but I need to gather a few other supplies first, like pins, wax paper and other glues, before I can make a start.

Whilst all of the planes in this range are designed to be free flight models, they can also be converted to run Micro RC motors and electronics, which all sounds intriguing. If these actually go together well, I may be tempted into buying a third kit in the future and having a go at that.Any one who had the misfortune to follow my Bamboo bike build will know I like to take my time over these projects, so I may drag this out a bit!

Whilst I will drop by from time to time to pop in work in progress pics, I started this thread with the thought that if any one else does this kind of thing then throw in some pictures, or chime in with any tips or advise, because I'm probably going to need it!
 

midlife

Guru
I used to fly things like Keil Kraft Caprice way back when and bought myself a small glider (West Wings Merlin) to build but only got it half finished.

This is a nice reminder to get it out of the shed.
 
When I was younger I had a bit of a thing for Airfix kits and it's safe to say I wasn't much kop at it. I also had a go at building a free flight plane from balsa wood and that didn't go terribly well either! Roll forward a few decades and as the Autumn nights start to draw in, I had a bit of an urge to have another go at building a balsa wood plane, after all, I built a bike frame out of Bamboo, how hard can a plane be! (I may well live to regret that thought.) I also thought it might be a great thing to do with the kids on rainy afternoon, but let's see how they feel about that.

Having decided to try my hand at this, I cast around on the internet and came across the Vintage Model Company who manufacture a nice range of models out of Laser Cut Balsa Sheets. The planes are a traditional stick and tissue design, so a balsa wood skeleton covered in tissue paper to give it a skin. They are designed to fly on their own and propulsion is provided by a rubber motor which you wind up before launching. I ended up purchasing two planes in the end, as well as a couple of other random bits including some Eze Dope, in which to cover the tissue paper.

View attachment 615289
The Pilot is meant as a beginners kit, and as such is much more basic with fewer parts and simplified plans. The kit is really nicely presented and the parts are Laser etched into the Balsa and require minimal cutting free from the sheets, leaving precise and clean parts ready for construction. Hopefully me and the kids should be able to construct a flying model from it.

The pilot is not based on a real life plane and is just designed as a basic flying model, so I also decided to purchase a Tiger Moth, a plane that I find really classic in it's looks and should provide quite a challenge to construct. I'll probably tackle this one on my own.

View attachment 615288

The kit itself is much more detailed, with an extra sheet of parts and some very comprehensive looking plans. The kits come with wood glue, but I need to gather a few other supplies first, like pins, wax paper and other glues, before I can make a start.

Whilst all of the planes in this range are designed to be free flight models, they can also be converted to run Micro RC motors and electronics, which all sounds intriguing. If these actually go together well, I may be tempted into buying a third kit in the future and having a go at that.Any one who had the misfortune to follow my Bamboo bike build will know I like to take my time over these projects, so I may drag this out a bit!

Whilst I will drop by from time to time to pop in work in progress pics, I started this thread with the thought that if any one else does this kind of thing then throw in some pictures, or chime in with any tips or advise, because I'm probably going to need it!
Oh that looks great fun!
I'd be scared to fly them outdoors, though - I'd want to rent a spacious barn or a church hall or something like that!
I treated myself to a laser-cut birch laminate self-assembly tape loom during ... which lockdown? one of them, anyway! - and had great fun making it. I've used it a few times since and it works fine 'as is', but I made it a better quality shuttle/sword as laminate simply can't be sanded to the almost-knife-like fine edge needed to beat the weft.
 
Had schoolmates who were good at these including building radio kits. They had the patience and commitment to deliver quality work.

Good luck Chris.
 

Punkawallah

Senior Member
This stirs my interest. Back when I was in short trousers, a balsa pack from the local DIY shop provided hours of entertainment producing gliders of varying configurations and success. Including one in the form of a Me 163! Apparently, you can stil get the balsa pack today . . .
 

fossyant

Ride It Like You Stole It!
Location
South Manchester
My dad used to build a few when he was younger.
 

Cycleops

Guru
Location
Accra, Ghana
I did a few of theses as a kid, all Keil Kraft. You had most flying success with the high wing designs of course like the Piper Cub but most kids wanted the Hurricane or Spitfire which had little stability in the air.
I came back to model planes in middle age and after some forays into RC I decided that what I liked best was gliders, no messy oily motor. I then graduated to powered prototypes but with no power, flown as a glider from a slope. You can then indulge your passion for warbird, jets, airliners or whatever. It’s called a power slope soarer or PSS. You can see the diversity of models from this pic on the Facebook group.
My favourite build was a Tucano from a plan, so you had to make all the parts, using ply and balsa. The wing was foam veneered in Obecchi. All covered with Solarfilm iron on.

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BoldonLad

Not part of the Elite
Location
South Tyneside
Your childhood(?) experiences mirror mine: enthusiasm 10/10 ; skills 5/10 ;)

Recently tried to get grandson interested in Airfix kit building, not very successfully.

You have piqued my interest, might have a go in the dark winter months.

Very interested to hear how you get on ;)
 
Your childhood(?) experiences mirror mine: enthusiasm 10/10 ; skills 5/10 ;)

Recently tried to get grandson interested in Airfix kit building, not very successfully.

You have piqued my interest, might have a go in the dark winter months.

Very interested to hear how you get on ;)
I did not want say it earlier, my skill level is criminal. After a few tries, I decided to be an avid admirer instead. Dark winter months sounds great. Maybe with a glass of whiskey to steady the nerves.
 

byegad

Legendary Member
Location
NE England
I started on Keil Kraft kits in the '70s and still build stick & tissue models now.
I built this lot during the first lockdown.
A good site for free plans is outerzone.co.uk

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The 'naked' one looks like a Gypsy. We had one back in the 60s, which sadly destroyed itself on the only patch of tarmac on the moors. With many hundred of turns on the elastic the only recognisable pieces left were the tail and right wing.
 
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