• Model airplane

    Model airplane

    • A model aircraft is a small sized unmanned aircraft or, in the case of a scale model, a replica of an existing or imaginary aircraft. Model aircraft are divided into two basic groups: flying and non-flying. Non-flying models are also termed static, display, or shelf models.

      Flying models range from simple toy gliders made of or foam polystyrene to powered scale models made from materials such as balsa wood, bamboo, plastic, styrofoam, carbon fiber, or fiberglass and are skinned with tissue paper or mylar covering. Some can be very large, especially when used to research the flight properties of a proposed full scale design.

      Static models range from mass-produced toys in white metal or plastic to highly accurate and detailed models produced for museum display and requiring thousands of hours of work. Many models are available in kit form, typically made of injection-moulded polystyrene.

      Aircraft manufacturers and researchers also make wind tunnel models not capable of free flight, used for testing and development of new designs. Sometimes only part of the aircraft is modelled.

      Static model aircraft (i.e. those not intended to fly) are scale models built using plastic, wood, metal, paper, fiberglass or any other suitable material. Some static models are scaled for use in wind tunnels, where the data acquired is used to aid the design of full scale aircraft.

      Models are available that have already been built and painted; models that require construction, painting and gluing; or models that have been painted but need to be clipped together.


      Most of the world's airlines allow their fleet aircraft to be modelled as a form of publicity. In the early days, airlines would order large models of their aircraft and supply them to travel agencies as a promotional item.

      • Free flight (F/F) model aircraft fly without external control from the ground. The aircraft must be set up before flight so that its control surfaces, and weight allow stable flight. Most free flying models are either unpowered gliders or rubber powered. This type of model pre-dates manned flight.
      • Control line (C/L) model aircraft use cables to tether a plane to a central point, either held by hand or to a pole. The aircraft is then flown around the point in circles. Usually two cables are used, one tethering the aircraft and one controlling the elevator.
      • Radio-controlled aircraft have a transmitter operated by the controller, sending signals to a receiver in the model which in turn actuates servos which manipulate the model's flight controls in a similar manner to a full sized aircraft. In traditional aircraft, the radio has directly controlled the servos. However, modern aircraft often use flight controlling computers to stabilize an aircraft or even to fly the aircraft autonomously. This is particularly the case with quadcopters.
      • With the direct-drive method, the propeller is attached directly on the engine's spinning crankshaft (or motor shaft). This arrangement is optimum when the propellor and powerplant share overlapping regions of best efficiency (measured in RPM.) Direct-drive is by far the most common when using a fuel-powered engine (gas or glow). Some electric motors with high torque and (comparatively) low speed can utilize direct-drive as well. These motors are typically outrunners.
      • With the reduction method, the crankshaft drives a simple transmission, which is usually a simple gearbox containing a pinion and spur gear. The propeller speed is inversely proportional to the gear ratio (thereby also increasing output torque by approximately the same ratio). Reduction-drive is common on larger aircraft and aircraft with disproportionately large propellers. On such powerplant arrangements, the transmission serves to match the powerplant's and propeller's optimum operating speed. Geared propellers are rarely used on internal combustion engines, but very commonly on electric motors. This is because most inrunner electric motors spin extremely fast, but have very little torque.
      • RCadvisor′s Model Airplane Design Made Easy, by Carlos Reyes,, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 2009. OCLC 361461928
      • The Great International Paper Airplane Book, by Jerry Mander, George Dippel and Howard Gossage, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1967. OCLC 437094
      • Model Aircraft Aerodynamics, by Martin Simons, Swanley: Nexus Special Interests, 1999. 4th ed. OCLC 43634314
      • How to Design and Build Flying Model Airplanes, by Keith Laumer, Harper, New York, 1960. 2nd ed., 1970. OCLC 95315
      • The Middle Ages of the Internal-Combustion Engine, by Horst O. Hardenberg, SAE, 1999. OCLC 40632327
      • Model Airplane Design and Theory of Flight, by Charles Hampson Grant, Jay Publishing Corporation, New York, 1941. OCLC 1336984
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