Airfield Models - Design and Build Contest 2006-2007

Carl Layden's Balsa Racer CS

May 02, 2015

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Carl Layden's Balsa Racer CS — 4th Place 2006-2007 Design & Build Contest

Carl Layden's Balsa Racer CS

Photo Copyright Carl Layden


Airfield Models ( Specifications and Equipment

Wing Span: 38"
Chord: 9.5"
Wing Area: 350 square inches
Aspect Ratio: 3.9:1
Weight: 40 ounces
Wing Loading: 16 oz./sq. ft.
Length: 34" from back of propeller to elevator hinge line
Engine: GMS .32
Transmitter: JR 8103
Receiver: JR R700
Battery: JR 4.8v, 600 mAh
Servos (3): Rudder, Elevator and Throttle — JR NES-537


Carl's Balsa Racer CS is a very basic "Stik" type model designed for one purpose winning club races so he can laugh at his loser club buddies.  Ok, maybe Carl isn't like that, but that's what I'd do because I'm mean like that.

Unfortunately, Carl didn't send a video so we could see it in action.  A video wasn't a contest requirement and doesn't count toward judging.  I hope he shoots a video sometime soon and sends it along so we can see his plane go.

Text, photos and linked photos that follow are Copyright Carl Layden


About the Balsa Racer CS

During the summer of 2006 I discovered the Airfield Model's Design & Build Contest.  This seemed like a contest for me, without reading the rules I thought, 'Cap 20L', 'Turbo Raven' or maybe a 'Giles.'

Then I read the rules… What?  No scale airplanes… bummer (or so I thought at the time).  I spent the next few months trying to figure out what to build, biplanes, 1930ish monoplanes, propjets, canards.  During this process I must have sketched a dozen different models, neither one of them intrigued me enough to build.

By this time it was April 2007 time was growing short if I was going enter the contest.

Perhaps the oldest cliché is “necessity is the mother of invention” and it was true in this case.  Our local modeling club, The St. John’s R/C Flyers were going to host a pylon race on June 9th.  The rules were simple any ‘conventional’ single engine airplane with a 40ish motor (or smaller) and fixed gear.

The club held several building seminars to build SPADs.  Those heavy ugly coro constructed machines were invading, yuck!  For the race I had a little 20 size balsa plane I had scratch built many weeks before.  During the third flight of the plane I spun it into the ground total write-off.

It was now 2 weeks before the race I needed a plane.  The Balsa Racer CS was born “CS – CORO Sux.” He's right.  It does sux.

It took two weeks from design to flying plane.

Design Parameters

  • Keep it small approx 36” span
  • Keep it light 1/8 & 1/16 balsa max of 3 lbs
  • 3 channel control (don’t need rudder for go fast & turn left)
  • Fit a 6 oz tank
  • Long tail moment for stability
  • Constant chord wing planform


Basic D-tube construction with 1/18 balsa. Spars are 1/4" sq. balsa with 1/16” shear websConstant chord all ribs are the same.  From the main spar to the trailing edge is flat to facilitate easy building.  The wing is one piece without any dihedral.  A tapped 1” tip was added.



The fuse is a basic box built from 1/8” balsa sheet.  The wing saddle is strengthened with 1/32 ply.  The firewall is 3/16” ply and first former is 1/8 lite ply, other former is 1/8 balsa.  Bottom is sheeted with 1/8 balsa cross grain for strength. LG is 1/8” music rod; it goes through the fuse bottom and attaches to the lite ply former.

Tail surfaces are cut from 1/8" balsa sheet.

I will be “reverse engineering the design to produce a CAD drawing, and a detail construction article.  Several club members have asked for plans and instructions on how to build the Balsa Racer.

Oh the race... I did very well and won my qualifying heats easily.  During the final race I got a very good start.  Then when a full lap in the lead with two laps to go my engine quit… too lean.  Darn!  Oh well I’ll get 'em next time.

Carl Layden

Paradise, Newfoundland, Canada



Carl's model gave me the most problem with judging.  One of the criteria for this contest is original design.  While it can be argued that no model airplane is truly original any more, some are less common than others.  Of all models, none is more common than the Stik which is basically a box fuselage with a constant chord shoulder wing.  Tail shapes vary.  Some have cowls and others don't but no matter what you do there is no way to disguise the underlying airplane.

This is another entry that was stingy with construction photos.  That and the vanilla design are what prevented Carl's model from placing higher.

The CS Racer was designed to win races.  According to Carl it has been very successful in that regard but that's another thing I can't judge as there is no way for me to do it and it wasn't part of the criteria.

The model is well built and simple.  I enjoy harping so I'll mention again that simple models have proven to be the most reliable and get the most flight hours while more complicated models are grounded all the time because something else went wrong with them.  For a plane designed to race I would think that reliability would trump speed.  I don't race but I've seen a lot of guys lose just because something went wrong with the model.

Congratulations on your race-winning design, Carl.  I hope you and your model continue to kick butt around the pylons.


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Copyright © 2007 Paul K. Johnson