Airfield Models - How To

Build a Wing for a Flying Model Airplane

January 21, 2009



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Airfield Models (http://www.airfieldmodels.com/)Introduction to Building a Model Aircraft Wing

This series of articles show one way to build a wing for a flying model aircraft.  The construction is simpler than many wings in that it is constructed in one piece with no dihedral or joiners of any type.  However, the principles demonstrated in this series apply to almost any wing construction.

The primary difference between this wing and many others is that a wing is most commonly built in two panels.  The panels are joined together using fiberglass tape, plywood or hardwood dihedral braces or using a removable tube system.

Think of this construction as building one panel of a two-panel wing if that helps.

Primary Goals

  • Demonstrate construction techniques that ensure a wing is built straight, strong and light.
  • Describe how to mount a wing square to a fuselage in all respects.

It does not matter if you are building from a kit, plans or your own design these principles still apply.

Secondary Goals

  • Show how to scratch build a wing without plans.
  • Demonstrate ways of adding individual style to make an airplane stand out.

Many kit instructions simply tell you what glues to what and in what order, but the instructions do not teach you how to build a straight wing or explain what each part does and why it is important.

Also see

 
 

Wing Description

RustikAs you are reading through this article, keep in mind that I have taken the construction to the extreme for my Rustik project.

The point is the details of how to prepare the parts and turn them into a straight wing not how to go overboard in embellishments (but this project is a great example of that too).

Rustik is a scratch-built aircraft meaning it is being built without plans.  The wing planform is fairly standard.  The wing span will be roughly 50" and the chord is 12" giving the wing 600 square inches of area and approximately a 4:1 aspect ratio.

I plotted a "real" airfoil and promptly forgot which one I chose.  All I remember is that it is a 15% symmetrical airfoil.  I believe it is a NACA 0015.

The wing will be built in one piece.  All strip wood and sheeting is one piece running the full span.  Shear Webs will be used along the entire span.  The wing is fully sheeted and will have built up ailerons rather than tapered aileron stock which is heavier and more flexible.

I used a lot of closely spaced ribs (23 in total).  On a D-tube wing I normally space the ribs slightly farther apart: 2-1/4" to 2-3/4".

Controls

Four servos will be used to control flaps and ailerons.  They will be mixed using a computer transmitter to allow flaperons, crow-mixing, etc.  The servos will be mounted so that the servo arms and pushrods exit the bottom of the wing.

The entire wing will receive a natural finish beginning with lightweight (0.5 to 0.75 ounce/square yard) fiberglass cloth.  It will then be painted with clear polyurethane.

Reality Check

Some of the decisions I made for aesthetic purposes carry a weight penalty.  This wing could be closely the same aerodynamically, but lighter than what is presented here.

  • D-Tube construction instead of fully sheeted.
  • Fewer ribs spaced further apart.
  • No inlays.
  • Built-up wing tips instead of solid wing tips.
  • Cover with plastic film instead of fiberglass and resin.  Note that my fiberglassing technique probably weighs the same or less than film covering.  Adding primer and paint would add more weight, however.

Additionally, the wing could be built having one aileron per panel instead of a flap and an aileron.  Servo weight is cut in half as well as removing four servo extensions (two in the wing and two from the receiver), hatches, hardware, etc.

Overall, the several ounces of potential weight savings will be noticeable in flight.

 
 

If you are building from a kit, then some parts of this series will not apply to the model you are building.  You can read just the parts that apply to your project, although each part contains tips that may be helpful to you.

In this series

  1. Introduction

  2. Prepare to Build a Wing

  3. Jig and Dry-Fit Ribs and Shear Webs

  4. Glue in Ribs and Shear Webs

  5. Add the Sub-Leading and Trailing edges

  6. Miscellaneous Wing Details

  7. Sheet a Built-Up Wing

  8. Build Servo Mounts and Hatches

  9. Build Ailerons and Flaps

  10. Mount a Wing to the Fuselage - Part 1

  11. Mount a Wing to the Fuselage - Part 2

  12. Build Wing Tips

  13. Make a Fuselage to Wing Fairing

 
 

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Make Lattice Wing Skins for Model Aircraft
Make Perfect Fitting Model Aircraft Wing Saddles

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Copyright 2003 Paul K. Johnson