View Full Version : Flying scalelike

01-01-2006, 01:02 PM
Up to now, I only fly trainers (Slo-V and Superstar EP with ailerons waiting for its maiden flight) but my true interest is in scale flying. I watched many scale models flying in my area and was sorry to see only giant scale models able to simulate flying like their full size sisters, especially when taking off and landing. Smaller models looks to fly faster than full size and it hurts my search for replicating the real flying looks. With much practice, I finally succeed flying my Slo-V like scale: Long and slow take off run, shallow climbing and slow landing (I rebuilt the fuselage 3 time from stalling the plane on slow approaches). But the Slo-V is not a scale model at all. My question is: Which, do you think, is the best scalelike flying model (fixed-wings) in the 40 t0 48 inches wingspan? I would also appreciate any tricks to improve scalelike flying as much as possible. As you can see, my search for the scale flying Graal is just beginning.

01-01-2006, 03:24 PM
Models fly in the same air as full-size, so it'll never be the same. (Ever watch an old movie, where the bow-wave of the (model) battleship consisted of 10 foot diameter balls of water? Same deal.
That said; what does it for me is my GWS Pico Tiger Moth. Not quite as big, at 31" span, but with the under-camber, and drag of the wing-wires, I can putt around, low, slow, and close-in, (given calm weather), for as long as I wish. Take-offs are as you describe, but I'm still working to master the delicate throttle work required for the perfect landing. (And I've been flying this plane since October, '03)! Of course, you have to love old bi-planes! Good Luck, and Happy New Year!

01-02-2006, 02:23 AM
Yeah, nothing looks as scale as an SE5 in a 45deg climbout, followed by a Mach 1.8 pass... Some models (F18, etc) look good doing this, but scale flying should mean just that, or as close as possible.

I had a 48" Bristol Scout that I built off plans using outlines only. The plan called for a 10# weight, mine came out at 3#. I used a 3.5 Frog diesel, which allowed me to set the speed; I set it so that it would just take off, not much more. At that weight (key word), it was very, very scale-like in flight: maybe 10mph takeoff, yet a positive climb (NOT 45deg!!), loops, sorta roll(!), and very slow landings. The beauty of the takeoffs/landings was the gentle rocking of the model as it rolled over the grass, very realistic as were the passes with the model reacting to every breeze.

The key word is weight! Low wing loading makes for a realistic flight, whether it be a WW1 aircraft, or a modern lightplane. Build to fly, not to crash! My buddy used to say that it isn't the crash that does the damage, it is the tail stomping on the rest of the airplane! The aforementioned Scout dove vertically into a hayfield (switch failure), and the only damage was a couple of splits in the wing covering (japanese tissue)...

01-04-2006, 03:35 PM
Pat Tritle, "Pat's Custom Models" continues to design very light weight 40" and larger wingspan mostly high wing and biplane scale-like models intended to fly in a very scale-like manner, usually with rudder and elevator plus speed control and small geared GWS motors and small/light battery packs. Mountain Models also has a light low power Cessna 180. Dumas and Dare produce Pat Tritle designs. The whole idea is that these designs will rise off smooth surfaces , fly slowly and stably for 10 minutes and land lightly without damage to landing gear, etc. These kinds of models fly best in calm morning air but don't do well in gusty wind conditions. I fly an ancient Comet 54" wingspan Aeronca Chief stick model rubber-power conversion using a geared Speed 400 motor. It flies quite scale-like for 1/2 hour using a 2200mah 3S Lipo pack and GWS lipo friendly brush type speed control. This kind of model and slow stately flying are really catching on. Many threads about these models on E-Zone's scale electric forum.

01-05-2006, 02:37 PM
Thanks for the information E-Challenged, I will try to get more knowledge about those Pat Tritle designs. In my search for maximum scalelike flying, I thinked about a scale design like the full scale Maule, Helio Courier or Fieseler Storch. These STOL planes uses leading edge slats and trailing edge flaps to achieve unbelievable slow flying. Until now, only the complexity of slats and flaps kept me away from building one, but maybe fixed down slats and flaps on a prototype would make my day, even if in that configuration a plane would be good mostly for taking off and landing. You see, I just don`t like to see a scale model jumping in the air after a 5 foot take off run. But I`ll check first Pat`s Custom models.

Garry S
01-05-2006, 05:38 PM
JB 48 - I like your thinking. However slats and flaps are very inefficient at model aircraft sizes, (flaps in models mostly work as airbrakes) and a good undercambered airfoil combined with low wing loading would be an easier and neater solution.

Most model a/c take off so fast because their thrust to weight ratio is hugely greater than that of full size - models often approach or exceed 1:1 whereas even a full size high performance jet like the F-16 would be in the region of 0.6:1, and a WWI aircraft way less than 0.1:1

I am also interested in exploring this area and if I find anything useful I'll share it.



01-05-2006, 10:08 PM
I appreciate your interest in scalelike flying Garry, I see that I am not alone in this aspect of flying. Do you know of a kit model (or ARF) of slow flying scale model with undercambered wing airfoil? My target is a model from 44 to 52 inches wing span, monoplane or biplane. If you know one, please let me know. Best wishes for 2006.

01-06-2006, 10:54 PM
Up to now, I only fly trainers (Slo-V and Superstar EP with ailerons waiting for its maiden flight) but my true interest is in scale flying. I watched many scale models flying in my area and was sorry to see only giant scale models able to simulate flying like their full size sisters, especially when taking off and landing. Smaller models looks to fly faster than full size and it hurts my search for replicating the real flying looks. With much practice, I finally succeed flying my Slo-V like scale: Long and slow take off run, shallow climbing and slow landing (I rebuilt the fuselage 3 time from stalling the plane on slow approaches). But the Slo-V is not a scale model at all. My question is: Which, do you think, is the best scalelike flying model (fixed-wings) in the 40 t0 48 inches wingspan? I would also appreciate any tricks to improve scalelike flying as much as possible. As you can see, my search for the scale flying Graal is just beginning.

The guy who wrote the book on this, at least for us realworld sports fliers who just want to do what you are after, is Gordon Whitehead. Right now, Gordon is enjoying a well-deserved retirement in Devon, England, and is heavily into EDF scale and semi-scale. But Gordon really did write the book - and my copy never leaves my basement! It was all about designing, building and flying scale models for everyday sports flying, and is about the defining work if you want to design, build and fly a realistic looking model that you can actually afford! I was lucky enough to see Gordon fly on many occasions, and he could take a 48" or so scale biplane and fly it so as you forgot that it was small, flying too fast and cheap to build/own.

However, getting a copy outside of England could be very tricky going...

You're on the right track, your next step should be a sports model with a full fuselage - a lot closer to a scale model than your Slo-V, but still a sports model. Believe me! - when you make a scale model close enough to be worthy of the name, it all gets far more complex in all sorts of ways.

A good scale model to start with? 48" span is fine, but with the typical power of that, you could go a tad larger. My "Longster Wimpy" design was 60" span, but flew fine on a geared ferrite 600 motor and 8 SCRC 1700 cells, at 54oz AUW - the plan's available from AMA's Model Aviation magazine, if you want to go look it up.

But in your place, I'd look to refining my flying skills on sports models until I was completely happy with a low winged aileron model - as in, be able to take off, fly around to order, perform a few simple basic aeros, again to order in the patch of sky you select - any muffin can loop any old place, skill is needed to say where and in what direction. Landing is paramount - if you can't land a sports model with its inherent easy-going flying habits and a decently wide-tracked UC, you won't like a scale model (which always have odd flying habits, I can tell you from long experience) with the inevitable narrow tracked UC.

If you prefer to buy ready-mades, you can about ignore 'scale' on the description - most of them are utter cartoons and can be treat as sports models that are inclined to look like Tiger Moths, P51s or whatever they are claimed to be.

Hope that helps, good luck!


01-07-2006, 02:08 PM
Thanks Dereck, I fully appreciate your suggestion about proficiently flying a low wing sport model with ailerons before trying a true scale model, that is the voice of reason and I agree with it. Since it takes time and dedication to scratch build a scale model, I would like to start one, something like a WW1 fighter (with lot of drag to promote slow flying better than a slippery P 51 or Spitfire...and I love the old biplanes). That would feed my dreams of scalelike flying and push me to practice a lot before risking a first flight crash of a labor of love. I just wonder which model would best fullfills my search for truer scalelike flying: Spad, Fokker, SeA5, Sopwith or what?

01-07-2006, 11:07 PM
As another lover of scale flight and WW I planes, I would suggest that your 1st model be of one of the inline engine planes, rather than the rotaries, as you get a longer nose moment, making balance about the CG much easier to achieve. The longer nosed planes also seem less prone to nosing over on landing. This still leaves you with lots of great looking subjects to choose from: The SE5 and 5A, Fokker DVII, and Albatros, and many others. There are some very nice plans and kits at about the size you want available from Peter Rake in the UK and Kurt Bengston in the US. I've flown Biplanes, and 1 Triplane, in sizes from 36" to 88", and loved them all. I'm sure you will too. Wing loading is usually low, and drag high, with these models, so windy conditions can be challenging, but that's part of the fun of scale flying too! ;-)

01-08-2006, 03:05 AM
I've built the SE5 in a number of configurations, including a couple of Peanuts; very reliableflyers all. Long nose moment, scale dihedral, adequate tail surfaces, the perfect WW1 model airplane.

I've also had considerable success with the Bristol Scout (as mentioned) in larger scale; either will produce a fine model capable of scale flight.

01-11-2006, 12:41 AM
Funny you should mention the Helio, there are a couple of build threads on Pat's HC design on E-Zone in the electric scale section right now.

01-11-2006, 01:48 PM
Can I add my regards for people who feel scale models should fly scale like. Too many scale builders seem to go for as much detail as possible ignoring the weight penalty and end up with totally un-scale like flight.
Perhaps its the competition side that is creating the problem with their scale points allocation system. But then again there are also those flyers who feel speed is everything.
It took me a long time to learn how to land more scale like, nose slightly up, using the throttle to control height. But when you do get it right, it can really show your model off.

01-11-2006, 03:04 PM
I agree with you that a nice slow and controlled landing is cream on the cake. And a moderately long take off run with progressial rotation is the appetizer! In between, I like a flight which is slow enough to look scale. Now we have a meal!

01-19-2006, 06:42 PM
I appreciate your interest in scalelike flying Garry, I see that I am not alone in this aspect of flying. Do you know of a kit model (or ARF) of slow flying scale model with undercambered wing airfoil? My target is a model from 44 to 52 inches wing span, monoplane or biplane. If you know one, please let me know. Best wishes for 2006.

My son built this one, inexpensive balsa kit, has undercamber wing, flies slow on recommended geared S400 and 8 KAN 1050 NiMh cells. Would fly slower/better with lighter 1100 3S lipo pack mounted well forward and small brushless outrunner like $19.00 Esskay 400XT currently on sale at Hobby Lobby through Jan 31st. Order the prop adapter with motor!!


01-20-2006, 02:41 AM
I always cringe when I see a small model with flaps, slats, retracts, on and on, because I am sure that it will not look scale in the air. I find that all these complications overload the model's wing area, and away we go with non-scale flight. The nicest Warbird I ever had was a HOB P39, ailerons & elevator only, no throttle. I was SO realistic in the air, right speed, yet slowed down for landing, totally manageable at all times.

If you like the all-singing, all-dancing scale model, good for you, but I really can't remember seeing one of those fly like the Real Thing...

01-20-2006, 04:39 PM
There has always been a tendency among younger and some older modelers to put a big motor in a small plane and attempt to shed the wings. This is prevalent now in electric foam warbirds. Those of us with reverence for realism in scale models, cringe and mutter. Ahhhyup!!!!:(

01-20-2006, 10:32 PM
I can see where E-Challenged is coming from with his big motor comments but this is not always the case, a larger than normal motor can sometimes enhance realism. I have a DB moth for example, 4 stroke powered, sorry :o . The model is designed for a 40 size engine & I fitted an 80 size engine, tosser you might think :confused: BUT, the 40 size engine would require a heap of lead in the short nose for balance and run flat out to fly the model properly at high revs, yuk! The big engine is heavy enough not to need useless ballast, still fits in the cowl, swings a big scale like prop & chugs around at low revs sounding like the full size & takes off at no more than 1/2 throttle. Full throttle can be used but it looks silly ripping round like a Pitts Special! BTW, this Moth kit was featured in an English magazine as an electric conversion with a geared 700 ferrite motor on 4 nicads - John.

01-21-2006, 02:55 AM
Good point; using a larger motor (slimer) instead of noseweight is the best solution to balance. With electrics, banging everything up against the "firewall" is all you really want to do...

01-21-2006, 08:06 AM
yes indeed, it would be rare that an electric carries weight for balance. Nothing urks me more than loading something into a model that does not do anything useful :( I hope with our new found performance (brushless motors, lipos) we do not get lazy and return to heavy clunky models.
VIVA lightweight! - John.

01-22-2006, 03:01 AM
Amen to that! I have been building freeflight for so long that I cannot build a really heavy model. Last effort was a Stinson Model U, 7' span, 3 PAW80s (049s), just not quite enough power, but if flew. I built a Bristol Scout: plan called for a 60 and 10# AUW, mine came out at 3#, 3.5 diesel for power, at 48" span... Converting a model like that to electric could still come out at less than 8# with some light building.

Build light: simplicate and add in lightness!

01-23-2006, 08:33 AM
When I first started modeling a mentor told me 'there's nothing lighter than a hole & the bigger it gets the lighter it gets'. A friend of many years who flys control line stunt reckons 'it's better to try to save 1 gram on 100 pieces than 100 grams on 1 piece'. And one of my own, 'if you leave it out of the model it will never break down, come loose, fall out, cause interferance or cost you money'. All of these theories have served me well. I'm currently dabbling with turbines, take a look & see what these guys load in!! Simplicate what's that!? - John.

01-25-2006, 12:44 AM
I found the Brit freeflight philosophy worked well, having built a number of kits from Veron, Frog etc: large-section wood, with lots of nice light Air in between. I picked up a Matador kit, and couldn't believe the weight of the box, but once it was assembled, it was really light. There wasn't a piece of 10lb balsa in the lot, never mind 6lb!

I used that attitude when I built the aforementioned Stinson for PAWs and weight wasn't the real problem, and there is lots of wind in between the various parts! I wish I had weighed it...

01-25-2006, 06:01 AM
Yep, I'm also from a free flight background, air is good! I've also discovered foam is my friend, but not for wings! - John.

Nitro Blast
02-07-2006, 11:47 PM
Here is the model that taught me scale flight. This Cessna loves it when you fully coordinate your turns. Landings and take off's when done right are a sight to see.

The first time I did a loop, then a roll, I just didnt feel right about it. One afternoon I was acting a little 'sporty' with it and again, wasent real happy about the flight. Lately, its all about scale flight with this one and that has me real happy, and really concentrating about the flight. Far much more concentration than aim and steer flying that I never really considered until I had the plane that just didnt look right going vertical...

02-08-2006, 01:35 AM
Seaplanes love foam builders. 72" China Clipper / 4 --400's need a realistic +- 200' to break free on calm days.

I do tablesaw a spar slot in all wings and tails. Land planes get a full spar and a stub spar to make up the landing gear stress boxing.

Blue Foam is good. :)

02-08-2006, 01:24 PM
Your 182 model looks very nice and scale. I agree with you that a scale plane must fly on the wings, not the propellor. Personnally, I never witnesssed a full size plane (except an Harrier) standing on its prop (but the VTOL Harrier has no prop) for more than a very few seconds before going down. I like to progressively give throttle on a take off run and climb slowly on a shallow angle to get that scale look. On landing, I always stall the plane before touch down, inches from the ground when I succeed, feet when I crash land...for me the looks of a model flying as much scalelike as possible is worth the risk. I must confess that I also like to repair models and I do it a lot!
Your China Clipper must be something to see, Cyclops! A 200 ft take off run on glassy water must be 100% rating on the fun scale!

02-13-2006, 11:43 PM
Man, I'll say... Were the 400s direct drive? Brushed, outrunners, or brushless? I have the plans for the 'Clipper at 8', and I am puzzling over what to run for power...

02-14-2006, 03:22 AM
Cheap 400's, direct. Partial hollowed out fuse, as Epoxy or cloth is heavier than foam.
You need to be aware that WEIGHT is needed on my Martin Clipper. It has a short nose and a long rear. NIMH is needed. NO lipo's.
I increased the tail by about 25%. Wing and tail are Clark Y foils. Vertical is a symeterical I did to make it look right.
The plane was CG in a 2' tall field till a moderate toss gave a solid steady glide with all surfaces taped in neutral. I am 6' and the glide is 30' to 50'.

Needless to say, a 200' take off burns power FAST. A flight is 2 or 3 circles and down. The plane will lift off the water by itself with just a little of up clicked in at full water speed.

The plane is light enough that the small hull sponson clears the water at rest.----Love that foam.:) Use a table saw to cut 2 slots in it for strips of 1/8" plywood spars exoxied in. Also, a light glass covering is needed for strength when handeling.

The engines are fused. 2 inner stop if their fuse goes. 2 out stop if their fuse blows. I cut 3 slots in the front of the wing each has solid piece of 14 gauge wire in it to feed the motors.

I am at the VERY bottom end of required power. The engines look scale in size. The props are scale dia. The sound stands the hair up on your body.

The plane handles slow but steady. I would use 2 X the power for better flights. In runners should look and fly perfect. I made the nacelles from card board Estes rocket tubes. 4 pieces of 1/8" Balsa strips center the engines and allow perfect cooling flow. Foam wings do NOT like HOT engines touching them.

02-14-2006, 03:44 AM
OH. Very important to me. Use only 1 speed controller so the plane always becomes the hand tossed glider when you have low or failed battery or ESC dies. You MUST build in a absolute failsafe of loss of engines for any reason. You can NOT ever have 1 or 2 ever die or only run on 1 side.

Power on or off MUST be in balanced pairs. All bets are off if a engine opens a winding. Plane is R E & engine.

02-15-2006, 02:48 AM
Great, Cycops, that gives me a good step up on this beast. I guess I will have to go to larger motors and fancy batteries. Equipment suppliers up here are at a premium, and as a pensioner, I have to watch my expenditures!

Thanks for the hints...

02-15-2006, 04:06 AM
A simpler approach is to build a 5' more or less. I saw a 40 year old Clipper, balsa, with 4 - 400's and that is what triggered me.

His is a ROCKET next to mine. Uses NICADS.

Think it out before commiting.

I have a 81" 5#-- A-10, no power in it yet, That I have trouble justifing $700 + for electric power. Plane cost $ 55 . Servos $ 80.

$ 700 minimum ? :cool:

02-16-2006, 12:48 AM
Wow, I haven't spent that much for a CAR in the last 30 years!

You're right, I am definitely going to spend some time figuring this one out... It's just that this Cleveland plan is so wonderful; I guess I will have to use something else to paper the walls of my workshop...

02-16-2006, 03:02 PM
The Moderator, Bruce Matthew, of the 1/2 A section of R C Universe, also highly recommended Cleveland Plans. I need a 7' foot Cub to sharpen up my skills at that size. Quick blue foam, No love time into it. Fly, crash and repair plane.

All multi engine lovers build first, than figure the cost of the power plants. :D :mad:

We will get over it.
I have a nutty friend who made a possible great suggestion for any multi engine job. Basically 1 big engine and a small geabox with the # of correctly turning output shafts using boat flexiable drive shafts to each prop location. My first thought was , sure!!

Now I can see a lot of advantages to it. All or counter rotation is no sweat. 1 big engine is way cheaper and more reliable.

So I will prototype a gear box and try anything once.:)

Bill G
02-16-2006, 06:23 PM
2 Sayings I don't use:

Flies scalelike. Since I haven't closely observed many full sizers in flight to know what they really fly like anyway.

Looks great in the air. Everything is said to "look great in the air". I guess the only requirement for this is that it has to stay up there.:D

02-16-2006, 08:27 PM
If you don't mind going back to 1909 or so, the Sig Demoiselle is basically a "flying parachute". It flies extremely slowly (it has no choice with all that drag). It truly has the look of the planes in the movie "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines", both on the ground, and with it's personality in the air. Forget about flying it in much if any wind, though, it just isn't fun. It can be done, but who wants to risk busting up a plane like that?
I love a long, slow takeoff run with super-slow climb that this bird will do. It goes airborne at such slow speed, it's amazing. big, low-banked turns are easy with it. The handling is actually very good. Carry a touch of throttle on landing, and grease it on! I'd recommend it highly for a very close approximation and impression of realism in the air.

02-17-2006, 12:32 PM
A friend of mine has a Demoiselle and he flies it only inside a large gym during winter and maybe two or three times in the summer when there is no wind. You are right, it`s the model plane the most scalelike flying I saw up now. It looks frails (it is) and gracious at the same time, A wonder for the eyes, looking it flies slowly near you, dreaming your are in a field back before WW1, witnessing the beginning of aviation.

02-18-2006, 01:41 AM
I would not enjoy SCALELIKE flyby's of jets. Do not see anything much at 650 mph. 1/2 throttle.

Best jet I ever saw was the F-117 Stealth Fighter at about 150 to 200 doing passes.

I swear we saw him give a "THUMBS UP ". :) :)

02-23-2006, 04:04 PM
More durable and manueverable than Sig scale slowfliers
$30, comes in a plastic bag, resembles a Demoiselle. Uses a GWS DXA motor/geardrive and small 2cell lipo or Nimh pack, 9x4.7 prop, flies well in reasonably calm morning air or indoors. Will do figure 8's in 1/2 basketball court, can land on a picnic table. You have to supply the Coverlite or Litespan and attach using Balsaloc or Sig Stiksit. Rig it with thread. Pull-pull controls. I made wheels out of balsa disks and screen door splines with nylon tubing bearings. Still have it after some 5 years of flying.


03-02-2006, 06:52 PM
First thing to flying scale is having a balanced aircraft. Not to heavy, not to light. The larger the wing span the better. The larger the aircraft the smoother it will fly. Little planes bouce around alot in any thing more than a wisper of a wind. J3 Cubs, PA-18's, Taylorcrafts, Cessnas or other highwing aircraft are great for replicating scale flight charateristics. One thing I have always told my students is fly slow and in control. Get a feel for how the aircraft handles slowly. Is it predictable? If not you will never be able to get the slow flight feel at the transmitter. I fly my 1/4 scale cub in a very convincing manner and love to make scale take offs, landings and t&g's. A shock absording landing gear makes all the difference in the landings. A wire gear will allow to much bounce. Robart makes some of the best for larger planes. Nothing replaces time spent doing touch and goes though. When you can master the perfect touch and go over and over your will then have the scale landing look. My war birds fly like rocket ships as they should. My others I try to emulate slow full scale flight. Good luck and happy landings.

03-21-2006, 05:47 PM
Like many mature modelers, I appreciate realism in flight speed and maneuvering of scale models. Many of the electric warbird flyers at our field seem to think that if you can see the model, other than at a blur, it's flying too slow. (That's ok, but keep them the #%& things away from my body).

Many of these fliers are obviously nervous low-timers trying to emulate local yokel "hot dogs". The desire to have their models whiz past their own heads often makes them whiz over the pits and bystanders. The AMA has recently re-emphasized the requirement to fly planes away from pits and bystanders. Unfortunately, many scoff at flying safety and don't want to fly if they have to be concerned with safety and the safety concerns of others.:(

03-21-2006, 06:36 PM
One trick to flying scale is finding the right power. We tend to have more power in our models due to the fact that it gives us a bigger margin of error and we can. :) WWI aircraft had engines that were heavy for the power they produced. With brushless and Lipos we can put twice the scale power in there and still be lighter.

But you don't always have to use it. Start by taking off at 3/4 and see how it goes. See how low you can go on the power and still take off. Then use that as your base for upping the power until you get good scale performance. Many of the planes of the time were not sloughes when it came to performance. But even the best of them was lucky to do a 15 degree climb-out.

The other thing to consider is the maximum airspeed. Those old wood and canvas planes really could not exceed a certian speed or the wings would fall off. So when you do a loop, cut back the throttle when you head down hill. And do the outside loop even more gentally (wings are stronger against positive g's).

So save your full throttle for emergencies and fun fly contests. :D:D:D

03-30-2006, 03:53 AM
just my 2 cents worth here, but lighter models seem to fly very realistically.( is that scale like? )
Lotsa wing area and low wing loading help lots too.what ever you do with weight on your model, make sure you remove it. My favourite " scale " model to fly is my 30percent DR1.... swings a 30" prop at 2450rpm max...
takeoff is 14mph....cruise is approx 20 mph, and it will do all the required manoeuvres. it's a bit of a test to land in a crosswind though as it only weighs ten and a half pounds, and has about 17 sq ft of wing area.:eek: