I made up this list of kits for modellers who want to build a trainer rather than to buy an ARTF. Most have fully built-up structures, i.e. wings made from ribs and spars and fuselages from longerons, uprights and spacers but where the structure is different - it will be mentioned in the text. All prices are as per those advertised on Sussex Model Centre’s website as of March 2010 unless otherwise stated and have been rounded up to the nearest pound. You will have to allow for the extra cost of postage and packing. Other suppliers are available of course, and this is no direct endorsement of SMC.
Engine sizes refer to two-stroke engines; if you plan to fit a four-stroke please fit something slightly larger. Any of these designs may be converted to electric power; about 75-100 watts per lb being sufficient for a trainer and many of the three-channel models may be converted to four-channel configuration by reducing the dihedral and fitting a false trailing edge and strip ailerons. Generally speaking, I have found that the more mature beginners are better off starting with a three-channel model. Younger beginners seem to be able to manage four-channel models equipped with ailerons from the outset. There are exceptions of course.
Many three-channel models are vintage models mostly derived from free flight designs, i.e. models which were originally not fitted with a radio to control the flight pattern. They were simply fitted with an internal combustion engine and a small amount of fuel to allow for an engine run of not more than about thirty seconds. The models were trimmed to fly in wide circles and once the fuel was exhausted, they would glide back to ground. The first widely available radios were single channel and only controlled the rudder. This allowed the modeller to fit a bigger fuel tank and to steer the model about the sky.
Specifically designed for radio-controlled flight in 1949, this was the first model aircraft to fly across the English Channel. It was powered by a .19 diesel but a .40 two-stroke is recommended on the box lid. Over two metres in span, these will fly on a .40 four-stroke quite happily. I used one as a basic trainer to teach beginners with for years until I sold it. £85.
Not a vintage model, this is a 50” (1.25 metres) span machine designed for engines of about 1.5cc or 0.09 cu.ins. There is no undercarriage. Simple construction. Said to fly well.
The kit of Alex Whittaker's RCM&E plan design. Click here to see a full review of the kit and links to build photos etc. See MyHobbyStore (below) for the plan links.
Flair Models - www.flairmodels.co.uk
Flair produces the 1955 version of the Junior 60. This model features a wider fuselage than the Ben Buckle design. This wider fuselage was introduced to accommodate the rather large receivers which had become available by the mid fifties. It also features a larger rudder and a stronger wing structure than the 1946 version which, after all, was designed for free flight. I learned to fly on one of these and it went through three tail-planes and two fuselages! Remarks about light tails and not flying in winds also apply to this version. £78.
Again a vintage model, this elegant design with its inverted engine and high-mounted tail is a bit more involved in the construction than many vintage designs. Has a 1.5m wingspan (5ft). For .15-25 engines. £78.
Available as a three-channel model and advertised as such on the Flair website, this was a popular trainer through the 1990s. Please refer to the Four-Channel Models section below for details of the four-function version.
Classic American design 78” span model, (about 2m), tricycle undercarriage. £79.25. Up to .46 motor.
Smaller version of the above. Has a 5ft (1.5m) span, for .15-25 engines. £59.
Unowot (pictured above)
This model benefits from the practical research which Chris Foss has carried out over the years with both i.c. sports models and slope soarers. The wing is made from expanded polystyrene foam covered in an obechi veneer in two halves. You simply epoxy the two halves together and bind the centre section with fibre glass tape. The fuselage is built from liteply sheet and the sides are already cut out for you. It is also available as a three-channel model. 25 motor. Has a 60” span (1.5m), for a . 25 motor. £86. This was my second model and flew well on an Irvine .20 car racing engine!
A semi-scale trainer by Dudley Pattinson, available with a built-up or foam veneered wing. 73” (1.85 metres) wingspan. Lite-ply fuselage, for .25-40 engines. £105 - both three and four-channel versions.
Mk4 ATF Kite
Similar in appearance to the Unowot. Balsa veneered foam wings with a sheet fuselage. May be built with either a tricycle or a tail-dragger undercarriage. Has a 65” (1.65m) span. For a 40-46 engine. £105.
A 63” (1.55m) span model with tricycle undercarriage. Advertised as having “lots of interlocking parts,” to speed construction. For a .29-40 engine. £100.
A 56” span (1.42m) model with ply fuselage and built-up wing. A classic American sports/trainer, perhaps a little 'hot' with the recommended .35-46 engine for a beginner. As it only weighs 4lbs, it should fly well on a 25. £64.
Although very little actual building is required, this one is worthy of a mention here. Almost un-stallable and bounces! You can build this plane as either a high winger low winger, and easily swop as desired. EPP foam fuselage and wings and Correx tail surfaces and ailerons. Wingspan - 52 ins. Weight - approx. 3 1/2 Ibs. Flies on a 25 – 46. £70.
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