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Model Aircraft Floats

May 02, 2015

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Wood Model Aircraft Floats

Model Aircraft Floats


Airfield Models (

This set of floats was built sometime in the mid-1980's although these photos were taken in March, 2006.  They have held up very well through many moves over the years.

The set has never been used because the model they were built for died of elevator flutter during its initial flight testing.

The float is all-wood construction mostly balsa wood.  I designed these after reading various articles in different magazines to determine length, volume and step placement for this particular application.

Model Airplane FloatsAs with most of my models, there are plenty of formers to help ensure the shape is accurate and prevent sagging sheeting.  One thing I would do differently is sheet the forward underside with plywood instead of balsa as I did on these.

I wasn't considering that the model may run over something floating just under the surface.  A gash shouldn't cause the model to sink, but then that's what they thought about the Titanic.  I'd rather prevent the damage to begin with and think a harder surface should be used.

Each float was fiberglassed using HobbyPoxy II epoxy glue.  My original plan was to paint these floats using aluminum colored polyurethane.  When I saw that the glass cloth turned invisible with the first coat of clear polyurethane I decided to continue with the natural finish instead.

This was the first time I applied this type of finish and liked it so much I have done it a few times since and plan to finish more models the same way.

I don't plan to actually use these floats because I think they look nice hanging on the wall the way they are and I don't trust the bottoms not to end up needing several repairs due to punctures.  The design itself should work fine and if the time comes that I need a set of these floats, I still have my drawings and I'll build another set.  I may laminate some 1/64" plywood to the bottom of these and use them.  I'll decide when the time comes.



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Copyright 2006 Paul K. Johnson