Airfield Models - How To

Join Wing Panels of a Flying Model Airplane

May 03, 2015

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Airfield Models ( to Join Multi-Panel Wings of a Flying Model Aircraft

Many wings are built in halves and joined at the correct dihedral angle after both panels are completed.  This tutorial demonstrates how to join two wing panels permanently into a single piece wing.

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Common Methods of Joining Wing Panels

There are many ways that wings may join together.  Some are permanently joined and others break down into two or more panels.

Multiple panels that are permanently joined into a single wing are one piece-wings.  Two or more piece wings can be disassembled and are most commonly used with large model airplanes to simplify handling and transportation.

Permanent Joins

  • Butt-joined and wrapped with fiberglass tape adhered with epoxy or fiberglass resin.

  • Butt-joined with the addition of one or more dihedral braces extending into each panel.

  • Combination of both methods above.

Two-Piece Wings

  • Tubes built into wings with another tube or rod going through the fuselage into the wing tubes.  The wing panels are usually bolted to the fuselage from the inside to prevent the panels from sliding off in flight.

  • Same as above, but uses a removable blade or tongue made of metal, plywood or carbon fiber.

  • Butt-joined with the addition of one or more dihedral braces extending through the center panel into each outer panel.

  • Wing panels have stubs glued into the root that engage holes in the fuselage sides. This method uses functional flying wires to hold the wing in place as well as absorb flight and landing loads.

Wings can have as many pieces as necessary.  Three-piece wings are the next most common after one and two-piece varieties.  A three piece wing usually has a short center section that bolts to the wing saddle or is permanently glued to the fuselage.  The outer panels attach to the center using one of the two-piece methods above.

One piece wings are almost always lighter than multi-piece wings.  The only exception to this may be a two-piece wing having functional flying wires which are lightweight but also have significant drag.

Almost all radio control trainer wings are built in two panels and then joined permanently with a dihedral brace.  The example in this article does not use a brace, but most of the steps will still apply particularly fitting the two panels together.


Preparing to Join Wing Panels

The wing panels should be completed to at least the point that they no longer need to be on the building board.  In other words, if items need to be added that can cause the wing to warp, such as wing sheeting, then they should be added while the panel is still pinned to the building board.  Just follow the directions that came with the kit and you should be ok.

I normally complete the wings with the exception of the wing tips which are left off until the wing is mounted to the fuselage.

After the panels are completed they can be rough sanded to bring everything flush.  Remove as little material as possible.  It is almost a sure bet that the panels won't match each panel will need additional sanding in specific areas.

You may not be able to match the panels at all if you sand away too much material now because there might not be enough material left.

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How to Build a Wing for a Flying Model Airplane
Build Warren Truss Model Aircraft Fuselage Sides

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Copyright 2004 Paul K. Johnson