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Old Apr 22, 2014, 10:41 AM
Registered User
United States, OH, Willoughby
Joined Feb 2014
60 Posts
2nd Plane, First kit

Hey guys.

So this is the first year that I'm in the hobby and loving it. Right now I'm flying on a Nexstar Mini EP and having a lot of fun and success. After spending a couple of months with the simulator (RF7) I purchased the plane and under the tutelage of my good friend all is going well. Both the sim and his advice have gotten me well prepared and I've had several successful flights (only mishap happened while taxiing, of all things). After doing the setup and adjustments on my Nexstar I came to realize that I enjoy building just as much as flying.

In light of that, I'm starting to look ahead to next winter when the weather won't be conductive to flying and doing some early research on balsa kits. So I'm looking for two things initially:

1) Some recommended reading on building balsa kits.

2) Some plane recommendations. I'd like something that is probably 55-70" wingspan (give or take) and that is either electric or could be built/converted to electric easily. On the simulator, I've been playing around with both the Piper J3 and the P-51 mustang (which when i brought up, my friend suggested we could both get and start to learn formation flying together).

Thanks for reading and any advice you guys can give.
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Old Apr 22, 2014, 11:41 AM
Balsa Flies Better!
Stamford, CT
Joined Oct 2000
6,704 Posts
Well, in terms of reading- this site isn't bad.

For first time kit builders- you won't go wrong with something from either Mountain Models or Stevens Aero- their stuff goes together very well and there are often a lot of build threads on the airplane. Bill Stevens probably does the best job of anybody of making sure stuff is right before it goes out the door- and that's not to say that a lot of other people don't do a good job- but he's got to be kind of fanatical...

A bit trickier- often a bit more complex- stuff from Zeke at Park Scale Models.

Closer to your size range- but also a bit more of a traditional kit build- i.e. flat building boards and pins- Alien Aircraft. Tom Herr's stuff doesn't get written up much- but I've built a few of his airplanes. His kits these days are really very good, especially compared to some other kits from the bad old days (like Sterling- which I still like by the way- go figure...)

I'd stick with a high wing airplane for now- P-51s come later....


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Old Apr 22, 2014, 11:44 AM
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MikeSawicki's Avatar
Joined Mar 2009
363 Posts
Welcome to the fun. I am currently making my second balsa kit so I am not sure I am a great source of information.
However, since you asked what to read I will share what I did and what I thought helped. First, you have found the right spot to start. I think reading build logs and asking questions here is one of the strongest sources for information I have found anywhere. I looked for books or magazines with articles on building but, to be honest, I think I ultimately found the same and even more information here and on another section called "balsa builders." There are several articles that are "stickied" usually at the top that have tips for beginners, i.e. what tools to buy, basic build techniques. So that is a great general place to start.
The next thing I would suggest is to look for someone else's build of the model or models you are considering. Reading is one thing, but seeing the photos of someone else's work and how they approached and fixed problems is even more helpful in my opinion. I was fortunate to pick a model that had a few build logs of it as my first build. I cannot tell you how many times I went back to those build logs for answer to my questions.
Depending on your interest, there are several magazines I have found that cater to a particular type of modelling. I recently subscribed to Flying Scale Models out of England since it has a lot about World War One subjects in it. I'd noticed that there were other sources out there on different topics but really cannot comment too much on them.
The next thing I would suggest is, once you've picked a model, is to look at the kit maker's website and see if there is an online build manual. This is a lot like looking at the build logs here but ususally more concise.
One observation, I think the balsa building is a bit on an "art" that assumes you have some basic skills in hand. There were several times in my first build where the instuctions in the manual and the things available in the build logs did not answer my questions. So the "art" comes in when you make the leap of faith and see how it turns out.
Good luck!
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Old Apr 22, 2014, 11:50 AM
Jim Young's Avatar
Brighton, MI USA
Joined Jun 2000
1,777 Posts
Hi Dex,

FWIW.... As far as reading, see if your friend or local club have back issues of the flying magazines. Every now and then there are articles on building, and even reading through the construction articles will give you ideas and insight into different building techniques. Also, Carsten's and Air Age publishing put out some books that were usually compilations of magazine articles. R/C Groups is a great resource as well, and you will go nuts searching through all of it.

While you are posting in the scale forum, you might consider a low-wing sport plane for your second model. Sig still puts out a line of kits and their 4-Star series comes in several sizes and they make good E fliers. I would stay away from the heavy metal warbirds (P-51, etc...) unless it is a foamie ARF until you have more experience. I'm sure there are many other possibilities out there.

There are several on this forum that produce kits and "short kits", myself included. However, I hesitate recommending them to you since they typically assume that you have a few kits under your belt and may or may not come with complete instructions. Also, scale models may have unique flying characteristics that are beyond your skills at this time.

Keep in mind that larger planes do get expensive quickly. If you stay in the ~50" span, this can typically be powered by a 3S battery and an economical motor. See Ken Meyer's Ampeer for more info on setting up E-power systems.

Set a goal, and take small steps to get to it.

T&J Models
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