Laying out the Fuselage
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Laying out the Fuselage

With building a model airplane creating the fuselage sides is as critical as joining them together. It is not a difficult task to complete, but it does require a methodical approach, accurate measuring and cutting methods.

If you are building from a kit you will not need to cut out the sides, however you will need to draw in the locations of formers and other internal structural members unless they use a interlocking construction method.


  • Before you start anything, you will need to select the wood which you are going to be using for the fuselage sides. I recommend using a straight-grained wood that is firm and light.
  • Once the two sides each have one true edge you will then need to locate the reference line, which is normally parallel to the trued edge. It might be a good idea to use the bottom of the fuselage as the reference line so another line is not necessary.
  • Drawn in the firewall location with the thrust line will being 0° right and 0° down (0°-0°), so it is perpendicular to the bottom of the fuselage
  • Next, measure back to the leading edge of the wing. You can determine where the leading edge is by measuring the fuel tank length and adding 1/2" to 1" to that measurement.
  • Measure the chord of the wing without the ailerons and draw the location of the former aft of the wing.
  • Locate the wing centerline. You may want to set up a symmetrical wing with a very slight amount of positive incidence. This is because at 0° a wing has zero lift. As a guide make the leading edge 1/32" higher than the trailing edge. Carefully locate the wing over the centerline and trace around it.
  • Now you can see why I have left the wing tips off. Once the saddles are cut (and you are sure you will not be cutting another set of fuselage sides) the tips can be glued on the wing.
  • You can then do the same for the trailing wing, and a similar method for the stabilizer.
  • Often thin fuselage sides take on a concave shape when the tail is pulled together. To prevent this from taking place you can glue vertical support pieces in the aft end of the fuselage. Their weight is negligible, but they really help keep the fuselage sides flat.
    The fuselage sides are taped together using double-sided tape. Cut the sides and sand them carefully to shape while ensuring the edges remain square.
  • The fuselage sides are carefully cut out using straight edges and a scroll or jig saw.

Next Article: Building inner fuselage


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» Laying out the Fuselage
» Building inner fuselage
» Preparing the formers
» Jigging and Dry Fitting
» Building it Straight
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