by Graham Woods

Foam fuselageCarve out a fuselage shape from blue Styrofoam with a bandsaw. i.e. First draw a profile of your fuse on a suitable piece of extruded foam. Shape it roughly using, say, a small balsa saw or craft knife then use 80 grade Aluminium Oxide to finish it off.

Wrap in tapeCover the blue Styrofoam (or gray, pink, green extruded foam) plug with 2" wide brown parcel or packing tape. Use smaller pieces for the double curves of the fuselage. This covering is relatively easy to do.

BraidingPull over your fuselage plug a length of carbon fibre or glass fibre braiding/sock (Gewebeschläuche). You can even use off-cuts or pieces of glass fibre, Kevlar or carbon fibre cloth if you can't get braid. Wet it through with epoxy resin; you cannot use polyester resin because it will attack the polystyrene foam. Don a nitryl or thick rubber glove for some sort of minimum protection when you do this.

Sock over fuseWhen wetted out out, hang the fuselage vertically, and weighted, while the epoxy resin is curing. This should keep your fuselage straight. A more durable fuselage will need 2 or more layers of the bi-axial braiding. Extra, local reinforcement can be added as required. 

When resin has cured, cut the canopy and/or wing seat, and cut the rear end off. Try to remove some of the foam with a pair if taper nose pliers. Next, pour in a small amount of Acetone to dissolve the polystyrene foam and help soften the adhesive of the parcel tape.

ResidueYuk! The remains of the brown parcel/packing tape, and the Acetone/Lost Foam residue on a piece of kitchen paper. I did this in the open air. Remove the blue foam plug and brown parcel tape with a long hooked piece of wire (coat hanger?) as best you can. You need to use very little acetone, by the way. It's all a sticky mess, I'm afraid, although I find this a rather satisfying chore for some reason.

[N.B. The parcel tape, I'm told, can be coated in a release agent or release agent and a thin layer of epoxy resin to aid its removal.]

Almost readySlap on a stiff mixture of microballoons and epoxy resin (with a little Cabosil or Aerosil thixotrope) to fill the weave. Let it harden. (More layers and sanding will give a better finish.) Then sand it and finally spray with a car aerosol primer paint. This fuselage came out at less than 50g. Cut out canopy, etc. with a new scalpel blade.

Panache modelMy finished PANACHE with a super strong carbon fuse. The carbon braiding creates a fuselage with no seams, a fuselage with the carbon fibres spirally wrapped around it. Neat eh? The wing was cut from pink Polyfoam Plus foam and covered with glass fibre cloth. The vacuum bagging was done while the wing was supported at the tips and heavily weighted at its centre to provide the curved dihedral. (Remember the Hobie Hawk?). With two mini servos and carbon kite spars for pushrods for the V-tail, the model came out at less than a pound but I should have made it lighter still. The section was the S4083. Nowadays, I might choose a different airfoil since I wasn't happy with the 4083.

Tail feathersJust a word about the V-tailplanes. These are simply pieces of 2mm Rohacell foam sanded more or less to some sort of airfoil profile. They were vacuum bagged too with 50gsm glass. The yellow material is Kevlar cloth under the glass which provides reinforcement AND a hinge.

The Graphics? Easy. Go to a model store and buy a sheet of tissue paper. (Remember tissue and dope?) Fix a piece of it to a sheet of regular printer paper with tape at the top edge only. Draw your design with your favourite program and print it with your inkjet on to the tissue/paper. The regular paper serves only as a backing sheet to protect the platten of your printer. Lay this tissue under the glass fibre when you bag the wing.

[Tip: Solar UV will fade the ink so outline with black.]


Now look here for a larger complete project by Jim Brandon...



  • I'm always asked for suppliers of the  carbon and glass braiding/sock  or gewebeschläuche so:

In Germany - R&G, Lange und Ritter, Bacuplast, EMC-Vega, usw.

In USA - www.cstsales.com , www.acp-composites.com

In UK - Cherbourg Express?, www.freeflightsupplies.co.uk