Understanding Model Airplane Plans

Making sense of model airplane plans is something that comes very easily to me; and (for example) learning Spanish is something that is impossible for me. There are many people in the world who have an easy time with languages and will find following model airplane plans to be nearly impossible. I will attempt to describe how plans work, and I will do so in a manner that does not assume that you are somehow defective if it is difficult for you. Follow these steps slowly at first. Read them through once visualizing the steps, and then go through them again following the directions.

To start with, I invite you to pick up a common household item – let’s use a round coffee mug with a handle. Set the coffee mug upright on a piece of paper laying on a table top, trace the outline on the base of the mug on the paper, and then bend down so that you are looking at the mug with the handle pointing to your right. Draw an arrow on the paper in the direction you are looking, pointing at the mug, and label it “Left Side View”.

Next, move ninety degrees to your right, so that you are looking at the mug from the side with the handle. Draw another arrow on the paper pointing at the mug handle, and label this arrow “Rear View”. Continue another ninety degrees and label that arrow “Right Hand View”; then proceed to your right another ninety degrees and you will be looking at the mug from the direction where you cannot see the handle – and draw another arrow and label it “Front View”.

Now stand up and look from the top. The mug now appears like several circles (assuming it is a round mug) with the handle sticking out in the direction we chose to call “Rearward”. Go ahead and draw something on the paper below the mug handle that looks like what you see of the handle when you look at the mug from the top. Removing the mug, you will have the circles plus the handle shown in what we call the “Top View” of the mug.

Go back to where you started, replace the mug over the “Top View”, and draw the mug from the left side at the end of that arrow closest to you, with the somewhat circular handle sticking out to your left. Try to draw these views full size, so that if you pick up the mug and lay it on the picture it looks as if you traced it again from that side. Again go to your right ninety degrees and draw the mug with the handle looking like a rectangle inside of a bigger rectangle (the outline of the mug). Again to the Right Side (a reverse of the Left View); and finally to the “Front View” which looks just like the Rear View but without the handle.

Now remove the cup. If you go and get your model airplane plans, you should see that there will be a Top View, a Side View, and normally a Front View of the airplane. These will correspond in concept to the views that you just drew of your coffee mug, albeit more complicated. They will also be like a sketch of a human with skin removed so that you see the skeleton. This allows you to see the structural parts of the airplane in the plans. Most times, the Top View plan will be separated for the wing and the elevator (or rear stabilizer), and often the Rudder will be shown separately from the side view of the main body or fuselage. That is normally done so that you can lay the parts on the plan and build each sub-assemble flat.

In a full “Three-View” of your airplane (normally Top or “Plan” View; Side View and Front View) the rudder will look somewhat like the handle of your coffee mug, pointing off to your Right in the Left Side View; with the propeller to your Left. If this is still not clear to you, please follow the instructions once again slowly and see if it gets better. If not, feel free to contact me and I will try again, with perhaps some sketches as an aid.