RC Airplane World - Complete Beginners RC Flying Guide

Vintage RC Airplane Types

Vintage rc planes are radio controlled airplanes that represent the Golden Era of aeromodelling, with some designs dating back to the 1930s.
Like old cars, such planes are easily identifiable by their classic looks!

A true classic vintage RC plane

Above: A truly classic vintage RC plane, this one a Majestic Major getting airborne.

Aermodelling History

Back in the day, of course, model flying was a very different hobby.

The earliest model airplanes to be self-propelled were done so by elastic band power, and free-flight (no direct control). Soon these naturally evolved in to larger internal combustion powered free-flight planes, as technology developed and allowed the production of model IC engines. These early model engines were notably diesel ones.

This early video, courtesy of British Pathe News, shows the type of model planes that today's radio controlled old timers echo. And yes, we British really did talk like that back then!

Walt and Bill Good and their plane Big GuffThe planes in that 1936 video are all free-flight, but the earliest record of powered radio control flight gives 1937 as the year.

The model airplane and radio gear were built by Michigan engineers and model airplane enthusiasts Dr. Walt Good and his brother Bill.
"Big Guff " was the name of their plane (shown above ©unknown), and those classic lines are synonymous with model planes of the era.

Vintage Planes, Modern Gear

A diesel motor from PAWTraditionally, such airplanes were powered by diesel motors simply because these were the about the only choice back in the day!

There are still some manufacturers producing them, primarily for vintage model airplane use.
The British company Progress Aero Works (PAW) make a range of traditional diesel airplane motors, such as the classic 1.49cc example shown right.

These days, vintage radio control plane types have that same classic look and style as Big Guff but modern engines and radio gear have brought them up to date.
And of course with the electronic revolution that has changed the face of our hobby, electric motors can now power vintage planes.

Some aeromodellers go a step further - the plane is electric powered, but a 3D-printed vintage style engine casing hides the electric motor and retains that classic vintage look!

The DWH Cute Girl, shown below, is an example of a smaller modern-day vintage rc airplane designed for electric power. She would also make a fine trainer.

A modern day vintage rc plane

Whilst vintage rc airplanes can be bought in kit form now, such as the Cute Girl, there are also many plans available if you prefer to build the model from scratch.

Building a vintage plane from scratch or a kit is a very rewarding experience, and generally speaking they are not difficult builds.

My first powered RC plane was a Buccaneer, built from an original plan. It was my pride and joy!...

My vintage Buccaneer

Above & below: my first powered RC plane, a 3-channel
vintage Buccaneer built from an original 1937 plan. I built this one in 1985.

My 3 channel RC Buccaneer

My Buccaneer was a joy to build, as vintage rc planes always are. I covered it in Solartex iron-on covering and I used an Acoms radio.

It was maidened by a local hobby shop employee; the flight was successful but he warned me that the transmitter batteries were low, so I should not fly it again until the batteries were charged.
Obviously as a 15 year old kid I thought I knew better, so decided to fly it anyway after he'd gone home. Sure enough, after take off the plane went out of radio range and spiralled in to the ground!

A heart-breaking moment indeed, and a hard lesson learned. I did rebuild it, and it flew again many times.

Vintage rc planes tend to be large in size and use traditional balsa wood construction techniques, making them great models for anyone who enjoys the building side of the hobby as much as the flying side.

Their large size makes them slow and gentle flyers, and a typical set-up for a modern day vintage plane is to use a 4-stroke glow plug engine and 3-channel radio with control to throttle, elevator and rudder.

One British company, Ben Buckle, is a well respected manufacturer of such kits and also has made available a large selection of printed vintage plans.
Many of the classic designs are available such as the 'Buccaneer', 'Flying Quaker' and 'Majestic Major' all shown below:

Ben Buckle vintage kits

If you like the idea of flying something big and gentle, vintage rc airplanes offer an excellent opportunity. They are inherently very stable and forgiving, and are very satisfying to build!

I can personally recommend this rc airplane type as a very satisfying way of enjoying some relaxing radio control flight.


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