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Post  rsv1cox Wed Aug 16, 2023 7:56 pm

Balsa flies better an age-old acceptance of fact, or maybe just a manufacturer ploy or a figment of someone's imagination.  

I shouldn't dispute that, I have built and flown balsa airplanes all my life.

But what if I built a balsa airplane to the exact same specifications identical in all regards to the Cox TD-1 - aerodynamics/weight/engine identical - would it fly better or the same as the plastic original?  Isn't it the power and the airflow over the surfaces that determine flight characteristics, not what's inside the airframe?

Paper or plastic sir?  Old grocery store question.  

The thinking outside the box Mark......err Bob

But..............Betting the same.

However, if the question was - Which builds better/easier.............
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Post  GallopingGhostler Wed Aug 16, 2023 9:24 pm

Actually, I have learned that any lightweight material of sufficient strength flies good, to include expanded foam and corrugated plastic products. The aluminum wings of the TD-1 are another example.

I found that the Hobby Shack half-A foam planes of the 1970's to 1980's were decent fliers. I have watched others use 3/16 inch thick foamboard to make K-Flex wings, fuselages and tail surfaces fly decent, too.

Key is lightweight and "reasonably slick" aerodynamics. Because balsa prices are up, the foamboard designs seem to be a good way to mitigate costs, along with insulating expanded foam used to insulate house walls and ceilings.
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Post  balogh Thu Aug 17, 2023 12:32 am

Bob, I believe the lighter balsa airplane would fly faster, simply, because the angle of attack and therefore the drag of the wings could be less, thanks to the smaller lifting forces needed to keep the expectably lighter balsa airframe in the air. The balsa frame would need either its elevator in a bit "down" position, or simply the wing to be set for a smaller angle of attack..but the plane would definitely fly, and fly faster if lighter than the plastic/aluminum model...just my humble 10 cents...


Last edited by balogh on Thu Aug 17, 2023 7:13 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo correction)
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Post  rdw777 Thu Aug 17, 2023 7:04 am

Agree, Lighter flies better!…. Higher top speeds (with the same power) and lower landing speeds…. But if shapes and weights are the same, It should fly the same….
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Post  gkamysz Thu Aug 17, 2023 8:33 am

I always assumed balsa flew better because it resulted in a lighter model. Today, we have molded composites you couldn't pretend to replicate with balsa in terms of weight, strength, or performance.
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Post  706jim Thu Aug 17, 2023 9:35 am

The old plastic planes that most everybody talks about here were heavier and far more brittle than balsa airplanes. And a balsa plane can be rebuilt more easily than a plastic plane after the inevitable crash.
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Post  akjgardner Thu Aug 17, 2023 12:18 pm

706jim wrote:The old plastic planes that most everybody talks about here were heavier and far more brittle than balsa airplanes. And a balsa plane can be rebuilt more easily than a plastic plane after the inevitable crash.
.       Yes , it should say Balsa crashes better , because it easily repaired. Very Happy
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Post  HalfaDave Thu Aug 17, 2023 12:24 pm

Hi Bob,
I think the 'Balsa Flies Better' was marketing the 'hi-tech' of the era.
It was better. Smile
If you built a modern composite replica of the TD-1 to the same weight,
It would fly the same.
The hollow foam wing Cox Me-109/Chipmunks flew great, but you could not repair them.
I would hate to try to repair a vintage aluminum Cox wing ! Shocked
Here is a fun fact:
Technically, with aluminum/plastic, your TD-1 is 'composite construction'... Smile
The first time it was done?
Nice lines on the TD-1...
One with a TD.049 would be even better ! Cool
Take care,
Have fun,
Dave
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Post  KariFS Thu Aug 17, 2023 3:51 pm

It’s an advertising slogan seen on old Guillow’s kit boxes. I do agree, though I haven’t built or flown any plastic or composite planes Smile

Seriously though, if two airframes have identical shape, weight, weight distribution, are equally rigid (or flexible) and surface characteristics, I see no reason why they wouldn’t fly the same way.

Balsa planes are usually both lighter and more rigid than a comparable mass produced foam plane, so I guess in that case balsa does fly better. And just about any balsa plane will fly better than most Cox plastic RTF’s, so there’s that too.

On the other hand, a well built composite plane will certainly fly well. I have a small DLG (discus launch glider) called Elf, really light, and the wing is unbelievably stiff. It is a rib construction, but made of carbon fibre, covered in translucent plastic covering (Solar Film type). Haven’t assembled it yet, but it’s a beauty, and most likely will fly great once I find a light enough battery and radio gear for it.

Edit. A couple of pics of the Elf. Its wingspan is just why of 1m, about 39.5”, weighs 2.6oz or 75g. Looks like the ribs are balsa, so it should fly ”better” Smile

Balsa flies better? 30643d10

Balsa flies better? 2d7fd010
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Post  GallopingGhostler Thu Aug 17, 2023 4:18 pm

706jim wrote:The old plastic planes that most everybody talks about here were heavier and far more brittle than balsa airplanes. And a balsa plane can be rebuilt more easily than a plastic plane after the inevitable crash.
It again amazes me that those brittle plastic planes used the available technologies and mass manufacturing methods of the day so the average person could afford them. If it were today, we'd see a morphing into improved methods and materials available now.

I've done my share of balsa crash repairs, even almost rebuilding an entire plane several times. Balsa allowed me to do this.

Balsa remains an easy to work with material. But, life's events excepting, recently I have bought sheets of 3/16" paper covered foamboard, for future half-A and A construction.

Seeing the excellent and very convincing craftsmanship by other modellers in this foamboard media lends me to believe that it is now the most viable cost effective construction material today.

One can still build reasonably lightweight and sufficiently strong airframes that look decent, too. It is just another form of the artist's canvas.
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Post  rsv1cox Thu Aug 17, 2023 4:50 pm

KariFS wrote:It’s an advertising slogan seen on old Guillow’s kit boxes. I do agree, though I haven’t built or flown any plastic or composite planes Smile

Seriously though, if two airframes have identical shape, weight, weight distribution, are equally rigid (or flexible) and surface characteristics, I see no reason why they wouldn’t fly the same way.

Balsa planes are usually both lighter and more rigid than a comparable mass produced foam plane, so I guess in that case balsa does fly better. And just about any balsa plane will fly better than most Cox plastic RTF’s, so there’s that too.

On the other hand, a well built composite plane will certainly fly well. I have a small DLG (discus launch glider) called Elf, really light, and the wing is unbelievably stiff. It is a rib construction, but made of carbon fibre, covered in translucent plastic covering (Solar Film type). Haven’t assembled it yet, but it’s a beauty, and most likely will fly great once I find a light enough battery and radio gear for it.

Edit. A couple of pics of the Elf. Its wingspan is just why of 1m, about 39.5”, weighs 2.6oz or 75g. Looks like the ribs are balsa, so it should fly ”better” Smile


Thanks Kari and all. Nice critiques. Guillows, I knew that I saw that slogan someplace.
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Post  batjac Thu Aug 17, 2023 6:34 pm

Bob,  I had the same question for myself when I built my TD-4 replica.  In balsa and ply it weighed about 5 ounces less.  If you did a TD-1 out of balsa you'd have to add a good bit of lead to make it the same weight as the plastic and aluminum plane.  My wood replica of the TD-4 jumped off of the ground and screamed around with its Babe Bee engine.  If you do the TD-1 from balsa, you'd not need anything more than the Spacebug equivalent to do all the plane can do.

The Replicant Mark
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Post  rdw777 Thu Aug 17, 2023 6:40 pm

Balsa and composite side by side…. About the same size and weight…. Both fly similarly….The .020 is a good bit quicker though…
I had the foamie out today in 105F…. The clouds in the flight shot developed into a thunderstorm a little later that provided welcome relief from the heat … Very Happy

Balsa flies better? 880fb010
Balsa flies better? 9c851010
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Post  rsv1cox Thu Aug 17, 2023 7:43 pm

Beautiful as always Robert

and Mark, you prompted me to weigh both to check my touchy feeley estimate..........you can do the math.  10.56 vs 20.76

Balsa flies better? P1015955
Balsa flies better? P1015956

But in fairness, the Gilbert has an .11 with a couple of water pipe mufflers attached.

An appromiate size balsa model for compairson, but it sports an Enya .09III one of my all-time favorite engines.  Weighs more than the TD-1

Balsa flies better? P1015957

Can anyone ID this flaps model?  I have had it for years and don't have a clue.

Balsa flies better? P1015958
Balsa flies better? P1015960
Balsa flies better? P1015959
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Post  HalfaDave Thu Aug 17, 2023 8:48 pm

Hi All,
Back in 'the Days'...
We tried fixing broken plastic planes,
With, 'papier mache', we learned in Kindergarten...
Did not work.
Most of us had paper routes at the time... Smile
Your results, will vary.
Take care,
Have fun,
Dave
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Post  GallopingGhostler Thu Aug 17, 2023 9:49 pm

rsv1cox wrote:Can anyone ID this flaps model?  I have had it for years and don't have a clue.
Balsa flies better? P1015958
Balsa flies better? P1015959
Bob, I want to say it is an Enterprise kit, but would have to search further, because I believe I have seen PDF plans or E-Bay kit of it for sale of that somewhere, late 1940's to early 1950's, looks to be about a two foot wingspan. Also wonder if it may be a Cleveland kit.

It is sort of a throwback to the time of Carl Goldberg's Glowbug kit (shoot, the gray matter fizzles). But, I do recall seeing it somewhere, was impressed by its large wing flaps and in modern .10 engine size. bounce
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Post  getback Fri Aug 18, 2023 1:05 pm

Yes it does ! At least all the planes i have flown did I am sure some of the new stuf out now days can/would make a big difference but still.. I know when I moved from the PT19 to Stuntman 23 then i thought NOW I AM FLING !! lol! I Love This Forum!
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Post  Levent Suberk Fri Aug 18, 2023 2:10 pm

Guillows says it is so Very Happy

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Post  KariFS Fri Aug 18, 2023 2:24 pm

Must ne true then lol!

Ironically, Guillow’s has the hardest and heaviest balsa on the planet Very Happy

Not sure about the more recent laser-cut kits though, but the balsa of the older die-crush kits felt like plywood.

Of course, ”better” can mean many things. Better than what? Bricks? 2x4? Just kidding, I have built a few, and the Fairchild 24 flew really nice. Not very long or far with the supplied rubber band, but fast, and still really nice.
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Post  gkamysz Fri Aug 18, 2023 3:13 pm

Were there kits, back when Guillows started, made in much heavier woods? I bought a free flight glider kit as a child in Poland in the mid 80's and it was mostly spruce and something a bit lighter, but no balsa. I did build it, but If I recall it did not last long being so heavy.
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Post  GallopingGhostler Fri Aug 18, 2023 6:32 pm

The problem I had with Guillow is even if it and Comet used the same density balsa sheets and sticks, overall, the Guillow was heavier framed with a lot more wood. Even if one used contest grade balsa, the Comet kits were still better flyers.

For example, Guillow used former construction even with flat sided fuselages, some WW1 fighters and civil light planes. Plus, they used more wood in the leading and trailing edges of the wings.

Of all things, one of the best flyers I had was the Comet P-51B with 18 inch wingspan. It used built up stick sides with formers on the top and bottom, which resulted in a lightweight but strong fuselage. The wing used 1/8 x 1/16 stick balsa for leading and trailing edges, with a minimum of upper strips for airfoil.

In college late 1970's, I made Guillow's 24 inch span Aeronca Champion for rubber power. It was heavy with a fast glide, wasn't much of a flyer.
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Post  davidll1984 Sat Aug 19, 2023 5:54 pm

I fly rc planes but it's the same. I have very good experience with guilow kits but the time to assemble them is long and more tedious than foam planes
​ I often try to find new models to convert but it's not so easy they must have the right size  
This one seems like a good candidate to me.  Balsa flies better? Scree174
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Post  GallopingGhostler Sat Aug 19, 2023 9:25 pm

I understand the bit about tedious, Dave. Tired w/ Coffee Read

About 7 years ago, I gave a friend nearby an incomplete Guillow Kit #1502 42-in. wingspan R/C Bellanca Cruisemaster. I had started it, but because of our wind conditions, put it off, then lost interest in completing it, a bit too tedious.

I prefer building skirmishes that are quicker to complete. The simpler, the better. Very Happy

That goes back to my early days of R/C. My most ambitious kit build was the C/G 42-in. Junior Skylane. Although a bit tedious, it built into a beautiful looking, beautiful performing model in single channel rudder only. Lost it in late 1970's in pre-thunderstorm updraft. Updraft was so strong that I could not spiral the plane down to the ground.

I do have still some tedious builds, a Jetco 39-in. Rearwin Speedster, a 66-in. 1941 Vanguard F/F to R/C conversion, and a few others. But will reserve them when I have a place where that I can fly these without our windy conditions.
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