Paper airplane model general instructions

By: Philip Koopman, Sr.

(Note: this hints are from the WWII dime-weight model set, but apply in general to all the models.)

What You’ll Need

For your models, you’ll need a few 8-1/2" x 11" sheets of white, 67-pound Vellum Bristol. Most office supply stores carry it. One brand is Wausau Paper’s Exact® Vellum Bristol. If you can’t find the Vellum Bristol, use smooth paper from an artist’s pad that’s about the thickness of a post card. Or, try your local print shop and ask for Post Card stock. For instruction booklets, the regular paper you use in your printer is fine.

General Printing Information

The FLY’N THINGS™ PDF files have been tested with an HP LaserJet III, a LaserJet III/Adobe Postscript™, and a Canon BJC-800 CMYK color printer, running under Windows 3.1 and 3.11. and MS-DOS 6.x. The fine-line quality will depend on the resolution of your particular printer. And, some versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader, like Version 1.0 for DOS, may not support all printers. Or, support some, like color bubble-jets, for monochrome-only printing.

All sheets have been sized to allow extra margin for some ink-jet printers, like the HP Deskjets, that need extra space at the bottom of the sheet. Model sheets in both black-and-white and color are provided so you can use your present printer. The color sheets are set for the Canon BJC-800 CMYK color ink-jet printer. For other color printers you may need to set the printer’s driver to “darker” to get the best colors. Or, if using a driver that has “screen match” capability, reduce the monitor intensity for a darker printout. See your printer manual for detailed information.

When printing card stock on any printer, make sure you follow the maker’s instruction — check your printer manual. For some Ink Jets, you may have to “Help” it feed the paper. For most laser printers, open the back door and setup for a “straight-through” paper path. If your printer can’t handle the card stock, print the image on thin paper with a smooth finish, like Hammermill Laser Print. Then, laminate the paper to the card stock with a glue stick; Dennision’s brand works well. Or, print on paper and then use a copy machine to copy your printed image to the card stock.

Printing Setup

To print these models, setup your DEFAULT Windows Printer for LANDSCAPE mode, 8-1/2" x 11" paper, and high-quality printing. The samples are viewed/printed with Adobe Reader. Make sure you use the highest resolution for your printer. And, set to print the current page. The Adobe PDF printer control automatically centers the image on the printed page if you check the “Shrink To Fit” box. Please CHECK the printer-resolution setting in Adobe-Reader Print Dialog box before printing, as it overrides the printer control-panel’s settings!

Please Note:
The QUALITY of the printed image depends on the resolution of your printer. The paper-model Zero’s artwork and instruction sheets are in a vector format — NOT a Bitmap image. The higher the printer resolution, the better the printed image will be. If you have difficulty in printing, particularly colors, check that you are using the latest version of your color-printer driver. We have found that some print drivers, like the original 8-bit driver for the Canon BJC-800, can skip patches of color when printing from the Adobe Acrobat™ Reader.

True Waterproof Ink-Jet Printing!

After almost two years of experimenting with color ink-jet printing we have at last found a solution. We are now able to supply special, imported, card stock and paper for color ink-jet printing that is REALLY waterproof - Not just smudge proof. You can actually soak it in water without bleeding! No special inks or cartridge reloading is needed!! We have extensively tested this paper with Canon Bubble-Jet printers. It should work with most other color ink-jet printers, but with the wide variety of printers available it’s impossible for us to test them all. [I'm not sure exactly what kind of paper this was, but as far as I recall it is some sort of standard paper used in a Japanese-brand color copy machine. I have no further information, nor can I provide this paper, but I present this information in case someone else cares to provide me with a brand recommendation to put here -- pjk jr.]

Printing Your Paper Models

First, print out the instruction sheets on 8-1/2" 11" paper with the printer set to “LANDSCAPE” mode. The instructions sheets are arranged in order. Start with the front cover. The next sheet is to be printed on the back of the cover. Likewise, print the second sheet front and its reverse side. Fold in half, to make a booklet.

Each of the Dime-Weight models prints on a three sheets of 8-1/2" x 11" card stock one sheet each for the Fuselage, Tail and Canopy and the Wing. Two versions of each model are included; full color and monochrome if you do not have a color printer. If you print the monochrome (B&W) version of the Zero, the undersides and fuselage parts already have a gray "cam-ouflage" color. Print on white paper and all you'll need to color is the top side of the model.

You might want to mail a printed copy of a paper model to your friends — maybe they will get hooked on paper models, too. :=))

Coloring Your Models

As an example, The top of the Zero is a medium-dark green. Color the TOP of the FUSELAGE, WING, TAILPLANE and CANOPY frame. Use the same green on BOTH sides of the RUDDER. The COWL and COWL TRIM should be colored a flat, anti-glare black. The BOTTOM of the FUSELAGE, WING, TAILPLANE and AIRSCOOP are light gray. The INSIGNIA on the WINGS and FUSELAGE is a deep red. Insignia on the sides of the fuselage and the top of the wing are surrounded by a white band. The FUSELAGE and top of the WING leading-edge TRIM is a medium yellow. The RUDDER numbers are white and the CANOPY panes are light blue with a dark-green frame. Check the color version for the approximate colors for all parts.

Coloring you Zero depends on how you printed it. If you use a laser printer, then the black image is waterproof. You can use about any type of color that doesn’t contain a solvent that “melts” the laser printer’s wax/carbon image. Check a small section of the title to make sure before starting to color your model. If you use water colors, apply a light “dry” coat — too much water causes the paper to warp. Many of the water-color markers work fine, just apply light coats so you don’t soak the paper.

For water-proof Ink-Jet images, you can use either water- or solvent-based markers pens or colors. Again, make sure that you don’t saturate the paper so that it warps. A few light coats, with time to dry between applications works well. If your Ink-Jet image isn’t waterproof then you must use solvent-based colors — water-based colors make the ink-jet’s black image run and spoil your work.

Another method of getting a colored model is to print on colored card stock. Most card stock, like Wausau Paper’s Exact(r) Vellum Bristol, comes in a wide range of colors. Print both sheets on dark-green card stock and second set on light-blue card stock. Cut apart the top and bottom of the WING and TAILPLANE along the dashed fold line. Line up the edges and laminate the dark-green top to the light-blue bottoms. Fill in details, like windows and insignia with either colored paper or opaque colors.

Building Tips

Cutting And Folding Parts

Step 2 shows how to make a suitable cutting pad. Even the back of a paper tablet will work. You need a have a flat, smooth surface to cut and assemble on. And, make sure it’s thick enough so you don’t cut through and ruin your work table. We generally use on one of the new self-healing 11x17 inch cutting mats.

Use a model knife, or even a small disposable type, with a triangular blade for cutting out the parts. If available, use the “scalpel” type knife as it has a thin blade. Small scissors are useful for cutting curves, like wing tips. A “straight” metal straight edge as a cutting guide makes it easy to trim parts to shape. For easy building, please follow our instructions: Score on the dashed lines, then cut out the parts.

Cutting Boards

The main thing is to have a flat, smooth surface to cut and assemble on. And, make sure it’s thick enough so you don’t cut through and ruin your work table. If you use heavy card stock, like the back of a tablet, just tape together several layers to get the thickness and rigidity needed. Plain transparent or masking tape is fine.

We generally use on one of the new self-healing 11 x 17 inch cutting mats. It gives an excellent surface to cut on and the self-healing feature leaves a smooth surface after a cut is made. It’s also large enough to hold the model and its parts between building sessions. For models with small parts, tape a plastic bag to the end of your cutting board. Put ALL of the cutting scraps into this bag. If you accidentally should “throw away” a small part, just dig it out of the bag.

Model Knives

Use a model knife, even a small disposable type, with a triangular blade for cutting out slots and the parts. Or, a sharp single-edge razor blade will do. We find that the modeler’s version of the surgeon’s scalpel is an excellent tool. The thin, replaceable, blades give minimum edge distortion when cutting out paper parts. For easy building, please follow our instruc-tions: Cut slots, score on the dashed lines, then cut out the parts.Model Knives.

Special Scissors

Small curved-blade scissors make it easy to cut curves, like wing tips. Here’s how to minimize distortion when cutting out parts. Cut along a part’s straight lines with your knife and a straight-edge guide. Then, with the scissors, make a rough cut about 1/8th inch larger than the curved portion. Trim to final size with the curved scissors.

Cutting A Straight Line

A metal straight edge as a cutting guide makes it easy to trim parts to shape. One of the center-handle metal straight edges, with one side beveled, makes it easy to align along the cutting line. If the straight-edge tends to slide when cutting out heavy-weight card stock, try putting a light coat of regular rubber cement on the bottom. When dry, this gives a non-skid surface. Or, even a couple of strips to paper masking tape will work.

Folding The Parts

One can just bend the parts on the dashed lines, but accurate assembly may suffer. It’s best to score along each dashed line. For many paper models, scoring on the printed surface can give flaking of the model’s “painted” finish. Score along the fold line on the BACK side of the part, prior to cutting it out. An easy way to transfer the line location is to make a pin hole at each end of the line just slightly past the part’s outline. Turn the part over, and score between the pin pricks Use care, especially with laser-printed parts, as the “color” tends to chip easily.

HINT! An empty ball-point pen will still have a bit of ink. Some ink may come out from the heat of you hand. To by sure the pen is completely dry, close the air-vent hole with a drop of cement (the plastic “pencil-type” pens usually have the vent hole at the top end or under the eraser). If in doubt, make a pin hole at the end of each dashed line. Then, score on the back side of the part.

Coloring Cut -Paper Edges

For a more realistic model, color the cut edges of all parts before assembly. Use a colored marker pen or pencil around the edges. Make sure you test a marker pen on a scrap piece of paper from your model first. Some markers can “bleed” into the paper fibers, ruining the part’s finish.

Glues & Cement

The best method of gluing the wing and tail parts together is with an ordinary glue stick — Dennison’s brand works well. Remember, that paper absorbs water and warps; DO NOT LAMINATE THE WINGS AND TAIL WITH WATER-BASED GLUE! In all cases, weight down the laminated parts and let dry. The wing and tail parts must be perfectly flat.

The so-called “Craft” glue is a thick type of water-based “white” glue. It dries clear. You can also use a very light coat of water-based “White” glue, like Elmers® brand, for assembly. Put some of this thin glue in a plastic lid, like one from a coffee can. Let the white glue dry a bit so that it become “tacky.” Apply to parts with a toothpick. Immediately wipe off any excess with a damp paper towel.

Or, you might wish to try a model-type cement. We find that the Duco® brand of household cement works fine. It dries fast, but still has a reasonable working time letting you slide parts into final position. For any glue or cement, use small amounts to avoid warping the paper. If your printing and “colored ink” are waterproof, like from an Laser printer, use thick craft-type “white” glue for assembly — remove any that squeezes out from the joints with a damp paper towel or cotton swab

If you can’t find the thick “craft-type” white glue, just squirt some of the regular stuff into a plastic coffee-can lid and let it thicken a bit. Apply with a toothpick. Do make sure that you test fit all parts before assembly. If your colors and printing aren’t waterproof, as with most Ink-Jet printers, we find that the Duco Brand of Household Cement — it’s much like model-airplane glue — works very well. It’s a bit thinner than regular model cement, giving a bit of “working” time to slide the parts into final position. The solvent in “Duco” DISSOLVES laser-printed images, so if you printed with a laser, use care! DO NOT USE THE “INSTANT” or so-called CRAZY GLUES!!

Nose Weights

The dime-weight models were designed to use the new silver-laminate US dime. It weighs about 2.3 grams. If you have to use something else, like a small metal washer, and the model stalls, add a tiny piece of modeling clay to the nose. If the model dives, use a lighter weight. HINT! Experiment with a radial-engine model. Complete the nose cowling but don’t cement in place until after your test flights.

[Editor note: the older models were designed for old-style "copper" pennies. The newer "zinc/copper" pennies tend to be lighter. So, either try to find relatively old pennies (before about 1980) or add a little modeling clay in the nose as necessary.]

Back to main index