OuterZone Free Plans

Selection of photos of model aircraft constructed from OuterZone vintage plans

Photos of model aircraft constructed from OuterZone vintage plans

I found a neat website that offers free vintage and old-timer model aircraft plans. The site is called OuterZone and is based in the UK (Google Outerzone airplane plans if problems with the link). The site started in 2011 and has over 8,700 high quality plans available for download. Really, quite amazing!

OuterZone offers only electronic versions of the plans. It will be up to you to print the plans out to full size. The site discusses two main options for this, either using the Adobe PDF tile print function or taking the plan (printed out on 8.5” by 11” paper from your home computer) down to the local FedEx Home Office/graphics shop to produce a full scale version on one of their enlargement scanners.

View of a rubber powered 1913 Nieuport from the Ideal Aeroplane Company

View of a rubber powered 1913 Nieuport from the Ideal Aeroplane Company

The model aircraft plans that I downloaded were all of a very high quality. Note that these are actual construction plans, not simply three views. All the information needed to construct your model is available on the plan to include wood sizes.

OuterZone specializes in what they term vintage plans. This is roughly described as plans created prior to 1970. There are a few exceptions that more or less prove this rule.

OuterZone homepage showed latest plans added

OuterZone homepage showed latest plans added

The site has the usual search feature. Oftentimes there are several plans offered for a given search request, such as a Cessna 140. Versions may include smaller free flight or various sizes of a radio control version. That is one of the central benefits of building from plans, being able to select differing construction methods and sizes of a desired design and adapting as needed.

Screen shot of the latest plans offered on OuterZone

Screen shot of the latest plans offered on OuterZone

From my viewpoint the nice aspect about using aircraft plans created during this time period is two fold. First, the plans are mostly hand drawn by professional draftsmen. The plans are correct and there are no errors with parts fit and general layout. Secondly, in these early days of radio control flight, the models tended to be designed with some some level of inherent stability that made for pleasing flight characteristics.

This is especially true for RC models from the 1950s and 60s. With the use of one or two channel radio control sets the need for in flight stability was a design requirement. This results in a well mannered model with a relaxing flight experience for anyone building one of these designs today.

The majority of these models were designed for the use of glow fuel/internal combustion engines. This was the only source of feasible power in those early days of RC flight.

Electric powered RC flight is used by the majority of today’s modelers. The site has useful information in selecting an electric powered combination for various sizes of models. As you are building from plans it is a minor challenge to make the necessary modifications to install the electric motor components.

RCM Southern Gentleman plan, a perfect candidate for relaxing electric powered RC flight

RCM Southern Gentleman plan, a perfect candidate for relaxing electric powered RC flight

You will likely modify the structure a bit to create a lighter model. It is still a bit amazing to me just how much heavy structure was commonly used on gas powered RC models. I know they were a bit heavy with their internal combustion engines and older RC equipment and needed to be able to withstand a lot of vibration.

This changed all for the better with electric flight. We can easily plan for a lighter structure with the associated better flight characteristics that any aircraft built to a lower weight demonstrates.

The OuterZone site contains a photo gallery of aircraft made from site plans. It is nice to see some of these classic designs flying once again, a pleasant change of pace from the usual lineup of Almost Ready to Fly models.

Finally, there is a new section called “Viewpoint.” Once upon a time RC Modeler magazine (universally known as RCM magazine) was the standard monthly read for RC modelers. As part of RCM’s business model they sold full size blueprint construction plans. Incredibly, it was normal to have up to three model airplane plans offered per issue. My first RC model airplane design, Yankee Mike, was published by RCM in 1998.

Don Dewey was the editor of RCM. Don authored the Viewpoint column and this version is a useful collection of articles and reader inputs not directly related to a specific plan.

Do take a look at this site. Being able to build a model airplane design from decades ago is a lot of fun and opens up a whole new world of RC modeling.