RC Airplane/Covering, painting and applying decals

It is crucial for the plane to have a covering of some type in order to be able to fly, however, other visual details are simply for fun and for the joy and pride involved in the hobby.

This model aircraft has had decals applied to mimic the appearance of a real A380 used for commercial service. Decals are not strictly needed, but are enjoyed by some.

Many hobbyists will not bother going beyond the basic covering required to fly the plane, for certain crafts. This is often because of the additional effort involved does not balance with the likelihood that the place will probably crash at some point and need repair. Very detailed exteriors are usually reserved for more experienced flyers and planes that are large enough to support the weight of all the extra trimmings, details, cockpit, paint and other non-crucial additions.



Tissue and dope


The oldest, and most common method of covering a model is to use tissue and a cellulose thinner to stiffen the tissue and make it waterproof. The tissue is usually shrunk using a light spray of water. The cellulose thinner 'dope' is then applied after the water dries. providing a drum-tight, stiff and light covering material. The tension of the material strengthens the structure.

Sheet Balsa


Sometimes a model is covered with sheet balsa and either painted or covered again with a covering film.

Foam Models


Foam models require no covering, and are sometimes painted with acrylic paints, and decorated with decals.

Iron On coverings


Most iron- on or glue - on coverings, or skins, will come with application instructions, although various experts have published works on how to master certain covering types, the most common being the plastic heat-shrink film. When done properly and with skill, it can give the most professional and authentic look, depending on what type of plane it is, as some full scale planes were originally covered in cloth other other materials.



One popular method of painting is to use the common model paints that are used for plastic model kits. A good spraying system is recommended for to save weight.

Applying decals


Decals can be purchased from hobby shops in various sizes. Alternatively modelers can create their own decals and transfer them to the model by printing on sticker paper. With the advent of affordable color printers this had become within the reach of almost every modeller.