Building the P51 Dart (a version of the Smart Dart XS)

Since quit some time I had the electronics for a Dart plane lying around at home. As the weather is getting better and better I decided to build it now. Read below to find the first steps of my build…

I stumbled across the Smart Dart XS planes designed by Gene Bond last winter while searching for a slowflyer that I could fly in my backyard. The design is extremely simple but due to it’s good flight characteristics it has a huge fan base. You can find all needed resources as well as PDF plans on RC-Groups (

I decided to go with the P51 Dart instead of the normal Dart XS as I always liked the shape of the Mustang airplane.

Now let’s jump right into the build. Of course everything starts with downloading the PDF plan, gluing the sheets together and cutting out the templates. I assume you all know how to do that 😉

For my build I choose to use 5mm thick foam board. Mainly because I still had a big enough piece still lying around from my last scratch build. But I also had very good results with foam board. Due to the combination of foam and the laminated paper it’s very durable and does not bend easily. Therefore I should be able to build the P51 Dart without the need for any carbon support spars.

Laying out thetemplates

The whole plane only consists out of three templates. But note that you need to cut out two wings and two tail pieces of course.

The cut out pieces

As you can see on the template, the tail piece has a marked line. This line marks the elevator hinge line. So cut both tail pieces apart at this line.

Cut apart the pieces according to the plan

In order to allow the elevator control surface to move full up and down you need to bevel the two pieces that you just cut apart. I prefer to do the bevel on the bottom, so turn the pieces upside down and cut off some foam at approx. 45 degree angel. That way when you tape both together the pieces can move up and down freely. Do the same for the other tail piece…

Bevel the elevator

The same technique applies to the rudder. Cut it of the main fuselage as marked on the plan.

Cut off the rudder control surface

Also cut a 45° angle to the rudder and the main fuselage, just like you did for the elevator above. It does not really matter at which side you cut. Either right or left side is good.

Bevel the rudder control surface

After this you’ll have to cut out the cone-shaped opening in order to give the elevator control surface place to move. You’ll find the exact place and dimension also on the template. (see next picture)

Before you start to glue everything together you can already create the control surface hinges. I use normal clear packing tape for that. Simply put the pieces together so that the hinge line matches up nicely and put the tape on top. (see next picture)

Taped control surfaces of the tail section

The final step in the build is gluing all together. I use ordinary hot glue as it creates nice and strong joints on the foam board. But you can probably also use epoxy or maybe even foam-safe super glue. Be aware that tail pieces glue onto the main fuselage in a 90° angel. While the wings are glues at a steeper angel. As shown in the plan the wing tips should be 2 inch higher that the point where the wing is glues to the main fuselage.

The result looks very cool!

There we have it the P51 Dart. Read for installing the motor and the electronics.
Read more about that in an upcoming article…


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