Sep 05, 2012 2 Comments by

Expert scale designer and builder Nick Ziroli answers:

Instead of adding the fillet after the wing and fuselage are built, I make the shape of the fillet areas as part of the fuselage formers themselves. This requires having at least the wing center section built and attached to the fuselage, but to make sure the wing is properly aligned with the fuselage, I build the entire wing and measure from the wingtips to the tail.

The fillets start with a 1/32-inch plywood saddle that forms the top-view outline of the fillets. This is placed between the formers and the wing, and then it is glued to the formers, making a perfect fit. Then I epoxy some carbon fiber roving just inside the outer edges and laminate it between the plywood and the first strip of balsa planking. This produces a very strong and ding-resistant outline that can be sanded to a very fine edge. Once the epoxy cures, I start planking the fairing section with 1/4-inch-wide strips of 1/16-inch-thick balsa, alternating the strips as I go–one along the wing and then along the fuselage. Fit each strip into place to make the seams and joints tight. Use a rounded sanding block to smooth the planking, and then fill any gaps or seams with a hobby filler. Once they are sanded smooth, cover the fillet area with fiberglass cloth and resin while you are finishing the fuselage.¶

Nick Ziroli poses with his Spitfire. Wing fillets are an important part of its scale look.



Nick Ziroli, Uncategorized

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Model Airplane News Executive editor. About me: I’m a publishing professional who has a passion for aviation and RC, and I love creating issues, books and a website that help RC pilots to enjoy this sport even more. I admire scale aircraft and enjoy the convenience of flying smaller electrics.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Helpful, and very similar to my own merhod. I’ve found that contest 1/16 balsa with the grain oriented 45 degrees toward the fuse centerline bends nearly perfect to contour as well.
    Mark Rittinger

  2. Dave Slote says:

    I make a fibreglass sheet in the general shape required. This layup is done on a sheet of glass and is flexible enough to fit the fillet formers and fuse/fillet joint shapes. Zap it in place, sand to fit wing, and you have a perfectly smooth surface to work from. Panel lines and rivets can be scribed into the resin surface. Wing to fillet joint is hardly noticeable. Light and very strong with very little sanding etc. before paint.

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