Title got your attention? This website sure got mine.
The Outerzone website is a listing of free vintage and old-timer model airplane plans to download. At the time of this writing, the total count of plans stood at 2,428.
This website delivers, in spades. I typed in “mustang” into the search box, and I instantly got a list of 18 P-51 Mustang plans. The wingspans ranged from 15 inches (38 cm) to 64 inches (163 cm).
I got a little more adventurous and typed in “tailless”. The search results came back with five plans. Not bad. I checked out the Penumbra, which turned to be a very attractive glider. Nice.
With a little more digging I even found a gorgeous Sopwith Pup. With just a 12 inch wingspan and 25 grams flying weight, it’s intended for electric RC. The computer drawn CAD plans were released in 2011.
All of the plans are in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. The stated goal of the website is to only include plans that are of good enough quality to build a model. All of the ones I looked at easily met that goal.
Many of the plans are beautifully drawn. Most of the plans appear to come from old model airplane magazines or kits. A lot of loving care clearly went into them. I easily see myself printing some of these plans out and framing them to hang on my wall.
A very handy Tag Matrix interactively lets you narrow down your selection of plans by attribute. Another very handy page describes techniques for working with these plans such as for printing them out.
The plans from magazines generally include the year but not the month. Having the month of publication would make tracking down the actual physical magazine issue easier.
Reading the small writing on some of the plans is very hard. Printing out the larger plans could be a challenge.
The website makes it clear that it runs on a budget hosting plan. Although it ran fine for me most of the time, they warn about frequent slow downs and even outages.
Don’t count on getting anything beyond the plans. Sometimes the building instructions are printed right on them. If the plans you are interested in building has them, consider yourself very lucky. Most of the time you are on your own.
In many cases a small picture of the completed model is shown on the website. I did not see any way of obtaining a larger version of these pictures. I never saw any construction photos.
Don’t go looking either for instructions on selecting and installing a modern power system. In fact, most of the models appear to be rubber band powered free flight. I found 686 plans for free flight rubber scale model airplanes.
For giggles, I searched for the word “foam”. Three models from around 1970 that pioneered the use of foam in model airplanes popped up. Three more than I was expecting…
There are many classic designs included in the collection. I found several plans for versions of the Playboy Senior, for example. I found 20 designs by Carl Goldberg. I found another 20 designs by Frank Zaic.
This website is an incredible resource. There is much to be learned about balsa construction techniques by studying these plans. Many of these smaller rubber band powered designs could be converted to micro RC gear and electric power. Doubling them in size would be an easy way to get a great looking (and flying!) park flyer.