What Materials Are RC Airplanes Made Out Of?

RC Airplane Show
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Question: What Materials Are RC Airplanes Made Out Of?

Whether you are building them yourself or buying them already built, the materials used to construct RC model airplanes include wood, plastic, and foam.

Answer: RC airplanes are made of all kinds of materials. This partial list -- especially the plastic/foam list -- is a confusing array of poly- this and that. This is intended only as an introduction to the many materials that can be used in constructing RC airplane bodies.

Some materials are used primarily for the framework, some for coverings.

  • Wood
    • Paper/Boxboard (yes, paper airplanes can have motors)
    • Balsa wood
    • Wood veneer (Obechi, poplar, others)
    • Light plywood
  • Fiberglass
  • Carbon Fiber


  • Plastic / Foam
    • Corrugated plastic (such as Coroplast)
    • Polycarbonate resin thermoplastic (such as Lexan)
    • Molded polystyrene
    • Extruded polystyrene (such as Depron or STYROFOAM*)
    • PolyNylolene (trademark for a durable, high density foam)
    • Expanded polypropylene (EPP, foam form of polypropylene plastic)


      *STYROFOAM is a brand name for a type of extruded polystyrene. However, what many people think of or call styrofoam -- foam cups, shaped packing material, for example -- is actually a type of expanded polystyrene. It might be used for some cheap RC airplanes but is generally not durable enough for use in modeling.

  • Film / Fabric
    • Polyethylene thermoplastics (such as PET, boPET, or Mylar for wing coverings)
    • AeroKote (brand of iron-on / adhesive polyester film covering)
    • Silk
    • Polyester heat-shrink fabric (Koverall, for one)