Airplanes & Rockets

Kirt Blattenberger, Webmaster - Airplanes and Rockets
Kirt Blattenberger
Carpe Diem!
(Seize the Day!)

Even during the busiest times of my life I have endeavored to maintain some form of model building activity. This site has been created to help me chronicle my journey through a lifelong involvement in model aviation, which all began in Mayo, MD ...

1996 - 2026

Kirt Blattenberger
Family Websites:
RF Cafe | Equine Kingdom

All trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other rights of ownership to images and text used on the Airplanes and Rockets website are hereby acknowledged.

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"Simplex" Airfoil Templates
Annual 1960 Air Trails Hobbies for Young Men

Annual Edition 1960 Air Trails
Annual Edition 1960 Air Trails Cover - Airplanes and RocketsTable of Contents

These pages from vintage modeling magazines like Flying Aces, Air Trails, American Modeler, American Aircraft Modeler, Young Men, Flying Models, Model Airplane News, R/C Modeler, captured the era. All copyrights acknowledged.

Here is an ingenious method for mechanically generating properly proportioned ribs for wings that are not rectangular - including sing and double straight tapers and even elliptical planforms. Of course today you can print out a perfectly dimensioned set of ribs to accommodate any planform and root-to-tip thickness taper profile. In 1960 when this "'Simplex' Airfoil Templates" article appeared in the 1960 Annual issue of Air Trails magazine, such conveniences were in the purview of universities and government research facilities. Even if you have no need of cutting ribs for tapered wings, it is worth your time to read this brief article about the mathematical principle - logarithmic (aka equiangular) spirals - behind the scheme. There are no formulas, so don't be scared off ;-)

"Simplex" Airfoil Templates

How to Use "Simplex" Airfoil Templates, Annual 1960 Air Trails - Airplanes and Rockets

Stick two pins vertically into sheet rib stock from which the ribs are to be cut. Separate the pins by a distance equal to the desired rib length. Select appropriate template, engage front notch and rotate template upwards to press against rear pin. Upper camber of rib can now be cut. Use straightedge to cut bottom camber.

By Robert H. W. Annenberg

Now that more graceful radio-controlled models are being designed in ever-increasing numbers, and U-control stunt models are going "pretty," an easy method for making ribs of an elliptical or tapered wing planform is in demand. Here is a set of templates - called Simplex Airfoils - each of which, when cut out of metal or plastic will give a geometrically similar airfoil, regardless of the chord length to its trailing edge. By suitably combining any pair of templates of different "percentage value," undercambered or double convex airfoils may be created in a wide range of thickness and mean camber ratios.

The mathematical basis of the templates is a curve known as the "Logarithmic ( or Equiangular) Spiral." This has the unique property that portions subtended by any chord line from the origin are geometrically similar, regardless of the length of the chord. It turns out that the maximum "thickness" occurs at approximately 35% chord; very convenient for aeromodelers! The numbers on the templates refer to the maximum ordinate height above the chord line drawn from the "notch" to any point on the curve - in percent, of course.

"Simplex" Airfoil Templates, Annual 1960 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsThe full-size templates here are suitable for ten-inch chord lengths or less, and should be carefully glued onto metal or plastic with rubber cement before trimming to the final shape. Saw and file carefully to the exact outline, including the leading edge notch which is exceedingly important. Don't hurry, because mistakes on a master template show up on each wing rib made from it!

To use the templates, place a pin at the desired leading edge position, push the "notch" of the chosen thickness template against the pin, and rotate the template until it coincides with the trailing edge. Then trace or cut out your Simplex Airfoil. It should be noted that these templates tend to give a sharp leading edge. To allow material for sanding a reasonable leading edge radius, simply "bias" the notch and trailing edge crossover points about 1/16 or 1/8 inch above the true chord line. Don't forget to allow for this leading edge bias in selecting your percentage, though.

Simplex templates are not only suited for cutting out ordinary-style ribs for tapered planforms, but they are ideal for making "sliced" ribs for indoor models and diagonal ribs, too. To find the proper "percentage value" for the diagonal rib, simply multiply the basic airfoil thickness value by the ratio of the-average-chord-length-between-ribs to the-diagonal-rib-length. (This ratio will always be less than one, so diagonal ribs require a smaller percentage value template than the basic airfoil percentage value.)

Before those frantic flying and re-building days arrive - prepare your Simplex Airfoil templates for action!



Posted April 17, 2021

Modeling Resources

Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) - Airplanes and Rockets
Academy of Model
Tower Hobbies logo - Airplanes and Rockets
Tower Hobbies

Horizon Hobby logo - Airplanes and Rockets
Horizon Hobby
Sig Manufacturing - Airplanes and Rockets
Sig Mfg
Brodak Manufacturing - Airplanes and Rockets
Brodak Mfg