How to make clear canopies for your RC Planes

by grifflyer | March 27, 2018 | (25) Posted in How To

Hi all,

In this article I'm going to be showing you quick tip on how to give your models a much more scale look by simply replacing an opaque canopy with a clear one.

 Today I'll be showing two different ways to achieve a see-through canopy, they'll both start and end the same, but when it comes time to use the clear plastic...things will get a little different.


First you are going to print out the canopy template. Today I'll be using a canopy from a D.520 I'm working on. Even though it isn't a bubble canopy or a windshield the process for building one will be the same.

To start we're going to trace out the canopy frame, and if you don't know what that looks like, you can do what I do. I like to try and find a manufactured version of whatever model I'm working on and look for an image of a replacement canopy for the given plane.

 

After that you're gonna start cutting out where the windows will be, I find that a couple of light passes with a X-acto knife works great.

 

Now here is where the two variants will be different you can either do it my prefered way which is quicker and easier but a bit more expensive the other will be talked about later in the article.

So for the quicker version you're going to need a thermal laminator and thermal laminating pouches. What you're going to do is cut out enough of the plastic to fully cover the canopy.

Then, run it through the laminator and start cutting it out.

If you wanted to do the other style what you would do is get some spray adhesive (3M 77) and glue the frame to some clear plastic from something like a soda bottle, and then cut it out and assemble as shown below.


Time for assembly, and no matter what variant you are doing the construction process will be the same. To start you're going to want to tape together the flaps where you would regularly glue it. And make sure there isn't a gap between the two flaps.

Repeat the process for both sides.

Now flip it over and lay down a thin bead of glue right along the joint. Try your best to not get any glue on the clear plastic, (outside the frame). if you get some on the clear part it's no big deal it just won't look as good.

Your canopy is now complete and is ready to be mounted on your plane.

Thanks for reading my article, if you have any ideas on how improve the design or if you have another way of making a canopy I'd love to hear it.

COMMENTS

FliteTest on April 2, 2018
Awesome job!

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grifflyer on April 3, 2018
Thanks!
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lrussi750 on April 2, 2018
I guess I'll have to "borrow" my wife's laminator!
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808aerosquadron on April 4, 2018
Thank you for posting this. I use the second method you mentioned and it works great. FT builders, if you are looking for easy, good looking, clear canopies, these methods work great.

NB: I found I had difficulty getting the canopy to stay glued to the fuselage. The solution: Tabs. On the front and sides of the canopy, leave small tabs, < 5 mm in width and between 5-10 mm in length. Place the canopy on the fuselage and mark where the tabs lay on the fuselage. Make cuts the width of the tabs at the mark, then insert the tabs into the fuselage and glue them from the inside of the fuselage. Makes a secure, clean attachment.

Thanks again for this posting.
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grifflyer on April 4, 2018
Huh, I've never had a problem with the glue not holding, but thanks for letting me know. I'm probably gonna start adding tabs to my future builds, just to be safe.
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tomh on April 6, 2018
That is absolutely brilliant!! Love the concept, and we have a laminator at work, so..
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pintokitkat on April 8, 2018
I think this is a great idea - probably because I uploaded the same thing in 2013 - https://www.flitetest.com/articles/spitfire-canopy.

Great minds think alike, eh?


Andy
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DMC RC on April 8, 2018
Thanks so much! I never thought about using the laminator! So much easier than finding bits of plastic laying around. This method will be perfect for my Mighty Mini WWII Dogfighters I'm working on.
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grifflyer on April 10, 2018
You are very welcome!
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Curryit on April 10, 2018
Do you just use hot glue or an alternative?

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grifflyer on April 10, 2018
I use gorilla hot glue sticks, but you could probably use glue that would have a stronger bind to plastic.
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Sérgio Alves on April 22, 2018
i need to make a canopy to a Mustang P51D, any idea to help? thanks.

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grifflyer on April 23, 2018
Nothing comes to mind, but ask any questions if you some.
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Anthony Evans on January 5, 2019
I've used 16.9 oz. Talking Rain bottles for bubble type canopies on park flyer sized planes, as they are a bit thicker plastic than most bottled water bottles,have no lines molded in, and have a nice rounded shape. just cut the neck off right below the threads for the cap, then cut the bottle in half length wise. Then pretty much the same as in the article...hope this might be helpful.
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grifflyer on January 6, 2019
GREAT idea!!! I hope other people will see this!!
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yehudah on March 3, 2019
amazing love this
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How to make clear canopies for your RC Planes