Radio-controlled (RC) planes are as exciting as their on-land counterparts; some hobbyists might even argue that RC planes hold more entertainment value. The construction that goes into making one of these is impressive, especially given how much weight and balance matter. So, how much do RC planes weigh?
RC planes tend to weigh between 2.5lbs and 3.5lbs (1.1-1.6kg). However, there are some models with weights outside this range. Manufacturers produce RC planes for different target groups, and the weight will be different for each group. Hobbyist RC planes will likely weigh more than toy options.
In the rest of this article, I’ll take a closer look at all you need to know about RC planes and their weights.
How To Know the RC Planes weigh?
As I mentioned, it’s impossible to lay out a blanket weight class for all models of RC planes in the market today. If you’d like to know the definitive weight of any RC plane model, look at the spec sheets or get in touch with the manufacturer.
For instance, this Top Race Rc Plane 3 Channel Remote Control from Amazon.com weighs just 1.41lbs (0.6kg), while other larger RC planes weigh up to ten times that number.
This YouTube video explains the differences:
The weight covers the wheels, nose gear, servos, empty fuel tank, and fuselage. So, a small RC plane with fuel in the tank can weigh up to 30% more than the “empty” weight.
How Do Batteries Affect the Weight of RC Planes?
Batteries contribute to the overall weight of an RC plane. They are the main source of power. A typical RC plane will come with a 2200mAh battery, which will deliver around seven minutes of flying time, and it weighs around 0.35lbs (0.16kg).
If you’re building an RC plane, I’d recommend using single but more powerful batteries than combining two lesser-powered options. For example, some 5000mAh LiP0 batteries will weigh less than 2lbs (0.91kg) but combining two 3300mAh batteries can get you a battery pack that weighs a lot more with only a slight improvement in flying time.
What’s more, after a certain limit, you’ll notice that heavier batteries reduce your flight time instead of increasing it.
I’ll explain more below.
Does an RC Plane’s Weight Influence the Flight?
An RC plane’s weight influences the flight and how smoothly it flies. This is because weight is one of the different forces that come together on any flight.
So, an RC plane with more weight will require extra lift and thrust. This is why heavy planes take longer to get off the ground and why manufacturers make RC planes as light as possible.
Again, if you’re building your own plane, you’ll have to keep this factor in mind. As you pack in more battery power to increase flying time, you’re likely giving your plane’s engines more work than they can handle.
If you double the weight of a plane with batteries to increase the flying time, you’ll need to double the engine power as well. I’m yet to find RC plane engines that can generate twice more power than what it says on the specifications sheet, so that’s a tall order. You’ll likely be left with a plane that can’t fly or one with dead engines.
How To Ensure Perfect Balance on Your RC Plane
Maintaining the perfect weight on your RC plane is important. I’ve seen what happens when you try to fly a tail-heavy plane. The tail will drop once it loses lift while approaching stall speed. At this point, you’ll lose airspeed, sending the plane down in a crash—not a good way to launch an RC plane that costs a few hundred!
Maintaining the perfect weight balance (or something close to perfect) is the best way to avoid such a disaster. So, a few points to keep in mind before you get started:
- Ensure the fuel tank is empty before balancing if you own a nitro engine RC plane.
- Look at the RC plane manual to figure out where the plane’s center of gravity should be.
- You can check the balance of your plane by holding it up on your finger to see which way it tilts.
Balancing RC Plane Weight Without Adding Extra Weight
In some cases, you can balance an RC plane without adding more weight. Simply move the battery pack forward or backward, depending on which part of the plane is heavier. An RC plane with a heavy nose will have the nose pointing downwards, while one with a heavy tail will have the nose pointing upwards.
If the nose is heavy, simply move the battery pack towards the back of the plane. If the tail is heavy, move the battery pack forward. This method doesn’t automatically balance things, so I recommend checking the balance every time you move the battery pack. After you’ve achieved the perfect balance, secure your battery pack.
Balancing RC Plane by Adding Extra Weight
Depending on the weight of your plane’s engine or the motor, it may be necessary to add extra weight to get the perfect balance with your plane.
If you’re adding any weight, you need to ensure it’s nowhere near the center of gravity, or you may end up adding too much weight than necessary. The weight should go on the firewall if your plane is tail-heavy or towards the end of the fuselage for nose-heavy planes.
The extra weight can be anything, as long as it won’t damage the plane’s body. You can use bolts, fishing weights, nuts, or anything else you can secure to the plane’s body. There are also weights designed for this type of job on the market. But if you own a really small plane, just a few strips of tape may be enough to balance things out effectively.
Will an RC Plane’s Weight Affect Battery Life?
An RC plane’s weight will affect its battery life. We touched on this above briefly: If you increase the weight on an RC plane, the engine will have to work harder to generate extra lift and thrust.
The power comes from the battery, so extra weight often translates to more drag on the battery life. Remember, too much weight can do more than just worsen the battery life and flight time. It can damage the engines completely if you add too much weight.
How Much Weight Can You Put On an RC Plane?
The different models and sizes of planes available means there’s no universal answer to this.
How much weight you can put on an RC plane mainly depends on its overall size. In many cases, you can expect an RC plane to carry around 10-20oz (0.28-0.57kg) per square foot of wing.
Knowing the right weight for your RC plane is important if you don’t want to lose your investment when it’s airborne. Putting too much weight on the plane almost always ends in a crash.
How To Determine How Much Weight a Plane Can Hold
There are two main approaches you can use when working out how much weight your plane can hold:
Adding Weight Slowly
This is the method I prefer. It’s easy and straightforward. Just add the weight to the plane, and pay attention to the balance. Watch to ensure it doesn’t dip backward or forward a bit too much.
Plus, when adding the weight, you need to work carefully to avoid weighing down the plane too quickly. You also need to be prepared to add ballast to the front or back of the plane.
Using the Wings’ Square Footage
Many hobbyists suggest a load size based on the type of RC plane. Of course, heavier-duty models can take more extra weight compared to smaller micro-planes with smaller square footage. Below are the guidelines to work with:
|Type of RC Plane||Recommended Weight Per Square Footage|
|Heavy scale RC planes and Warbirds||20-25 oz (0.57-0.71kg)/sq. ft|
|Sport planes||15-20 oz (0.43-0.57kg)/sq. ft|
|Trainers||10-15 oz (0.28-0.43kg)/sq. ft|
|Gliders||Below 10 oz (0.28kg)/sq. ft|
As you can see from the table above, you should only add very small weights to your plane. I’d recommend not adding any extra weight to the plane unless you’re experienced in this type of RC vehicle modification.
If you have a genuine need (such as adding a bit more battery power) to increase the weight on your plane and you don’t have the right skill, it’s best to consult more experienced people or go to an RC workshop to pay for the service. It will likely be cheaper than the cost of buying a new plane.
What Other Materials Can Increase the Weight of a Plane?
As we’ve seen above, batteries are usually the main culprits for extra weight on a plane. However, most people tend not to change the original batteries. So, what other items can make a plane heavier?
Glue and other similar embellishments are the other materials that can increase the weight of the plane. The thickness of the embellishment or the glue you choose can make your RC plane uneven.
So, you should only use parts that are identical to the original and avoid using heavy glue-like epoxy during repairs.