I've been working on a project to convert paper models into balsa stick-and-tissue models. I was going to wait until the build was a little farther along before posting a thread, but the topics seems timely now with Paul's related and very interesting Ca-2 build thread, http://www.cardmodels.net/forum/showthread.php?t=7740, so I'll go ahead. Interestingly, Paul and I are doing almost the opposite thing. Paul's project is to adapt a stick-and-tissue plan to be built out of paper; mine is to adapt a paper model to stick and tissue. But our goal is the same: we are both looking for lightweight models for either electric or rubber power. THE PROJECT It started with a new toy that came out this year, one of the new micro r/c toy airplanes. It is called the Tyco SkyForce. See: These are profile models made out of flat sheets of roughly 2mm thick stiff foam, similar to meat-tray or picnic-plate foam ("depron"). They contain a 2-channel radio receiver, a li-poly battery, and two small geared motors placed on the trailing edge of the wing. Climbing and diving are controlled by changing the speed of both engines together; turning is accomplished by chaning their speed differentially. The same basic system is used in another popular line of toy planes called the Air Hogs Aero Ace. The advantage of the SkyForce system, for this application, is that rather than being built permanently into the airplane, the SkyForce hardware is modular and meant to be transferred from one airplane to another. After spending $40 for the starter kit with the hardware and 2 gliders, additional gliders can be purchased separately ($8 for a pack of 2) or you can easily design and make your own substitute; several plans are now available on the web. Here's what you get when you open the $40 starter kit (with a 15-inch ruler for scale): The hardware and pieces for two gliders with their clip-on attachments for the hardware. One looks a little like an Me 262 and the other is meant to resemble a flying boat adapted for firefighting. All very nice, but I prefer scale models with 3D fuselages rather than this profile stuff. Thus this project. WHY ADAPT A PAPER MODEL? Good question. There are lots of good plans and kits out there, either stick-and-tissue or foam, that could be used instead. Paul's CA-2 is a great example. And I'm building some of those, too. But I wanted to do a paper model because: 1. I have a lot of paper models and thought it would be fun to try. 2. Paper models cover a lot of subjects not easy to find in balsa or foam. Balsa kits exist for a lot of pre-1939 subjects and WWII aircraft, but not so many later types, especially multi-engine subjects and jets, which are harder to adapt to the rubber power that gave birth to these kits. And anyway I just happen to have a lot of paper models of subjects that I would have to buy balsa or foam kits/plans for. 3. Paper models come with nicely decorated, ready made skins that can be inkjet-printed onto tissue and used to cover the model. That can also be done with stick and tissue, but it's time-consuming and may even require mapping the stick-and-tissue plans into Rhino or some CAD program to develop and unfold the tissue covering patterns. And then you have to color it and make sure it all aligns; it's almost as much work as designing a whole paper model. Even then it might not work, because a lot of stick-and-tissue plans call for the tissue to assume a compound curve, which it actually can do when you shrink it, but it's hard for CAD programs to unfold. More on this later. 4. Paper models come with handy bits like patterns for spinners, cowlings, landing gear, canopies, and even cockpit interiors and radial engines that could be built straight from the kits and added to the stick-and-tissue model for scale detail; these are often not included, or not done as well, in small flying scale model plans and kits. NEXT: Getting started.