Who Makes the Best Balsa Wood Airplane Kits? Look For These

A nearly complete balsa wood model airplane and assorted parts and tools.

Building balsa wood model airplanes can be tricky, fun, exciting, frustrating, and thrilling all at the same time.

So when deciding which one to choose, you may want to consider which is the best option that your money can buy.

Of course, a company with a stellar reputation and years of experience is your best bet.

Who makes the best balsa wood airplane kits? Guillow and Dumas have been designing and manufacturing balsa wood model planes for a combined total of almost 200 years and are considered to be the best. They carry balsa planes in both static and remote control versions and feature a variety of historic replicas and modern-day models.

This article will detail model airplanes and go over their various categories and types, touching on what you should focus on when considering which is best for you.

Then we will go over the three main companies that manufacture balsa wood model airplanes and consider them all for top contenders.

Lastly, we will look at which glue you should use for your balsa wood model and how far can some balsa gliders fly. 

Balsa Wood Airplane Kits Overview

The hobby of aircraft modeling (also commonly known as aeromodeling) has been popular for almost 100 years and started in the 1930s.

The hobby involves constructing small-scale replicas of famous airplanes of yesteryear and from modern times. 

You can choose many designs, ranging from simple gliders to the most accurate scale models.

To some, this might seem like a drag considering today’s digital world.

However, this hobby keeps your hands and eyes busy, and you will be astounded at what you can learn from an engineering perspective, even if it is constructed out of balsa wood. 

There are two categories for model airplanes: static (non-flying) or flying.

Hence, once complete, you can arrange it on your shelf as part of a collection, or if you fancy yourself a pilot, you can purchase a radio-controlled model and take to the skies. 

You can get model airplanes made from plastic, metal, and other forms of material manufactured by well-known companies such as Revell; however, here we will be looking at balsa wood-constructed airplane models. 

Why Are Airplane Kits Made From Balsa Wood?

The balsa tree (also known as Ochroma pyramidale) is commercially used for many applications because it is the softest and lightest commercial hardwood.

This means it is perfect for model airplanes because the wood makes them easy to construct and they are lightweight, so they are more likely to fly. 

What Types of Airplane Kits Can You Get?

There are various types of balsa wood model airplanes as we discussed; you can classify them into two categories: static and flying.

For the category that allows the model airplane to fly, we can further break that category down into three more categories.

We won’t go into too much detail about them because, for the most part, many people only consider building static models or ones with radio controls. 

The categories include free flight (F/F), control line (C/L), and radio control (RC).

Free flight models are designed to allow the model to fly without any attachment to the ground.

Control line models utilize a cable typically attached to the wing leading to the pilot, and radio-controlled models use a transmitter that a pilot operates from the ground. 

Before deciding who manufactures the best balsa wood airplane kits, know that there are various types of models within each category. These include:

  • Simple kits.
  • Scale replicas.
  • Historical.
  • Flyable.

Simple kits have a ton of detail and have precut parts or laser-cut pieces, and you can easily snap them together.

Scale replicas allow you to build real-life aircraft to scale, with the most popular scales being 1:72, 1:32, and 1:48.

Historical kits are for fans who love airplanes from history (typically from war eras), and WWII kits always take top position. 

These are all the factors you need to consider when deciding which balsa wood airplane kits are the best.

Now, let’s take a look at the top manufacturers and some of their kits, relate them to our categories, and see who comes out the winner. 

Guillow’s Balsa Wood Airplane Kits

Guillow is by far the oldest and longest running company with relation to model airplanes.

They started all the way back in 1926 (that’s almost 100 years) and offer the widest variety you can choose from regarding model airplanes of any nature. 

From the beloved P-51 Mustang, which is one of the most popular among beginners and enthusiasts alike (find it here) to the Thomas Morse Scout of WWI, Guillow offers the finest balsa wood planes you can find.

With everything from the British SE 5-A to modern-day aviation planes, such as the F-15 Eagle (see it here), this is the place to shop if you want top-quality model airplanes.

Dumas Balsa Wood Airplane Kits

Dumas is the second longest running company regarding balsa wood airplanes, founded all the way back in 1947.

They started off primarily as model boat manufacturers but evolved into incorporating and producing model airplanes as well. 

As of now, Dumas sports over 100 model airplane kits, which is actually more than their boat range and approximately the same as the model airplane range from Guillows.

Also made from the highest quality and with precise attention to detail, their balsa wood model airplane range is phenomenal. 

Awesome planes, like the DH C-2 Beaver and the Sopwith Triplane, come with incredible detail and authentic decals, sure to please any plane fan.

Viloga Balsa Wood Airplane Kits

Not much is known about Violga as a company, which is a bit strange considering you can purchase many of their balsa model airplanes on Amazon.

Their reviews range from amazing to not so bad, but it depends on the model you buy, and for the most part, they seem to make good-quality balsa wood models.

However, their range is limited, but the plus side is that the models usually contain amazingly intricate details.

For instance, check out the Deperdussin Monocoque and the Piper Cub J-3.

So Which Balsa Wood Airplane Kit Is the Best?

This would really depend on the person investing in the model and is relative to a degree.

However, by far, Dumas and Guillow make the best balsa wood airplane models.

The P-51 Mustang is among the most highly rated and is a fan favorite throughout the world, and Guillow sells that specific model. 

Factors to consider are preference and taste regarding building habits, price, size, type, paint, and extras.

Furthermore, these factors will vary across the board regarding each model and how different they are.

In the end, it is up to you, but if you are unsure of what to get, then visit the company’s website or Amazon for customer reviews of the specific model you are interested in. 

What Is the Best Glue for Balsa Wood?

The most common glue or adhesive that many individuals swear by is cyanoacrylate (CA glue).

If you can’t pronounce the word, don’t worry; the more commonly used name is super glue.

Super glue is excellent for bonding and keeping materials like balsa wood, metals, and other model airplane materials secure permanently. 

The only thing you have to note is that you should be using a medium viscosity super glue when building your balsa wood models. 

How Far Can Balsa Gliders Fly?

For individuals that are experienced in making balsa wood gliders, they can fly as far as 60 feet and sometimes even a little further than that.

Detailing how to build a glider that flies that far is beyond the scope of this article; however, the following video demonstrates how to do so.

Conclusion

We discovered that three main companies make the best balsa wood airplane models: Guillow, Dumas, and Viloga.

Guillow has been around the longest and sports some of the most beloved models that many people enjoy, with Dumas being a close second. 

Whichever balsa wood model you decide to purchase, make sure that you cater to your tastes, and that means choosing the one you would enjoy building, looking at, and flying.

That is what it will ultimately boil down to when choosing between the three main competitors. 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_aircraft

https://radiocontrol.fandom.com/wiki/Model_aircraft

https://www.guillow.com/index.aspx

https://www.dumasproducts.com/about-us/

https://www.chicagotribune.com/consumer-reviews/sns-bestreviews-toys-the-best-model-airplane-kit-20200721-sxjfvgwtbfbonjen7ocsidjzcq-story.html

https://www.modelsteam.co.uk/model-aircraft/balsa-wood-aircraft-kits/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ochroma

https://starbond.com/blogs/tutorials/repair-balsa-model-airplane-with-superglue#

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDBAYe6iQhU

Last update on 2021-05-18 at 03:31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API