Ever since I saw it in the The Force Awakens teaser trailer last year, I was in love with the new T-70 X-Wing Fighter. The design breathed new life into one of the most iconic craft in sci-fi history (the T-65) and paid homage to the original concept art of Ralph McQuarrie. It was an instant classic, and I wanted one that flew, just like the ones on screen. The following is an attempt to take my knowledge of, and experience with, micro R/C aircraft and apply it to creating a visually accurate, good flying version of the T-70 X-wing.
Where possible I use low cost off-the-shelf parts, with minimal need for custom fabrication or fine soldering. In many cases, an old broken micro RTF plane or quad would serve as an excellent component donor. As with most micro aircraft, weight (or lack thereof) is one of the most important drivers of how well the finished product will fly. I’ve tried to keep the build simple and minimize weight wherever possible. That said, special attention must be paid to component selection and glue use during the build, to make sure you end up with a fighter, and not a tank.
Step 1: Cut Depron foam from template
Below you’ll find the CAD work I created for the T-70 from a three view I found online. The final design here is modified to simplify the detailing and slightly tweak the wings to make it more manufacturable. The bottom sketches are for the paint stencils. Scale the design as needed. For my X-Wing, I went with a length of approximately 2 feet from nose to tail.
Step 2: Painting
Using the paint stencils in the bottom of the design, apply paint to the areas shown in the photo. I used Tamiya spray paints because they don’t eat foam. You can also use Krylon Short Cuts.
After applying the main colors, I did a wash of Testors black acrylic paint to highlight the details. Use a rag to work the wash into the lines, then wipe down with a clean rag soaked in paint thinner.
Step 3: Wing assembly
Each wing got a 3mm pultruded carbon rod as its main structure. Nacelle detail for the thruster was achieved by scoring a strip of foam, and bending it to shape. Each wing consists of a top and bottom panel. The two wing sections mirror each other and the two slide together.
Step 4: Assemble fuselage
Glue the bottom of the fuselage to the main horizontal fuselage section, leaving the aft portion un-glued. This allows you space to insert the wing.
Step 5: Connect wings to fuselage
Below you can see the two wings slotted together. The cutout in the rear fuselage was sized to place the wings at the appropriate angle. The sections are then secured with a few drops of foam-safe CA glue (cyanoacrylate/super glue).
Step 6: Install electronics
Below you can see the electronics installed. I’m using an RX34D receiver and two Hobby King 1.7g servos. Motors are 8.5mm coreless motors from Micro Motor Warehouse, on Hubsan X4 props. This setup runs off a 1s 150mAh cell battery, resulting in 1:1 thrust to weight.
If you look closely at the top of the frame, you can see the clear vertical fins. Because of all of the surface area in front of the CG, I added two small clear fins to the rear of the engines, to improve yaw stability.
The finished model flies better than it has any right to! It has a wide speed range, and is capable of loops, rolls, and other aileron/elevator aerobatics. Thanks to the sort-of “canard” created by the forward fuselage, it is really hard to stall, and can be easily hand launched and caught.
The plane balances right at the leading edge of the wing, and the elevons are reflexed up 3mm. I’m running 100% rates with 25% expo on all surfaces. For the first few trimming flights, leave off the laser cannon straws, as they will be the first things to break off. I also recommend incorporating a 20–30% aileron-to-rudder mix ( if your radio supports it) as the nose will want to walk to the outside of the turn without proper rudder input. I like working the left stick, but for those who want a more relaxing flying experience, a simple aileron-rudder mix really helps tame most planes.
This was a really fun/quick project, that is based on a proven electronics setup and build method, with a few extra detailing steps added in. Usually these sci-fi builds end up looking cool, but flying poorly. Thankfully this ended up being an exception to that rule and I really enjoy flying this plane. Leave questions here, on my YouTube channel, or on RCGroups, and I’ll try to help you get your own X-Wing in the air.