We shall discuss four methods of applying the markings and lettering to your remote controlled airplane.

Water-Slide Model Aircraft Decals

These have been around for the longest time and are well known in the hobby. The advantage of  water-slide model

aircraft decals is that they very thin and they lay down very nicely on model surfaces. It is , after all, just a layer of paint and surface detail (like rivets or rib tapes) show up well.The disadvantages are they tend to be quite fragile and may not be fuel proof. Check with the supplier and if they are not fuel proof then a light coat of fuel proof clear may be required. Test the clear coat you plan to use, to ensure compatibility.An excellent supplier of model aircraft decals is Cal-Grafx. They have a wide range of all types of decals (including custom designs). Their website has all the info and a very good page devoted to the application of water-slide decals.

Vinyl Decals

Vinyl model aircraft decals are available as printed or solid color. They tend to be thicker than the water-slide type so do not "lay down" over surface detail as well. They are usually fuel proof so do not need a clear coat. Being self-adhesive they do require a different application technique.

Once again I can do no better than Cal-Grafx regarding application instructions. Visit their site for more information.


The use of a stencil to apply paint is probably the most scale way of applying markings and lettering to your radio controlled airplanes. After all, this is how the full size aircraft was painted!

With the use of computer graphics almost any marking or lettering can be reproduced. I suggest you contact for an explanation of the techniques involved. Every order is custom made and along with their dry transfers, all your markings and lettering needs can be met.

My I/4 scale Curtiss Hawk P6E, for which  Airplane Plans are available, was finished using stencils from A phone call was placed and the project discussed in detail. This was quite a complex subject. I had decided to finish the model in the markings of the "Snow Owl" squadron. Fortunately had a smaller snow owl graphic in stock so it was possible to scale this up and produce a stencil. To visit the GetStencils web site just click here.

The white feathers on the fuselage were difficult to predict, due to the compound curves involved. I asked GetStencils to sell me a few sheets of stencil material and I then could make my own stencil "on the model". A "male" shape of the feather was made from card and the stencil was then cut out of the material.

The US ARMY lettering was supplied as one stencil and the stars and roundels required three stencils each (one for each color).

The whole process proceeded very quickly and smoothly and the results were outstanding! The cost was reasonable and the customer service was very good.


Using monokote to make your own model aircraft decals is a quick and simple method. The finished results may be a bit "glossy" and not quite scale but I have used this method with good results. For multi-colored decals, remove the centre pieces covered up by the next layer, leaving 1/8" overlap. This keeps the total thickness of the decal to one layer.

Using a trim iron, set on LOW, start at the center of the piece and proceed outwards. If any bubbles appear, try to work them out. If they persist then prick them with a sharp hobby knife (or a needle) and iron them down. Ensure the edges are well ironed down.

I have made Royal Air Force roundels and lettering this way as well as colored trim. It works very well on a fabric covering but on a fully sheeted surface it can present a problem with the air bubbles.

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