Nitro RC Planes

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This topic covers the following issues.


  1. The type of nitro engines.
  2. The RC plane with nitro engine.


For people who love RC plane what would be more ecstasy than having chance to fly nitro RC planes?  I used to happy with flying electric RC plane but later on I discovered that flying nitro engine plane is the most wonderful experience of all. For those who fly Jet engine plane might give different answer but that is further step I am looking for as it will be most challenging target for everyone who is in this hobby.  Once I flew my first nitro RC plane which had around 1.4 meter wing span I was a bit nervous of handling it at first but this was overcome once the control seems to be all right.  To make you get a thorough understanding of nitro RC planes I would like to raise a case of one my ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) kit which was assembled lately.




Nitro RC planes has mainly the nitro engine as power unit and the word nitro stands for Nitromethane which is used as a fuel in various motor sports and hobbies, e.g. drag racing and miniature internal combustion engines in radio control, control line and model aircraft. However the actual mixture of other lubricant such as castor oil or other additive is indispensable. The Nitro is always indicated by the percentage of its mixture in the model plane fuel such as 5%, 10% and 15%. Depending on each engine specification the use of Nitro is basically recommended.  Four- stroke engine that I use requires at least 15% Nitro to make the engine run smoothly and the more percentage of Nitro mixed in the engine fuel the more efficiency an out put will be given accordingly.  The draw back of the usage is practically owes to its fuel cost.


The difference between two-stroke and four-stroke engine





Traditional two-stroke engine fires up on every cycle. At first stage the glow plug is applied with the power to set to the red heat point the fuel is inducted with the air while the piston moves down. After this instance the piston moves up to the maximum compression point, the ignition occurs and the power is transferred to the flywheel.  The process will always be in the order of Induction, Compression, Power and Exhaust.  Once the combustion finishes the piston descended to allow the exhaust to release and then cycles up again for next compression and combustion process. This process is repeated in one up-down cycle but is referred to as two-stroke all processes are finished within one cycle.









Four-stroke engine fires up every second cycle.  The four-stroke running consists of four steps which are Induction, Compression, Power or Ignition, and Exhaust or discharging. This process is assisted by two valves that control the open and close of the air intake and exhaust gas release.   The first stroke starts when the air intake valve opens while the exhaust valve closes the piston then descends to induce the vacuum inside the cylinder therefore the mixture of air and fuel is sucking into the combustion chamber.  The second stroke is the instance when the piston is moving upright – which is called a compression stroke.  When the piston arrives at the top dead center (TDC) the point where maximum compression is desired the mixture will then be fulminated by the heat generated from the glow plug. The action is called Power or combustion stroke and this completes the first cycle of the Four-stroke engine running.  Second cycle happens after the ignition is finished and the piston moved down by the combustion power. With the rotation of the flywheel the piston moves up again but this time it is done without ignition but to release the exhaust gas through the exhaust port and valve.  After the second cycle finishes the whole process repeats again until the fuel is depleted or the engine throttle is cut off.






In term of revolution two-stroke engine gives more rev than that of four-stroke engine and thus giving higher speed. Furthermore two-stroke engine is rugged, cheaper in price and much easy to maintain. Its disadvantages are the unpleasant noise and the piggish fuel consumption rate.  However the usage of both engines is practically depended on the type of plane you are flying, if you fly pylon or trainer plane what you need should be two-stroke engine. Scale plane and War-birds are practically fitted with four-stroke engine due to its deep pitch of sound that is much friendly and a bit similar to the airplane engine.  Four- stroke engine can drive a larger propeller than two- stroke engine due to its greater torque but in term of speed and revolution the two-stroke engine is the winner.


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What is the popular size of nitro RC plane?                                                                                     


We use to start with the common 0.46cu inch which is sometime referred to 40- size engine.  It is normally installed on the plane with approximately 1.40m to 1.50m wing span whether it is scale and trainer plane.   Forty-size engine is the most popular size of model kit that is widely available in most stores and is the size that most manufacturers provide numerous array of selection.  This is also the size that is flexible to accommodate a bit bigger engine range like 0.50 or 0.55cu inch for those who long for an extra power on their model plane.




With the flight observation the RC plane with 1.50m span is fairly easy to be spotted in the air which means you will have no problems to figure out the plane maneuver.  Many cases that contribute to the plane crash is relative to the size of the plane that is poorly seen when more distant is concerned as it makes confusion to the flyer in reading the plane maneuver.  I was once experienced this problem with the 50-szie Pitt (an aerobatic biplane type) with 1.0m wing span that flew into a good distant and it looks like a small red ball that was impossible to figure out what exactly was its maneuver.  After a few guess and making anticipated input the plane was unexpectedly plummeted down to earth and went into pieces.  It was my bad day with a painful leaning that I should never go to far and better have a sizable plane for easy spotting.  Today I always remind other flyer who fly small RC plane for not make it too far and be within the good range of his sight as much as possible.


As people have much experience they usually look for bigger size of nitro RC planes. The bigger size of RC plane such as 1.6m-2.0m wing span have more control surface that similar to a real size airplane.  Flap and a pneumatic brake system are useful in this size of plane and are very helpful during take off and landing.  The engine is thus bigger as it usually ranges from 0.90cu inch to 1.50cu inch – four-stroke type.  Nowadays the trend has been changed since RC flyer opts to a gas engine for their bigger size plane rather than staying with the fuel ravished four-stroke engine.  Gas engine also has a good range of a four- stroke type of engine to please the scale lover.  This is a turn point of the nitro engine as its fuel price is more than five time of the Gasoline petrol the gas engine seems to stay ahead of the nitro engine in the medium to large size of RC plane.




If you fly RC plane and not yet try the nitro engine just give yourself a try and get a good feeling of the engine running and its screaming sound when rushing at full speed.   Visit the flying club and witness them flying if you are RC plane lover it surely is a jazzy time for you all.  Believe in yourself and make a fantastic day of nitro RC plane be yours.

4 thoughts on “Nitro RC Planes

  1. This is a very helpful overview of nitro RC planes. I have always thought about getting an RC plane and your article makes some very good points to consider in purchasing one. What type of plane would you recommend for someone who is just starting out in the hobby? My thought is that the nitro planes would be more advanced – where should I start?

  2. I really liked how to presented the information here and gave suggestions to people as to why they should pick one or the other. I think it really does become a personal preference depending on what you want to get out of your hobby. Knowing the differences can help people make a more educated decision about this.

    • Thanks for your appreciation it is more pleasure to write the thing we do love and involve with it. I hope this will be the same scenario as you did for yourself.

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