Convair XP-81 (oz13914)


Convair XP-81 (oz13914) by James Metzger 1963 - plan thumbnail

About this Plan

Convair XP-81. Control line scale model of the experimental fighter prototype.

Quote: "Scale control-line that combines realism with simplicity of building, flying. Convair XP-81, by James Metzger.

Here is a model that combines realism and simplicity to obtain maximum endurance and an attractive appearance together with handling ease comparable to that of a trainer.

The only prototype of the Convair XP-81 was first flown on February 11, 1945, but with the end of the war in sight, further work on the project was cancelled. This trim looking beauty was designed as a long range escort fighter for bombers in the Pacific, and to be powered by two engines: a turbojet in the tail and a turboprop in the nose.

At the time of its first flight however, the turboprop was not available and a Merlin engine from a P-51D Mustang was sub-stituted giving it exceptionally fine handling characteristics. This explains why an alternate nose configuration is included in the plans. The tuboprop configuration was chosen as the principle design for the model since it allows for more efficient engine cooling as well as slightly easier starting.

This is certainly a rare and unusual aircraft, and photos and scale drawings are just as rare. By some stroke of luck, a three-view drawinb showed up in some old flying magazine and from this the original plans were drawn. A very good photo was obtained from the Convair Company on request, and served as an excellent reference for outside detail.

With these items as the only guide, the model was completed in about three months of rather unsteady work. It was designed for a Fox .15 more for convenience than anything else. A .35 requires quite an investment in materials as well as a sizeable storage space; whereas with a 1/2A, details and good flight characteristics are difficult to obtain. A .15 seemed to be the best solution and resulted in a very satisfactory model that combined the desirable qualities of the other two power categories.

Of course, the biggest thrill of any modeler is the actual flying of his craft and it is certainly quite exciting to have control of a scale ship that handles just like the real thing. Although not designed to do stunts, this XP-81 is a bit on the heavy side, (17.4 ounces) but it takes to the air with the professional look of a hot fighter. With about an eight foot run, it can leap off the ground in a relatively steep climb, or if desired, a slow steady climb can be obtained with just the right amount of up control.

Its 29 inches of wing span give it sufficient area for high speed and maneuverability. Level flight is extremely smooth and reaction to any command is very definite with virtually no worry about over-controlling. With moderate engine speed, powered landings and takeoffs can be performed with fantastic realism, but of course, these should only be attempted on a smooth surface.

When powered by a Fox .15 turning a 7-6 nylon prop, the top speed is around 75 miles per hour. Dead-stick landings are the most difficult procedure since this plane will not glide as lightly as most free-flights or stunt ships, and care must be taken not to stall out. A good landing can be obtained when the engine cuts out while in level flight, and with just a slight bit of up control the plane will settle to the ground with the main landing gear touching first followed shortly by the nose wheel. Flying lines should be between 35 and 50 feet for best results.

About the only adjustment that would have to be made for better flight is in the balance point. Some weight may have to be added to the tail to bring the balance point to about 3/4 of an inch behind the leading edge, but extreme care must be taken to prevent the plane from becoming tail heavy which would make it very difficult to control.

Construction is relatively simple since the overall design of the plane is quite smooth with mostly flat surfaces and gentle curves. The biggest difficulty will probably arise in the air intake construction and fuselage planking. The first steps in building are the cutting out of the fuselage formers and attaching the two long ones to the round ones to obtain the general contour of the fuselage as well as a foundation to work from..."

Convair XP81 from MAN, April 1963.

Direct submission to Outerzone.

Supplementary file notes

Article pages, thanks to RFJ.


Did we get something wrong with these details about this plan (especially the datafile)? That happens sometimes. You can help us fix it.
Add a correction

Convair XP-81 (oz13914) by James Metzger 1963 - model pic

  • (oz13914)
    Convair XP-81
    by James Metzger
    from Model Airplane News
    April 1963 
    29in span
    Scale IC C/L LowWing Military
    clean :)
    all formers complete :)
    got article :)
  • Submitted: 28/05/2022
    Filesize: 899KB
    Format: • PDFbitmap
    Credit*: Circlip, RFJ
    Downloads: 397

  • Consolidated_Vultee_XP-81 | help
    see Wikipedia | search Outerzone
    Test link:
    search RCLibrary 3views (opens in new window)

    ScaleType: This (oz13914) is a scale plan. Where possible we link scale plans to Wikipedia, using a text string called ScaleType.

    If we got this right, you now have a couple of direct links (above) to 1. see the Wikipedia page, and 2. search Oz for more plans of this type. If we didn't, then see below.

    ScaleType is formed from the last part of the Wikipedia page address, which here is
    Wikipedia page addresses may well change over time.
    For more obscure types, there currently will be no Wiki page found. We tag these cases as ScaleType = NotFound. These will change over time.
    Corrections? Use the correction form to tell us the new/better ScaleType link we should be using. Thanks.

Convair XP-81 (oz13914) by James Metzger 1963 - pic 003.jpg
Convair XP-81 (oz13914) by James Metzger 1963 - pic 004.jpg

Do you have a photo you'd like to submit for this page? Then email

User comments

No comments yet for this plan. Got something to say about this one?
Add a comment



Download File(s):


* Credit field

The Credit field in the Outerzone database is designed to recognise and credit the hard work done in scanning and digitally cleaning these vintage and old timer model aircraft plans to get them into a usable format. Currently, it is also used to credit people simply for uploading the plan to a forum on the internet. Which is not quite the same thing. This will change soon. Probably.


This model plan (like all plans on Outerzone) is supposedly scaled correctly and supposedly will print out nicely at the right size. But that doesn't always happen. If you are about to start building a model plane using this free plan, you are strongly advised to check the scaling very, very carefully before cutting any balsa wood.


Terms of Use

© Outerzone, 2011-2024.

All content is free to download for personal use.

For non-personal use and/or publication: plans, photos, excerpts, links etc may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Outerzone with appropriate and specific direction to the original content i.e. a direct hyperlink back to the Outerzone source page.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site's owner is strictly prohibited. If we discover that content is being stolen, we will consider filing a formal DMCA notice.