Sterling Models Peanut Scale Monocoupe – Vintage Rubber Powered Free Flight Model Plane

jchismar Sterling Models Kit P-2

Canarsie Courier and Canarsie Canary
The Canarsie Courier (top) and Canary (bottom) From the Don Ross book.

I’ve been busy making good old fashioned balsa stick and tissue rubber powered free flight planes. As I likely mentioned in an earlier post I’ve decided to take some time from woodworking and carving to relax and explore the hobby of flying model planes. My focus is primarily on Peanut Scale fliers, but instead of jumping right in I wanted to do it right and take some time to learn the nuts and bolts of making planes that fly. I’ve worked my way (mostly) through Don Ross’s book on rubber powered planes, with some success with building and flying these airborne works of art.

stick and tissue model airplane
The complete SIG AMA Racer

I assembled and flew a few of the SIG Models beginner planes: AMA Cub, AMA Racer, etc and had fun flying these sticks with wings. These projects helped me gain an understanding of how to trim (adjust) model planes for flight. Because these planes are so light their flight times are long and magical! I moved onto building and flying my own (no longer produced) SIG Uncle Sam plane which flew well until I accidentally locked it in the hot car too long and warped the stabilizer and rudder.

After completing the prior projects I decided I was ready to assemble my first Peanut Scale plane, which is the whole reason why I started on this journey. I was a busy boy online snatching up vintage Peanut Scale kits. For whatever reason Sterling kits (manufactured in Philadelphia, PA) captured my interest. My plan is to complete all six kits, twelve planes in all. I started the process with Kit #2: Monocoupe – Citabria. I laid out the plans for both on my building board and got to work.

stick and tissue rubber powered
Sterling Models Monocoupe in progress

I completed the Monocoupe first. At first I wasn’t interested in decorating the planes, I was simply going to apply white tissue and call it done. As the Monocoupe was taking shape, something clicked in my psyche and suddenly I was interested in applying all the details. ¬†Because of this they project took about twice as long as expected (a few weekends).

I’ve had an opportunity to take the complete Monocoupe out for a few test flights. To my surprise, it flew straight as an arrow. There are a few adjustments I’d like to make to balance the model better and improve the performance of the propeller. However, I think I’m going to hold off on any ambitious changes until I get more experience building and flying these wonderful Peanut Scale marvels.


  1. Hi John. If you finish any of these models, I’d love to see them. I’m retired and also have taken up stick and tissue after about a 30 year break. I’ve met up with some people who know what they are doing, and I recently had a 2 minute flight in a 32 foot ceiling gym with a model named the Big Pussycat, designed by Dick Baxter. I’m starting 2 scale projects for this winter, and that is definitely a different ball of wax. Anyway, hope you see this, send pics.

  2. I built a Sterling Monocoupe many years ago. It came out kind of heavy, partly due to the heavy wood in the kit. Considering the weight, it flew pretty well until the plastic cowling cracked and it wouldn’t hold thrust adjustments any more. It’s a really nice looking design. I wonder if it was based on the old Comet dime scale kit? It looks very similar. Plan can be found on Hip Pocket.

  3. I built a Sterling Monocoupe some years ago. Mine wasn’t as pretty as yours. It was stable in flight, but it didn’t fly for very long. The wood and tissue were on the heavy side. If you’re going to work at this level of skill, you may find it worthwhile to use the kit as a plan and use your own wood. Maybe 6 lb density in most places. You can photocopy the print wood and use rubber cement to temporarily stick the copy to your own sheet of balsa. Or maybe they slipped up and used light wood in your kit?
    BTW, if your model starts to fly strangely, check for cracks in the plastic nose. That’s what happened to mine. The prop bearing would drift around, which eventually caused it to crash into something hard.

    1. Hello LR. Thanks for the messages. Sorry for the delayed response. Somehow I don’t get notifications when people send comments. I have to look into it. My Monocoupe has seen better days – and I’ve moved on to the more “classic” stick and tissue models: FA Moth, Gollywock, etc. Much better fliers than Peanuts. I build a few peanuts from time to time because I like them – but I don’t really take them out to fly much. Thanks again for your message. It’s great to chat with other stick and tissue modelers. ~john

      1. I’m sure if you made the same design with lighter wood and Esaki tissue, plus maybe a cowl made from something lighter than the heavy plastic in the kit, it could be capable of a minute. Or you could build the very similar, but larger, dime scale Comet Monocoupe. That would probably do a bit better.
        Around here, the fields aren’t really big enough for a properly trimmed duration model unless it’s got a DT or it’s really calm. The other day, which wasn’t all that windy, an embryo model launched from the middle of our largest field made it to the edge of the woods in something like 2:45. I’ve actually reached the woods with a very light dime scale model. Had to wade through a 4 or 5 foot deep stream to get it. That model didn’t even have a freewheel.

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