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Folding Instructions - Origami Biplane

Instructions for Folding a Biplane

The diagrams show a generic Germanic biplane, as we intend to have a whole series of them eventually. If the diagrams are not clear enough for the model you are doing, complain to So far our series includes the following:

When printing either model, make sure you get the tail on page 2 printed on top of the tail part on page 1.

1. Cut carefully around the borders of the plane. (If you enjoy the factoids, visit the Vintage Aero Flying Museum to learn even more fascinating facts of WWI aviation.)

2. Cut on lines 1 and 2. (The museum events page has a list of what's going on when.)

3. Mountain-fold at line 3. Page 2, the side with less printing, should be on the inside.

4. Flip over, so you are looking at the top of page 1.

5. Valley-fold BOTH layers at line 4. The two panels that won't be seen in the end should be together. (Wondering how to get to the museum? Directions on this page.)

6. Fold top layer at line 5. The pattern that will eventually be the top of the lower wing should be on the inside. (We have a list of educational resources about WWI and aviation.)

7. Fold the white sides together at line 6. (You may wish to take a look at our blog posts about the Red Baron, and about the daughter of Anne of Green Gables.)

8. Flip it over.

9. Make creases along the triangle to fold the insignia on each side of the tail away from each other. (Insignia on airplanes got started in WWI as a way to tell one's own side who not to shoot at.)

10. Fold the airplane in half along its center line. (The museum has flying WWI replicas, and it's fascinating to talk to the mechanics and pilots about what's changed in airplanes in the last 100 years.)

11. Fold down the lower wings where the cuts along line 1 and line 2 ended.

12. Fold the upper wings down from the top of the plane. (How would you like to be sitting two miles up in an open biplane cockpit...with no seatbelt? Read our free e-book about one of the most amazing stories to come out of the war.)

13. Fold up all layers of the tips of both wings, along dashed lines. (We are always adding to our list of recommended books and movies about WW1.)

14. Fold the tail wings down. (We have books, DVDs, plastic helmets, t-shirts, and more, each with its own story about WWI and aviation.)

15. Spread the wings and try flying it. Paper-clip nose if desired. 

16. Take a picture and put it on our Facebook page!

Biplanes in WWI

The average airplane of WWI was a biplane (meaning two wings, as compared to a biplace, which was a two-seater). The most famous airplane of WWI, of course, was the Red Baron's triplane, but even Manfred von Richthofen scored most of his victories in a biplane. (The triplane was very unstable, which was a good thing in combat since it meant it could turn very fast, but not so good for new pilots whose airtime might be measured better in minutes than in hours.) 

Most biplanes of WWI had the wings in a box-kite setup inherited from the Wright Flyer, so a good pair of wire snips could cause the wings to fold up and fall off. On the Fokker biplane, however, the wings were fully cantilevered. The struts on the wings were there for looks only, or, you could say, only for the purpose of getting the pilots into the airplanes, because without the struts the pilots were afraid the wings would fall off!

Two sets of wings made a pilot feel more secure, especially since on some types the wing fabric had a tendency to rip off in a fast dive. One could at least hope that in that circumstance one of the wings would maintain some kind of lift. Also, two wings' worth of wing surface allowed for a lower stall speed, so they could stay airborne at low speeds - comforting at the slow speeds and low power of WWI airplane engines. As engines got better, monoplanes became more desirable for their lower drag which allowed higher speed.

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Are you curious what kind of man would actually climb into a biplane and take off, not to mention engage in aerial combat? We try to have a weekly post about some great story (the aviator who fell out of his airplane and lived) or other impressive aspect of aviation in the World Wars (did you know shooting down a balloon was actually really hard?) We also try to provide the latest information on the Vintage Aero Flying Museum and anything else interesting going on about the WWI centenary. Our email list will start you out with a series of daily emails to introduce you to some of the big names of WWI aviation (which you can opt out of at any point without unsubscribing from the weekly emails.) 

So, sign up!

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