Swallow Kite Form


What is the basic form and shape of a swallow kite? I cannot find any efficient sites on the internet to answer this question for a project I have to do for school. Thank you so much. :)


You are not the first to ask about swallow kites, so for a start, check out my original answer regarding available resources. That was some time ago, so I have also searched with Bing - possibly better than using the Big G these days! Here is an interesting lead...

The traditional Chinese Swallow Kite is fairly easy to dissect, just looking at it.

See how the thin bamboo strips are formed into frames, with the fabric stretched over and attached later. Two straight strips (or perhaps they are thin bamboo rods) are attached to the main sail's trailing edge and fanned outwards to give that characteristic swallow-tail effect. That's the main feature which identifies this as a 'swallow' kite.

Note how the kite has 3 sections, corresponding to a bird's head, wings and tail.

I can't see exactly where the bridle lines are attached, on those examples. But the simplest option would be to take a piece of flying line about twice the length of the kite itself. One end could be tied to the middle of the leading edge of the wing - just behind the 'head' in other words. The other end would be tied to the middle of the trailing edge of the wing - where the tail attaches.

The flying line would then be attached to the bridle line with a sliding knot. With the kite flat on its back on the table or floor, this knot would be adjusted so it was directly over the 'head' area when both bridle lines are pulled straight. During some test flying, the knot could probably be shifted back a little at a time, towards the tail end of the kite. In this way the best flying position would be discovered, so the kite flys high and stable.

A home-made version would almost certainly need a long, light tail in order to fly stable! An authentic version such as this Goldfish Swallow Tail Kite made by a craftsman might not, since it would be very light and accurately made.

Hope this helps!

Comments for Swallow Kite Form

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Apr 30, 2012
Further Comment
by: Tony Sangster

Apologies, I forgot to mention that the more traditional Chinese form of swallow kite might be further stabilized by accentuating the channeling of air through the wingtips in the style of a Yakko kite.

I am not sure from the diagrams of the bamboo/paper design whether there is any yakko style wingtip but to reduce the need for a tail and to also reduce the number of pointy bits a curved wingtip a la Yakko could help!

Apr 30, 2012
Swallow Kites
by: Tony Sangster

I love the elegance of Robert van Weer's swallow kite and I think Kite Plan Base offers some other modern and elegant designs such as Hirondelle by Bob Afonso and Zwaluw by Jan Van Leeuwen.

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The Dopero is someone's clever idea to combine 2 Roller kites! Double Pearson Roller is where the name comes from. The resulting flat portion of sail in the middle makes this a very efficient design in light wind.

Even more so than the Roller before it, this kite has an attractive aircraft-like appearance in the air. This MBK version also excels in light winds.

If you have made Diamonds before, this kite takes somewhat more time to make. With the help of my instructions, it's still do-able by a beginner.

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This Dopero can fly in quite a wide range of wind speeds thanks to the 4-pont bridle. The bridle lines keep the frame more rigid than a 2-point bridle could. Tail(s) are entirely optional, but may be added for looks.

The e-book is a PDF file - which means printable instructions to refer to while you make the kite. It also means convenient off-line access if that suits you better.

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Wind Speeds

Light air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2    

Gentle breeze
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3    

Moderate breeze
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4    

Fresh breeze
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5    

Strong breeze
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7