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

Click here to add your own comments

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.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to About Kites.

E-book special of the month (25% off)...

This printable e-book takes you step-by-step through making a 120cm (4 ft) diameter Parasail kite. This kite performs well in gentle to moderate wind speeds. That's from 12 to 28 kph or from 8 to 18 mph. It pulls hard for it's size, so should not be flown by very small kids!

Every kite design in the MBK Soft Series satisfies the following points...

  • Materials are plastic sheet, tape and line – and nothing more!
  • Tools are a ruler, scissors and a marker pen - and nothing more!
  • All cuts are along straight lines.

For the greatest chance of success, I make recommendations regarding the materials. For example, the type/weight of plastic, type/width of tape and line type/strength. Close enough should nearly always be good enough, since the design is well-tested and should be tolerant of small differences from my original.

Get the e-book for making the MBK Parasail kite. After making your first one in plastic and seeing how it performs, you can try soft Tyvek or rip-stop nylon for your next build.

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.

What's New!

  1. Adelaide Kite Festival 2017

    Apr 23, 17 10:36 PM

    Adelaide Kite Festival 2017 - Views from the air and from the sand.

    Read More



Kite-making e-book: Simplest Dowel Kites

This one's FREE
Download it now!

More E-books...


"Love the easy to understand step by step instructions, made from next to nothing materials and above all so much fun to fly... cheers Tim for sharing your well thought out pdf kite designs with the whole world.

Very satisfying making your own and watching them get air-born for the first time."


"I've just bought your super e-book and spent most of last night pouring through all the great stuff in it!

Very detailed and USEFUL information - thanks for such a great book."


"30+ years ago, I tried making a kite using the 'instructions' in a free kite-safety booklet. What a disappointment for a young boy.

 Your instructions and methods are wonderful. You help the builder to focus on accuracy, without making it hard. Also, you use materials that are durable, yet cheap!"


"omg i made a kite from this site and i fly it ....... booom i didnt expect this bc in the other sites instuction are trash

thank you"

Kite-making e-book: Simplest Dowel Kites

This one's FREE
Download it now!

More E-books...

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