34°40′19″N 135°37′21″E / 34.67205°N 135.622603°E / 34.67205; 135.622603

Sanwa Denshi
Native name
Company typeKabushiki gaisha
FoundedAugust 1959 (1959-08)
HeadquartersHigashiōsaka, ,
Key people
Seiji Suzuki
  • Radio-controlled transmitters
  • Remote control devices
Revenue60 million yen
Total assets3.1 billion yen (2013)
Number of employees
ParentSMC Group

Sanwa Denshi (三和電子機器株式会社, Sanwa denshi kiki kabushiki kaisha), widely known as Sanwa, is a brand of wireless equipment best known for its high end radio-control gear for scale modelling use. The company have been a subsidiary of the SMC Group since 1965 and began to diversify into the manufacturing of radio-control equipment (transmitters and the devices which they control) in 1974 and remote control devices for home and industrial use since 1985.

In North America, Sanwa transmitters were marketed as Airtronics up until early 2016, which began as an independent company producing model airplanes.


Sanwa, originally as part of Sansei Electric Industry, specialized in the research and development of remote control devices in 1959. It merged with Sanwa Denki Manufacturing in 1965 and then became part of the SMC Group. In January 1974, Sanwa entered production and sales of transmitters for radio-controlled models and in December, became a member of the Japan Radio Control Model Industrial Association (JRM).[1]

In 1975, Sanwa became a division on its own, with an office in Tokyo. In August that year it launched its first radio-controlled transmitter, the Mini Propo, and in 1976, Sanwa became an independent company. Its M-sechs wheeled transmitter was the recipient of the Good Design Award in 1990.[1] In 1985, Sanwa diversified into the production of remote controls for domestic and industrial purposes.[2]

Due to its reputation in the radio-controlled modeling industry, its main competitor is Futaba.[3] KO Propo and Spektrum.


Airtronics logo (1970s-2016)

F. Lee Renaud began his hobby in model aviation in 1942 with a Joe Ott kit; he began to fly competitively in 1947.[4] While recovering from a heart attack in 1970, Renaud used his medical leave from his office-equipment company job to build radio-controlled airplanes.[3] He formed Airtronics in 1971 to build and sell model airplanes and radio remote-control devices. In his first year, he turned over $40,000.[3] Renaud earned a reputation with model aircraft such as the "Olympic", "Aquila", "Grand Esprit" and "Sagitta", amongst others. In 1980, he introduced the XL transmitter.[4] Renaud died in January 1983, and his wife Barbara took over the company.[3]

In 1982, realizing that his company wouldn't expand on its own without financial backing, Renaud took on a partnership with Sanwa, which bought an undisclosed large stake in the company while the family retained a controlling interest. Under the agreement, the Renauds built airplanes whilst Sanwa took charge of manufacturing radio-controlled transmitters for the Renauds to distribute. As a result, Airtronics increased its sales from less than $1 million in 1983 to $3 million in 1985, and to $8 million in 1989 with a staff of 18 employees.[3]

The company continued as a family business until 2007 when Global Hobby Distributors took over distributorship. Following business restructuring in Japan, the distributor announced that their partnership came to an end in 2016 and the brand will itself be discontinued although still continuing under a new distributor, Serpent America, as Sanwa.[5][6][7]

The library of Academy of Model Aeronautics's National Model Aviation Museum is named after Renaud.[4] Sanwa's Aquila 6 is named after his airplane.


The Airtronics Caliber 3PS (known internationally as the Sanwa M-zechs) became the first of twelve consecutive Radio Control Car Action's Readers' Choice Award for Best Transmitter in 1996 by Airtronics; eight of those was achieved by its successor, the M8.[8]

IFMAR World Championship winners

Following is a list of users who won the IFMAR World Championships, a biennial world championship for radio-controlled cars, using Sanwa/Airtronics transmitters.

Year Class Name Model Report
1985 1/10 Off-Road Stock United States Jay Halsey Airtronics XL2P Report
1985 1/10 Off-Road Unlimited United States Gil Losi, Jr. Airtronics XL2P Report
1987 1/8 IC Track United States Pete Fusco Airtronics Report
1990 1/8 Off-Road Japan Koji Sanada[9] Sanwa Machine-1 Report
1991 1/10 Off-Road 4WD United States Cliff Lett[10] Airtronics CS2P Report
1992 1/12 On-Road United StatesTony Neisinger Airtronics Caliber 3P Report
1992 PRO 10 United States Joel Johnson[11] Airtronics CS2P Report
1992 1/8 Off-Road Japan Kunihiro Toge[12] Sanwa M-zechs Report
1993 1/10 Off-Road 2WD United States Brian Kinwald[13] Airtronics CS2P Report
1995 1/10 Off-Road 2WD United States Matt Francis[14] Airtronics Caliber 3PS Report
1995 1/10 Off-Road 4WD United States Mark Pavidis[14] Airtronics CS2P
1996 PRO 10 United States Mike Swauger[15] Airtronics Caliber 3PS
1997 1/8 IC Track Italy Lamberto Collari Sanwa
1997 1/10 Off-Road 2WD United States Brian Kinwald Airtronics Caliber 3PS Report
1999 1/10 Off-Road 4WD Finland Jukka Steenari[16] Sanwa M8 Report
2000 1/10 IC 235mm Touring Car Germany Michael Salven Report
2001 1/8 IC Track Japan Kenji Osaka Sanwa M8
2002 1/10 Off-Road 2WD United States Matt Francis Airtronics M8 Report
2002 1/10 Off-Road 4WD Finland Jukka Steenari Sanwa M8
2002 1/10 IC 235mm Touring Car United States Brian Berry[17] Airtronics M8 Report
2003 1/8 IC Track Italy Lamberto Collari[18] Sanwa
2003 1/10 Off-Road 2WD United States Billy Easton Airtronics M8 Report
2004 1:10 ISTC Germany Marc Rheinard[19] Sanwa M8 Report
2004 1/10 IC Touring Car France Adrien Bertin[20]
2003 1/10 Off-Road 4WD United States Ryan Cavalieri Airtronics M11 Report
2005 1/10 Off-Road 4WD United States Ryan Cavalieri[21] Airtronics M11 Report
2005 1/8 IC Track Italy Lamberto Collari Sanwa Super EXES
2006 1/10 IC Touring Car Japan Keisuke Fukuda[22] Report
2007 1/5 Touring Car Denmark Martin Lissau Sanwa M11
2007 1/8 IC Track Italy Lamberto Collari
2008 1/10 IC Touring Car Italy Daniele Ielasi Report
2008 1:10 ISTC Germany Marc Rheinard[23] Sanwa M11 Report
2009 1/8 IC Track Italy Lamberto Collari[24] Sanwa EXZES Plus
2009 1/10 Off-Road 2WD Germany Martin Achter Sanwa M11X Report
2009 1/10 Off-Road 4WD Germany Martin Achter Sanwa M11X
2010 1/12 On-Road Japan Naoto Matsukura[25] Sanwa M11X Report
2010 1:10 ISTC Germany Marc Rheinard[26] Sanwa M11X Report
2011 1/8 IC Track Germany Robert Pietsch[27] Sanwa EXZES-X
2011 1/10 Off-Road 2WD United States Ryan Cavalieri[28] Airtronics M11X Report
2011 1/10 Off-Road 4WD United States Ryan Cavalieri[28] Airtronics M11X
2012 1/12 On-Road Japan Naoto Matsukura[29] Sanwa M12 Report
2012 1:10 ISTC Netherlands Jilles Groskamp[30] Sanwa EXZES-X Report
2012 1/10 IC Touring Car Thailand Meen Vejrak[31] Sanwa M12 Report
2013 1/8 IC Track Japan Tadahiko Sahashi[32] Sanwa M12
2014 1/8 Off-Road Canada Ty Tessmann[12] Airtronics M12 Report
2014 1/12 On-Road Germany Marc Rheinard[33] Sanwa M12 Report
2014 1:10 ISTC Japan Naoto Matsukura[34] Sanwa M12 Report
2014 1/10 IC Touring Car Sweden Alexander Hagberg[35] Sanwa M12 Report
2015 1/10 Off-Road 2WD United States Spencer Rivkin[36] Airtronics M12S Report
2015 1/10 Off-Road 4WD Portugal Bruno Coelho[37] Sanwa M12S
2016 1/10 IC Touring Car Germany Dominic Greiner[38] Sanwa M12
2016 1/12 On-Road Japan Naoto Matsukura Sanwa M12S
2016 1:10 ISTC Germany Ronald Völker [de][39] Sanwa M12S
2016 1/8 Off-Road Sweden David Ronnefalk[40] Sanwa M12S
2017 1/8 IC Track Italy Dario Balestri Sanwa EXZES-ZZ
2017 1/10 Off-Road 2WD United States Ryan Maifield[41] Sanwa M12S Report
2017 1/10 Off-Road 4WD United States Ryan Maifield[41] Sanwa M12S
2017 1/5 Touring Car Argentina Santiago Meirinhos Sanwa M12
2018 1/12 On-Road Sweden Alexander Hagberg Sanwa M12S
2018 1:10 ISTC Portugal Bruno Coelho Sanwa M12S
2018 1/10 IC Touring Car Japan Naoto Matsukura Sanwa M12S
2018 1/8 Off-Road Italy Davide Ongaro[42] Sanwa EXZES-ZZ
2019 1/10 Off-Road 4WD Portugal Bruno Coelho Sanwa M17 Report
2019 1/8 IC Track Japan Shoki Takahata[43] Sanwa M17
2020 1/12 On-Road Stock United Kingdom Andy Murray Sanwa EXZES-ZZ
2020 1/12 On-Road Germany Marc Rheinard[44] Sanwa M12S Report
2020 1/8 IC GT Germany Jörn Neumann Sanwa M17
2022 1/8 Off-Road Italy Davide Ongaro[45] Sanwa EXZES-ZZ
2022 1:10 ISTC Portugal Bruno Coelho[46] Sanwa M17
2022 1/10 IC Touring Car Japan Tadahiko Sahashi[47] Sanwa M17
2023 1/10 Off-Road 2WD Italy Davide Ongaro[48][49] Sanwa EXZES-ZZ
2023 1/10 Off-Road 4WD United States Tater Sontag[49][50] Sanwa M12S
2023 1/8 IC Track Italy Dario Balestri[51] Sanwa EXZES-ZZ


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