Building and Detailing Aircraft

Building and Detailing Aircraft

You’ll find informative, technique-driven articles covering a variety of aviation models including airliners and combat aircraft. Get how-to tips on painting, assembling, detailing, and finishing from some of FineScale Modeler’s best aircraft builders including Frank Cuden, Paul Boyer, Massimo Santarossa, and Floyd Werner.

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1 мин.
let your modeling takeoff!

Since I was old enough to look up, I’ve appreciated things that fly. So, aircraft have been at the heart of my modeling from the beginning when I whacked together 1/72 scale Matchbox and Airfix kits in an afternoon. With the glue still wet, I flew these unpainted planes around the house making zooming noises and imagining myself at the controls soaring through the wide open sky (although putting a real plane through the kind of G-forces the pre-teen me subjected my scale creations to would have brought my nascent flying career to an abrupt, fiery end). I’m pretty sure my skills have improved over the intervening 40-odd years and my modeling interests have broadened to include many other genres, but I still love building airplanes; I’m pleading the Fifth about…

5 мин.
build a big battle of britain he 111

Detail becomes all important when building a 1/32 scale bomber, even when that kit is Revell’s fine Heinkel He 111P-1. Revell released its version of Germany’s legendary World War II medium bomber in 2011, but it took me a while before I committed to build this mammoth model with a wingspan of nearly 28 inches. Never one to go the easy route, I chose to re-create an H-3 version of the bomber that participated in the Battle of Britain during the summer of 1940. Specifically, Aircraft No. 3340, which flew on Sept. 15, 1940, now remembered as Battle of Britain Day. To convert the P-1 to an H-3, I used several aftermarket sets, which also served to elevate this already outstanding kit. Here are highlights of how I improved and converted the kit…

3 мин.
painting nose art

When I built Tamiya’s 1/48 scale P-47D, I wanted to model a plane from the 395th Fighter Squadron named Miss Second Front. I didn’t have decals, which isn’t a problem for stripes — easy to paint — and insignia — kit decals to the rescue. But the Thunderbolt bore elaborate nose art. Instead of trying to print it, I did it the way it was done on the original plane: I painted the nose art. Savvy readers will notice that although the girl on the real plane is topless, she is clothed on my model. I display many of my models in my classroom, along with some World War II homefront collectibles and I worried that nudity in my classroom, even on this small a scale, could cause me headaches with parents…

5 мин.
mottling a mid-war messerschmitt

In 1940, the Luftwaffe adopted new camouflage for day-fighters. Topsides received two-tone splinter of RLM74 graugrün and RLM75 grauviolett. These colors extended as much as a third of the way down the fuselage sides to meet the underside color, RLM76 lichtblau. A mottled pattern of one or both of the top colors, sometimes accompanied by RLM02 grau or RLM70 schwarzgrun, covered the sides. The mottling was often added in the field, so the pattern differed between units and individual aircraft. Applied in real life with a spray gun, these spots are where an airbrush earns its keep. Getting them to look right for the scale means getting in close, working with low pressure, and thin paint. Luftwaffe ace Hans “Assi” Hahn flew a Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4 based in France in summer 1941.…

2 мин.
3 techniques for masking canopies

There are parts of an aircraft model where you can get away with mistakes. The canopy is never one of them. Spots of glue or squiggly framework on clear parts can spoil a model more surely than anything. But if you’ve ever loused one up, you are in excellent company. That’s why you read so many articles and tips about it. Here are three of the most common — and reliable — ways of masking a canopy for painting. Pre-cut masks For complicated framework or faint, illdefined panel lines, pre-cut masks are my favorite. Designed for specific kits, they are accurate and easy to apply. Slip the tip of a hobby knife under a corner of the mask and pull it from its adhesive backing, A. Place the mask on the model; align…

4 мин.
bare-metal beauty

The motivations for building a model are diverse, including subject, color scheme, history, nostalgia, and the movie of the week. Roden’s 1/144 scale Boeing 720 inspired me for a variety of reasons, not least of which was the desire to finish it in American Airlines’ terrific bare-metal lightning-bolt livery. That gave me a chance to try a non-traditional painting method using Alclad II lacquers. These metallic paints give great results but achieving multi-hued panel effects can be problematic. High-shine shades like chrome and polished aluminum, normally applied over gloss black, don’t take kindly to masking tape. In the past, I’ve successfully applied Alclad II paints over not only black but also gloss white and blue. I wondered what would happen if I used other base colors? A test on a sheet of…