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March 28th 2019
6 min read

The Ultimate Guide to Making Model Planes

The Ultimate Guide to Making Model Planes

Aviation collectors and hobbyists will love a model aircraft project. Assembling, painting and then displaying your creation is a rewarding process as you challenge yourself to create intricate designs to replicate popular aircraft. 

However, if you're a beginner, once you have decided on your aircraft model set, it can be difficult to know where to start.

In this guide, we'll take you through every aspect of an aircraft model project, from how to paint a model plane, display your model plane - or collection - and even clean and maintain your model aircraft.

A model aircaft

Table of Contents

  1. How to paint a model aircraft
  2. How to weather a model aircraft
  3. How to display a model aircraft
  4. How to hang a model aircraft from the ceiling
  5. How to clean a model aircraft

How to paint a model aircraft

There are a few things to consider when painting a model plane. If you want your project to look tip-top, there’s more to it than simply applying paint wherever you like! 

From primer to paint, decals to finishing coats, it’s important that you take your time with each aspect of painting your model plane.

  1. Apply a primer - This will help you to cut down on the number of coats of paint needed (saving you from covering finer details with thick paint) and will help you to identify any flaws in the construction before you finish painting properly. Once dry, wipe your model plane with a damp cloth.
  2. Decide which paint you want to use – Acrylic paint is easier to tidy up, whereas enamel paint can provide a tougher finish that withstands buffing.
  3. Set up with proper protection - Ensure you properly ventilate the area and wear appropriate respiratory protection before you begin painting.
  4. Secure your model aircraft - When working with sprays or airbrushes, the model may move, causing you to make a mistake. 
  5. Use spray paint or an airbrush to apply your base colours – This minimises the risk of uneven coverage. Be aware that using an airbrush gives you a more precise line!
  6. Apply detail to your model plane using a paintbrush – You may wish to invest in various brush sizes to suit the size of the detailing.
  7. Leave your model to dry - You can test the dryness of the paint by seeing if you can dent the paint with a fingernail (if you can, leave it to dry for longer).
  8. Apply any decals - These may be provided in your model aircraft kit.
  9. Add a finishing coat of clear paint - Once the decals are dry, finish your model with flat, semi-gloss, or gloss paint.
A model aircraft on a sheet that has just been spray painted

How to Weather a Model Aircraft

Add weathering to achieve a more realistic look on your model plane. You can easily add a little flight-time wear and tear to your model to make the model look much more authentic. 

  1. Weather the body - Give your model plane a silver undercoat, then sand off some of your topcoat of paint to give the plane a worn look using the effect of paint chips flaking off the wings.
  2. Weather the wings - Tear little bits of masking tape and randomly place them to replicate the wearing down of the wing walks.
  3. Replicate shadows - Crumble some pastel chalk in black and brown and dip a fine paintbrush, then gently apply a little smudging along the lines of the aircraft to give the effect of shadows. You can buy pre-mixed weathering powders, but pastel chalk works just as well!

How to Display a Model Aircraft

Once you’ve finished your project, work out how you would like to display your model aircraft in your home. There are a few ways you can do this:

Model Plane Display Stands

Display stands give you the greatest versatility when it comes to where you want to place your model planes. With a display stand, you can place your model aircraft on a desk, window sill, shelf or bookcase and move them between locations for your convenience.

Model Plane Diorama

For those that want to create a realistic setting, aircraft model accessories can help you to create a full picture using a model runway, model airport structures, model airport vehicles and more.

Model Aircraft Display Wall 

You can create a display wall if you have multiple model aircraft. Choose a wall you’d like to turn into a display and line the wall with shelves or brackets that can support your model planes.

Suspended Model Aircraft

Alternatively, you can suspend your model planes from the ceiling to get a 360-degree look at them and provide a realistic setting for your models.

A scale 1:100 model aircraft thunderbolt

How To Hang a Model Aircraft From The Ceiling

One of the most popular yet trickiest ways to display a model aircraft is to suspend them from the ceiling. While you can use blu tack or thumbtacks for your ceiling fixture, attaching a hook to the ceiling is a more professional alternative.

  1. Attach a hook to the ceiling - Mark the position on the ceiling and screw in your hook to secure it.
  2. Decide on the position of your model plane - Is it flying straight, nose-diving or climbing?
  3. Use fishing line - Cut three lengths of fishing line to attach to both wings and either the front or the rear of the plane, depending on the chosen position.
  4. Make a knot - Loop the free ends of the fishing wire into a knot and fix it to the ceiling hook.

How To Clean a Model Aircraft

If your model plan is out on display, chances are that over time, it’ll be subject to a gathering of dust! To clean it properly, follow these steps:

  1. Wipe over with a microfibre cloth - Gently wipe away any dust that may have gathered to keep your model aircraft sparkling clean.
  2. Use a cotton swab or a toothpick - Some aircraft models may have nooks and crannies that can’t be reached with cursory dusting, so using a cotton swab will 

Browse our selection of model aircraft kits

Now you’ve learnt how to start creating your own model plane, shop our model aircraft kits to choose your new project. 

Find a full selection of paints, glue and accessories to find everything you need to get started.


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