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DA' PIX:
Modeling isn’t just a hobby, it’s a skill. For beginners, it’s an adventure into a whole new world of miniatures, and yet for the experienced each new model is a form of art and expression by the builder.

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For the past 12 years of my life, I have been building models and with each one I finish, it turns out a little better than the one prior to it. With over 150 models under my wing, I can say that I am an expert on the subject, and my work proves the argument. Knowledge comes mainly in the form of aviation, but I also have naval vessels. This site will help guide the beginner and the more experienced through tricks of the trades and basically the way to pick out model, build it, and get the best results.

The information provided below is just the beginning. I will continually update this page with new kits and ideas to make modeling more fun and challenging.

I do hope you enjoy this site, and come back regularly. Also, please check out the other links here at Planet Aviation.

 

Military Information and Pictures:

Most of my experience comes in the form of modern military aviation. I got my start with a 1/72 Grumman F-14 Tomcat from the model put out after the movie Top Gun. I still have it today, unfortunately, it’s been revamped so much all the original decals are gone, but it still stands the tests of time.

For all modelers alike, I would suggest to research the aircraft you plane to build before even picking up the kit. I have an extensive library with cut-away drawings of aircraft and pictures of the everyday life of these planes. Research will of course help you by showing how a real plane looks, and this way you can make the plane look as real as possible.

The main suggestion I would make is for the beginners, buy smaller kits such as the 1/72nd scales to practice on before moving the to popular 1/48th aircraft. I have over 90 1/72nd scale aircraft, and they were a lot of help for the basics, but when I wanted more of a challenge for detail work, I moved on to the 1/48th scale. This scale is in my opinion the best of all worlds. They are relatively easy to build, but offer more of a challenge then smaller models. They give good detail and allow extra detail to be added.

Some might say that the best models are 1/32nd scale, but I have done a few of these, and while they do offer more detail, they are just too big to display. 1/48th scale offer great detail, good variety, and a small enough to place on shelves. For this reason, the aircraft in this site will deal primarily with 1/48th scale military, 1/350th scale naval, and various scales for commercial aircraft.

Enjoy.

Grumman EA-6B Prowler:

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About six months ago, I decided to buy the Grumman EA-6B Prowler, a derivative of the infamous A-6 Intruder. The difference is that the Prowler is an Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) aircraft, and the Intruder was a bomber. The Prowler has an additional two seats behind the flight deck and an ECM pod on top of the vertical stabilizer.

Revell made this 1/48th scale beast and the price was reasonable. I had always been a fan of the A-6, and though the EA-6B had a different role, I still liked the airframe design, so I got it. As always, I studied the drawings in my library and saw the interesting features of the hydraulics that push and pull the wing up so it can be stored on a carrier. I had extra gear parts laying around, and cut them to look like the pumps in the wing of the Prowler. For the struts in the wing, I got a sheet of 1/8" plastic and cut it out after measuring the thickness of the wing.

After the struts were laid, I placed the hydraulic pumps and placed some extra wiring inside. The wing panels were placed in the open position, and that being done, I continued to build the rest of the model normally. The only other addition is that I placed the air brakes in the open position. This was a simple procedure since I cut them out before gluing the two wing halves together. It took a few weeks, but the finished product looked great. The tail hook movable, the canopy open, and the red detail to give it some added color.

 

Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II:

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Before I built the EA-6B, I had worked on another model incorporating interior structures. The A-10 Thunderbolt II was the first model that I attempted to show interior wing, vertical-, and horizontal-stabilizer designs. Once again, I had the idea come to me as I was looking through some of the books which I own. The cut-away drawings were very helpful.

To begin I measured the thickness of the wing and cut 1/8th inch plastic from a sheet. I worked with it and got it to fit in the wing, then I proceeded to the vertical-stabilizer, and finally the horizontal stabilizer. I of course didn’t stop there. Also open was the cannon, the access ladder door, and another access panel. Each was cut with a simple exacto knife being careful to stay on the pre-etched lines of the model.

Once again I opened the air brakes on the wings, cutting them off and open before joining the wing halves together. As an extra detail measure, I places red "remove before flight" tags on the weapons. To arm the plane I went with the Gulf War design, including two AIM-9 Sidewinder heat-seekers for standoff weapons. For this plane I left the canopy down and it turned out great, perhaps one of the best models I have ever done.

One extra piece of advise I would like to give is the fact that many model planes are tail heavy, so you need to weight down the forward portion. I have copper BB’s that I use to for weight. If there are drop tanks on a model, I place BB’s in the front of the tanks, and if not, I just place them in the nose, and glue them together with super glue, this seems to work very good.

 

Lockheed S-3 Viking:

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After I had the EA-6B finished, I began to look at what else I could do to add detail to an airplane. It came to me as I was watching Wings on the Discovery Channel. The Lockheed S-3 Viking’s wings and tail folds so that it saves space on an aircraft carrier, so I decided to do just that. I bought Monogram’s S-3 model and went to work. I began by cutting the wings at the folding joints, glue those halves together, then cutting the tail off.

To fill in the space where the wings and tail were at, I used 1/16th sheet plastic and simply cut the shape of the wings and tail, then glued it to the end of the pieces. With super glue, which by the way is used on all my models except the clear plastic, I glued the wings on and the tail, in the folded position. Of course I had pre-painted the plane before this, and as for the tail I had already put on the decals.

One other thing I would like to mention is that the rest of the plane was painted and put together before I put the wings and tail on. Once these added pieces were on, I put the rest of the decals on and placed it on the self. Though I haven’t seen an other S-3 Viking’s in this configuration, there might be others out there. The main thing about modeling is you can get as creative as you want to.

 

McDonnell Douglas KC-10 and Boeing E-767:

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The only other military models I would like to discuss so far is the KC-10 and E-767 since I do believe I might be the only enthusiast who has this configuration. The models are 1/144th scale, since no one makes a KC-10 in 1/48th, and even if they did, it would be far too large to display. The 1/144th scale is great for commercial aircraft as I will explain later on, but some military aircraft come in this scale as well.

Revell made a KC-10 tanker in this scale and since the DC-10 (a commercial variant of the KC-10) is my favorite large aircraft, I bought it. The kit came so you could camouflage the plane, but in pictures, the plane looks more appealing when white and blue, so I painted it this way. The French Blue was bought as was the white, but the lighter blue was made with a combination of blue and white and a hint of gray. This is one of the models I had to hand paint. Most models I build are spray painted, but in times where the paint can’t be found in a spray, a hand painted plane can turn out just as good.

It was easy enough to follow directions and the ending product was a beautiful plane, but since it was a refueling aircraft, it needed another plane. The kit had come with a GR.1 Tornado, but with suck a small scale, the Tornado would have been to small to see, so I decided to go a step further and build a plane that had no kit.

Boeing had been building the E-767 AWAC, an Airborne Warning and Control aircraft replacement for the aging E-3 Sentry. The E-767 was being built for Japan, and as I had hoped would someday replace the US Air Force’s E-3s, but so far it hasn’t. Anyway, I bought Revell’s Boeing 767 and instead of painting it KLM as the decals were for it, I painted it gray and put a rotodome on top.

The trick to painting the E-767 was to put the decals on first, moving them slightly to cover the windows, then to spray the plane gray. The rotodome was from an older E-3 model I had, but it wasn’t the greatest so I took it off and placed it on the 767, hence making it the next generation AWAC.

Once both planes were finished, I hung them from the ceiling. The KC-10 was a little higher and had the refueling boom extended. The E-767 was lower and the boom went into a slot right behind the cockpit. The finished product was two planes flying through the air, connected by a boom.

Just for a recommendation, I would suggest that when hanging aircraft from the ceiling, use fishing line since it is clear, therefore it is hard to see and the planes appear to fly.

 

 

Commercial Information and Pictures:

After I had been building military aircraft for some time, I became interested in the commercial side of flight. I had always seen aircraft at the stores that were at airports, but they never really did anything for me until I decided one day to buy and build a commercial Boeing 747-200. It was a Pan Am cargo plane, and I had fun with it since even though it was small in scale (1/200) it was a good sized model. I had fun with it and after the first on, I was hooked.

Just like military models, commercial aircraft come in many scales. The most numerous scale is 1/200th scale. These are nice since they are easy to build and are small enough to display on shelves, but the only problem with these is that they are so expensive, usually $20-$35 a piece. The problem with this is the fact that there are companies that make pre-assembled models of airliners world wide for about $20 a piece, so in my opinion, it is better to buy the pre-assembled ones then the unassembled kits.

Now I have bought many kits both pre-assembled and unassembled, and have found that it is better to buy the pre-assembled kits unless of course one just happens to catch your eye. Though not to discredit this kits, but if you want to detail, it would be better to buy 1/144th scale airliner kits.

As I have said before about this scale, primarily with the KC-10 and E-767, this size is ideal for the price and detail. All of my 1/144th scale aircraft hang from my ceiling, and look great as they are suspended in air, as they were meant to be. This scale also has a good selection and Revell especially continues to release new kits every year.

Now though I had said previously that bigger is not always better, like when I was talking about the 1/48th versus the 1/32nd scale aircraft, in commercial aviation bigger seems to be better. The largest scale I have is 1/125th. I have a DC-10 and A320 in this scale, and though they are big and take up a lot of space, they are nice to see with all the detail. Though my preference is 1/144th, a 1/125th scale is worth getting at least once.

 

TWA Boeing 767:

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Though I have recommended not to buy the 1/200th scale planes, I should mention that they do come out nice when they are built. I saw this Boeing 767 and decided to buy it, but then I saw decals for the new TWA, and decided they would look great on this model. Today you can buy the pre-assembled versions of this model, but since it looked so good, I though this is a good example of one you might just want to buy.

It didn’t take too much time to assemble, but the decal work was a painstaking task. However, in the end the it was worth it.

 

Airbus A300-600ST Beluga:

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When I saw the Beluga, it was a must have since it is such an interesting looking plane. The plane was designed to replace the aging Super Guppy to haul airplane parts to the final assembly factory. While I didn’t have a whole lot of information on the Beluga, it had enough in magazines and on the box.

It was easy enough to put together, but the challenge cam in the floor. The option with this model was to have the cargo door open or closed, and to show how enormous it was, I opted for an open door. However, it needed a floor inside. Revell was nice enough to give a drawing of the floor, you just had to supply the plastic. Once cut out I had to trim time and time again, but finally it fit nice and snug and it was finished, except of course for the giant decals, but with patience, they went on just fine.

The A300-600ST (Super Transporter) Beluga is a great addition to the fleet. In fact it is the only 1/144th scale plane that isn’t flying.

 

 

Ilyushin IL-96:

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When I was in Phoenix, AZ a few months ago, I stopped by a hobby shop and found and interesting model there. It was an IL-96, and though this was the first Russian airplane I had seen, what impressed me the most was the fact that it had been built in Russia, so of course I had to get it.

When I finally got back home, I began to put it together and even though the craftsmanship wasn’t as good as other models, I was glad to have it for the fact it came from Russia. It also represented another aerospace company. It went together fairly easily, the main problem coming when joining the two halves of the fuselage, but after some sanding, it looked just fine. The decals were for the Russian government, and it turned out just fine. In fact it’s great to say that I have it since so few people do have an Il-96.

 

 

Northwest Airbus A330-300:

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Northwest airlines has been flying Airbus A320s for some time now, and have been so happy with Airbus that they have order A330s. So far none of the A330s are on line, buy since I too like Airbus, and especially the A330, I decided to make it Northwest.

I was really impressed to see that Revell makes a model of the A310, A330, and A340. I have yet to get the A310, but when I see it I plan to buy it. The A330 is a great plane since it is a twin-engine wide-body long-haul transport. Making it Northwest was easy enough. I ordered the decals and began to build and paint it until they arrived.

The impressive parts of the A330 is the cockpit, yes, a cockpit on a 1/144th scale plane, an exceptional job. The gear is highly detailed as is the rest of the plane. It built it as instructed, but added my own skill to it again. The gear is angled when in flight on take-off and landing, so I cut it and glued it back in that position.

I painted it red, gray and white, just like the Northwest colors, and to make sure the lines were straight, I used clear packaging tape to mask off the lines. Scotch tap is all right, but paint tends to leak through it and the packaging tape covers more space. Once the decals arrived, I placed them on the plane and hung it with the rest of the fleet flying overhead.

 

 

Canadian Boeing B747-400:

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Perhaps my best 1/144th scale plane is the Canadian Boeing 747-400. I had seen a picture of this plane taking off from Hong Kong, and decided it looked like a great paint scheme, so I ordered decals and went to work. Once again the gear and fuselage was highly detailed. There was no cockpit for this plane, but that wasn’t a problem.

I built it and once again cut the gear so it would be angled as in flight. I painted it the same way as I did with Northwest, masking the lines so they would be straight. I finally can to the tail, and had two options, 1) I could wait for the decals, or 2) I could hand paint it. I chose to hand paint it for the challenge and pride. It took a couple days to do it that way with the tail and wing tip fins, but it turned out great. About a week later the decals arrived and I slipped them on.

The Canadian Boeing 747-400 is the pride of my fleet.

Airplane/Airline Photographs: by Steve

America West Airlines A320, Phoenix, AZ

Air Force One, George W. Bush, Omaha, NE 2001

Trans World Airlines, Orange County, CA

British Airways Concorde, Oshkosh, WI

 

 


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