|Modeling isnt just a hobby, its a skill. For beginners,
its 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.
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
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, its 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
Grumman EA-6B Prowler:
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
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:
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
didnt 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
BBs that I use to for weight. If there are drop tanks on a model, I place BBs
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:
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 Vikings wings and tail folds so that it saves
space on an aircraft carrier, so I decided to do just that. I bought Monograms 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
havent seen an other S-3 Vikings 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:
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 cant be found in a spray, a hand painted plane can turn out just as
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 Forces E-3s, but so far
it hasnt. Anyway, I bought Revells 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 wasnt 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
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:
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
It didnt 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:
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 didnt 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
The A300-600ST (Super Transporter) Beluga is a great addition to the
fleet. In fact it is the only 1/144th scale plane that isnt flying.
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 wasnt 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 its great to say that I have it
since so few people do have an Il-96.
Northwest Airbus A330-300:
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
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
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
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:
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
wasnt 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